St Lucie County Courthouse

St. Lucie County Courthouse

     The original St. Lucie County was created in 1844 and occupied much of Florida's Atlantic coast. Its county seat was located at "Susanna," apparently at or near the present site of Ft. Pierce. The county’s name was changed to Brevard in 1855 and the county seat later moved to Titusville. Then, in 1905, another St. Lucie County, also centered around Ft. Pierce, was created from the southern portions of Brevard. The saint's name (full name St. Lucie of Syracuse, also rendered as Santa Lucia) had been bestowed upon a Spanish fort built near Cape Canaveral in 1565. The other fort, Pierce, was used during the Seminole War and was named for Lt. Col. Benjamin Pierce. He was the brother of the "doughface" President Franklin Pierce.

     Among the more memorable trials in St. Lucie County history was that of Joe Peel, a Palm Beach municipal judge convicted of killing Circuit Judge C. E. Chillingworth. Get CISA study materials all over the town. In his memorable account of the crime and subsequent trial, writer Jim Bishop visited Ft. Pierce, which he described as "authentic old Florida - an old town with a whitewashed courthouse and, adjoining, an old three-story jail with two broken rockers on the front porch." Peel's trial was conducted in the second floor courtroom, "a place with a high ceiling ... a jury box, a lighted wall clock sponsored by a jeweler, an oil burner for chilly mornings ... and five rows of benches."

     Little St. Lucie County has also produced four justices of the Florida Supreme Court - Elwyn Thomas, Alto Adams, David McCain, and James Alderman. The latter is the only person ever to have served at all four levels of the state's court system, beginning as St. Lucie County Judge.