History, a Unique Experience In Northwest Florida’s Gadsden County

February 9, 2018 1:49 pm Published by

GADSDEN COUNTY, FL (February 2018) – History is what makes visiting Northwest Florida’s Gadsden County a unique travel experience in February or anytime. From its iconic buildings, churches and Victorian homes to shade tobacco, historic plantations and coca cola millionaires, people not only come to this iconic rural destination to live history, but they come to marvel at how life once was…to feel the presence of our ancestors. A trip to Gadsden County, one of Florida’s most historic and naturally beautiful destinations has become a favorite of travelers from around the country – 36 blocks of pure history; bed and breakfasts from the 1800’s; The Shade Tobacco, Apalachicola Arsenal, and Gadsden Arts Museums, Shopping in historic downtown Havana, The “haunted” Quincy Music Theatre, historic cemeteries, Chattahoochee Landing mounds and so much more.

Shade tobacco was the county’s first big industry. Only two places in the United States were suitable for the growing of this crop which was used to wrap cigars; the “Georgia-Florida Shade Tobacco District” comprised of Gadsden and Madison counties in Florida and Grady and Decatur counties in Georgia and the Connecticut River valley in New England. In 1946, these two districts were producing over 95% of American-grown wrapper leaf and they represented a $100,000,000.00 industry of which $25,000,000.00 was invested in land equipment, barns, packing houses, and operating capital in the Georgia-Florida area. Today, you can get a full history of this incredible industry at the Shade Tobacco Museum in Havana.

Gadsden County’s second big industry of the nineteenth century was Fuller’s Earth, which is believed to have been accidentally discovered in 1893 on the property of the Owl Cigar Company, just north of Quincy. In digging a water-well, a workman noticed unusual clay, which was tentatively identified by an Alsatian cigar maker as Fuller’s Earth. After the discovery of the Fuller’s Earth at the Owl Cigar Company site, clay soon began to be lifted to the surface, loaded on mule carts, taken to large platforms and allowed to bleach in the sun. Modern technology has broadened its primitive use for cleaning and bleaching cloth to bleaching and refining petroleum products and much more. We still think it’s fun that “kitty litter” was discovered in Gadsden County.

Then of course, there is the distinct connection of Quincy Florida and Coke Millionaires. If you’re not quite sure what we mean by COKE MILLIONAIRES, well…In the 1920’s and 1930’s, a banker named Pat Munroe in the small town of Quincy, Florida noticed that even during the depths of the Great Depression, otherwise impoverished people would spend their last nickel to buy a glass of Coca-Cola. Sound familiar?

Coca-Cola had gone public at $40 per share but a conflict with the sugar industry and its bottlers resulted in a 50% crash shortly thereafter, when it reached $19 per share. Focusing on the bottom-line profits, and the power of the brand, Pat Munroe kept buying. And he kept telling everyone else to buy, too. That one observation, and Mr. Pat’s business skills in convincing others to buy assets that produced cash irrespective of short-term market fluctuations, not only changed lives, it saved the farm town of Quincy during the Great Depression as the local economy was supported by Coca-Cola dividends; and it has also supported the town in every recession since.

Quincy became the richest town per capita in the entire United States at the time. At least 67 appropriately dubbed “Coca-Cola millionaires” amassed significant fortunes before passing it on to children and grandchildren, in some cases through outright gifts and in other cases through the use of trust funds. The bank where it all started has Coca-Cola on display and, as of a few years ago, a staggering 65% of the trust assets under management are still invested in Coke stock.

As Gadsden County in general and Quincy, Florida in particular approach the 100 year anniversary to the Coca Cola connection, the county has begun planning for a yearlong celebration in 2019. Visitors from around the nation will be invited to enjoy historic art from Master Artists such as Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, Andy Warhol, Walker Evans, and Gordon Parks; boat and bike races; fishing tournaments; Commemorative bottle events; historic films; parades, main street events, and more.

Something special simply seems to happen when you visit Gadsden County, Florida. Less than a half-hour from the hustle and bustle of the Florida State Capital, life in Gadsden County is decidedly more laid-back, offering the best of both worlds. There is a quality of life in Gadsden that combines the best of the past with the convenience of the present. Rolling hills, rich history, abundant recreational opportunities, a thriving arts culture community, and historical architecture combine to make Gadsden an interesting and beautiful place to visit and to live. Get outdoors and find your adventure. For more information on Gadsden County, visit DoSomethingOriginal.com .

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PR Contact: Sonya Burns, Gadsden County TDC – 850-875-8659 or sburns@gadsdencountyfl.gov

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