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Right Here. Back Then. Revisit These Florida's Adventure Coast Milestones

If you could power up the Florida’s Adventure Coast Way-Back Machine, what would you see along the way?

Step aboard and navigate some waypoints in this close-up look at the distant past.

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Photo: Hernando DeSoto

Way way back, in 1539, Hernando De Soto’s expedition arrived in the Tampa Bay area. Pushing northward, written evidence suggests that a village called Vicela was near the current Istachatta in northeast Hernando County.

  • In 1767, the Seminoles of Florida established a settlement called Chukochatty.  In 1823, Chicuchaty appears on a map. Other spellings were: Chicuchate (1826), Chihuchaty (1831), Chichuchate (1833), Chichichate (1834), Chicuhatte (1837), Chocochattee (1838), and Chocochatee (1839). Chocachatti resolved as the modern version, for which a Magnet Elementary School was named in Brooksville, founded in 1999.         
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Photo: Chocochatti Historical Marker
  • From 1844 - 1850, this area was known as Benton County, for Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton. Senator Benton was a strong supporter of territorial expansion and aided in the county's creation. He fell out of favor with residents later in the decade due to his decision to support the Missouri Compromise and his slavery stance reversal, so the county's name changed in 1850. 
  • On December 24, 1850, the Governor approved a bill to change the name of Benton County to Hernando County. 
  • Bay Port became a prosperous center of commerce in 1852, with a US Customs house and steamship terminal. 
bayport_hotel_180.jpgPhoto: Bayport Hotel
  • In December 1854, Bayport (name spelling change) was named the county seat by the legislature. Residents living in the eastern section of the county wanted a more central place for the county government. 
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Photos: Old Brooksville from Facebook
  • In 1855, voters selected an inland site within five miles of the county center at the town of Melendez, which was subsequently renamed Brooksville, named after South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks. 
Hernando Courthouse.jpgPhoto: Hernando County Courthouse,1915. The original Courthouse, built from wood, burned down in 1877 from Facebook
  • On October 11, 1880, the City of Brooksville is incorporated and officials elected. Population of Hernando County was 4248. 
First school in Hernando County at Ft. Dade Ave & Citrus Way.jpgPhoto: First Hernando County School from Facebook
  • In 1885, the railroad finally came to Brooksville through the tireless efforts of John J. Hale and others. While a rail connection through Brooksville was sought as early as 1857, it wasn’t until 1907, when the Florida Southern Line, a component of the Plant system, began regular passenger connections daily.         
1898-Istachatta Depot.jpgPhoto: 1898 Istachatta Train Depot from Facebook1885 Train Depot.jpg
Photo: Brooksville Train Depot from Facebook 
Stepping out of the Way-Back Machine, you can now gaze around at lovingly preserved landmarks such as the May-Stringer House, Saxon Manor, the 1885 Train Depot and Chinsegut Hill Manor House.
 
See too the Hernando County Courthouse and oak-lined, cobblestone streets, all still very much in use. Brooksville Courthouse.jpg
Photo: Brooksville Courthouse by Carole Knudson
Touches of early history are still evident in homes and local business locations as well as colorful outdoor murals. To walk through the downtown area is to step back to a time of old charm and new growth.