No peaking! Do you know where the highest point in Florida is?
That would be Britton Hill, 345 feet above sea level, and located in our own Walton County.
Do you know where the first county seat of Walton County was?
Not DeFuniak Springs, but Alaqua. The county seat was not moved to DeFuniak Springs until the railroad arrived in the 1880s.
Named after Frederick DeFuniak, a vice president of L&N Railroad of French descent, the town was mostly settled by Scots who came down from North Carolina and were trying to get away from the Brits who settled up north. They encountered friendly Indians along the way who taught them their ways and how to follow the Indian trails.
The Scots brought with them their religion: the Presbyterian church.
Long-time Grayton Beach resident David Bludworth shared this bit of Walton County history Wednesday afternoon at Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet as attendees sipped tea at 3 p.m.
Bludworth said the original settlers in our area were people interested in education and founded three colleges, including Florida State Normal School.
"The Calvinist influence was in Walton County," said Bludworth, "and education was key. They were the most educated people in Florida at that time. These people wanted knowledge."
The early settlers of Northwest Florida were so into knowledge that they brought their New York Chautauqua to DeFuniak Springs.
The Chautauqua was an adult education movement, popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chautauqua assemblies spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s. The Chautauqua brought entertainment and culture, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day. Chautauqua continues in DeFuniak Springs and will be held again the last week in January 2014.
Bludworth began coming to our area 69 years ago and often gives performances at Chautauqua. He was joined in the history presentation by area historian Brenda Rees.
Rees told how Alabama and Georgia used to be part of Florida, and how the Choctawhatchee Bay used to be called Santa Rosa Bay. It was renamed by the British when they marched through the area during the American Revolution.
Andrew Jackson was the first governor of the state of Florida, and the first counties were Escambia and St. Johns.
Walton was the eighth county formed in the state.
When formed, Walton County's borders reached from Destin to Shell Island in what is now Bay County.
The county was named for George Walton, Jr., whose father signed the Declaration of Independence.
When Jackson left Florida, he left Walton Jr. as acting governor.
Tallahassee became the capital city because it was central in the beginning, as Pensacola was capital of West Florida and St. Augustine was the capital of East Florida.
"All the power was up here," said Bludworth. "Air conditioning and the cure for yellow fever were discovered just down the road from here in Port St. Joe."
Rees agreed that calling this area the Redneck Riviera was a misnomer.
"This area was very diverse from the beginning, sophisticated, educated and open," she said.
Rees is a Walton County native and her family built in South Walton in the 1960s.
The next Tea at 3 will be on Oct. 23. The speaker will be Ginger Sinton, speaking about South Walton's Coastal Dune Lakes. Visit www.graytgrounds.com for more information. The presentation is free.