Destin Luckiest Fishing Village in the World July 2, 1976
1! EMMAGOGUTN Destin, Ihe "l,uekicsl Fishing Village in the World," was tounded and settled by a New England seafarer,' Captain l.eonard Destin and from him derives its distinctive name. When he arrived in this area, shortly before the Civil War, Destin was a little world unto itself. The bridge, linking the HISTORICAL VESSEL Deslin's oldest "Primrose." remaining commercial fishing boat the Okaloosa 'Carved' From Neighboring Counties .t x i&d as izV": Yellow River, then Wilson and county, they would not h. . to, sSne intendent of nub lie Tn finally Okaloosa when it was so oldlimers say. sTruclion J A Mchtmiira tax carved out of its nieghboring A spirited campaign was c "' v j g cote counU counties of Walton and Santa conducted in Okaloosa by oaSurCr Georee II WehbTax Rosa some 60 years ago. proponents of each side. The aSsessor ' W D licke co'ulw The entire Northwest Florida election was held Sept. 7, 1915 surveyor - and JW Kierce area was incorporated into and the issue was carried sSwo "egislration Stecte Escambia County and when overwhelmingly. faler rJme sheriff Walton County was created in Representative M.H. Nan to the tea d of counlv .924, the eastern half of the Maypoles of Laurel Hill, coSi H iiorinw&i sector was maae a part of Walton County. The western half was absorbed by anta Rosa County, created in In 1913, a bill was introduced into the stale legislature calling for the creation of Ihe new county to be named Yellow River according to historical 'T . . , 7 ," ,u change Ihe name to Wilson County, and it passed the House over the vociferous opposition of Circuit. representatives from Santa It established Milligan as the Rosa County. However, the bill temporary county seal. A two - died on the Senate floor. story building near the banks of At the next session of the (he Yellow River served as a legislature two years later, the courthouse, bill was reintroduced in slightly But because of Ihe low altered form. It called for the elevation, the huilriine w.is creation of a county to be called Okaloosa, subject to a referefum of voters in Ihe district affected, Again the representatives and senators from Santa Rosa oh - jecled. In fact Sen. H.A. McGeachy almost blocked the bill in the senate. He made a personal appeal to his fellow senators not lo divide his county. It was only by masterful skill of Senator B.H. Lindsay and a compromise lhat the hill finally passed. The compromise provided that if the voters in the RjCCNTCNNIAL Destin: town into what is now U.S. Highway S8 and the mighty network of 'highways, crisscrossing the country, was not constructed until 1932. Prior to that time, mail, supplies, and visitors were brought in by boat. There were no roads, no telephones, no electricity. As in pioneer days, the people representing Walton County and Senator. B.H. Lindsav from Holmes County introduced the bill calling for ihe county of Inhabitants of the W.illon section, voted four to one and those of Ihe Santa Rosa section voted two to one for the new county. rhc ,ac,1 a's. made Okaloosa P?" oi ""trim congressional District; the First Senatorial District and Ihe First Juriieial flooded from lime to lime and it was decided to move the county seat to higher ground. An election was i. - eld on March 6, 1917, establishing Crestview as the permanent county seat. The Okaloosa County Cour - thouse was constructed that year. It was built by Dobson and Company of Alabama at a cost of S30,0OO. The governor appointed Ihe firsl Okaloosa County officials to serve until a general election could be held. B.H. Sutton was named county sheriff: J.T. Maypoles, judge; Luckiest Fishing Village in World were dependent on their own industry and resources for their every need. Those early settlers combined their resources with those of their neighbors then began to build the skiffs, seines, and nets that ,;ave commercial fishing its start. From its earliest beginnings, fishing was the life - blood of Destin. At first the fishermen conserved their fish in salt Givons J W Bageett Jr W J n..?:" ' i ' J3. . '.L' n i EHeo ' Three citizens were an STb.t" TZ Jones W K Wilkinson and W lf' sZty The gowrnor" also io - Sed s W e of oca e and Ke constables Okasa County's first census was laken in 1920, showing a lolal imputation in the county of 9,360 persons. Latest estimates place Okaloosa's population in excess ol 100,000. BEST WISHES TO ALL THE CITIZENS OF OUR GREAT COUNTRY. WE WOULD LIKE TO SALUTE ALL THE MEMBERS OF OUR ARMED FORCES CIVIL SERVANTS AND OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS FOR. MAKING THESE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. THE CREW AT PERFORMANCE SPECIALTIES 34BEALPKWY. FT. WALTON BCH. water pens until there were cargoees large enough to sail or row to CO - mile distant Pen - sacola. Gradually power - driven boats replaced the sail and oar, and commercial fishing gave way to parly fishing. Skippers of the modernly equipped boats were responsible for Ihc "Luckiest Fishing Village" lag. Because of the abundance of fish and Ihe unique advantage of being able to reach the deep banks out in the Gulf, Destin soon became a magnet for fishermen everywhere. The same bridge that brought the world to Destin, brought Destin to the world. Many tourists who had vacationed in South Florida for years, came to explore and discover the northwest coast. Here they were enchanted with the milder climate, the beautiful white beaches, and the freedom from elbowing crowds found in other resorts. Many returned to build their homes and businesses, and to aid in the growth of this once - tiny village. Salt water fishermen in ever incresing numbers learned long ago that Destin and its environs 'Primrose' Oldest Vessel in Destin By Emma Uoggin She stands forlornly on the grounds of the Destin Community Center with her bow "pointed toward the harbor and the Gulf waters her haunts of yesteryear. That's the "Primrose," Destin's oldest remaining commercial fishing boat, a vessel of standing perhaps just as content to rest on its historical laurels. For the Primrose has logged over 40 years of adventure plying the seas and crashing the waves with a skipper who commercially fished to support his family of five. There were days when the Primrose nosed through the sen swiftly and gently to take an expectant mother to Niceville to give birth to her child. ' The boat also served as a transport vessel for early Destin settlers, when they had to make a trek to Pensacola to purchase supplies. The Primrose was built in 1925 by a Greek shipbuilder named John Maltezo. She was owned and skippered by Capt. John Melvin Sr., who settled in Destin in 1912. She is a wooden vessel, constructed of juniper which was hauled lo Destin from Bagdad in the Milton region. The vessel is 36 feet in length with a seven - foot beam and was powered by a 36 - borsepower Lathrop engine. The Primrose was primarily used as a seine fishing boat that brought in tons of mullet, mackerel, and pompano over the years. A hand carved seine needle made by "Uncle" Joe Marler and used aboard the Primrose is displayed in a frame at Ihe Destin Chamber of Commerce. At one time blackfin tuna was netted by the crew of the Primrose. But the crew members were unaware of the significance of their catch until the fish were taken to the Spence Brothers Fish Company in Niceville. Until then, blackfin tuna had never been taken from Destin waters. Comprising the' Primrose's crew were six to 12 men who fished as far away as Bayou La Batre, La., and stayed out on fishing trips as long as two weeks. The ship's cook prepared moalsonacoalfurnacesloveforthecrew. .' When Capt. Melvin died in 1967, the Primrose passed away with him, Destin's oldtimers say. Her resting place, for awhile, was the beach just below the Melvin home that overlooked the Destin harbor. Iater, a group of Deslinites banded together and moved the Primrose to the Destin Community Center, her present owner. Members of the Community Center plan to restore her to her original state to serve as a monument to Destin's early settlers and fishermen such as the late Capt. John Melvin Sr. offers big game fishing that they once thought was only found m far - away places. Anglers from across the nation annually compete in a major fishing event Ihe Destin Gulf Coast Deep Sea Fishing Kodeo held each October. The redeo now in its 2th year begins Oct. 1 and runs throughout Ihe month. Traditionally, the annual Destin Deep Sea Rodeo is kicked oft with a huge public fish fry at Ihe community center. Time has changed many things in Destin, even though it tins never been incorporated. Today, modern water front subdivisions and lowering condominiums are springing up from the sands and many new huildings line the main thoroughfare. Despite the progress, though, Destin has not lost that certain charm of a fishing village which has always been its birthright. Here, there is, still to be found a retreat from the "hub - bub" of every day life for its visitors, who along with the fishing devotees come from all parts of Ihe nation. STANDING READY These boats lined up at a dock in Deslin await anglers for a fishing expedition into the Rulf. Bridge spanning Wast Pass forms a backdrop. tPholo by Emma Goggin) 'WOCLAIM lIBEm THROUGHOUT THE LAND UNTO All THE INHABITANTS THEREOF." - t.vlKeus 25:10 WE PAUSE TO SALUTE OUR COUNTY, STATE & NATION ON THE WONDERFUL FREEDOM AND PROGRESS THIS GREAT COUNTRY HAS MADE OVER THE YEARS HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA Joseph "Buck" Stokes OKALOOSA COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR .