Fort Ogden, Arcadia and Ziba King The Florida Cattle Baron
by Mike Miller
(Mount Dora, Florida)
When Ziba King died in 1901 he reportedly owned 50,000 head of cattle worth $500,000. This represented 10 percent of all the cattle in Florida. He was known as a cattle baron, and his life story is similar to the fictional family created by the late Patrick Smith in his Florida classic "A Land Remembered".
King was a Confederate veteran who moved to Florida after the Civil War. He left the devastation of war torn Georgia with five dollars in his pocket and walked to Florida. He worked at several jobs until he saved enough money to open a dry goods store in Tampa in 1868.
Shortly after that, he moved to the Fort Ogden area and homesteaded 160 acres and also opened a general store. He began to acquire cattle and was also appointed a judge somewhere along the way and was also president of the First National Bank of Arcadia and had prominent positions in several other banks.
Ziba stood 6 foot 6 and weighed 225 pounds and commanded immediate respect when he walked into a room. He was also known as a very good poker player, but one with a soft heart. From time to time he'd play somebody into bankruptcy and then give them some money back so they could make a fresh start.
He owned the local newspaper, was elected to the Florida Senate and was also on the school board. One time he bankrolled the entire school system with his own money. He was active in politics until his final days.
Ziba King and some of his family are buried in a small family plot in Fort Ogden, Florida just west of US-17. The plot is in a community park and is open to the public.
Fort Ogden is south of Arcadia and is on the eastern side of the Peace River.