City of Orlando's History
history dates back to 1838 and the height of the Seminole Wars. The U.S.
Army built Fort Gatlin south of the present day Orlando City limits to
protect settlers from attacks by Indians.
By 1840, a small community had grown up around the
Fort. It was known as Jernigan, named after the Jernigan family, who had
established the first permanent settlement in the area. Jernigan had a
post office, established May 30th, 1850.
Six years later with the settlement expanding northward, the community
officially changed its name to Orlando. In 1857, the U.S. Post Office
adopted the name change. The Town of Orlando was incorporated in 1875
with 85 inhabitants, 22 of whom were qualified voters.
History is not as clear on where the name Orlando originated. There are
four stories that are told. One involves Judge James Speer, who worked
hard in getting Orlando as the county seat, naming Orlando after a man
who once worked for him. Another is that Speer named it after a
character from Shakespeare’s, "As You Like It".
A third version has Mr. Orlando on his way to Tampa with a caravan of
ox. It is said that he got ill, died and was buried, and that folks
would come by and say, "There lies Orlando"
The most common story is about a company of soldiers on duty during the
height of the Seminole Wars. After battling Indians back into the swamps
on the east side of Lake Minnie (now Cherokee), the military troop
settled there for the night. Sentinel Orlando Reeves was guarding the
camp when he spotted a log floating toward him. Recognizing the Indian
disguise and wanting to warn his fellow soldiers, he fired his gun.
Arrows felled the poor fellow as the Indians came out to ambush the
camp. The Indians were chased back again, and the south side of Lake
Eola was chosen to bury Orlando Reeves.