Original Steel Bridge over Alligator Creek, Punta Gorda, 1900



For decades now, when you think of Charlotte County history, you are directed to the county seat, Punta Gorda. But despite the attention focused on the city by its many historical groups, the history of all of Charlotte County waits to be told.

Many people, places and events played a role. No single historical "center", whether by outreach or by the creation of a physical building has told the complete history of Charlotte County. Archaeologists dating back to the fist researcher, Frank Hamilton Cushing, who checked into the Hotel Punta Gorda in late May, 1895, and the many others since ,have Charlotte Harbor area populated over 10,000 years before there was a harbor and the Gulf Coast lay over 150 miles west.

The most famous ancient inhabitants, the Calusa who immigrated here in the first century B.C., built the largest and longest native-American, hunter-gathering culture in world history. So for over 7,000 years, people have come to our area because of the wealth of marine resources. Unique to any other North American indigenous culture, the Caluse engineered the buiiding of islands, canals and monumental ceremonial mound complexes

over a very large territory and lasting over twenty-five centuries.

After the retreat of the Spanish, Charlotte County was home to former slaves , Native-Americans , and Cuban nationals who raised cattle, crops and fished. Pressures by the United States and thousands of landless white settlers, removed the inhabitants in a series of the most costly and bloody wars in American/Indian relations. The Seminole Wars are a critical and important part of Charlotte County's history. The Charlotte County Societies are committed to tell everyone's history, who played a role.

After the 1980s, county historian Lindsay Williams wrote about the 74 towns that disappeared in Charlotte County. Perhaps so much attention is paid to Punta Gorda, due to their disappearance. Like the various diverse people that are our history, so too are the towns where they lived, worked, raised their families and buried their dead. Our societies are committed to telling their stories as well, least they be forgotten forever.

There were many key events that caused and shaped the experience of Charlotte County people past and present. Our close ties with Cuba, Manifest Destiny, The Seminole Wars, the Civil War and the Phosphate Mining Boom, just to mention a few. It is the role and function of a County-wide history center to focus on the events that made us who we are today.

Learn more about our ancient history.

The Charlotte Harbor Anthropological Society was formed in 2018. The sixteenth chapter of the Florida Anthropological Society formed in the 1950s, CHAS provides education outreach, research and publication about the Calusa an the ancient history of Charlotte Harbor.d