Hardee County

Forts during the Third Seminole War: Fort Green near the town by the same name. Fort Hartsuff was established during the Third Seminole War and is named after Lt. George Hartsuff, who is blamed for starting the war by destroying Billy Bowlegs' camp.

Paynes Creek Historical Site & Fort Chokonikla

After the Second Seminole War ended, there was still not peace between the Indians and the white man. Sometimes they would cross paths and shooting would result.

At the end of the war, the United States ordered all Indians to the southwest quarter of Florida. A trading post, known as the Kennedy-Darling store, was established on Paynes Creek, the northern boundary of the reservation in 1849. It was set up to keep the Indians from going into the big towns to trade, thus preventing conflict between Seminoles and white settlers.

On July 17, 1849, five Indians came to trade at the store. They wanted to sleep the night in the store, but were told instead to sleep outside on the porch. That night the Indians attacked the store clerks, killing two and wounding a third. The third clerk, William McCullough, escaped with his wife and child, and saw the night sky lit up from flames of the burning store.

The United States government reacted by sending troops to Florida and reactivating many military posts in south Florida. This became known as "The Panic of 1849 / 1850." It looked like another Seminole War was about to start.

Chief Billy Bowlegs went to extreme measures to prevent another war. He claimed that the five attackers were outcasts from the tribe. The Seminoles captured four and killed the fifth of the renegades, and turned them over to the Americans. Bowlegs said that this would prove their intentions to keep the peace, even by turning their own people over to the Army to be hanged. (Although they were not hanged, and eventually shipped out west.)

Billy Bowlegs from an old daguerrotype taken during a visit to Washington City in 1852.

In October 1849, Fort Chokonikla was built not far from where the Kennedy-Darling store once stood. Chokonikla loosely means "burned house". The fort consisted of three blockhouses and no walls. By this time in history, walls around the fort were considered not needed. Sickness and disease became a big problem at the fort, so it was abandoned in July 1850. There was never any battle against the Indians here. Nothing became of the Panic of 1850, and soon the other forts were closed, including Fort Chokonikla. The Third Seminole War would later start in late 1855. Local residents say that remains of the blockhouses could still be seen in the 1950's.

Located near the town of Bowling Green. Usual state park admission charges to enter the park. Open daily, 9-5; the museum is probably on the typical state museum schedule and closed Tuesday and Wednesday.


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