History.

The Spanish in Northwest Florida.  

     Spain was the most prominent European country to explore and settle in northwest Florida territory.  The most well-know and researched aspects of their influence comes out of Pensacola.  In 1806 the Spaniards built a new fort opposite the entrance into Pensacola Bay. Construction of the new brick fort, called Fort Carlos de Barrancas, began in 1797 on the site of the old British naval redoubt. The new fort had an adjacent water battery named San Antonio. Although the brick fort has since been redesigned and rebuilt, the battery San Antonio is still intact and is now a part of the American Fort Barrancas.  (To learn more, go to Latinola.com) .

Fort Barrancas


     Fort Barrancas sits on a bluff overlooking the entrance to Pensacola Bay. The natural advantages of this location have inspired engineers of three nations to build forts. The British built the Royal Navy Redoubt here in 1763 of earth and logs. The Spanish built two forts here around 1797. Bateria de San Antonio was a masonry water battery at the foot of the bluff. Above it was earth and log Fort San Carlos de Barrancas.

The French in Northwest Florida, 1719 - 1722.

     Governor of French Louisiana, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, took Pensacola for France on May 14, 1719, arriving with his fleet and a large ground force of Indian warriors. The Spanish commander of Pensacola, Metamoras, had not heard that war had been declared between France and Spain, and his garrison was so small that he felt it would be useless to resist: at four o'clock in the afternoon, he surrendered on the conditions that private citizens and property should not be disturbed and the garrison should march out with honors of war and be shipped to Havana in French vessels.Bienville left about sixty men at Pensacola and sailed away. The French were in Pensacola for only three years; they burned their settlement when they left.

     The French, who had established settlements also further west at Mobile and Biloxi, held Pensacola during this period. Overall, French influences were generally dominant among the Creoles on the Gulf Coast west of Pensacola, with Spanish influences dominant among Creoles in the modern Panhandle. We believe that a hurricane drove the French from Pensacola in 1722 and the Spanish moved the town from the storm-vulnerable barrier island to the mainland.

The French Settlement of Belandville, FL.

"French Colony in Santa Rosa County?" (Jerry Simmons)  In the early years of the Great Depression, Albertino J. Beland had access to several hundred acres in north Santa Rosa County, Florida. The land was in a remote area of the Florida panhandle, but Beland saw a great opportunity for people with
similar interests and talents to begin life anew.  He formed a farming colony of French-Canadians in the woods near McClellan, Florida. What eventually happened to the innovative colony is not known, except that it seems the 1930s was not a good time for such a daring venture. By the end of the decade, most of the settlers had moved away. It’s said that there’s hardly any sign there was ever a village or town there. There may be a few bricks here and there, the remnants of the creamery or the cannery, but other than that, the forest has taken root once again. (The town had a school; See the Research & Resources section on this site to learn more.)  

The British Colonization of Florida, 1763 - ca 1783.

     Britain gained control of Florida in 1763 in exchange for Havana, Cuba, which the British had captured from Spain during the Seven Years’ War (1756–63). Spain evacuated Florida after the exchange, leaving the province virtually empty, as most of the Native Americans had by now succumbed to the ravages of European disease and slavery. At that time,  Pensacola also was a small military town.

     The British had ambitious plans for Florida. First, it was split into two parts: East Florida, with its capital at St. Augustine; and West Florida, with its seat at Pensacola. British surveyors mapped much of the landscape and coastline and tried to develop relations with a new group of Native American people who were moving into the area from the North. The British called these people of Creek Indian descent Seminolies, or Seminoles. Britain attempted to attract white settlers by offering land on which to settle and help for those who produced products for export. This plan might have converted Florida into a flourishing colony, but British rule did not last.

Swedes and Norwegians, late 1800s.

Community of Svea.  

train at the Svea depot     Pronounced "sweer" this community is north of Laurel Hill. FL.  The original settlers were Swedes and Norwegians.  At the turn of the 20th century a real estate promoter lured immigrants to Florida from Chicago.  The first homesteaders arrived at Svea in the late 1800s.  They platted out the town and recorded their dream community in what was then Walton (now Okaloosa) County. The platting was controversial because the Norwegians had a name in the hat also, but there were more Swedes than Norwegians, so they won out.  Mrs. Ouida Grimes recalled stories told by her in-laws.  Svea means "extraordinarily beautiful" - the town grew slowly - three stores, a post office and a small cotton gin and saw mill and railroad depot provided work for a few people. A school was built in 1937 and the town had two churches, Svea Baptist and Svea Assembly of God.  But, by the time the churches were built, most of the Swedes and Norwegians had left.  Today, there is no sign of the train depot, the stores are gone and one of the churches is empty.  A small cemetery remains as do several small houses.
     More can be found at the Library of Baker Block Museum and at local libraries in the book "Our Town" by North West Florida Daily News, 1992.


The Scots in Walton County, FL.

     During the 1700's, Euchee Indians moved into the area and lived around Bruce Creek & Choctawhatchee Bay. Scottish settlers moved into the area soon after and befriended the Euchees. Legend says that the Euchee came from out west; their language is distinct and not related to the Muskogee language group. The influential chief in the area was Timpoochee Kinnard, or Sam Story. He was a great friend to Colonel Neill McKinnon, the influential Scottish settler in the area. Sam Story's son Jim Crow took McKinnon's daughter Harriet to be his wife. Story's Landing on Bruce Creek is where the chief had his village. (Early 1800's.)

Mixed Blood Peoples.

"Red Sticks."

     Though not known as a mixed blood people, they were Creek Indians who chose to align themselves in battle with the British in Territorial Florida. Some might say they were renegades but this would be a superficial view. These people would be best studied as a historical and political aspect of Native American history in the Southeast United States.
Dominickers.

Mt. Zion School Holmes County FL
     The Dominickers were a small biracial or triracial ethnic group that was once centered in the Florida Panhandle county of Holmes, in a corner of the southern part of the county west of the Choctawhatchee River, near the town of Ponce de Leon.  The Troy State University Library at Dothan, AL library provides this historical sketch:   Domineckers/Dominickers settled in Holmes County, Florida, between Westville and Ponce de Leon.  The families were considered "mixed" (Black, White, and Indian).  Whites refused to consider Domineckers as white, and Domineckers refused to consider themselves to be black, though they used black public facilities and coaches.  Their children were not allowed to attend white schools, a grammar school was later established for them by the State.  The Dominecker/Dominicker "name" was established around 1860, supposedly from a child custody case.  (See more about this collection in our Research & Resources section.)

     Photograph of Dominicker children and white teacher, Mt. Zion School, Holmes County, Florida, circa 1910. Photographer unknown.

Red Bone.

Steven Pony Hill records that in the late 1850s a large number of families left the Choctawhatchee River area of northwest Florida and journeyed west to Rapides Parish, Louisiana. These families, often described as "mixed-bloods" joined an older settlement which resulted in a group which is known today as the "Red Bone" community. History suggests that a group of families left the same area of Florida in1853, but met with less success.

An interesting essay on Florida peoples - "Myths and Dreams: Exploring the Cultural Legacies of Florida and the Caribbean" By Carol Damian
http://www.kislakfoundation.org/millennium/damian.htm


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