Towns rise and fall. The history of Hernando County has a long tradition of this. The town of Bayport is one such town. Having gone from the seat of the county to a small fishing community, Bayport has a rich history that follows many of the major events in Florida history.
In 1852, Bayport was formed by a group of landowners headed by the Parsons family. Within two years, a post office was established. A hotel was built that became one of the central hubs of the town. Later that year, Bayport was named the seat of Hernando County, of course we all know that would not last long. At that point though, times were good for the community.
While many other supply routes were blockaded during the Civil War, Bayport became part of a fairly important supply line. Skirmishes over supplies coming through the area were common and the area sustained considerable damage in the fighting. The town needed fairly heavy repairs after the war ended and renovations began quickly. Bayport became one of Hernando County’s major lumber producers for a number of years.
In 1925, the town was sold to William Richmond of Sharpstown, New Jersey. During the Prohibition era, the town became a center for illegal moonshine and rum distribution. Even the local authorities were noted as being in on the action. After Prohibition, the town started to shift towards fishing once again. This shift is one that has had a lasting effect on the community, as it is still predominantly a fishing community today.
The town’s cemetery is one of the oldest in the county’s history. However, much like the Oriole Cemetery we mentioned previously, it is left abandoned and in disrepair. Much of the original tract of land belonging to the town itself is now part of a public park.