June 20, 2020
Bronson is a town of about 1,200 people in Levy County in North Central Florida. The county is named for Florida's railroad pioneer and early U.S. senator from Florida, David Levy Yulee.
A local settler named Bronson was a friend of Senator Yulee, and the town is named for him. Remember, it's not who you are but who you know.
It is the county seat of Levy County, and is home to 1,100 people more or less.
When the Civil War broke out and Florida left the Union, Senator Levy became a Confederate Senator.
Bronson is a "crossroads" town that lies at the intersection of US-27, County Road 337 and State Road 24. SR-24 follows the route of David Levy Yulee's early pre-Civil War railroad that ran from Fernandina Beach to Cedar Key.
According to the town's website, Bronson was originally named Chunky Pond. It had a saw mill and a general store and trading post.
The area around Bronson developed into about 75 different orange groves, all within 3 miles of the courthouse. The hard freezes of the mid 1890s destroyed the orange groves and town sank into quiet obscurity.
The first county seat was Levyville, also named for the senator. It was about halfway between Bronson and Chiefland.
The area around Levyville was originally named Sodom but the name didn't catch on for some reason and faded into Florida history.
Levyville wasn't on the route of the Florida Railroad, however, and Bronson was.
A few years after the railroad was completed, the residents moved the county seat to Bronson. Levyville also faded into the mists of Florida history.
My Uncle Karl lived in Bronson for a couple of years in the 1970s. The thing I remember about visiting him is how quiet the place was.
It's pretty much the same now as it was back then.
The downtown area has a few shops, a convenience store, gas stations, and a couple of other businesses. People who really want big time shopping or entertainment drive to Gainesville, 24 miles to the northeast.
Some historic buildings have been preserved, and it's fun to get back into the quiet neighborhoods and look around at the houses and large trees.
Blue Springs Park is a local attraction that features good swimming and other natural amenities.
Bronson appeals to many people because it's a place where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of busier Florida. There are also lots of opportunities to enjoy nature, kayaking, and fishing.
One thing that's changed is that a celebrity is now in town. Bo Diddley died in 2008 and his grave is in the Bronson Cemetery.
Bo lived for many years in Hawthorne, Florida and Archer, Florida, not too far from Bronson. His grave is a photo op in Bronson that many people enjoy, including me.
His "Bo Diddley" beat inspired and was emulated by most of the rock and roll greats.