History of Santa Rosa County, A King's County

by M. Luther King. Used with permission.




Another among the land grants that were important in the history of this area was the one made to Jacob Kelker. Kelker has been termed a mulatto, the son of a Spanish nobleman of Pensacola and his slave-woman. The grant was made obviously to get the man away from the city before the color line was drawn by the American authorities. Mr. Kelker died at "Kelker's Field" in 1827.

The bayou almost alongside his grant was called the "Mulatto Bayou" which by contraction today we call Mulat Bayou as well as the little village nearby, Mulat. It is altogether likely that Andrew Jackson knew of Kelker's settlement and was actually headed for there when, he is said to have camped at Floridatown. Probably the acquaintance existing between some of General Jackson's scouts and Kelker or others contributed to the choosing of this site. He, no doubt, spread out his encampment to include both, or a part of both, these areas in his camp. (in many ways, at least, the two adjacent areas were synonymous.) Again no doubt, there was information to be had there.

just when Floridatown began is rather vague. Some of the earlier maps locate it at its present location but name it simply Florida. That of course was the name given to the whole territory when named by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 - in honor of the season Pascua Florida. just when it assumed the combination is doubtfully vague.

Floridatown was, and is, located at the confluence of the delta of the Escambia River and Escambia Bay - an easy "slack tide" crossing of the Escambia. A bit of the earlier commerce of the area was transshipped there. Here too was the stop-over resting place of various expeditions of one kind or another as they traveled across what is now Santa Rosa County, whether the direction of travel was East-West or North-South.

It was there that Andrew Jackson sent a contingent of troops commanded by Major Uriah Blue. David ("Davy") Crockett was a member of his Company, for "Davy" says in his autobiography that he "went 'bar' hunting up the 'Scamby'." In one of the Jackson expeditions was John Hunt of Huntsville,' Alabama, another important name in early Santa Rosa County history - and later as aforementioned to be one of the largest single landowners of this county. As a territorial county Floridatown became the county seat of Santa Rosa County, and was changed only when "yellow jack" (yellow fever) decimated the population in 1842.

It was there too that the first election was held in Santa Rosa County; James Spellenan's residence was the polling place. The first sheriff of Santa Rosa County (territorial), Jesse Carter Allen, served and lived at Floridatown until the county seat was moved to the site of Milton because of the yellow fever outbreak. W. W. Harrison, his successor, often used facilities at Floridatown.

The Pace half of this hyphenated name has a much different historical background than that of the Floridatown half of the hyphenation. It, of course, has had much of the same experience. The very proximity of one to the other would presume that.

The name Pace is that of the Pace family, of Virginia, so far as we have been able to determine. Thomas B. Pace and Catharine McCray Pace were the parents of James G. Pace whose wife was Carrie Ashley of a very prominent Valdosta, Georgia family engaged in the turpentine business. They moved from Georgia to Alabama and from there they later came to Pensacola, where they had acquired considerable timber holdings. The Skinner holdings of Gull Point were a part of such acquisitions.

James G. and Caroline Ashley Pace were the parents of four children: John C. Pace; H. Burgess Pace (graduate of the University of Georgia) who did much to develop the new Floridatown; Myrtice who married Mr. E. F. Stone; Ashley D. (A. D.) Pace now very much identified with Pace interests here and elsewhere.

Upon the death of Carrie Ashley Pace, James G. Pace was married to Winona Rabb. They were the parents of Mary Catherine who married W. W. Townsley; Virginia; James G. Pace, Jr.; Winona who died in 1938; and Frances who married W. R. Thompson.

Mr. J. G. Pace, Sr. died in 1948. At Pace the Pace Company engaged in sawmill and turpentine operations in a big way until the "thirties." Mr. Pace had long been an advocate of "sustained yield" lumbering operations and through his studies of that problem hit upon pulp production as the most satisfactory outlet for "sustained yield" lumbering.

He, James H. Allen, and others formed the Florida Pulp and Paper Company, as well as the Alabama Pulp and Paper Company. These two units were combined and then in 1942 became a part of the St. Regis Company (the second largest in the world.)

The sons of James G. Pace, Sr., especially John C. Pace, Harvey Burgess Pace, Ashley D. Pace, have made a great contribution to the economic, social, and political development of this community which bears their name.

The present school facilities at Pace (which serve Floridatown also) were begun as a permanent structure in 1925-26. At one period the school facilities were more than adequate, but a near-boom in the area has strained such facilities to well nigh the bursting point at all times during the recent years. Numerous additions to the old structure has enabled it to very well keep pace with the growing population. Now a junior high school is in use and no doubt it in turn will be followed soon by a senior high school.

Much of the "boom type" growth has been due to the location in the area of Escambia Chemical Company, manufacturer of chemicals from natural gas; and American Cyanamid Company, manufacturer of creslan, a new and better synthetic fiber.

The growth in these areas has been matched by the growth in religious facilities which has found the establishment of representative congregations and buildings to match those of the areas in the county outside of Floridatown-Pace.


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