Sunday, May 22, 2011

Florida History: Third Fort Lauderdale remembered

Site of third Fort Lauderdale - South Beach, FTL
(Use search box at right to find more "Florida history" or visit Jane's History Nook at

By Jane Feehan

Maj. William Lauderdale of Tennessee was sent to Florida to fight the Seminoles in 1837. Little did he dream a bustling city attracting visitors from around the world would spring up on the site of a fort bearing his name.

The Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated a plaque in October, 2005 honoring the major's service and his place in Fort Lauderdale's development in a ceremony attended by then Mayor Jim Naugle and local history enthusiasts. The dedication was held at the site of the third fort built in the area during the Seminole Wars of the 1830s, on the beach east of the current Bahia Mar yacht basin.

Marge McClain, former regent for the Himmarshee chapter of the DAR discovered the original plaque, installed in 1929 by one of the founding chapter members, went missing a few years ago. One of the objectives of the DAR, whose members can prove a lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, is to preserve local landmarks and historic structures across the country.

According to McClain there had been reports in 1952 the plaque was neglected, covered by plant growth. The plaque eventually made its way to a drawer and the marker remained in the sand on the beach, faceless.

The fort was built in 1839 under the command of Capt. William B. Davidson in honor of Lauderdale, whose Tennessee Volunteers had successfully routed the Seminoles in March 1838. Lauderdale died of fever May 10, 1838, in Baton Rouge, La., on his way home to Tennessee.

The first and second forts were constructed in 1838 along the New River, near present-day Southeast Ninth Avenue.

The DAR gave permission in 2005 to have the plaque made for the marker. It is designated the Old Fort Lauderdale Marker and is one of seven DAR historical signs in the city.

Locations of all seven are listed on the Frank Stranahan Marker at the north end of the New River Tunnel at Federal Highway and Las Olas Boulevard, the site of the first trading post in Fort Lauderdale. Other markers commemorate pioneers Ivy Stranahan and Camille Perry Bryan; the Colee Hammock massacre; Fort Lauderdale's first aviator, Merle Fogg; and Alexander R. "Sandy" Nininger, awarded posthumously the first Congressional Medal of Honor of World War II by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Jan. 29, 1942.
(Use search box at right to find more Florida history)
More on Seminole Wars:
Karnap (Feehan), Jane. “DAR places plaque on beach to honor Maj. Lauderdale.” Sun Sentinel, Oct. 16, 2005.

Tags: Florida history, Fort Lauderdale history, Maj. William Lauderdale, historic sites Fort Lauderdale

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