Palatka, Florida

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Palatka is a city in Putnam County, Florida, United States. The population was 10,033 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 10,796.[3] It is the county seat of Putnam County[4] and includes East Palatka. The city is home to St. Johns River Community College and Ravine Gardens State Park and hosts a bluegrass music festival twice a year.



The area was once the domain of the Timucuan peoples, two tribes of which existed in the Palatka region under chiefs Saturiwa and Utina. They fished bass and mullet, or hunted deer, turkeys, bear and opossum. Others farmed beans, corn, melons, squash and tobacco. But infectious disease that came with European contact and war devastated the tribes, and they were extinct by the mid-18th century. The last people evacuated with the Spanish to Cuba in 1763, when Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain after the Seven Years War.

During the late eighteenth century, remnants of Creek and other tribes made their way to Florida. In a process of ethnogenesis, the Seminole tribe was formed. They called the location Pilo-taikita, meaning “crossing over”, or “cows’ crossing.” Here the St. Johns River narrows and begins a shallower, winding course upstream to Lake George and Lake Monroe.

In 1767, Denys Rolle, an English philanthropist and nobleman, established Rollestown on the east bank of the St. Johns River at the head of deep-water navigation. His 78,000-acre (320 km²) plantation was a utopian commercial and humanitarian experiment, recruiting settlers off the streets of London, including paupers, vagrants, pickpockets and "penitent prostitutes." Two hundred indentured servants arrived to clear wilderness for agriculture and livestock. Unaccustomed to either hard work or a subtropical climate, however, they scattered. Rolle next imported slaves from West Africa to tend chickens, hogs, goats and sheep, or produce cotton, indigo, citrus and turpentine for export to England.

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