William M. Goza


In 1825, the territory of Florida was sparsely settled and little traveled. Fort Brooke, named for its first commander, Colonel George Mercer Brooke, and located where the Hillsborough River meets Old Tampa Bay, was a scant two years old. In that year, Indian Agent Colonel Gad Humphries established an agency near the present city of Ocala, preceding by some two years the occupation of Fort King on a nearby knoll. Realizing the need to connect its outposts by overland routes, Congress appropriated $12,000 to build a road from the northern boundary of the territory to Fort Brooke. The road was not constructed, but in 1825 a military road was started with the blazing of a trail north of Fort Brooke. Improvements followed later and what had been known as “The Military Highway” became the Fort King Road.