It had been 100 years since Captain Glassell had constructed Fort King on the hilltop above you and 80 years since it had been dismantled after serving as the County's first Courthouse.
Time passed. Cracker cattle ranged across the Fort King site before, during, and after the Civil War, eating wiregrass shoots after the hills had been burned by Florida Cowboys. During the Civil War, Captain J.J. Dickison and his Ocala based Confederate Cavalry may have camped on the site and then pressed hard along the military roads to Palatka and Gainesville in route to strike Federal raiding parties ranging out of Jacksonville.
In the years after the Civil War, whistles could be heard to the east from Ocklawaha Riverboats as they docked at the Silver Spring carrying a new type of northern invader, the Yankee Tourist. In the 1890's whistles could be heard to the north and west signaling arrival of passenger and freight trains in the bustling town of Ocala.
While the Florida Department of Transportation was established in 1917 during WWI, most of Florida's roads were still sand wagon roads dating to the time of Fort King. One of those sandy trails heading east out of town now was being called Fort King Street.
It was now 1927. This time approaching from the west through the pine forests in Model T's, on Fort King Street were women dressed in black, not soldiers dressed in blue as had been with Glassel and his men coming from the same direction in 1827. These women were as equally courageous patriots as had been the soldiers. They came not with swords but with pens and it was with pens that they signed a title transaction that deeded one acre of the Fort King site to them.
They knew where the site was as did most Ocalans and they were intent on saving a part of it for posterity. These women began the endeavor of “Saving Fort King.”
They were members of the Marion County chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. They were the vanguard of citizen activists intent on preserving our historical site. The marker before you was placed by them as a memorial to Fort King and stands not only as the first tangible 'evidence' that Fort King stood on this hill but remains one of, if not the oldest historical marker in Marion County.
Although archaeologists confirmed the location of Fort King in 2004, the people of Marion County had known exactly where it was from the 1800's. They didn't need an archaeologist to confirm it. The Elders told them were it was.
In the year 2000 and in the footsteps of the DAR, the people of Marion County came together, taxed themselves with the 'Pennies For Parks' program and 'Saved Fort King' by public acquisition of the Site.
Today the words of “Save Fort King” can still be heard as the hoofbeats continue and the desire to “Tell the Story” will reach new generations as the Fort King Historic Landmark and the surrounding Living History Park come alive though dedicated volunteers and groups like the Fort King Heritage Association. Stop and reflect as you visit these hallowed grounds!