| Marion County was founded in
1844. Many of its earlier settlers hailed from South Carolina, where Revolutionary War
hero Francis Marion (the "Swamp Fox") is particularly revered. The county is
located in north central Florida, an area which the aboriginal Timucuans knew as
"Ocali." Many attempts have been made to translate this term, without success.
It is reflected in the name of the county seat, Ocala, which occupies the site of Seminole
War-era Ft. King. The area is famous for the presence of a national forest, the Silver
Springs attraction, and the horse farms that cover the lovely rolling hills of the western
Marion County no longer has a historic courthouse building. Court was first held within Fort King. A 20 x 20 foot log structure was then constructed on a site a few blocks from the Ocala public square, the first meeting occurring there September 7, 1846. This was in use until 1851, when a two-story wooden structure was erected on the square itself. Access to the second story, where court functions were held, was via an outside staircase. Next came a two-story square red brick courthouse with white stone trim and white cupola, erected on the same site in 1885 and visible in the postcard at the top of this page. Of this courthouse nothing remains except its black iron fence, which was moved to another site on nearby Fort King Avenue. The final courthouse on the public square was opened around 1907. The grounds featured a bandstand where noted orators such as William Jennings Bryan held forth. In 1964, when a new county office complex was constructed, this building was demolished for a parking lot.
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