The first Timucuans, a group of
hunters and farmers, living off the vast fertile soil of Paynes Prairie.
In the 1500's, Spanish explorers,
perhaps most notably, Hernando De Soto, plundered this area and the native
settlers. Franciscan missions and vast cattle ranches soon arrived, but by the
1700s the Spanish found it difficult and costly to maintain dominance in the
region, unable to stop the influx of English settlers and the Seminole Indian
Subsequent skirmishes and the
establishment of the Florida railroad through the state’s interior brought new
settlements and trading to the area. Around this time, Gainesville was named in
honor of General Edmund P. Gaines, commander of U.S. Army troops in Florida during
the Second Seminole War.
The town grew steadily, thanks
to the Florida Railroad Company extending its line from Cedar Key to Fernandina
Beach, Florida. But the real boom began when the Florida Legislature created
the University of Florida, recognized today as one of the largest universities
in the United States. The development of this educational institution brought
an influx of young students, cultural programs and a major medical center,
enabling the city to steadily continue growing even in the depths of the Great
Depression and World War II. The University and Gainesville have continued to develop
in tandem, complementing each other as they grow.
For a more detail overview of Alachua County History
prepared by the Alachua County Historic Trust and the Matheson Museum, Inc. visit