Was there really a Fort Concord?

Oral tradition says that it was located on the northern shore of Lake Concord, essentially in the Home Depot parking lot. I spoke about the “fort” extensively in this post: Casselberry’s original settlement, Concord.

Some legends state that it was built by Aaron Jernigan and his relatives during the “Indian Scare of 1849.” At that time near Fort Gatlin, south of Orlando, the local settlers (including the Jernigans) constructed a makeshift lodging and barracaded themselves into a peninsula on Lake Conway for almost a year.

In my article, I cited a Second Seminole War construction date (1835-1839), which was based on information from the book “Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States” and Fort Wiki.

At a presentation at the Casselberry Library on October 12, 2023, local historian Dr. Deborah L. Bauer suggested the latter date. We know that it was never an actual military fortress and no soldiers were ever stationed there. It was said to be constructed by settlers of the area for protection in case of an emergency. Dr. Bauer further ellaborated her theory that the construction was rough at best and little more than a small house, perhaps with a fence.

The location is still a question mark. Although indications of a greater footprint of the cemetery were shown (including perhaps some bodies under Plumosa Avenue and perhaps into the Culvers lot) said that no signs of a structure had shown up when they expanded the highway.

Her current theory is that perhaps the fort was on the northeastern side of Lake Ellen, closer to Lake Ellen Dr and the LuRae Hotel. She is working with a cooperative home owner there and hopes to raise funds to do ground penetrating radar and look for any artifacts that could confirm the suspicion.

1844 military map, with modern landmarks added for context.

The old Fort Mellon Road, which connected Fort Mellon (Sanford) with Fort Gatlin, gives some clues since it would likely have been located along it. It roughly follows 17-92 through Casselberry, but it started to diverge westerly around the location of the Concord Cemetery.

The Evergreen Cemetery, behind the Target, is a well-known “colored” cemetery with known burials from the 1890s (but perhaps dating much earlier). Next year a museum will open on its grounds, its currator (Alton Williams) was also in attendance at Bauer’s talk.

They discussed the relationship of the two cemeteries, since white and non-white citizens could not be buried together at that time. It’s interesting to observe how the old road would have directly connected both of them together.

Where then also was the Concord Baptist Church, which burned down in 1883? Bauer said its exact location is also unknown, but she suggested it could potential be identified by discoloration of the ground if excavated. It was most likely close to the cemetery, but it’s uncertain which side it would have been on. There was a theory presented that it would have been south of it, along the road headed toward Evergreen.

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