Vernon became the county seat on or near the year 1850 and remained the county seat until 1927. Vernon was once known as the “ World’s leading gopher shipping port”. Shipped by steamboat to Pensacola almost weekly between 1885 and 1930 were hundreds of live gopher tortoises. Their meat was considered a delicacy of gourmet status in Pensacola. Gophers were accepted in lieu of cash in Vernon stores. Many were resold in Pensacola to be carried out to sea on long voyages to provide, in absence of refrigeration, fresh meat to supplement an otherwise drab menu.
The Battle of Vernon, Florida
On September 28, 1864, the men of Captain W.B. Jones' Company, Florida Home Guard, collided with the large Union force of Brigadier General Alexander Asboth on the
banks of Hard Labor Creek in Washington County. The resulting skirmish has been
remembered locally as the Battle of Vernon,Florida.
The encounter took place during the deepest penetration of Florida by Union troops during
the entire Civil War. General As both and his men had left Pensacola on September 18,
1864. Leaving a wide swath of destruction in their wake, they skirmished with Southern
troops near Campbellton in Jackson County on September 26th and then attacked the city of Marianna the next day.
Following the bloody Battle of Marianna, the Union troops turned southwest on the
Vernon road shortly after midnight on the morning of September 28, 1864. After
stopping for their midday meal at Orange Hill, they came down into Holmes Valley and
soon approached the crossing of Hard Labor Creek.
Meanwhile, Captain W.B. Jones of the Vernon Home Guard learned that Marianna
had been attacked. The 30-50 men of his company were either too young or too old to
serve in the regular army or had been released from service due to wounds and
other disabilities. Mounting their horses at Vernon, they headed out for Marianna to help
their neighbors in Jackson County.Neither force knew it, but they were approaching each other via the same road.
On the afternoon of September 28, 1864, the two forces collided unexpectedly at Hard
Labor Creek near today's Washington Church. Believing they were being pursued
by Confederate cavalry, the hundreds of Union soldiers were in no mood to be
delayed. They ordered Captain Jones and his men to disperse and go home.