History of Bay County

History of Bay County


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Georgia often came with slaves to St. Andrews Bay to fish and to salt their catch to take it back to the plantations. 
By 1827 there were five or six settlers on St. Andrews Bay. In that year Ex-Gov. John Clark of Georgia, the real founder of St. Andrews, built his home at what is now called “Old Town”. Gov. Clark also operated a plantation in the Econfina Settlement. In 1830 Capt. Loftin, who had been living on North Bay since 1812, built a house about a mile East of the Clark home. 
In 1828 the first customs house was established on the Bay but it is not known why it was necessary, since there could have been but little commerce. 
The nearest post office at that time was at Webbville, the county seat of Jackson county, some sixty miles North. There were warehouses at Bay Head, on Cedar Creek and on the river, in Holmes Valley. 
Between 1820-1835 parties in Jackson county were planning the development of [the] town on St. Andrews Bay, at “Old Town”, but the plan fell through when capitalists interested in the venture [favored] Port. St. Joe, and concluded to invent there. In 1838 a company was started to develop St. Andrews and an act was passed by Legislature to provide for the building of a college to be called the “St. Andrews College of West Florida”. During the year Legislature appropriated $5,000 to build a road from St. Andrews to Webbville. 
The project to develop St. Andrews ceased when the capitalists who had abandoned it obtained at St. Joseph the building of the first steam railroad in Gulf County Florida. Most of the settlers were summer visitors from the interior, while during a great part of the year, only fishermen


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


Brief history of Bay County, Florida 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.