Cooley's Landing Park

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William Cooley was an early settler in East Florida. He moved to the New River area (later to become Fort Lauderdale) in 1826 and started an arrowroot plantation. Eventually he became involved in local administration, and in 1835/6 he was involved in adjudicating a case in which white settlers were accused of killing a Creek Indian chief named Alibama. The settlers were jailed but later released, citing insufficient evidence. The Creeks were outraged, and laid much of the blame for the verdict on Cooley’s shoulders.

On January 4th, 1836, a part of 15-20 Indians raided Cooley’s home while he was away on an expedition, killing his wife and children. The incident has since been known as the “New River Massacre” or “Cooley’s Massacre.” It effectively ended the New River settlement – it would be more than a half century before whites would resettle in the area again in significant numbers. Cooley himself moved to Tampa, where he died in 1863.

Nothing remains of the original plantation, but a small park called “Cooley’s Landing” has been erected on the spot where it once stood, on the north side of the river. (Some sources place Cooley’s plantation on the south side, which is called “Cooley’s Landing South” today, but local historians believe it was indeed on the north side.) It is said that each year, around January, the screams of dying children are heard here.

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Geographic Information

Cooley's Landing Park
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
United States

Get Directions »
26.1171338, -80.15001059999997
Broward County, Florida
Nearest Towns:
Fort Lauderdale, FL (0.5 mi.)
Boulevard Gardens, FL (1.9 mi.)
Franklin Park, FL (2.0 mi.)
Washington Park, FL (2.2 mi.)
Roosevelt Gardens, FL (2.5 mi.)
Melrose Park, FL (2.7 mi.)
Lazy Lake, FL (2.7 mi.)
Broward Estates, FL (2.8 mi.)
Wilton Manors, FL (3.1 mi.)
Rock Island, FL (3.1 mi.)


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Comments (9)

  1. Well considering that Cooley Landing was not the site of the Cooley homestead (down river past the Stranahan House), hard for the ghosts of the children to be screaming at this park.

    • I believe the site was not where the park downriver is, but was actually by 7th Avenue bridge, next to the theater, where the condominiums are now. I used to work at the boatyard there and was told this by one of my customers who was a local historian.
      I wish I could remember his name.
      I also believe I saw a ghost there one day which completely changed my mind about such things.

  2. Hello I’m a sensitive. Kinda like a medium. If you go there at night you might see dark shadows or boats that have no one in them starting to move or lights will go on and off as well. When I did come to the landing I immediately felt dark vibes and it’s not something to joke about. If you go there for the spiritual activity beware that they do know you are there and they will play games.

  3. It’s amazing how people hear things see things when you die you either go to hell or heaven your soul leaves and the only thing that’s stays is the familiar spirits of generational curse I know that psychic knows exactly what I’m talking about & when they around that victim they see n copy everything they do so when the victim dies they act like them and masquerade like them is a demon n if you go there and interact with them the familiar spirits follow you and you will be there next victim. May god help you all & n stop being deceive in Jesus name amen

  4. I worked at Norseman Marine which was next to where the theater now stands. I am of the understanding that this was the site of the Cooley massacre. One day I was in our parts room with our parts person when we both suddenly turned toward the door and I saw something moving past.
    I had never believed in the supernatural before this but the experience definitely changed my mind.

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Disclaimer: The stories posted here are user-submitted and are, in the nature of "ghost stories," largely unverifiable. makes no claims that any of the statements posted here are factually accurate. The vast majority of information provided on this web site is anecdotal, and as such, should be viewed in the same light as local folklore and urban legends.