or 57 years until 1885, the small community was once the county seat. People farmed and raised families. They worshiped and went to school.

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EUCHEEANNA — There was time when Eucheeanna was the hub of Walton County.

For 57 years until 1885, the small community was once the county seat. People farmed and raised families. They worshiped and went to school.

"In the old days, all roads led to Eucheeanna," said Sandy Jack Brown, who was born in Eucheeanna in 1946.

Today, you can't even find the community on a modern map.

The 'lotus land'

Eucheeanna is located just six miles southeast of DeFuniak Springs. It's easy to miss. There's no sign. No town. For the most part, it's a long stretch of road with a few homes and churches sprinkled in.

But it's there that the first Scottish settlers stopped in Florida. They named the area after the Euchee Indians. According to the Walton County government website, folklore says the first slave child was born in the settlement.

According to a historical report called "Eucheeanna: A Town that Might Have Been" by native Carlis McLeod, Eucheeanna (sometimes spelled Euchee Anna) became the home for Scottish settler Neil McLennan around 1824. McLennan originally was making trips to Pensacola to trade with Spanish merchants when he thought about setting in West Florida. Local Euchee Indian chief Sam Story (English name) showed McLennan the Euchee Valley. He called it his "lotus land."

"In a few years, the entire region known as Euchee Valley was populated with Scottish Highlanders who first settled in the Carolinas before moving to Florida Territory," McLeod wrote. "Within this settlement, a little trading center developed that came to be known as Eucheeanna."

McLennan spread word to friends in North Carolina. Among them was Col. John McKinnon, a recognizable name as you drive along McKinnon Bridge Road off County Raod 280. McKinnon also literally wrote the book on Walton County, called "History of Walton County," which you can find at the Indian Temple Mound Museum in Fort Walton Beach. The book is a collection of articles published in the local newspaper and was only loosely edited.

The book shares the legend of Chief Sam Story and his grave marker. According to McKinnon, Story and his tribe began thinking of moving elsewhere to Florida as the Eucheeanna settlement grew and resources became tapped out. The tribe reportedly traveled as far as the Everglades, but returned.

Story was weakened by the six-month journey and died shortly after. Scotsmen buried the chief and made a marker from pine wood. The marker later was replaced with a gravestone that reads "Sam Story Chief of the Euchees 1832" and is supposed to be located at the conjunction of Choctawhatchee River and Bruce Creek.

Changing seats

When Walton County became a Florida territory on Dec. 29, 1824, the original county seat was a town called Alaquah. According to McKinnon,  Alaquah was the county seat just because the judge lived there. When Florida received its statehood in 1845, Eucheeanna became the official county seat. At its peak, the community boasted at least three stores, a steam mill, a grist mill, courthouse, jail and a two-room schoolhouse built around 1903.

In September 1864, the Civil War came to Eucheeanna when federal troops under the leadership of Hungarian Gen. Alexander Asboth invaded West Florida. On their way to Marianna and Tallahassee, the troops looted anything of value, according to Walton County's government site.

"They took everything that was worth anything," Sandy Jack Brown said. "Even the county seal."

Just six years after the war, the Walton County Female Memorial Association erected a monument “to the memory of the Confederate dead of Walton County” at Euchee Valley Presbyterian Church, according to the Florida Public Archaeology Network. The monument was then moved to the site of a skirmish 2 1/2 miles from the church.

According to McLeod's account, the community prospered before the Pensacola & Atlantic Railroad station was built in DeFuniak Springs. After the Eucheeanna courthouse was burned by an arsonist in 1885, the county seat was moved to DeFuniak Springs and soon descendants of the original Scottish settlers started to move to the new city.

"This was the beginning of Lake DeFuniak and the demise of Eucheeanna," McLeod wrote.

When the county seat moved, so did the monument, which continues to stand at the courthouse in DeFuniak Springs.

'Real neighbors'

Brown calls the community "Eucheeanner." That's how the natives say it, he said.

But as the years tick on, fewer and fewer people even know what it is. That is why he and a handful of locals are working hard to preserve it.

Brown was raised on a 40-acre farm his parents bought in 1945. His ancestors settled in the area around 1850, he said. Like other families in the Eucheeanna area, the Browns had to work hard every day.

"We didn't have any money, but I never went hungry," Brown said. "It installed a good work ethic."

Some of the "old Eucheeanna" was evident during Brown's upbringing, including the mills and the schoolhouse, which has been restored and is available for rent for special events. The schoolhouse is the only remnant left of the early days, not counting the relocated Confederate monument.

Like the early settlers, the small population of Eucheeanna residents all knew each other.

"People were neighbors, real neighbors," Brown said.

Most of those people have either passed away or moved away.

On Sept. 30, friends and families in the Eucheeanna and DeFuniak Springs community gathered in the old schoolhouse to listen to live music and share folklore. At 71, Brown said he wants to make sure he passes on the community's rich history before it's completely gone.

"If we don't do this before long, nobody will know it."