Bartow is the county seat of Polk County, United States. Founded in 1851 as Fort Blount, the city was renamed in honor of Francis S. Bartow, the first brigade commander of the Confederate Army to die in combat during the American Civil War. According to the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 17,298 and an estimated population of 19,926 in 2018, it is part of the Lakeland−Winter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had an estimated population of 584,383 in 2009. As of 2019, the mayor of Bartow is Billy Simpson. Located near the source of the Peace River, Bartow is 39 miles east of Tampa, Florida and 50 miles southwest of the Greater Orlando area; the city is near the center of "Lightning Alley" and has frequent afternoon thunderstorms in the summer, but has sunny and mild winters. Government and agriculture are the major sectors of the area's economy; the primary roads in the Bartow area are U. S. Route 17, U. S. Route State Road 60, which provide access to locations throughout Central Florida.
The official city nickname is the "City of Oaks and Azaleas". Three districts within the city are on the National Register of Historical Places. Other historic landmarks include the Old Polk County Courthouse built in 1909 and Bartow High School Summerlin Institute, the oldest high school in the county. Summerlin Academy now was named for the historic school. Although Bartow has been eclipsed in population and name recognition by other cities in the county Lakeland and Winter Haven, the city has retained its small city heritage and its distinctive Southern culture. With the annexation of 18,000 acres of former phosphate mining land owned by the Clear Springs Land Company, Bartow's population is projected to increase to over 25,000 by 2025 and over 45,000 by 2030. 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, it is that their population suffered high mortality from European diseases, such as smallpox and measles.
The remnants of these pre-Columbian peoples joined the Creek Indians who migrated from the north to become the Seminole Indian tribe. The first non-Indian settlement in the area was a colony of Black Seminole, free blacks and escaped slaves who established Minatti south of Lake Hancock in the late 1810s; these "maroons", as they were called, were slaves who escaped from Georgia and the Carolinas. The Black Seminole of Minatti were allies of the Red Stick Creek in Talakchopko, a village that preceded present-day Fort Meade; the Seminole leader Osceola had strong ties to Talakchopko. Many of the events leading up to the Second Seminole War were associated with Osceola and the Minatti war chief Harry. By the end of the Second Seminole War in 1842, both Minatti and Talakchopko had been destroyed by US forces; the Armed Occupation Act of 1842 facilitated European-American settlement of the Florida peninsula in the 1840s, although the act prohibited settlement near the Peace River, as this was considered Seminole land.
Enforcement of that part of the act was not enforced. As the settlement grew, the residents began to plant citrus trees and build one-room school houses and churches. In 1851, Fort Blount was established by Redding Blount. Bartow developed east of this site. At some point in the 1850s, Fort Blount was renamed as Peace Creek or Peas Creek, a translation of the Spanish Rio de la Paz of early maps. About a month after the secession of Florida in 1861, the state established Polk County from the eastern portion of Hillsborough County. A few months the American Civil War began with the Battle of Fort Sumter; because of the turmoil of secession and the war, the county had no official county seat for its first six years. The state legislature had directed the voters of Polk County to choose a site for the county seat and mandated that the site be named "Reidsville." During the war, the area's major contribution to the Confederacy was supplying food cattle and beef. The Union army and navy had effective control of the west coast of Florida, many cattlemen retreated inland and formed the "Cow Cavalry" as a defense against Union troops.
One of the wealthiest members of the Cow Cavalry was Jacob Summerlin. After Summerlin purchased the Blount property in 1862, he donated a large parcel of land to build a county courthouse, two churches and a school; that year, the town, known as Fort Blount, Peace Creek, Peas Creek, Reidsville, was permanently renamed Bartow in honor of Francis S. Bartow, the first Confederate brigade commander to die during the war. Bartow recovered from the war; the first Polk County Courthouse was built in 1867, which established the city as county seat. Although Florida formally rejoined the union in 1868, the Reconstruction era did not end in Florida until 1877; the 1880s and 90s were a period of growth for the city of Bartow. On July 1, 1882 the town was incorporated as a city. In 1885, the Florida Southern Railroad, a north-south route from North Florida to Southwest Florida opened in Bartow. A year the Bartow Branch of the South Florida Railroad, connecting Tampa and Orlando, was completed; the railroads were catalysts for growth of the area.
The 2008 Iraqi Day of Ashura fighting was a series of clashes that occurred on the Islamic holy day of Ashura on January 18, 2008 and the next day in the Iraqi cities of Basra and Nasiriyah. The battles were fought between the Iraqi security forces and fighters of an Iraqi cult called the Soldiers of Heaven, which a year before fought a similar battle on Ashura, near the city of Najaf, their leader was reported killed along with his deputy Ahmed Hassani al-Yemeni but this time around it was reported that al-Yemeni was still alive and leading the cultists. Cultist fighters started attacking members of the security forces in the two cities on January 18 and heavy fighting ensued; the rebels had the upper hand and took control of a police station in Nasiriyah. And set up a command center in a mosque in the city. Fighting raged late in the evening, burned out police vehicles were seen on the streets of Basra. Rebels captured an oil facilities building and a hospital in Basra and at one point there was fighting in 75 percent of the city.
The next morning a coalition air strike destroyed the police station, taken over, late in the afternoon an Iraqi Army raid on the mosque ended the fighting. Up to 58 cultist fighters and 18 members of the security forces were killed, along with four civilians. 33 policemen were wounded. Among the casualties of the security forces, 15 were Police and 3 were Army; the Iraqi Police and Army detained 166 militants. In fighting in Basra: 5 policemen, 3 soldiers, 40 rebels and 2 civilians were killed. In the fighting in Nasiriyah: 10 policemen, 18 rebels and 2 civilians were killed. Among the dead were Abu Mustapha Ansari, the leader of the Soldiers of Heaven in Basra and four police colonels: Colonel Zamel Khazaal Badr, the head of police intelligence in Nasiriyah, Colonel Abdel Amir Jabbar, the commander of the rapid-intervention force in Ziqar province, Colonel Naji Rustom, head of the emergency police force of Nasiriyah and Lt. Colonel Ali Hashim, commander of the Nasiriyah transport police. 166 cultists were captured in Basra and Musayyib.
Among the captured rebels were two 14-year-old snipers that were responsible for the deaths of two policemen in Basra. However some reports only days suggested that the death toll from the fighting was much higher than firstly reported with at least 50 people killed in Nasiriyah and up to 97 people killed and 217 wounded in Basra. Once again the fate of Ahmed Hassani al-Yemeni remained unknown
Vajas was a Sámi-Norwegian band with Kristin Mellem on violin and vocals, Nils Johansen on guitars and synthesizers and the famous Sami ethnic yoiker Ánde Somby on vocals and yoik. The band toured internationally. In October 2006 Vajas released Sacred Stone; the band is working on getting the release distributed in Germany and the UK with other countries to follow. In 2009, a minor YouTube fad involved remaking or lipsynching to the song "Sparrow of the Wind". Kristin Mellem is a classically trained composer and violinist who has done a lot of musical projects, she has performed music both in smaller settings and with full orchestras. Ánde Somby is both a traditional and non-traditional Sami yoiker and has been performing since the late seventies. Somby has a Ph. D. in Law and is a busy academic, employed at the University of Tromsø in Norway. Nils Johansen is a musician, composer and multiinstrumentalist and is a member of the Norwegian pop/indie duo Bel Canto. Johansen has been a part of the international music industry since the mid eighties and has composed music for film and for full orchestras.
He wrote the opening number to the debut of the Norwegian radio channel P3 and has done a lot of musical work outside his two bands. Somby lived with Kristin Mellem from 2003 to 2007 and have one child together, born in 2005. From a former marriage Somby has two children, born in 1980 and 1988. Somby is the father of Lawra Somby. 2006 Sacred stone, Vaj AS/Musikkoperatørene, Norway Vajas' English profile page on MySpace.com with songs and a video Ánde Somby's English profile page on MySpace.com Nils Johansen's English Bel Canto profile page on MySpace.com