Okaloosa County has a relatively short history. Before the Civil War, virtually nothing of historical importance occurred in the area. The area was a true wilderness. Filled with Mosquitos, hot summers, and no roads, the early settlers surely had a dangerous path ahead of them as the began to lay the foundations that would eventually support beautiful Okaloosa County. Somehow, through fishing, hunting, and trading, these early pioneers managed to establish a few outposts in an otherwise barren region. As these early pioneers began to meet and trade ideas, goods, and news, small towns eventually began to form.
The founding of Okaloosa County as an actual incorporated region can be traced back to Laurel Hill and State Representative William Mapoles. In 1915, Mapoles brought a bill to the Florida House floor that created a new county form the existing counties of Walton and Santa Rosa County. Okaloosa County got its name from an old steamboat that used to drive up and down the Blackwater River… bringing people from Milton to Pensacola. The word “Okaloosa” originates from a Choctaw word meaning “black water.” Eventually, a temporary county seat was set up in Milligan until a special election was held in 1917 and Crestview was selected as the new county seat (Crestview remains the County Seat today).
Major Industries: Fishing, Turpentine, and Timber
During the early part of the 20th century fishing, turpentine, and timber could be counted as the three major sources of economic wealth in the region. Major railroads from Atlanta and Nashville helped truck the goods out of the area. Before this great advancement, the people of the area were largely reliant on the river to float the good up and around the surrounding areas. Communities began to grow around area of great turpentine production or fish harvest.
The 1940’s and After
Okaloosa County managed to stay basically a rough pioneer’s community for about a century until the 1940’s/1950’s. The military and tourism finally began to make their foothold and the area has never been the same since. This influx of people and money also brought nice modern conveniences like paved roads, electricity, and telephones. Local entrepreneur James E. Plew, saw the idea of bringing in Uncle Sam as a way to heal the wounds of the great depression. He eneded up donating 1,460 acres of land to the U.S. Government for a bombing and gunnery range (Eventually renamed “Eglin” after Lt. Col. Frederick Irving Eglin).
Our Law Firm has been servicing all of Okaloosa County, FL for over 30 years. If you are someone you love has been involved in a serious accident, please call us today at 1.850.243.2222 (locally in Fort Walton Beach) or 1.800.BRUNER.1 (toll free).