Bartow (/?b??rto?/ bar-toh) is the county seat of Polk County, Florida. Founded in 1851 as Fort Blount, the city was renamed in honor of Francis S. Bartow the first brigade commander to die in combat during the American Civil War.
A Spanish map of the Florida peninsula drawn in 1527 shows a native settlement called Rio de la Paz near present-day Bartow. Little is known about these Native Americans who made their home near present-day Bartow, but it is likely that they suffered the same fate as pre-Columbian natives elsewhere – death by European diseases such as smallpox and yellow fever. The remnants of these pre-Columbian peoples probably joined Creek Indians who arrived from the north and become the Seminole Indian tribe.