Native American, Pre-European
12,000 years ago Paleo Indians lived in Florida, but fewer than 100 sites have been found and although it is not known for certain whether any permanent settlements from that period were in the present city limits of Gainesville, archeological evidence of human presence exists. Upon retreat of the ice age, coastal Florida became inundated and Florida’s land mass shrank while the southeastern United States became wetter than it had been, so the Paleoindians required fewer moves between water spots and more populous camps inhabited for longer periods of time emerged; among the spots where camps from this later period have been found is around Paynes Prairie very close to Gainesville.
Eventually more complex social organization and agricultural practices emerged into what archeologists classify as the Deptford culture (2500 – 100 BC). A campsite of people of the Deptford Culture has been excavated below the "Law School Burial Mound" on the grounds of the University of Florida. Around the 1st century AD, Deptford people commenced moving into the environs of Gainesville to take advantage of wetlands in the environs of Paynes Prairie and northern Orange Lake becoming the Cades Pond culture.
In the 7th century the Deptford people were displaced by migrants thought to be from the Ocmulgee culture of the river valleys of Southern Georgia, dubbed the Alachua culture since most of their villages have been found in present-day Alachua County. The "Law School Mound" on the University of Florida’s campus is a burial mound built c 1000 by people of the Alachua culture who probably lived along the shore of Lake Alice.
Alachua culture villages budded off to form clusters connected by a series of forest trails, many of which are still in use as paved roads; among these clusters are some in the present city limits of Gainesville near the Devil's Millhopper and near Moon Lake (the eastern shore of which is 0.4 miles (640 m) from the city limits) as well as northwest of and north-central of Paynes Prairie, and west of Newnans Lake.
In the recorded period, the region was home to the Potano, a Timucua chiefdom descended from the Alachua culture people (the town of Potano was in what is now the San Felasco Hammock northwest of Gainesville).
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