Hernando County was founded by Native Americans long before history was recorded in North America. But its New World discovery came in 1539 when Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto’s expedition came ashore in Tampa and traveled north on its way to explore the southeastern United States.
Over the next couple of centuries, white settlers infiltrated the territory that the Native American tribes had called home because of the plentiful natural resources, including lakes, rivers, springs, and the Gulf of Mexico, all of which brimmed with aquatic food supplies. In addition, inland forests provided abundant wildlife and materials for shelter.
With superior numbers and weaponry, U.S. emigrants from Europe and the Caribbean, eventually wrested control of the region. The territorial legislature established Hernando County in 1843, which was two years before the U.S. Congress authorized Florida’s statehood. Brooksville, previously known as Melendez, was designated the county seat in 1856. At that time, Hernando County also was much larger, encompassing the area that Pasco and Citrus counties, as well as parts of Hillsborough, Alachua and Orange counties, now occupy. Hernando County’s existing boundaries were drawn in 1887.
The ensuing 125-plus years saw Hernando County flourish in the lumber, citrus and rock mining industries. However, as resources, climates and demographics shifted during the latter half of the 20th century, Hernando County became known mostly as a magnet for nature lovers and retirees, from which prosperous home-building and land development industries emerged to accommodate the growth in population and tourism.
Today, that rooftop- and retail-driven economy is complemented by an emerging base of diverse industrial, manufacturing, distribution and high-tech corporate neighbors.
For more detailed information about Hernando County’s history, visit the websites listed on this page. Knowing more about our history should help you appreciate why generations of Floridans have found Hernando County to be …