The Centennial for Dade Battlefield Historic State Park
Beginning fifty years after Major Dade’s command met their demise at the hands of a much larger force of Seminoles, notable citizens began to press both Florida and Federal legislators to acquire the battle site for everlasting preservation. Steadily increasing through the first twenty years of the twentieth century, an impressive legion of supporters developed to include politicians, jurists, historians, business leaders, civic clubs, and prominent national figures such as General Douglas MacArthur. All these, along with strong public voices fanned by both local and out-of-state newspapers, finally succeeded in convincing the State of Florida to purchase eighty acres that encompassed most of the battle area on September 29, 1921. Dade was only the second property that had been set aside by the State for perpetual protection.
By today’s standards, it was quite a bargain. The purchase price was $2,000, with another $3,000 set aside for development. Although it was a government acquisition, for more than the next thirty years “Dade Memorial Park” was carefully maintained and managed by the citizens of Bushnell and Sumter County themselves. And a special note of appreciation will always be due to a single individual, Judge J.C.B. Koonce, a creative, devoted and inspirational leader who gave more of himself in support of the park than any other single individual.
HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY TO “THE BEST LITTLE STATE PARK IN FLORIDA”!!
**Text and Images Courtesy of Steve Rinck.**