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A Brief History of Sebastian

Damien Lee Gilliams Damien Lee Gilliams Follow Oct 17, 2023 · 13 mins read
A Brief History of Sebastian
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In the 1880s, Sebastian saw its first settlements when a group of 40 pioneers moved to a village south of the St. Sebastian River. Originally called Newhaven, the village was renamed Sebastian in 1884. Fishing became the backbone of this small community, attracting naturalists due to the St. Sebastian River, Indian River Lagoon, and Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. In 1903, Sebastian gained national recognition as President Teddy Roosevelt established Pelican Island as the country’s first Wildlife Refuge, appointing Paul Kroegel as its first wildlife warden.

Today, Sebastian, now the largest municipality in Indian River County, maintains its natural resources. It evolved from a small fishing village to a thriving city, with a Working Waterfront showcasing its rich fishing industry history. The fishing tradition continues, offering water-based activities, river view lodging, and waterfront restaurants serving fresh Florida fish.

The nearby City of Fellsmere has its own unique history, being the first city south of the Mason-Dixon Line to allow women to vote post-reconstruction. It also introduced packaged sugar to the state, boasts the first library, and has the first Master Planned Community in Indian River County.

The Treasure Coast got its name from the sinking of the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet near Sebastian and St. Lucie Inlets. In 1988, treasure hunters found artifacts worth around $300,000, including pieces of eight and jewelry.

The Sebastian River Area, known for its natural beauty, attracted early settlers with its Sabal palms, live oaks, egrets, pelicans, river, lagoon, and seashore. Most of early Sebastian was built between the St. Sebastian River and a lagoon, making it an appealing place for settlement. The St. Sebastian River, a freshwater tributary, drains into the Indian River Lagoon, forming the western boundary of the Sebastian area. The Indian River lagoon, to the east, completes the natural allure of the region.

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Damien Lee Gilliams
Written by Damien Lee Gilliams Follow
Your Editor-in-Chief and Website Developer. Damien is a Sebastian native and a graduate of University of Florida in Computer Engineering: Digital Arts and Sciences. He founded to help promote positive news in his beloved hometown.