William Henry Mapoles, 1878 – 1958





     “Bill,” as he was known, was born at Munson, Florida on October 11, 1878.  His mother, Nancy Foster, died when Bill was a young boy.  So, Bill went to Milligan, Florida, to live with relatives.  He went to school in a one-room log school at the top of Baggett Creek Hill which was nearby.  His father, John Thomas Mapoles was the school teacher.


     Bill worked for his father in the newspaper business.  He met and married Terry Celeste Johnson in 1908 while he was working at the newspaper.  Soon the young couple moved to Laurel Hill where they set up their own newspaper.  They established the Laurel Hill News in 1909.


     In 1913 he ran for office to be a Walton County State Representative.  His campaign theme was that of creating a new county in the area.  He felt it was too far between Milton (the County Seat of Santa Rosa County) and Defuniak Springs (the County Seat of Walton County).  It took folks a whole day to travel, one-way, from Crestview, FL to Fort Walton.  So it was just as difficult and slow to try to travel between the two County Seats.  Bill wanted to make a new county by taking part of Santa Rosa and part of Walton counties to form a brand new county with its own County Seat.


     It took two more years before forming the new county was successful.  This action had to be passed by the State Legislature and it was not passed the first time.  There was much opposition.  Bill Mapoles and B.H. Lindsey reintroducted the bill in 1915.  This time the bill was passed.  And, on September 7, 1915, the new county of Okaloosa was formed.  Bill gave the new county that name.  Some say he named it after a popular steam boat which was in the region.  Most agree that the name is Native American (probably Choctaw).


     The first County Seat was at Milligan, Florida.  But, because of the river, it soon became obvious to Bill that Crestview was a better location.  It was in the center of the county, along the old Spanish Trail,  and had a depot on the major railroad which ran through the county.


     Crestview was a young, undeveloped town.  Bill’s wife, Celeste, was not happy with the idea of moving from Laurel Hill to Crestview.  After all Laurel Hill was an active and busy town that had a bank and the Campbell General Store as well as other businesses.  But move she did.  And, everything worked out just fine.


     Bill moved his newspaper with them and renamed it the Okaloosa News.  In September of 1917, Crestview was named the County Seat for Okaloosa County. 


     And, now you know why William Henry Mapoles (“Bill”) is known as the Father of Okaloosa County, Florida.