Florida History



Florida did not join the union until March 3, 1845, but it shares many of the same growing pains that were experienced in the original 13 colonies.  We dealt with other nations holding our lands, the wars for independence, Indian uprisings, and many natural disasters. Many forts dotted our landscape during  different periods in our early history.  

Battery San Antonio- Pensacola

Castillo de San Marcos 1672    Spanish
(also “Fort Marion” and “Fort St. Mark”, now a U.S. National Monument)

Fort Alabama 

Fort Ann 

Fort Annuttgeliea  1840  Hernando Co  Seminole War fort.

Fort Arbuckle  1750 s/w Florida

Fort Barrancas    1787  Naval Air Station Pensacola   Spanish (also "Fort San Carlos de Barrancas")

Fort Basinger/Bassinger     Hwy 98 about 3-5 miles west of Ft. Drum

Fort Blount 

    1853 and used as a place of refuge 
    for the settlers of this community. 
    During Seminole Indian War 1855-1858.  
    Name changed to Bartow 1867 
    In honor of Confederate General 
    Francis S. Bartow

    Erected by Bartow Chapter
    Daughters of the American Revolution

Fort Brooke   1823 U S Army Colonels George Mercer Brooke and James Gadsden commissioned to establish a fort at the mouth of the Hillsborough River. January 10,1824 four full companies from Pensacola's US 4th Infgantry Regiment arrived with Brooke to "Cantonment Brooke".  In 1842 now a civilian town was called Tampa Town. Construction workers unearthed an old cemetery of both soldiers and Indians.  The soldier remains were reinterred  in military fashion and the Indian remains were turned over to the Seminole Indian Reservation for reburial.  The Tampa Convention Center now towers over the old fort leaving nothing from the old days.   Tampa -(1)From The Gazette-News, Daytona, Fl Jan 05, 1901 pg2 Six suits were filed in the United States Circuit Court Monday by the Hockley heirs to recover possession of the old Fort Brook military reservation, now valued at more than $300,000.  The plaintiffs, about twenty in number are children and grandchildren of Robert T Hockley, the original settler of the land in 1823.  The United States troops dispossessed him in order to use his house and clearing for a camping ground. Fort Brook became Tampa.  Kennedy, History of Lake Co., 1929.

Fort Butler- on the opposite bank of the St. Johns near Volusia, was established after the latter was abandoned in hopes that it would prove healthy.  But it turned out to be very unhealthy and was abandoned also. As “A Physician” says: “It would seem paradoxical that the miasmatic diseases of East Florida abounding as it does in large swamps and rich hammocks, and exposed to a tropical sun) should generally be of a milder form than those which prevail in more northern latitudes.” [signed] PHYSICIAN SECOND. The National Intelligencer, 8 Nov. 1843.  Copied by Ann & Blair Huddart on 31 Oct 1996.

NOTE: The site of Fort Butler would be on Route 40 east near the towns of Astor or Astor Park, about 4-5 miles south of Lake George in 1998.

Fort Caroline   1564   Jacksonville    French

Fort Center

Fort Christmas    1835   Christmas  on State Road 50, twenty miles east of Orlando.Fort Christmas
ESTABLISHED:   1835- A log fort was occupied on Christmas Day 1835 in a fight against Indians - hence the name.
FIRST SETTLERS: Among the first settlers were J. R. A. Tucker, Albert Roberts, Andrew Jackson Barber, W. J. Osteen, Samuel and Henry Hodges.
FIRST CHURCH:  First Missionary Baptist Church organized in 1871 with 12 charter members.  
POST OFFICE:  The Christmas, Florida, Post Office was established June 27, 1892.
POPULATION: 1939 - 350.
PRINCIPAL INDUSTRIES: Cattle and Hog Raising, Citrus Groves, Farming, Hunting and Trapping
FAMOUS FOR: Its name, its postmark, its native son - Hughlette (Tex Wheeler, America's Cowboy Sculptor.
Less than a mile from the original fort, the Orange Co. Parks and Recreation Department in conjunction with the Fort Christmas Historical Society constructed a full-scale  replica of the fort. It opened in 1977.  Structures include a museum displaying US Military, Seminole Indian and Pioneer exibits dating from the Seminole War period. On display are weapons, clothing, tools and other household items; several restored  "Florida Cracker" homes and farm buildings depicting life as it was in the late 1800s to early 1900s.   Not originally a part of the fort, a restored 1906 school and lunchroom has been added.  source: wikipedia.  Note:  according to www.nbbd.com/godo/FortChristmas
states: "On December 25, 1837, a force of 2,000 US Army Soldiers and Alabama Volunteers arrived near this spot to construct a for which was aply named, Fort Christmas. This fort was only one of over 200 forts built during the Second Seminole Indian War, 1835-1842."

Fort Chokonikla (also “Fort Chokkonickla” and “Fort Chokhonikla”, now part of Paynes Creek Historic State Park) [1978    Bowling Green] was the first in the chain of forts constructed and was located near the Kennedy-Darling fort site.  Chokonikla was the Indian word for "Burned House. None of the fighting took place here.  Casualties were due to Malaria, fever, and sickness. The regimental band was garrisoned at one time. Another instance was when 153 of the 166 men at the fort were either sick, under arrest or on detached duty, leaving 7 men to man the fort.  General Twiggs, commander of the federal forces, met at the fort in 1850 with Billy Bowlegs, Seminole Chief, trying to affect the removal of the Indians to the western United States. This was unsuccessful, the Seminoles never surrendered.  A peace treaty with the United States and the remaining Seminoles was signed in 1936.

Fort Clarke, in present-day Gainesville, Second Seminole War [Rajtar.17.]

Fort Clinch           1736   Amelia Island

Fort Cooper State Park  1972   Inverness

Fort Cross, on Cape Sable, Third Seminole War

Fort Cummings

Fort Dallas      1836     Miami

Fort Defiance

Fort Denaud

Fort De Soto Park  1849   St. Petersburg

Fort Diego

Fort Drane

Fort Drum     1842   Okeechobee Co.

 Fort Duncan McRee (also “Addison Blockhouse”), in Tomoka State Park

Fort Dulany

Fort Fannin, in Levy Co. was headquarters of the United States army in Florida during much of the Indian war.

Fort Foster   9 mi s. Zephyrhills

Fort Fraser   1837  between Lakeland and Bartow- not there now

Fort Gadsden   1814 Franklin Co –Apalachicola River  2 ruined forts

Fort Gardner 1837   n. of Lake Kissimmee

Fort George: south Jacksonville, 1736 was built to defend the southern flank of Georgia when it was a colony.

Fort George  1788   Pensacola

Fort Green  Bowling Green, Hardee County Letter fron Matthew P Lyons to the editor, Florida Peninsular April 26, 1856; another letter to the editor from James D. Green

Fort Harlee

Fort Hartsuff 

Fort Harvie 

Fort Heilman  1830’s Clay County  The fort was named after Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Julius F. Heilman, It was built at the spot where the north and south forks of Black Creek met and was a temporary wooden stockade used during the First Seminole War as a quartermaster workshop and storage depot.  A small village, Garey’s Ferry, of log huts was constructed around the stockade. The fort was abandoned after the end of the Indian Wars.  The elementary school was built behind it on S. R. 21, Middleburg, 

Fort Holmes is in the vicinity of the St. Johns, about fourteen miles from Palatka, on the road to Fort King.  It was unhealthy.  Lietenant Woodruff, 21 Infantry, died here in April 1841, of malignant dysentery.  The post was abandoned early in the sickly season of that year.[signed] PHYSICIAN SECOND. The National Intelligencer, 18 Nov 1843.  

NOTE:  Fort Holmes was re-activated, apparently, as it is shown on a map in the National Archives, dated 1859.  Source: Fort Holmes Mss Collection, Box 33.P.K.Yonge Library of Florida History, University of Florida.Copied by Ann & Blair Huddart on 31 Oct. 1996.

Fort Hooker 

Fort Houston, in Tallahassee, Civil War 

Fort Jefferson  1513  Ponce de Leon was the first European there.  He named the islands Tortugas meaning turtles.  The park established in 1935 is about 68 statute miles west of Key West in the Gulf and has around 80,000 visitors annually.  There are coral reefs with plenty of space to view  the underwater history and aquatic life since the whole island is the fort. You might ever find sunken treasure or a shipwreck.   

Fort Juniper 

Fort Keais

Fort King     1827   Ocala  Colonel William King was honored by having this fort named after him.  The fort, now designated as a U.S. National Landmark is near the corner of 39th Ave. and E. Fort King St.

Fort Kissimmee Cemetery

Fort Lane

Fort Lawson burned by the Indians in March 1840.

Fort Lauderdale 

Fort Lloyd 

Fort Lonesome 

Fort Maitland

Fort Mason

Fort Matanzas National Monument

Fort McRee

Fort McCoy

Fort Meade, Polk County  played a minor part  during the Third Indian War and the Civil War. The loction of the fort shifted over time. The first in mid-December 1849 until about December 1850 seems to have been only two buildings which housed around 230 men at some point.  The buildings were very rudimentary and only covered about 22 feet by 38 feet.  This site is now a golf course at Broadway and Hwy 98.  It appears this site was torn down.  The second fort used from the end of December 1850 until in the mid to late 1864 had some burned buildings left around the Heritage Park area.  Neither of these locations had surrounding walls.   For a view of the coinage and buttons found there visit metal.

Fort Mellon

Fort Mitchell

Fort Mose Historic State Park

Fort Myakka

Fort Myers

Fort Ogden

Fort Peyton

Fort Pickens  was repaired in the late 1960's and reopened in 1976.

Fort Pilatka, Putnam Co., was established in 1838 in the town of Pilatka (now called Palatka) after Indians attacked and burned the town in 1835 at the beginning of the Seminole War. It was necessary to control the water route to Central Florida along the St. Officers Quarters, Fort Shannon, 2nd Seminole WarJohns River. It was later renamed Fort Shannon after Capt. Samuel Shannon.  The fort grew to 112 officers and enlisted men in September 1838 and was abandoned  September 19th of that year.  The men were moved down river to Picolata. Again, the fort was used in 1839. By 1841 there were 408 soldiers stationed there and the fort had a garrison, supply depot and a hospital.  Later a military stable was added to accomodate 400 horses as well as eight 30x100 feet block houses utlizing the large virgin timber in the area. As happened often, another fire ravaged the town in 1855. There is only one building remaining of the original fort, the Officer's Quarters, which was relocated to the west side of the Bronson-Mulholland House on Madison St. in Palatka.  It now houses the Putnam Historical Museum.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fort Pierce

Fort Ponsett, on Cape Sable, Second Seminole War

Fort Russell, on Key Biscayne, Second Seminole War

Fort Shannon, Putnam Co. [-see Fort Picolata

Fort St. Andrews

Fort St. Francis de Pupa

Fort San Carlos, Fernandina Beach, Second Spanish rule

Fort San Lucia

Fort San Marcos de Apalachee (also “Fort St. Marks”)

Fort San Nicholas

Fort Scott

Fort Shannon  see Fort Picolata above.

Fort Simmons

Fort Stansbury

Fort Starke

Fort Sullivan

Presidio Santa Maria de Galve

Fort T.B. Adams

Fort Thompson

Fort Tonyn

San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park

Fort Vinton

Fort Wacahoota

Fort Walker (also”Fort Hogtown”, in present-day Gainesville,Second Seminole War [Rajtar.17]

Fort Walton

Fort Ward

Fort Weadman

Fort White

Fort William

Yellow Bluff Fort

Fort Zachary Taylor (also “Fort Taylor”­

Temporary Fort at Wildwood    In order to provide a safe place for the women and children a temporary fort and stockade were built upon the present site of Wildwood and here all the white women and children of the settlement were gathered and spent six months in daily fear of an attack from the Seminole Indians.


Volusia, six miles above Lake George, is on the right bank of the river St.Johns.  It was one of the most sickly posts in Florida. The men were sick even in the winter, and the mortality in the sickly season of 1836 was dreadful.  An officer of the army was dismissed without a hearing for not making a sortie with the Indians near the post.  But he was afterwards reinstated and obtained a hearing before a court martial, by which he was triumphantly acquitted.  He proved on the defence that there was a great sickness and mortality amonst the troops; that it was with difficulty his well men could bury the dead; and that he was hardly able, with a large company, to keep guard.  This post was abandoned and never occupied after 1837. [signed] PHYSICIAN SECOND, the National Intelligencer, 18 Nov 1843. Copied by Ann & Blair Huddart on 31 Oct 1996.

Martello towers, Key West


       Florida Board of parks and Historic Memorials p. 63


        The Intelligencer of Washington, D. C. communications Aug-Nov 1843

·       Fort Holmes Mss Collection, Box 33. P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History, University of Florida. Copied by Ann&Blair Huddart on 31 Oct. 1996. 

·       de Quesada, Alejandro M. (2006) "A History of Florida Forts." Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press. ISBN 1-59629-104-4

         Rajtar, Steve. (2007) "A guide to historic Gainesville." Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press. ISBN 978-1-59629-217-8

      Miscellaneous sources


June 24, 2013
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