The Earliest Inhabitants
"Everglades Hunter" painting courtesy of Theodore Morris
From the early 1840s to the turn of the century, Lake Monroe and its cypress-lined shores teeming with wildlife attracted a stream of visitors who traveled up the St. Johns River. However, long before, a diverse population of native Floridians had thrived along these riverbanks for thousands of years. University of Florida researchers have found evidence of native settlement along the lake 6,200 years before present time.
Painting by Theodore Morris, St. Augustine, Fl.
The Enterprise Midden, depicted in Jeffries Wyman’s 1874 memoir on the shell mounds of Florida, was comprised of “dinner debris” deposited by people living along the lake starting as early as 3,000 B.C. The ancestors of these natives, the Paleoindians, may have occupied the area thousands of years before that. A Swiss anthropologist, Count Louis Pourtales, had originally sketched the mound in 1848 when Cornelius Taylor’s two-story hotel existed, but that drawing has never been found.