John and Susan Bishop and Grandson John Morton
The land was once part of 6,000 acres originally staked from the U.S. government by Colonel Pearson of South Carolina in 1842. The land was sold to Colonel Ederington in 1852.
In the 1800s the Chinsegut Conservation Center was home to the Bishop family. A chimney and two cisterns, remnants of their homestead, remain on the property today. Each fall Pioneer Day is held as a tribute to the Bishop family. In the early 1900s turpentine was extracted from the pine trees, some of which still bear the scars.
In 1904, 2082 acres, including the current Conservation Center, were purchased by Colonel Raymond Robins, whose colorful career included gold mining and advising five presidents. His wife Margaret was a tireless worker for women's suffrage.
Colonel Raymond Robbins and his wife Margaret
He named the land and its residence, built in 1849 by a ship's carpenter and framed with hand-hewn 12-inch cypress, Chinsegut. An Alaskan Innuit word, Chinsegut means "spirit of lost things." Robins expanded the translation to "the place where things of true value that have been lost may be found again."
In 1932, Robins deeded his estate to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act. It was Robins's wish that Chinsegut be preserved for the "inspiration and education of the next generation."
In 1956, the Game and Fish Commission, the predecessor of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, was asked to conduct a white-tailed deer study on the land. One of the biologists recommended that the Commission acquire the land for outdoor education.
In 1967, the USDA allowed the Commission to operate 408 acres as a nature preserve. The nature center tract became FWC land in 1973. The Big Pine Tract was designated as "virgin longleaf pine" and deeded to the University of Florida in a quitclaim deed in 1973.
In 1989 the Big Pine land was transferred from the University of Florida to the Commission to use in conjunction with the Nature Center. The house is now part of Chinsegut Hill Conference and Retreat Center operated by the University of South Florida. The house became part of Chinsegut Hill Conference and Retreat Center operated by the University of South Florida. The house and property are now operated by Hernando County government.