An excerpt from Chapter One of Ronnie McBrayer’s Wild Wild Walton:
For the longest time, DeFuniak was no town at all. It was a primordial hunting and fishing ground for the Creek, Muscogee, and Euchee peoples of the Gulf Coast. With its thick inland forests, fresh water streams, and short distance to the Gulf of Mexico, the body of water called ue hvtke by some native tribes, it was surrounded by a primitive paradise. The survey team of the Pensacola Railroad recognized this immediately when they first stumbled upon the site in the late 1800s. So with an almost perfectly round mile-wide lake as the centerpiece, the town of DeFuniak Springs was quickly organized and the railroad had a brand new stop in Northwest Florida.
Celia Adkinson knew DeFuniak Springs exceptionally well, and though she passed through the town every few weeks, she had not lived there for some twenty years, and rarely did she stop anywhere within its city limits. Even on this morning, as her big Chevrolet glided by the Walton County courthouse with its white marble and four massive classical columns, she turned her head away. She just couldn’t bring herself to do otherwise, not since she left this town with her three children all those years ago.
This did not mean that DeFuniak was only a painful place for Celia, far from it. She and her husband, Daniel, had enjoyed many happy years in the charming little town by the lake, and all three of their children – Tinson, Annell, and Joyzelle – had been born there. Celia had concentrated on raising the children, and Daniel or “Clayton” as most folks called him, had worked in that very courthouse that Celia now avoided. Clayton was beloved, respected, and considered a man of great integrity. So, in 1937 when the sheriff’s election was held, it was no great surprise that Clayton ran for the office. Neither was it a surprise, when all the votes were counted, that he had won. As a result, the Adkinsons were poised for many happy years with Walton County, Florida as their home. But it was not to be…