1000 Small Towns

NICEVILLE, FLORIDA

NICEVILLE, FLORIDA – When and how did Niceville get its name? That seems to be a bit of a mystery here. True, Niceville is a very nice place, developed on the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico. But does the location alone justify its name?
This city of  slightly more than 14,000 has all the expected stores along the seemingly never ending highway strip mall.
I’m confident most chambers of commerce and marketing people would prefer Niceville to the original name of “Boggy”  if they was their job to promote the city.
Boggy” seemed to described  the terrain where early arrivals – said to be pirates, rum runners, and smugglers – first landed.
Some current residents have suggested to Lennie L. Corbin, Niceville’s veteran city manager, a native of the community, of another possible source for the current name.
 The town, located on Choctawhatchee Bay, was in the center of  the Gulf Coast once controlled by the French.

mapforniceville It has been commn to name cities in the new world for places fondly remembered back home.  So did a French family have the ability to change the name of the city to reflect the famous French Rivera city of Nice (pronounced Neece) France? Then did English speaking residents adjust the pronunciation “Neeceville” to the English word “nice”, which means pleasant or delightful?

The Boggy post office was established on April 17, 1872. Perhaps at some point Boggy was not the name residents wanted to use as their postmark on their envelopes? Nor did people care for Choctawhatchee, the name of the bay, which some people might find hard to spell and pronounce accurately.

The chamber reports early “settlers were drawn here by the beautify of the bayou country, the availability of government land for homesteading and the desire to leave war devastated areas of other southern states.” People at first made their living cutting trees for wood burning steamboats hauling passengers and freight from one coastal city to another.

In 1905 the Hancock Turpentine Still began operation. Two more turpentine stills opened,as well as a samill, “and they furnished almost all employment in the area” the Chamber reorts until Eglin Field (now Eglin Air Force Base) opened.

Fishing wasn’t as important in those early days, the Chamber document notes.

In 1910 John B. Perrine bought 16,000 acres of land adjacent to Boggy and started to develop a major town now named Valparaiso. The joint chamber of commerce of Valparaiso and Niceville suggests it was not until around 1910 the name was changed.

Further up the road, near the I-10 exist, I met a young man, probably between 20 an 25 who had graduated from Niceville High school. He had only good things to say about his education  and the city.

Since Niceville is next door to Eglin Force base, the city wasn’t hard hit by the 2008 housing crash and recession.

If Congress closed the base, as it has in other parts of the country, Niceville and Valpariaso would be in deep trouble.

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