DeSoto County
DeSoto County Courthouse
DeSoto County Courthouse
Official seal of DeSoto County
Map of Florida highlighting DeSoto County
Location within the U.S. state of Florida
Map of the United States highlighting Florida
Florida's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 27°11′N 81°49′W / 27.19°N 81.81°W / 27.19; -81.81
Country United States
State Florida
FoundedMay 19, 1887
Named forHernando de Soto
SeatArcadia
Largest cityArcadia
Area
 • Total639 sq mi (1,660 km2)
 • Land637 sq mi (1,650 km2)
 • Water2.4 sq mi (6 km2)  0.4%%
Population
 • Estimate 
(2020)
33,976
 • Density55/sq mi (21/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district17th
Websitewww.desotobocc.com
DeSoto County Courthouse

DeSoto County is a county located at the tropical/humid subtropical line which means the Florida Heartland, central portion of the U.S. state of Florida. As of the 2020 census, the population was 33,976.[1] Its county seat is Arcadia.[2]

DeSoto County comprises the Arcadia, FL Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the North Port-Sarasota, FL Combined Statistical Area.

History

Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, what is now DeSoto County was within the territory of the Calusa Indians.

In 1513, Ponce De Leon sailed into present-day Charlotte Harbor near the mouth of the Peace River to put in for repairs and maintenance on his ships. While there the Spanish encountered Calusa Indians and soon after an argument broke out and several died on both sides. Then the Spanish kidnapped several Calusa and departed Charlotte Harbor and sailed S.W. away from the west coast of Florida. This occurred within the original boundaries of DeSoto County.

In 1521, Ponce De Leon attempted to establish a colony at or near Charlotte Harbor but again was turned away by the Calusa who wounded him. Shortly after, he died and was buried in Puerto Rico.

In 1528 the Spanish Conquistadors Panfilo De Narvaez and Cabeza De Vaca came to present-day Arcadia where they captured several Calusa Indians who told them of great quantities of gold located to the north and offered to guide them there.

In 1539 the Spanish Explorer Hernando DeSoto, for whom the county is named, anchored in Charlotte Harbor and set about to explore the region with mixed results. Eventually, he made his way up the coast to present-day Manatee County and went inland from there.

While Florida was claimed by Spain the moment it was discovered, the territory of La Florida was not formalized until 1565 with the founding of St. Augustine. At that point, what is now DeSoto County became part of La Florida. In 1763, the region became part of East Florida under British Rule. In 1783, East Florida was returned to Spain at which point today's DeSoto county was once again Spanish territory. In 1821 it became U.S. Territory.

In 1841 Camp Ogden, later Fort Ogden was built as a staging area for the U.S. Army during the 2nd Seminole War, in the southwestern part of present-day DeSoto County.

In 1870, the Joshua Creek Church and neighboring cemetery was founded.

In the 1870s John W. Whidden, a Confederate veteran and former Manatee county clerk, settled along the Joshua Creek where he founded a cattle ranch raising thousands of head of cattle. Also in the 1870s, Union veteran Robert C. Hendry took up cattle ranching on the Joshua Creek in the now-defunct settlement of Davidson.

In 1876 the Fort Ogden Post Office was founded and remains the oldest post office in the county.

DeSoto County was created in 1887 from Manatee County. It was named for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, whose name was also honored in Hernando County.[3]

DeSoto County originally included several other present-day counties until 1921, when the Florida legislature created the following new counties: Charlotte, Glades, Hardee, and Highlands.

During World War II, DeSoto County operated the Carlstrom Field Air Base, which provided training for both American and British pilots. Twenty-three British pilots were killed while training at the base and are honored at DeSoto County's Oak Ridge Cemetery, which is located in the town of Arcadia. In 1945, the base turned out its last cadets and was decommissioned. The base was then sold to the State of Florida for one dollar and later converted into a mental health facility known as G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital. The hospital has since been converted into a facility for juvenile offenders. The facility was closed and is now up for sale.

On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley passed directly through DeSoto County. Hurricane-force winds persisted for an hour, damaging most of the structures in the county and causing some to be completely destroyed.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 639 square miles (1,660 km2), of which 637 square miles (1,650 km2) is land and 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2) (0.4%) is water.[4] The highest elevation in DeSoto County is 96 feet and is located right on the border between DeSoto County and Highlands County and is about three miles south of the border with Hardee County. The lowest elevation in DeSoto County is sea level and is located in the Peace River near its mouth.

Adjacent counties

Lakes

The largest body of water in DeSoto County not including the Peace River is a man made reservoir located within the RV Griffin Reserve and is not open to the public. The largest natural lake in DeSoto County is Sour Orange lake and is located at 27°07'23.2"N 81°39'07.0"W Lake Operation is located at 27°06'56.0"N 81°39'43.0"W Split Lake is located at 27°10'33.5"N 81°37'18.7"W Besides the Peace River, and the three above bodies of water, there are few other natural bodies of water of note, mostly small ponds and most are not named. There are about as many man made retention ponds in DeSoto County.

Rivers

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
18904,944
19008,04762.8%
191014,20076.5%
192025,43479.1%
19307,745−69.5%
19407,7920.6%
19509,24218.6%
196011,68326.4%
197013,06011.8%
198019,03945.8%
199023,86525.3%
200032,20935.0%
201034,8628.2%
202033,976−2.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
1790-1960[6] 1900-1990[7]
1990-2000[8] 2010-2019[1]
DeSoto County racial composition as of 2020
(NH = Non-Hispanic)[a]
Race Pop 2010[11] Pop 2020[12] % 2010 % 2020
White (NH) 19,549 18,624 56.08% 54.82%
Black or African American (NH) 4,338 4,203 12.44% 12.37%
Native American or Alaska Native (NH) 62 80 0.18% 0.24%
Asian (NH) 169 189 0.48% 0.56%
Pacific Islander (NH) 4 8 0.01% 0.02%
Some Other Race (NH) 29 80 0.08% 0.24%
Mixed/Multi-Racial (NH) 286 781 0.82% 2.3%
Hispanic or Latino 10,425 10,011 29.9% 29.46%
Total 34,862 33,976

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 33,976 people, 12,421 households, and 8,306 families residing in the county.

As of the census[13] of 2000, there were 32,209 people, 10,746 households, and 7,672 families residing in the county. The population density was 50 inhabitants per square mile (19/km2). There were 13,608 housing units at an average density of 21 per square mile (8/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 73.33% White, 12.72% Black or African American, 1.59% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 10.49% from other races, and 1.43% from two or more races. 24.90% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

2005 estimates showed the population as being 56.3% non-Hispanic white, 31.4% Latino, 11.8% African-American and 2.9% Native American. (Source=WebCite query result

In 2000 there were 10,746 households, out of which 26.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.50% were married couples living together, 10.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.60% were non-families. 21.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 22.70% under the age of 18, 11.20% from 18 to 24, 26.70% from 25 to 44, 20.50% from 45 to 64, and 19.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 128.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 134.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $30,714, and the median income for a family was $34,726. Males had a median income of $22,572 versus $20,004 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,000. About 14.20% of families and 23.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.50% of those under age 18 and 7.30% of those age 65 or over.

Politics

Voter registration

According to the Secretary of State's office, Democrats are a plurality of registered voters in DeSoto County.

DeSoto County Voter Registration & Party Enrollment as of March 31, 2022:[14]
Political Party Total Voters Percentage
Republican 7,317 40.72%
Democratic 6,144 34.19%
No Party Affiliation 4,337 24.14%
Minor Parties 170 0.95%
Total 17,968 100%

Statewide elections

United States presidential election results for DeSoto County, Florida[15]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 8,313 65.58% 4,259 33.60% 104 0.82%
2016 6,778 62.17% 3,781 34.68% 344 3.16%
2012 5,587 56.51% 4,174 42.22% 126 1.27%
2008 5,632 55.41% 4,383 43.12% 149 1.47%
2004 5,524 58.09% 3,913 41.15% 73 0.77%
2000 4,256 54.48% 3,321 42.51% 235 3.01%
1996 3,275 43.71% 3,222 43.01% 995 13.28%
1992 3,070 41.32% 2,646 35.62% 1,713 23.06%
1988 4,243 65.64% 2,181 33.74% 40 0.62%
1984 4,822 67.64% 2,304 32.32% 3 0.04%
1980 3,356 53.40% 2,713 43.17% 216 3.44%
1976 2,000 41.48% 2,715 56.30% 107 2.22%
1972 2,958 77.58% 852 22.34% 3 0.08%
1968 1,103 26.94% 937 22.89% 2,054 50.17%
1964 1,986 52.78% 1,777 47.22% 0 0.00%
1960 1,687 50.10% 1,680 49.90% 0 0.00%
1956 1,234 48.41% 1,315 51.59% 0 0.00%
1952 1,256 41.21% 1,792 58.79% 0 0.00%
1948 569 27.33% 1,157 55.57% 356 17.10%
1944 543 23.97% 1,722 76.03% 0 0.00%
1940 526 21.79% 1,888 78.21% 0 0.00%
1936 560 26.00% 1,594 74.00% 0 0.00%
1932 506 23.76% 1,624 76.24% 0 0.00%
1928 1,382 64.04% 748 34.66% 28 1.30%
1924 230 25.14% 641 70.05% 44 4.81%
1920 1,077 28.02% 2,496 64.93% 271 7.05%
1916 385 14.95% 1,755 68.13% 436 16.93%
1912 110 8.74% 847 67.28% 302 23.99%
1908 244 16.98% 992 69.03% 201 13.99%
1904 188 18.50% 721 70.96% 107 10.53%


Previous gubernatorial elections results
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2018 63.61% 5,663 34.36% 3,059 2.03% 180
2014 49.00% 3,681 43.85% 3,294 7.15% 537
2010 53.10% 3,667 41.80% 2,887 5.10% 352
2006 57.41% 3,785 39.48% 2,603 3.11% 205
2002 54.47% 3,951 44.28% 3,212 1.25% 91
1998 61.67% 3,711 38.15% 2,296 0.18% 11
1994 54.40% 3,407 45.60% 2,856

Library

DeSoto County is part of the Heartland Library Cooperative which serves DeSoto County and some of the surrounding counties, including Glades, Highlands, Hardee, and Okeechobee. The seven-branch library system has one branch in Arcadia.

Local media

Newspaper

The Charlotte Sun produces a section dedicated to Desoto County called The Arcadian. Locally, the section is offered as a standalone for residential delivery.

Television

Desoto County is part of the Fort Myers/Naples DMA. Almost all stations from Fort Myers and Naples are receivable within the county, as well as some stations from the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Sarasota DMA. There was formerly a low-power television station, WALM-LD on channel 34; however, the station's license was cancelled by the FCC on September 21, 2020.

Radio

DeSoto County has two radio stations licensed to locations within the county:

Communities

Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto
Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto

City

Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities

Ghost town

Transportation

Airports

Arcadia Municipal Airport is the only public-use airport in DeSoto County.

Major highways

See also: List of county roads in DeSoto County, Florida

I-75 runs only a short section in the very southwestern tip of the county and has no major junctions within the county.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.[9][10]

References

  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ Publications of the Florida Historical Society. Florida Historical Society. 1908. p. 31.
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  6. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  7. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  8. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  9. ^ http://www.census.gov[not specific enough to verify]
  10. ^ "About the Hispanic Population and its Origin". www.census.gov. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  11. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved May 27, 2022.
  12. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved May 27, 2022.
  13. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  14. ^ "Sarasota County, FL : Supervisor of Elections". Sarasota County, FL : Supervisor of Elections. SOE Software Corporation. April 20, 2022. Retrieved April 20, 2022.
  15. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved June 14, 2018.

Government links/Constitutional offices

Special districts

Judicial branch

Tourism links

Media

Coordinates: 27°11′N 81°49′W / 27.19°N 81.81°W / 27.19; -81.81