Some question seems to exIT as to a definite origin
of the name "Sarasota". Legend connects IT with
Sara, reputedly the daughter of the conquistador, DeSota.
Some have wondered if the name may have originated with
an Indian word "sara-se-cota", meaning a landfall
easily observed. Maps in the 1700's showed the area as
"Porte Sarasote" and "Sarazota". IT is also said a fishing camp and Indian trading post at
the end of Longboat Key was called "Saraxota".
Use of the name "Sarasota" appears on the first
complete maps of Florida printed by the government in
1839, 18 years after the Floridas passed to the United
States following ownership by both the Spanish and the
Long before the name came into question, Indians
had discovered the lush area and knew the bounty of the
abundant wild fruits and game in the vicinity. Fishermen
and traders were not infrequent visitors to the area. Clashes
between the whites and Indians in Florida eventually led
to the ruinous seven-year Seminole War.
IT was at the conclusion of the hostilities
that Congress adopted the Armed Occupation Act - deeding
160 acres and six months provisions to any person who agreed
to carry arms and protect the land for five years. Additional
land was available at $1.25 per acre.
The first permanent white settler in the Sarasota
area was William H. Whitaker, who was deeded 144.81 acres
on September 1,1851, on Sarasota Bay. Mr. Whitaker, for
whom the Whitaker Bayou is named, built his log cabin at
"Yellow Bluffs", so named because of its outcroppings
of yellow limestone. The Whitaker cabin was burned to the
ground by Seminole raiders in 1865.