BRIEF HISTORY OF OSCEOLA COUNTY


 

Created in 1887, Osceola County is a 1,506 square mile area that serves as the south/central boundary of the Central Florida greater metropolitan area.

The city of Kissimmee, the county seat, is 18 miles due south of Orlando. Osceola's other incorporated city, St. Cloud, is 9 miles east of Kissimmee and approximately 45 miles west of the city of Melbourne on the Atlantic coast.

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Early Central Florida History

On July 21, 1821, there were two counties formed in Florida - Escambia to the west and St Johns to the east.  From these two counties were formed over sixty counties.

In 1824, the area to the south of St Johns County became Mosquito County, and Enterprise was named the County Seat. The name was changed to Orange County in 1845 when Florida became a state.

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Osceola, Seminole Warrior Leader

Osceola County derives its name from Billy Powell, son of British trader William Powell and his Creek wife Polly Copinger. Born in Alabama in 1804, Powell adopted the name Osceola, which means "black drink crier", at a tribal ceremony around 1820. After leading several small but successful raids against the Army over the next decade, Osceola was captured on Dec. 31, 1837 and died one month later at Fort Moultrie in South Carolina.

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Osceola County Flag

J. Luann Griffin designed the official county flag shortly after the county logo was created.  She used several elements from it, including the lettering, the oval the date banner and the radiating lines.

Ms. Griffin described her design in the county's 1987 Centennial Book as "a bust of Chief Osceola emblazoned with a banner proclaiming the year of the founding of Osceola County, is highlighted by a brilliant sunburst representing the name he was commonly known as, 'The Rising Sun.' The oval containing the bust rests on a band of traditional Seminole handiwork in tribute to the Seminole Chief for whom Osceola County was named. The background color, yellow, is representative of Osceola County sunshine, nurturing residents and drawing visitors to our beautiful county."

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The History of Kissimmee

Formerly known as Allendale, Kissimmee was incorporated in 1883 by a vote of 33 to 3, four years before the creation of Osceola County as we know it today.

Kissimmee was first settled by former confederate major J. H. Allen, who was a riverboat captain. His steamboat, the Mary Belle, was the first cargo steamboat on the Kissimmee River.

Known early on as the home of the country's first bars to accommodate ranchers on horseback, Kissimmee was literally the end of the line. That was during the cowboy era which extended down to Kissimmee and acted as a catalyst for the cattle industry.  To learn more about the Florida cowboys, visit our page on "Florida Crackers" to the left.

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The History of Osceola County

Formed on May 12th, 1887 from portions of Orange County and Brevard County, Osceola County became Florida's 40th county. Named after the famed Seminole leader, this area was a transportation hub in the late nineteenth century for riverboats and railroad. It readily began a cattle, sugar, and lumber-based economy.

Osceola County's 1,506 square miles include the cities of Kissimmee (incorporated in 1883) and St. Cloud (incorporated in 1911), as well as numerous communities. The city of Kissimmee has always had a strong historical association with the Florida cattle frontier, and the city of St. Cloud has roots that trace back to a northern land baron who began a sugar plantation in 1881.

Osceola County's communities include Narcoossee and Kenansville. Narcoossee is one of Osceola County's oldest settlements and was home to numerous British immigrants who brought with them a love for the sport of polo. In fact, a team was created in 1888 and grew to more than 100 members just two years later. Kenansville is located in southeast Osceola County and was named for railroad mogul Henry Flagler's third wife, Mary Lily Kenan Flagler, once he donated five acres and $6,000 to build a school house in 1911.

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The History of St. Cloud

St. Cloud is one of two incorporated cities in Osceola County (the other being Kissimmee).  St. Cloud was founded on East Lake Tohopekaliga in 1909, and was named after a French suburb which was an early home to the largest concentration of Union Army veterans in the South, hence its nickname "Soldier City."  Its Mount Peace Cemetery, established in 1910, is one of the largest union cemeteries located south of the Mason-Dixon Line with more than 300 Union soldiers buried there.

Reportedly the largest sugar mill in the nation operated in the late 1800s in what is now St. Cloud.  Some people believe that there are French roots to the city's name, while others say it may have come from the great white clouds that rose above the mill during the refining process.

Incorporated in 1911, the city prospered by luring veterans with inexpensive city lots, nearby farm land, and a "climate with no extremes." The first 100 lots sold for $50 each and the price later increased to $100 per lot.

In St. Cloud, many of the streets are named after states in the Union. According to the late St. Cloud historian Bob Fisk, this is because a street was given the name of the state from which its first settlers came.