Prior to being known by its current name, Orlando was known as Jernigan. This originates from the first permanent settler, Aaron Jernigan, a cattleman who acquired land along Lake Holden by the terms of the Armed Occupation Act of 1842.
City officials and local legend say the name Orlando originated from a soldier named Orlando Reeves who died in 1835 during a supposed attack by Native Americans in the area during the Second Seminole War. Reeves was acting as a sentinel for a company of soldiers that had set up camp for the night on the banks of Sandy Beach Lake (now Lake Eola). There are conflicting legends, however, as an in-depth review of military records in the 1970s and 1980s turned up no record of Orlando Reeves ever existing. The legend grew throughout the early 1900s, particularly with local historian Kena Fries’ retelling in various writings and on local radio station WDBO in 1929. A memorial beside Lake Eola – originally placed by students of Orlando’s Cherokee Junior School in 1939 – designates the spot where the city’s supposed namesake fell.
Local historians have come up with a more credible version of the “Reeves” story. During the Second Seminole War, the U.S. Army established an outpost at Fort Gatlin, a few miles south of the modern downtown, in 1838, but it was quickly abandoned when the war came to an end. Most pioneers did not arrive until after the Third Seminole War in the 1850s. Many early residents made their living by cattle ranching. One such resident was a South Carolinian Orlando Savage Rees. Rees owned several large estates in Florida and Mississippi. On two separate occasions, relatives of Rees claimed their ancestor was the namesake of the city. F.K. Bull of South Carolina (Rees’ great-grandson) told an Orlando reporter of a story in 1955; years later, Charles M. Bull Jr. of Orlando (Rees’ great-great-grandson) offered local historians similar information. Rees most certainly did exist and was in Florida during that time period: in 1832 John James Audubon met with Rees in his large estate at Spring Garden, about 45 minutes away from Orlando. In 1837, Rees also attempted to stop a peace Treaty with the Indians because it did not reimburse him for the loss of slaves and crops. The story goes Rees’ sugar farms in the area were burned out in the Seminole attacks in 1835 (the year Orlando Reeves supposedly died). Subsequently, he led an expedition to recover stolen slaves and cattle. It is believed he could have left a pine-bough marker with his name next to the trail, and later residents misread the sign as “Reeves” and thought it was his grave. In the years since the telling of this story, it has merged with the Orlando Reeves story. Some variants attempt to account for Reeves having no military records by using the name of another ‘Orlando’ that exists in some written records – Orlando Acosta. Not much is known about Acosta and if he even existed.
What is known for certain is Jernigan became Orlando in 1857. The move is believed to be sparked, in part, by Aaron Jernigan’s fall from grace after he was relieved of his military command by military officials in 1856. His behavior was so notorious that Secretary of War Jefferson Davis wrote, “It is said they [Jernigan’s militia] are more dreadful than the Indians.” At a meeting in 1857, debate had grown concerning the name of the town. Pioneer William B. Hull recalled how Speer rose in the heat of the argument and said, “This place is often spoken of as ‘Orlando’s Grave.’ Let’s drop the word ‘grave’ and let the county seat be Orlando.” Through this retelling of history, it is believed that a marker of some sort was indeed found by Jernigan (or one of the other original pioneers); but, others claim Speer simply used the folk legend to help push for the Shakespearian name.
On March 16, 1886 the Fist National Bank of Orlando was issued a charter. Only $5 notes of the Brown Back 2nd charter period were issued. The bank was appointed W.B. Jackson to handle the receiving of the First National on December 4, 1895. On December 2, 1899, the stockholders were assessed 59 cents per dollar of stock they held, in order to raise funds to pay depositors. The bank issued $5 Brown Back notes only and by 1915, only $535 in notes remained outstanding. Today only four notes on known on the bank.
The Citizens National Bank of Orlando was issued a charter number of 3802 on October 12, 1887. Only Brown Back notes were issued, In March of 1893 the bank was liquidated and only $270 was still out in the year 1910. There are no known notes of this bank in existence.
The Peoples National Bank of Orlando was organized on August 1, 1911. James C. Patterson was named President along with the help of W.G. Talton, Cashier. Investors in 1920 decided to change the name and management adopting the bank title, First National Bank in Orlando. The above two notes are the only notes known to exist at this time with this title. On Feb. 9th. 1928, the bank would change it’s name a third time to the First National Bank and Trust Co. in Orlando which it would keep until it’s altimate demise on Feb. 27, 1934.
First National Bank in Orlando was the new Peoples National Bank that opened on January 22, 1920 with Thomas Hopkins as President. Unfortunately the bank fell into receivership on February 27, 1934.
Under this third title for Charter 10069, all notes known are signed by I.L. Cook as cashier and W.R. O’Neal, president. Shortly after the First National fell into receivership on February 27, 1934 businessmen and citizens alike opened a new national bank this one named the First National Bank at Orlando. This bank did not issue any notes.
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Notes & Currency
- 18__ Fernandina $3 Obsolete Note
- 1882 $50 Jacksonville Note Charter #3869
- 1902 $10 Punta Gorda Note Charter #10512
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