Home

Welcome! The Walton County Timeline below is a work in progress. Please feel free to suggest additions and changes to WaltonCountyHeritage@cox.net. Use the search field on the right to look for people, places, and things. Enjoy!

Walton County Timeline

A Work in Progress

1814-1818

Andrew Jackson entered Florida in search of Indians. The majority of Indians were in central Florida, but sizeable bands lived in northwest Florida.

1820

Neil McLendon became the first white man to enter Walton County for the purpose of making his home there. His daughter Anna is said to be the first white child born in Walton County.

1821

  • On July 17, 1821, Spain ceded Florida to the United States of America, making Florida a United States territory.
  • On July 21, 1821, the Florida territory was divided into two counties, Escambia on the west and St. Johns on the east.
  • Henry M. Brackenridge met Andrew Jackson on the Mississippi River and became Jackson’s secretary for his upcoming mission to the new Florida territory.
  • The yellow fever epidemic killed 300 of the 400 residents in Pensacola.

1822

  • Jackson County was formed from Escambia County.
  • On June 11, 1822, Henry M. Brackenridge was appointed Judge for the West Florida territory.
  • Brackenridge purchased land on Santa Rosa Sound and conducted court session in Pensacola, Chipola, Tallahassee, and Webbville.

1824

  • Walton County was created from Escambia and Jackson counties on December 29, 1824 (Fla. Terr. Acts 1824, 3d sess., sec. 2/p. 260).
  • The county was named for Col. George Walton, Secretary of the West Florida Division, 1821-1826.
  • Alaqua was the first county seat of Walton County.
  • Work commenced on a road between Pensacola and Tallahassee, which would pass through Walton County.

1825

Walton County gained territory from Escambia County, exchanged some territory with Jackson County, and lost some territory to the formation of Washington County (Fla. Terr. Acts 1825, 4th sess., p. 35).

1826

During the first quarter of the year, James Exum and James Lane surveyed land in Alaqua. A settler named Vaughn was living near what is now Alaqua Methodist Church (Steele Church).

1828

  • Henry M. Brackenridge was appointed Judge for the District of West Florida.
  • Brackenridge purchased land in Alaqua.
  • On August 22, 1828, Hardy Wood recorded his land deed that touched a corner of Brackenridge’s land.

1829

On May 15, 1829, Judge Brackenridge recorded his land deed.

1830

  • Tallahassee was selected as the state capital of Florida.
  • Freeport was first settled; its former names were “Genoa” and “Four Mile Landing.”
  • On June 1, 1830, the first court session was held at Alaqua in Brackenridge’s home that he shared with James Evans.
  • The federal census of September 27, 1830, listed 1,207 persons in Walton County.
  • The second court session was held on December 1, 1830, Florida vs. Pagget and Alley.

1831

Henry G. Ramsay, Clerk of the Superior Court of Walton County, sent his report about the last six months of court proceedings on June 6, 1831.

1836

The Seminole War was fought in Walton County.

1837

  • The first post office in Freeport was built near the location of the present Freeport Middle School.
  • On February 28, 1937, members of the Alberson family who lived on the Alabama/Florida border were killed by Indians.
  • In April 1837, a family near a Blackwater River lumber mill captured a Creek family, causing incidents between the Creeks and other settlers.
  • On May 13, 1837, Indians attacked a white encampment. Both sides suffered four casualties each.
  • On May 19, 1837, a skirmish called Battle Bay, which was near Bruce, resulted in three white and ten Indians dead.
  • Governor Richard Keith called on militias from Jackson, Washington, and Franklin counties to help in the battles against the Indians.
  • At the end of May 1837, about 70 Creeks surrendered and were taken west.

1838

The Second Creek War in Alabama started in July 1838, during which Indians raided the Panhandle area.

1840

  • The first store in Freeport was opened.
  • The federal census of 1840 listed two persons drawing a war pension, Joab Horn and Aaron Snowden.

1845

  • On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state of the United States of America.
  • The county seat was moved to Eucheeanna.

1846

A portion of Walton County was taken to form Washington County.

1848

  • A portion of Walton County was taken to form Holmes County on January 8, 1848 (Fla. Laws 1847, 3d sess., ch. 176, sec. 1/p. 45).
  • Knox Hill Academy was founded. It was the first institute of higher learning in the county.

1851

On January 11, 1851, Walton County gained part of Santa Rosa Island from Escambia County and exchanged some territory with Santa Rosa County. (Fla. Laws 1850, 5th sess., ch. 411/p. 146)

1853

Walton lost some territory to Santa Rosa County. (Fla. Laws 1852, 6th sess., ch. 571/p. 145)

1855

Union Springs Baptist Church was the first church in the community.

1859

Knox Hill Pottery was operated by M. M. Odom and Robert Turnlee.

1863

Alaqua Methodist Church (Steele Church) was founded.

1864

The Civil War came to Freeport.

1870

The first turpentine still was founded in the eastern part of what would become DeFuniak Springs.

1871

The first monument in Florida to honor its Confederate dead was placed in Eucheeanna.

1875

Freeport’s first church, Freeport Presbyterian, was constructed.

1878

Mount Nebo Church in was built in what would become DeFuniak Springs.

1881

  • On January 27, 1881, Walton County was granted concurrent jurisdiction with Washington County over the waters of Choctawhatchee Bay. (Fla. Laws 1881, 11th sess., ch. 3258/p. 73)
  • Work commenced on the Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad, linking Pensacola with Chattahoochee on June 1, 1881.

1882

  • The railroad reached the area, and a depot was built.
  • A group of railroad executives gambled to see whose name would be on the new town. Col. Frederick DeFuniak won.
  • The “Funiak” Post Office was established, most likely across from the old railroad depot on Circle Drive.
  • Murry Cawthon moved to DeFuniak Springs with his wife and eight sons. He built one of the first houses in town.

1883

  • The railroad between Pensacola and Chattahoochee was completed.
  • The First Presbyterian Church was established in DeFuniak Springs.

1884

  • The Florida Chautauqua Association was established.
  • W. D. Chipley platted the city of DeFuniak.
  • The Chautauqua Hotel was built.
  • W. B. Saunders published the first issue of The Signal, the first newspaper in Walton County.
  • The Magnolia Cemetery property was donated by Murray Cawthon.
  • The first baby born in DeFuniak Springs was Fannie Lee Cawthon.
  • The first hotel was on Baldwin Avenue in the middle of what is now 9th Street.

1885

  • The first Florida Chautauqua Assembly was held from February 18 until March 7, 1885.
  • The county seat office in Eucheeanna burned. All records were lost.
  • The McCormick Institute, the first private school in DeFuniak Springs, opened.
  • The Southern Forestry Conference met on Lake DeFuniak in December 1885.

1886

  • What was to become the Florida Education Association first met on March 4th in the Chautauqua building.
  • William J. Van Kirk of the Lake DeFuniak Land Company revised the plan for DeFuniak Springs.
  • The first courthouse in DeFuniak Springs was built, making it the county seat.
  • The Confederate monument was placed on the front lawn of the courthouse.
  • The library was built. It remains the oldest library in continuous service in Florida.

1887

  • The State Normal School in DeFuniak Springs opened on October 3, 1887.
  • The Florida Education Association met in DeFuniak Springs.
  • There were approximately 150 buildings in DeFuniak Springs.
  • The Methodist Episcopal Church, Northern Branch, was established.
  • The P. L. Biddle home was built and was later placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1888

  • Larkin Cleveland purchased The Signal and renamed it the DeFuniak Springs Herald.
  • Wallace Bruce built Dream Cottage, the second oldest house on Circle Drive in DeFuniak Springs.
  • The Florida Education Association met in DeFuniak Springs.

1889

  • The original train depot was replaced by the current one on Circle Drive.
  • The McCormick Institute closed because its building was destroyed by fire.
  • The Florida Education Association met in DeFuniak Springs.
  • The Northern Methodist Church was built on Circle Drive.

1890

  • The population of DeFuniak Springs was 672.
  • St. Agatha’s Episcopal Church was organized.
  • The Presbyterian Church was built on Circle Drive, but the original building was later destroyed by a storm.

1892

  • The first issue of The Florida Chautauqua quarterly newsletter was published.
  • Royal W. Storrs started The Breeze newspaper.
  • A pear orchard of 500 trees in Walton County was expected to yield six bushels per tree.

1893

  • William Rogers and Company, which later became Beach-Rogers & Co., opened its lumber mill.
  • The congregation of St. Agatha’s Episcopal Church started meeting.
  • The Florida Education Association met in DeFuniak Springs.

1894

Wallace Bruce chaired the Chautauqua Assembly starting in 1894 and lasting until his death in 1914.

1896

The St. Agatha’s Episcopal Church building was erected on Circle Drive.

1897

Dr. G. P. Morris and his wife, who was also a physician, opened the DeFuniak Springs Sanitarium for chronic diseases.

1898

  • DeFuniak Springs experienced an unusual snowstorm in the winter.
  • On September 19, a fire destroyed 22 wooden buildings on Baldwin Avenue in DeFuniak Springs.

1899

King & Co., a general store at the corner of Baldwin Avenue and Sixth Street, opened on December 12th.

1900

The population of DeFuniak Springs was 1,661.

1901

  • DeFuniak Springs was incorporated. It was 265 feet above sea level, 270 feet above the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, began meeting in DeFuniak Springs.

1902

The First Baptist Church was organized.

1903

  • The first high school was established in DeFuniak Springs.
  • The Big Store on Baldwin Avenue wad built by Burress Cawthon.
  • The Cawthon State Bank building on the corner of Baldwin and 8th opened.
  • The first building for the First Baptist Church was completed.

1904

  • First National Bank was founded at the corner of Baldwin Avenue and 7th Street.
  • The First Baptist Church was built at the corner of Live Oak and 11th Street.

1905

  • The Florida State Normal School was closed; women were sent to Tallahassee and men to Gainesville.
  • Smith’s Dairy, which was located two miles south of DeFuniak Springs, opened.
  • Frederick DeFuniak, for whom DeFuniak Springs was named, died in Louisville, Kentucky, on November 29th.

1906

Cawthon State Bank was founded at the corner of Baldwin Avenue and 7th Street.

1907

  • Palmer College and Academy, the first junior college in Florida, opened in DeFuniak Springs.
  • The first public water works system in DeFuniak Springs was installed.
  • A hotel and sanitorium was built on 8th Street by Dr. G. P. Morris and wife (also a physician).
  • The Methodist Episcopal Church branches, North and South, merged.

1908

A flowing well was constructed in Freeport.

1909

  • The Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood was completed at a cost of $28,000. The auditorium could seat 4,000.
  • Electricity was available in DeFuniak Springs by the end of the year.
  • The first brick Walton High School was built at a cost of $15,000.
  • Charles and Minnie Gordon purchased the first Ford automobile in Walton County.

1910

  • Alterations were made to the DeFuniak Springs train depot.
  • Several sections of the walkway around Lake DeFuniak were paved.

1911

  • Alterations were made to the DeFuniak Springs train depot.
  • John L. McKinnon published “History of Walton County.”

1912

  • Tivoli School opened in DeFuniak Springs as an elementary and junior high school for blacks.
  • The name of the Hotel Chautauqua was changed to the Walton Hotel.

1913

  • Walton County gained territory from Washington County on May 17, 1913. (Fla. Laws 1913, 14th sess., gen., ch. 6508, sec. 1/p. 359)
  • The Thomas Industrial Memorial Institute opened on South 2nd Street in DeFuniak Springs.

1914

  • Newton Hall, the boys dormitory at Palmer College, was completed at a cost of $20,000.
  • W. B. Harbeson moved his large sawmill from Mississippi to DeFuniak Springs.
  • A fire destroyed Freeport’s first hotel, the San Gala Hotel.

1915

  • The Palmer College administration building was destroyed by fire and other buildings were damaged on January 30th.
  • The DeFuniak Springs Woman’s Club was organized.
  • A portion of Walton County was taken to form Okaloosa County on September 7, 1915 (Fla. Laws 1915, 15th sess., gen., ch. 6937, secs. 1, 24-25/pp. 303, 310; HRS Fla., Okaloosa, 6).
  • McCaskill residence in Freeport was turned into a hotel.

1916

  • The Walton High School building was converted to the Maude Saunders Elementary School.
  • Palmer College closed.
  • The Florida Education Association met in DeFuniak Springs with 700 teachers and superintendants attending.

1917

Sidney J. Catts of DeFuniak Springs was inaugurated as Governor of the State of Florida.

1918

  • The United States entered World War I.
  • The first water tower was built in DeFuniak Springs,.

1921

Murray’s Theater, which is now known as the Chautauqua Theater, was built by Charles Murray.

1924

  • The Thomas Industrial Memorial Institute closed at the end of the school year.
  • The First National Bank clock was installed at the corner of Baldwin Avenue and 7th Street.
  • Former Governor Sidney J. Catts purchased Sunbright Manor on Live Oak Avenue.

1925

The Chamber of Commerce was organized.

1926

  • Fire destroyed the First Baptist Church building at the corner of 11th Street and Live Oak Avenue.
  • The current courthouse was built in DeFuniak Springs, and the Confederate monument was placed nearby.
  • The city-owned utility company was sold to Gulf Power Company.

1927

  • The Chautauqua Assembly of the early 1900s was dissolved.
  • A new brick building and educational center for the First Baptist Church opened on Christmas Day.

1928

Circle Drive, which was originally called Wright Avenue, was paved.

1930

  • The P. W. Miles Lumber Company bought the Beach-Rogers mill.
  • The Bethel Presbyterian Church was established on Roosevelt Avenue in DeFuniak Springs.

1931

  • Allison’s Grocery was started by Fennie Allison and her husband.
  • St. Margaret of Scotland Roman Catholic Church constructed its first building in DeFuniak Springs.

1935

  • Palmer College closed.
  • 10th grade students were added to Tivoli School.
  • Henry Koerber started his chicken and feed business east of DeFuniak Springs.

1934

The Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood was sold to the City of DeFuniak Springs.

1936

  • 11th grade students were added to Tivoli School.
  • The Kiwanis Club was organized.

1937

  • 12th grade students were added to Tivoli School.
  • The first Florida Music Festival was organized by the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

1940

The Pilot Club was organized.

1941

  • The United States entered World War II.
  • Hygeia Coca-Cola Bottling Works built a bottling plant on North 9th Street in DeFuniak Springs.
  • Electricity came to Freeport.

1943

  • The W. B. Harbeson sawmill had already closed after a fire, and most of the equipment was sold in 1943.
  • The first Freeport school burned down.

1944

  • The U.S. government procured land for the Eglin Reservation, forcing houses and churches to be abandoned.
  • Members of the Cosson family were killed by the error of an Eglin Reservation pilot.

1945

Southwide Baptist Church was established to replace the Alice Creek and New Home Baptist Churches.

1946

  • The building that was built for the Sanitarium and later housed the state welfare office burned down.
  • The bridge connecting Freeport to South Walton was built.

1948

The DeFuniak Springs Garden Club was formed.

1949

Smith’s Dairy ceased operation. It is said to have been the oldest continuously operated dairy farm in Florida.

1954

The poultry plant opened.

1955

  • Ina Simmons Thompson was appointed to the Governor’s “Little Cabinet” as head of Motor Vehicle Licensing.
  • Maude Saunders Elementary School ceased using the 1909 building that was built for Walton High School.

1956

The Breeze newspaper was purchased by the DeFuniak Springs Herald.

1963

  • Lakeside Hospital opened.
  • The New Walton Hotel building was demolished.

1964

The Walton County Hospital on College Avenue was built.

1971

The last passenger train stopped at the DeFuniak Springs depot on April 21.

1972

The Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

1973

Henry Koerber sold his poultry business to Showell Farms.

1975

Hurricane Eloise passed through DeFuniak Springs, destroying the Chautauqua Building’s auditorium.

1977

The new Walton High School was built on Walton Road.

1979

Hygeia Coca-Cola Bottling Works closed its DeFuniak Springs bottling plant.

1981

A new building was completed for St. Margaret of Scotland Roman Catholic Church in DeFuniak Springs.

1982

The City’s Centennial Celebration brought descendants of Frederick DeFuniak from Birmingham to DeFuniak Springs.

1983

The Walton County Heritage Association was formed from the group called STOP (Save This Old Place).

1991

The first water tower in DeFuniak Springs was replaced.

1992

  • Allison’s Grocery closed.
  • Chautauqua Winery opened.

1994

Showell Farms sold its poultry business to Perdue.

1998

King Hardware closed after almost 100 years in business.

2000

  • The City restored the L & N Railroad depot.
  • Harley Henderson moved the 1882 Murry Cawthon house to south Walton.

2002

The Walton County Heritage Museum open in the train depot building.

2003

  • The piers on Lake DeFuniak were replaced.
  • The women who operated the H & M Hot Dog stand retired, and a new owner reopened it.
  • A new hospital was built on Freeport Road.

2004

Perdue closed its poultry processing plant in DeFuniak Springs.

Comments are closed.