Fort Walton Beach (crs)
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Prehistoric settlement of Fort Walton Beach is attributed to the mound building "Fort Walton Culture" that flourished from approximately 1100~1550 AD. It is believed that this culture evolved out of the Weeden Island culture. Fort Walton Culture also appeared to come about due to contact with the major Mississippian centers to the north and west. It was the most complex in the north-west Florida region. The Fort Walton peoples put into practice mound building and intensive agriculture, made pottery in a variety of vessel shapes, and had hierarchical settlement patterns that reflected other Mississippian societies. The first Europeans to set foot in what is now Okaloosa County and the Fort Walton Beach area were members of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's party, who traveled by boat from what is now Panama City Beach, Florida in 1528 to Texas, "Then we set out to sea again, coasting towards the River of Palms. Every day our thirst and hunger increased because our supplies were giving out, as well as the water supply, for the pouches we had made from the legs of our horses soon became rotten and useless. From time to time we would enter some inlet or cove that reached very far inland, but we found them all shallow and dangerous, and so we navigated through them for thirty days, meeting sometimes Indians who fished and were poor and wretched people". The area is described at "Baixa de Baca" in a Spanish map dated 1566. In later English and French maps the area of was noted as "Baya Santa Rosa" or "Bay St. Rose". A number of Spanish artifacts, including a portion of brigantine leather armor, are housed in the Indian Temple Mound Museum. Contrary to popular belief, there is no documentary evidence of pirates using the area as a base of operations. During the era of Spanish and English colonization, the area of what was to become Fort Walton Beach was noted in several journals but no worthwhile presence was established. Early settlers of Walton County, Florida were the first to establish permanent settlements in what is now Fort Walton Beach. It was not until 1911 that the name "Camp Walton" appeared on Florida maps. In 1861, Camp Walton was a confederate military camp made up of the 1st Florida Regiment, which consisted of men from the Walton County Militia. At this time, Okaloosa County did not yet exist. Walton County received its name from Col. George Walton, who served as an aide under Andrew Jackson and whose father, George Walton Sr., was the 56th signatory of the Declaration of Independence. As a result of Col. Walton's influence in the politics of north-west Florida, his name was honored by establishing Walton County. The 1st Florida regiment's camp was located in front of the Indian Temple Mound, now known as the Heritage Park and Cultural Center, and its mission was to protect the "Narrows" from Union ships. Although the 1
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