During the 17th century several Spanish missions were established in the territory of the Apalachee to procure food and labor for the colony at St. Augustine. The largest, Mission San Luis de Apalachee, has been partially reconstructed by the state of Florida. The name “Tallahassee” is a Muskogean Indian word often translated as “old fields”, and it likely stems from the Creek (later called Seminole) Indians who migrated from Georgia and Alabama to this region in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They found large areas of cleared land previously occupied by the Apalachee tribe. Earlier, the Mississippian Indians built mounds near Lake Jackson around AD 1200, which survive today in the Lake Jackson Archaeological State Park. The expedition of Panfilo de Narvaez encountered the Apalachees, although it did not reach the site of Tallahassee. Hernando de Soto and his expedition occupied the Apalachee town of Anhaica in what is now Tallahassee in the winter of 1538–1539. Based on archaeological excavations this site is now known to be located about 0.5 miles (800 m) east of the present Florida State Capitol. The DeSoto encampment is believed to be the first place Christmas was celebrated in the continental United States. During the First Seminole War, General Andrew Jackson fought two separate skirmishes in and around Tallahassee. The first battle took place on November 12, 1817. Chief Neamathla, of the village of Fowltown, just west of present day Tallahassee had refused Jackson’s orders to relocate. Jackson responded by entering the village, burning it to the ground, and driving off its occupants. The Indians later retaliated, by killing 50 soldiers and civilians. Jackson reentered Florida in March 1818. According to Jackson’s adjutant, Colonel Robert Butler, they “advanced on the Indian village called Tallahasse (sic) [where] two of the enemy were made prisoner.” Tallahassee became the capital of Florida during the second legislative session. It was chosen as it was roughly equidistant from St. Augustine and Pensacola, which had been the capitals of the Spanish colonies of East Florida and West Florida. The first session of Florida’s Legislative Council—as a territory of the United States—met on July 22, 1822 at Pensacola and members from St. Augustine traveled fifty-nine days by water to attend. The second session was in St. Augustine and required western delegates to travel perilously around the peninsula on a twenty-eight day trek. During this session, it was decided that future meetings should be held at a half-way point. Two appointed commissioners selected Tallahassee, at that point an abandoned Apalachee settlement, as a halfway point. In 1824 the third legislative session met there in a crude log capitol. From 1821 through 1845 the rough-hewn frontier capital gradually grew into a town during Florida’s territorial period. The Marquis de Lafayette, French hero of the American Revolution, returned for a tour of the United States in 1824. The US Congress voted to give him $200,000 (the same amount he had given the colonies in 1778), US citizenship, and the Lafayette Land Grant, 36 square miles (93 km2) of land that today includes large portions of Tallahassee. In 1845 a Greek revival masonry structure was erected as the Capitol building in time for statehood. Now known as the “old Capitol,” it stands in front of the Capitol high rise building that was built in the 1970s. Tallahassee was the center of the slave trade in Florida as the city was the capital of the Cotton Belt. During the American Civil War, Tallahassee was the only Confederate state capital east of the Mississippi not captured by Union forces. A small engagement, the Battle of Natural Bridge, was fought south of the city on March 6, 1865. During the 19th century the institutions that would eventually be combined into what is now known as Florida State University were established in Tallahassee, firmly cementing it as a university town. These including the Tallahassee Female Academy (founded 1843) and the Florida Institute (founded 1854). In 1851 the Florida legislature decreed two seminaries to be built on either side of the Suwanee River, East Florida Seminary and West Florida Seminary. In 1855 West Florida Seminary was transferred to the Florida Institute building (which had been established as an inducement for the state to place the seminary in Tallahassee). In 1858 the seminary absorbed the Tallahassee Female Academy and became coeducational. After the Civil War much of Florida’s industry moved to the south and east, a trend that continues today. The end of slavery hindered the cotton and tobacco trade, and the state’s major industries shifted to citrus, lumber, naval stores, cattle ranching and tourism. The post-Civil War period was also when many former plantations in the Tallahassee area were purchased by wealthy northerners for use as winter hunting preserves. This included the hunting preserve of Henry L. Beadel, who bequeathed his land for the study of the effects of fire on wildlife habitat. Today the preserve is known as the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, nationally recognized for its research into fire ecology and the use of prescribed burning. Florida State Capitol, showing modern Capitol Tower under construction in 1976. Until World War II Tallahassee remained a small southern town with virtually the entire population living within 1 mile (2 km) of the Capitol. The main economic drivers were the universities and state government, where politicians met to discuss spending money on grand public improvement projects to accommodate growth in places such as Miami and Tampa Bay, hundreds of miles away from the capital. By the 1960s there was a movement to transfer the capital to Orlando, closer to the growing population centers of the state. That motion was defeated and the 1970s saw a long-term commitment by the state to the capital city with construction of the new capitol complex and preservation of the old Florida State Capitol building. In 1970, the Census Bureau reported city’s population as 74.0% white and 25.4% black. In 1977 a 23-story high-rise Capitol building designed by architect Edward Durell Stone was completed, which is now the third-tallest state capitol building in the United States. In 1978 the old capitol, directly in front of the new capitol, was scheduled for demolition, but state officials decided to keep the Old Capitol as a museum. Tallahassee was the center of world attention for six weeks during the 2000 United States Presidential election recount, which involved numerous rulings by the Florida Secretary of State and the Florida Supreme Court.
The CENTRAL BANK OF FLORIDA was chartered on February 11, 1832. Benjamin Chaires, the banks president, was an important Tallahassee cotton planter who also participated in the founding of the Tallahassee Rail Road Co. At his death in 1838, his estate showed he had 10,000 acres of land and 80 slaves. Leslie A. Thompson served as the banks cashier.
The UNION BANK OF FLORIDA, was chartered on February 12, 1833, and was the first to be approved by Governor Duval. The Union Bank would prove to be one of the most ambitious banks to operate in antebellum Florida. John G. Gamble remained president of this huge political entity, the governor and Territorial Council being in complete complicity with the bank officers. John Parkhill and later Charles F. Mercer, would serve as the bank’s cashiers.
Chartered originally as the Merchants & Planters Bank at Magnolia on February 8, 1832, a later charter was approved on February15, 1834 granting the right to establishbranches at St. Joseph and Tallahassee. When the town of Magnolia disappeared, the Merchants & Planters commenced business in Tallahassee in 1836 or 1837. The officers were Martin Brooks, president and Thomas Bertram, cashier.
The SOUTHERN LIFE INSURANCE & TRUST CO. was established in 1840 or 1841, the parent bank being located in St. Augustine. J. Williams served as cashier of the bank with George Field as president. Notes are of similiar style to those of it’s parent bank in St. Augustine.
The State Stock Bank was a fictitious bank, notes were produced by modifying the plates of notes of the Government Stock Bank of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Most notes are from reconstructed backs of South Carolina and Floirda notes, as seen below. Also featured here is one original intact $5 note with plain back.
Demand notes printed by American Bank Note Company. On Januart 21, 1851, the state legislature authorized the incorporation of the State Bank of Florida but, it was not until 1855 that the legislature approved a viable bank, and Florida’s first bank aftr statehood raised money and opened in early 1859. Denominations overprinted in large red letters except on pro0fs.
Scrip redeemable at the Union Bank of Florida, handwritten dates between 1837 and 1841.
Scrip redeemable at the State Bank of Florida. Printed date of March 1, 1862. Signed by William Bailey, B.C. Lewis or W.R. Pettes.
The Tallashassee Rail Road Company was incorporated by an act of the Territorial Legislature on February 10, 1834. The legislation gave the company 500,000 acres of land and broad authority to take whatever land, lumber or stones they needed along the route provided owners received just compensation.
Tallahassee to St. Marks Historic Railroad Timeline
Tallahassee to St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail History
1826A road was being constructed from Tallahassee to the St. Marks River
1831The Tallahassee Railroad Company received the first Congressional Land Grant ever given to a railroad
1835 The Tallahassee Railroad Company was approved by the Florida Legislative Council
1836 The first train traversed the railway
1837 Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad construction completed and regular business operations began
1838 30,000 bales of cotton traveled on the railroad since its operations began
1839 The railroad was extended to Port Leon with the construction of a bridge over the St. Marks River
1843 A hurricane demolished the section of rail in and leading to Port Leon, and St. Marks became the new southern terminus of the railroad
1856 The wooden rails are replaced by steel rails and the mule-drawn carriages were replaced by locomotives
1865 Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad moved hundreds of confederate troops during the Civil War to the Battle of Natural Bridge
Engraving of railway depot – St. Marks(ca 1876) Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.
1983 Tallahassee-St. Marks Railroad stopped operating
1984 The Florida Department of Transportation purchased 16 miles of the corridor and Florida’s first “Rails to trails” project began.
Demand notes payable in transportation. Printed by the American Bank Note Company. Signed by F.H. Flagg as secretary and E. Houstoun as President. Later issue with elaborate printed backs signed by Flagg and either J.S. Stone or M.L. Littlefield as President.
July 1828 Term This day the Court of the County of Gadsden was opened agreeable to law. Present his Honour Judge Robinson.No. 1 Elihu Atwater and Leslie (?) A. Thompson were nominated by Francis A. Cash Esqr as practicing attorneys of this Court and were admitted accordingly.Personally appeared R. K. Call who being duly sworn deposeth and saith that Charles Louis Napoian Achelle Murat has been a resident of this Territory of Florida more than on year, during which time he has behaved as a man of good moral character, that he appears attached to the preamble of the Constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the same. R. K. CallNo. 2 Sworn to in open Court by R. K. Call this 14 July A.D. 1828 E. A. Robinson, Clk by H. McNeil, D. ClkCounty Court of Gadsden County, Territory of Florida July Term 1828Personally appeared in open Court Charles Louis Napolean Achelle Murat, a native of France, who having produced to the Court satisfactory evidence of his being entitled to become a citizen of the united Sates and of his having been a resident of this Territory for more than one year and after being duly sworn deposeth and saith that he will support the Constitution of the United States of American and that he doth absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all alegiance and fidelity to every foreign prince, potentate, state or soverignty whatever, and that owing no allegiance to any prince, potentate, state or sovereignty he cannot renounce such allegiance to any of them by name, and that he doth furthermore renounce any and every hereditary title of nobility which he has borne or to which he is entitled in any state or Kingdom whatever. No. 3 Achille Murat
Scrip, payable in postage, with the imprint of Morris Printer Philadelphia. Signed by William Hilliard though records do not indicate him ever being a postmaster.
These notes, signed by William Hilliard, were payable in postage or current bank notes. Imprinted by New England Bank Note Co. Boston.
Henry L. Rutgersw served as treasurer of Florida Territory and as cashier of the Bank of Florida. Two series of scrip were issued payable in Union Bank notes on demand at the Union Bank of Florida.
Henry L. Rutgers was a successful lawyer that issued two set of scrip, one from November 1841 and the other dated January 1, 1842.
Henry L. Rutgers was a successful lawyer that issued two set of scrip, one from November 1841 and the other dated January 1, 1842.
W.L. Robinson Dated scrip October 1, 1877 that was good for 25 cents payable in merchandise only. Imprinted by the American Bank Note Co. Philadelphia. Printed location is Leon County Florida rather than Tallahassee.
The First National Bank of Tallahassee was issued a national charter on October 2, 1889. The officers chosen to run the bank was George Lewis, President and W.C. Lewis was appointed the cashier duties. In July of 1916 First National forfeited their charter to become Lewis State Bank, a voluntary liquidation aided the process.
- Florida Currency Museum Open Showcasing The William Youngerman Collection
- Browse Videos of Florida’s Historical Towns and Banks
- Recent Acquisitions
- Collecting Florida National Bank Notes
- State of Florida Civil War Currency
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