| Special to Fort Myers News-Press
We have come almost full circle now in our hop-skip-and-jump tour of some of the coastal towns of Florida. As we head back from the west coast of the Panhandle to St. Augustine, our point of origin, it would be hard to skirt around and ignore the capital city of Florida.
Its name lends itself well to the slow-moss-swayin,’ magnolia-saccharine Southern drawl, and yet it derives from the language of indigenous people. “Tallahassee” is Muskogean; the word roughly translates as “old town.” Which is the way the Muskogean-speaking Creeks, who migrated there in the 18th and 19th centuries from Georgia and Alabama, saw this ancient Apalachee townsite.
More: Florida History: Take a ‘spellbinding’ adventure to Apalachicola
By our standards, Tallahassee is an old town. It was established on the site of the aforementioned Apalachee town in 1824, three years after Florida became a U.S. territory. The reason this abandoned village was chosen to be the territorial capital is its location. It is approximately midway between Pensacola, the former capital of the English Colony of West Florida, where the territorial legislature held its first session in 1822, and St. Augustine, the capital of colonial East Florida, where the delegates held their second session. The only way the legislators could get from one side of Florida to the other in those days was by sailing all the way down and around and back up the peninsula. The journey took two months, east to west, and one month west to east. You’d better believe that on the second legislative agenda was the selection of a halfway point for the capital.
The first Capitol building was a log cabin, but 20 years later, a fine, Greek Revival building had been erected there to serve as the Capitol of the new state of Florida.
This 1845 Capitol building still stands as the Florida Historic Capitol Museum. If you visit Tallahassee, you will want to tour it. In fact, you may be pleasantly surprised at the wealth of Florida history on display in and around the capital city.
In chronological order of the time periods they represent, here are just a few.
Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park, in north Leon County, is a major Florida mound site of the Mississippian culture. Occupied between AD 1000 to 1500, it was a large political and …….