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Settlement Problems

Under the Armed Occupation Act, the government induced settlers to venture into the wilderness and establish homesteads, promising rations, ammunition, and troop protection for at least a year. However, after only a month or two, the government reneged, cutting off food, supplies, and troops. An outraged Taylor wrote a lengthy letter to a St. Augustine newspaper complaining that the government had left them to the mercy of the Indians like sitting ducks. Many of the settlers at Enterprise and Ft. Mellon headed back to whence they came. But some, like the Taylors, their relatives by marriage the Houstons, the Bakers, Simpsons, Rileys, Demasters, and others stayed on to establish prosperous homesteads around the lake.

Not long after the Taylor’s arrival, tragedy struck the family when Taylor’s oldest daughter “Polly” (Mary Arabella) died in September of 1842 in an epidemic now thought to have been smallpox which also took the lives of nine slaves. But the family persevered, planting oranges, sugar cane, and cotton and attracting tourists to their mineral springs. One visitor impressed by the improvements made by all the families around the lake declared in 1843 that Enterprise “is destined one day to become one of the most important inland towns in the Territory.”

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