MANATEE MINERAL SPRINGS

THE HISTORICAL MARKER

"Here flowed a spring which had been used by Indians and was found by Manatee's first white settler, Josiah Gates, who settled nearby in January 1842. It served Branch Fort, when the early settlers camped nearby for protection from the Seminole raid of 1856. During this encampment, the first child born (March 4, 1856) was Furman Chairs Whitaker, who became Manatee County's first native born doctor, practicing here from 1896, until shortly before his death in 1945. In the early 1900's the spring became the center of a small park which included a picnic pavilion."

ABOUT THE PARK

The rich history of the area is described (see above quote) on the Florida State Historical Marker at Manatee Mineral Springs Memorial Park (formerly known as Indian Spring) Park. The park was named after a natural spring used by early American Indians. It was also utilized by Josiah Gates, Manatee County’s first white settler. His homestead, founded in 1842 was located nearby. Now a traditional neighborhood park in the heart of the Old Manatee district, Manatee Mineral Springs Memorial Park is one of the region’s oldest parks on record.

The park has playground equipment, a half-sized basketball court, picnic tables, a gazebo, trash receptacles, and is adjacent to the site of Reflections of Manatee Inc. Historical Complex. The historical complex pays homage to the founding of Manatee Settlement in 1842. Early pioneers would come to this area to collect fresh water from the spring and get their mail from the postmaster. To this day, descendants of these early settlers meet at the park for an annual reunion.

In 2006, Manatee Mineral Springs Memorial Park's spring was designated a "Florida Natural Spring" by the Florida Geological Survey of Natural Springs. Also, the park's giant black bead tree growing next to the spring was put on the National Register of Big Trees in 2007. 

Just south of the park off 14th Street East is a small sugarcane field. Volunteers use the sugarcanes during re-enactments at Gamble Plantation in March and December to give visitors a glimpse into the life of Manatee’s early pioneers. Also near the park is another State Historical marker commemorating the site of Josiah Gates’ home and a 20-room, three-story building known as the Gates House. Historical records show Gates constructed the larger building to serve as a hotel of sorts for newly arriving settlers and visitors.

{from Manatee County and City of Bradenton}