(First entry, p. 29)
1. HISTORICAL SKETCH
Charlotte county was created April 23, 1921, by an act of the legislature of Florida that divided DeSoto county into the five counties of DeSoto, Charlotte, Hardee, Glades and Highlands (Ch. 8513, Acts, 1921). The territory comprising Charlotte county had been a part of DeSoto county since the latter's creation in 1887 (Ch. 3770, Acts, 1887). From 1855 to 1887 it had been in Manatee county, from 1845 to 1855 in Hillsborough county, from 1824 to 1845 in old Mosquito (Orange) county, and from 1821 to 1824 in St. Johns county (Ch. 628, Acts, 1855; Ch. 1, Acts, 1845; Terr. Acts, 1824, pp. 260-262; Terr. Acts, 1822, pp. 2-3). Punta Gorda became the county seat (Ch. 8513, Acts, 1921, sec. 3). The county was named for Charlotte Harbor, the northern part of which is within its boundaries.
Although the territory around Charlotte Harbor was not developed to any appreciable extent until the latter half of the nineteenth century, this section was one of the first parts of Florida visited by the Spaniards. The bay is thought to be the one in which Juan Ponce de Leon anchored on his initial voyage in 1513, when, after having visited the east coast, where he made his first landing, he doubled around the peninsula and sailed up the west coast (Kenny, The Romance of the Floridas, p. 10). It is probably also the same bay at which Francisco de Cordoba's expedition of 1517 and Ponce de Leon's second expedition of 1521 came to grief because of Indian hostilities (ibid., pp. 15-17; Davis, "Juan Ponce de Leon's Voyages to Florida." Fla. Hist. Quart., vol. XIV, pp. 40-41), and for many years it bore the latter's name, being known as the Bay of Juan Ponce (Kenny, op. cit., p. 10). In the middle of the eighteenth century this name was supplanted by "Bay of Carlos" (Phinney, "Florida's Spanish Missions", Fla. Hist. Quart., vol. IV, no. 1, plates facing pp. 18-19), presumably because the surrounding area was inhabited by an Indian tribe variously known as the Calos, Carlos, Caluca and Calusa (Brinton, Notes on the Floridian Peninsula, pp. 112-113; Read, Florida Place-Names of Indian Origin, p. 145). "Charlotte" is said to be an English corruption of "Carlos" (Brinton, op. cit., p. 113; Read, op. cit., p. 146; Kenny, op. cit., p. 17), but it is possible that the English renamed the bay for the queen of George III. Ponce de Leon's second expedition had been undertaken with the intention of making a settlement, but the Calusa drove off the wouldbe settlers before they could complete the dwellings and chapel which they had started. Ponce himself, after his return to Cuba, died of the wounds he had sustained in the encounter. (Kenny, op. cit., pp. 15-17.) In 1566 Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the founder of St. Augustine, visited the west coast and established at Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay, respectively, the missions of Antonia and Tocobago, each of which was protected by a fort. The mission at Charlotte Harbor failed after two years, when the Indians refused to furnish supplies upon which the settlers were dependent for subsistence. (Phinney, op. cit., p. 16.)
There was a settlement on Charlotte Harbor during the second Spanish occupation which, judging by its name, Charlotte Haven (Morse,