Fort King (also known as Camp King or Cantonment King) was a United States military fort in north central Florida. It was named after Colonel William King, commander of Florida's Fourth Infantry and the first governor of the provisional West Florida region. The fort was built in 1827, and became the genesis of the city of Ocala. Located near the corner of East Fort King Street and 39th Avenue in Ocala, the site is a U.S. National Historic Landmark (designated as such on February 24, 2004).
Archaeological investigations have indicated that the area was inhabited prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the area. At least two periods of occupation have been identified: between 6500 and 2000 B.C., and 200 to 1500 A.D.
Fort King was constructed in 1827 as a buffer between the Seminoles (to the south in the Moultrie Creek Treaty reservation area) and whites settling in the region. It sat at the nexus of a system of military roads. From the fort, one could travel easily (for the era) on the Fort King Road to Fort Brooks (near Orange Springs), Fort McCoy, a ford at the St. Johns River which would become the town of Astor, Palatka, Jacksonville, and Fort Brooke (on Tampa Bay), amongst others. It subsequently fell into disuse after 1829.
In 1832, the fort was active again to help in the relocation of the Seminoles westward as part of the Treaty of Payne's Landing. The Second Seminole War, beginning in 1835, made the fort one of the most important during the next seven years, due to its strategic location. Abandoned for nearly a year between mid-1836 to early 1837 after the Seminoles burned it, the fort still remained functional until the war's end in 1842.
After the founding of Marion County, the fort became its first courthouse in 1844. Eventually, though, the building was abandoned for the last time, and the fort deconstructed to provide building material for the early residents.
Today there are no signs of the fort, and the site is 37 acres of undeveloped, vacant land, in the middle of a residential area. Three historical markers exist, one Memorial Marker near the Fort Site, one National Historic Landmark near the approximate location of the fort itself, the other at the old Fort Cemetery Site for the Fort. The site is owned by the City of Ocala and Marion County. 2013 Fort King Heritage Association has been formed to Develop, Promote & Protect the site. See: fkha.org
- About Marion County at Marion County Board of County Commissioners
- Explore Marion County Cities - Ocala at Ocala, Marion County Chamber of Commerce
- Ocala Star Banner
- Marion County, Part 2 - Fort King and Fort Drane at The Florida Seminole War 1792-1859
- Florida Forts at American Forts Network
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