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"Greeting From Bay County Florida"



Historical—Bay is one of the latest additions to the galaxy of Florida counties. It was created by the Legislature of 1913 out of the southern portion of Washington and the peninsular portion of Calhoun counties.

Though young as a county, its history goes back four hundred years, st. Andrews Bay being one of the first localities visited in Florida by those attached to the expeditions of Miurelo in 1516, Pineda in 1519, Navarez in 1529, and DeSoto in 1540, as well as by other Spanish expeditionary forces of the sixteenth century.

Probably the earliest settlement in the county was that on what is now known as Dyers Point, in the western part of the town of St. Andrews, which was settled some time in the latter part of the eighteenth century, possibly about 1765.

With the rest of the State, this section has passed under several flags—Spain, France, England, and our own. During the English occupation from 1763 to 1783, several plantations were opened by officers and privates of the English army, who were given large tracts of land here, but when this territory was transferred to Spain, in 1783, these settlers removed, mostly to Jamaica, and nature again held sole sway.

With the purchase of Florida by the United States in 1820, a few Georgians and others, who had known of St. Andrews Bay as a fishing and hunting resort, removed to various points on the Bay, the most prominent of which was ex-Governor John Clark of Georgia, who erected a residence at what is now known as "Old Town St. Andrews," where he resided until his death in 1832. His grave marked by a marble shaft erected by his daughter, still stands on the lot adjoining his old home place. He was given charge of the live oak along the shores of the bay by his friend, General Jackson, which timber was then considered of great value for government ship building purposes.

The only settlement at the time of the war of 1861–1865 was what is now known as "Old Town" St. Andrews, and this place was completely destroyed in December, 1862, by a vessel from the blockading fleet stationed at the harbor entrance. It was not until thirty years ago that the Bay county began to be exploited, and settlers, homesteaders and others began to come in. Upon the Completion of the Atlanta & St. Andrews Bay Railway from Dothan, Ala., to Panama City, Florida, in 1908, following the location of mills and naval stores industries in this section, there was a marked increase in immigration, which by 1912 had increased the population of the Bay section of Washington County to such an extent that a division of the county was secured, and Bay County formed, of which Panama City is the county seat.

There are at present three towns in the county containing over 2,000 inhabitants each, with many smaller villages. The present post-offices in the county are as follows: Located on St. Andrews Bay, Allanton, Bay Harbor, Bayhead, Bellisle, Cllaway, Cook, Cromanton, Farmdale, High Point, Lynn Haven, Millville, Murfee, Panama City, Parker, San Blas, Southport, St. Andrews, and Wetappo. Located inlandl Auburn, Betts, Bennett, Econfina, Lake Merial, Majette, Noles, Pine Log and Youngstown.

Descriptive—Bay County lies between the 29th and 31st degrees of latitude, conforming to that of the northern portion of Mexico, Cairo, Egypt, and the southern portion of China. The county is thirty-six miles in width and of an average breadth of twenty-three miles, being bordered on the north by Washington and Jackson counties, on the east by Calhoun County, on the south by the Gulf of Mexico, and on the west by Walton County.

St. Andrews Bay, with its east and west arms extending in a southeasterly and northwesterly direction, nearly bisects the county, the southern portion being made up of peninsulas, which are divided by bayous, sounds and lagoons. The north arm of the bay extends for miles in a northwesterly direction; the entire shore line of the bay, with its bayous, lagoons, and coves, makes a shore line of 500 miles in extent. The principal streams of the county are: Pine Log, West Bay, Cedar, Econfina, Bear Creek, Bayou George, Sandy and Weatppo creeks.

There are many small lakes and large springs dotting the surface of the county, some of the latter being long noted for the medicinal waters. The underground water supply is abundant, and is reached by artesian wells at Cromanton, Millville, Panama City, St. Andrews, Lynn Haven, Southport and Bayhead; the water in the one at the latter point rising some thirty feet above tide water. The waters of these wells are of the best quality for drinking purposes, and are already being used for the water supply of growing cities.

Transportation facilities are now good and constantly being improved. The Atlanta & St. Andrews Bay Railway runs through the county from the northwest corner to Panama City in the southern central portion. The Birmingham, Columbus and St. Andrews road extends in a north and south direction from the north central portion of the county to Southport on St. Andrews Bay, from where it is soon to be extended across the bay to Lynn Haven, there connecting with the line already built from Lynn Haven to near Panama City; a line also connects Panama City with St. Andrews. There are regular steamer lines connecting all bay points with Mobile, Pensacola and Apalachicola, also a steamer line plying between St. Andrews Bay and New York City. Numerous launches and power barges ply the waters of the bay, connecting all private and public wharves with the termini of the railways, and the steamer landings. The Western Union Telegraph company has offices at all the principal railway stations, while telephone systems supply communication between all the towns and settlements. The building of hard roads has begun, and is being carried on in a most comprehensive manner, so that there will soon be good roads bisecting the county from north to south and east to west, with various lateral hard roads intersecting these trunk lines.

Agricultural Products—Before the Civil War large numbers of cattle were shipped from points in this county to Cuba. Stock raising was then the main industry of the planters. Conditions are very favorable for this industry in this county, as there is much good land for grazing, which is well watered, and which furnishes sustenance for stock nearly the year round. The raising of hogs has also been quite a prominent feature with the planters.

The statistics of the county’s products, taken by the enumerator in July, 1914, show the following as the most important of the crops raised: corn, oats, sweet potatoes, upland rice, field peas, peanuts, velvet beans, cane, onions, Irish potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, squash, egg plant, beans, water melons; and in fruits: oranges, lemons, grape fruit, persimmons, peaches, pears, plums and figs, together with a large quantity of grapes, strawberries and pecans. In addition to the bearing trees, the report shows that much has been done in setting out fruit trees and nut trees, there being of non-bearing trees nearly 12,000 orange trees, 1,000 lemons, 2,000 grape fruit, 1,000 pear, 2,500 peach, 1,000 plum, 1,500 fig and 1,400 pecan. Velvet beans, cassava, Kudzu vine, vetch, rape, winter oats and winter rye, together with millet, furnish and abundant supply of coarse feed for stock raising.

It has been demonstrated by a few who have taken up intensive farming that the land of Bay County can be made to produce very large quantities of sweet potatoes, onions, celery, Irish potatoes, cane and rice to the acre, as well as almost all other kinds of vegetables, the season for which extends over the entire twelve months of the year.

There are many varieties of soil, such as are found on the coastal plans of the Gulf, consisting of sand clay and muck, with all varieties of intermixture.

Industrial—For some years this section of West Florida has been noted as the center of the Naval Stores industry of the United States. There are at present fourteen naval stores plants in this county, at which nineteen stills are operated.

The manufacture of lumber from the yellow pine timber of Bay County has been carried on almost continuously at various points on the Bay for nearly one hundred years, but it is only within the last twenty years that large modern mills have been in operation. There are now such mills, cutting from seventy-five to one hundred thousand feet of lumber per day, at Millville, Mooretown, St. Andrews, Southport, Fountain, Sherman and Saunders, and smaller mills at High Point, Panama City and Allanton. Besides supplying the local trade, these mills cut a large amount of lumber for export, which is taken from Bay points in steamships and sailing vessels, to various ports in the West Indies and South America. The manufacture and shipment of railroad ties has also become a very important industry. Cargoes are frequently being gathered and shipped to points on the upper Atlantic coast and to England.

There are ice plants at Panama city and St. Andrews, a cotton compress at Panama City, and ship ways, launch and boat building shops at various towns on St. Andrews Bay. Electric lighting plants supply light to St. Andrews, Millville, Mooretown and Lynn Haven, while other towns are preparing to install lighting systems. Syrup factories are conveniently located at various points throughout the county, where the best cane syrup is manufactured from our unsurpassed cane. Clay suitable for brick is found at a number of places in the county, and brick are now manufactured at Wetappo.

The fishing industry is also of great importance. There are many smacks employed in this trade, taking their catch on the snapper banks of the Gulf, while fisherman do an extensive business along the shores of the Gulf and bays. St. Andrews Bay oysters have been noted for their extra fine quality ever since the Bay began to be visited by white men, and much is now being done in cultivating this delicious bivalve.

Timber—Until within a few years, the entire land in this county was covered by a virgin forest. The most valuable as well as plentiful trees are the long leave yellow pine, although there are other varieties of pine, twenty of oak, four of hickory, two of cypress and poplar, juniper and red cedar, magnolia, bay and other valuable timber.

Camphor trees grow luxuriantly, and the planting of these trees has already become a promising industry in various portions of the State. Nut trees grow well all through the county, and there are many very fine pecan groves started.

Sports—The many varieties of fish in the waters of this county afford unlimited sport to the angler. There is everything in the way of fish that one could wish for, from the gamy tarpon, the silver kind, red snappers, groupers, blue fish, redfish, Spanish mackerel, mullet, sea trout, flounders and many other salt water fish, with large mouth bass, bream, shellcrackers and other fresh water fish in the streams of the county, while oystering and clamming can be successfully carried on by those thus inclined.

The sheltered waters of the bays, bayous, sounds, lagoons and rivers, present unusual attractions to the launch man, canoeist and sailor, while the gulf beach furnishes one of the best ocean bathing beaches in the world. There are good hotels and many private boarding houses for the accommodation of the public.

East Bay Canal, Harbor—This important waterway is about completed, the government having expended thereon about five hundred thousand dollars. This canal connects the waters of the Chattahoochee, Flint, Apalachicola river systems with St. Andrews Bay, going five hundred and forty-seven miles of cheap water transportation on these rivers for the commerce of southeast Alabama, southwest Georgia and west Florida. Government experts estimate that all cotton in Georgia west of a line through Macon and Valdosta, can be shipped through St. Andrews Bay to points reached through the Panama Canal, for less than through Atlantic ports, and upon the installation of this transportation by canal, Liverpool will be accessible to these sections through this Bay, as to Atlantic ports.

With the opening of this canal early in 1915, both export and import trade making it practically unassailable by a hostile fleet, eminently fit it as the future site of such adjuncts of our navy.

The meridian of longitude passing close to the west point of Cuba, the turning point for all vessels bound to or from the canal, passes just east of St. Andrews Bay, which makes this the nearest port on the north Gulf coast to the Panama Canal, the distance being but 1,326 miles; a fact that railway systems cannot fail to recognize and take advantage of by building to this Bay, with the growth of traffic through the Panama Canal.

Climate and Health Conditions—This section of Florida has been noted for a century or more for its healthfulness. It has been the resort of those suffering from nervousness, rheumatism, heart and stomach troubles, bronchitis, etc., and invariably sufferers from these ailments have found relief in this genial climate.

The mean temperature of Bay County is about 69 degrees, with a maximum of 98 degrees, and an average minimum of 26 degrees. The average for killing frost is; first in the autumn, December 4th; last in the spring, February 17th. The average rainfall is 70 and 60/100. Precipitation is greatest in the winter and midsummer months.

Churches, Schools and Societies—Bay county is well supplied with churches. The principal denominations having houses of worship are the Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Methodist and Catholic. There are high schools in the larger towns, and in the county there are forty schools for white children and twelve for negroes. Some of the schools are being equipped with good libraries.

There are four Masonic lodges in the county, also lodges of Odd Fellows, K. of P., Woodmen and Owls. The G. A. R. has three posts in the county and there are three auxiliary W. R. C. Several ladies improvement associations are doing excellent work in the way of civic improvement.

Opportunities—Bay County offers exceptional opportunities to the man who desires to retire from work and settle in a land where his days will be lengthened.

It offers grand opportunities to the man with capital to invest in business that will return good interest on his money.

It offers the best possible chance to the man with small means, who is not afraid to work, to establish himself and increase his assets.

Land can be purchased from five dollars and acre up. Town lots from twenty-five dollars upward. Lumber is cheap, likewise other building material.

Investments can be very profitably made in Bay County in sums ranging from $100 to $1,000,000.

There is pressing need in this county for machine shop; fertilizer factory; ship yard and ship chandlery; manufactory of pulp and paper from our forest trees and waste products of sawmills; veneer establishment to manufacture veneers from the valuable hardwoods of Central America that can be brought there cheaply by vessel, and through manufacturing here, freight can be greatly reduced over shipping the logs; furniture factories; canning factories to can fruit, vegetables, fish, oysters and shrimps; cigar factories; broom factories; mattress factories; brick yards; cotton factories; tie and timber exporters; large tourist hotels; dwelling houses; stock raising; trucking; farming and nurseries.

The coming metropolis of the north Gulf Coast will be located on St. Andrews Bay. Visit this important section of our country and examine conditions. Our claims will bear the closest investigation.

Brochure "Greeting from Bay County Florida," 1915.


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