At the time Suwannee County was formed in 1858, the legislature designated the “house of William Hines” as a temporary seat, until permanent facilities could be established. Originally, Houston was the county seat of Suwannee county. However, growth in Live Oak and the demand for a more centrally located seat of government prompted the 1868 state legislature to pass an act requiring the reloaction of the county seat to Live Oak. A year later, the legislature decided to allow county residents to vote on the location and, after a series of contested elections and re-registrations of voters, Live Oak was confirmed as the permanent county seat.
The name of the county honors the river immortalized by antebellum songwriter Stephen Foster (who never visited it, but selected it primarily because it was more euphonious than the Pee Dee or Yazoo rivers). Although its origins are obscure, the name is thought to be aboriginal – though it could also be a corruption of the Spanish San Juan, which would mean that two of North Florida’s principal rivers honor the same apostle.
The great live oaks of the American South (Quercus virginiana) were coveted for constructing naval timbers and, centrally located, were often employed as meeting and camping places. One particular Live Oak shaded a pond that was a popular stopover on the military road from Suwannee Springs to the Gulf of Mexico, and from here, eventually, sprang a town site.
The first courthouse in live Oak was a converted Baptist Church. When that building was blown down in a storm, a large wooden structure was built for the purpose on the current courthouse square. It was eventually moved to another location to allow for the 1904 construction of the presently occupied brick courthouse.
Previous Page List of all Historic Courthouse Pages Next Page