A trading post called Cottonton was located on the current site of Apalachicola. In 1827, the town was incorporated as West Point. Apalachicola received its current name in 1831, by an Act of the Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida. Before the development of railways in the Gulf states, Apalachicola was the third busiest port in the Gulf of Mexico (behind New Orleans and Mobile). In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the sponge trade, led by Greek immigrants, was a major industry in the town. Apalachicola is still the home port for a variety of seafood workers, including oyster harvesters and shrimpers. More than 90% of Florida’s oyster production is harvested from Apalachicola Bay. Every year the town hosts the Florida Seafood Festival. The bay is well protected by St. Vincent Island, Flag, Sand, St. George Island, and Cape St. George Island. Trinity Episcopal Church was incorporated by an Act of the Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida on Feb 11, 1837. The building was one of the earliest prefabricated buildings in America. The framework was shipped by schooner from New York and assembled in Apalachicola with wooden pegs.
Bank of West Florida was approved by the Territorial Legislature over the veto of Governor Duval on Nov. 17, 1829. The bank opened in Marianna and approved a branch in Apalachicola in 1831. By 1837 the bank ceased operations and then was reorganized in 1838, but was completely gone by 1842.
Commercial Bank of Florida was approved by the Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida in 1833. Cashiers M. Clark and William Patrick and J.C. Maclay, president.
Notes engraved by Danforth, Underwood & Co. New York and Underwood, Bald, Spencer & Huffy, Phila. Ron Benice writes in his book: “John G. Winter was a prominent capitalist in Columbus, Georgia. He created the Bank of St. Marys as a vehicle for issuing change bills that would rarely be redeemed. Because such privately-issued bills were illegal in Georgia, they were printed as Apalachicola bills. To avoid having to redeem many of them, they wee redeemable in Charleston or New York. After the Columbus newspaper complained, Mr. Winter replied that he would redeem them in Columbus “provided my teller is not annoyed by their presentment too often and in sums too small.” On April 23, 1852, with $350,000 outstanding, the bank suspended specie payments.” All notes are signed by John G. Winter, and were issued out of two offices, Savannah and Columbus Georgia.
Benice states “fictitious bank, presumably created to fill the void left by the failure of Apalachicola’s legal banks.” A number of remainder sheets turned up on this bank around 1992.
Issued most likely, due to a shortage of change in the town, notes signed by F. Ellis, treasurer.
Eagle Manufacturing Co. operated a water mill on the Chattahoochee River, the notes are signed by W.H. Young, president of the company.
The Georgia Legislature chartered Cowetta Falls Manufacturing Co. in 1844, the notes were offered in Apalachicola, Florida to evade the proscription in Georgia against non-bank inssued currency.
These notes were issued during the “Hard Times” period between 1838 and 1842. In 1843, Mr. Howell advised “to retire his change bills from circulation, there now being a sufficient amount of specie”.
The city of Columbus, Georgia issued notes for distribution in Apalachicola Florida however, there are no issued notes known. These notes were issued by John D. Howell, a drygoods merchant and cotton dealer between 1838 and 1842.
Florida scrip issued in Apalachicola by Mr. Ruse, Payable in either Brunswick by Mr. Ruse or at the Hall & Duck store in Columbus, Georgia.
The First National Bank of Apalachicola received its charter on May 26, 1902 and was liquidated on Feb. 15, 1911. F.B. Wakefield signed as cashier and J.N. Coombs as president. The above three red seal notes represent three of the four notes known on the bank. President Coombs was also president of the Coombs Co. a lumber business, see also history of “Coombs Inn and Suites.”
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Notes & Currency
- 18__ Fernandina $3 Obsolete Note
- 1882 $50 Jacksonville Note Charter #3869
- 1902 $10 Punta Gorda Note Charter #10512
- 1882 $5 Palatka Note Charter #3223
- 1902 $5 Key West Note Charter #7942