History of Baker County, Florida


Most of the people who settled in what is now Baker County and who came here before the Civil War were hunters and farmers. After the war, the turpentine industry and the logging industry enticed people living farther north who were having a difficult time making a living. Those people found it easier to find employment here.

The county was named in 1861 for Judge James McNair Baker. Judge Baker was one of Florida's two Confederate States Congress Senators at Richmond. He was also a former Judge of the Fourth Judicial District of the state of Florida, which Baker County was a part of at that time.
James McNair Baker

The area that is now Baker County was once part of five counties* until February 8, 1861, when the Florida Legislature passed a bill that brought the present county into existence, becoming the 39th county created in Florida..

The first county seat was at Sanderson, but on February 22, 1886, it was decided by a vote of 243 to 220 to move it to Darbyville, now Macclenny. What instigated the move was the burning of the court house at Sanderson (1877) and competition from the Macclenny settlers.

The first "tax assessor" was Mr. D.C. Prescott. He determined that there were 112 sane white males between the ages of 21 and 50. There were 212 slaves. The aforesaid sane white males and slaves were assessed fifty cents each per year as taxes. Land was assessed at one-sixth of one percent of its value. **

The county began as a general farming area with cotton and corn the main crops. An abundance of sugar cane, sweet potatoes, and a variety of leafy vegetables were also grown. When the boll weevil destroyed the cotton crop, corn became the main crop. This corn was marketed most often in jugs and bottles (moonshine). Later, tobacco became a main cash crop.

The nursery business developed and became the county's most important agricultural enterprise. Blair Nurseries, Glen St. Mary Nurseries Co., Ray's Nursery, Inc. and Southern States Nurseries, Inc., are recognized as some of the most important nurseries in this part of the nation. Other nurseries in the county are Carter's, Ponsell's Farms, Inc. and a host of smaller nurseries.

There are 100+ subdivisions in Baker County.

Baker County boasts the slogan, "The Small County With Big Ideas..Atop the Florida Crown Crossroads." Its big ideas secured the Anchor Savings Bank, Baker Correctional Institution, Baker County Chamber of Commerce, Baker County Federal Credit Union, Baker County Historical Society, Baker Manor Apartments, Baker Square Shopping Center, Barwood Shopping Center, Cedarwood Shopping Center, Citizens Bank, Ed Fraser Memorial Hospital, Federal Housing, Northeast Florida State Hospital, Northwood Apartments, Thomas Apartments and other apartments, Thomas Office Complex, US 90 West Shopping Center, Village Square Shopping Center, W. Frank Wells Nursing Home, Wiremil, Inc. and other businesses and establishments. Baker County also supports one of the best school systems, one of the best city-county police departments and other law enforcement offices in the state of Florida.

Jul 21, 1821 to Aug 22, 1822 St. Johns Co.
Aug 22, 1822 to Nov 23, 1828 Duval Co.
Nov 23, 1828 to Feb 04, 1832 Alachua Co.
Feb 04, 1832 to Dec 21, 1858 Columbia Co.
Dec 21, 1858 to Feb 08, 1861 New River Co. [now Union]


A.J. Mobley
A.J. & Lucy Mobley on left




1. All white males, over 21 and under 50 years, except paupers, idiotic and insane persons - 50 cents each.
Number polled - 112 Value $56.00
2. All Real Estate, comprising lands and improvements, buildings, manufactories and mills of all kinds, distilleries, furnaces, machinery, tan yards, ferries, toll bridges and warves, 1-6th of one percent or 16 2-3 cent upon the 100.
No. of acres of land 14,688; value of land $21,316.00; improvements $39,050.00
3. All slaves 1-6 of one percent upon value: Number 212; Value $7,100.00.
4. All pleasure cariages, stage coaches, wagons, carts and drays, 1-6 of one percent upon value $2,820.00.
5. All horses, asses, mules, meat cattle, swine and sheep 1-6 of one percent upon value.
Horses, asses, mules No. 208 - value $19,595.00;
Cattle, swine and sheep - No. cattle 4809 - value $23,800.00.
No. sheep and swine 5574. Value $8,103.75.
6. All household furniture, including gold and silver plate and musical instruments, 1-6 of one percent upon value. $8,095.00 - $460.00.

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