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Chronology of Bay County

(begun as a chronology of Judge Ira Hutchison’s book Some Who Passed this Way onto which I have added bits and pieces of history I find interesting including information from Richard Thornton of People of One Fire)

by Sharman Burson Ramsey
Community Outreach Chairperson for the Bay County Historical Society

Around 1521 (date of Ponce de Leon’s death)

According to Historian Ira Hutchison quoting the Old Timers: “There is a strong possibility that the wife of Ponce de Leon is buried over on Red Fish Point, or what is now the west part of Tyndall Field.”

Barcia’s History of the Continent of Florida” covering 1512 and 200 years thereafter.

Barcia describes an area that he calls the RIO DE PALMA where Spanish ships were driven ashore in a storm.  He writes of one ship in particular stopping here with the widow of Ponce de Leon as a passenger.  (Leonora and four children) She was enroute from Tampico, Mexico, to exile in Spain. While stopping here she and all the children aboard ship died and were buried ashore. He also writes of the bloody Indians found in the area and how they were cruelly hostile to visiting seamen.

Judge Hutchison figures that the Rio de Palma or River of Palms was the mouth of the St. Andrew’s Bay, which was often mistaken for a river because of the swiftness of the tidal outflow. The Judge makes a point, too, of the fact that this area is the farthest point west that palms grow, which add up with other information in this book as proof. (Some Who Passed This Way, Ira A. Hutchison)

“From Aute (St. Marks) the Spaniards marched westward until they came to a river opening into a broad arm of the sea” that Hutchison speculates to have been the Apalachicola River flowing into Apalachicola Bay. Cabeza de Vaca, one of four of De Soto’s men to return to Spain states that one evening about sunset they turned a point of land on which palms grew and found shelter.

“The Indians in many canoes spoke to us but turned back without waiting. They were tall and well-built and carried neither bows nor arrows. We followed them to their lodges, which were near along the inlet and landed in front of the lodges. We saw many jars with water and great quantities of cooked fish. The chief of the tribe offered all to the Governor and led him to his abode. The dwellings were matted and seemed to be permanent.”

Hutchison speculates, “In all probability this was the same location of the Indian village near Red Fish Point on St. Andrew’s Bay, examined by agents of Smithsonian Institute in recent years.”

Spanish seamen repaired and cleaned their ship’s bottoms at Smack Bayou, just east of Red Fish Point in Tyndall Field.


Two years after Ponce’s death, Francisco de Gary set sail from Jamaica about the first of July with thirteen vessels, carrying eight hundred and forty men and one hundred and thirty-six horses. After stopping on the Island of Cuba, the ships set out on a course to Panuco (Tampico, Mexico). A furious hurricane drove the ships up the Florida coast and they found a haven where they entered the Rio de Palma (River of Palms,) no doubt St. Andrew Bay, thought to be a river which had a large grove of palms at its entrance.

This hurricane of 1523 is the first of which we have any record in this area. Gary Sent out captains to explore the land inland from the coast. They came back with a poor impression and a bad report.

Gary tried to persuade his men to settle here. G. M. west in his history of St. Andrew, 1924, mentions Gary as one of the first Spanish explorers to enter St. Andrew Bay.

When Gary’s soldiers mutinied he went on to Panuco to find that Hernando Cortez had already established a colony there. He planned to return to colonize Rio de palms, but died at Panuco.

Three years after Gary found refuge in the River of Palms, Panfilo de Narvaez contracted with the King of Spain to explore the lands lying between the River of Palms and the eastern coast of Florida.


Narvaez with pilots who had gone with Gary to the Rio de Palms, set out to explore the land Gary had visited. Narvaez with three hundred men and forty-two horses, left his four ships with a lieutenant, with instructions to find a harbor. Narvaez with his army took the Apalachee trail and wandered around inland encountering warlike Indians and suffering privation and hardships, as the Indians harassed all and killed manhy of them.  After many months they reached the Gulf Coast at St. Marks, twenty miles south of Tallahassee. The Spanish knew the place then as the “Bay of Horses.” At St. Marks, the Spanish built crude barges and attempted to sail along the north Gulf Shore to Mexico. They passed St. Andrew Bay and a severe hurricane scattered and wrecked their barges..  Only four people reached Mexico, one of whom was Alvarez Nunez, known by the nickname of “Cow’s Head.” H gave an account of his experiences from memory—one of the most thrilling and remarkable stories of adventure in the early exploration of the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico.  True Magazine carried an interesting review and the story of the “Cow’s Head” narrative.


June 30, Desoto landed near an Indian town on Tamp Bay and marched northward. He brought swine and domestic animals to supply their tables with fresh meat. Many of the hogs escaped and their offspring became wild and numerous (wild) hogs, and whose race survived because they could outrun the Indian.


Barcia, in his “History of the Continent of Florida,” gives an account of a hurricane, which, in 1553 caused a fleet of Spanish ships to be driven off its course from Mexico to Spain foundered on the coast of Florida and of the thousand people on the ships, more than three hundred came ashore clinging to ship’s planks or boxes of merchandise. The survivors from the sea met with worse fate at the hands of hostile Indians. They took the route to Pannco (Tampico), which they thought was near. The savage Indians followed them in their march along the Gulf shore and at Rio De Palmas, (St. Andrew Bay) the last of the women and children died, among whom was the wife of Don Juan Ponce de Leon, who was enroute to banishment in Spain. Many priests and others were murdered by the Indians on the sandy beaches of the River of Palms (St. Andrew Bay). Only one Marcos de Mena, survived the disaster of the sea and the attacks of the Indians. Marcos finally reached Tampico, Mexico and returned to Spain after being rescued by friendly Indians near Tampico.


First white settlement of record in Bay County was Crevecour (broken heart) and the location must have been in what is now Mexico Beach. “a mile to the northwest of a brook opposite to the point of the Peninsula of St. Joseph’s Bay.”


Panton Leslie Company had trading points at the town of Wells (east end of Hathaway Bridge) and also on Cedar Creek where later Hutchings & Company, and still later Ormand and Young carried on extensive businesses a few years after the English lost control of Florida in 1783 to the Spaniards.
There were large warehouses that held the goods, wares and merchandise to be exchanged for cotton, hides, salt beef, bacon, cattle, deer skins, furs and indigo.

Treaty of Paris, Spain lost Florida to England.
English town of “Wells. A seaport on the east side of St. Andrews Bay, and in 30.25 North Latitude and 83.50 Longitude.” First settlement by white people in what is now Panama City. Fell into decay when English evacuated the country (1783) and Spanish re-occupied.

The English firm, Cahoon & Company continued operating the trading firm near the site of the Cedar Creek post, long after the territory of Florida was acquired by the United States (1821) until as late as 1878. Captain Lambert M. Ware, who had arrived on his 20 foot sloop from his home in Maryland took charge of the English’s firm’s Schooner then put under American registry.


After the catastrophic defeat of the Red Sticks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, surviving insurgents fled southward. A Red Stick Chief named Holmes led his town to the Choctawhatchee Basin. His town was accused of continued raids on white settlements. General Andrew Jackson also accused the Spanish of intentionally supplying him munitions to continue the Red Stick War. In 1814, Major Uriah Blue led a regiment into the future Bay County to destroy the main town of Chief Holmes Red Stick Band.

1816-1819 First Seminole War

An army under Andrew Jackson invaded Florida in 1818 and attacked Native American and African settle across the northern tier of the Spanish territory. A considerable portion of the fighting was in Bay County. Peaceful farmsteads of Creeks, Itsati, Yuchi and Carolina families were attacked by paramilitary bands from Georgia. This provoked them to join the hostile Itsati and Creek towns. Much of the fighting in what was to become Bay County was conducted by small bands in skirmishes. Chief Bay was probably killed in 1818 during this guerilla warfare.
This first Muskogean-American war is called the First Seminole War. However, the majority of Native American belligerents did not consider themselves “Creeks” or Seminoles. The large American army quickly crushed Native resistance. Survivors fled southward. They became allied with Muskogean towns that had been living in Florida for many decades. At the same time, the United States government labeled all Muskogeans in Florida as being “Seminoles” regardless if they were Muskogees or Itsati’s. (Thornton, Richard.People of One Fire. Web. Georgia. 2010-2013. Digital Rights Copyright 2010-2013 by

1819    When the first American came to live in Florida in 1819, there were five Indian tribes in the St. Andrew Bay section, the Uchis (Euchees) the Pawatkis, the Sawoklis, the Tawassas, and the Tamatis as well as some straggling members of the Apalachees.

1821 Transfer of Florida from Spain to the United States

The Florida Panhandle reverted to Spanish ownership in the treaty ending the American Revolution. Spain had been an ally of United States. Strangely, France got almost nothing but the “last laugh” for its enormous contribution to the American Patriot’s victory. By this time, northwestern Florida was solidly under the occupation of the now-powerful Creek Confederacy. During the late 1700s, the Creeks even built a navy to patrol the coast of the Florida Panhandle. It was based in Creek towns along the Lower Chattahoochee-Apalachicola River.

As the Creek Confederacy lost more and more land in Georgia, many Creek towns moved down into Florida. They were predominantly Itsati-speaking towns, not Muskogees. The Creek Confederacy towns that had entered earlier in the 1700s also were predominantly Itsati or Yuchi speakers. This linguistic difference set the stage for the schism that created separate Muskogee-Creek and Seminole tribes.
The majority of people in the Florida today, who call themselves Muskogee-Creeks, can be descended from numerous North American tribes. These include Eastern Creeks who spoke Itsati; Lower Creeks who originally spoke Apalachicola; or Yuchi, who spoke an entirely different language. Also, in the late 1700s and early 1800s hundreds of Carolina Native Americans relocated to northwestern Florida. Some were Muskogeans, while others were Siouan or Algonquin. These immigrants often had assimilated European culture and had some European heritage. They married other races and became associated with those races; joined the Creek Confederacy; or else became labeled as Seminoles, even though they may not have had Muskogean ancestry. (Thornton, Richard.People of One Fire. Web. Georgia. 2010-2013. Digital Rights Copyright 2010-2013 by

1820s 30s or 40s

The ultimate result of the six Muskogean wars in Florida was that many peaceful Native Americans were forced out of the Florida Panhandle. While there was originally much tolerance and intermarriage between the races within Florida, the bad feelings of these wars caused the new white majority to abuse and disfranchise Native Americans and Free Blacks. Historians believe that most Native American families, who left Bay County in the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s, either went to the new Republic of Texas or Louisiana. The mixed-bloods easily mixed in with its multi-ethnic population.
Descendants of Bay County’s early 19th century Native American settlers remain in the region. As stated earlier, the majority of people with Native American ancestry in the county probably have considerable Siouan and Yuchi heritage, addition to European or African. On physical appearance most have the larger noses and ears typical of Siouans, who are stereotypical Native Americans. Ethnic Creeks have small, straight noses, deep set eyes, prominent cheek bones and almost no ear lobes, like the Highland Mayas. Non-Muskogeans who are not familiar with Creek history, often assume that ethnically “full-blood” Creeks are tall Indonesians. However, the Creek Confederacy allowed peoples of all races to join, so anyone who has ancestors, who was a member of a Creek tribal town IS Creek, regardless of DNA. (Thornton, Richard. People of One Fire. Web. Georgia. 2010-2013. Digital Rights Copyright 2010-2013 by

1822 (February 22) Inland Waterway

An act of the Territorial Council of Florida chartered the St. Andrews and Chipola Canal Company and on July 4, 1832, Congress passed a bill appropriating three thousand dollars for a survey for canal purposes between St. Andrews and Choctawhatchee Bays and between Pensacola Bay and the Mississippi Sound


William A. Gainer family settled in Econfina River area 25 miles north of Panama City


William Loftin lived in St. Andrew. First Sheriff to reside on St. Andrew’s Bay.


Ex-governor (1819 to 1823) of Georgia John Clark, son of Elijah Clark (of Revolutionary and Indian Wars fame) moved with his family and slaves to what is now part of Panama City known as Old Town St. Andrews.

John Lee Williams published a book
that shows on a map which embraces all the territory of Bay County, Florida, the location of the home of William Loftin, then Sheriff of Jackson County, to be on the east shore of North Bay. The old wagon road leading into Old Town St. Andrew is shown on the map and it led from the Econfina settlement crossing Bayou George at its mouth near High Point and near Bayhead where a flat-bottom ferry was operated. At the point where this wagon road crossed another bayou, Lindsay Grant settled about the time Captain Stephen W. Anderson settled at Anderson (Southport). Captain Anderson opened a large fishery and Grant would take the heads of the mullet as the fish were dressed and fertilize his corn by placing a mullet head by each stalk as the Appalache Indians did in growing maize. Grant grew large crops of corn and built a grist mill operated by power he generated by constructing a dam across the bayou which became “Grants Mill Bayou.” More recently the name has been shortened to “Mill Bayou.” Over the dam which grant constructed passed the road to St. Andrew, over which passed many wagon teams in the late 80s and early 90s. Many teams brought corn to Grant’s Mill and exchanged it for meal, which was traded for salt fish, at St. Andrew. The old mill has long since vanished, but the earthen parts of the dam still remains.


William Loftin, a prominent surveyor and planter built home near Governor Clark’s home (daughter married Peter Parker, Sr., born in Danzig, Germany). Surveyed and platted Sr. Andrews assisted by Col. Horne whose daughter married John W. Gainer.

1830—Settlers here raised cattle and drove them to sale to the old Spanish town of Pensacola. Other items of commerce included beeswax, candles, honey and cotton.


Ex-Governor of Georgia John Clark buried in Old Town, St. Andrews. Jose Massalina assisted in the burial. He and his wife died of yellow fever upon their return from some trip on their yacht. The home that he built was destroyed at the burning of the town of St. Andrew Bay by the Federals in December 1863.

Tales of Treasure

Jose Massalina told tale about pirate’s treasure buried on east peninsula between Crooked Island Sound and East Bay somewhere in what is now Tyndall Field. Made escape into Smack Bayou and then seeing sails in the Gulf near the entrance of the Bay the pirate captain removed the iron treasure chest and had eight of his Negro sailors carry it inland on handspikes and bury it between three live oaks marking a triangular spot. Copper Pins were driven into the trees near the ground, pointing toward the spot where the treasure chest was buried. The sailors were blindfolded traveling to and fro from that place. Trees grew and covered the copper pins with new growth and bark. A man came later and employed Jose Massalina to help him hunt the treasure but there were many trees and too much land to cover.

Other stories of gold at Spanish Shanty Cove. Before the occupation of Florida by the English, the Spanish had an outpost at Spanish Shanty Cove, commanding a view of the entrance to the Bay and for miles out to Sea. Spanish Shanty Cove was west of the entrance to the Bay but east of the (then) present entrance opened across the west peninsula.


Records of U. S. Land Office show James Watson purchased all the land lying along Beach Drive from C.C. Moore home to Caroline Drive. About that time he erected a sawmill on lands he owned on Watson Bayou. He purchased large tracts for timber for the sawmill.


Indian uprising sent Josiah Hutchison (Judge Ira Hutchison’s great grandfather) to seek security in a block house probably built by order of Andrew Jackson as a refuge against attacks by the Indians. Located at Phillips Inlet


Jose Massalina—free Negro subject of the King of Spain went to South Carolina and bought a wife from a slave owner there making the owner of his wife and children.
    Hawk Massalina born July 1, 1840 and died in 1947. He was awarded a Carnegie Medal for risking his life to save George Logue from drowning. 1954 calendar carries a likeness of Hawk Massalina.

At Phillips’ Inlet  site of Indian massacre of a boat creew. The schooner had gone aground in a gale at the mouth of the inlet and its crew began work to float it back into the gulf. Phillips, the owner of the boat, was slain along with his crew by Indians supposed to be led by Indian Joe, who was killed a few years later by a man named King where Tyndall Field is now located.


Old Chief Joe killed. Bones gathered and taken to Ireland where they stood in a glass case in the museum of the University of Dublin marked “Seminole Indian Chief Joe, presented by Mr. Edmund Blood”

1860—Sawmills came to Bay County


North shore of St. Andrew’s bay place Hutchison’s grandfather made salt. A good wood supply was available and sea water brought in by he tides had a way of getting caught in salt flats here and being evaporated by the sun. Water and sand gathered here ran as high as 12 percent salt.


Reports of much shipping activity during the war. Schooner William Mallory captured just off St. Andrew’s Bay bar with assorted cargo.


The home that the ex-Governor of Georgia, John Clark, built was destroyed at the burning of the town of St. Andrew Bay by the Federals in December 1863.
After the killing of two Yankee soldiers, federal forces struck this Confederate stronghold, leveling all 32 homes in Old Town St. Andrew with a devastating fire that left nothing in its path. (


Captain Lambert M. Ware, who had arrived on his 20 foot sloop from his home in Maryland took charge of the English’s firm’s Schooner  (Cahoon & Company) then put under American registry.  While working on the coast and geodetic survey of the cost Ware got “sand in his shoes”, married the daughter of a wealthy Jackson County planter, and bought fractional section one, Township 4 South, Range 15 West ever since known as Ware’s point where he built a large store building fronting westward and a pier extending to deep water. One of his schooners, the “Nettie” transported settlers of 1885, the “Cincinnati Boom” from Pensacola to St. Andrew’s Bay. The second floor of Ware’s store was built into a large social hall and was spoken of as “Ware’s Hall” where dances were held.


St. Andrew’s Railroad, Land and Mining Company promoted Panama City with land platted into small lots, many only 25 feet in width and sold for about $2 each. More than 300,000 deeds were recruited.


Thomas Freeman platted Tyndall Field area and labeled Smack Bayou area that included an old field place of about 10 acres as an old Indian Field. This place was near the site of Indian habitations that was visited by representatives of the Smithsonian Institute.


Cincinatti Boom One company officer J. H. Brown, nephew of John Brown of Harper’s Ferry who is credited with starting the War Between the States

Emigrants came by Pensacola on the packet schooner, “Nettie,” owned by Captain L. M. Ware.

During the “Cincinnati Boom” a building was erected with a large lime kiln on the high mounds of shells (principally oyster, scallop and conch shells) at mouth of West Bay on west shore at an area of about 15 acres stacked more than 30 feet high with shells burning the shells into lime for building purposes. Early Bay county roads and streets were improved with the vast deposits of shell. “Monuments to an early race of people” writes Judge Ira Hutchison in “Some Who Passed This Way.” Large oak trees dating more than 500 years old were growing on some of the shell mounds.

December 26, 1888 The St. Andrew Messenger –The first newspaper published in Bay county.

Folder mailed to all parts of the United States:

“From the people of St. Andrew Bay, Florida, December 1, 1888.
Dear Sir: The Steamer Cumberland will leave Mobile every Wednesday, beginning December 26, 1888, for St. Andrew Bay, the distance is 145 miles and the Gulf is usually smooth. This is the direct route from the Northwest to Tampa.

Fare, moderate; children, half fare. Special rates to parties of five or more.

The expense from Mobile to St. Andrew Bay by this route is about one half that overland. The steamer saves two days tiresome hack travel. The Cumberland has been put in thorough order during the past summer, for which she has the U.S. Certificate. Her speed has been increased by improved machinery, also. She has a careful Captain on deck, the best Steward procurable in the cabin and only skillful, sober men in the engine room. Passengers will be safe and comfortable.

The association of St. Andrew Bay, embracing citizens from most parts of the country, consider that now a convenient way to travel is assured, it has a right to invite inspection of the most beautiful bay in the U.S. For nearly all persons in bad health the climate is excellent. For those who seek only to escape cold will find a delightful winter. To lovers of natural beauty, our exquisite and always changing bay never grows stale. Hunters will find deer, turkeys and ducks abundant and some geese and snipe. The shell oysters, which are good, cost one dollar a thousand, delivered. Snapper, pompano, red fish, sheephead, grouper, trout and mullet are plentiful and fine. For those who love sailing the bay is perfection. Its hundred miles of arms and bayous are full of interest and months will be required to explore them. There is no better canoe water anywhere and canoe clubs are urged to visit our Bay.

The Steam launch, “St. Andrew” and sailboats may be hired very cheaply to visit the many points of interest on the Bays: i.e., the beautiful town of St. Andrew; Cromanton, with its magnificent views, picturesque Parker and lovely Wetappo; North and West bays; Hurricane and Crooked Islands, ever attractive to shell gathers; two beautiful peninsulas; the sand hills; the Grand Lagoon, etc. The sea is a sight and the surf in hearing five miles away.

There has been no yellow fever here, or within two hundred miles. The air is so pure that we do not fear it even in summer. The water is soft and clear. Good board may be had in several hotels, boarding houses and private families at $4 to $10 per week. Small cottages may be rented at low rates. Small cottages may be rented at low rates.

There is no exaggeration in the foregoing. This is a very charming place and visitors will not regret a journey here.

Please make this circular public, or send to your railroad agent. For further information address corresponding secretary, The Association of St. Andrew Bay or H.S. Fuller, Manager, Steamer Cumberland, Battle House, Mobile Alabama.“

Business was just recovering from one of the worst depressions the United States had ever experienced, a new mill was built on Watson’s Bayou by John Bovis of Milton and others who sold to a firm of Jones and Saunders who owned large holdings of timber lands. Mr. Jones was the father of Mrs. George McKenzie who lived on West First Street in Panama City. This mill was later acquired by the German American Lumber Company, the stock being owned principally by the Emperor of Germany American Lumber Company, the stock being owned principally by the Emperor of Germany, Kaiser William, whose nephew, a Mr. Koolingkampf was a pleasant , affable gentleman, cultured and well-educated and could have been taken for an English gentleman.

The German plant was seized by the Alien Property Custodian during World War I and was sold to St. Andrew’s Bay Lumber Company who operated the plant until timber was exhausted. The St. Andrew’s Bay Lumber Company also purchased the holdings of the Moore Timber Company at Bar Harbor, or Mooretown.

This latter company was composed of stockholders of Lackawanna Company. The Southern Kraft Paper Mill occupies the site of the Moore Timber Company.


In 1899 there was sufficient number of resident children at Phillip’s Inlet to hold a four months’ county school.


G.M. West of Chicago Heights, Illinois organized the Gulf Coast Development Company and purchased the Jenks, Demorest, Slade and Thompson tracts together with some holdings of A. J. Gay and renamed the town site  that he platted Panama City. He arranged with Mr. A.B. Steel to bring the railroad running from Dothan to Fountain into Panama City.


The City of "Panama City" was formed in 1905, when the United Fruit Company of New Orleans went on strike. The Vice President of United Fruit decided to relocate his company to a port easily accessible to his most important Central American connection.... specifically, Panama City, Panama.

In an effort to attract this desirable source of new jobs, local business leaders named the unincorporated area, Panama City. The bid for United Fruit was lost to Tampa, Florida, but the name, "Panama City," stuck. (


The founder of Coca Cola, Asa Candler, donated funds to complete the Atlanta & St. Andrews Bay Railway, or the Bay Line, in 1908. The railroad reached Bay County and the new town of Panama City rapidly grew and became a potent rival to the mother town of St. Andrew.

Revolutionized fishing industry from old method of salting fish for shipment to shipping fish on ice.
Attracted people from Massachusettes with Glouchester fishing smacks and dealers from as far away as North Carolina.

Captain C. J. Bryan was one of the first to open a wholesale fish business.
W.H. Crawford of Dothan came and erected a three-story hotel, Gulf View Inn at the foot of Harrison Avenue on the Bay. Soon other hotels popped up, The Bay by Mr. and Mrs. Mayers, the Magnolia by the Hagebooms from Chipley, The Pines by the Railroad Company.

Joe Dyer erected the first brick building in town on Harrison Avenue that he made on Sandy Creek and brought to town by water transportation.

 Hutchison proclaimed that the Prosperity of Panama City was due to:
1. Manufacturing and shipping of lumber and naval stores, succeeded by the building of a paper mill at Millville with a capacity of 2,000 tons of paper daily
2. Building and operation of a large Shipyard
3. Installation of Tyndall Air Force Base
4. Improving of the A& St. A. B. Railroad making the line a first class road (the first in the United States to be operated by diesel power and the first in freight tonnage per mile)
5. Co-operation of progressive and public-spirited businessmen in civic affairs of the town


With 27 qualified voters, Panama City was incorporated and Mr. R. L. McKenzie became the first mayor

Jan. 7, 1911

First plat of Lynn Haven was filed by the St. Andrew’s Bay Development Company. W. H. Lynn who published a national magazine in Washington sponsoring the interests of the Northern Civil War veterans decided to promote the settling of two towns in Florida as homes for the veterans. The site of one was selected on lands owned principally by A. J. Gay on North Bay.  (Lynn Haven was originally known as Gay, Florida). Lynn was a former state senator from the State of New York. Civil War veterans, members of the Grand Army of the Republic were sent advertisements and a prospectus of the new town.

Bill Pope came to Bay County as General Manager and later VP of Seminole Plantation, 40,000 acres in the western part of Bay County, “the largest single horticultural operation ever inaugurated in the US.” Unfortunately, the Plantation failed with an unseasonal freeze that killed the citrus trees and then came the Depression. Pope remained and went into the insurance business. Two grandchildren, Alan Pope and Jane Pope Prater, later became commodores of the St. Andrew Bay Yacht Club. Alan and Jane are also descendants of Judge Ira Hutchison.

Panama City Woman’s Club Founded with Mrs. E. H. (Nellie) Wilkerson as first President


Minor Cooper Keith (brother-in-law to W. H. Lynn) acquired huge amounts of the former development company’s assets. He also acquired huge tracts of land around the area of Panama City formerly owned by R. L. McKenzie and A. J. Gay. Keith and his millions are credited with “putting Bay County on the map” as he also purchased the railroad, the area’s mills, over two hundred thousand acres of land, built both the Lynn Haven Hotel and the Pines Hotel in Panama City and developed and constructed the new golf course on North Bay.

1917 – 1937     

Mrs. G. M. (Lillian Carlisle) West’s name “L. C. West” graced the masthead of the Panama City Pilot


G.M. West in his history of St. Andrew Bay writes of annual pilgrimages of Indians to the shores of St. Andrew’s Bay to prepare and take the black drink for purification.


Early Florida Boom. Through the long and persistent efforts of the late Frank L. Mayes through his Pensacola Journal, the Gulf Coast Highway became a long dreamed of reality. Walter Sharpless moved the old pavilion from near the land’s end of the west peninsula, to the point where the Gulf Coast highway first touched the Gulf Beach. This was the beginning of Long Beach.

Foundations poured for the Cove Hotel

W.C. Sherman founded the Panama City Country Club under name of St. Andrews Bay Golf Course on land donated by Minor C. Keith of United Fruit Company. Minor Cooper Keith was the brother-in-law of W.H. Lynn.


June 29, Grand opening of the Dixie Sherman Hotel. The $560,000 cost to build the 8 story 100 room hotel for a town of only 3,000 was raised by subscription, $170,000 coming directly from W.C. Sherman. “We’re not building for today but are helping build a town. People must have a place to stay if we would bring them to see the potentialities of PC.” (Ramsey, Joel, The Log, “Member Spotlight: Wiliam Colquitt Sherman (1880 -1967).  See also Veverka, Toni, Scars of Civilization, Paragon Press, 1957.


St. Andrew Bay Yacht Club founded. First Commodore was Major Frank Wood who dropped out of military college in his senior year to join the 4th Wisconsin Infantry in the Spanish American War. That led to his participating with the “Rough Riders” (serving as infantry) in the assault on San Juan Hill, under the command of Col. Teddy Roosevelt. Coincidentally, a Sergeant in the 4th Wisconsin was James H. Drummond who served as the first mayor of St. Andrews, Florida (before it was consolidated with Panama City and Millville).  (Ramsey, Joel, The Log, “Member Spotlight: Major Frank Berry Wood (1877-1975), January, 2015)

 Officers were Philip A. Roll, Vice Commodore; Charles Bingham, Rear Commodore; Robert Mathis, Jr., Secretary Treasurer; Fleet Captain W. E. Spiva.  Charter members included H. L. Sudduth, Thomas Sale, Douglas Sale, M. J. Daffin, Sidney A. Daffin, Jr., J. C. Cogburn, Will D. Muse, Paul Lindsay, Dr. W. C. Roberts, Malcolm Parker, B. J. Russell, A. R. Rogers, M. H. Edwards, Jr. J. W. Crews, Burnis Coleman, Harry Ryder, Dell #. Wood, Harry C. Fannin and J. A. Smith.
Articles on former commodores and their contributions to the community are available in the research room at the library.  They are in The Log, a monthly publication of the St. Andrew Bay Yacht Club written by club Historian, Joel Ramsey.


Phillips Inlet Beach Bridge completed.

On July 2, 1935 the St. Andrews Bay News noted: “Asa Candler, the Coca-Cola King of Atlanta is having an attractive summer home erected in Bunker’s Cove, where it is understood that he will spend part of his time here. M. S. Brown is the contractor and states that the home will be completed with month and is to cost several thousand dollars.” According to Joel Ramsey in an article in The Log of St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club, the account was actually about “Asa Jr. He relates that the home “was a beautiful and impressive residence with a circular drive in front, servants’ quarters and a guest house in addition to the main structure.”  Candler was an honorary commodore of the St. Andrew Bay Yacht Club who donated the Candler Cup, the prize for the annual regatta held by the St. Andrew Bay Yacht Club.

May 2, 1936

Grand Opening by Gid Thomas for Panama City Beach. Later acquired by daughter and son-in-law Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Pledger. The two story pavilion originally built by W. C. Sherman when he purchased Hurricane (now Shell) Island was moved here.

Broderick Lahan of Birmingham filed a plat of Laguna Beach.

Originally built in 1936, the Martin Theatre first opened it's door as the "Ritz." Owned by the Columbus, GA based company, this Cinema was one of a chain of movie houses owned by Mssrs. Martin and Davis, that covered Georgia, Alabama and NW Florida. Early memories boast visits by such notables as Clark Gable, Constance Bennett, Michael O'Shea, William Boyd, and cowboy great Bill Elliot.

The Martin Theater was financed by W. C. Sherman as well as the Alco in Millville and the Pavillion in St. Andrews.


Sunnyside on the Gulf (formerly the McCorquedale homestead) was platted into town lots. Summer homes were built by people from West Florida and Southern Alabama and it became a favorite seaside resort.


Old Dutch finished. Built by Frank and Etta Burgduff who got “sand in their shoes” at an earlier visit. The property was acquired from Wells, Dunn, Hutchison, Bullock & Bennett. Sold to Clif Stiles manager of the Dixie Sherman Hotel in downtown Panama City in 1944. Stiles later built a Holiday Inn (the first in this part of Florida) on St. Andrews Bay and later on his Old Dutch property.

Anchor for the schooner Tarpon graced the fireplace of the Old Dutch


Since 1941, the Panama City Music Association has presented a monumental number of concerts featuring the top soloists, ensembles, symphonies, operas, Broadway musicals, dancers, and ethnic groups. The concerts have been the best the world has to offer.


Clark Gable attended Gunnery School at Tyndall Air Force Base. On Oct. 27, 1942, Gable was commissioned a second lieutenant. He was issued serial number 056-5390 and transferred from Miami to Tyndall Field.

German U Boats are spotted off coast of Panama City Beach. Carolyn Stiles remembers seeing one rise out of the water when she and her family were picnicking on the Beach.

U-67 was the seventh German submarine to enter the Gulf. The first, U-507, had sunk the American tanker, Norlindo, on May 4, 1942. Thus began the “turkey shoot” of Allied ships in the Gulf. Before the last U-boat, U-193, withdrew on December 3, 1943; 24 U-boats would roam the Gulf, sinking 56 ships and wounding 14. Only one U-boat was sunk in the Gulf, U-166 south of New Orleans.

1952    Bahama Beach fastest growing beach settlement

1957    Gulf Coast Community College established


Bay County carved its place in the history books in 1961, with the landmark case of Clarence Earl Gideon. Gideon robbed a Bay Harbor pool room and, when brought to trial, requested to be accompanied by counsel. He was denied representation, and he was sentenced to five years in prison. Gideon petitioned the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming he did not receive a fair trial.

On March 18, 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision, stating "the right of a man to have a lawyer is considered essential in the U.S." Gideon received a new trial and was found not guilty... it was an important milestone in America's justice system.  (


James Lark of Alabama built the Starliner, the first roller coaster in Florida, amid sand dunes in Panama City Beach, and it stood alone. The Miracle Strip Amusement Park, a partnership of Lark and a group of investors including Harry Edwards, Alf Coleman, Bill Parker, Don Bennett and Julian Bennett, grew around the roller coaster and became a popular tourist destination. Miracle Strip closed in 2004.


Kaleidoscope, a non-profit all volunteer, community theatre in Lynn Haven, founded.


News Herald, Panama City, Thursday, June 15, l972 • Page 3B Pioneer Picnic Expected To Draw Many Area Old-Timers The reminiscing at this year's Pioneer Picnic is apt to be even more nostalgic, since the recent publication of Judge Ira A. Hutchinson's book, "Some Who Passed This Way," collected and released by his widow. The 32nd annual Pioneers Picnic will be held Saturday at Truesdell Park, 2600 Block, W. 9th St., St. Andrews. Officers are requesting that participants bring a covered dish and $1 to cover expenses. Fresh fried mullet and hush puppies will be served to go along with a variety of food to be brought by the picnickers. An orchid will be presented to the oldest woman and a bouteniere to the oldest man attending, according to Woodie Smith, president. Each year participants sign the register and reminders are sent out to all on the list the following year, according to Mrs. Ruth Powell, secretary. But the Picnic is open to all interested persons. Judge Hutchison was originator of the annual Pioneers Picnic, in which he played host each year to the Oldtimers' Club at his home in St. Andrews. The Oldtimers Club was organized in 1940 as brainchild of Frank Hoskins. The club was a revival of the old annual meeting by the early settlers, Judge Hutchison reported in the 1950's. He said the meetings usually were held on the Fourth of July but so much activity took place on that day the event was re-scheduled for the third Wednesday in June to avoid conflict. (The day later was changed to Saturday.) The grove near the late Judge's house was selected for the meeting place because it was the nearest, most convenient spot in which more of the early settlers landed. Every June some 250 to 300 Oldtimers, their families and friends gather for their annual get-together. The public is invited and fish and hush puppies are enjoyed as the old days are relived. Smith, president since 1965, succeeded the late sheriff M. J. (Doc) Daffin, who was president for 12 years, 195.3-1965. Ira Hutchison was president from 1940 to 1950. and was followed by John Beadnell, 19501953, records show. Secretary and treasurers have been Frank Hoskins, Burt Blount, Fred and Violet Gainer and Mrs. Powell. I The Judge's book is composed of stories written each week for more than two years for a local weekly newspaper, the "Bay County Citizen."

Educated in the public schools of Washington County, Hutchison graduated from Stetson University in 1905 with a bachelor of laws degree. The same year he was admitted to practice law before the state and federal courts of Florida. He was appointed county judge of Washington County in 1909 by Governor Gilchrist and was appointed a member of the board of managers, Florida School for Boys, in 1913. He also resumed his practice of law in Chipley, having been appointed U. S. Court commissioner for West Florida by Judge William B. Sheppard. Hutchison resigned this office after a year to accept the appointment of state attorney by Governor Trammel. In 1924 he moved from Chipley to Panama City and again took up practice of law. In 1927 he was called upon by Governor Martin to become judge of the 28th Judicial Circuit and again by Governor Carleton in 1930. Changes in the judicial circuits in 1935 resulted in the 28th becoming the l<lth. For six years Hutchison was assistant attorney general in the office of Atty. Gen. Carey D. Landis. In 1935 he was appointed circuit judge of the 14th Judicial Circuit by Governor Sholtz, and again in 1341 by Governor Holland. He was re-elected without opposition and continued in office until he retired in 1948. Hutchison was living in Panama City in 1908 and was one of its incorporators, serving as both chairman and attorney of the body that drew up the first charter. He married Theodora Farris of Elba, Ala., Their children are Joseph E., Farris H. Shope, Ira A., Edna H. Pope, Ann H. Adams, and Elizabeth H. Locke. The judge, in an interview for the weekly paper Nov. 29, and Dec. 6, 1951, told Ann Scannelly Able there was a possibility the wife of Ponce de Leon is buried on Red Fish point, or what now is the west part of Tyndall Air Force Base. Miss Able reported the Judge's hobby was history "and he has a steel trap for a brain when it comes to remembering what he has read, observed and heard...." His book will be a joy for persons whose memory is not so complete as to recall all his newspaper columns, or for those who are curious about local history.


Eastern Shipbuilding’s original shipyard was established for the purpose of constructing commercial fishing boats for the company’s founder and President, Brian R. D’Isernia.


Bay Arts Alliance was incorporated and started managing the Marina Civic Center in 1984. In 2015 the Alliance was contracted to manage the Panama Center for the Arts.


The Martin Theatre opened its doors for the second time in November of 1990 with a staff of one. Since that time the Green Room was added, a 1500 square foot reception and meeting room, along with wing space and restrooms, two full time staff members and a host of volunteers. A downtown little theater operates out of the Martin Theater with a plethora of events.

The Port Authority was established with John Henry Sherman a member of the board elected as Chairman, a position he held until 1983. He was also the founder of Signal Hill Golf Club.
The Panama City POPS Orchestra (formerly the Orchestra of St. Andrew Bay) began in 1996 as a small group of string players seeking opportunities to play and perform together. It was founded by Elaine Matson, Michael Reisman and Sandy Rosengren. Led by John Boozer, this ensemble soon grew into a complete orchestra, playing a wide variety of symphonic music and training talented musicians guided by experienced adults.


Around 2004 or so onwards, the Panama City Beach coastline saw a very dramatic change.
Older, boutique and family-owned and operated hotels and motels were knocked down, and replaced by impressive high-rise condominiums.
The premium locations, all beach front, expanded towards the west, and the 30A area. At its peak, beachfront property sold for more than $60,000 per “front foot” (linear foot).


Eastern Shipbuilding awarded a $10.5 billion contract to build 24 new coast guard cutters.

References listed by Judge Hutchison : “Here they Once Stood,” by Mark F. Boyd, Hale G. Smith and John W. Green, University Florida Press. Judge Hutchison recommends this book as a must read.
Swanton’s “Early History of the Creek Indians and their Neighbors” and Barcia’s History of the Continent of Florida.