Nassau County, Florida

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Nassau County is a county located in the state of Florida. As of 2000, the population is 57,663. Its county seat is Fernandina Beach, Florida6.



Nassau County was created in 1824. It was named for the Duchy of Nassau in Germany.

Law and government

Nassau County is governed by the five-member Nassau County Board of County Commissioners, who are elected to four-year terms by the voters. The terms are staggered so that either three or two commissioners (alternately) are up for election every two years.

The main environmental and agricultural body is the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District, which works closely with other area agencies.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,880 km² (726 mi²). 1,688 km² (652 mi²) of it is land and 192 km² (74 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 10.24% water. Fernandina Beach is located on Amelia Island, the county's one inhabited island.

Soil conditions

There are approximately 12 roughly distinct types of soil present in Nassau County. These types tend to (but not necessarily) run in bands going north and south, although this is less and less the case as one moves east towards the coast. Directly against the western border with Baker County, the geography ranges between fairly flat to slight changes in elevation. Drainage is bad and the soil is sandy. Moving east, there are some areas (mostly in the north and central) that become more pronounced in terms of elevation and the quality of drainage increases markedly. East of these areas are some places in the north and central, but large areas in the south that become more level and have extremely poor drainage and are at low elevations. Eastward again, there is a stretch that ranges from a few miles in the extreme northern areas to about 6-8 miles in the southern area and includes Hilliard and much of CR 108 and SR 301. This area again has very poor drainage, low-lying land, and furthermore fairly sandy soil. East of this are scattered areas of high, sandy land with spotty or poor drainage. East of this there is an area which includes Callahan with very sandy soil in the upper areas of the soil, and clay in the lower parts. This section is heavily permeated by small creeks and rivers, which bring with them low, poorly drained soils. It extends across the entire county from north to south at a fairly consistent width of about 3-4 miles, except in the north, where it widens to nearly 6 miles across. East of this area is a large tract of land running also north to south at a consistent width of about 8 miles. It is very similar or almost identical to the soil conditions mentioned in the third area mentioned above, which are more level and have extremely poor drainage and are at low elevations. Here, however, the landscape is again permeated by small creeks and rivers. In the northern section there is a junction of the St. Mary's River and some of its tributaries, while in the south, a number of tributaries drain together into the Nassau River, which moves into the Nassau Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Still east of this area is a section of land about 3 miles in ditch that has extremely sandy soils with bad drainage all around. Moving still eastward is a large area, including Yulee and O'Neil, about 4 miles in width featuring poor drainage and sandy soil at higher elevations, pockmarked by large reas of low lands with even worse drainage. To the south is an area of low-lying, organic soils which are essentially marshes and wetlands along the northern bank of the Nassau River, and continues into the Nassau Sound. Still eastward and somewhat to the north is a large area of marshes and organic soils which characterize area wetlands. There are many small islands in this area, and it is permeated by the Bells River and Jolly River, which empty into the Cumberland Sound to the north, just to the south of Cumberland Island. Amelia Island, the easternmost section of the county, is characterized by poor drainage in the west, and better drained, higher, sandier land moving eastward towards the beach. The northern area of the Island features salty marshlands in the form of Egan's Creek, which runs directly beneath Atlantic Boulevard in Fernandina Beach.


Nassau County's economy is very diverse, ranging from agricultural activity (mostly in the form of tree farms) in the west and central areas, to a variety of activities closer to Amelia Island. Much of the land used for tree farming is owned by Rayonier, a major employer in the area, and the owner of a large pulp mill in Fernandina Beach. Historically, tree farming, trucking, and pulp production has characterized a large portion of the local economy. However, extensive growth is occurring in the outlying small towns in the rural western area, and the home construction market is still quite strong. Fernandina Beach has long been known for professional industries such as real estate, legal services, and medical care, and is also a site of some upscale resorts such as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Amelia Island Plantation. In the central area of the county, a private tract of land known as White Oak Plantation was once owned by a wealthy family who ran the area as a private zoo, complete with exotic animals such as giraffes and large albino cats. Numerous public figures, including former President Bill Clinton, have travelled to the resort in the past as a vacation spot.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 57,663 people, 21,980 households, and 16,528 families residing in the county. The population density is 34/km² (88/mi²). There are 25,917 housing units at an average density of 15/km² (40/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 90.02% White, 7.74% Black or African American, 0.43% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.32% from other races, and 1.00% from two or more races. 1.51% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 21,980 households out of which 32.80% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.20% are married couples living together, 9.90% have a female householder with no husband present, and 24.80% are non-families. 20.10% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.70% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.59 and the average family size is 2.97.

In the county the population is spread out with 25.00% under the age of 18, 7.20% from 18 to 24, 28.80% from 25 to 44, 26.30% from 45 to 64, and 12.60% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 38 years. For every 100 females there are 97.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 94.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county is $46,022, and the median income for a family is $52,477. Males have a median income of $37,027 versus $25,443 for females. The per capita income for the county is $22,836. 9.10% of the population and 6.40% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 10.90% of those under the age of 18 and 8.90% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


Nassau County is home to nine elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools, and one combination middle-senior high school. The Betty Cook Center, established and run by Florida Community College at Jacksonville, offers classes for a variety of post-secondary degrees.

Cities and towns



Local Media

There are four newspapers in Nassau County. The largest, the Fernandina Beach News-Leader, is owned by The Leader Group, a local media company headed by Tom Wood. The Nassau County Record is also owned by The Leader Group, and so the Record and the News-Leader often republish each others' stories. Both of these periodicals are available by subscription or from newsstands. The Westside Journal, an independent newspaper, is published by Florida Sun Printing, and is available for free through the mail. The Journal is well-known for giving regular photo coverage to local car accidents. Nassau Neighbors, a community section of the Florida Times-Union, is also available for free, either from the newsstand, or by subscription for delivery cost.

Further Reading

  • Jan H. Johannes, Yesterday's Reflections, (1976) ASIN B0006CQOIO
  • Jan H. Johannes, Yesterday's Reflections II, (2000) ISBN 0967741904

External links


Local Media

Government links/Constitutional offices

Special districts

Judicial branch

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