Saint Lucie County
Originally the Ais tribe inhabited this area. The hunter-gatherer culture’s territory extended to St. Lucie Inlet from south of St. John’s river. Quite often Spanish explorers would encounter these fierce tribes, since the Spanish treasure routes actually ran parallel with them to capitalize on strong Gulfstream currents. The Spanish gave this area several different names, which included Rio de Ays (which was anglicized later to Indian River) and also Santa Lucia, which was named after a late 16th-century Spanish fort of the same name that was located farther south. The famous 1715 Spanish treasure fleet sank near the area that is currently St. Lucie County, which led to the area being named the Treasure Coast.
The Spanish government in the early 19th century issued several land grants in this area. One of these was obtained by James Hutchinson. His grant comprised 2,000 acres and these days it is a barrier island called Hutchinson Island, having retained his name. Runaway slaves and Seminoles during the mid-1880s, sought refuge in this area that was virtually uninhabited. The Second Seminole war broke out in Florida by 1837. In December 1837, there was a group of soldiers who were under Lt. Colonel Benjamin Pierce’s command who sailed the Indian River and then established a fort. They named the fort after their commander. The county seat today of St Lucie County is called Fort Pierce still. In 1841, the U.S. government started to issue land grants as part of the Armed Occupation Act. The land grants were issued to Americans who wanted to settle in that area. Several of the grants were inside of the boundaries of modern day St. Lucie County. In 1851, during the Third Seminole War, a second American fort was built in the area, called Fort Capron. It was located in what is now Lucie Village.
From that point forward this area gradually became more populated. Settlers continued to venture into the region for economic and health reasons. During the 1890s, the Flagler railroad made it to the area. By the close of the 19th century, the major industries included cattle, seafood canning, fishing and pineapple. Cities did not emerge as a major crop in the area until the early 1900s. In 1901 the city of Fort Pierce became chartered.