By Diane Barile
South Brevard Historical Society
Never far away from us is Christmas, the town, that is. All year long, over one thousand cheerful souls live beside the restored Seminole War Fort Christmas. The village is hosting a cracker Christmas and posting Christmas cards with its unique postmark.
On December 25-27, 1837, on the site of an abandoned Native American village, the fort was quickly constructed of pine tree trunks by two thousand American soldiers. The Second Seminole War pitted the U. S. Army against Native Americans protecting themselves from the incursion of settlers on lands once reserved for the tribes. The fort was active for only a few months before it, too, was abandoned. Then by 1842 the Army gave up after many losses, going back up North, leaving only about three hundred Seminoles hiding in wild Florida.
With the Homestead Act pioneer ranchers, citrus growers, hunters or fisher folk became settlers around the fort. Homes among the pine and oak forests housed families: the Taylors, Tanners, Tuckers and Smiths. In 1892 Emmett Tanner, an Orange County Commissioner with ten acres donated by Cracker descendent Mike Smith, created the “Old Picnic Ground” as a county park. Expanding through the years, the village has become a living history site and museum. On Cracker Days, December 3-4, you can visit the houses, church and replica of Fort Christmas. Craftsmen and women in the dress of early 1900 will be busy as blacksmiths, storekeepers and making rope, brooms, baskets and even lace. The hometown crew will have plenty of bar-b-q and country music at the ready.
For years people from Brevard have come to Christmas to mail Christmas cards from Christmas, Florida. You can rest assured, the Postmaster and cheerful staff will carry the Christmas spirit of Christmas, Florida on the hand marked cards sent around the world.
Oh yes, you could also see the world’s largest alligator shaped building as Jungle Adventures. There are community tributes to cowboy sculpture from Christmas. James Hugh Lette is famous for the statue of Will Rogers.
So you could go to Christmas any day of the year where Seminoles, the Army and Florida pioneers found home. But this time of year you see Christmas in Christmas of 1900. If you like, you can send Christmas to friends with best wishes from the heart of the real town of Christmas.
May you enjoy the Pioneer Christmas any day, but especially on December 3-4 (west ofl-95 on SR 50).
May your Christmas be white with Florida snow lawn. And, may your hearts be Merry and Blessed through the New Year.