Collier County Museum
Naples Railroad Depot is an historic downtown landmark.
Florida has a rich and diverse history. African American landmarks and legacies exist in various locations throughout the state. The following historical sites can be found in Collier County. While some of these sites can be visited, other listings are marked "private" and are not open to the public.
Macedonia Baptist Church
1006 Third Avenue North
The oldest African American church in Naples, this church was organized in 1929, and relocated to its present site in 1952. The new, Gothic-style church building was dedicated in 1954, the annex was built in 1973, and the church was renovated in 1975. (239) 262-4877.
Naples Railroad Depot
1051 Fifth Avenue South
Naples’ first railroad passenger station, the Naples Depot was built in 1927 by the Seaboard Air Line Railway. This historic downtown landmark serves today as a branch of the Collier County Museum and is being restored to its 1920s appearance. The separate waiting room originally used by black passengers until the 1960s has been preserved, as well as the stories of the black porters, train conductors and railroad workers who worked here. (239) 262-6525.
Pine Ridge Road at U.S. 41
Restored marble headstones and a historical marker at the intersection of Pine Ridge Road and the Tamiami Trail identify Rosemary Cemetery, Naples’ primary burial ground until 1947. The cemetery was platted in 1934 to re-inter the remains of the first pioneer residents, moved from an earlier cemetery located at Third Street and Tenth Avenue South.
Collier County Museum
3331 Tamiami Trail East
Permanent displays trace the history and development of Collier County from prehistoric times to the present and include an exhibit on the role of Black Seminole Indians during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). Escaped slaves from American plantations became allies of the Seminoles and became successful farmers and cattle herders. (239) 252-8476.
More About Black Seminoles
Making their journey the first Underground Railroad, slaves from the Carolinas and Georgia as early as 1688 escaped to northern Florida, at that time under Spanish control, and were received by the Seminoles. An association originally limited to mutual material advantage grew into one of reciprocal respect and affection. Intermarriage inevitably occurred. Black Seminoles did not have individual owners, but they did have to provide tribute in crops or cattle in return for relative freedom and protection from re-enslavement however, they were no more subordinate than other tribespeople. They usually lived in separate but nearby towns or villages, rather than with the Seminoles.
Some became successful farmers and cattle herders, and a few served as interpreters and military leaders during the Seminole Wars and rose to prominence in Seminole society. No group would resist annexation more than the Black Seminoles. To lose a battle would mean they would simultaneously lose their independence, their homes and their freedom. Over a period of seven years, the U.S. Army sent 40,000 troops to fight about 2,000 Seminoles, approximately 500 being Black Seminoles. Three wars ensued and a truce was called but no peace treaty was ever signed. For this reason, the Seminoles are considered “the Unconquered People.”
By 1857, most of the Seminoles had been forcibly resettled in the Indian Territories in Oklahoma. The 100 or so Seminoles who stayed fled into the Everglades and now make up the 3000+ Seminole Tribe of Florida. It all began in Florida but their saga took them to Okalahoma, Texas, Mexico and the Bahamas. A cultural blend of African and Native American, these courageous men and women are the Black Seminoles, an almost forgotten part of Florida’s past. For more information, visit the Collier County Museum at www.colliermuseum.com.
Adapted from Florida Black Heritage Trail, published by the Florida Department of State, in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA, copyright 2007. For more information on African American sites, please visit flheritage.com. Additional information can also be found at: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/milesmedia/floridablackheritage/