Tri-City Ledger -

By Patsy Green
Guest Writer 

The rise and fall of towns by the post offices

 

March 14, 2019



I have begun reading An Hour Before Daylight by Jimmy Carter. I’m not far into the book, but something he said about the town where he grew up (It’s not Plains.) caught my attention. “Archery is no longer there, except on the old maps, but it’s where I grew up and lived from when I was four years old in 1928 until the very end of the Great Depression, when I left for college and the United States Navy in 1941.”

The same story carries through in the four towns that have played the biggest part in my life: McDavid, Bogia, Bluff Springs and Century. Bluff Springs, where I live now, is the oldest of the four towns. It had a US Post Office as early as 1860 and was a thriving town before that. The web site http://genealogytrails.com/fla/escambia/postoffices.html lists three post offices for Bluff Springs: 1860-1861, 1870-1895, and 1895-1954. Those of us living in Bluff Springs now have the address Century, FL. 32535. What happened? The Alger Sullivan Sawmill happened. The town of Century, named in 1901 when a US Post Offices was placed there, grew up around the new mill and became the larger town and site of the high school. Eventually the US Post Office consolidated and closed the Bluff Springs Post Office.

Having grown up in McDavid, which was the larger town among McDavid, Bogia and Mystic Springs during my youth, I always called Bogia a McDavid suburb. The elementary school was named McDavid, although it was between McDavid and Bogia. The US Post Office was and still is in McDavid. McDavid had more stores. I was surprised to learn that Bogia was founded before McDavid, through most of the late 1800’s was the larger town and was the town with the post office until 1883 (1875-1883) . That was the year the Bogia post office closed and the McDavid post office opened. What happened there?

In the case of Bogia/McDavid it came down to influential men having a reason to want the post office moved to McDavid. It involved the spring water bottling company at Chumuckla Springs. I’m not sure of the details, but they seem to have preferred to have their water sent to McDavid to be put on a train to be sent to their customers. They apparently had enough influence to have the railroad depot and the US Post Office put in McDavid, resulting in McDavid becoming the dominant town.

As for Mystic Springs, I find no record of it ever having a post office, although it did at one time have its own mineral springs spa and was, judging by the stories I have heard, an entertainment center.

Back to Jimmy Carter’s book. I bought it at the Alger Sullivan Historical Society’s bookstore. ASHS has a variety of books, some we bought for resale and some, such as the book I’m reading, were donated to us for resale. Come by on Saturday’s between 10 am and 2pm and see if we have any that interest you. Some of the donated ones cost as little as 50 cents.

The next ASHS meeting will be at 6 pm on March 19th in the Leach House Museum, 4th and Jefferson in Century. Harold Warren will be speaking on his experiences with our restored sawmill railroad engine, Old 100. Join us if you can. Visiting our meeting is free; joining ASHS is just $5 per year.

 
 

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