What’s In A Name? The Inspiration Behind the Names of 16 Florida Counties

By: Gary McKechnie

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Following a whirlwind round-trip rural road trip, I looked back at the map and realized I’d driven through a bunch of places I’d never visited before. Not only had I never been to some of these counties, I had no idea why they’re called what they’re called.

So I looked ‘em up.

Lake County: Named for numerous lakes in the area.

Sumter County: Credit goes to General Thomas Sumter, a hero during the American Revolution.

Citrus County: Plenty of citrus groves here.

Levy County: Named for David Levy Yulee, founder of the Florida Railroad Company and America’s first Jewish United States senator.

Gilchrist County: Albert W. Gilchrist was Florida’s Governor from 1909 to 1913.

Dixie County: A common nickname for the South.

Lafayette County: The Marquis de Lafayette was a hero in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

Suwannee County: The Suwannee River nearly encircles the county.

Columbia County: A popular name in America, with roots in the name of Christopher Columbus.

Hamilton County: America’s first Secretary of the Treasury was Alexander Hamilton.

Baker County: James McNair Baker was a judge and Confederate senator.

Union County: A name that honors the concept of unity.

Bradford County: Captain Richard Bradford was the first Confederate officer from Florida to die in the Civil War.

Clay County: Henry Clay was a member of the United States Senate and America’s Secretary of State.

Putnam County: Named for Benjamin A. Putnam, a soldier in the First Seminole War and later a Florida legislator and first president of the Florida Historic Society.

Marion County: A hero of the American Revolutionary War, General Francis Marion hailed from South Carolina.

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