By: Beverly Mount-Douds of St. Joe/ Tom Wynn of Wewa
The old southern town of Iola was located upon a beautiful bluff adjacent to the Apalachicola River in North Florida, 59 miles from the city of that name, with which it was connected by steamers running tri-weekly. There was a good opportunity for shingle-makers, sawmills and brickyards in Iola. Iola is near the little City of Wewahitchka, the city with two twin lakes in the center of it. Wewahitchka, a native American Indian word meaning, “Water Eyes”.
Mr. W.O. Davidson was one of the postmasters and an owner of a fine orange grove. Other Postmasters were Mr. Messers, Mr. Alderman, Mr. J.W. Keyes, and J.A. Donaldson.
The climate is mild and healthy in the area. "The First Iola’s", history paralleled that of Port St. Joseph. Both were established in 1835, both were flourishing at the same time, and both dying out at about the same time. As with St. Joe, Iola made a second come back.
Iola was a frontier village in the northern end of what is presently Gulf County, on the western shore of The Apalachicola River and just north of the present City of Wewahitchka. It was located on the site of a Seminole Indian settlement, which had in 1823, been occupied by the famous Indian Chief John Blount (originally Blunt). He was a friend and a guide to Andrew Jackson and was given the title of Colonel. Before Iola was settled, Blount was removed to the present site of the town of Blountstown, and was the inspiration for its name.
A very important settlement for its time. Iola served for three years as the northern terminus of the busy St. Joseph and Iola Railroad. In 1838 a post office was established and Iola was designated as a voting precinct. The post office was discontinued in 1845, about the same time as the demise of the St. Joseph Railroad, which stopped in Iola.
Iola was "the home place" of the Stone Family homestead, prominent throughout the history of Jackson, Calhoun and Gulf Counties. Col. Henry D. Stone, who settled Iola, served with Andrew Jackson and was later President of the Territorial Council of Florida. He was born about 1767 in Charleston, South Carolina. Colonel Henry Stone was buried in the Iola Cemetery.
Note: This was taken from our book in 1975, "The Gulf County Golden Anniversary Commission" June 6-14, 1975 History - Program 1925-1975 published by the St. Joseph Historical Society. The Gulf County Genealogical Society is presently working on a new book for the year 2001. Beverly Mount-Douds is a member of the St Joseph Historical Society. For help in the Gulf County area, Please contact, Beverly as she is presently President of the Gulf County Genealogical Society located in Port St. Joe, Fl.