Hard Times in the 1920’s and 1930’s

Clay County, Florida was hard hit by the Great Depression. The 1925 Census of Agriculture shows that there were 362 farms.  All but fifty-two of these were under one hundred acres in size. Only ten of them were on improved roads. 28,431 pecan trees had been planted, principally around Long Branch, but were not bearing yet. The hopes of these small farm owners and the dreams of pecan fortunes were dashed in 1929.

In addition, David Paul Davis, born in Green Cove Springs and a land developer in Florida, hit hard times earlier than most, experiencing difficulties as early as 1926. A thesis “In Search of David Paul Davis” has been prepared. The paper is available at the Archives.

The Federal government tried to help with three major efforts: The Resettlement Administration, The Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

The Resettlement Administration provided loans and helped farmers move to better land. Small farmers were given mortgages against personal property, farm equipment and even future crops to help them through tough times. They were encouraged to move to larger communities.  The WPA employees documented substantial amounts of historical records which would have been lost otherwise over time — work that kept writers busy.  And the CCC built Gold Head State Park — one of the first in Florida.This work relief program gave millions of young men employment on environmental projects during the Great Depression. Considered by many to be one of the most successful of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, the CCC planted more than three billion trees and constructed trails and shelters in more than 800 parks nationwide during its nine years of existence. The CCC helped to shape the modern national and state park systems we enjoy today.

 

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