Apopka Historical Society and Museum of the Apopkans

 

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History of Apopka





APOPKA
1. A lake in Orange County; a part of this body of water extends over in to Lake County.  2.  A town of 1,134 inhabitants on the Seaboard Air Line, in Orange County.  Apopka is noted in Sidney Lanierís Florida (1876), pp. 312-313, as a small settlement near Lake Apopka.  The source of this name is Cr. Aha, "Potato," and papka, "eating place," from papita, "to eat" - "potato eating place."   (From: Florida Place Names of Indian Origin and Seminole Personal Names by William A. Read PH. D. Professor of the English Language and Literature ,Louisiana State University ,Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 1934)

Before Apopka was "The Indoor Foliage Capital of the World" or even before it was "The Fern City," it was The Lodge.

From about 7500 B.C. until about the 1st century A. D. when they disappeared for reasons unknown, Indians were believed to have lodged on the shores of Lake Apopka. Then for about 400 years the region appears to have been uninhabited.

When the Spaniards arrived in Florida in the 16th century, the Acuera tribe of the Timucua confederation was said to have lived in the Apopka area, growing crops and trading. By 1730 these natives were decimated by war and diseases brought by the Europeans and had also disappeared.

Then early in the 19th century, Indians again inhabited the area. There was a Seminole village on Lake Apopka, or Ahapopka, as they spelled and pronounced it. It remained an active village until the outbreak of the Second Seminole War in the mid1830s. Coacoochee (Wild Cat), one of the most famous and influential war chiefs, was born here and ruled as chief of about 200 Indians until this village was evacuated and the natives sought refuge in the swampy areas around the St Johns.

The Armed Occupation Act of 1842 brought white settlers to the Apopka area. They received 160 acres if they would settle them.

These Pioneers and those that followed the Civil War from states to the north began converting the area into what it is today.

The settlement grew, attracting developers and settlers because of the climate and the agricultural opportunities and becoming an important trading center in the 1850s. The Masons' were particularly active. Orange Lodge #36 was organized in 1857, and The Lodge building, still standing on its original site at Alabama Avenue and Highway 44 1, was completed in 1859.

It was around this building that the town grew in the 1860s and 1870s and ultimately became the Town of Apopka City incorporated in 1882.

Progress continued and today Apopka is still an important hub of commerce. One of the fastest-growing cities in Orange County, it is home base to more than 45,000 citizens in the greater Apopka area.