|Brief History of Taylor County, Florida – Taylor and Lafayette counties were created by an act of the Florida Legislature on December 23, 1856. Taylor County was named for General Zachary Taylor, a leading commander during the Second Seminole War and later the 12th President of the United States. This whirlwind tour of the history of Taylor County and Perry, Florida will catch you up on the basic outline of our past.|
|Illustrated Timeline – This helpful resource covers the major events in Taylor County’s history from the arrival of its earliest Native American inhabitants to the present day.|
|Genealogy & Local History Library – The Historical Society maintains an extensive library of books and other publications relating to Taylor County genealogy and local history. Check out our listing of family history books, cemetery surveys, yearbooks, county histories, and other resources.|
|Taylor County Reference Collection – This is perhaps the most useful resource for local history research held by the Society. The Reference Collection consists of binders containing newspaper clippings, historical writings, and other documents relating to Taylor County. The binders are organized by topic.|
|Artifact Collections & Exhibits – On your visit to the Historical Society’s headquarters in Perry, you’ll be immediately impressed with the broad range of artifacts the Society has collected from every aspect of life in Perry and Taylor County. In addition to over a hundred historic images arranged along the walls, you’ll see bottles from bottling plants around the county, vintage memorabilia from the Taylor County Bulldogs, medical instruments, confiscated moonshine jars, old logging implements, and much more. See the Contact/Visit Us page for details on planning your visit.|
Programs & Awards
|They Were Here series – Since 1972, the Taylor County Historical Society has been publishing periodic volumes of biographies of Taylor Countians dating back to the mid-19th century. Everyone from farmers to fishermen to turpentine workers to timber workers to judges, businessmen, and cattle ranchers fill the pages of these volumes. There’s no particular requirement for inclusion – this is merely our way of keeping the memory of those gone before us alive – by reminding readers that “they were here.” To submit a Taylor Countian for inclusion in the next volume, fill out our submission form and send it via mail or email with a high-quality photograph of the nominee to the Society. Our email and “snail mail” addresses are listed on the form.|
|Wilson T. Hendry – W.H. Peacock Award – This award is given annually to one person who demonstrates an outstanding effort to preserve the history of Taylor County, Florida. All members of the Historical Society in good standing may submit nominations for the award to the Board of Directors. The winner is selected by the Board and presented the award at the Annual Awards Banquet in May.|
|W.T. Cash Scholarship Award – Each year, the Taylor County Historical Society grants one $1,000 scholarship to a graduating senior at Taylor County High School. The winning student is selected by the Society’s board of directors and announced at the Annual Awards Banquet. The application is available online (click here) or in hard copy format in the Taylor County High School guidance department.Note: The application window for seniors graduating in 2015 is now closed.|
The resources of the Taylor County Historical Society complement an enormous amount of information available from state and national institutions, as well as other local groups like ours. Try these websites to expand your search for knowledge about Taylor County and the surrounding region.
Dixie County Historical Society – This is an excellent website put together by local historians in Dixie County to our south. The site includes information about the Society, its museum, its publications, and links to helpful resources for studying Dixie County’s heritage.
Florida Memory – This is the online outreach tool of the State Library and Archives of Florida. The site contains over 185,000 images depicting Florida history and culture, along with thousands of pages of historic documents, hours of film and audio recordings, and classroom resources to help teachers use the material in their classrooms.
Taylor County-related resources on Florida Memory include digitized versions of Confederate pension applications from Florida, World War I service cards, brief church histories taken by WPA workers during the Great Depression, and returns from the 1845 statehood election.
Florida State Genealogical Society – The FSGS was founded in 1977 to promote the study and research of genealogy and local history. It is also home to the Florida Pioneer Certificate program. The organization’s website includes a calendar of genealogy-related events around the state and a forum for getting help with genealogical research.
Examples of helpful information on the FSGS website for Taylor Countians: Genealogy forums and the FSGS Florida Pioneer Database. This database lists all of the Florida pioneers identified through various Floridians’ applications for “pioneer descendant” status. It’s a great resource if you yourself are preparing to apply!
Madison County Genealogical Society – Our neighbors in Madison County have an organization similar to ours dedicated to preserving their county’s history and culture. The website contains a number of useful genealogical resources, including a partial list of marriages, obituaries, and cemetery censuses. Remember that until 1856 Taylor County was part of Madison County, so if your family has been here since before that time, there’s probably some useful information here for you!
P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History – Located in the Special Collections section of the George Smathers Library at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The P.K. Yonge Library holds a variety of resources relating to Florida’s history and culture, including rare books, manuscript collections, and ephemera such as postcards and brochures.
Examples of Taylor County-related resources at the P.K. Yonge Library include original letters from the William Davenport Collection pertaining to Fort Andrews, newsletters from Depression-era Civil Conservation Corps camps in Taylor County, and Sanborn Fire Insurance Company maps of Taylor County.
State Library & Archives of Florida – The State Library collects documents and reports created by the various state agencies, and holds a massive assortment of books, pamphlets, and other media pertaining to the Sunshine State. The State Archives of Florida holds the state’s collection of historic documents dating back to the 18th century, including the correspondence of state officials, tax rolls, Florida Supreme Court documents, and many collections from private families, businesses, and individuals.
Examples of Taylor County-specific materials held here: microfilm copies of county clerk records, manuscript records from the Rocky Ford Primitive Baptist Church, manuscript records from native historian W.T. Cash, correspondence between Taylor County officials and citizens and the governors, etc.
Taylor County & Perry, Florida History – Maintained by Henry McLeod in honor of his wife, the late June Parker McLeod, who was an avid historian of the county. Through this site, Henry makes available a great deal of his research on over 150 places in Taylor County – everything from Adams Beach to the old school at Zorah.
Taylor County Clerk of Courts – The Clerk’s office maintains a variety of public records on Taylor County dating back to the 19th century. Examples include property deeds, marriage records, articles of incorporation, cotton mortgages (see Deedbooks AA and AB), and soldier/sailor discharge records. The Clerk maintains a research room where you may view the records and request copies. Fees will apply for scans and photocopies; see the website for details.
Taylor County GenWeb – This is a headquarters for genealogical research in Taylor County. Maintained by volunteers and regularly updated, the GenWeb site includes transcriptions of federal censuses for Taylor County, articles concerning Taylor County in the Civil War, and other helpful resources.