Lake Hollingsworth..How It All Began
ever wondered about how Lakeland’s major lakes got their name and why? Today,
I’m going to tell you a little story behind our famous Lake Hollingsworth..and
a few things you may not have known..So stay tuned.. You might be surprised to
learn a few “interesting” facts about Lakelands most famous Lake…Lake
Let’s First start with a bit of territorial history..
Keep in mind, this part of Florida was Seminole Indian territory. However, there was a 20 mile neutral zone separating the Seminole reservation from settlers. Most settlers coming to Polk County dared not to go much further south than Socrum. The army was supposed to keep that from happening, but as the story goes, that really didn’t happen. The army claimed they simply did not have the man power to patrol a 20 mile wide area.
So surveyors entering the area had started quietly pushing the northern boundary of the reservation a little further south, a little at a time.Of course, the Seminoles did not take kindly to this..But that’s another video.
So back the story… John Henry Hollingsworth born in 1822 in North Carolina, and his father, Stephen traveled with their family to west central Florida in the mid 1840’s.The Hollingsworth family saw the northern edge of the Peace River Valley as a new land of opportunity. And They jumped on it.! They were one the first settlers of what we today know as middle Lakeland.
It was only when most of this land was surveyed, and more than 40 families settled on the this reserve,that the government started to complain. It’s not clear what exactly that meant. But the root reason Hollingsworth and his family came to the area in the mid 1840’s was to take advantage of theArmed Occupation Act of 1842. The act provided 160 acres to any white man 18 years or older who could bear arms to protect his homestead and farm the land for a minimum of five years.After the 5 years, the land would be owned free and clear and could be sold.
A few years later, Hollingsworth moved his family further inland to what we know as the Lake Hollingsworth area. But in 1849 he took his family and left the area to go to the manatee river area, where he lived until his death in 1893.
There are a couple of possible reasons why he decided to leave…
Since the 5 year provision on the Armed Occupation Act had expired, Hollingsworth owned this land free and clear. Some say he saw an opportunity to make a huge profit from selling, due to the new high demand for west central Florida land..which was true! …..
However, family tales said that he was terribly annoyed at the doors slamming when the wind came across the lake. But I think one historian hit the nail one the head when he speculated that Hollingsworth became increasingly aware that there would be more than just wind coming through his doors…of course referring to a possible Seminole attack.
John Henry Hollingsworth lived on the 356 acre lake just long enough to bare his name Lake Hollingsworth. He was 71 years old when he died in 1893 in Desoto County.