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History: Liberty County

1800-1900

1838- Torreya Tree discovered near Rock Bluff.

Hardy Bryan Croom, an early Florida botanist and planter, discovered the coniferous Torreya Tree (Torreya taxifolia) near present-day Rock Bluff in Liberty County. He named the new tree species in honor of Dr. John Torrey, a prominent American botanist. There are only a handful of similar species in the world and they are in China, Japan, and California.

1855- Liberty County was created.

Liberty County was created from Gadsden County on December 15,1855 and became the 32nd county formed in the state of Florida. The name was chosen to represent the sentiment of the people.

1856- James C. Evans is the biggest taxpayer in Liberty County.

Mr. Evans had 71 slaves working on a large plantation near present-day Bristol. After the freeing of the slaves with the end of the Civil War, he had no slaves to work on his plantation. As a result, his wealth vanished and he died in poverty.

1857- Rock Bluff (population 11) was settled.

Located on the banks of the Apalachicola River, this small town once had several schools and country stores. Mrs. N. Jackson, a relative of President Andrew Jackson, served as postmistress.

1859- Bristol was first settled and became the county seat.

When Bristol was first settled in 1859, the town consisted of one store, three sawmills, three gristmills, a hotel, several churches and a population of 300. Mail was brought in by boat and the principal exports were cotton, oranges, honey, beeswax and hides. Mr. Moses Strause deeded land to the county on which the first courthouse, a small log building, was built.

R.F. Hosford served as Liberty County’s first County judge, D.G. Harrell was the first Sheriff and T.J. Gregory the first Superintendent of Schools.

1859- Coe's Mill established.

Coe's Mill was established in 1859 by Emmanuel Sykes near the banks of Big Creek. The town was named for the Coe family. In addition to operating a grist mill in the town, Mr. Coe also served as the postmaster of the initial settlement.

1885- Settlement of Lake Mystic.

Lake Mystic is established with a post office, a grist mill, a school, a hotel, and three churches. The total population size at the time was 75.

1897- First printing press arrives in Liberty County.

George C. Williams, editor of the Liberty County Observer, utilizes a printing press to publish his local newspaper.

1900-1950

Early 1900’s - Telogia becomes transportation hub of Liberty County.

During this period, travel to the county seat of Bristol was through the town of Telogia, with travelers staying at the Morgan Hotel. The road from Telogia to Bristol was the first graded road in Liberty County.

1907- Coe’s Mill renamed to Hosford.

Coe's Mill is renamed to Hosford in honor of Senator Hosford, who had a large role in bring rail traffic through Liberty County. During the 1900’s Hosford was a thriving place. The town had a section called "Silk Stocking Street". The name was given to this section of the town because the wives of the men living there were the only ones that could afford silk stockings. Today the street is named Chester Street.

1914- Sawmill built at Blue Creek.

Mr. Dee M. Stoutamire built his sawmill in the Blue Creek community where it operated for a number of years. This was just one of many sawmills that were located in the county at the time.

1938- The Calhoun Bridge between Bristol and Blountstown is completed.

The bridge was formally dedicated on October 20th, with over 5000 people in attendance. The completion of this bridge opened up communication and commerce between these two towns, each of which also served as a county seat.

Mid 1930's - Torreya Park is established.

Located on the bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River, this state park was established to protect a rare species of Torreya Tree found only in this area. The historic Gregory House was moved to the park by barge in 1935 from its original location across the river at Ochesee Landing.

Mid 1950’s - Dramatic Decline of Torreya Tree population.

Prior to this period, the Torryea Tree was a common tree in the Liberty County area near the Apalachicola River. Beginning in the 1950’s, the population of this tree has declined dramatically and there are now estimated to be fewer than 1,500 trees left in the wild. There have been no signs of population recovery since then. The current hypothesis is that the decline is due to disease affecting the survival of young trees because of increased environmental stress caused by alteration to its habitat (Schwartz and Herman).

REFERENCES

Florida Historical Markers Program, Florida Division of Historical Resources website www.dhr.dos.state.fl.us/bhp/markers/markers.cfm?ID=Liberty

Gibbons, Betty, n.d. “Liberty County: Settlers Attracted by Rich Soil”

Larkins, Ida, 1981. “The Legend of Lake Mystic”, Liberty Journal, April 29, 1981, p. 3.

Larkins, Ida, 1982. “Everyone Came by Telogia”, Liberty Journal, March 10, 1982, p. 6.

Eubanks, Iris Duggar, 1990. "Give Us Liberty", December 15, 1990, p. 40.

Schwartz, Mark W. and Sharon M. Hermann, n.d. “Environmental Change and the Florida Torreya”, Website at http://biology.usgs.gov/s+t/noframe/j218.htm, Accessed on September 25, 2004.

Stanley, J. Randall, 1950. History of Jackson County. Jackson County Historical Society. 281 pp.

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This page was last modified on : 03/10/2005

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