John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.
You may cross into Taylor County on County Road 14 and you might cross into Lafayette County on State Road 53 once in a while. What you might not have known was that Taylor County, Lafayette County, and even Dixie County was once Madison County land.
In 1820, there were two territories known in Florida as West Florida and East Florida, under the Spanish rule. Florida was purchased under the Transcontinental Treaty, and by 1821, West Florida became known as Escambia County and East Florida was known as St. Johns County.
Madison County was constituted as the 14th county to be established in Florida on Dec. 26, 1827. Madison was known as Leon County territory since it's formation in 1824. The county spanned from the mouth of the Aucilla River to the border of the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers. The county also went as far down as where the Gulf of Mexico and Suwannee River met, with the southwest part of the county having the waves of the Gulf of Mexico tossing back and forth right off land. The County was long, rather than wide, but that all changed in the Winter of 1956.
According to a Taylor County history website, featuring the work of the late historian June Parker McLeod, after the Second Seminole War, the Seminoles were removed in 1842, and they traveled to Oklahoma, except for the ones who escaped into the Florida Everglades. With the Seminole conflict ending, there was an increase in migration of pioneers. The gradual southward movement brought English, Scottish and Irish descendants into the area with a speech and culture that remains part of the inheritance in the area. By 1855, there were settlements in the areas of Shady Grove, Pisgah, Lake Bird, and other parts of the present-day Taylor County.
Beginning the claim of territory, there was a bill in the Florida House of Representatives in November of 1855, to organize Taylor County. The bill failed for unknown reasons. James McQueen, a representative of Madison County, suggested a bill that would organize two new counties, out of Madison County, instead of one county. Florida Governor Broome signed the bill on Dec. 26, 1856, establishing Taylor and Lafayette Counties. On April 25, 1921, Dixie County, the 59th county of Florida, was made from the southern portion of land that was once known to be Lafayette County.
Taylor County flourishes under the county seat, the City of Perry. Taylor County's current population is approximately 22,493 citizens, and has multiple unincorporated communities, such as: Salem, Athena, Eridu, and Dekle Beach. Dixie County, as of 2015, has an approximate population of 16,203 citizens. Dixie's County seat is Cross City. Lafayette County, as of 2015, has a population of 8,663 citizens. Lafayette's County seat is Mayo.
The last county to be formed in Florida was Martin County, organized in 1925.