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Laverne Tornow

Asst. Coordinator

Karen Synychak

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Hernando County



On February 27, 1843, the County of Hernando, named in honor of Hernando DeSoto, a Spanish explorer, was established by an act of the State Legislature. Hernando County was created from the southernmost section of Alachua County encompassing the lands south of Withalacoochee River, the western most area of Mosquito County (later renamed Orange County) west of the Withlacoochee, and the northernmost part of Hillsborough County north of the Anclote Keys. The name of the county changed in 1844 from Hernando to Benton, for Senator Thomas H. Benton, who had introduced a bill in the State Legislature which was responsible for opening the land for settlement. The position of Senator Benton on the Missouri Compromise was reversed in the 1840's, and the residents of Benton County petitioned to change the name back to Hernando, which was accomplished in 1850. One of the principal settlements by the early 1850's was Bayport, a port of entry for the county for exporting cotton, farm produce and timber. Bayport was chosen and approved as the County Seat by the Legislature in December 1854. Bayport's selection stirred the emotions of residents living in the eastern section of the county, so within two years, the voters chose a site located within five miles of the center of the county. The people of Hernando County named the new County Seat "Brooksville" in honor of Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina

Brooksville was originally known as "Milendez". Milendez was one of four communities which were settled about the same period of time in the early 1820-1840's. Fort Cross, Fort DeSoto, and Pierceville were the other three early settlements within a short distance of the "new town".

In the early days this area was inhabited primarily by Indians. In 1824 Chief Black Dirt, a Seminole Indian Chief of high standing, and very honorable as a man, led a band of Indians into the area of what today has become known as Brooksville, but at that time was known only as "Chokko Chatee" to the Red Man. His move into this area was the result of the "Treaty of 1823 at Moultrie Creek" near St. Augustine. Chief Black Dirt was one of the signers of this treaty which provided for the removal of the Indians into Central Florida and he was faithful to his obligation. Chokko Chatee had previously been inhabited by a band of the Eufaula Creek Indians. On December 2, 1838, Fort Cross, a military post, was established in this general area, a little north of Brooksville.

"Old Hernando County" which encompassed all of current Citrus and Pasco Counties wah broken down into three separate counties by the State Legislature in 1887. The northern approximately 1/3 of Hernando County was split off to form present day Citrus County and the approximate souther 1/3 was split off to form present day Pasco County.

Currently there are only two chartered cities in Hernando County, Brooksville and Weeki Wachee. Weeki Wachee may well be the smallest chartered city in both population and size in the State of Florida. There are many residential communities, among them Aripeka, BayPort, Isttachatta, Lake Lindsey, Mazaryktown, Nobleton, Springhill and Weeki Wachee.