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A Close Up of the Distant Past

If you could step into the Florida’s Adventure Coast Way-Back Machine, what would you see?

Time Machine 1.jpgStep aboard for some waypoints in this Close-Up of the Distant Past adventure.

  • 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.Hernando Desoto.jpgHernando DeSoto
  • 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.   
       Chocochatti Marker 1-1.jpgChocochatti Historical Marker
  • February 21, 1842 was a day the first settlers, numbering 101 whites and 59 slaves, entered the central part of Seminole territory, eventually to become Hernando County. 
  • 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.jpgBayport Hotel
  • In December 1854, Bayport (name spelling change) (http://www.fivay.org/bayport.html) 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. 

1886 - Old Brooksville (Pre-Digital Project - Pinterest).jpgOld Brooksville


  • 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.jpgHernando County Courthouse, 1915. The original Courthouse, built from wood, burned down in 1877.
  • 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.jpgFirst Hernando County School
  • 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.jpg1898 Istachatta Train Depot 

1885 Train Depot.jpg        

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, still very much in use. 

Brooksville Courthouse.jpg

Touches of early history are 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.

Take the City of Brooksville self-guided Walking - Driving Tour. Click here to download the booklet and map.

Learn more about history of Florida's Adventure Coast!

Detailed timeline of Brooksville settlement and Hernando County development

Photos: Facebook.com/Old-Brooksville-In-Photos-Stories

Progressive mapping of Brooksville and Hernando County