The name "Florida" actually comes from the Spanish word "florido," which means "full of flowers."
Walton County, located in the northwest region of Florida, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Choctaw and Creek nations, who relied on the plentiful natural resources such as forests and waterways for sustenance and trade. European contact with the region began in the 16th century when Spanish explorers arrived in Florida. However, it wasn't until the early 19th century that settlers began to establish permanent communities in what is now Walton County.

In the early 1800s, the area that is now Walton County was part of the Spanish West Florida territory. After the United States acquired Florida from Spain in 1821, the region became part of the newly established Florida Territory. The first permanent settlement in the county was established in 1822 and was named Euchee Anna, later renamed Freeport. During the Antebellum period, the county's economy relied on agriculture, particularly cotton and timber, and slavery was prevalent.

The Civil War had a significant impact on Walton County, as it did on many parts of the South. The county saw skirmishes and battles between Union and Confederate forces, with the Confederate Army using the area for its strategic location and resources. After the war, the economy of Walton County struggled, and the county experienced a slow recovery. The railroad, which reached the county in the late 19th century, helped to revitalize the local economy by facilitating the transportation of goods and increasing tourism.

In the 20th century, Walton County experienced periods of growth and development, particularly with the advent of the automobile. The construction of Highway 98, a major coastal route, brought an influx of tourists and led to the growth of beach communities such as Destin and Miramar Beach. Today, Walton County is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant coastal communities, and a mix of rural and urban lifestyles. The county continues to attract visitors and residents alike, who are drawn to its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and diverse recreational opportunities.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Walton County, Florida.

  • 1818 - Walton County established as one of the original counties in the Florida Territory.
  • 1832 - The county seat is established in Euchee Anna (now known as DeFuniak Springs).
  • 1882 - The Florida Chautauqua Assembly is founded in DeFuniak Springs, making it a cultural and educational center in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • 1927 - Lake DeFuniak is designated as a National Historic Landmark.
  • 1936 - Construction of the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood, an iconic building in DeFuniak Springs, is completed.
  • 1941 - Eglin Air Force Base is established in the southern part of Walton County, becoming a major military facility during World War II.
  • 1997 - The Walton County Tourist Development Council is created to promote tourism in the area.
  • 2005 - Hurricane Katrina impacts Walton County, causing significant damage along the coastline.
  • 2019 - Walton County celebrates its bicentennial, marking 200 years since its establishment.