The Armed Occupation Act

In the late 1830’s, due to the Second Seminole War, this part of Florida was considered to be overrun and infested with hostile Seminole Indians. The thinking on the Federal level was that an armed civilian population who were willing to fight for their land and homes would free the government of the expense of stationing soldiers here. On August 4, 1842 Congress approved the act which permitted those desiring land 160 acres in the unsettled part of the Peninsula of South Florida. Settlers who wanted to be on the east coast had to apply in St. Augustine. Applicants had to be the head of a family, or a single person over eighteen. Required to be a resident of Florida, they could not settle within two miles of any permanent military post. Besides being required to bear arms, they had to clear and cultivate at least five of their acres. They were also required to erect a fit habitat and live there for five years.

The Armed Occupation Colony’s land claims, on the Indian River, reached from Barker’s Bluff near Sebastian on the north. To the south it nearly reached old Fort Jupiter. About 40 families came to the area, with the Fort Pierce site as the center of activity.

The Settlers

Permit No. 1 was issued by the Land Office in St. Augustine to Dr. Frederick Weedon.  The land that he received included the only structures in the area, the deactivated Fort Pierce.  Many of the permits used the forts location as a description point.  Dr. Weedon had been the fort physician in St. Augustine and cared for Osceola, traveling with him to Ft. Moultrie in South Carolina.  Without official sanction, he severed the head of Osceola after his death.  He embalmed it and family members reported in later years that he would bring out the head on nights when his sons misbehaved.  The advantage of having the fort on his land was short lived for the doctor, as the buildings were destroyed by fire in December of 1843.

BALDWIN, J. H.     BARKER, John     BOGGS, John A.
BOWERS, Daniel. E.     BRAYTON, Caleb Lyndon     BURNHAM, Mills Olcott
DAVIS, William. B.     DIRKE, James     ENGLISH William. F
FURGERSON, Nathaniel E     GARDINER, Nelson A.     GATTIS, D. H.
GRANT, James S.     HART, Ossian Bingley     HERMAN, J. S.
HILE, Thomas     HOLBROOK, Dr. Moses     HOLDRIN, William
HOUSTON, George     JENKINS, James H.     LIGHTBOURNE, James. P.
MARCEL, Francis H.     MERRILL, N. F.     MORRISON, Thomas
PECK, Samuel H.     PINKHAM, Reuben H.     RORNMISS, James
RUSSELL, William F.     SMYTH, Samuel     STONE, David
TABB, William     TAYLOR, Epriahn     TAYLOR, William
TRACES, Claudius S.     TURNER, Samuel A.     WARD, William D.
WASHBURN, Arbor     WEED, James     WEEDON, Dr. Frederick
WILLIS, Alfred