By Derek Maul
Most Floridians know about the Seminole Native Americans, but what we don’t know is much about the long and colorful history of conflict with the U.S. Army in the first half of the 19th Century.
The three Seminole Wars occurred from 1814-1819, 1835-1842, and 1855-1858.
Forts, both temporary and more substantial, came and went, leaving behind a wide range of deteriorating artifacts from the Florida Panhandle to Miami. Over the years, both the State of Florida and interested individuals have amassed collections, but no single museum comes close to telling the complete story of the Seminole Wars.
That’s why Historical Preservation, Inc, is interested in acquiring property for the purpose of curating and displaying what has become the largest extant collection of Seminole War artifacts in the world.
“We’ve been in existence since 2004,” said local surveyor, Harley Gilmore, president of Historical Preservation, Inc. “We decided to organize something because we literally have the largest collection of artifacts from three Florida Seminole Indian wars.”
Along with historian-archivist, Ralph Van Blarcom, and a statewide board, Gilmore has been acquiring and preserving artifacts and rescuing priceless treasures from the ravages of development, deterioration, and ignorance.
“We have material from 33 of the Seminole Indian War forts,” Gilmore said. “If people are not interested, it’s because they’ve never been shown anything about it. More informed equals more interested.”
“Our purpose it to tell the story of the Seminole Wars,” Gilmore said. “It’s a story that’s yet to be properly told.”
In 2005, as a result of the preservation group’s lobby, the Lithia grave of John Carney was recognized as a Hillsborough County landmark. Carney, who was killed in 1856, was the last military casualty of the Seminole Wars.
“The biggest thing we need is a museum building,” Gilmore said. “That’s the first thing. Every fort needs at least some space for its exhibit. We’d like to tell the story.”
Contact Harley Gilmore at 657-4110 with any information on artifacts or if you’d like to help with the museum.