In the office of the Property Appraiser of Putnam County is a land survey which includes updates through the 1850’s. It is signed by Benjamin Alexander Putnam, who was then the surveyor general of East Florida. Putnam who was a prominent attorney, an officer in the Second Seminole War and a judge of the Eastern Circuit Court would later have the county named for him.
However, 200 years before Putnam’s adventures in the area, as early as 1655, the Spanish were developing Palatka - as well as Gainesville and Tallahassee - into the state’s three principal ranching areas to feed the settlers.
Famed Botanist William Bartram visited the area during an expedition in April 1774 and wrote about finding an Indian Village on what is the site of present day Palatka.
Palatka’s first history is found in “Bartram’s Travels, a book published in 1791. Another area thought to be mentioned in this book is Welaka where he described the river and alligators that were, “in such incredible numbers, and so close together from shore to shore, that it would have been easy to have walked across on their heads.”
In 1765, a “Mr. Dunn” received an English grant to certain lands located about half a mile south of the present center of Crescent City, where he built a home, cleared land and planted crops near Lake Crescent. The lake was known as Lake Dunn until 1876, when it was renamed Lake Crescent. At that time, the once named Deep River which runs between the lake and the St. John’s River was renamed Dunns Creek. That same year Daniel Boone visited the Palatka site.
During the American Civil War, Putnam County was sparsely settled and Florida served mainly as a source of food supplies for the southern cause, utilizing the St. Johns River as a main highway into the inland areas. When the war did come, Palatka and Welaka were occupied by federal troops for a short time.
The turn of the century brought prosperity and growth for most Putnam County communities with new hotels, stores, businesses and railroads. Agriculture, which is still a mainstay for the community saw large farms of citrus and other crops.
Today, Putnam comprises of neighborhood communities, where friends are invited to come over and sit for a spell.
Whether you are seeking real Florida culture, heritage, recreation, educational experiences, special interest subjects or just relaxing in a small historic town, Putnam County has it all.
Putnam County is located 30 miles from beautiful Atlantic beaches and centrally located to most northern and central Florida attractions, Putnam County offers visitors and residents a relaxing atmosphere with gracious tree-lined streets, picturesque river front homes, country settings with peaceful solitude, easy accessibility without hustle and bustle, natural attractions and other activities that add to Putnam County’s charm.
Because of our many fresh water resources - the St. Johns and Ocklawaha Rivers, Crescent Lake, Rodman Lake and Lake George - we are known for our prized largemouth black bass and native wildlife habitat viewing.
The people and companies of Putnam County believe they share something special here. We invite you to discover the same advantages they have.
Receive Breaking News updates as they occur