Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Short History of Hillsborough County: Part 2 of a Series

1710 Map of Florida, TBHC Collection
Few, if any, of Florida's indigenous people survived beyond the 1700s.  Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, the native population was decimated by European-introduced diseases, slave raids and warfare with both explorers and the Creek and Yamassee Indians from present-day Georgia and Alabama.  Handfuls of survivors were probably taken to Cuba by the Spanish when Florida came under English control in 1763.  Archaeological evidence discovered at the southern end of the Courtney Campbell Causeway dates from this time and suggests Cuban fishermen and their Tocobaga workers left for Cuba when the Spanish government withdrew from Florida.

In the mid-1700s, Native Americans from the areas north of Florida began entering the Tampa Bay area.  These new residents had customs and traditions similar to their extinct southern neighbors, but there were also differences.  The newcomers, later dubbed Seminoles, were a composite of a number of groups, including Creek, Yamassee and Apalachee, plus Africans, both freedmen and runaway slaves from colonial (later American) plantations.

Lord Hillsborough
Despite Florida being the first site of European colonization, Americans paid it little attention.  When control of the territory transferred from Spain to England in 1763, Florida was divided into East and West Florida, becoming the 14th and 15th British Colonies.  It was during this era that Hillsborough Bay and the Hillsborough River were named in honor of Lord Hillsborough, Secretary of State of the British Colonies under King George III.  These southernmost colonies remained loyal to the crown during the American Revolution and at the end of the conflict (1783) Spain resumed ownership.

The Second Spanish Period (1783 - 1921) was marked by the growing conflict between the Seminoles and U. S. citizens living on either side of Florida's northern border.  Spain was powerless to stop the agressors on either side.


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