History Happened Here

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Orlando

Orange County

Year Founded: 1875

History

Several legends attempt to explain the origin of the city’s name. One says that Judge James G. Speer, who came to the area from South Carolina in 1854 and became a state senator, took the name from that of a character in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” Support is given this by the fact that the city has a Rosalind Street.

Another account says that a certain Mr. Orlando was leading an ox caravan to Tampa when he was seized by “colic” (now appendicitis) at the site of the city. He passed away and was buried where he fell. Later passers-by were said to have remarked, “There lies Orlando.”

What has become the official version concerns Orlando Reeves, who was on sentinel duty for a camping party while his companions slept. An Indian stealthily approached in the guise of a rolling log. Orlando saw what he was and fired his gun, which woke the other campers and saves their lives.

However, the Indian launched an arrow that killed Orlando. In 1939, students of Cherokee Junior High School, at their own expense, erected in Eola Park a tablet, which says: Orlando Reeves in whose honor our city Orlando was named killed in this vicinity by Indians September, 1835 “How sleep the brave who sink to restBy all their country’s wishes blest!”  -William Collins

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