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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- On October 11, 1880, the City of Brooksville is incorporated and officials elected. Population of Hernando County was 4248.
- 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.