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Hernando County

On February 27, 1843, the County of Hernando, named in honor of Hernando DeSoto, a Spanish explorer, was established by an act of the State Legislature. Hernando County was created from the southernmost section of Alachua County encompassing the lands south of withalacoochee River, the western most area of Mosquito County (later renamed Orange County) west of the Withlacoochee, and the northernmost part of Hillsborough County north of the Anclote Keys. The name of the county changed in 1844 from Hernando to Benton, for Senator Thomas H. Benton, who had introduced a bill in the State Legislature which was responsible for opening the land for settlement. The position of Senator Benton on the Missouri Compromise was reversed in the 1840's, and the residents of Benton County petitioned to change the name back to Hernando, which was accomplished in 1850. One of the principal settlements by the early 1850's was Bayport, a port of entry for the county for exporting cotton, farm produce and timber. Bayport was chosen and approved as the County Seat by the Legislature in December 1854. Bayport's selection stirred the emotions of residents living in the eastern section of the county, so within two years, the voters chose a site located within five miles of the center of the county. The people of Hernando County named the new County Seat "Brooksville" in honor of Representative Preston Brooks.

Brooksville, which is the current County Seat of Hernando County has held that distinction for more than one hundred years, though it is not the original county seat. Bay Port, a small fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico was the original county seat Broksville was originally known as "Milendez" and was one of three communities which were settled about the same period of time in the early 1840's. Fort DeSoto and Pierceville were the other two early settlements. Currently there are only two chartered cities in Hernando County, Brooksville and Weeki Wachee Springs and many residential communities,among them Aripeka, BayPort, Isttachatta, Lake Lindsey, Mazaryktown, Nobleton, Springhill and Weeki Wachee.

Prior to 1840 Henando County was inhabited primarily by Indians. It was in 1824 that Chief Black Dirt, a Seminole Indian Chief of high standing, and very honorable as a man, led a band of Indians into the area of what today has become known as Brooksville, but at that time was known only as "Chokko Chatee" to the Red Man. His move into this area was the result of the "Treaty of 1823 at Moultrie Creek" near St. Augustine Chief Black Dirt was one of the signers of this treaty which provided for the removal of the Indians into Central Florida and he was faithful to his obligation. Chokko Chatee had previously been inhabited by a band of the Eufaula Creek Indians. On December 2, 1838, Fort Cross, a military post, was established in this general area, a little north of Brooksville, and not far from the village of Fort DeSoto which began just a short time later.

1895 Map of Hernando County