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Sarasota's History - Page 1 of 6

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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 British.

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.

 
   
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