How some of our local communities got their start.

Largo City History
The area now known as Pinellas County was first inhabited by the Timucua Indians, one of four tribes in Florida. The Timucuans cultivated cornfields, constructed substantial homes, and were very involved in trading with the tribes of the north. When Spanish explorer Panfilo de Narvaez landed on the Pinellas Peninsula in 1528, he met great resistance from the Timucuans, and he and his crew suffered the ravages of storms, hunger, and exposure, which decimated the exploring party. Only four men found their way back to Spanish settlements in Mexico. Over the next 300 years, various parties of French and Spanish explorers attempted to settle the area, with little success. In fact, it wasn't until 1823 that Count Odet Phillippe, a surgeon in Napoleon's army, became the first permanent settler in Pinellas County.

A steady stream of settlers moved to the area throughout the 1800s, including such notable families as the Taylors, McMullens, Wilcoxes, and Belchers. It was 1886 when the Orange Belt Railroad was coming through the area that residents came together to give their community a name. It seemed that the railroad would only build a station if the stop had a name. Some residents wished to name the town after the daughter of a prominent resident, Gideon Blitch – Luluville. But ultimately they chose to name their town Largo, after the town's large lake. (In an ironic twist, the lake which gave name to Largo was completely drained by the Cross Bayou Drainage District 50 years later.) Others argue that Largo gained its name from the city of Largo, Scotland, where several of the area's settlers came from. Because of its central location and rich farmlands, Largo quickly became the center of the area's citrus industry, earning the title "Citrus City." Largo citrus was being shipped by the ton to eager customers in the North.

The town was officially incorporated in 1905, and in 1913 became the first town in Florida – and second in the nation – to adopt a town manager form of government. The town grew rapidly through the boom times of the 1920s but was hit hard by a freeze in the latter part of the decade, and then by the Great Depression. Due to mounting debt, the City of Largo was contracted to its original 1905 boundaries and once again became the Town of Largo.

When World War II veterans returned home, they quickly discovered the joys of living on Florida's Suncoast, previously only known to the local farmers and a few rich vacationers, brought to the area on the rail lines built by Henry Flagler and Henry Plant. The population boomed, growing from just 1,500 residents in 1950 to over 5300 ten years later. An unexpected freeze in 1962 dealt a serious blow to Largo's agricultural industry, and as groves were sold off, developers were quick to move in to build homes for a growing population. By 1970, Largo's population reached more than 22,000, and a new city was born. 

Source: City of Largo

Clearwater History
The area which now is Clearwater was first visited by the white men in 1528. This was 37 years before St. Augustine (1565), 79 years before Jamestown (1607), and 92 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock (1620).
Panfilo de Narvaez, a Spanish explorer, landed on this shore on April 15, 1528, with five ships, 40 horses, and 600 men. De Narvaez's landing ranks second only to that of Ponce de Leon, whose discovery of Florida in 1513 marked the beginning of the explorations of the North American continent. De Narvaez found here a large tribe of Indians, which his army drove out. The Indians recaptured their territory, however, and held it until conquered in the Seminole Wars of 1835-42.

Occasional white settlers had begun to move into the area by that time. The first was Dr. Odet Philippe, a French Count, who had been a surgeon in Napoleon's Navy. Dr. Philippe came with his family in the mid-1830s and built a "plantation" on the site, which is now Philippe Park.

Fort Harrison was built in 1841 on the bluffs overlooking the harbor, then called Clear Water Harbor, the present site of Clearwater. The fort was named for Gen. William Henry Harrison, who became President Harrison. It was used as an outpost encampment for soldiers stationed at Fort Brook (now Tampa), was abandoned when the wars ended a few months later, and the territory was then opened by the Federal Government for homesteading under the Armed Occupation Act. This meant that homesteads would be granted to settlers willing to bear arms for protection against the still-hostile Indians hiding in the area.

James Stevens was the first of the homesteaders, staking out the fort and its surrounding areas as his claim. He was granted the first land title in 1842. This was the real beginning of the Clearwater of today. For years, a plaque at the entrance of the famed "Brown Estate," on the waterfront bluff in Harbor Oaks, marked the site of Fort Harrison.

The early settlement, which adopted the name of Clear Water Harbor, grew slowly for several years as an agricultural and fishing community. Its only outside contacts were made either by horse and buggy, wagon, by foot to Tampa, or by sailboat 100 miles up the Gulf to Cedar Key.

The Indians who inhabited this area are said to have called it Pocotopsug, meaning clear water. It was so named because of the many springs of clear, fresh water that bubbled up along the shore, and even below the waterline at low tide. The Indians depended on these springs for their water supply, as did the early white settlers. The action of the tides and the "fills" in recent years have completely changed the shoreline and eliminated most of the springs. 

The act creating Pinellas County was passed by the State Legislature in May 1911. Clear Water Harbor was incorporated in 1891 and was chartered as a municipality on May 27, 1915.

Source: Clearwater Historical Society

Richard L. Garrison was the first person given a land grant in Dunedin in 1852,  
only seven years after Florida became a state. The settlement was originally named Jonesboro by George Jones, the owner of the area mercantile, who put up a sign over his general store in 1870 that read "Jonesboro." It wasn't until a petition in 1882 by two Scottish merchants, J.0. Douglas and James Somerville, officially named the post office, then the town itself, Dunedin. The town became incorporated in 1899 and a city in 1925.
The name is taken from Scottish Gaelic Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic for Edinburgh. With a dock built to accommodate larger sailing vessels, Dunedin became an important trading center and at one time it had the largest fleet of sailing vessels in the state. 


Indian Rocks
The origin of the name “Indian Rocks” is shrouded in the mists of time, but the most commonly offered explanation relates to the miraculous healing of native Indian Chief Chic-a-Si. 
According to the legend, the chief, who lived in the Ocala region, contracted an illness so severe that members of his village feared death was near. An old friend of Chic-a-Si’s named Chief Nu-Wa recommended that he be taken to a healing spring near some large rocks along the coast to the southwest.
The chief was carried to a rocky campsite along the Narrows to be near the spring, which legend says was the old sulfur spring that once flowed in what is now Kolb Park. That spring was capped years ago due to its unpleasant odor.
Chief Chic-a-Si drank heartily of the mineral waters from the spring and quickly regained his health. After that, the Indians returned to the site each year to drink from the miraculous spring and fish in local waters. 
The legend concludes that early settlers to the area, observing the Indians’ pilgrimage to “the rocks,” originated the term Indian Rocks as an apt description for their settlement. 

The Chic-a-Si story is one version of how Indian Rocks got its name. Another simpler legend tells about the Indians crossing over from the mainland to the island to fish along the shore. They chose a narrow spot to cross, where rocks protruding from the water made it easy for them to walk across to the island. So the rocks became known as Indian Rocks.
While neither legend has been documented, both offer a picturesque and plausible explanation for how our slice of paradise got its enduring title: Indian Rocks Beach. 

Source: Indian Rocks Beach Historical Museum