The Legend of Burnt Store
There are many stories of how Burnt Store Road got its name. Here is the one that seems to be the most popular, and as you can see, has special meaning for Burnt Store Marina, The Golf & Activity Club, and Cass Cay Restaurant.
At one time the area was inhabited by the Calusa Indians, who survived on the abundance of indigenous fish and wildlife, plus whatever they could grow in the warm climate. There were more than 2,000 Indians in the area. Then came the Spaniards, headed by Ponce de Leon, whose attempt to settle was thwarted. He and many of his men lost their lives as the result of wounds received during the skirmish to establish themselves in the area. That was just the beginning of the settlers’ invasion of the Indian territory. Having lost their land where they were once free to hunt and raise vegetables, most of the Indians left little by little, though a few remained.
Records show that there was a little band of Indians living approximately twenty miles north of the Caloosahatchee River, which would put them approximately in the Burnt Store area. The leader of the Indian settlement was Billy Bowlegs, who led an attack during the Seminole massacre in 1839. Despite being pushed back into limited territory, the Indians lived peacefully side by side with the settlers. It was the settlers who built the trading post that not only served as the town’s general store, but also as a gathering place for everything from gossip to politics. The Indians, however, didn’t socialize with the settlers, nor they with the Indians……except, that is for Old Salty. Old Salty resided alone in a shack down by the harbor and was known to mind his own business. He was someone who enjoyed his privacy; however, he and Billy Bowlegs managed to get along, learn from each other and become good friends.
The area was enjoying a peaceful existence, when young Lt. Gil Hartstuff arrived with a band of surveyors. Feeling the power of his new position, he paraded around over Indian Territory as though he owned it, asking permission from no one, and not caring what damage he did. Old Salty became concerned about what Lt. Hartstuff was doing and brought it to the young officer’s attention. Salty warned of raising his Indian friends’ ire, but the Lieutenant just laughed it off, pegging Salty for nothing more than an ”old coot”. The rest of the settlers didn’t much care what happened to the Indians – they would have been just as happy if the Indians left. “If we’re going to lose our land,” proclaimed Billy Bowlegs, “we won’t do it without fighting for it”! So one dark night, as the legend goes, Billy and his little band stormed the Trading Post and set it on fire. Some of the surveyors spotted the Indians on the run and fired at them, killing some. Many of the settlers lost their lives in the fire.
Billy and a few of his followers managed to get away, but knew they had to leave the area. Old Salty hid them for a few days until the situation cooled down, then the two old friends said goodbye. Old Salty stayed on in the village, as the people accepted him more and listened to his wisdom, knowing that if they had listened before, many would not have lost their lives. The Trading Post was never rebuilt, but from that day on the road leading to it was known as Burnt Store Road.
Today, the facilities of Burnt Store Marina, along with the Golf & Activity Club, supply more needs than those who frequented the old trading post ever thought possible. With the splendor of the secluded 525 wet slips & 300 dry slips in the Marina, along with 27 holes of golf, the athletic club, tennis courts, pools, plus the excellent dining at Cass Cay Restaurant, Linkside Café, and the Ship’s Store, “The Trading Post”, the legend more than continues – it gets better with each visit.