WTXL Road Trip: Gadsden County's Homegrown Exports

road trip gadsden tobacco
Posted at 6:30 PM, Jul 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-30 14:46:28-04

QUINCY, Fla. (WTXL)-- When Florida became a territory almost 200 years ago, it was divided into 2 counties..East and West Florida. Shortly after it was divided into several other counties, including Gadsden, which became Florida's 5th county. 

The president of the Quincy Main Street Project explained how the early settlers were attracted to the region.

"This was opportunity it was like when they opened the West. When they opened North Florida, it was a great opportunity for a lot of people. And the people that came to Gadsden county were all pretty wealthy," said Dawn McMillan.

Most of the early families and settlers thrived off the tobacco market and that is one reason the county survived after the Civil War. 

"There was the shade tobacco industry of the late 1800s. That was strictly and exclusively the outer wrapping of cigar tobacco. It was more valuable a crop than cotton," explained McMillan.

Tobacco isn't the only thing that helped save the economy in the area. The county capitalized on a special clay called Fuller's Earth that was discovered right in Gadsden County.

"The Owl Commercial Company, one time because of the discovery of Fuller's Earth on the land where they grew the tobacco. Fuller's Earth is still being mined today. It's the largest vein of this clay in the world.

Fuller's Earth is a type of a clay that can decolorize liquids. In modern day, it's found in kitty litter, paint finishers, and pill medications.