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Madera's Human History


History of Florida

Florida's human history begins 12,000 years ago when people first started to inhabit a land very different from what Florida is today. Because the sea level was much lower then, Florida was twice the size it is now. These Native American cultures developed cultivated agriculture and traded with other societies throughout the southeast. Spanish exploration began in the early 1500's bringing Ponce de Leon to St. Augustine in 1513 and Hernando de Soto to Tallahassee in 1539. The late 1500's attracted the French and English. Between the two periods of Spanish occupation, Florida was briefly ruled by Great Britain. In 1821, Spain officially ceded Florida to the newly formed United States under the conditions of the Adams-Onis Treaty.

Through periods of Native American occupation and European exploration and colonization, Florida continued to grow. Florida became the 27th state in the Union on March 3, 1845. During the Civil War, Florida provided soldiers and supplies and was relatively spared compared to other states in the Confederacy. The latter half of the nineteenth century brought large-scale agriculture to the state. Florida's growth originated from the cheap land and railroads that were being built throughout the state. Florida continued to growth through the post-war "boom" and attracted tourism, cattle, and citrus industries. Today, it is the 4th most populous state.

For more Florida history, visit the Florida Division of Historical Resources' Short History of Florida.

Timucuan village. Photo: National Park Service
History of Alachua County

Before Spanish settlement, the Timucuan Indian Civilization existed in present day Alachua County.

Alachua County was created in 1824 as a lage county extending from the Georgia border to Tampa Bay. During the following years, the Florida railroad opened the interior of the state for settlement and trading.

During the Civil War, Gainesville served as a Confederate Commissary and was the site of two battles. By the end of Reconstruction and the 19th century, Alachua County and Gainesville was a mercantile center for cotton, vegetable crops, and phosphate.

In 1905, Gainesville was chosen as the site for the University of Florida. As the University expanded, so did the city.



Copyright © 2004 UF/IFAS Extension and Mark Hostetler
Content written by Elizabeth Swiman and Mark Hostetler
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611