In 1837, as General Zachary Taylor was in pursuit of Chief Alligator during the Second Seminole War, he and his men camped on what the future U.S. president Taylor nicknamed "Paradise Island." The island had been inhabited by the Sarope tribe of Native Americans stretching back for nearly 12,000 years. The mound located there is the first recorded Native American village in North America.
Brahma Island has a long history and has been under the care of the Lightsey family for nearly one and a half centuries. During the Civil War, five of the seven Lightsey brothers had fallen in battle. The remaining two brothers settled in Florida.
The island was eventually acquired by the Lightsey family in 1880 and the family takes great pride in preserving the natural beauty of the plant and animal species that inhabit Brahma Island. Following the passing of their father, the family was faced with extensive estate taxes. Instead of selling their land, they family established a hunting business on the island.
In the early 1970's, Cary and Layne Lightsey began their lucrative hunting business which has since been visited by celebrities such as Johnny Depp and Shaquille O'Neill. Though the Lightsey brothers were offered several million dollars for their property, they stayed true to the long-held traditions of their family and continue to develop business to ensure the island could be preserved and maintainted.
Cary Lightsey maintains that "if you took a Lightsey at birth and adopted them or moved them to somewhere else in the nation... if you look them up in thirty years, they would be in the cow business and have horses."
"We're really proud that we're the owners of the island, it really means a lot to us, and it's important for us to keep the natural beauty here and not change anything." says Lightsey. The family's dedication to conserving the beauty of the island to pass down to future generations has been a blessing to the land, which otherwise might have been sold and used for development.
For more information on Brahma Island, check out the video below.