Contributed by Robert Taylor, JAN 2002
It seems that the first man here was McDavid and consequently the Lake was called McDavid's Pond. Shortened to McRae's Pond. The territory was inhabited by Indians until Jackson came through and drove them out. The Lake was then called Lake Jackson. In some instances Indians were killed trying to enter dwellings. Even 1837 the country was thinly settled. The first men were cattlemen as the section was full of grass. Among these are mentioned the Ledbetter's, Holley's and Cawthons.
Before the country was cleared it was covered with pine and the forests were full of wild bees and varmints such as wild cats, coons, possums and polecats, sometimes panthers were seen.
The first post offices in this section seem to have been in Paxton, across the line in Florida. Mails were carried in vehicle form Geneva to Milton. About 1866 a post office was established know as Lake City, changed to Lake View and finally about 1887 to Florala by W.B. Gilmer. The name is derived from parts of the names of the Two States. J. E. Hughes who received a cancellation of $35 per year at first ran the post office.
The first school was probably taught by Charles form New Orleans at $35.00 per month.
It was on the line so that pay could be drawn from both states, and was taught only three months.
A small pile of goods under the bed was the first store about 1870. These had to be bought from Andalusia, Geneva, and Brewton. J.E. Hughes operated this store. W.B. Manning opened one at Lake City but later moved to Florala. D.I.B. Adkison also opened a store and is still in business here. "Bob" Tisdale began here but moved to Andalusia and is now retired form business. Florala now has more than thirty merchants and there has been only one failure in the history of the town.
The first church was at Chapel Hill eight miles from Florala, 1858 a Baptist Church. This was the one first organized in Florala. Then came the Methodist, Presbyterian and Universalist. Now counting white and colored churches there are three Baptist, two Methodist, one Presbyterian and one Universalist, and one Holiness church in Florala.
About 36 years ago, the Jackson Lumber Company bought 150,000 acres of timbered land s and five years later began sawmill operations. W.B. Wright built a branch railroad form Crestview to Florala about 1890 to get logs to his mill at Pensacola. This was the Yellow River Road and was sold to L&N Railroad when he had cut his timber.
As mentioned before the first settlers are cattlemen. As soon as products could be sold they began to plant crops. The first cotton was planted 35 years ago. Diversification has come until nearly all farm products are grown except wheat. No one can predict what the future of this section will be when all the timber has been cleared and each man lives on forty or eighty.
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