Hernando County, Florida

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Hernando County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2000, the population is 130,802. Its county seat is Brooksville, Florida6.



Around 1840, Fort DeSoto was established in present-day Hernando County in the northeast edge of present-day Brooksville to protect settlers in the area from Native Americans. Fort DeSoto became a small community center, trading post, and way station on the route to Tampa. When settlement by the fort began around 1845, it was alternatively known as Pierceville.

Then encompassing a significantly larger area of west central Florida than it does today, Hernando County was officially established on February 27, 1843, two years prior to Florida's admission into the Union. Named for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, whose name has also been honored in De Soto County, Hernando County was briefly renamed "Benton County" in 1844 for Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, a strong supporter of territorial expansion who aided in the county's creation. However Benton fell out of favor with the county's residents later in the decade due to his decision to support the Missouri Compromise and overall reversal of his stance on slavery, and the county's name reverted in 1850.

In December 1854, the legislature designated the small port town of Bayport the County Seat. Residents living in the eastern section of the county instead desired a more central place for the county government, and by 1855, voters had selected an inland site within five miles of the center of the county at the town of Melendez. In 1856, the citizens of the Hernando County chose to rename the town, their new County Seat, "Brooksville" in honor of South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks, who in the same year beat fierce abolitionist Masschusetts Senator Charles Sumner with a cane in the Senate chambers, winning the Congressman great renown in the South.

In 1855, town founder Joseph Hale donated land for a county courthouse in the center of present-day Brooksville. The structure was completed soon thereafter and serviced the county until September 29, 1877, when it was destroyed in a fire.

During the Civil War, Hernando County primarily contributed foodstuffs, cotton, and lumber to the Confederacy. Although Union ships imposed a blockade on the port of Bayport, runners enjoyed a great deal of success--enough to lead the Union in June 1864 to order some 150-250 troops to destroy Confederate stockpiles in the county. In early July, the expedition marched northward from Anclote River to Brooksville, meeting some resistance from assembled Confederate troops hastily organized to protect the city. The Federal troops won this engagement (known locally as the "Brooksville Raid") and marched to Bayport, where they and an auxillary force landing from gunboats sacked Rebel operations. The skirmish between Union "raiders" and local Confederates is reenacted annually in the county.

On January 2, 1887, the Florida State Legislature divided Hernando County into three independent counties: Pasco County to the south, Citrus County to the north, and Hernando County in the middle. Since then, Hernando County's borders have remained unchanged.

Major Highways

  • 'U.S. 19' (Commercial Way) A major commercial center running beside to the Gulf of Mexico on the western edge of the county. Used as a primary connecting route to cities down the west coast of Florida, including Hudson, Port Richey, Tarpon Springs, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg, as well as Homosassa and Crystal River to the north.
  • 'U.S. 41' (Broad Street) Runs parallel to U.S. 19 through points in the center of the county, including downtown Brooksville, where it intersects with S.R. 50 and U.S. 98. Still a primary connecting route with Tampa.
  • 'U.S. 98' (Ponce de Leon Boulevard) Runs diagonally across the county from the northwest to the southeast, where it exits into Pasco County. Runs concurrent with S.R. 50 in the eastern part of the county, intersects I-75, and meets the Suncoast Expressway at the expressway's end.
  • 'U.S. 301' (Treiman Boulevard) A north and south highway that crosses into the county briefly at its tapered eastern end, running parallel to I-75. Intersects with S.R. 50 at Ridge Manor.
  • 'Interstate 75' Runs north and south across the western part of the county, with one exit (Exit 301) at its intersection with U.S. 98/S.R. 50. Once a major connecting point with Tampa, I-75 has been made somewhat obsolete for western residents of the county by the Suncoast Expressway.
  • 'Suncoast Expressway' (S.R. 589) Enters the county in the south slightly to the west of U.S. 41, and ends in the far northern part of the county at U.S. 98. (N.B. the Suncoast Expressway is considered incomplete; it was initially slated to exit Hernando County in the north and head into Crystal River.) The Suncoast Expressway is a recently-constructed toll road that connects Hernando County with Hillsborough County, where it becomes the Veteran's Expressway and heads directly into into Tampa International Airport. S.R. 589 has four Hernando County exits: County Line Road (Exit 37), Spring Hill Drive (Exit 41), S.R. 50 (Exit 46), and U.S. 98.
  • 'S.R. 50' (Cortez Boulevard) Begins at U.S. 19 in Weeki Wachee, runs through Brooksville, and exits into Sumter County at the eastern tip of the county. Along the way, it intersects with the Suncoast Expressway, intersects with U.S. 41 in Brooksville, runs concurrently with U.S. 98, and intersects with I-75 and U.S. 301 in the eastern part of the county. A significant, well-developed highway in the county, S.R. 50 originally extended from U.S. 19 to the Gulf Coast at Bayport. This section was given back to the County and is currently C.R. 550. Currently, S.R. 50 is used as a beeline route from the county to Orlando in the east.
  • 'S.R. 50 Alternate' (Jefferson Street) A spur of S.R. 50 that runs through downtown Brooksville. Runs concurrently with both U.S. 41 and U.S. 98 at points.
  • 'Spring Hill Drive' (C.R. 574) A major county road running roughly parallel to both S.R. 50 and the border with Pasco County. Begins by U.S. 19, intersects the Suncoast Expressway, and ends at U.S. 41.

Points of Interest


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,526 km² (589 mi²). 1,239 km² (478 mi²) of it is land and 287 km² (111 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 18.80% water.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 130,802 people, 55,425 households, and 40,016 families residing in the county. The population density is 106/km² (274/mi²). There are 62,727 housing units at an average density of 51/km² (131/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 92.85% White, 4.07% Black or African American, 0.30% Native American, 0.64% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.98% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. 5.04% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 55,425 households out of which 21.80% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.40% are married couples living together, 8.70% have a female householder with no husband present, and 27.80% are non-families. 23.30% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.70% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.32 and the average family size is 2.70.

In the county the population is spread out with 18.90% under the age of 18, 5.40% from 18 to 24, 20.40% from 25 to 44, 24.40% from 45 to 64, and 30.90% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 50 years. For every 100 females there are 90.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 87.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county is $32,572, and the median income for a family is $37,509. Males have a median income of $30,295 versus $21,661 for females. The per capita income for the county is $18,321. 10.30% of the population and 7.10% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 15.90% of those under the age of 18 and 6.20% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Cities and towns



See Also

Hernando County Sheriff's Office

External Links

Government links/Constitutional offices

Special districts

Judicial branch

Tourism links

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