Cedar Key, Florida

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Cedar Key is a city in Levy County, Florida, United States. The population was 790 at the 2000 census. According to the U.S Census estimates of 2005, the city had a population of 958.[3] The Cedar Keys are a cluster of islands close to the mainland. Most of the developed area of the city has been on Way Key since the end of the 19th century. The Cedar Keys are named for the Eastern Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana, which once grew abundantly in the area.[4]




While evidence suggests human occupation as far back as 500 BC, the first maps of the area date to 1542, at which point it was labeled "Las Islas Sabines" by a Spanish cartographer.[5] An archaeological dig at Shell Mound, 9 miles (14 km) north of Cedar Key, found artifacts dating back to 500 BC in the top 10 feet (3.0 m) of the 28-foot-tall (8.5 m) mound. The only ancient burial found in Cedar Key was a 2,000-year-old skeleton found in 1999.[6]

Arrow heads and spear points dating from the Paleo period (12,000 years old) were collected by Cedar Key historian St. Clair Whitman and are displayed at the Cedar Key Museum State Park.

The Cedar Keys were used by Seminole Indians, by the Spanish as a watering stop for ships returning to Spain from Mexico and by pirates, such as Jean Lafitte and Captain Kidd.

Followers of William Augustus Bowles, self-declared "Director General of the State of Muskogee," built a watchtower in the vicinity of Cedar Key in 1801. The tower was destroyed by a Spanish force in 1802.[7]

Indian War

Permanent historic occupation of the islands began in 1839, when the United States Army, led by General Zachary Taylor, established "Fort No. 4", which served as a depot and included a hospital, on Depot Key (later known as Atsena Otie Key) during the Second Seminole War. This became the headquarters of the Army of the South. Cantonment Morgan was established on nearby Seahorse Key late in the war and used as a troop deployment station and as a holding station for Seminoles who had been captured or who had surrendered until they could be sent to the West. A hurricane with a 27-foot (8.2 m) storm surge struck the Cedar Keys on October 4, 1842, destroying Cantonment Morgan and causing much damage on Depot Key. Some Seminole leaders had been meeting with Army officers at Depot Key to negotiate their surrender or a retreat to a reservation in the Everglades. After the hurricane, the Seminoles refused to return to the area. Colonel William J. Worth had declared the war to be over in August 1842, and Depot Key was abandoned by the Army after the hurricane.[8]

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