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Notes on Florida's History


c. 1513--1763:  Spanish Colony

1n 1565, when William Shakespeare was one year old, the city of St. Augustine was founded.  It is the oldest continuously occupied city in the United States.

1763--1783:  British Colonies (2):  East Florida & West Florida

1784--1821:  2 Spanish Colonies

1822--1845:  United States Territory

1845--1861:  U. S. State

1861--1865:  Confederate State

1865--1876:  Northern Occupation ("Reconstruction")

1876--Present:  U. S. State

Cattle Ranching:

In the early 1600s, when Jamestown, Virginia, was struggling to survive and nobody had even thought of settling in Massachusetts, there were several dozen cattle ranches in Florida with over 20,000 head.  The first cattle had arrived with Pedro Menendez de Aviles when he oversaw the settlement of St. Augustine in 1565, and Florida has been a major beef producer ever since.  Until 1947 it was an "open range" state and cattle roamed free without fences.

Indian Wars:

Florida's Second Seminole War (1835-1842) was the longest war in U. S. history prior to Viet Nam.  Many Seminoles were forcibly removed to Oklahoma, but several hundred stayed and their descendents remain a part of the state's diverse population.

Outlaws and Gunfights:

Florida in the 19th Century was, if anything, even wilder than the West.  Its thinly-settled forests and swamps were a haven for all sorts of thieves, murderers, fugitives and other "bad men."  John Wesley Hardin spent three years here and was captured by Texas Rangers (out of their jurisdiction) on a train north of Pensacola..  Everybody carried guns, including lots of women, and many found occasion to use them.

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