Posted by: unclesamshistory | October 24, 2013

Bunnell, Florida . . . .The Early Years

By Sam Hossler

Before there was a town, before the railroad, there was nothing but wilderness in this section of Saint John’s County.  Men of vision saw the potential of this raw country, live oak timber, for ship building, pine forests for lumber and the production of turpentine, could bring untold profits.

In 1872 Utley J. White made his first trip to Saint John’s County where he found employment with the Tocoi Railroad. This was not a steam driven railroad but a string of cars pulled by mules or horses. Visitors from the North would take a steamboat to Tocoi on the Saint John’s River then board the horse drawn train for the trip to Saint Augustine. White was in charge of the twenty four of the animals. In 1886 White, with partners from the North, started to build in a narrow gage railroad from Palatka to the Tomoka River. This narrow gage track had a flag stop at Alvah Bunnell’s saw mill.  It became known as the Bunnell Stop.

The United States Government in 1892 appointed Alvah Bunnell postmaster of Bunnell. That seemed to make the name Bunnell official.  By 1898 this whistle stop had grown. A store and a school with fourteen children attending has been recorded in village records. Although it had a United States Post Office it wasn’t an official town. In 1911 the State Legislature took care of this oversight and granted the town a charter making it official. But wait, somewhat later a flaw was discovered in the legal paperwork. To correct this grievous blunder the Legislature in 1913 rescinded the original charter and enacted a new one officially incorporating Bunnell.Image

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