WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

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Orange Hill, Florida

Hickory Hill, which later became Orange Hill, is the most imposing elevation between the Apalachicola and Choctawhatchee Rivers in West Florida.  It is one of several heights that form a small range of hills in eastern Washington County.  The post office was in use from 1847 until February 29, 1908.

The name Orange Hill came into general use in the early 1840’s .  The change from Hickory to Orange was prompted in part by the hill’s no-frost reputation.  Some of the early settlers claimed that oranges can be grown on the hill without fear of freezing.  The area was also praised for its’ healthfulness.  The hill, fanned by summer breezes was relatively free of mosquitoes and other insect pests.

Orange Hill was the site of one or more Indian villages on a trail leading from the lower Choctawhatchee River region.

Orange Hill is the birthplace (October 13, 1822) for J.D. Whitaker, who helped his mother establish a stage coach inn and station in 1835 in the Alabama – Florida border region. That indicates that settlers were established in the Orange Hill community in the year following Florida’s official acquisition from Spain in 1821.

Orange Hill in 1851 – 1852 was the site of Florida’s first Baptist – affiliated educational institution.  It was the Orange Hill Male and Female Academy. This school replaced a boarding school which had existed on Orange Hill since 1847. Students at the Orange Hill Academy and the Knox Hill Academy overlooking the Euchee Valley would sometimes build bonfires simultaneously on moonless nights as a means of extending visual greetings to each other.

In the pre-civil war era, Orange Hill was the site of several plantations. Perhaps the largest was the Everett plantation owned by David Porter Everett.  Overseer for the plantation was Mr. Angus McMillan.

In 1878 -1880 there was much talk at the time of a Trans-West Florida Railway, connecting other railways to St. Andrews Bay.  Orange Hill was considered a natural crossing point for the proposed railroads.  Col. D. H. Horne was engaged to plat what would become known as the Chalmers – Brown Sub-division of Orange Hill.  The plat was filed with the county on June 5, 1886.  Plans for the great city of Orange Hill faded in the face of changing conditions. The Pensacola & Atlantic RR had been routed several miles to the north where a town named Orange, later to be Chipley, had been founded.  Many of Orange Hill’s residents moved to the new community.