ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (ABC NEWS) — This week marks 200 years since Escambia County was founded on July 17, 1821.
On that day, the Spanish flag was lowered and the American flag was raised in Museum Plaza to symbolize Florida becoming an official part of the United States.
Local archeologist, Dr. Judy Bense says Florida was a colony under Spanish rule before 1821. She says Escambia County and St. John’s County were founded on the same day, making them the first two counties in the state.
Bense says although Jackson played an important role in founding the state, learning about the entire community who lived in Northwest Florida at the time tells a bigger story.
“There were Spanish people here, of course. There were French people here of course. There were Black people both free and enslaved,” Bense says, “There were Native Americans all living and intermingling together.”
Bense says there is evidence of each of these cultures in historical artifacts and architecture that can be observed today in Northwest Florida.
Escambia County’s 200th anniversary is an opportunity for Northwest Floridians to celebrate that diversity.
“Although we’re different, we are very much the same, and we are rooted in what happened in 1821,” Bense says.
There will be a celebration on Saturday in Museum Plaza to honor the county’s 200th anniversary.
The event is free and open to the public.
This story was originally reported by ABC-affiliate WEAR in Pensacola.