History Happened Here

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Callaway

Bay County

Year Founded: 1963

History

Prior to the 1700s, Spanish navigators were the first recorded visitors to the area as they sought shipping ports for their supply ships along the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Many of the early pioneers to the area settled on what is now known as Callaway Bayou. In the early 1800s, A.B. Smith constructed a sawmill on the bayou known at that time as Smith’s Mill Pond. Mr. Smith sold the mill to a man named Furstlue and it later burned, resulting in the name being changed to Burnt Mill Point. In 1855, E.G. Langston homesteaded a piece of property adjacent to the bayou, and again the name was changed to Langston Bayou. Mr. Langston purchased a steamboat that he used to generate power to run his sawmill and house his workers. The steamboat was destroyed by a mid-1800s hurricane. In 1897, Pitt Callaway purchased the Langston property and, over the years, the name was changed to Callaway Bayou. During the Civil War, the area was also known for its salt production. Boilers from a steamboat were cut in half and used to evaporate water from Callaway Bayou, thus leaving the salt for harvest. This operation, though not in productive use, remained intact for many years until sold for salvage. In addition to the timber industry in the early 1900s, the Callaway community also included a turpentine still near the bayou. The local government of Callaway was formed and its first officials elected on January 15, 1936 . This formation was mainly attributed to a school relocation issue. The citizens thought that incorporation of the community would help in this desire, but it was not to be. The city officials who won that first election remained in an inactive office for 23 years until the Community of Callaway was reactivated in 1959. At the first meeting after re-establishment of the Callaway government, a collection was taken and a total of $15.50 was donated for materials to operate the new government. Some of these contributions went for the purchase of a badge and a pistol for the new town marshal. On November 9, 1959, the name was changed from the Community of Callaway to the Town of Callaway and, on November 18, 1963 , Callaway gained its status as a city. The citizens adopted a new charter in 1996 (via mail-in ballots), changing from a council-weak mayor form of government to a council-manager form of government. Tyndall Air Force Base has been a major contributor to Callaway’s economy, with a large percentage of the residents being associated with the military installation or retired military personnel.

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