About Quizzes

History of Tallahassee, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida Brief history The first Europeans* to arrive in the Tallahassee area of the Florida Panhandle, were the Spanish, in 1528, when Conquistador Panfilo de Narvaez arrived with approximately 400 men, after surviving a hurricane off the coast of Cuba. An ill-fated mission, many of de Narvaez’s men did not survive the Indian attacks, additional hurricanes, and the ship’s pilot’s departure without them. Eight years after being stranded in Florida, de Narvaez’s men arrived at their destination in Mexico City—without deNarvaez, who had not survived the expedition. Hernando de Soto and 600 soldiers were the second wave of Spanish explorers to meet up with the native Apalachee Indians. Known to have taken the Apalachee village of Anhaica by force, de Soto established a four-month residence there during the winter of 1538-1539, before setting out for points west. Due to de Soto’s brutality toward the Apalachees, later Spanish missionaries were met with strong resistance. The missionaries, seeing the success of the Apalachean agriculture, attempted to “borrow” some food from the natives and coax them to work in the missionaries gardens. One of their most important of the mission sites established was the Mission San Luis de Apalachee, which served as the Spanish provincial capital in America. Although ravaged a bit by time, the mission has been partially reconstructed and is now a tourist attraction in 21st-century Tallahassee. After Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, there was a need to find a centrally located place for a territory, and later, a hoped-for state capital. The two largest cities at the time, St. Augustine on the Atlantic Seaboard, and Pensacola on the Gulf Coast, were given the task of locating a place that would be equidistant from each other to eliminate having to alternate meetings between their locations. William Simmons of St. Augustine and John Lee Williams of Pensacola decided that Tallahassee would fit the bill. Located near a beautiful waterfall, the town became the territorial capital, in 1824. It was not until 1845, however, that Florida was admitted to statehood. For trivia buffs, the city’s name originated with the Creek tribe, later known as the Seminole tribe, from a Muskogean Indian word for “old fields,” or “old town.” After a period of uncertainty and quibbling over how Tallahassee should be spelled, the final spelling of the city’s name is said to have been given by Octavia Walton, wife of the territory’s governor. Tallahassee also was the only Confederate state capital east of the Mississippi River that was not captured by the Union army during the Civil War (Austin, Texas, also remained unoccupied by the North). Colleges and Universities Higher education in Tallahassee includes such institutions as Florida State University, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee Community College, and Barry University. Students from what became known as Florida State University, fought in the Battle of Natural Bridge, about 10 miles southeast of Tallahassee, during the Civil War. The university is credited with being the only non-military academy to have successfully defended their grounds. Museums and other cultural outlets Tourists to Tallahassee are encouraged to take advantage of the excellent opportunities to view such former grand antebellum Southern plantations as the Goodwood Museum and Gardens, Knott House, and the Tallahassee Museum of History and Science. Enclosed within a former cotton and corn plantation on 2,400 acres, is the Goodwood Museum and Gardens. Visitors witness the grandeur of the rich aristocratic South with its huge mansion, roller rink, rough house, stables, numerous cottages, and formal gardens. At the Tallahassee Museum of History and Science, visitors can view the former home of Princess Catherine Murat, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, at this historic 1840s plantation. Within its 52-acre boundaries is an African-American church and schoolhouse that dates to the 1850s, and a farmstead from the 1880s. For those interested in the history and culture of African Americans in Tallahassee and the rest of Florida, visitors will find the John G. Riley House Museum and the FAMU Black Archives Research Center and Museum, interesting and informative. Home of the first black principal of Lincoln High School, the John G. Riley House Museum features exhibits illustrating the life and times of African Americans from the Reconstruction Era through the Civil Rights movement. Sports Although Tallahassee does not play host to any professional sports organizations, local colleges, such as the FSU Seminoles, provide sports enthusiasts with plenty of live action from an array of programs, including men’s football, basketball, soccer, and golf. The university’s women’s teams include cross country, basketball, soccer, and volleyball, and sport a gender-sensitive logo of a Native American woman. FSU’s logos are used with expressed written permission of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc.

* Ponce de Leon explored the Atlantic Coast of Florida and the west coast of the peninsula north to about the Caloosahatchee River, in 1513.