Nothing Spanish about Historic Spanish Point
First off, let’s get one thing straight: Historic Spanish Point, in Osprey, did not derive its name from the Spaniards who settled there — because they never did.
In spite of having visited this beautiful site many times while chaperoning school field trips with my three sons, for some reason I had completely forgotten that fact. But I was reminded of it when I took a guided tour with the Spanish Point associate director, Kara Morgan.
“There is nothing Spanish here,” she said.
Apparently, in 1867, pioneers John and Eliza Webb were looking for a warm spot where they could move to escape the harsh New York winters. While in Key West, they met a “Spanish” (probably Cuban) trader who told them about an elevated, beautiful point of land that jutted out into the water in a safe harbor. The Webbs decided to sail up the coast and look for it.
After overshooting their mark and ending up in what is now Manatee County, they headed down south a little bit and found what they were looking for. They decided to settle there and farm their 160 acres of land that was promised to them as part of the Civil War reconstruction. But they were by no means the first to live on the land. More than 5,000 years ago, the original Floridians fished, hunted, lived and died there.
A Historic Spanish Point tour walks you through the now 30-acre site, beginning with archaic middens dating from 3000 B.C. You can even see what is inside one of them with an interesting attraction called Window to the Past, where there is a plexiglass wall dissecting a midden so all the layers of pottery, shells and bones can be seen. Think of a midden as a prehistoric landfill that enables one to learn about life thousands of years ago.
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