Noted Founder of Micanopy Was Born in Africa

Noted Founder of Micanopy Was Born in Africa

Moses Elias Levy, a celebrated founder of Micanopy, Florida, was born in Africa in 1782. He was raised in a Sephardic Jewish family in Morocco.  He established wealth as a merchant-shipper in the Caribbean before immigrating to north central Florida in 1821. In Florida he set out to create a safe haven for Jewish families called the Pilgrimage Plantation, a few miles northwest of modern-day Micanopy.

This plantation attracted a few Jewish families who lived there from 1822-1835. His active involvement in developing the area helped it to grow from a small trading post to a well respected town that ultimately became the first town instituted in the new Florida territory, Micanopy. Unfortunately, Levy’s plantation was destroyed by fire during the Second Seminole War in 1835 causing him extreme financial distress.

Levy was a slave owner, yet he was known for promoting the gradual emancipation of slaves through many public talks and the pamphlet that he published in 1828: A Plan for the Abolition of Slavery, Consistently with the Interests of All Parties Concerned. This publication is noted as the most important anti-slavery document published by an American Jewish man and had great influence among abolitionists. His advocacy for the emancipation of slaves influenced the formation of an anti-slavery society in London.

4 Responses to “Noted Founder of Micanopy Was Born in Africa

  • Stephen Eisenman
    1 year ago

    That’s another subject that would be worth more research — and display space in the museum: Jewish life in Micanopy. Was there ever a temple? After Levy, was there ever a sizable population? If so, what work did the Jews of Micanopy do? In other small town in the South, they went into the trades, especially dry goods.

    • Erik Murray
      1 year ago

      The Benjamin family has one of the largest display cases in the museum. Their 1885 store was the first two story brick building.
      No temple that I have seen any reference to.
      We have a memoir that refers to a couple of Jewish merchants in town buying cotton in the mid 19th century.
      Another underrepresented group in Micanopy history, late 19th, early 20th century, is Catholics. The Carlton family were the only Catholics in town, that they knew of and also the only white Republicans. The latter distinction led to them running the Post Office, taking over from the Arnows. Hard feelings, if there were any, were forgotten as two Arnow boys married two Carlton girls.

  • Lorenza Graham
    1 year ago Back in 2014
    my Friend Mindy Edwards gave this article from Forward a Jewish publication. About Micanopy founder. Our platt of land is listed as a Levy grant land of near Bolen Bluff.

  • I’m curious to know where the photo you included came from. To my knowledge, and I’ve done a lot of research about this individual, Levy never had his photo taken and never commissioned a painting or portrait of any kind.