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Gilchrist County

Year Founded: 1870Founded by: William F. SmithPreviously known as: Joppa, Trenton, Town of Trenton, City of Trenton


Trenton’s rich soil was suitable for many crops; such as timber, turpentine, hogs, cattle, watermelon, corn, peanuts, tobacco, cucumbers, sugar cane and sweet potatoes. The area became known for its Sea Island Cotton, which is no longer grown here. This area still produces timber, watermelon, peanuts, corn, hay and cattle.

Atlantic Coast Line built the depot and railroad through Trenton circa 1906. Horse drawn wagons gave way to trucks and over the next century Trenton’s rail use eventually subsided and the line was abandoned in 2004. The old rail bed has been remade into the Nature Coast Trail, the head of which is at the old train depot in the heart of the city and which is used by walkers, bicyclists and horseback riders. The depot was restored and is now often used as a community venue.

Land for the permanent courthouse was purchased in May 1926. In fall 1932, the old frame courthouse burned. Construction of the red brick courthouse at SR 26 and 49 was completed in spring 1934. In March 1960, a gas explosion damaged the courthouse, severely injuring the County Clerk, who recovered. Repairs and renovations were made. The last major renovation occurred circa 2006, when courtrooms were added and the building was remodeled.

In the early 1930’s a Coca-Cola Bottling Plant was built in Trenton with the nearby Crystal Ice and Cold Storage house. Both buildings have recently been restored.

In June 1939, Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co. installed local telephone service using mostly underground lines.

The 1940 census showed Trenton’s population at 768. In 1949,18 business and professional men of Trenton formed a Rotary Club. Trenton had groceries, dry goods stores, auto dealerships, a pharmacy, doctors and lawyers, gas stations, seed mills, schools and churches.

In 1951, Trenton and Gilchrist County’s only red/yellow/green traffic light was installed at the intersection of SR 26 and Highway 49 (now Highway 129).

In January 1952, Trenton’s government type was changed from Mayor and Council, to Mayor-Commissioner type. This change gave the mayor/commissioner a vote.

In 1955, Trenton had a new water well, 100 feet deep and capable of pumping 600 gallons a minute. In 2011 a new water well was drilled that is capable of pumping 800 gallons per minute.

Today, Trenton’s population is around 2000 residents. Many descendants of original Trenton families still reside here and family ties are still celebrated. This fairly quiet little city is still a wonderful place to live and there is still only one traffic light.

We have an annual Quilt Festival and antique/craft show and car show in March when we hang quilts, new and old, all over town to be examined and admired. This event attracts folks from all over.

We have hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, and scuba diving in our springs and the famous Suwannee River nearby. Other pastimes are bicycling and motorcycling. We invite you to visit beautiful, peaceful, rural Trenton.

Story of City's Founding

Around 1840, John B. Stanley came from Georgia to settle in the area. He bought 20,000 acres from the government and cleared 900. In 1870, Stanley sold 1,100 acres to William F. Smith, who cleared 600 acres just north of what is now Trenton. Smith established Joppa Church northeast of Trenton and built a grinding mill nearby, calling it Smith's Mill. He established the first post office, named Joppa, on May 16, 1878. Eighteen-year-old Tennessean Ben Boyd married and settled in Joppa. He returned after serving as a Confederate soldier during the Civil War and opened a sawmill. In 1883, Ben changed the name of the Joppa Post Office to Trenton in honor of his home town of Trenton, Tennessee. In 1908, Trenton was incorporated as the “Town of Trenton” of Alachua County. Florida’s “Act of 1911” abolished the old municipal government and established a new municipality, designated as the “City of Trenton” in Alachua County. On January 1, 1926, Gilchrist County, named for a former Governor, was created from a portion of Alachua County and Trenton was named the County seat. In January 1952, Trenton’s government type was changed from Mayor and Council, to Mayor-Commissioner type. This change gave the mayor/commissioner a vote.

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