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Revised 27 December 2010


(Source of information: "A Historical Biography of the United States, Classified" by Joseph Rippey, 7 Jan 1885; published by J. Pippey & Co., Baltimore, Md. This interesting little book is also full of advertisments from companies in business at the time.)

According to the Spanish archival maps, the existence of Florida was known for at least five centuries, as the shape of the area shows on early navigational maps.  Ponce de Leon, of Spain, reached the Florida coast as early as 1613.  He landed there on Easter Sunday and called the new land Florida, which is the Spanish name for Easter, in the area called Pascua, Florida.  Although attempts were made to plant a Spanish settlement in the area, they were routed by the Indians.

In 1528 Pamphilo de Narvaez landed with 300 men, 80 of whom were horsemen, with the intention of conquest. They wandered 800 miles and reached the Bay of Pensacola. There they made boats, embarked, and were lost. Only four known survivors reached Mexico in 1536.

Hernando de Soto, former governor of Cuba attempted an expedition to Florida 30 May 1539, reaching Tampa Bay with 9 vessels, 600 men, a herd of swine and supplies. They worked their way westward across the country, reacing the head of Appalachee Bay, where they remained for the winter. Frm their, De Soto pushed forward into the country northwest of the present limits of Florida. They were resisted by the Indians and lost 18 men and all their baggage. They wintered in Northern Mississippi.

In 1558, an expedition of 1,500 soldiers sailed from Vera Cruz, Mexico, under Tristan de Luna to explore and colonize Florida. A great storm broke up their ships after they landed. For lack of supplies the colony dwindled away and the survivors were taken home in a year or two by a vessle sent from Mexico.

The French Huguenots attempted to establish colonies on the south bank of the St. John's river in 1564, and started well, but that colony also failed in tragedy. Two vessels left Havre 18 Feb 1562 under command of Jean Ribaut with a company of emigrants. They landed at St. John's River 1 May 1562. They called it the river of May, erected a stone pillar bearing the arms of France, then sailed northward.

The French Colony, sailing in three vessels, sailed on the River of May in 1564 and began a fort which they named "Caroline." Scarcity of food led some of them to turn to piracy. Pedro Menendez de Aviles, a Spaniard, fitted out an expedition to destroy the French colony, arriving on the coast of Florida 8 September 1565. On 20 September of that same year, Menendez marched across from St. Augustine, attacked the French at Fort Caroline and murdered them. Ribaut had sailed to attack St. Augustine, but was shipwrecked on the coast. Menendez murdered most of them in cold blood.

St Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the United States, was founded 8 September 1565 by Menendez. In an expedition against the Spaniards, under Governor Moore of South Carolina in 1702, unsuccessfully attempted to blocade St. Augustine.

In 1763, a peace treaty was signed in Paris, which ended the Seven Years' War raging in Europe.  This was pitted the British and the Prussians against France Spain and Austria.  As a result, France ceded to Britain all of her North American possessions east of the Mississippi.  In the same treaty, Spain traded the Florida territory to Britain for Havana, Cuba.  As a result, a proclamation by the King of England established two new American provinces known as East and West Florida.  These two sections were divided by the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers.  Twenty years later, the Florida sections were returned to Spain in the treaty ending the Revolutionary War in 1783.  West Florida was taken by the United States in 1810 and 1812 and the remainder finally was procured by promising to pay indemnities to all citizens who had been damaged by Spain.  The area known as West Florida was added to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

By 1821 about eight thousand non-Indian people lived in Florida.  These were a mixture of Spanish and Anglo-Saxons.  As early as 1740, there were many British, Scotch and Irish settlers living in the Cumberland and Shenandoah valleys and these spread through every southern state east of the Mississippi.  The early population of the Deep South was predominantly of Irish ancestry.  They built Jacksonville in 1822, Quincy in 1825, Monticello in 1828, Marianna and Apalachicola in 1829 and St. Joseph in 1836.  Florida became a haven of the wealth even as far back as the early beginnings, but their bad treatment of the Indians, caused war to break out with the Seminole Indians during the period from 1835 to 1842.

As early as 1820, a large group of Greek settlers moved into the Florida region.  These came from Southern Greece and the Dodecanese Islands.  These primarily earned their living from the sea. Many worked as sponge divers, farming the under waters of the Florida coast.  Religiously, they were affiliated with the orthodox Greek Catholic Church.

The first railroad entered the state in 1831 and extended from Tallahassee to St. Marks.  The center section of Florida was settled in 1820 by former settlers from Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.  In the period between 1845 to 1860, settlers came to East Florida from Georgia, Alabama and North and South Carolina.

Florida became a territory on 30 March 1822, and has many documents and records which began during that period.  On 3 March, 1845, Florida joined the Union as our twenty-seventh state.    Florida, at one time had at least seventy-seven plantations, each made up of more than one thousand acres each.  in 1912, a large group of Lutheran Slovaks moved from the Cleveland Ohio area and purchased a large tract of land in Seminole county upon which they established a communal agricultural and poultry business.  It is interesting to note that this state continued to form new counties well into the 1920s


Name Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Alachua 1824 Duval, St. John Gainesville
Baker 1861 New River MacClenny
Bay 1913 Calhoun, Washington Panama City
Benton 1843 Alachua (It became Hernando County in 1850.  Part of this was separated to form Pasco County in 1887.  
Bradford 1861 Called New River prior to 1861 Starke
Brevard 1855 St. Lucas prior to 1855 Titusville
Broward 1915 Dade, Palm Beach Ft. Lauderdale
Calhoun 1836 Franklin, Washington, Jackson Blountstown
Charlotte 1921 DeSoto Punta Gorda
Citrus 1887 Hernando Inverness
Clay 1858 Duval Green Cove Springs
Collier 1923 Lee, Monroe Naples
Columbia 1832 Alachua Lake City
Dade 1836 Monroe, St. Lucie (1855) Miami
DeSoto 1887 Manatee Arcadia
Dixie 1921 Lafayette Cross City
Duval 1822 St. John Jacksonville
Escambia 1821 One of two original counties Pensacola
Flager 1917 St. John, Volusia Bunnell
Franklin 1832 Jackson Apalachicola
Gadsden 1823 Jackson Quincy
Gilchrist 1825 Alachua Trenton
Glades 1921 DeSoto Moore Haven
Gulf 1925 Calhoun Wewahitchka
Hamilton 1827 Duval Jasper
Hardee 1921 DeSoto Wauchula
Hendry 1923 Lee LaBelle
Hernando 1850 Alachua (formerly Benton) Brooksville
Highlands 1921 DeSoto Sebring
Hillsborough 1834 Alachua, Monroe Tampa
Holmes 1848 Walton, Washington, Calhoun Bonifay
Indian River 1925 St. Lucia Vero Beach
Jackson 1822 Escambia Marianna
Jefferson 1827 Leon Monticello
Lafayette 1856 Madison Mayo
Lake 1887 Orange, Sumter Tavares
Lee 1887 Monroe Ft. Myers
Leon 1824 Gadsden Tallahassee
Levy 1845 Alachua, Marion Bronson
Liberty 1855 Franklin, Gadsden Bristol
Madison 1827 Jefferson Madison
Manatee 1855 Hillsboro Bradenton
Marion 1844 Alachua, Hillsboro, Mosquito Ocala
Martin 1925 Palm Beach, St. Lucie Stuart
Monroe 1824 St. Johns Key West
Mosquito (See Orange) 1824 (Originally covered the area from where Orlando now sits south to Lake Okeechobee.   Changed to Orange in 1845) Enterprise from 1843-1845
Nassua 1824 Duval Fernandina Beach
New River (See Bradford) 1858 (Changed to Bradford in 1861)  
Okaloosa 1915 Santa Rosa, Walton Crestview
Okeechobee 1917 Osceola, Palm Beach, St. Lucie Okeechobee
Orange 1824 (renamed in 1845) (Changed from Mosquito in 1845-and to Sumpter in 1871) Orlando
Osceola 1887 Brevard, Orange Kissimmee
Palm Beach 1909 Dade West Palm Beach
Pasco 1887 Hernando Dade city
Pinellas 1911 Hillsboro Clearwater
Polk 1861 Brevard, Hillsboro (Boundaries changed in 1871) Bartow
Putnam 1849 Alachua, Marion, Orange, St. Johns Palatka
St. Johns 1821 One of the two original counties St. Augustine
St. Lucas 1844 (Changed to Brevard in 1855)  
St. Lucie 1844 Brevard Fort Pierce
Santa Rosa 1842 Escambia Milton
Sarasota 1921 Manatee Sarasota
Seminole 1913 Orange Sanford
Sumter 1853 Marion, Orange Bushnell
Suwannee 1858 Columbia Live Oak
Taylor 1856 Madison Perry
Union 1921 Bradford Lake Butler
Volusia 1854 St. Lucas DeLand
Wakulla 1843 Leon Crawfordville
Walton 1824 Jackson De Funiak Springs
Washington 1825 Jackson, Walton Chipley
For books on Florida History, visit the THE COUNTRY STORE.  Proceeds from sales of books through this link-over to Amazon.com will help to support this website.


Florida GenWeb Florida Historical Societies and Genealogical Societies at Society Hill
Florida Keys History Museum Florida Baptist Historical Society
Historical Museum of Southern Florida Florida Historical Quarterly
Florida The Florida Railroad Company
Florida supreme court historical society Southwest Florida Archaeological Society
Guide to Florida Archives and Manuscript Repositories Hernando De Soto Historical Society
Cemeteries of Florida Florida Indian Tribes
Florida Indian Tribes and Languages Florida History Timeline
Florida Kids @ Florida OCHP Black Society in Spanish Florida . By Jane Landers.