How Did Fort Myers Get Its Name?

The story of Fort Myers takes us on a journey through time, from the Calusa Indians to the Civil War and beyond. Let’s uncover the history behind the name "Fort Myers."

I. Calusa Indians: The Original Inhabitants

Long before Fort Myers became a thriving city, it was home to the Calusa Indians. These indigenous people inhabited the region, living off its bountiful waters and abundant natural resources. Their presence in this lush landscape would be the starting point for the city's history.

II. The Arrival of the Seminoles

By the 19th century, the Seminole Indians had replaced the Calusa as the dominant group in the area. As tensions between Native Americans and American settlers grew, the need for a military presence became apparent to the American settlers.

III. Fort Myers: A Fort is Born

In 1841, a fort was erected to address the Seminole threat. Initially, the fort was named for Lt. John Havie. In 1850, the fort was reestablished in honor of Colonel Abraham C. Myers, a military figure who played a significant role in the campaigns against the Seminoles. 

IV. The Seminole Wars and Abandonment

The fort served its purpose well during the Seminole Wars but was eventually abandoned in 1858, marking the end of its military service.

V. The Civil War Occupation

But that’s not the end of the story! Fort Myers experienced a resurgence during the American Civil War. In 1863, Union forces occupied the area. This occupation added another layer to the city's historical tapestry, reflecting the turmoil of the times.

VI. A New Beginning: The Birth of Myers

Following the Civil War, military presence dwindled, and the fort was left behind. In 1876, the community was officially laid out and given the name "Myers." However, the town's residents continued to affectionately use the original name, "Fort Myers."

VII. Restoration of the Original Name

In 1901, the town's original name, "Fort Myers," was officially restored. The decision to revert to the historic name honored the area's heritage and recognized the fort's vital role in history.

Is the Fort Still Standing?

Unfortunately, there are no physical remnants of the fort as it once stood in the area that is now Downtown Fort Myers. However, the history of Fort Myers and its connection to the fort are commemorated through historical markers, museums, and the city's name itself, which serves as a reminder of its rich historical heritage.


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