18 March 2000

Kissimmee Area

In the 1800s a small trading post was established on the north bank of Lake Tohopekaliga called Allendale. Following the end of the Civil War Mr. Hamilton Disston, owner the Disston Saw Company in Philadelphia, purchased 4,000,000 acres of marshland and plains in central Florida. This sale included the community of Allendale and Mr. Disston made this area the headquarters of his operations in Florida. He had the area drained, and deepened the Kissimmee River in January1881. He planned to ship products along a chain of lakes from the Kissimmee River to the Gulf of Mexico. The products were mainly cyprus lumber and sugar cane. Captain Clay Johnston, one of the steamboat captains, built his home on the banks of Lake Tohopekaliga in 1885 and it still stands. Allendale grew in trade because of the connecting waterways and railroads. In 1883 the City was incorporated, and the name changed to Kissimmee City. The Spanish had established missions in this area to convert the Jororo Indians to Christianity. The "Atissimi" mission, sometimes called "Jizimi" and "Tisimi" may be the source of the name Kissimmee, according the some historians from information found in Spanish documnts. (A Spanish map from 1752 used the name "Cacema")

Osceola County was created in 1887 and the Courthouse was built in 1890. The town of Kissimmee City grew around it. It is the oldest Courthouse in Florida that has been in continuous use. It is listed on the National Historic Register along with many of the homes in the downtown area.

In the 1930s cattle became an important part of Kissimmee's economy, but citrus and other crops were still their main support. In the 1940s Kissimmee again had a boost to their area by the addition of the Kissimmee Airport by the U.S. Army. Their population doubled in the 1970s when Walt Disney opened his theme park.

Today Kissimmee is a mixture of the new and the old. Downtown offers a slower pace in a historic environment, while surrounded by the new of theme parks and attractions. Also, at the lakefront you will find the Monument of States, which was built in 1943 by the people of Kissimmee. The stones are from every State in the Nation, and several foreign countries, consisting of marble, petrified teeth, lava, coquina, flint, stalagmites, alabaster, meteors, and many others. It is a 70-foot monument to tourism. Visitors can find a 'stone from their home state'. The current residental population of Kissimmee is over 39,000, and Osceola County has approximately 130,000.

http://www.kissimmee.org/kissinfo.htm http://www.kissimmeecra.com/eco.html
"Hidden Florida" published by Ulysses Press, Berkeley, CA

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