History of Ocala and Marion County
“Horse Capital of the World”
Chief Osceola,leader of Seminole Indians
Marion County, “Horse Capital of the World!” Ocala is located in Marion County, Florida, and is about one hour ride to either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. It is described as the Kentucky of Marion County because of the many horse farms.
To find out more about Marion county-Ocala visit: Wikipedia/Ocala
Florida is home to some 600 thoroughbred farms and training centers, with more than 75 percent of these located near Ocala in Marion County. Ocala is one of only four major thoroughbred breeding and training centers in the world.
Fort King, designated “National Historical Landmark Feb.4, 2004.
Supported by the Ocala DAR Chapter since 1927
On February 4, 2004, “Fort King” was designated a National Historic Landmark. This includes the acre owned by the Ocala DAR Chapter. Fort King has had a long association with the Ocala DAR Chapter dating back to October 24,1927. On that date the Ocala DAR Chapter voted to purchase one acre of land which was the original site of the “Fort King Military Reservation Memorial Ground.” It was on this site that soldiers and settlers were buried during the Seminole Wars. After these wars, the bodies were removed from the Military Reservation to the National Cemetery at St. Augustine, Florida. By purchasing this property, the Ocala DAR Chapter agreed to establish and maintain a fitting memorial in honor and remembrance of the soldiers who served their country during the Seminole Indian Wars at Fort King, Ocala, Florida.
In 1932, after many fund raising events, the Ocala DAR Chapter members had the area cleared, and cement posts placed to mark boundaries. In March 1932, a “Bronze Marker” was placed to commemorate the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth, and recently this marker was moved to the Ocala/Marion County Veterans Park.
On May 14, 1932, after seven years work, a boulder of blue Georgia granite, in the shape of a truncated pyramid, was placed on the site with a bronze tablet affixed to it. The tablet states “Fort King was the birthplace of what is now known as the City of Ocala, named for the extinct Timucuan Indians who lived here at the time. They called their village ‘Ocali’, commonly thought to mean “Big Hammock.”In October 1997, the Ocala DAR Chapter reaffirmed its pledge to forever hold and maintain the Fort King site as a Historic Memorial site by erecting a lighted flag pole which flies the flag of the United States of America, day and night, as a tribute to those who have fought and died for our country.
On May 8, 2008, the City of Ocala received a grant for $46,000 awarded by the Bureau of Historic Preservation. This grant was used for archeological studies. These studies were completed at the Fort King site, and now identifies where the original Fort King Road, blacksmith shop, stable, mercantile store, battlefields, and peace talk negotiation sites were located. This step was necessary to achieve the ultimate goal of having “Fort King designated as a National Park”.
Opening Celebration/Saturday May 31,2014 when the Fort King Heritage Association hosted an opening of Fort King Park and the Heritage Center. This national historic landmark is located at 3925 East Fort King Street Ocala, Fl..Tt began with a flag ceremony. Other activities include: A time capsule dedication, an artifact displays, presentation”s by historians and archeologists, walk and talk with botanists, music, exhibits, and re-enactments, and children’s activities.
On Tuesday, October 7, 2014 the Marion County Commissioners and the Ocala City Council ratified the proposal, approved by the Ocala DAR Membership for 99-year lease to the DAR’s acre of land. This lease allows public access to the site featuring a memorial commemorating soldiers killed during the Second Seminole War fought between 1835 and 1842. The Ocala DAR Chapter has been the Trustee and has managed the memorial grounds since 1927. The partnership with Marion County, City of Ocala, and the Fort King Heritage Association will allow protection, preservation, and development of the history of Fort King, and allow access to the Fort King National Historic Landmark.”
Fort King Historical Preservation Medal
Medal presented by (L) Betty Jo Green, Florida State Historian to Gloria Seddon (R)
On January 28, 2015, Gloria Seddon a member of the Ocala DAR Chapter since April 19, 1985 was presented with the National DAR Historical Preservation Medal, a prestigious award not given lightly. Gloria has served as Regent for the Ocala DAR chapter twice 1996-98 and 1999-2001. She remains the Committee Chairman for the Fort King Military Reservation Memorial Ground for which she has served over twenty years. This acre of land was purchased and owned by our chapter since 1927.
Gloria has attended all the meetings, and has been actively involved in the preservation of this acre of land as well as helping with the leasing of the land to Marion County and the City of Ocala, and the Fort King Heritage Association. This lease encourages not only the preservation of Fort King, but allow access by the public to gain knowledge of the history of the site. The Fort King Fort site which is several yards away from the DAR acre site is now a “Fort king National Historical landmark”.
At the same presentation a “Historical Preservation Award” was presented to the Henry Shelton, President of the Fort King Heritage Association for their continuing efforts in helping to preserve the Fort King site. A certificate of appreciation for their continuing efforts in preserving Fort King was present to Mayor Quinn, Ocala, Fl and to Representative Marion County commissioner
Both the DAR site and Fort King will be linked with a series of walkways and markers explaining the history in each area.
A re-dedication of our DAR site is planned for in Spring 2017.
The park has a natural walking trail for self-guided tours. For more information, please call 352-368-5535 or 368-5517.
Fort King is now part of the “NSDAR’s Historical Sites for Florida”.