Escambia County Florida

Escambia County Florida


B. J. Nettles, Supvr. Dist. #4.
Historical Records & State Archives
Escambia county is one of the oldest in the state, created July 21st, 1821 by Ordinance of Major General Andrew Jackson, Governor of the Provinces of Florida. It embraced the territory lying between the [Perdido] river on the West, the Gulf of Mexico on the south, the Suwanee river on the east, and the state of Alabama on the north. The name Escambia was probably derived from the Escambia river, which was in turn named for the Spanish “Cambrir” meaning “to barter”.
Other counties were created from portions of Escambia until now there are seventeen. The first county created from the original Escambia was Jackson in 1822 and embraced the territory lying between the Choctawhatchee and Suwanee rivers. The second, Walton, created in 1824, embracing the territory lying between the Choctawhatchee river and a line authorized by an act of Territorial Council designating a line beginning at the east end of Santa Rosa Island and running due north to the Alabama state line. This brought the boundary to about 86 ½ degrees. In 1842 the county of Santa Rosa was created and embraced the territory lying between the line authorized in 1824 and the Escambia river. No further reductions in the original Escambia county has been made, leaving the present county as it is today with six hundred and fifty seven square miles, embracing the territory lying between the Gulf of Mexico on the south, the Escambia river on the east, the state of Alabama on the north, and the Perdido river on the west. From Jackson, Walton, and Santa Rosa counties the other thirteen counties have been created from time to time. 
The county as it is stands today is very rich in history. Still standing are a number of old Spanish forts and other buildings. The first settlement was established by Don Tristan De Luna with 2000 followers in 1559. This settlement was abandoned after two years because of lack of cooperation among the settlers. In 1696 Fort San Carlos was built by Don Andreas D Arriola. On May 14th, 1719 the city of Pensacola was captured by the French who had settled Mobile. The town was in a short time recaptured by the Spaniards but held only until the French in Mobile could prepare an attack. This they did and burned the city. In 1719 the first battery was installed on the west end of Santa Rosa Island where now stands Fort Pickens. In 1720 peace was declared but it was not until 1723 that Pensacola was restored to the Spaniards. The Spaniards rebuilt the town on Santa Rosa Island on account of the natural barriers from attack by the Indians and other enemies. 
In 1763 Florida became a British Colony, thereby placing Pensacola under the rule of the British. In 1764 the present old city of Pensacola was laid out. In 1772 the British built Fort George on the southwest corner of Palafox and Jackson streets. In 1781 Fort San Bernardo was constructed on the block now bounded by Spring, Gonzalez, Brainard, and Barcelona streets. 
After a spirited battle Pensacola again passed to control of Spain in 1781. Spain continued in control until 1814 at which time General Andrew Jackson marched in and captured the city. He, however, withdrew immediately. In 1818 General Jackson again took possession of the city. In 1821 by treaty with Spain the United States acquired the territory and in February, 1821 the formal ceremony ceding Florida to the United States from Spain took place in the Plaza in Pensacola where a marker commemorating this event has been placed by the Pensacola Historical Society.


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


Brief history of Escambia 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.