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Safety Harbor, FL.

A Little History...

Safety Harbor - Historical Synopsis (I)

By Chris Nelson

Archaeological evidence exists that the earliest aboriginal contact with the Central Peninsula Gulf Coast area occurred during the Paleo-Indian period, and further suggests that pre-historic aboriginals visited the Safety Harbor area as early as 3,000 B.C.  Those early inhabitants were nomadic hunters and gatherers who made seasonal visits to the area's bays and rivers in search of game.  The first recorded sighting of present-day Safety Harbor was made by Francisco de Garay, who sailed into the bay area from Jamacia in 1519.

Following, Panfilo Navarez landed in 1528 with an expedition of 400 men on the lower Pinellas peninsula and proceeded inland in search of gold.  Eleven years later, Spaniards, captained by Hernando De Soto, sailed into Tampa Bay on a simular expedition for gold but encountered a series of self-sufficient tribes collectively known as the Tocobaga Indians.  The Spanish introduced fiercely contagious diseases that decimated the Tocobaga population.  Over timethe Seminole Indians replaced the Tocobaga population.

The first non-Indian settlers, Odet Philippe (a self-styled "Count") and his family, immigrated to Safety Harbor from the Bahamas and established a citrus plantation in the late 1830's abovet the future town site.  Other homesteaders followed.   Philippe expanded his plantation and businesses in the area.  He also imported tobacco seed from Cuba, becoming the first cigar maker in the Tampa Bay region and even sold fish to the U.S. Army during the Second Seminole War.  When a hurricane destroyed his plantation in 1848, he reestablished it.  Odet Philippe lived out his days on his plantation in Safety Harbor and died in 1869.  He lies buried in Philippe Park which is named after him.

Other early settlers included Colonel Willian J. Bailey who purchased the mineral springs on the shores of Tampa Bay in 1856.  The area became known as Bailey's Bluff, Bailey-by-the-Sea, or Green Springs.  The establishment of a tourist and health resort, in combination with the advent of the railroad, spurred migration and boosted development in the area.  With a population of 200, the town was incorporated in 1917 and given the name Safety Harbor.

With its incorporation was elected the town's first Mayor.  Other elected officials included Dr. D. McMullen, Treasurer; John Byrd, Attorney; D.P. Pipkin, Town Manager and E.D. Pearce, Marshall.   Safety Harbor had discovered itself and optimism reigned supreme.

Master Reference: Historic Building Survey of Safety Harbor, March 1994.

Info Obtained from CityScape

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If calling City merchants from outside of the County area, use area code :727