Thursday, July 18, 2019

From St John’s to Charlotte County - Tracing the Evolution of the Charlotte Harbor Area Through Maps

Maps tell an intriguing story of how the land that is now Charlotte County evolved from the period of its being a territory of the United States into statehood and beyond.
Carey and Lea Atlas, 1822, Philadelphia. 
The map above from 1822 gives a perspective on Florida counties in early U.S. history.  In 1821, when Spain ceded Florida to the United States according to the terms of the Adams-Onis Treaty, two counties were established.  St. John’s, at the start of the Florida Territorial period, corresponded roughly with the former colonial province of East Florida. (Escambia was the other county consisting of a large section of what was the colonial province of West Florida.)  What is now Charlotte County would have been part of St. John’s until this very large county was subdivided. 

From 1833 Tanner Map of Florida 

When the 1833 Tanner map above was created, what is now Charlotte County was a part of Monroe, Alachua and Indian Reserved Territories.  An act of the Territorial Legislature established Monroe County as the 6th county in the Florida territory. The county’s boundaries then were the southern portion of Florida extended north to the south shore of Charlotte Harbor.   Alachua County was created by the Florida territorial legislature. This  county originally stretched from the border of Georgia south (later from the Suwannee River) to the north shore of Charlotte Harbor.

From 1839 Map of Florida with Counties 

By 1834, the southern part of Alachua had become Hillsborough County, and at that time, the Charlotte Harbor area was then divided between Hillsborough and Monroe Counties with Mosquito County (for a brief time Leigh Read) to the east.  

From 1849 Map of Florida 

By the time of statehood, in 1845, all of the Charlotte Harbor area (which is now Charlotte County was in Hillsborough County.  At statehood, the population of the entire county of Hillsborough was only 836, not including soldiers or Native Americans.

In 1855, Manatee County was created out of Hillsborough and the Charlotte Harbor area became and stayed part of that county until DeSoto county was created in 1887.  At the time of Punta Gorda’s birth, the city was part of Manatee County, and very soon thereafter was included in DeSoto County, until Charlotte County was established in 1921.   Before it was subdivided into five separate counties, DeSoto had over 24,000 in population and contained over 3200 square miles, whereas the new Charlotte County had only 832 square miles and was less than 4,000 people in population. 

Map of DeSoto County 1890

Compiled by Theresa Murtha from the Maps and Research of Vernon Peeples and the Exploring Florida website.  

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