Florida Historical Markers Programs - Marker: Sumter

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Location:Site of town of Pilaklikaha
County: Sumter
City: Center Hill
Description: Side One: One mile east of here is the site of the town of Pilaklikaha, established in 1813 by Black Seminoles. Meaning “many ponds” in the Mikasuki language, Pilaklikaha was the largest and most prosperous Black Seminole town in Florida, with a population of 100 men, women, and children. Many Black Seminoles were formerly enslaved peoples of African descent who fled bondage to Spanish Florida following the American Revolution. Driven into the Alachua and Suwannee regions by Georgia and Tennessee militias, they joined and mingled with the native Seminoles. Black Seminoles, though not formally adopted into the Seminole Tribe, formed a relationship with the native Seminoles who protected them from slave catchers in exchange for military aid and a portion of their crops as tribute. At its peak, Pilaklikaha contained timber, thatch-and-daub homes, corn cribs, and fences. Residents may have accumulated few possessions beyond simple dishes, arms, beads, and hand-made brushed pottery. During the 1820s, the settlement was visited by two American officials, Horatio Dexter and Lt. George McCall, who reported herds of cattle and horses along with fields of rice, beans, melons, pumpkins, and peanuts. Side Two: Pilaklikaha was also known as “Abraham’s Old Town,” named after Abraham, who came to the area after escaping slavery in Pensacola around 1826. Abraham served as a skilled interpreter and the voice of the Seminoles during treaty negotiations with the United States government. He rose to prominence as the counselor for Chief Micanopy, even accompanying him on a diplomatic trip to Washington, D.C. Abraham was later released from service in appreciation for his work. Assuming a connection to the Dade Massacre in 1835, United States Army soldiers, under the command of Brigadier General Abraham Eustis, burned Pilaklikaha to the ground on March 30, 1836, during the second escalation of the Seminole War. All the residents of Abraham’s town escaped weeks before its destruction. During the conflict, many native Seminoles and some Black Seminoles, including Abraham, were forcibly relocated to Indian Territory, in present-day Oklahoma, as part of the “Trail of Tears.” Abraham died in Indian Territory sometime after 1870.
Location:West of Bushnell on S.R. 48, vicinity of Wahoo.
County: Sumter
City: Bushnell
Description: The Battle of Wahoo Swamp occurred near here on November 21, 1836. The 2nd Seminole War, a seven-year struggle resulting from competition between Seminole Indians and white settlers over central Florida lands, had begun almost a year earlier. By November, 1836, Indian forces had concentrated in Wahoo Swamp to oppose General (and Territorial Governor) R.K. Call's pursuing army. The attack of November 21 began with the advance of a mil-long line of about 2500 men including Tennessee Volunteers, regular army artillery and officers, Florida militiamen, and several hundred Creek Indians. In the fierce engagement fought from tree to tree in mud and water, American troops pushed the Seminoles across the slough south of this marker. The Indians' return fire resulted in the death of Major David Moniac, a Creek regular army officer who led a bold attack across the swamp. Near nightfall, army commanders decided not to pursue the Indians further due to the seemingly impassable terrain and to the lack of supplies. Army casualties were low; the number of Indian losses remains unknown. The Seminoles withdrew southward, but the 2nd Seminole War continued until 1842.
Sponsors: sponsored by sumter county historical society in cooperation with department of state
Location:CR 235 at Public Park
County: Sumter
City: Wildwood
Description: Side 1: Royal Community Park is the site of the former segregated Royal School. Founded in 1865, the community of Royal was originally known as Picketsville, which was named for the white picket fences that marked its 40-acre homesteads. It was settled by former slaves from the Old Green Plantation located on the Withlacoochee River. The settlement was called Royal by the late 1880s and the community's post office was established on June 26, 1891. Royal's first industries were farming, logging, and naval stores. In 1874, the Reverend Alfred Brown built the community's first school, a one-room schoolhouse. Because the school was centrally located, children, staff, and teachers were able to walk to school. Later, a three-room school constructed of wooden planks and board windows was built. Perman E. Williams, the school's first officially appointed principal, served during the 1937-38 school year. Men from the community, along with Principal Williams, served as trustees for the school. During the 1930s, the trustees requested and received approval from the Sumter County School Board to build a new Royal school. Side 2: The last and largest Royal School was built following an agreement that Sumter County would furnish materials and the Royal Community would provide the labor to construct the new school. Richard Smith donated the land for the school, and workers from the Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) joined a group of local volunteers to build the facility. The ten-room school was constructed of wooden planks and accommodated 108 students. In 1947, Alonzo A. Young began his tenure as the school's last principal. In 1954, the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in the Brown vs. Board of Education case ended years of organized segregation in public education. At the time, there were eight black schools in Sumter County. The county, however, did not embrace integration until the 1970-71 school year. Following integration, students from the Royal School transferred to the Wildwood elementary, middle, and high schools. In 1984, the Royal School was torn down and a combination community center and fire station was built on the site. The school's 1945 cafeteria, a separate building, was retained and still stands at its original location.
Sponsors: The Royal Library Association, Sumter Board of County Commissioners, Sumter,LLC, T&D Concrete,Inc., Young Performing Artists,Inc., and the Florida Department of State