The History of Washington County
Washington County, Florida was created in 1825, and was nearly twice the size of the State of Delaware, stretching all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. After a century of boundary shifts, the county, with over 382,000 acres of rolling hills covered in thick, stately pines and mixed hardwood forests, now covers a vast portion of the central Florida Panhandle.
Over a span of more than 150 years, Washington County has seen Native American, Spanish and English cultural influences.
The County's historical lore is rich with stories of the exploits of Andrew Jackson. There are numerous Native American Mounds and evidence of strong settlements still being discovered.
Named after George Washington, the area was first settled by those seeking both economic and political freedoms in this frontier land of vast timber and mineral resources. Inland waterway transportation brought about heavy river settlements. The arrival of railroads in the late 1800's boosted economic, social and political developments.
Vernon, the geographical center of the county derives is named for George Washington's Virginia home, Mt. Vernon. The pioneer town was also the site of a major Indian settlement.
The county courthouse was located in Vernon during the early part of this century until a railroad town in northeastern Washington County, Chipley, became the new and present county seat in 1927.
Founded about 1882, Chipley was named for railroad pioneer William Dudley Chipley. It grew up as many towns did along the railroad in the late 1800's, serving as a watering station for the steam-driven locomotives.
Economic growth in communities in the county such as Caryville, Chipley, Ebro, Vernon, and Wausau developed around forestry industries like milling, turpentine production and naval stores. Agriculture, livestock, poultry and agribusiness were strong aspects of the maturing economic scene.
Hundreds of lakes and clear streams, green forests and unspoiled land are home for a variety of wildlife. These peaceful surroundings offer abundant hunting and fishing grounds. Boating and water skiing are favorite pastimes of many residents with Falling Waters State Recreation Area drawing participants in hiking, swimming, camping, photography and picnicking.
Community activities include competitive sports, cultural events and family-oriented projects. Washington Countians enjoy harvesting the fruits of the county's good life and take pride in its treasures of pure and satisfying living. Their desire to share these opportunities is evident in their gracious, warm expressions and excitement at the county's growth.