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The City of Punta Gorda, which was incorporated on December 7, 1887, is the only city in Charlotte County and has an approximate population of 17,126. It was originally named Trabue after developer Colonel Isaac Trabue, who purchased the land from British investors.
The Charlotte Harbor area was explored by Ponce de Leon in 1515 and 1521. Punta Gorda has traced its roots to a landing at Live Oak Point on the Peace River by Hernando DeSoto in 1539. Punta Gorda is Spanish for “Broad Point” and refers to its broad point of land jutting out into the harbor. Early Spanish attempts to colonize the outer islands in present-day Charlotte County were thwarted by Calusa Indian tribes and the area was slowly settled as the English migrated to Charlotte Harbor on the banks of the Peace River.
In 1884, surveyor Kelley B. Harvey worked to lay out streets and blocks according to instructions from Isaac Trabue, then a Kentucky resident. All waterfront property was designated to be parks and streets were not to be run in a north-south direction, but rather, to wind along the Peace River. The Town of Trabue, a subdivision, was recorded on February 24, 1885; however, by 1887 enough residents in Trabue objecting to Trabue’s efforts to control the town’s destiny were able to outvote him and revert the name back to Punta Gorda during the incorporation process. These 34 men, including four black men and carpenters stranded here after building the old Hotel Punta Gorda, met at the Tom Hector Building in Hector’s Pool Hall located upstairs from the town’s drug store in a midnight meeting to draft the City’s incorporation papers.
Beginning in the 1890′s, Punta Gorda became an important port for the chipment of cattle to Cuba. In 1891, gill net fishing for mullet, Spanish mackerel and channel bass became profitable with the founding of the Consolidated Ice Manufacturing, Refridgeration and Fish Company.
Although James Lanier was considered the first settler to build on the south banks of the Peace River, Kentucky native Colonel Isaac H. Trabue is known as the town's founder. Colonel Trabue purchased 30 acres and cabin from Lanier in Feburary 1883 and hired Engineer Kelley B. Harvey to survey and plot the land.