Leesburg was first settled in 1857 by Evander McIver Lee. Several of Evander Lee’s brothers followed him to the area and opened a store in 1866. One of these brothers, Calvin Lee, was credited with giving the town its name.
While in Palatka to secure provisions for his store, Calvin Lee met Col. H.L. Hart, who operated the Hart Line of steamboats which ran along the St. Johns and Oklawaha rivers. Lee persuaded Hart to extend his steamboat service to Leesburg. Lee encouraaged the dredging of the Oklawaha River to make it possible for Hart steamboats to pass down the narrow river channel to Leesburg.
The city of Leesburg was first incorporated in 1875, and was the county seat of Sumter County for a time until Lake County was formed in 1887.
The railroad arrived 1884, creating new growth.
In the early 20th century, Leesburg was an important center for watermelon production. In 1930, Leesburg held its first Watermelon Festival, an annual tradition that would last until watermelon production in the area dwindled to the point that watermelons for the last festival had to be brought in from outside the area.
In 1938, the WPA began work on the Venetian Gardens waterside park, on the shores of Lake Harris. The canals and gardens of this park have been a centerpiece of the community ever since.
A national charter for the First National Bank of Leesburg was granted on July 18, 1917. In 1973 the First National Bank and its assets were absorbed by what was currently named Sun First National Bank of Leesburg. The First National was acquired by the Sun Group of banks in 1973.
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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