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About Holmes County
Holmes County Florida is located in Northwest Florida between Pensacola and Tallahassee. Holmes County is only 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Holmes County offers residents a taste of historical elegance set in a small town atmosphere. With the Pro Rodeo in the fall, as well as the many crafts and festivals, residents have plenty to keep them entertained.
Holmes County was created in 1848 and was well known for its timber and agriculture. Hewett’s Bluff, now known as Bear Pen, was the first county seat in Holmes County with Cerro Gordo and Westville also serving their role as county seat. Currently the county seat in Holmes County is Bonifay, Florida. Bonifay was selected as county seat in 1905. If you ask anyone in Holmes County, they will tell you two different stories on how the county received its name. Some will tell you that a North Carolina man named Holmes settled in the area around 1830. Other stories talk of an Indian chief who was given the English name of Holmes in which historians believe Holmes Creek was names after.
Holmes County is known for its history. The earliest settlers of Holmes County were Native American Indians. Historians have found many artifacts that prove their habitation and livelihood for thousands of years. William Thomas Keith, one resident of Holmes County homesteaded ten acres in 1880. In 1886 he filed a homestead entry with the U. S. Public Land Office and in the fall of that year, William Thomas Keith built a cabin, known as Keith Cabin, where he resided with his family, including his wife, mother, and eight children. William Thomas Keith farmed the rich land and grew cotton and tobacco on the homestead.
As his crops grew, so did his homestead – by the time he was finished he had more than 190 acres with such improvements as a plaza, smokehouse, corn crib, enclosed shed rooms, and a well. The Keith family lived in the one room log cabin with a wraparound porch, a fireplace, and a separate kitchen. This style of architecture is a rare form of 19th century construction found only in the Gulf States from East Texas to South Georgia. It is characterized by a front and rear porch formed by long logs that extend beyond the main block of the house at each gable end to support the broad roof overhangs.
Keith served with the Confederate Army and was an accomplished farmer, lumberjack, mail carrier, store merchant, and medical practitioner. His life and home are excellent examples of the rural lifestyle of early Holmes County and Northwest Florida. The Keith Cabin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Holmes County is surrounded by forests, creeks, clear springs, rivers, lakes, swamps and wetlands. Holmes County could be described as lush forest land with deep flowing streams and native plants ample to support a wide variety of wildlife. This allowed the growing number of early settlers a place to call their own and useful land to provide for their families. These families built the towns in Holmes County on such industries as logging, farming, cattle ranching, and other agricultural endeavors. Today you can still find the serenity of the wetlands and streams in Holmes county as well as being able to sit back and enjoy the native wildlife. Conservation projects practiced in the area has helped to maintain a balance between man and nature.
In 1850, the Census recorded the population of Holmes County as 1,205. 160 years later, the population has grown to approximately 20,000. Some of the more notable towns in Holmes County are Bonifay, Esto, Ponce De Leon, Westville, Poplar Springs, Noma and Prosperity. Holmes County is a great place to live offering residents and visitors rich history, nature, and culture.