History of Alachua County

History of Alachua County


HISTORY OF ALACHUA COUNTY as told by Dr. J. Dawkins Tench, Nov. 9, 1936
During the fall of 1879 my father, Major John W. Tench, together with his wife and three small boys moved from Union County South Carolina to Gainesville. The turkey tracks had hardly been eliminated from the deep sand which made a portion of the little hamlet called Gainesville, Florida. Contrary to the usual opinion, Gainesville was not named after General Gaines, but was named following an election which was held between this section which is now known as Gainesville, and old Newnansville, for the settling of the question of which one should be the county seat of Alachua County. The present site of Gainesville won the election by a small majority, and on account of this fact was named Gainesville because it gaines [sic] the election over the Newnansville site.
We lived for one year in the home of Judge J. B. Dawkins, my mother's uncle. Judge Dawkins was at that time Juge of Circuit Court. One of the first impressions made, as a little boy, on me, was when we arrived at the Atlantic Coast Line depot we had one of those phaetons meet us, which had been sent by Judge Dawkins. It had two white horses hitched to a closed carriage. The next impression, which was somewhat subdued because of my mother's attitude forbidding me to go out to the orange trees, and which of course I did the very next morning, when I discovered the fruit was not ripe.
My father attended the University of Virginia when he was a young man. His purpose was to read law in the office of Judge Dawkins. Practicing with Judge Dawkins was Fenwick Taylor, brother-in-law of Judge Dawkins, who afterwards was one of the Supreme Court judges. Another brother-in-law of Judge Dawkin's was Jules Carlisle, who, soon after we came to Gainesville, became County Clerk of the Court.


State Library of Florida, WPA - Historical Records Survey, County Histories


Brief history of Alachua County, Florida from the perspective of Dr. J. Dawkins Tench, collected by the Works Progress Administration's Historical Records Survey.

Note to Researchers: Though the WPA field workers included extensive citations for the factual information contained in these county histories, it should be noted that these historical narratives were produced in the 1930s by federal government employees, and might reflect the inherent social biases of the era.