Leon County

Hernando DeSoto travelled through this area and spent Christmas in 1539 at an Apalachee village. Over a quarter of a million artifacts were left behind by DeSoto and his men during their six month stay in the area. This was probably where the exhibition did some major thinking to decide if they should continue. They dropped their chain-mail armor and switched to a heavy cotton material that was a better defense against cane arrows. There were probably scouting missions sent out to the area to find out where the lost cities of gold were. After this the DeSoto exhibition headed north to explore the southeast.

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Seminoles had several villages in the area. On Lake Miccosukee was the huge Seminole village complex of Miccosukee. Is was actually not one village, but a large grouping of several villages. It was burned it to the ground in 1818 by andrew jackson. The town covered much area around the lake in what is today Leon and Jefferson County. William Augustus Bowles declared Miccosukee his capital city for the State of Muskogee.

Second Seminole War forts that were in the county: Fort Braden & Harriet. "The Grove" mansion in Tallahassee was originally the home for Richard K. Call, who was Governor and Commanding General of the Florida Militia during the Second Seminole War.

Lake Jackson Mounds State Archaeological Site: North of Tallahassee on Lake Jackson is one of the most important mound area found today in Florida. The Lake Jackson mounds date from around 1200 to 1500 A.D. There are six earth temple mounds, and this is considered an important ceremonial and political complex. The usual pottery and stone tools have been found here. The most important items found here are copper breast plates and beaded necklaces. One of the copper plates has a stunning image of a hawk deity on it. Admission and parking at the mounds are free. There are interpretive programs during certain times of the year.

Velda Mound: A small mound probably built around the same time as the Lake Jackson mounds. (Also north of Tallahassee.) Most likely the site of an early Floridian village. You can walk to the location, but there is not much to see. Recently the land was purchased by the State of Florida. On Riddle Dr., south of Killearney Way and east of Highway U.S. 319. Off the north side of I-10.

San Luis State Archaeological Site: The Spanish mission of San Luis de Talimali (de Apalache) was in the area of modern Tallahassee until it was destroyed by Governor Moore of South Carolina and his forces in 1704. When the Spanish arrived in Florida they set up an extensive mission chain just like what you find in the southwestern U.S. The only difference was that these were much older and built out of wood. The missions out west were built out of adobe, which lasts much longer than wood.

When the Spanish arrived in the southeast, they wasted no time in trying to convert the aboriginal Floridians. To this they were actually very successful, and many of the Apalachee and Timuquan Indians made good converts. There was instance when the bishop arrived from Cuba and baptized 5,000 Indians at one time. Unfortunately the Spanish used the Indians for slave labor until they were nearly wiped out by diseases brought by the Europeans.

Today San Luis has a reconstructed mission village where living history events and festivals are periodically held. Work is still being done to reconstruct the mission village, but it should be impressive when done.

Museum of Florida History: The Museum of Florida History in downtown Tallahassee next to the State Capitol building has a display of ancient Floridian artifacts. Unfortunately on the subject of the Seminole wars in Florida, the museum is brief, with not much more then the McKinney-Hall prints from the early 19th century. (Which you can see in many books without having to go to the museum.) Fortunately plans are in the works to change this in the next few years and make more extensive 2nd Seminole War displays. Even the state museum suffers the same problems as smaller ones, and can only add a little bit at a time.


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