The town of Ellaville was founded in 1861 by businessman and future governor of Florida George Franklin Drew. Drew built a mansion on the western banks of the Suwannee River in Suwannee County. He named the town 'Ellaville' to honor Ella, his long-time African American servant.
After the Civil War, Drew and his partner Louis Bucki opened a steam-operated sawmill. The mill soon became the largest in Florida, employing more than 500 people. Florida Railroad built a line to the town that had direct access to the mill and soon after, Ellaville was blooming. In the early 1870s the town had a train station, two schools, two churches, a steamboat dock, a masonic lodge, a commissary and a sawmill.
By then, George Drew had become one of the richest men in Florida, being elected governor in 1876. After his term, he sold his company share to the Bucki and he moved to Jacksonville. The mill was burned down in 1898 and although it was soon rebuilt, there was no longer a significant number of pine still left to harvest. Extensive floods during the 1900's and later the onset of the Great Depression attributed to the decline of Ellaville. The post office finally closed in 1942 and soon the town vanished.
Little remains of Ellaville exist today. The Drew mansion, which had been vandalized over the years finally burned down during the 1970's. In 1986, the Hillman Bridge built in 1925 by the Federal Aid Project was abandoned and replaced by a new bridge across the river.
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|Hillman Bridge, 1930s|
|Suwannee River Flood, 1927|
|Drew Mansion, 1880s|