|Founded||February 24, 1843|
|Named for||Hernando de Soto|
|Largest community||Spring Hill|
|• Total||589 sq mi (1,530 km2)|
|• Land||473 sq mi (1,230 km2)|
|• Water||116 sq mi (300 km2) 19.8%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||411/sq mi (159/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Hernando County is a county located on the west central coast of the U.S. state of Florida. As of the 2020 census, the population was 194,515. Its county seat is Brooksville, and its largest community is Spring Hill.
Hernando County is included in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2005, Hernando was the 35th fastest-growing county in the country.
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. Settlements started to grow near the fort beginning around 1845; two towns developed, Melendez and Pierceville, which would later merge to create Brooksville in 1856.
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. It was created from portions of Alachua, Hillsborough and Orange Counties and included all of present-day Citrus and Pasco Counties. Named for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, whose name has also been honored in DeSoto 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 the 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 (8 km) of the center of the county at the town of Melendez. In 1856, the citizens of 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 Massachusetts 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. Soon thereafter, the structure was completed.
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 auxiliary force landing from gunboats sacked Rebel operations. The skirmish between Union raiders and local Confederates is reenacted annually in the county.
Arthur St. Clair, a minister, was lynched in Hernando County, Florida, in 1877 for performing the wedding of a black man and white woman.
The county courthouse was destroyed by a fire on September 29, 1877. On June 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.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 589 square miles (1,530 km2), of which 473 square miles (1,230 km2) is land and 116 square miles (300 km2) (19.8%) is water. According to the World Atlas USA, Hernando County is the geographic center of Florida. Elevation in the county ranges from mean sea level along the Gulf coast to its highest natural point of 269 feet at Chinsegut Hill.
Weeki Wachee Springs
Withlacoochee State Forest
|U.S. Decennial Census|
1990-2000 2010-2015 2019
|Race||Pop 2010||Pop 2020||% 2010||% 2020|
|Black or African American (NH)||8,165||9,507||4.73%||4.89%|
|Native American or Alaska Native (NH)||483||553||0.28%||0.28%|
|Pacific Islander (NH)||62||86||0.04%||0.04%|
|Some Other Race (NH)||244||868||0.14%||0.45%|
|Hispanic or Latino||17,796||29,045||10.3%||14.93%|
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 194,515 people, 76,708 households, and 51,765 families residing in the county.
As of the census of 2000, there were 130,802 people, 55,425 households, and 40,016 families residing in the county. The population density was 106/sq mi (274/km2). There were 62,727 housing units at an average density of 51/sq mi (131/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 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 was Hispanic or Latino of any race. 91.1% spoke English, 4.5% Spanish, 1.1% German and 1.1% Italian as their first language.
There were 55,425 households, which 21.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.40% were married couples living together, 8.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.80% were non-families. 23.30% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.70.
In the county 18.90% of the population was under the age of 18, 5.40% was between the ages of 18 to 24, 20.40% between 25 to 44, 24.40% between 45 and 64, and 30.90% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50 years. For every 100 females there were 90.50 males. For every 100 females, age 18 and over, there were 87.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $32,572, and the median income for a family was $37,509. Males had a median income of $30,295 versus $21,661 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,321. About 7.10% of families and 10.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.90% of those under age 18 and 6.20% of those ages 65 or over.
Hernando County is home to the largest (truck-to-truck) Wal-Mart Distribution Center in the U.S. approximately 1,600,000 square feet (150,000 m2) in size and located in Ridge Manor. The industrial park Airport Industrial Park is a 155-acre (0.63 km2) located near the Hernando County Airport. Over one hundred aviation, manufacturing and distribution businesses are located in this area.
The top employers of Hernando County are as follows:
1. Hernando County School Board (3,002)
2. Walmart (1,350)
3. Hernando County Government
4. Oak Hill Hospital (1,561)
5. Publix (1,050)
6. Walmart Hernando Distribution center (1,020)
Hernando THE Bus provides bus service in Brooksville and Spring Hill.
CSX operates two rail lines within the county. Amtrak formerly provided passenger rail service along the old Atlantic Coast Line Railroad line east of US 301 in Ridge Manor, but had no stops in the county, the nearest stops being Dade City, and its last train on the line, the Palmetto had its Florida service discontinued in late 2004. The other line is the Brooksville Subdivision, which runs close to US 41, and was previously owned by the Seaboard Air Line. The last train directly serving the county, in Croom, was local Jacksonville - St. Petersburg service in 1955 or 1956 operated by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
Notable abandoned railroad lines include a former branch of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad spanning from southeast of Ridge Manor through Istachatta that became part of the Withlacoochee State Trail, and a spur of this line from Croom west into Brooksville, part of which is being replaced by a new rail trail called the Good Neighbor Trail. Though originally the Good Neighbor Trail only existed within Brooksville itself, the extension to the Withlacoohee State Trail has existed since 2018.
Hernando County has been trending towards the Republican party in the 21st century.
Hernando County's chief legislative body is the Board of County Commissioners. The county is divided into five Districts, each with their own commissioner. Commissioners are elected by the voters at large, to four-year terms. Specific duties of the county Commissioners are outlined in Chapter 125, Florida Statutes.
|2018||John Mitten||REP||June 2018 - 2020|
|2016||Nick Nicholson||REP||2016 - June 2018|
|2012||Nick Nicholson||REP||2012 - 2016|
|2008||Jeff Stabins||REP||2008 - 2012|
|2002||Hannah M. "Nancy" Robinson||DEM||2002-2006|
|2012||James E Adkins||REP||2012-2016|
|2008||James E Adkins||REP||2008-2012|
|2016||Donald C. Barbee, Jr.||REP||2016-2018|
|2008||Annie D Williams||DEM||2008-2012|
|2020||Alvin "Al" Nienhuis||REP||2020-2024|
|2016||Alvin "Al" Nienhuis||REP||2016-2020|
|2012||Alvin "Al" Nienhuis||REP||2012-2016|
|2010||Alvin "Al" Nienhuis||REP||2010-2012|
|2008||Richard B Nugent||REP||2008-2010|
The Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department was decommissioned on 2/15/17 and taken over by the Hernando County Fire Department.
The county is served by the Hernando County Library System. This is a public library system with one central library located in Brooksville and three other branches in Brooksville and Spring Hill. There are no bookmobiles associated with this library system. As of 2013, the staff totaled 42 people, including 11 librarians and 31 other staff members, only ten of which were full-time employees. The Florida Library Association chose the Hernando system as its 2013 Library of the Year. This library system serves a legal population of 136,484 people. The annual number of library visits is 480,706. There are 49 Internet terminals for use by the general public. The annual service hours for all service outlets is 12,215.
The library system has four branches: