During the Second Seminole War in 1836, the U.S. Army established Camp Monroe as a staging area for unloading troops and supplies. The army built the road that eventually became Mellonville Avenue to connect the camp to the river. The camp was enclosed by pickets on three sides but open to the river. Approximately 300 men were based at the camp.?
A long pier was built in 1837 at the end of the army road for receiving supplies. This became the Mellonville Pier. Over time, a river port developed as the fort disappeared. Mellonville became the end of the line for all settlers heading to South Florida when steamboat service was established between Mellonville and Jacksonville.
On February 8, 1837, a force of Seminoles led by Emathla (King Phillip) and his son, Coacoochee, attacked the camp, resulting in the "Battle of Camp Monroe." Captain Charles Mellon was shot dead, and fourteen men at the camp were wounded. Three days later, the camp was renamed Fort Mellon in memory of the fallen captain. In March of 1837, a Capitulation Agreement was established between the U.S. Army and the Seminole people. By May of that year, 2,500 Seminoles, including Osceola, peacefully camped near Fort Mellon under the terms of the agreement. Unfortunately, hostilities did not completely end. Thus, in 1840 Fort Reid was established to the south of Fort Mellon.
The Armed Occupation Bill of 1842 encouraged settlers to come to the area by offering 160 acres of land to anyone who built a house and stayed five years. Most settlers came from Georgia, Virginia, and the Carolinas. By 1851, the town of Mellonville had grown up around Fort Mellon while the community to the south took the name Fort Reid. In 1845 Mellonville became the county seat of the newly created Orange County. It retained this position until 1856, when the seat was moved to Orlando. Mellonville was the center of commercial activity for the area. Travel guides noted the town's favorable location and productive orange groves.
By 1870, Mellonville was a prosperous town with many fine homes and a commercial district. The town had control of the river traffic on the southern slope of Lake Monroe. When Henry Sanford arrived, he saw the potential of the area and bought the land to the west of Mellonville to build a city. In 1875 the people of Mellonville incorporated their town in an attempt to retain the town's identity in the face of its booming neighbor, Sanford. The two towns remained separated by Pump Branch Creek and had independent governments until 1883, when Mellonville was annexed into Sanford. Fort Reid was never incorporated. Much of that community was lost when the Sanford Naval Air Station was built during World War II.
· "Fort Mellon, Lake Monroe." (illustration)
This sketch, done by a soldier stationed at Fort Mellon, depicts the layout of the fort and its proximity to Lake Monroe.
A photograph of Mellonville shows the commerce that took place there during the nineteenth century.
Images courtesy of Sanford Museum.