Up through the early 19th century, the area encompassing Oviedo was sparsely populated save for a few Seminoles and African-American Freemen who associated with the Seminole tribe, known as Black Seminoles, in what was then Spanish Florida. The Seminole tribe had larger clusters of population in other areas of Central Florida, such as nearby Lake Jesup.
The population remained sparse until after the American Civil War, when people devastated by war started moving South to begin a new life. One mile to the southeast side of Lake Jesup, a small hamlet of settlers established the “Lake Jesup Settlement” in 1875. Letters from that era showcased a difficult life for the Florida Cracker settlers: cooking outdoors with wood stoves, sleeping under mosquito nets, and burning rags to keep the insects away. Wildlife was plentiful, however. Initially, this settlement had around 40 families, but quickly evolved into a thriving trading port. The settlement was named “Oviedo” by Andrew Aulin when the first post office was established to honor the state’s Spanish heritage.
Several people played a prominent role in establishing Oviedo’s history. George Powell was an early settler who ran a large tract of land, referred to as the “Powell Settlement”, which today encompasses most of the northern part of the city—including the downtown area. One of Powell’s sons, Lewis Powell, (alias Lewis Payne), became infamous for being John Wilkes Booth’s primary accomplice in the plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.
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