Florida's Vanishing Trail


                James Hammonds - Author biography

      Florida’s Vanishing Trail – http://www.lulu.com/content/5608850

 It was over 5 years ago that I started a research project in Collier County to assemble all the information that could be found on the U.S. Army forts that were built in South Florida during the 2nd and 3rd Seminole wars - 1835-1858. After completing the project which included creating an up to date survey map that not only showed the changes of the locations of the forts during the wars, but what would be the probable locations of the fort sites today. This new survey map was produced from taking civilian and military maps from 1837 through the1890s and was an attempt to accurately produce what would be a modern map with G.P.S. coordinates. After 4 years and thousand of dollars and thousands of hours of research I sent my results to the Division of Historical Resources in Tallahassee so that the sites could be recorded with a number on the Florida Master Site File- a database of all known historical and Archaeological sites in the state of Florida.

  I was stunned when I received a letter thanking me for my research "that would be of interest to future researchers". Let me first say that there were more army fort sites built by the U.S. Army in South Florida during the Seminole wars than any other locations in Florida, but to date no sites had ever been verified. It was during this research that I found out about the 10 monumented sites that had concrete markers with brass plates attached to them and placed at different locations during the 1940s.

  These sites although known about by the state for many years had never had any attempt to inform the public about them and with the establishing of 5 state, National, and Refuge Parks who now manage the land at those same locations since 1947 I was dismayed that no markers were ever placed that would allow the general public to be informed of its past historical and cultural heritage. The main reason I believe this has happened is because of the fact that all of the past research done by historians and Archaeologists have been kept in confidential files in the state and Federal Park archives. With no numbers assigned to locations revealed in the research project I worked on for so long, and the good luck letter (for my next project) I received from the state I decided to add more data and research with the actual maps, calculations, officers descriptions of the sites and forts and the actual Archaeological site forms taken from researchers who had tried to locate the sites from up to a hundred years ago. It could be said that I was successful in the fact that the state finally recognized 9 new sites and assigned numbers to them to be placed on the F.M.S.F. - In other words the research project would be placed in the archives like all the rest of the former researchers studies and there would in essence never be any markers placed at these historic locations.

  It was then that I realized that the only way to break this stalemate was to publish a book describing not only the investigation of these historic sites (many of the monuments have been lost or stolen) but the latest information on the last probable sites where markers could still be present.

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