Manatee County, Florida

A Brief History of Manatee County Florida

Manatee County, Florida was established back in 1855. Unlike many counties, towns or cities, Manatee County was not named after its founder. Instead, it was named after the Florida manatee, which just so happens to be the official marine mammal of the state of Florida.

According to the US Census Bureau in 2017, Manatee County is home to just under 386,000 residents, making it the 15th largest county in the state of Florida with its largest city being the county seat, Bradenton, Florida.

But Manatee County is growing rapidly, with the 2010 US Census showing just under 323,000 people living in Manatee County. That’s increase of over 40,000 residents in only seven years. The previous US Census, conducted in 2000, estimated just over 264,000 people living in Manatee County.

While not officially founded as Manatee County until the above mentioned 1855, the area itself was opened to settlements over a decade earlier, in 1842. The first settlers in the area were a pair of brothers, Hector and Joseph Braden. The brothers had lost their plantation up in northern Florida due to the Panic of 1837. They heard about plenty of land further south and eventually settled at the mouth of the Manatee River.

While Hector would die four years later, Joseph stayed and built his sugar plantation. He would build the Braden Sugar Mill where the mouths of the Manatee and Braden rivers meet. He would also build the Braden Castle. While this became a popular spot for tourists in the 1900’s, Joseph did not stay in Manatee County. He moved on to Tallahassee in 1857.

An interesting piece of history with regard to Manatee County, Florida is its libraries. Public libraries got started in Manatee County in 1898. The first library was founded by Mrs. Julia Fuller. She started her rental library in a dry goods store.

This is worth mentioning because the Manatee Public Library system was given an award by the Florida Library Association in 2016, for Library of the Year. This is only one of numerous awards given to the county by the FLA.

The company Tropicana was founded in Manatee, to later be bought out by Pepsi Co. However, it is still produced in Manatee to this day.

Manatee County Florida continues to grow and expand as an integral part of the state of Florida.

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