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Florida Timeline

Know Florida

Circa 1937


1497 Sebastian and John Cabot, under Henry VII, of England, sail and probably map the entire Atlantic coast from Labrador to Mexico. First voyage of Americus Vespucius along the same route.

1502 Ponce de Leon sails with Ovando for Hispaniola (Hayti). Date of the Alberto Cantino Map. First map of Florida.

1513 Ponce de Leon embarks for Bimini March 3rd, in search of The Fountain of Youth, discovers land March 27th, on Easter Sunday (Pascua Florida), christens it Florida, the Land of Flowers; landing a little north of St. Augustine April 2nd. Shortly returns to Porto Rico, after discovery and charting of islands and parts of the coast.

1521 Ponce de Leon's second voyage to Florida. Wounded by an Indian arrow, is carried to Cuba; dies there and buried in his castle in Porto Rico.

1528 Narvaez's expedition embarks for Florida, landing near Tampa.

1539 DeSoto lands at Tampa and marches to Anhaquea (present Tallahassee) where he spends the winter.

1540 DeSoto travels on north to the headwaters of the Savannah River and thence west.


1556 Elaborate expedition planned in Spain to colonize and Christianize Florida. Don Tristan de Luna chosen to command.

1559 De Luna's departure from Mexico to Florida and landing near what is now Pensacola. Hurricane destroys his fleet.

1562 Ribault's first voyage to colonize Florida. Discovers the River May (St. Johns), establishing colony of thirty men near Port Royal and returns to France.

1564 June 22nd, Rene Laudoniere arrives on the Florida Coast at the River May (St. Johns), builds Fort Caroline and explores the country generally.

1565 September 6th, St. Augustine established with great pomp and ceremony and temporary fortifications built.

September 18th and 19th, Menendez marches with 500 men to Ft. Caroline, capturing it September 20th with great slaughter.

1566 Menendez returns to Spain and receives royal welcome.

Small colony, including fourteen women, sent from Spain to St. Augustine.

1568 De Gourves arrives at the St. Marys River and proceeds south to the St. Johns and destroys Ft. San Mateo and garrison, avenging his countrymen, returns to France.

1569 Menendez returns from Spain, rebuilds San Mateo, destroys St. Elena, then returns to Spain.

1578 St. Augustine and Florida's importance stressed at the Court of Spain and appropriations made for same.

1584 Marked influx of missionaries to Florida from Spain.

1586 Drake destroys St. Augustine and loots its treasury.

1587 St. Augustine rebuilt and much improved, with funds from Spain.

1612 Eleven convents reported flourishing and active in Florida.

1615 Probable date of building Mission near St. Marys. Walls still standing.

1645 Probable date of building fort at Matanzas.

1647 Population of St. Augustine reported as two thousand.

1649 Great activity in mission work and success reported in Christianizing Indians.

1665 Centenary of the establishment of St. Augustine by Menendez. The English freebooter Davis destroys the city.

1686 British succeed in conquering all Spanish territory to the north of St. Augustine and driving Spaniards out.

1696 D'Ariola founds Pensacola.

1718 First account of any settlement at St. Josephs Bay, first by the French and later by the Spaniards.

1719 Flags changed four times this year at Pensacola, from Spain to France and vice versa.

1722 Pensacola and West Florida returned to Spain by France.

1739 England declares war on Spain. Oglethorpe instructed to harass Spanish possessions in Florida.

1740 Oglethorpe proceeds to Picolata, Florida, and beseiges St. Augustine.

1742 Spanish expedition from Havana and Florida attack Oglethorpe in Georgia. Defeated at the battle of Bloody Marsh Island near St. Simons.

1743 Oglethorpe's second expedition to Florida.

1755 Fernando de Herreda appointed Governor of Florida, great building activity.

1756 Castle of San Marco in St. Augustine completed in this year after 118 years' work on same.

1763 Havana restored to Spain in exchange for Florida.

1764 Great English immigration to Florida, mills and plantations started, great industry and activity.


1776 Year of Independence. Florida remains loyal to England.

1779 Invasion of West Florida threatened by Spaniards in Louisiana.

1780 Don Galvez and Admiral Solana concentrate their forces to attack Pensacola.

1781 Forts of Pensacola under Col. Campbell (British) surrender to Spanish attack.

1783 Florida exchanged for the Bahama Islands.

1795 Treaty between the United States and Spain as to Florida's western boundary.

1800 Spain, by secret treaty, cedes Louisiana to France. Part of Florida seems to be included.

1803 The purchase from France of Louisiana for $15,000,000, giving the United States control of the Mississippi Valley.

Boundaries between this territory and Florida again questioned.

1808 Fernandina declared a free port, became a rendezvous for much questionable trade.

1809 Napoleon having conquered Spain in Europe, claims all her colonies, Florida included. This was stoutly resisted by the United States and later in 1823 became elaborated in the Monroe Doctrine.

1810 Republic of West Florida organized September 10th, at Pensacola, to control disputed territory. Dissolved after an existence of 58 days by orders from Washington, without trouble.

1812 June 18th, war declared on England by the United States. Organization of Republic of Florida.

1814 Fierce engagement off Cape Canaveral, Florida, between British and American war vessels. British troops occupy Pensacola, speedily driven out by Andrew Jackson.

1818 Jackson's second invasion of Florida.

1819 Treaty drawn up in Washington for Florida's transfer to United States.

1821 Transfer of West Florida accepted by Andrew Jackson.


1821 July 21st, St. Johns and Escambia created Counties, and municipal government established in St. Augustine and Pensacola

1823 Second Legislative Council held in May, in St. Augustine, and decision made that a central point of meeting be chosen for future Legislation. First treaty made, September 18th, with Florida Indians at Moultrie Creek, signed by 32 leading chiefs.

1824 Dr. Simmons and John Lee Williams select Neomathla's village near Tallahassee for future State Capital.

1825 Appropriation of $23,000 by the Legislative Council to build road from Pensacola to St. Augustine.

Congress voted $200,000 to Lafayette and 23,000 acres just east of Tallahassee, Florida. Later settled by emigrants from France.

1826 Congress grants to Florida the elective franchise for their representatives in Congress and State Legislature.

1828 Judicial District formed for the whole of South Florida. Court to sit at Key West. First bank organized in Florida, at Tallahassee.

1829 Privilege extended to elect all officers for Florida except the Governor, he being appointed by the President. Commencement of era of wildcat banking and boom towns in Florida.

1831 Bank of St. Augustine chartered.

1832 Jacksonville's first Charter of Incorporation.

1835 Beginning of Indian War. Dade massacre December 25th. Osceola becomes a prominent leader in Indian affairs.

1837 Osceola's capture and imprisonment.

1839 Constitutional Convention held at St. Joseph adjourned, having given Florida its first Constitution.

1841 Closing scenes of the Indian War. Coacoochee captured and deported.

1842 Armed Occupation Act.

1844 Preparation to enter Statehood.


1845 March 3rd, Florida and Iowa become States by the same Act. Dr. John Gorrie discovers process for making ice.

1847 Lighthouse built at Cape Canaveral.

1850 Swamp Land Act passed by Congress.

1856 Lands granted to the Florida Railroad Co., and construction begins on first through State railroad.

1858 Close of last war with the Seminoles.


1861 January 10th, Florida secedes, and on February 17th, joins the Confederacy at the Montgomery Convention.

1862 During February and March all principal towns in Florida in occupation by Federal troops and its whole coast blockaded.

1863 Large numbers of Florida negroes enlisted in the Northern Army and various expeditions sent against the fortifications along the St. Johns River.

1864 February 20th, at Olustee. Florida, was fought the one great battle on Florida soil; more than 9,000 men engaged. Federals badly defeated.

1865 May 20th, Tallahassee, only Confederate State Capital east of Mississippi not captured during war, yields peaceable possession to Federal troops.

1866 Reconstruction begins under Federal supervision.


1868 Civil government re-established July 4th.

1877 Federal supervision of Florida affairs ends and reconstruction times closed under President Hayes.

1879 First telephones installed in Jacksonville.

1881 Sale of four million acres of State-owned lands to Hamilton Disston and associates.

1882 Establishment of Institute for Deaf Mutes in St. Augustine, and Academy established in DeLand by H. A. DeLand.

1889 Discovery of phosphate.

1891 Sub-Tropical Exhibition opened in Jacksonville, doing much to advertise Florida's products.

1892 Flagler railroad reaches Titusville and proceeds down the East Coast.

1895 Severe frost, in February, destroys practically the entire citrus production of Florida for some years to come.

1896 Railroad reaches Miami June 26th.

1897 Activity in railroad building on the West Coast of Florida.

1898 Spanish-American War gives Florida great impetus.

1899 Fire destroys Miami.

1901 May 3rd, 466 acres in Jacksonville laid waste by disastrous fire, with some loss of life and untold value in records, etc.

1904 Rebuilding of the Mayport jetties improves navigation of the St. Johns River to Jacksonville and large ships enter safely.

1905 First cut to the ocean for Miami Harbor. Florida East Coast Railroad commences extension of Key West Overseas railroad.

1907 Everglades drainage commences under supervision of Governor Broward.

1912 Florida East Coast Railroad runs first train into Key West.

1917 United States enters the World War, April 6th. Shipyards and camps greatly increase Florida's activities.

1922 Orange crop largest ever known to this date, 16,000,000 boxes.

1924 Renewed activities and increase in land values. Great road building program laid out and work commenced, giving Florida unexcelled communication as never before dreamed possible.

Excerpt from "Historical Data Concerning Florida" Know Florida, Issued by the State Department of Agriculture, Tallahassee, Circa 1937, pgs 29-31.


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