Florida's Pioneers: Plantation
Pioneers' migrations were met with hostility from the Indian tribes of Florida. Not only were the Indians reluctant to give up their land, they also harbored escaped slaves which were an essential ingredient of the plantation economy. Many outposts were built because of the Indian threat and those who had to serve in these outposts lived a difficult life. Some of these outposts included: Fort Starke on the Manatee River, Fort Armstrong in Myakka, Fort Brooke in Tampa and Fort King in present day Ocala. Someone serving in one of these forts likely had to deal with insects, disease, shortages of food and water, overcrowded conditions and frequent attacks by Indians. These combined factors usually led to a short life for those serving in a fort.
The various forts and strongholds weren’t always enough protection against the Indians, and many communities had regular and constant Indian Patrol duties established. These patrol duties were compulsory, much like present-day jury duty. Men were enlisted for Indian patrol and required to participate at least twice a year. Refusal to do so would result in a fine from 2 to a maximum of 20 dollars.
Educational opportunities also took many years to develop. The priorities of the early pioneers were: settling in their new territories, establishing government and coping with hostile Indians. Therefore, efforts were not made to establish schools until many years later. Private schools were organized by various religious groups and churches but they were scarce. This required the majority of the population to be home schooled. Land was reserved by legislation in each township years before, but it wasn’t until the mid 1840s that a true public school system was formed.