Southwest Florida Origins

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We recently told everyone about our expanded service area…

coverageIn case you missed it, we cover seven counties in Southwest Florida now, Sarasota, DeSoto, Charlotte, Glades, Lee, Hendry, and Collier Counties.  We’re fans of history around here (that massive gallery of old American flags on Independence Day might have given that away…), but in Florida, history usually means Tampa and Miami.  What about Southwest Florida?  Well, we’ve got you covered.  We’re going to go over some of the more interesting history in our coverage area over several blogs, coming back to the subject every now and then.  To kick things off, lets take a quick look at those seven counties.  Specifically, why are they called what they’re called, and where did they come from?  Those county names reflect a lot of the history around here, so let’s get going!

Charlotte County

Seal_of_Charlotte_County,_FloridaFormed out of part of DeSoto county in 1921, the county was named for the Bay of Charlotte Harbor, which was in turn named for Queen Charlotte Sophia, wife of King George III, in 1775.  The Spanish originally called it “Carlos Bay,” so we almost had a “Carlos County”!

Collier County

Seal_of_Collier_County,_Florida

Carved out of Lee County in 1923, Collier County was named for Baron Collier, a New York real estate developer and businessman who moved to SWFL and built the Tamiami Trail for the state in exchange for having a county named after him!

DeSoto County

DeSoto_County_Fl_SealThis one is fairly self-explanatory.  Created in 1887 out of what was then Manatee County, it was named for Hernando de Soto (1496/1497–1542), Spanish explorer and conquistador.  He famously was the first European to cross the Mississippi River, and likely first landed in Florida on that voyage very near modern day DeSoto County.

Glades County

glades

Formed in 1921 from DeSoto County, the county was named after the nearby Everglades, which were, in turn, were named partly by British surveyor John Gerard de Brahm in 1773, who called the area “River Glades.”

Hendry County

county_logo_

Formed out of Lee County in 1923, it was named for Francis A. Hendry (1833–1917), a Florida cattle rancher and politician who was an early settler of the area, and an officer in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Lee County

Lee_County_Fl_Seal

Carved out of the original, massive Monroe County in 1887, Lee was named for famed Confederate General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), and has grown to become, by far, the largest county in Southwest Florida.

Sarasota County

393px-Logo_of_Sarasota_County_FL.svg

Founded in 1921 out of Manatee County.  Believe it or not, the word “Sarasota” is of unknown, probably Native American, origin.  The word has been used in the area since nearly the very beginning of European colonization, but there’s no record of where it came from.  A possibility is that it’s a Calusa (the original Native language in the area) word meaning “point of rocks” or “place of the dance.”  Again, there’s no way to know for sure!

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