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Sanford, Florida

The Mayaca or Jororo Indians inhabited the shores of Lake Monroe at the time of European contact. By 1760, however, war and disease had decimated the tribe, which would be replaced by the Seminole Indians. Florida was acquired by the United States from Spain in 1821, but the Seminole Wars would delay settlement.

In 1835, the Seminoles burned the port of Palatka on the St. Johns River, then the major artery into Central Florida from the East Coast. Consequently, an army garrison was established upstream, on the southern side of Lake Monroe near a trading post. Established as Camp Monroe in 1836, the camp was enclosed by log breastwork on three sides but open to the river, with approximately 300 men based there. The camp was attacked by Indians on February 8, 1837. It would be strengthened and renamed Fort Mellon in honor of Captain Charles Mellon, the sole American casualty.

General Zachary Taylor had a road built connecting a string of defenses from Lake Monroe to Fort Brooke (now Tampa). The town of Mellonville was founded around Fort Mellon in 1842 by Daniel Stewart. In 1845, Florida became a U.S. state. That same year, Mosquito County was renamed Orange County and the county seat was moved from Enterprise to Mellonville. Orange groves were planted, with the first fruit packing plant built in 1869. In 1870, “General” Henry Shelton Sanford bought 12,548 acres (50.78 km2) to the west of Mellonville and laid out the community of Sanford. Believing it would become a transportation hub, he called it “The Gateway City to South Florida.”

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