FORGOTTEN FLORIDA, tells the story of the Florida peninsula from the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819 up to the beginning of the Second Seminole War in 1835. The story is told from the perspective of well-documented men who took part in the development of the Gulf coastal areas from Pensacola to Key West and include Commodore David Porter, Colonel James Gadsden, Colonel George Brooke, Colonel Duncan Clinch, and Major Francis Dade as well as Captain William Bunce of the Aristocrat and Captain Fred Tresca of the Margaret Ann—both of whom sailed the Gulf coast from Key West to Pensacola and served to connect the various settlements.
The book begins with the New York lawyer, Richard Hackley, who had been a consul in Cadiz, Spain, and had—purchased the entire west side of Florida from the Spanish Duke Alagon, who had received it as a gift from King Ferdinand of Spain before the peninsula had been given to the United States for the forgiveness of Ferdinand’s five-million-dollar debt to the U.S. Believing the purchase to be legal, Richard Hackley sends his son, Robert, to the Tampa Bay area to set up a homestead and open the land to settlement. Braving the pirate-ridden waters surrounding Key West and fall storms, Hackley arrives at Tampa Bay and builds a plantation home in November 1823.
Heading to Pensacola for supplies in late December, Hackley returns to Tampa Bay to discover that—following the Treaty of Moultrie Creek—the U.S. Army had designated the same area in which he has built his home as a base on the western side of the new Seminole territory and has taken over his home and land for Cantonment Brooke. Action continues from the new base to the building of Tallahassee, the establishment of Key West, and the settlement of Sanibel Island—with the Hackley family attempting to settle and sell their land—during the Seminole unrest threatening the territory culminating with the massacre of Major Dade’s Companies on December 28, 1835, and the beginning of the second Seminole War.
Clarissa Thomasson was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She received a BA in English Literature from Duke University and an MA in English from the University of Florida. Thomasson taught English, journalism, and creative writing in Montgomery County, MD, until her retirement.
Her first two novels, Defending Hillsborough and Reconstructing Hillsborough were chosen by the North Carolina Association of Public School Librarians for use in the high school study of the Civil War. Lorinda’s Legacy was “pick of the month” at Greensboro, NC Barnes and Noble.
In 2000, Thomasson returned to Florida and now resides in Venice, FL. where she has written five children’s books in her Little Green Monkey series, four novels: Florida Shadows, Florida Secrets, Florida Sunset and Surviving Sarasota set in Southwest Florida, a World War II novel—Over the Bridge—and Venice Dreamers, which highlights Venice’s original settlers. Thomasson’s stage plays, Over the Bridge and Florida Shadows, each won first place in the Clarence “Bud” Jones Playwriting Competition at the Firehouse Theatre in LaBelle, FL, in 2014 and 2015.
Thomasson is also a freelance writer–having written for GRAND magazine, Yesterday in Florida—where she won a 2005 Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Award for her contributions to Florida history—and Eastside Venice Neighbors—where she wrote monthly articles on Florida history. She is also a contributor for the Venice Gondolier.