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History of Gulf County
Land of Milk and Honey??
Gulf County, with its cattle and its bee apiaries a veritable "land of milk and honey," was created out of Calhoun County, June 6, 1925, which in turn had been carved out of Franklin County.
According to Dr. Mode L. Stone, long associated with Florida State University in Tallahassee, Gulf County, located in the Panhandle of Northwest F1orida, is a county which has had at least three names and seven county seats.
When Gulf was a part of Franklin County, Apalachiacola was the county seat. In 1836 or 1837, Peter Gautier, Jr., a member of the Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida, proposed that the county seat be moved from Apalachicola to St. Joseph. Approved by this body, the move was denied by Congress and it was not until 1838 when Calhoun was created that St. Joseph became the county seat. With the decease of St. Joseph the county seat was moved to Abe Springs. Later it was moved to River Landing near Blountstown and still later to Blountstown proper. The creation of Gulf County necessitated another move, and Wewahitchka was the selection. Forty years later it was moved to its present location in Port St. Joe. Gulf County was the 66th to be created (just six months prior to Gilchrist), and it was named for the Gulf of Mexico, on which the county borders on the south. The name "Satsuma" had been proposed and the vote was actually being taken when T. H. Stone suddenly jumped to his feet with a "Hey! Wait a minute! You know and I know that a freeze could come and destroy every one of those satsumas, but that Gulf will never run dry. Let's name it "Gulf"! "Gulf" it was - and "Gulf" it is!
In 1925 the Honorable Theo D. Levins, Representative from Calhoun County and the Honorable W. Riley McDaniel, Senator, introduced the same bill in the House and in the Senate, and on June 6, 1925, 369,920 acres of Calhoun County became Gulf County-a happy occasion for the people of this area.
For quite a while there had been a move to divide Calhoun County, mainly because of the distance to the county seat in Blountstown, and the difficulty of receiving recognition for this area. Among those promoting this project were B. W. Bells, George Patton, A. M. Jones, Henry Drake, Joe Hunter, Dave Gaskin, Judge Chafin, James A. Kelly, Charles Morgan, and Ed Pridgeon, but there was no one who desired this move more, or was in a better position to realize the need than T. H. Stone. As Commissioner of Calhoun for a number of years, he had made those long treks by horse and buggy to Blountstown month after month, and so excited was he when the deed was finally done that he went that same day to a photographer and had his picture made.
The first officers of Gulf County were as follows: County Judge, B. Clay Lewis, Jr.; Sheriff, W. J. McDaniel, followed by J. B. Pridgeon; Clerk of Circuit Court, J. R. Hunter; Tax Assessor, G. W. Hinsey, followed by S. L. Stone; Tax Collector, Theo D. Levins; Superintendent of Public Instruction, B. W. Spear; Supervisor of Registration, J. A. Whitfield. The first County Commissioners included : J.J. McDaniel, Chairman; H. E. Rish; S. F. VanHorn; A. D. Lawson; and G. A. Patton. B. Clay Lewis, the first Judge, served in this capacity for a year. He then resigned and was elected the first Representative. B. W. Bells was Representative and J. L. Sharit Senator at the time of the Centennial Celebration of Old St. Joseph in 1938.