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Bradford County,Florida

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This project is for those who were born, lived and died in Bradford County, Florida.

New River County, as it was known at the time, was created in 1858 from segments of Columbia and Alachua counties. It was renamed Bradford County in 1861 in honor of Confederate Captain Richard Bradford, who fought in the American Civil War and was killed in the Battle of Santa Rosa Island, becoming the first officer from Florida to die during the Civil War.

During the county's early history, Lake Butler served as the county seat. However, the growth of Starke as an important city on the Fernandina to Cedar Key railroad led to an 1875 vote on the location of the county seat, with Starke winning by 46 votes. A successful legal challenge brought the county seat back to Lake Butler, and an 1885 referendum reaffirmed the move by 19 votes.

Yet another referendum was held in 1887, and saw the courthouse and county seat moved back to Starke, where it would remain. The dispute brought on the attention of the Florida Legislature, and in 1921, the western portion of Bradford County and Lake Butler were separated to form Union County.

The county was home to numerous citrus farms in its early days prior to the Great Freeze in the winter of 1894-1895. Even after the freeze, Starke and Lawtey continued to be major regional agricultural producers, with the primary exports being cotton, tobacco, and strawberries.

Significant growth would come to the county during the World War II era, with the construction of U.S. Route 301 and nearby Camp Blanding.

Post-war, the county saw the construction of Florida State Prison on the Bradford-Union County line in Raiford, along with several moments in the national media spotlight. Ted Bundy was executed at the prison in 1989, while Starke and Bradford County faced a series lawsuits in the 2000s over a cross on the city's water tower and a Ten Commandments statue in front of the county courthouse.