Pine Level

I went to Pine Level, located in DeSoto County, on 3/4/2017. I completed DeSoto County!!!

According to the ghost town website,

Pine Level was one of the largest and only towns in Desoto County, which was founded in the 1850s. There was a courthouse, jail, two churches, saloons, stores, warehouses, many homes. There were so many gunfights on the streets of Pine Level that it rivaled any Wild, West Town. The wild gambling, drinking and gunplay atmosphere of the town was such that criminal gangs were drawn there. The infamous “Sarasota Gang” made Pine Level their headquarters. Most of the gang was captured and brought to trial in 1855. According to research done by Historian, James Warnke, the old jail “leaked prisoners like a sieve”. By the time of the trial only 9 were left. The trial drew National attention at the time. They were all acquitted and the money never found. In 1866, the town was made the county seat of then Manatee County. Pine Level only held the County seat for about 18 months and it was moved to nearby Arcadia on the Pease (Peace) River. Pine Level could not compete with Arcadia and the access to the river. The town slowly declined to a cattle and farming community until it disappeared completely. Research taken from an article by Gary Uebelhoer: The specifications for the Court House of 1866 was “a log house, 20 feet square in the cleaved 10-foot story with a room added to the end, 20 feet by 10 feet, with a partition through the room making two 10 foot Jury Rooms to be cased with 2-foot hart pine or cypress board and floored with planked or hyghed puncheon boards. One door in each side and two windows to be cased and faced with shutters. The house to be furnished with one table, 2 feet by 8 feet long, 22 10-foot benches, 1 box bench for the Judge.” There was a few inches of sawdust on the floor and all had to endure flea infestation. It was said to be “the worst courthouse in Florida.” The only standing structure on the town site today is the Pine Level Methodist Church, a single story white frame building. This structure is the bottom floor of the original school house that was used to replace the original Mehtodist Church (destroyed in the Hurricane of 1923) previously located immediately south across Pine Level Road. The top floor of this “new” church was destroyed by a hurricane in 1930 leaving only the first floor, which was re-roofed and is the present church. By Mike Woodfin

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