History Happened Here

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Gretna

Gadsden County

Year Founded: 1909

History

The Humphrey Company, naval stores operators, established a settlement at Gretna in 1897. But it was not a town in any real sense of the word and consisted largely of a few widely scattered Negro families around the point where the railroad stopped to pick up wood. The Negroes called the place “Gritney,” and said it was because there was so much sand. In time, the Humphrey Company built a turpentine still, homes for officials and workmen, and a commissary. A post office was established in the commissary and J.W. Mehaffey, a son-in-law of the head of the firm, was appointed the first postmaster. He decided “Gritney” was not a very “prominent sounding” name and therefore changed it to Gretna, perhaps under the influence of his Scottish ancestors.

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