The rise, fall and birth of a town
January 10, 2019
According to the Pensacola News Journal, South Flomaton was the only other incorporated community in Escambia County Florida for most of its existence.
The area had sometimes been the scene of controversy before and after its incorporation. The News Journal kept a weekly news update on South Flomaton, as it did most other communities in the county. In its January 6, 1944 edition it noted the Escambia County Sheriff's Department in Florida seizing slot machines across the northern part of the county in a series of seven raids.
The machines were called "roscoes." The area of the raids ranged from the Alabama/Florida state line near Atmore to the South Flomaton and Century area.
According to the article, the biggest "haul" was in South Flomaton where officers seized two money paying devices and three "one armed bandits," with all operating at five cents a play and one in particular operating at twenty five cents per play.
County Solicitor Forsyth Caro was quoted, "Any machines now being operated in public places for amusement which represented, resembled or in any party appeared to be a roscoe, would be confiscated and the owners prosecuted."
Small town politics can stir controversy and detractors are always to be found in any town and South Flomaton, despite the best efforts of its leaders, was no different. In late 1956, some criticized one South Flomaton mayor for holding municipal court, allegedly at a local bar, which he is said to have owned. His response was that it was held in his office, not the bar, and was not paid for by the city, afterwards it was held at the residence of the acting municipal clerk.
Yet despite the political back and forth, the town survived and by 1969 the town had a population of 480 and comprised roughly 510 acres of land. The town also had a municipal court, police department and a city owned gas and water department that supplied services to much of northern Escambia County and was a progressive town for its era.
In 1963 the town floated a $357,000 bond to construct its own water works. The town issued a bond on the gas department in 1968 which was expected to be paid off by the year 2000. The gas department boasted 851 customers.
In a 1969 interview with the News Journal, then Jimmie Mayor White stated he maintained a business on US 29 and he received a salary of $400 a month as mayor. He also served as water superintendent, general supervisor over town affairs, city magistrate, police dispatcher and if a fire broke out somewhere in town, he was responsible for sounding the siren on top of the water tower.
He had been mayor for 12 years at the time of the 1969 article. White was proud of the fact he had presided over the town council ban on dance halls in 1964. He noted they were a "public nuisance," in his opinion. "There are two bars in South Flomaton, but dancing is strictly prohibited."