Historical Sketch of Monroe County

Historical Sketch of Monroe County


Page 3
Its jurisdiction extended over that part of "the territory which lies souh of a line from Indian River on the east and Charlotte Harbor on the west, including the latter harbor." This was the first governing body to have jurisdiction over Monroe County. Judge James Webb of Georgia was commissioned first Judge of the Superior Court in 1828. When Florida was admitted to the Union in 1845, this court was succeeded by the United States Court for the Southern Disctict of Florida. After statehood, justice was administered by a Circuit and a Probate Court. Monroe County was in the Southern Circuit, and the first judge was William Marvin. In 1868 the first County Court was established and James W. Locke was appointed judge.
Before the survey of Key West and before the town was chartered, there was erected on Jackson Square a building known as the county courthouse which was altered and improved by the United States government in 1830. Jackson Square is the property of the city of Key West. No deed or grant to this square was ever made, but in the division of the land among the original agrarian? proprietors, it was treated as common or public property, and the city holds Jackson Square in trust, as it holds the streets, for public purposes. In 1889 the wooden courthouse, where court had been held, where Christians of all denominations had worshipped, where marriage ceremonies had been performed, and funeral services held, was torn down to make way for the commodious brick courthouse which now stands on the square.
The original boundaries of Monroe County were, to quote from the Legislative Acts of the Territory of Florida: "all that part of the Territory aforesaid being south of a line commencing at Boca Gasparilla, the mouth of Charlotte Harbor on the Gulf of Mexico, and extending up the northern margin of said Charlotte Harbor to the mouth of Charlotte River; thence up the northern margin of said river to Lake Macaco, (Mayoco), Spiritu Santo Lagoon; thence along the northern margin of said lake to its most eastern limits; thence in a direct line to the head waters of Potomac River, (Hillsborough); thence down said river to its entrance into the ocean, together with all the keys [sic] and islands of The Cape of Florida." [sic] citation? In 1836, Dade county was created from the west part of the county. In 1859, the boundaries of Monroe county were again changed and a portion of the county on the mainland was cut off to form a part of Manatee county. In 1866, another change was made which gave back to Monroe county all the islands from Old Roads Key to Bahia Honda which had been taken by the act of 1836. In 1887, Lee county was created from the northern part of the county.
The present boundaries of Monroe county are: Collier County on the north, Dade county on the east, the Gulf of Mexico and part of the Ten Thousand Islands on the west, Florida Bay on the south. The county boundaries include all that long line of islands, called keys [sic], stretching from the mainland at the southeat corner of Dade County to westernmost Loggerhead Key, a hundred and fifty miles southwest, into the Gulf of Mexico.


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


Brief history of Monroe 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.