Florida became a Territory of the United States in 1821, and Gadsden County created in 1823. The county's boundaries stretching from the Suwanee River, in the east, to the Apalachicola River, in the west and boarded by Georgia to the north all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. The boundaries of Gadsden County have changed over the years with the creation of newer counties being developed. Our current boundary was established in 1914.
The following is one of many WPA county history was collected or written during the Great Depression by agents of the Works Progress Administration’s Historical Records Survey. The manuscripts often focus on specific details relating to each county’s formation, courthouses, boundaries, early settlers and so on. The histories were designed to provide context for the WPA’s Inventory of the County Archives of Florida, a county-by-county survey of local governmental documents available in courthouses around the state. The idea was to create a useful guide to these records while providing employment to historians, lawyers, teachers and other professionals whose jobs had fallen victim to the economic downturn of the 1930s. NOTE: A TRANSCRIPTION IS PROVIDED BELOW.
State Library of Florida, WPA - Historical Records Survey, County Histories
Brief history of Gadsden County, Florida collected by the Works Progress Administration's Historical Records Survey.
HISTORY OF GADSDEN COUNTY
When Andrew Jackson was Governor of the Territory of Florida in 1821 the first division of the state into counties was made, but it was not until 1823 that Gadsden County was created, being the fifth county to be apportioned out. Gadsden County was named in honor of James Gadsden, a West Point graduate who came here about 1817, as a young lieutenant. Gadsden County at that time extended from the Suwannee River to the Apalachicola River and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Georgia State line, embracing the territory now occupied by the counties of Taylor, Dixie, Lafayette, Madison, Jefferson, Leon, Wakulla, Liberty, Gadsden and that part of Franklin, east of the Apalachicola River.
In 1830, although Gadsden County covered a lot of territory, still had but 4,895 persons, while the population of Florida was 34,730. In twenty years the population of Gadsden County was doubled. The last census shows that Gadsden County has a population of 26,941 persons.
Some Historians accredited the building of “Old Fort Gadsden” to the British during the War of 1812, while one or two others claim that General Andrew Jackson marched down the courses of the Apalachicola River, at the head of 1,100 hardy frontiersmen, and built the earthwork, log buildings and palisades. The exact history of the fort is a mooted one, and it is claimed that after the War of 1812, it was taken over by a mixed and motley crew of Indians, and negroes. It is said that Jackson had to revisit the scene backed up by the U.S. Gunboat, went up the river and killed 384 of them and captured the rest. “Old [Hickory]”, as Jackson was commonly called, left his stamp on Florida, and especially on Northwest Florida, and a few years later, under act of Congress, a County was named in his honor.
In the year 1824, twenty one years before Florida was admitted to the Union as a state, by act of Congress deed was made to 160 acres of land, on which the town of Quincy now stands, to Godfrey Stephens for $235.00, conditional upon a town being laid off, and a lot being set aside for a county seat. The balance of the 160 acres was laid off in lots to defray expenses of survey and refund the purchase money to Stephens, that the county of Gadsden should build a court house upon the square set aside for that purpose.
The court house was built of logs on the site of the present spacious and imposing court house; it is told however, that the first trial was held under the trees, the presiding Judge sitting on a newly felled tree, the Jury on the log. In its day, no doubt, the log court house was adequate, and met all demands. The log court house was burned and practically all county records were destroyed in 1849. It was generally believed that a negro slave belonging to William Forbes set the building ablaze out of pure malice. The only records saved were those of Judge P. W. White, consisting of court house records from 1832-37.
During the years 1850-51 a brick and frame court house was erected, Madison Wilson, father of the late W. W. Wilson, being the architect, and builder. This building met all requirements of the county until 1911, having served its day, it was razed to give place to the present structure, which was erected in 1912-13 at a cost of $55,000.
A bond issue was voted to finance this project. It was the first issue of county bonds for any purpose. Earliest obtainable records show that Sam B. Love was Sheriff, and the earliest records of County court was in 1826, Jonathan Robinson being the Judge at that time, and E. A. Robinson Clerk of the Court.
Bibliography of Gadsden County History
Gadsden County Times, Jan. 30th, 1936
Mr. W. B. Greer, Calhoun St., Quincy, Fla.
Mr. C. H. Gray, E. Washington St., Quincy, Fla.
Mr. J. A. Edwards, King St., Quincy, Fla.
Persons with whom history was checked:
Mr. C. H. Gray, Quincy, Fla.
Mr. J. A. Edwards, Quincy, Fla.
Gadsden County is located in the Florida Panhandle. This unique area of Florida is home to rolling hills, lakes and rivers, pine forest and oak hammocks. The richness of our soil brought farmers and pioneers from Virginia, North and South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. Once a strictly agricultural area, today the county host the Cities of Chattahoochee, Gretna, Quincy, Havana and Midway and the Towns of Greensboro and Mt. Pleasant and numerous small communities. While some agricultural activities exist, several industries have made Gadsden County their home, as well as commuters who work in Tallahassee.