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A Brief Overview of the Historical Significance of the Chocochattee Region

written and submitted by: Roger Landers

this article appeared in the St. Petersburg Times.

The area we call Chocochattee has been know by numerous spellings [Chocachatte, Chiscochate, Chuccochati, Chukochartie, Chucachate, Cheenchatte, Chockichai, Chicuchaty, Chicuchatty, Chuchchate [Wharton, 1999 and Landers, 1999]. The name is an anglicized form of "Tucka tcati" translated as Red House or Red Town deriving its name for the red color of the plaster on the outside of the Seminole cabins [Swanton, 1922].

This area is part of a larger region know as the Brooksville Ridge [see attached map] that stretches from southern Citrus through central and eastern Hernando to northeastern Pasco Counties. This ridge of high hammock land characterized by mixed hardwoods, longleaf pine, South Florida flatwoods and turkey oak hills. [Ellis 1997]. The hammock land falls away on the east to a river valley and west to broad parries and coastal plains. The combined area is known collectively as "Big Hammock" [Wharton, 1987, 1999]. In post- Seminole time portions of the savannah is called by various names, i.e. Garrason Prairie, Griffin Prairie, Dry Prairie, Desoto Prairie, Simmons Prairie and the high ground as Chocochattee Hammock and Annuttaliga Hammock.

There is ample archaeological evidence of human habitation in both the costal region of Hernando as well as the hammocks. Specifically in the Chocochattee area south of the courthouse, artifices from the Florida Transitional [1200 BC to 500 BC], Swift Creek, Deptford Period [500BC -200 AD] , to the St. Johns III period [1250 AD -1600AD] {Bullen, 1975]. Examples of these artifices are available for viewing at the Hernando Heritage Museum.

The settlement by the Seminole of the Chocochattee Prairie and the surrounding hammock is well documented and is shown to have continuous inhabitation beginning in the last half of the 1760's. This lasted until their removal in 1840's [Wharton, 1887, 1999]. The Seminoles are initially Eufaula Creeks; the settlements may have had a population as high as 400-500 individuals [Williams, 1837].

In 1821, the Treaty of Moultrie Creek set aside a large area in central Florida as a reservation [see attached map]. In 1823, Horatio Dexter a sub-agent for Indian Affaire is directed to visit the Seminoles residing in the Indian reservation. He makes contact with eighteen settlements and reported the Chocochattee settlement with 80 families [Boyd, 1958]. Later bands of Red-Stick Creeks combined with some of the early Seminoles and former slaves inhabit the region.

Dexter further describes this settlement as having 320 acres of cleared land for cultivation and 180 acres of savannah for pasture. The chief of the band is Sinaha who owns 160 head of cattle, 90 horses and a "large gang" of hogs. He states that the village was much larger in 1821 and was the seat of the Seminole Nation. This was before a destructive raid by the Cawetas, a group of Alabama Creeks with the blessing of slave owners, who removed about 60 former negro slaves, numerous head of cattle an horses [Brown 1990].

As the white settlers arrived in the region, other names began to ascribe to various portions of the Chocochattee Prairie and hummocks. Isaac Garrason refers to his 80 acre tract at Chocochattee as being at the Garrason Prairie [Bureau of Land Management, 1842]. This property is located two miles west of the intersection of Hwy 50 and 50A.

The relative size of the Chocochattee settlement remains an unknown. This is the result of an absence of a comprehensive study of archaeological and historical data of Chocochattee, the surrounding area and the county at large.


Boyd, Mark F., "Horatio S. Dexter and Events Leading to the Treaty of Moultrie Creek with the Seminole Indians", The Florida Anthropologist, The Florida Anthropological Society, Vol. 11, September 1958, No.3.

Brown Jr., Canter, Florida's Peach River Frontier, University of Central Florida Press, 1991

Bullen, Ripley P., A Guide to the Identification of Florida Projectile Points, Revised Edition, Kendal Books, 1975.

Ellis, Gary, et al, The Archaeological Study of the Camp Izard Tract, Marion County Florida, The Seminole Wars Foundation, Inc., 1997.

Landers, Jane, Black Society in Spanish Florida, University of Illinois Press, 1999.

Swanton, John F. "Early History of the Creek Indians and their Neighbors", Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology. Bulletin 73, 1922.

Wharton, Barry, Hernando County's Big Hammock Region - Ecological and Historical Overview, Hernando County Division of Planning and Development, 1987.

Wharton, Barry, Chocochatti Seminole Overview, Big Hammock Archaeological Foundation, 1999.

Williams, John Lee, Territory of Florida, 1837, Floridiana Facsimile and Reprint Series, University of Florida Press, 1962.

________, Bureau of Land Management, Florida Land Office, Garrason Permit, 1842.