You would never guess that the beautiful island of Casey Key, with its beautiful and elegant homes, famous lifestyle, wonderful beaches, and natural landscaping was once part of a wild region in the late 1840's. U.S. Army Captain John Charles Casey, a graduate of West Point, was sent by the U.S. Government in the mid-1800s to survey the area. Casey was also assigned the task of assisting in the removal of the Seminole Indians from the region during his survey.
The Key was called Chaise’s Key on the 1849 map, and John Casey’s name was on the map marking the area where he was surveying. When Casey’s map was published later in 1856, the name was changed to Casey Key. Since that mistake, several attempts have been made to change the name back to Chaise’s Key. During the real estate boom of the 1920s the name was changed to Treasure Island in order to spur land sales. Residents changed the name back to Casey Key each time there was an attempt to change the island’s name. Today the name Casey Key remains.
During John Casey efforts to aide in removing the Seminole Indians, he built a spirit of trust with the Indians and with the influential chief of the Florida Seminoles, Billy Bowlegs. This “spirit of trust” held a fragile peace between the chiefs and the settlers until Casey’s health began to fail. A third Seminole War erupted in 1855, and just a few years later in 1858, Bowlegs was deported to the Western part of the United States.
After the Civil War, the land around Casey Key began to be settled and it was common to see homesteaders sailing the bays in shallow boats. During the real estate boom of the 1920s, the channels were altered and dredged, and parts of the shores filled. In 1923, the Treasure Island Bridge was built at the north end of the island. It is one of the few, one lane rotating swing bridges that remains in use today, although it is considered functionally obsolete.
Casey Key’s history is intriguing and looking at the island’s luxurious lifestyle today, it’s hard to think of this incredible paradise as being anything other than what it is today. Casey Key today is home to magnificent waterfront estates as well as some older beach cottages. Many of the beach cottages have been razed to make way for new single family homes, many found behind enormous walled enclosures with beautifully designed wrought iron gates.
Private Casey Key beach is a great place to collect seashells, seaglass and shark’s teeth. The North Jetty Park is a popular spot for Casey Key visitors too. There are no traffic lights on Casey Key and no high-rise condominiums. You’ll find a few “mom and pop” motels remain, but basically Casey Key has remained just a small beachfront community with captivating native wildlife and extraordinary scenic views. Stop at the Casey Key Fish House before you leave the island for the freshest catch of the day. You’ll also find a few famous residents on Casey Key!
Casey Key is loaded with ‘old Florida charm’, and rich in history, two of the things that cause people to want to come here, and, of course, decide to stay. John Charles Casey would be amazed today to see the elegant beachfront estates, magnificent bayfront homes and the great recreational activities available on Casey Key. Captain Casey would be probably be amazed that Casey Key has turned out to be one of the most popular barrier islands and certainly one of the most sought after pieces of Florida real estate.