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old photo of Gadsden County tobacco barn 1939
Florida Photo Archives

Native Americans built mound and village complexes throughout northwest Florida where rivers linked them with other Indians to the north, facilitating the flow of ideas as well as goods. Modern archaeologists discovered the remains of one of these historic villages at Joe Budd. The native people’s culture was characterized by elaborate burial rituals, entailing lighting of sacred fires, feasting, brewing and drinking of special teas, and offerings of shell cups, ceramic vessels, wolf and panther teeth and other sacred items. These people did not farm, but relied on collecting wild foods. As populations grew and pressure on natural resources increased, these villages either split into new, smaller villages, or were abandoned.

old photo of local businessman - Joseph T. Budd, Jr
Florida Photo Archives - Joseph T. Budd, Jr

In 1975, the state purchased 794 acres from Joseph T. Budd Jr., a prominent businessman in the profitable shade tobacco industry of Gadsden County and manufacturer of “Florida Queen” cigars. Other land uses once included timber and cattle grazing. Joe Budd was established after an additional 4,000 acres were purchased from the Florida Power Corporation. In 1981, 2,000 acres were acquired, and in 1987, the 927-acre Little River tract was purchased. In 1992, over 3,000 acres were added through Preservation 2000 funds. A 20-acre stocked pond was created and additional acreage added to Joe Budd through direct acquisition by FWC and through cooperative management agreements with other state agencies.