Exploring the History of New Smyrna Beach and Realty

New Smyrna Beach – Rich in History

New Smyrna Beach is a charming seaside resort town with over 20,000 permanent residents and an interesting history…

In the beginning, thousands of years before the arrival of the Europeans, Native Americans established villages in the area we now know as New Smyrna Beach. European missionaries first visited during the Spanish Colonial Period in an attempt to convert the Indians to Catholicism, and the British acquired Eastern Florida in 1764.

In 1768, Scottish physician and entrepreneur Dr. Andrew Turnbull established a colony of 1225 settlers and coastal plantations yielding corn, indigo, hemp and cotton. Turnbull’s efforts, now the site of New Smyrna Beach, resulted in the largest attempt at a colonial settlement in the United States. Sadly, those colonists were plagued by disease and fled to St. Augustine in 1777.

The Spanish reclaimed Florida in 1784, but they had difficulty maintaining control of the area, and the United States established the territory of Florida in 1821.

In the years to follow, several large plantations in the area which is now New Smyrna Beach produced sugar, but those plantations were attacked and destroyed during the Seminole War. Resettlement began after the Civil War, and with a population of 150, New Smyrna was born.

Shortly after, the economy, based on tourism, citrus and commercial fishing, began to flourish. In 1920, population reached 2492, and the principal areas of business were Canal and Faulkner streets. During Prohibition, the city and its river islands were popular sites for moonshine stills and hideouts for rum-runners who came from the Bahamas through what is now Ponce de Leon Inlet. After the Great Depression, the area did not recover until after WWII and the city of New Smyrna Beach was incorporated in 1947.