Illustrated Timeline

Use the timeline below to explore the highlights of Taylor County’s history from the time of Florida’s acquisition by the United States to the present.

 

1821 – Florida becomes a U.S. territory

Florida officially became a United States possession following the ratification of the Adams-Onis Treaty between the U.S. and Spain on February 22, 1821. Andrew Jackson (pictured at right) served as military governor until a civil government was formed. William Pope DuVal became the first official governor of the Florida Territory in 1822.

1838 – Fort Frank Brooke established along the Steinhatchee River

Clashes in the early 1830s between white settlers and the Native Americans living in Florida resulted in the Second Seminole War. This was the longest and costliest of the three Seminole Wars. As part of their efforts to subdue the natives, U.S. Army personnel set up a number of forts throughout the territory. Fort Frank Brooke was located near present-day Tennille near the Steinhatchee River. It was likely named for Lieutenant Francis Brooke, who was killed in battle near Lake Okeechobee in 1837.

1845 – Florida becomes a state

Florida was admitted as a state on March 3, 1845, making it the 27th state of the Union. State officers were elected on May 26th, 1845. William Dunn Moseley was the first governor. Pictured here is the first Great Seal of the State of Florida, developed in 1847.

1854 – First post office established in Taylor County territory at Fenholloway

The area now known as Taylor County received its first post office while it was still part of Madison County. The site was Fenholloway, although not the same Fenholloway community that later emerged east of Perry. This Fenholloway, according to historian W.T. Cash, was located northwest of Perry near Rocky Creek (a tributary of the river). The post office was established May 6, 1854 with Nathan Smart as the first postmaster.

1856 – Taylor County established by the Legislature

Taylor and Lafayette counties were split off from the southern part of Madison County by an act of the Florida Legislature on December 23, 1856. An attempt had been made to create the county in 1855, but it failed. The 1856 bill provided for two new counties rather than one, which may explain why it succeeded. The image at right is taken from an early printing of the 1856 law creating Taylor and Lafayette counties.

1857 – Taylor County’s commissioners purchase land for the first courthouse

When Taylor County was created, the law specified that until a permanent courthouse was established, the county court would be held at the home of Daniel Bryant. The county commissioners purchased land for the first courthouse on October 2, 1857, located in section 24 of Township 4 South, Range 7 East. At right the image shows government surveyor Romeo Lewis’ drawing of what the area looked like when he first surveyed it in 1825.

1861 – William H. Sever represents Taylor County at Florida’s Secession Convention and votes in favor of seceding

When Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in 1860, Florida Governor Madison Starke Perry issued an executive order calling for a constitutional convention to determine whether Florida would secede from the Union. William H. Sever represented Taylor County at the meeting, and was one of the 67 of 69 delegates to vote for secession. The image at right is Florida’s Ordinance of Secession, housed at the State Archives of Florida in Tallahassee.

1864 – Edmund Cottle Weeks of the U.S. Army leads an attack on the salt works along the Taylor County coast

During the Civil War many people came to the Florida coastline to make salt by boiling seawater. Salt was a vital necessity for food preservation. The ships of the Union blockade regularly harassed these saltmaking operations. In 1864, a raiding party from the U.S.S. Tahoma led by Major Edmund Cottle Weeks landed on the Taylor County coast and destroyed over 400 saltmaking vessels, 170 furnaces, and 150 pumps.

1865 – William W. Strickland executed at Tallahassee

William W. Strickland was the leader of one of several bands of disaffected Confederate citizens occupying the Taylor County coastline during the Civil War. After Confederate troops commanded by Major Charles H. Camfield burned all of the houses on either side of the Econfena River in 1864, Strickland and his compatriots joined the Second Florida Union Cavalry at Cedar Key. Strickland was later captured while on a mission to burn the railroad trestle over the Aucilla River. He was executed at Tallahassee on March 18, 1865.

1867 – African-American men vote in Taylor County for the first time

Florida remained under Union military control after the Civil War until 1868. The Reconstruction Act of 1867 called for each former Confederate state to register all eligible voters, including African-American men, and hold conventions to draft new state constitutions acceptable to Congress. The first African-American man to register in Taylor County was Charles Granderson. He was registered on August 5, 1867 at Blanton Mills precinct by a board of registers comprised of Jessee Colson, Samuel A. Wilcox, and John J.A. Cruce.

1869 – Post office established at Rosehead

When Taylor County’s courthouse was first established, the area in which it was located had no name. Rosehead was established as a post office on February 23, 1869. Alton O. Quinn is listed in official records as the first postmaster, but it was more likely Allen O’Quinn. Rosehead would serve the county seat until 1875, when its name was changed to Perry.

1873 – New wood-frame courthouse completed

On May 1, 1873, the county commission called for a new two-story courthouse, 30 feet square. The first floor was to have rooms for the Grand Jury, Petit Jury, the Clerk, and the Judge of Probate. The second floor would house the courtroom. The commission appropriated 300 dollars for materials. A.J. Cruce was appointed as the county’s agent to oversee the construction process.

1875 – Rosehead post office changes name to Perry

On May 28, 1875, the Rosehead post office was officially renamed Perry. Some historians have suggested Perry was named for General Edward A. Perry, commander of the Florida Brigade during the Civil War. Historian W.T. Cash believed the town was actually named in honor of Governor Madison Starke Perry, who took office three days after the county commission purchased the land for a county seat.

1879 – Post office established at Stephensville

A post office was established at Stephensville on December 17, 1879. John B. Carrin was the first postmaster. The image at right is an excerpt of one of the very first maps to show Stephensville, an 1882 Rand McNally map.

1881 – Florida Senate passes memorial asking Congress to pay for the Fenholloway and Steinhatchee rivers to be made navigable

As businesses became more interested in Taylor County and its opportunities for timber, turpentine, and agriculture, local and state leaders began pushing for better transportation through the region. On January 25, 1881, the Florida Senate approved a memorial to Congress asking that funds be appropriated to clear out the Fenholloway and Steinhatchee rivers, presumably so they could be more widely used for steamboat navigation.

1883 – Hampton Family purchases the “Rocky Creek Mineral Springs” from the Carlton family

Benjamin W. Hampton and Joseph L. Hampton purchased a forty-acre plot of land containing what was then known as the “Rocky Creek Mineral Springs” from John and Ana Carlton of Madison County. The deed was recorded September 4, 1883, but the purchase may have taken place before that time. The Hamptons paid $400 for the entire parcel. Later, the property would be home to a magnificent resort hotel, pictured at right.

1888 – The Taylor County Banner begins publication

The Taylor County Banner was Perry first known newspaper. The first issue was published on July 13, 1881. Jeff L. Davis, who established the paper, was the editor, and J.O. Chance was the business manager. The paper was printed in a shop over J.J. Gornto’s store on the south side of the courthouse square.

1892 – New two-story wood-frame courthouse completed

On October 10, 1890, the county commission ordered that the courthouse building committee draw up plans and specifications for a new courthouse. On April 6, 1891 the board awarded the building contract to J.J. Andrews for $3,300, with the understanding that the new building would be finished by March 1, 1892. The completed courthouse is pictured at right.

1903 – Suwannee & San Pedro Railroad completed to Perry

The first train ever to arrive in Perry came March 2, 1903 on the Suwannee & San Pedro Railroad, which connected Perry and Live Oak via Mayo. A competing line, the Live Oak, Perry & Gulf Railroad, arrived in 1906 and ultimately squeezed out its opponent. Pictured at right is one of the engines of the Suwannee & San Pedro Railroad, later called the Florida Railway.

1905 – Perry Franklin Bloodworth establishes Bloodworth’s drugstore on the courthouse square

Perry Franklin Bloodworth and his wife Ella moved to Perry in 1904. Bloodworth, a pharmacist, opened Bloodworth’s Drugstore on the courthouse square at the corner of Jefferson and Green streets the following year.

1907 – New courthouse completed

Increasing business activity in Taylor County led the county commission to call in 1906 for a new courthouse to be built. After receiving sealed bids toward the end of 1906, the county commission awarded the construction contract to F.M. Dobson for $54,000. It was completed in 1907, and served as the headquarters of the county government until it was replaced in 1969 by Taylor County’s current courthouse.

1908 – Hampton Springs Hotel & Mineral Company established

The Hampton family did not commercialize the springs until the early 20th century. In 1908, several of the Hamptons plus John F. Fender of Valdosta formed a company called the Hampton Springs Hotel & Mineral Company. The first hotel was built around this time, but was quickly expanded and remodeled to meet growing demand.

1911 – Gulf Telephone Company incorporated in Perry

E.L. “Luther” Cox incorporated the Gulf Telephone Company in Perry in 1911, although it may have been established even earlier. Pictured at right is Perry’s first switchboard, now part of the collections of the Taylor County Historical Society.

1916 – Taylor County taxpayers vote to bond themselves for $600,000 to build a system of “hard roads”

When the Dixie Highway Association began looking a route through Florida, Taylor county’s civic and business leaders were eager to be sure Perry would be on it. Following a lengthy campaign to educate voters on the subject, Taylor County’s taxpayers voted on July 25, 1916 to bond themselves for a $600,000 system of “hard roads.” The plan worked – Perry became a major stop on the Dixie Highway.

1919 – Taylor County Medical Association founded

A group of Taylor County physicians incorporated themselves as the Taylor County Medical Association on January 6, 1919. Their object was to regulate the prices charged for services, and to crack down on citizens who did not pay their medical bills. The image at right shows a collection of medicines and medical devices used by physicians of this period in Perry, now on display at the Taylor County Historical Society.

1922 – Convict Martin Tabert dies in a Putnam Lumber Company camp in Taylor County, ultimately leading legislators to end the convict leasing system

Martin Tabert of North Dakota (pictured at right) was arrested in Leon County for vagrancy in 1921 after he hopped a freight train with no ticket. He was leased as a convict to the Putnam Lumber Company and sent to one of the company’s turpentine camps at Clara in the southernmost part of Taylor County. Tabert fell ill and died while in the camp, prompting his family to demand an investigation. Revelations during the investigation ultimately led the Legislature to outlaw the leasing of convicts to private companies.

1923 – Ground broken on the S.H. Peacock Store building on the courthouse square

S.H. “Bud” Peacock, Jr. broke ground for the two-story brick building pictured at right on March 30, 1923. It was located on the southeast corner of the courthouse square at the corner of Main and Washington streets. The Peacock family also owned a hotel in Perry.

1926 – County commissioners approve a plat for developments at Boneta Beach

Boneta Beach (this is the original spelling) was designed by Ohio railroad magnate Ellis Bartholomew, who moved to Taylor County with his wife Lydia during the Florida Land Boom. Bartholomew got as far as incorporating a company to build a railroad from Perry to the coast and drawing up a subdivision plat for the Boneta Beach Club, but changing economic conditions and family troubles kept the project from going further. All that remains of Boneta Beach is a stretch of sidewalk along the coast.

1927 – J.W. Buchanan convicted of murdering two revenue officers

J.W. Buchanan of Taylor County was convicted in 1927 of murdering two revenue agents, Jacob P. Brandt and Walter D. Mobray, who were in the area investigating reports of illegal manufacturing of moonshine. Buchanan ultimately received the death penalty, but died in prison before he could be executed.

1929 – Town of Foley established by the Brooks-Scanlon Lumber Company

The Carpenter-O’Brien Lumber Company sold its Florida interests to Brooks-Scanlon in 1917 after a fire severely damaged its Jacksonville mill. Failing to reach a suitable log-shipping rate with the Atlantic Coast Line railroad, Brooks-Scanlon decided to relocate its mill to a site south of Perry. The new mill and town was named Foley in honor of J.S. Foley, president of Brooks-Scanlon at the time.

1930 – First National Bank closes its doors

Bowing to the spreading financial panic following the stock market crash of 1929, the First National Bank of Perry decided to shut down operations on October 18, 1930. President J.H. Loughridge and vice-president W.S. Weaver explained that customers had been removing their funds at a fast rate, draining the bank’s operating capital. The bank’s building continued as an office complex, and is now home to the Taylor County Historical Society.

1935 – The infamous Labor Day Hurricane strikes Taylor County

On September 2 (Labor Day), 1935, a Category 5 hurricane struck the Florida Keys, causing tremendous damage. On September 4th, the same hurricane made landfall again at Cedar Key as a Category 2 storm, and moved up the coast, passing right over Taylor County. Winds from the storm blew down numerous pine trees, and lumber companies had to scramble to gather up the valuable logs before they were lost to rot.

1938 – Post office established at Steinhatchee

By the 1930s, Steinhatchee was a small but thriving commercial fishing and sponging community. Mail had previously been delivered to Stephensville and Jena. On May 1, 1938 the Jena post office was renamed Steinhatchee. Pictured at right is a sponging boat anchored in the Steinhatchee River.

1942 – Construction begins on Perry Army Air Base

Construction for the Perry Army Air Base (now the Perry-Foley Airport) got underway in August 1942. The first troops arrived the following June, and the base remained in operation until September 1945. Approximately 120 pilots received training at the base each month before serving overseas.

1947 – State legislature declares the Fenholloway an “industrial river”

In an effort to attract Proctor & Gamble to the Taylor County area to build a pulpwood plant, the State Legislature passed a law in 1947 declaring the Fenholloway an “industrial river.” With this designation in place, Proctor & Gamble and other corporations were empowered to dump industrial waste into the river at will, so long as the navigability of the river was not obstructed.

1953 – Brooks-Scanlon closes its operations at Foley

 

1954 – Hampton Springs Hotel burns

The Hampton Springs Hotel burned September 23, 1954 in a fire that reportedly could be seen from as far away as Mayo in Lafayette County. The building had been constructed mainly of heart pine, which caught fire quickly. A few ruins and a county-maintained park facility are now at the site.

1956 – First annual Pine Tree Festival

Every year since 1956, Taylor County has hosted exhibitors, bands, distinguished guests, and thousands of visitors for the Florida Forest Festival, also called the Pine Tree Festival or King Tree Parade at various times. In the photo at right, Florida’s United States Senator, Spessard Holland, rides in the 6th annual Pine Tree Festival Parade down Jefferson Street.

1957 – Doctors Memorial Hospital established

 

1959 – County commissioners approve subdivisions for Keaton Beach and Dark Island

 

1962 – Moody and Hamilton families establish Dekle Beach, Inc.

 

1970 – Current courthouse dedicated

 

1978 – “Moon tree” planted at Forest Capital Park

 

1993 – Storm of the Century slams the Taylor County coast

 

1997 – Taylor County High School wins its first-ever state football championship

 

1998 – A lightning strike ignites the natural gas plant off Pisgah Road

 

2003 – Doctors Memorial Hospital moves to its new location on Byron Butler Parkway

 

2015 – Perry celebrates its first annual Founders Day