Sisters Share Knowledge of Timucua Indians

    Submitted by Donna Digennaro, The South Lake County Historical Society

    Who were the Timucua Indians, what set them apart of other Native Americans, what became of them, and what can we learn of them?  These are just a few of the interesting facts that sisters Doris Bloodsworth and Connie Fleetwood shared with a packed house at the November 12th meeting of the South Lake County Historical Society.

    The Timucua lived in the Florida/Georgia area for thousands of years before they encountered Europeans.  They were a mighty nation made up of many tribes united by a common language known as Timucua.  A tall, athletic, dark-skinned people who decorated themselves with tattoos, the Timucua welcomed first the French and then the Spanish into their area.  It was a French artist who gave us drawing after drawing showing what these natives looked like, what they wore, their villages & homes and even their ceremonies.  The Spanish, in their efforts to convert the Timucua to Catholicism, phonetically captured their language and taught them to read.  The natives were quickly able to read both their language and Spanish.

    These are not the only things that separate them from other tribes and nations found in North America.  Their origin is also very unique. The accepted theory as to the origin of most of the peoples living in North America prior to European settlement is that they migrated from Asia across something called the Bearing Land Bridge around 20,000 years ago.  Following herds of animals, these nomadic people moved south and east across the continent and down into Central & South America.  But that does not seem to be the case for the Timucua.  Given the time that they arrived here and the fact that their name comes from Mayan for “trader”, the working theory is that they came from those people.

    So, what became of them and what can we learn from them?   Like so many Native Americans, the Timucua suffered from their interaction with the Europeans.  The initial friendly relationship they shared soon soured and conflict resulted.  However, this was not what lead to the end of these once great people.  It was a horrible “white man’s” illness—smallpox.  Like so many other New World peoples, the Timucua suffered greatly for exposure to this deadly plague.  In 1595 an epidemic swept through the nation and in 1767 the last surviving member passed away.

    What should we take away from these stately people?  The following things that those of us today need to keep in mind like a respect for the land and the environment, a focus on health and fitness, respect for others, and gratitude for vaccinations & the scientists who invented them.

    Clermont’s Historic Village is a unique partnership between the City of Clermont and the South Lake County Historical Society.  It is open every Friday from 1 pm to 3 pm and every Saturday & Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm. The Village is located at 40 West Ave. on the shores of beautiful Lake Minneola and just a few short blocks from the Historic Downtown Shopping District. It’s the perfect place to spend a Fall afternoon.   After touring the Village,  like us on Facebook or mention us on Yelp.

    If you are interested in history in general or the history of Lake County in particular, contact the South Lake County Historical Society by going to our website,;  by calling Roxanne Brown at 352-432-3496 or by attending a membership meetings which are held on the second Monday of the month at 7 pm in the Train Depot in the Historic Village.  The next meeting will be December 10th when Darren Gray, City Manager, with be the guest speaker. 

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