Friday, July 20, 2018

Charlotte Harbor New Home of Sunseekers Resort is the Oldest Settlement in the County

Often confused with the name of the huge bay to its South from which its own name was derived or incorrectly merged with neighboring Port Charlotte, Charlotte Harbor, the community north of the Peace River was actually the oldest settlement and town in what is now Charlotte County.   Soon through the emergence of a new development (SunSeekers’ Resort) which will comprise a major portion of Charlotte Harbor, new light will be shone on this often forgotten historic area.

Charlotte Harbor was platted in the 1860s around a point (where Live Oak Park is situated and where the two 41 bridges merge today) in an area thought to have been inhabited by indigenous peoples over 3,000 years ago.   During the Civil War, cattle were shipped to the Confederate Army from a wharf there.  After the war, the wharf continued to operate as a focus of trade with Cuba and other Caribbean islands. The old town consisted of a grid of streets developed with homes, stores, a post office, and a church.

Referred to at one point in its history as Hickory Bluff, the name Charlotte Harbor came from a post office designation – a news article from 1879 referring to the town notes “with its post office absurdly called "Charlotte Harbor.”    John Bartholf referred to the town as Hickory Bluff as late as 1882 in a pamphlet he wrote about the Charlotte Harbor area.  But for most of its history it has been known as Charlotte Harbor.  He noted in his pamphlet that the town was located amidst a ridge of pine, scrub and hammock, extending four miles along the water. At the time about twelve families lived there including the Bartholfs, the Knights, the DeCosters (Nathaniel DeCoster owned an area he called Harbor View), the Platts and the Durrances.  Many of the men in these families were Civil War veterans.  

Bartholf (said to be a great grandfather of PGI developer Al Johns) promoted Hickory Bluff (Charlotte Harbor) as a resort for invalids and pleasure seekers with gorgeous sunsets and moonlight views.  He further claimed that a residence there could not be excelled by any other point in South Florida.  Surely, what the marketers of Sunseekers' Resort might say as they draw today's  potential new residents to the location that was first announced to the world over 135 years ago.    

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