A Time Remembered

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Local historians have offered many variations of the origin of the City's name. Most agree that Kissimmee is a modern spelling of a tribal word. The book, Florida Indians and the Invasion from Europe by Jerald T. Milanich, links "Kissimmee" to a village of the Jororo, one of Florida's lesser-known tribes.

Historian John Hann researched Spanish documents about missions established to convert the Jororo and other groups to Christianity in the late 1600s. Spanish records indicate that a mission was built near the tribe's main village, also called Jororo.

Another mission was called Atissimi. Milanich writes, "Hann suggests that the name Atissimi, sometimes given as Jizimi and Tisimi, may be the source of the modern place name Kissimmee." A 1752 Spanish map used the name "Cacema," which has evolved into today's spelling of Kissimmee.

 

1700s

The 1700s brought to Florida a new people and saw its ancient tribes drift into history. Creeks of the Southeast joined forces with the Africans fleeing from the bondage of slavery. European dominance- first by the Spanish, followed by British, and later by the Americans-- erased the last villages of the native Floridians.

The new tribes, who later would include a youthful "Chief" Osceola, drifted deep into the Florida interior, seeking sanctuary. The vast pine, cypress and palmetto open land between the St. John and Kissimmee Rivers provided a safe haven. This haven for mosquitoes remained the remote homeland of the Seminoles throughout the 1700s.

  • 1728 - Spain ended slavery in Florida after African soldiers joined the Spanish to drive out the British
  • 1763 - The British took control of Florida
  • 1776 - Thirteen of the American Colonies rebelled against the British crown, declaring their independence in July 1776. However, the Florida colony remained loyal to the British, which protected the frontier
  • 1779 - A year after joining France in declaring war against Britain in 1779, Spain captured Pensacola and took control of West Florida
  • 1783 - Spain took possession of Florida and the Louisiana territory at the end of the Revolutionary War

 

1800s

The City of Kissimmee was originally a small trading post on the northern bank of Lake Tohopekaliga known as the community of Allendale. After the Civil War, this area was included in a purchase of four million acres of marshland and plains by Hamilton Disston, the owner of Disston Saw Company in Philadelphia. The sale price for the land totaled $1 million at 25 cents an acre!

The infusion of $1 million to the state of Florida reportedly rescued the State from financial disaster. In January 1881, Disston contracted to drain the area and deepen the Kissimmee River, so products could be shipped into the Gulf of Mexico and points beyond. Many steamboat captains navigated the chain of lakes leading from Kissimmee to the Gulf with cargoes of cypress lumber and sugar cane.

  • 1845 - Florida is granted statehood
  • 1873 - Kissimmee's first post office is established near Shingle Creek. The first postmaster was Clement R. Tyner
  • 1882 - Florida, the first newspaper in Kissimmee was published. A one-room schoolhouse opened on Main Street and the First United Methodist Church opened its doors
  • 1883 - Thirty three of 36 registered voters voted to incorporate Allendale as Kissimmee City. The first elected Mayor was T.A. Bass
  • 1884 - W.B. Makinson, Sr. opens Makinson Hardware in downtown Kissimmee, which remains Florida's oldest operating hardware store
  • 1895 - A disastrous freeze led many families to relocate further south. Hamilton Disston's land company stops payments on bonds and returns to Philadelphia

 

1900s

By 1920 the population of Kissimmee increased to more than 2,700 people as a result of the Florida land boom. In the 1930s the cattle industry began to flourish in the area. However, citrus and other crops remained as the predominant industry. The construction of the Kissimmee Airport in the 1940s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in preparation for the U.S. involvement in World War II caused Kissimmee's population to increase by 38% to 3,700 citizens.

City leaders wanting to continue Kissimmee's prosperous history, encouraged growth by attracting retirees to the area during the 1950s. This effort stimulated growth nearly 60%. The next period of growth came in the 1970s with the development of Walt Disney World and other tourist attractions. Since Walt Disney World's debut in 1971, the City's population doubled from 7,500 to 15,000 in 1980. The population doubled again in the 1980s to 30,000.

  • 1900 - Electricity comes to Kissimmee. The initial rates were 3 cents per night or $7.50 per month
  • 1908 - A Fourth of July celebration was planned to welcome the residents of the new City of St. Cloud. The owner of a new flying school in Kissimmee planned his first flight to highlight the occasion. In taking off, the airplane hit a cow and was destroyed, resulting in the drafting of an air-ship ordinance
  • 1915 - Osceola High School plays its first football game, beating Orlando High School 6-0
  • 1924 - Kissimmee Chamber of Commerce is chartered
  • 1934 - Cattleman's Association is established in Kissimmee
  • 1943 - Construction of the Monument of States is completed
  • 1944 - The first Silver Spurs Rodeo is held of July 4. Admission is the purchase of one war bond
  • 1956 - Record rainfall brings flooding and $2 million in damages to Kissimmee