Brooksville is a city in Hernando County, in the Tampa–Saint Petersburg metro area. It is about forty-five miles north of Tampa and fifteen miles east of the Gulf of Mexico and is in the midst of beautiful, rolling hills. It has been the county seat of Hernando County for more than a hundred years.
One of the earliest explorers was James Rosier who in 1605 discovered the “canoe men” or the Penobscot people in the area. Brookville was originally known as Melendez and early settlers arrived here in about 1845. Melendez was the capital of Benton County which is now Hernando County.
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Fort De Soto, a military fort and trading post was established in 1840 to protect settlers from Indians. This was on the northeastern edge of present day Brooksville on Croom Road. The fort was built on top of a heavy bed of lime-rock which made it difficult to obtain water. The location was abandoned in the early 1840’s and the population shifted about three miles south to establish a community known as Pierceville. About this time, another community called Melendez developed about two miles northwest. Consolidation of these two communities in 1856 resulted in Brooksville, which was incorporated in 1880.
Brookville is named after Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina admired for his strong sense of fair play and courage. The citizens of Hernando voted to name the county’s largest settlement in his honor. The name became official when the post office was called Brooksville in 1871. Brooksville is a full service City with a Council-Manager form of Government and an estimated population of 8,000. It is a thriving residential and commercial community which despite rapid growth has preserved its original charm. It is a popular retirement community.
Vicinity of Brooksville
Brooksville’s main economy has centered on farming, fishing and tourism. Copper mining on Cape Rosier, a granite quarry, saw mills and grist mills have also been important industries. More recent additions have been shore land property development, plumbing and heating businesses and the boatyard. There is a thriving business section with several shopping centers. There are several excellent hospitals in the area: the Brooksville Regional Hospital, Oak Hill Community Hospital and Spring Hill Regional Hospital. A campus of Pasco-Hernando Community College located at the edge of the city looks after the higher educational needs of the community.
There are three city parks with walking trails, sports, and picnicking facilities. Visitors and the locals enjoy hunting, fishing, camping, paddling, birding, and hiking. Championship golf courses, paved or wilderness bicycle trails, and the Croom Motorcycle Recreation Area attract visitors from far. The Hernando Historical Museum and associates organize the Annual Brooksville Raid Festival which is a re-creation of an 1864 civil war battle that occurred in Hernando County. A tour of authentic confederate and union camps is organized for visitors to see how what life was like during the civil war. Food and Civil war items are always on sale.
A delightful feature of Historic Brookville is the murals by the Brooksville Mural Society, Inc. The aim is to beautify this area with artistic and historic mural paintings on the exterior walls of buildings. The endeavor is a partnership of artists, the business community and the government. Murals capture Brooksville City scenes from the 1880’s, with townsfolk in period attire. The costumes were researched from old photographs from the Hernando County Historical Society collection.
The Withlacoochee State Forest is a dense forest through which the Withlacoochee River flows gently. The slow river reflects the towering cypress trees and wild fauna adding to the enchantment of the forest. There are several waterways which flow through different portions of the property such as Little Withlacoochee River and Jumper Creek. The park offers nature trails for horse riders, hikers, and bikers.