Mary Esther, Florida

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Mary Esther is a city in Okaloosa County, Florida, United States. The population was 4,055 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 4,115 [1]. It is part of the Fort Walton BeachCrestviewDestin Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Contents

Geography

Mary Esther is located at 30°24′44″N 86°39′33″W / 30.412266°N 86.659044°W / 30.412266; -86.659044.[3]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.0 km² (1.5 mi²), all land.

History

The area was first settled by John Anderson in 1838, and the name "Anderson" or "Andersons" is noted on maps from 1838 to the late 1880s. The area of Mary Esther was first noted in 1857 in the "Map of the State of Florida" by the Surveyor's General Office. The area encompassing "Anderson" would later become Fort Walton Beach.

Jesse Rogers and his family drove a large cattle herd from South Carolina to the shores of Santa Rosa Sound and settled here in 1842.

During the mid-1850s John Newton, a minister and teacher, settled in the area west of Fort Walton Beach known as the Narrows, today known as Mary Esther. Reverend Newton founded the first school, which also doubled as a church during the Civil War.

Newton established the first post office in the Mary Esther community October 10, 1871. The location was probably in Newton's home, who became Mary Esther's first postmaster. It is not certain how the community ended up with its name, only that Newton named the community for members of his family (either his wife, his two daughters, or a combination of his wife and daughter).

Thomas Jefferson Pryor, born in Greenville, Ala. sailed to Mary Esther in 1854 as a deckhand on a schooner headed for Pensacola. Pryor met Ona Rogers, daughter of Jesse Rogers, and they were married in May 1879. Ten children were born to the couple, two of which - Tom and Roger Pryor - later served as mayors of the town. Pryor became postmaster of Mary Esther in 1899, and members of his family served in that position until 1972. Notably, Mary Pryor, who was T.J. Pryor's daughter in-law & wife of Roger, served as Postmistress from 1938 - 1972. William C. Pryor, noted educator, was among the pupils taught by John Newton. Pryor later became Okaloosa County's first superintendent of schools. The Pryor name is synonymous with Mary Esther. Members of the family have lived in and often have run the small city. The Pryors continue to live on the same property purchased by the original settlers in the early 19th century located on the north bank of Santa Rosa Sound.

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