Mannsfield, Florida

Mannsfield, Florida

Mannsfield is a ghost town near Lecanto, Florida in the Withlacoochee State Forest. Mannsfield was first settled in 1884. In 1887, when Citrus County was created out of Hernando County, Mannsfield became the county seat. In 1891 a vote was taken to re-evaluate the county seat. "After seven countywide votes, Inverness, Florida was chosen by a narrow margin - 267 to 258 votes - over the more populated Mannsfield." While a lawyer for Mannsfield attempted to annul the vote, Inverness supporters reacted. On April 9, 1891, under sheriff's orders, courthouse material and the clerk of courts, refusing to leave and still at his desk, were physically picked up and taken to Inverness. "Immediately upon this announcement, a hundred hands began the tearing down of walls of the Circuit Court Clerk's Office and loading up of county property and records for removal," according to the minutes recorded that day. "It being impossible to transact business, a motion was made to transact business, a motion was made to adjourn and meet at Inverness on the 20th of April A.D. 1891 and was unanimously passed." This act has been referred in oral history as the county seat being stolen. Ironically, within the 1990s and early 2000s, the county seat is beginning to migrate to Lecanto, the current town which encompasses former Mannsfield. As of the present time, many government buildings and services have relocated to Lecanto, including the Emergency Management Center, The Government Building housing the local Southwest Florida Water Management District office and the Building Services, the Citrus County Fire Training Center, and the largest and central Health Department. There has been discussions of moving other county offices to Lecanto, including the court system and County Commissioners.

During the Great Depression, the federal government acquired the Mannsfield and surrounding area to form the Withlacoochee State Forest from private landowners between 1936 and 1939 under the provisions of the U.S. Land Resettlement Administration. Mannsfield lies on the outskirts of the forest, less than a mile from SR 491 near the street bearing the same name. Traces still remain, including foundations and oaks which were said to line main street. A pond nearby also bears the town's name. Mannsfield lies within the Lecanto Sandhills, an environmentally sensitive region.

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