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Federal Point Families

The Early Inhabitants Of Federal Point Area

Research in Progress.
This page will include what we can find out about the Indians who lived in the area.

1.27 A Timucan chief consoles the widows of those lost in battle. From Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues'

"The River Flows North " A History of Putnam County by Brian Michaels

Archaeological studies indicate that Indians occupied the area of pres-

ent-day Palatka at least as long as 4,000 years ago (some say at least

10,000 years), and it has been estimated that there were in Florida at the

time of Columbus' voyages more than one hundred thousand native Indi-

ans By 1720, interior Florida was virtually deserted. Two centuries of

enslavement, warfare, and diseases brought by Europeans who had built

up immunity had virtually wiped out the original native tnbes. Even mea-

sles and the common cold were deadly to these people and no living

descendants of the group are known today.

At least sixty-seven Indian mounds of the type described by the Bar-

trams and used for burial and ceremonial purposes were located within

Putnam County. One was located where Palatka now stands, one at "the

Devil's elbow" in the river near the city, another just north of the city, and

eight in the vicinity of East Palatka. Skeletons and artifacts recovered

from these and similar sites have opened to the archaeologist many vistas

formerly obscured by the passing centuries, and increasingly sophisticat-

ed equipment and techniques will undoubtedly unlock additional secrets

and lead to the location of additional mounds. It has already been verified,

however, that unlike the "hunters and gatherers," of south Florida, the

aboriginal inhabitants of north Florida were farmers. The Apalachee_

Timucua (of which there were at least fourteen tribes), Tocobaga, and

other, smaller, tribes in the northern part of the state cultivated corn,

squash, and beans to supplement the wild plants and animals which com-

prised most of their fare. But though they were farmers, they were not

vegetarians. Native deer, turtles, wild turkey, and fish provided a nourish-

ing diet.

The aboriginal Florida Indians also grew tobacco. Indeed, the only last-

ing result of the short-lived French colony at Fort Caroline appears to

have been the introduction of tobacco to both France and England. Sir

John Hawkins, after his attempt to aid the starving French, returned to

England with a packet of the leaf, which he described as follows: "The Flo-

ridians have a kind of herb dried, who with a cane and an earthen cup on

the end, with fire doe suck through the cane the smoke thereof, which

smoke satisfieth their hunger."

When the Spanish finally removed from Florida to Cuba in 1763, taking

the last few remaining northern and some of the southern Indians with

them, much of northern Florida was once again virtually uninhabited, vis-

ited for a time only by Creek raiders and hunting parties and Spanish


Before long, however, the area saw an influx of Creeks and other tribes

from Georgia and Alabama into the areas of Tallahassee and Alachua

County. One tribe, the Oconee, had split about 1750, with some moving

south into Florida near the present town ofMicanopy in Alachua County.

There they became known as the Seminoles.

The Seminoles were so successful, growing corn and grazing hundreds

of head of cattle on what is now known as Payne's Prairie south of the

present location of the City of Gainesville,that they were joined by related

groups. Their numbers and prosperity increased dramatically. Their

business and even personal relations with the whites were generally

friendly, despite their penchant for raiding other Indian groups as far

away as Mississippi.

By 1820, the original group of settlers in the Micanopy area had become

only one of a large number of groups stretching as far south as Tampa

Bay, up and down the length of the St. Johns, along the Suwannee River,

near Tallahassee, and along the Apalachicola.

By 1823, two years after Florida became part of the American territory,

the Seminoles had, by and large, agreed to move to a large tract in the cen-

ter of the state near Lake Okeechobee but not including either the Gulf

shore or the St. Johns. Whites were to stay out of the area, and the Indians

agreed not to harbor runaway slaves. As such things usually go, neither

side kept its agreement, and by 1835, the unbearable tension would inevi-

tably find release in war.

At the time of De Brahm's survey (1764-72), however, north Florida

was enjoying peace, quiet, and relative solitude, and the Seminoles were

even more agreeably disposed toward the British than they had been

toward the Spanish for a time, at least.

So the Spanish were gone; the Indians were peaceful; North Florida was


Chief Osceola

The Seminole Indians

The original people of Florida included the Timucia, Apalachee and Calusa Indians. They were absorbed by the Seminoles, who were mostly Lower Creeks from Georgia and Hitchiti who came to Florida in the early 18th century when it was Spanish territory. They were joined by other refugee Indians and escaped slaves.

The Seminoles occupied land in northern Florida that was coveted by American settlers in Georgia. This and the fact that they were known for harboring fugitive slaves became cause for dissention. The U.S. was fighting the war of 1812 with the British.

Andrew Jackson was sent to seize the Florida territory from Spain and he destroyed several Indian settlements before capturing Pensacola in May 1818. In 1819 Florida became a U.S. territory and colonists began moving in to nothern Florida and forcing the Indians to the south where the regions were unsuitable to their agriculture. In 1823 the Indians ceded most to their tribal lands to the U.S. and in 1832 the treaty of " Paynes Land" bound them to move to territory west of the Mississippi. Andrew Jackson started a policy of Indian removal. The Indians resistance resulted in the Seminole wars. After the capture of Osceola in 1837, and the end of the 2nd Seminole war in 1842 many of the Indians were forced west to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). After the third Seminole war another 250 were removed and a peace treaty was signed in 1935 with the remaining Indians. In 1962 the Mikasuki acquired ownership of their lands in the Everglades. The Florida Seminole have five reservations.