No April Foolin': How Santa Rosa became a 'beach' town

Published: Monday, April 1, 2013 at 04:53 PM.

Santa Rosa was their place of rest and a natural hideout. With the bay on one side and the gulf on the other side there was always an avenue of escape when a quick getaway was necessary.

Romance and adventure was aplenty in Santa Rosa but there were sad times, too, especially when Andrew Jackson came riding through this area rounding up the various bands of roving Indians for transportation to the Oklahoma reservation. Just thinking of Santa Rosa of those days must stir the imagination of any red blooded man, woman or youth.

From the resettlement of the Indians until the latter part of the 18th Century, Santa Rosa was known as Hogtown. It was called by that name because of the many people within a radius of 50 miles who used the area as a hog breeding ground. With hogs were cattle, but few settlers. It remained a free range for all kids of animals until two years ago when by an act of the Florida Legislature free range was abolished throughout the state.

Along about the beginning of 1900 settlers began coming to the Gulf Coast and also about that time there was much talk of a railroad, so much so that the U.S. government granted a right-of-way. If you'll recall that was the era of railroad-building all over the country, however, it never really got beyond the surveyors' drawing board. Why it was given up, I still cannot understand. The company formed to build a railroad did not make money-there is evidence of timber cut along the proposed line it was to take, but that is another story.

In 1905 or thereabouts, Charles Cessna had a dream, he dreamed of a town on the Choctawhatchee Bay and to that end he acquired hundreds of acres for a song by today's prices and started to promote the sale of homesteads and home sites, prices ranging from a few dollars to a few thousands depending on how many acres you wanted.

It was he who named the town Santa Rosa. The surveyor who platted the town of Santa Rosa was a Thomas Collins. Just a few years prior to that Santa Rosa was part of Washington County, and believe it or not, the county of Santa Rosa to the West of Highway 98 became a county just two years before Charles Cessna decided to name his development Santa Rosa.

It is not clear from my informants whether or not it was 1908 or 1910 that Cessna started his development. However, this much is common knowledge, the chief transportation to and from Santa Rosa was mules, horses and oxen.

1 2 3

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top

Local Faves