Seminole County

Seminole County is known for being highly over-developed. A common problem in Florida. Any archaeological sites not presently saved will probably be destroyed under housing developments or shopping malls.

William Bartram came down to Lake Monroe during his journeys in the 1770's. Many former Indians villages and middens have been found around the lakeshore. One of these large mounds was the Enterprise Mound, near the town of the same name. This mound was eventually destroyed by waves and as a commercial source of fertilizers. There was also a significant village on the south side of Lake Jesup that a toll road was built on top of.

One of the Miccosukee families that were very much against removal during the Second Seminole War was the family of King Philip (Emathla). (Usually identified as Seminole, but more correctly Miccosukees.) King Philip had married Micanopy's sister, so his son Coacoochee (Wildcat) was a hereditary leader of the Alachua Seminoles. Philip's town is identified as being near Lake Harney on the St. Johns River. The village was built on top of an ancient Timucuan mound. From this location King Philip and his son conducted many raids and battles against the United States. Among their exploits, they raided and burned all the sugar plantations on the east coast. Coacoochee is also know to have had a camp on the Wekiva River. In September 1837, Army soldiers surprised and captured King Philip's camp near Ponce Inlet (then known as Mosquito Inlet) near what is today New Smyrna Beach. Philip was put in prison in St. Augustine, and died near Fort Gibson while being moved out west with a large number of Seminoles.

During the Second Seminole War, Fort Mellon on the south shore of Lake Monroe became an important staging area. It was important for ships to land here along the St. Johns River to supply exhibitions going into the interior of the state.

Fort Mellon was originally known as Camp Monroe, but renamed after an Army captain who was killed there during an ambush by the Seminoles. Coacoochee and King Philip attacked the camp, and would have taken it if not for the preparations of Captain Mellon and Colonel Fanning the night before.

During the summer of 1837, negotiations were conducted with the Seminoles at Fort Mellon. Osceola and Coa Hadjo held a stick ball game to make sure that the Indians would remember their traditional values and way of life.

In late 1837, a group of Cherokees were brought to Fort Mellon to negotiate with the Seminoles and help in removal. They even carried a personal message from Cherokee Chief John Ross. A few weeks before, Osceola was captured, so the Seminoles no longer trusted any offer given to them and would not negotiate. General Jesup only showed contempt towards the Cherokee and treated them no different than the Seminole prisoners. Jesup complained that the Cherokee were only slowing down his efforts for a large military campaign against the Seminoles. After the cold treatment they received in Florida, the Cherokee returned home, persuaded that the Seminoles were right.

After being a major post, the town of Mellonville grew up around the area, and was later renamed Sanford.

Other Second Seminole War Forts: Fort Reid south of Fort Mellon, named after Florida Governor Reid.

Fort Lane Park

Fort Lane on southwest Lake Harney was another of the chain of forts established in 1837, going upriver on the St. Johns River. There was also a large Seminole village on the lake. It is worth mentioning here of Colonel John F. Lane, who Fort Lane was named after. Colonel Lane commanded the Creek Indian Regiment, and arrived in Florida in October 1836. He was a young, brilliant officer (only 26 years old) who would have had an interesting career if he had lived long. He should also be remembered as the inventor of the pontoon boat. After arriving at Fort Drane, Col. Lane came down with the fever, went insane, and committed suicide by driving his sword into his head. The cause of death is listed as, "brain fever." The Creek warriors under his command were very sad to see him go. Famous Creek warriors Jim Boy and Paddy Carr served under Lane in the Creek Regiment. There is not much to see at this park; just a picnic area along Lake Harney. This is a semi-private park and not easy to find. Go east on highway 46 from Sanford. After you pass the small town of Geneva, and a few miles before you cross the St. Johns River, turn north on Jungle Road. About a mile further is a dirt road identified as Fort Lane Road on the right. Go down this road until you see the small park.

Fort Lane Park

Fort Lane Park in Seminole County Remembers 2nd Seminole War Fort by Christopher D. Kimball

Fort Lane on southwest Lake Harney was another of the chain of forts established in 1837 during the Second Seminole War, going upriver on the St. Johns River.

It is worth mentioning of Colonel John F. Lane, who Fort Lane was named after. Lane was born in 1810 in Kentucky. He was considered an outspoken frontiersman, much of a similar outspoken character as President Andrew Jackson, and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1828. He was a bright engineer and mathematician. He is remembered as the inventor of the pontoon boat by making boats and structures with inflatable bladders made of canvas and rubber. Captain John F. Lane was in the 2d Dragoon Regiment in the Army when he was appointed Colonel of the Creek Indian Regiment, with 750 Creek Indians for duty for the Army in Florida on March 14, 1836. Famous Creek warriors Jim Boy and Paddy Carr served under Lane in the Creek Regiment. He was a young, brilliant officer (only 26 years old) who would have had an interesting career if he had lived long.

Colonel Lane arrived in Florida with his Creek Indian Regiment in October 1836. After arriving at Fort Drane, northwest of present day Ocala, Col. Lane came down with the fever, went insane, and committed suicide by driving his sword into his head.

On November 20, 1837 a command under Lieutenant Colonel Bankhead, 3rd Artillery, Regiment left Fort Mellon (Sanford) to establish Fort Lane as a supply depot for the campaign General Thomas S. Jesup was conducting against the Seminoles. Lake Harney was reached on the 22nd, and the area was extensively explored and mapped.

An area on the southwest side of Lake Harney was chosen as the site for Fort Lane. Because of the swampy terrain, opinions differed among the officers on what type of post it should be. One idea was as a '"floating barge depot." Jesup liked the plan of a fixed post on land, so that was chosen.

A large Indian village was searched on the eastern shore of the lake, and found abandoned. Many utensils and food supplies were left behind, possibly indicating a quick departure.

Jesup reached Fort Lane by December 20th and ordered his men south to continue the campaign. Fort Christmas was established further down the military road on December 25th.

Fort Lane ordered abandoned on March 3, 1838. The fort was never reoccupied, but still present on maps when Florida became a state in 1845.

To find this small park, go east on highway 46 from Sanford. After you pass the small town of Geneva, and a few miles before you cross the St. Johns River, turn north on Jungle Road. About a mile further is a dirt road identified as Fort Lane Road on the right. Go down this road until you see the small park. Despite the name, "Fort Lane Park," there is no actual fort at this site. With over 200 forts and military camps established in Florida during the Second Seminole War, the only two that are reconstructed today are Fort Christmas, east of Orlando at the town of Christmas; and Fort Foster at Hillsborough River State Park north of Tampa.

Fort Lane is mentioned briefly in the book, "Fort Mellon 1837-42, A Microcosm of the Second Seminole War," by Arthur S Francke, Jr., 1977, Banyan Books, Inc., Miami.

The 2nd Seminole War in Seminole County, Florida

Author and leading Seminole War Historian Arthur E. Francke, Jr. died October 29, 1997, at the age of 85. In honor of him, I am dedicating this short 2nd Seminole War history of Seminole County, Florida.

William Bartram came down to Lake Monroe during his journeys in the late 1770's. Many former Indians villages and middens have been found around the lake shore. One of these large mounds along Lake Monroe was the Enterprise Mound, near the town of the same name. This mound was eventually destroyed by waves and as a commercial source of fertilizers. There was also a significant village on the south side of Lake Jesup that a toll road was built on top of.

One of the Mikasuki families that was very much against removal during the Second Seminole War was the family of King Philip (Emathla). (Usually identified as Seminole, but more correctly Mikasuki.) King Philip had married Micanopy's sister, so his son Coacoochee (Wildcat) was a hereditary leader of the Alachua Seminoles. Philip's town is identified as being in the area on the St. Johns River. The village was built on top of an ancient Timuquan mound. From this location King Philip and his son Coacoochee conducted many raids and battles against the United States. Among their exploits, they raided and burned all the sugar plantations on the east coast. Coacoochee is also know to have had a camp on the Wekiva River. In September 1837, Army soldiers surprised and captured King Philip's camp near Ponce Inlet (then known as Mosquito Inlet) near what is today New Smyrna Beach. Philip was put in prison in St. Augustine, and died while being moved out west with a large number of Seminoles. During the Second Seminole War, Fort Mellon on the south shore of Lake Monroe became an important staging area. It was important for ships to land here along the St. Johns River to supply exhibitions going into the interior of the state.

Fort Mellon was originally known as Camp Monroe, but renamed after an Army captain who was killed there during an ambush by the Seminoles in February 1837. Coacoochee and King Philip attacked the camp, and would have taken it if not for the preparations of Captain Mellon and Colonel Fanning the night before.

During the summer of 1837, negotiation were conducted with the Seminoles at Fort Mellon. Osceola and Coa Hadjo held a stick ball game to make sure that the Indians would remember their traditional values and way of life.

In late 1837, a group of Cherokees were brought to Fort Mellon to negotiate with the Seminoles to move west. They even carried a personal message from Cherokee Chief John Ross. A few weeks before, Osceola was captured, so the Seminoles no longer trusted any offer given to them and would not negotiate. General Jesup only showed contempt towards the Cherokee and treated them no different than the Seminole prisoners. Jesup complained that the Cherokee were only slowing down his efforts for a large military campaign against the Seminoles. After the hostile treatment they received in Florida from soldiers and Seminoles alike, the Cherokee returned home persuaded that the Seminoles were right to resist removal.

After being a major post, the town of Mellonville grew up around the area, and was later renamed Sanford.

Other Second Seminole War Forts in Seminole County: Fort Reid about a mile or two south of Fort Mellon, which was where the troops were taken for the campaigns after unloading at Fort Mellon. Fort Lane on Southwest Lake Harney. (See past articles.)

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