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Why do they call it that? San Antonio and Fort Meade | Community Spirit

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Why do they call it that? San Antonio and Fort Meade
Why do they call it that? San Antonio and Fort Meade

A man, lost in the desert, makes this interesting promise to a saint: lead me to safety, and I'll name a city in Florida after you! Plus, a North-South crossroads in Polk County.

Why do they call it San Antonio?

Lost in the Arizona desert, Judge Edmund Dunne prayed for help.

He asked for aid from a saint renowned for locating lost things -- in this case, himself.

His pledge? Sorta strange: "If he was able to get out of the desert alive, that he would name a settlement in Florida after him, because he was already thinking about moving to Florida and starting a settlement," said Rodney Kite Powell, curator of history at the Tampa Bay History Center.

Dunne did survive.

His prayers were apparently answered by St. Anthony -- in Spanish, that's San Antonio. The same saint behind this Pasco County town also gave his name to San Antonio, Texas.

"He made it out of the desert, came to Florida, and followed through on his promise to Saint Antonio and named San Antonio in his honor," Kite-Powell said.

Judge Dunne laid out San Antonio around a central square. He envisioned it as a colony where Catholics could live in harmony.

In fact, he would only sell you land if you were Catholic, and only if you had a letter from a priest saying you were in good standing. At the time, Florida had no laws preventing religious discrimination.

Even with no law against it, the Catholics-only policy failed on its own. Dunne gave it up after six years.

Why do they call it Fort Meade?

Early settlers called this area "The Deadening" because a huge patch of land here mysteriously had no living trees.

To drive out the Seminole Indians, the U.S. government sent troops to the area -- into what was wilderness at the time.

Two of those soldiers would become icons in the coming Civil War on opposite sides.

Fort Meade was set up here and named for the man who surveyed it, young Lieutenant George Meade.

He went on to become General George Meade, fighting for the North; he defeated General Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg.

The other man sent here -- Lieutenant Thomas Jackson -- was at the time a U.S. soldier.

A decade later, he joined the Confederacy, and as General "Stonewall" Jackson, he became one of the South's greatest commanders.

Fort Meade, the small post where they both served, remains as Polk County's oldest city.

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

There are a lot more places out there with names that could use explaining. If you want to ask "Why do they call it that?" send an e-mail with a name that has you curious to Grayson Kamm using this link.

We'll be featuring new places and stories each Wednesday on 10 News. Watch them on The Morning Show from 5-7 a.m. and on 10 News at 5:30 p.m.

Check out previous editions of "Why do they call it that?" plus links to photos and maps from Tampa Bay's past at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.









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