Thursday, August 11, 2016


Wellborn (pronounced well-bern), is a tiny community located in the northeastern corner of Suwannee County, first settled in 1830 by plantation owner George E. McClellan. He initially named the settlement Little River, and the name 'Wellborn' didn't appear until roughly thirty years later. In the late 1850s, the Pensacola and Georgia Railroad Line, which connected Jacksonville and Tallahassee was constructed. It ran east-west across north Florida, and passed directly through the area of Little River. Louis Wellborn DuBois, a civil engineer who was involved in the construction of the rail line, purchased 240 acres comprising Little River, which he surveyed, platted, named Wellborn, and began to sell. Given its location along the rail line, the plats sold rapidly, and the town began to grow. 

Wellborn's first post office was opened in 1860. Within forty years, the population of Wellborn and the surrounding area had burgeoned to approximately 250 families. While farming was the major industry of the community, the town at one point also boasted "grist mills, cotton gins, general merchandise stores, board houses, saloons, physicians and drug stores, blacksmiths, coopers, shoemakers, livery stables, sawmills, and a millinery" (source). Trains from nearby White Springs brought lumber to market via a spur which connected to the Pensacola and Georgia Railroad Line at Wellborn; livestock, cotton, and vegetables from the Wellborn area utilized the railroad to reach a wide range of markets. Wellborn was also the first town in Suwannee County to have streets paved with bricks.

McLeran Store, 1884 (source)

Downtown Wellborn, 1965 (source)

Wellborn, Florida 1965 (source)

Inside the Cash Mercantile Store ca. 1900 (source)

Dave McDonald Garage, 1915 (source)

But, as with many communities which thrived at the turn of the twentieth century, Wellborn, too, fell into decline. When residents of Suwannee County chose their county seat, they chose the town of Live Oak. Wellborn was bypassed by the major highways and interstates of north Florida, and travel and shipping via the rail network decreased. Today, Wellborn is a sleepy, desolate rural crossroads.

McLeran Store and Cash Mercantile Store

McLeran Store and Cash Mercantile Store

Old McLeran family house

McLeran Store and Cash Mercantile Store

Fisher Cabinets is now located in the former Dave McDonald garage
along the old brick road

The first brick road in Suwannee County

I wish I knew the history behind this amazing house (which is for sale by the way)

Side view of the above house from the listing

While not in Wellborn proper, this house is located not far to the northeast of the town.

For more information on Wellborn:


  1. Well, believe it or not we used to live in Wellborn. The house that is for sale is where, (when about 2 or 3 years old, I was eating a donut and a rooster came running up and snatched it out of my hand). Some things are never forgotten. The house we lived in has since fallen down.

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time for this portion of your journey as well as all of the other overlooked, overgrown, forgotten, crumbling, in-need-of-rediscovery, sweet, important, historic, memory-filled, foundational pieces to this beautiful place a lot of us still call home.

    Kelley (formerly Copeland) Durden

  3. Thanks for this, I have many memories of Wellborn

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  5. Any Brannons live in Wellborn? If so, James Brannon is looking for his family. He is clean, and doing much better. Call 941 210 8216 to talk with him.

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  7. My family and I (Mom, Dad, myself, sister, brother, and our older cousin) moved there from Ohio back in 1980. I was in the 4th grade, and attended school at Live Oak East. My best friend was Dawn Thomas. We lived in a trailer, and had a carryout general type store beside us. One day, my sister and I were at the landlords house up the road a ways. He lived on the opposite side from ours. Mom watched us from our place in the yard as we walked back. She yelled, but we didn't hear that there were big birds over top our heads. They began swooping, and squawking at us. We ran with all our might screaming and crying all the way home. They we're huge, and it was terrifying. My great aunt Betty and uncle Bob lived up the road past the cross roads. I loved visiting them. If you turned right, you would be in Live Oak. You turn left, you're in Lake City. They had a pond, geese, chickens, and a cow. More like home to me. The trailer we lived in ended up being haunted. My sister and I invited our cousin Michelle for a sleepover. It was the first time ever getting to know her. Us girls had a great time. We fell asleep listening to the radio in the living room. Stevie Nicks, White Winged Dove, song was playing when we got awoken by our older cousin's hysterical screaming. He kept saying something was holding him down, and he couldn't move. He finally got out. While telling us, my little brother was left in there. Next thing we knew, my brother was screaming. My mom ran in to get him, but whatever it was fought her, and wouldn't release him. Holding him down the same way. It was very frightening. She did finally get him out. We left that place, and moved onto aunt Betty and uncle Bob's property on down the road. Never heard/felt/saw anything so bad again. The year after, we moved back home to Ohio. Been here since..bout 40+ more yrs. That song still gives me heebie jeebies, and I am brought back to that old trailer in Wellborn, FL. Creepy

  8. I too grew up in Wellborn. I'm part of the Redmon family. My grandfather Earl was a farmer here. And I have so many memories of this place. It my home, located Just around the curve on 10A, which used to be highway 90, before they rerouted it. Our home place still stands, and I visit about 3 times a year. I also lived near downtown Wellborn back in the 1960s, in the old shack houses which have since been torn down. They were located behind this two story white house that have recently been up for sale. We used to pay our rent to the owner if I remember correctly. I was just there this past weekend.
    Many people have passed away and the once somewhat exciting little town for me is so dreary. Now there's the Wellborn Blueberry Festival that is held each year which brings a lil excitement and interest
    Wish there could be more events.

  9. Lived there 1951 - 1962.
    Walked from train depot (along the RR tracks) to/from the Wellborn school.
    Bought lots of penny candy in McLeran's store!
    Also recall workers axe cutting square RR cross ties between the RR Depot and McLerans store. They were stacked by the tracks & bought by the RR. Logs hewed by a special axe!
    Good to see some things in FL. that haven't been erased completely.

    Thanks for the photos