1887 - Formation of Lake County
Originally, much of what is now Lake County, including modern Groveland, was part of Sumter County.
During the mid 1800s, pioneers in covered wagons, began arriving and settling in areas which grew into small communities.
The cooperation among the settlers, which was essential in that era, and marriages among families brought western South Lake County together as one big family.
Families lived off the land, raising their own vegetables, livestock, and cotton. Sugar cane provided sugar and syrup, while wild game and fish were plentiful.
A trip to Leesburg, by wagon, to barter or buy and sell goods took two days. The travellers would camp overnight at Bug Springs, near Okahumpka.
In the late 1800s, entrepreneurs began arriving to profit from the turpentine in the long-leaf yellow pine trees which covered the area.
The railroad, which was built through South Lake County during 1887, from Sanford to St. Petersburg, spurred growth and helped the economy.
The people of Yalaha and Tavares helped to form Lake County in July 27, 1887 from portions of east Sumter and west Orange County.
The land was named simply "Lake County", because of the 1,400 or more clear pristine lakes that covered many of the 1,156 square miles.
Tavares became the county seat after 3 elections that included political maneuvering and outright corruption.
In 1889, the courthouse, known as the Pioneer Building was dedicated.
In 1890, the first census was formed and there were 8,034 people in the county.
In 1915, contracts were let for the construction of the first hard surface roads in Lake County.
Prior to that most transportation was on the waterways with special hybrid steam/paddlewheel boats, on the Orange Belt or other railway, or on horseback or wagon along early wagon trails.
[Contributors: Mary Helen Myers, Jason Brown, Richard Helfst]