Evidence shows that perhaps up to 10,000 years ago Native Americans were living in the area now occupied by the City of Niceville. A number of projectile points have been found and burial mounds dot the area offering mute proof of times long past. Conflict arose between these native populations and the European explorers who began arriving in the area around 1500-1700. This was a time of proud Native Americans, conquering Spanish conquistadors, and thieving pirates.
By the early 1800s the new American government had settled in, and established its own systems of politics, religion, and trade, much the same way the Native Americans had done centuries earlier. During these times the fishing industry thrived on mullet caught in the sandy-bottomed bays of the area. One such bay was called Boggy Bayou, named for a great deposit of peat discovered at the mouth of Juniper Creek. It wasn't long before a tiny fishing village was established along the shores of the bay. The village, named Boggy after the bayou itself, was the starting point for what would later become Niceville.
In 1842 a cattleman from Louisiana named Jessie Rogers drove his herds to the head of Boggy Bayou and settled in the area. Permanent settlement began as the Civil War ended, and the war's victims left their devastated homes behind to find a new life. Boggy provided them with abundant sunshine, waterway transportation and inexpensive tracts of land. It was around this same time that a legislative act established two counties in the area, Santa Rosa, and Walton. It was from these two counties that the county of Okaloosa, in which modern day Niceville is located, would be created in 1915.
The settlement continued to grow when a gristmill was established by John Nathey and his father, to serve the increasing number of farms in the area. Part of that mill still stands on what is now the Eglin AFB golf course. A general store and a sawmill further improved upon the primitive conditions the homesteaders endured, and a number of turpentine distilleries began operating in the area. As trade began to expand beyond the local community, the need for a postal service was realized. Dr. James C. White was named the first postmaster, and on August 17, 1893 the U.S. Postal Service officially recognized the city of Boggy. A few years later the residents decided that 'Boggy' was an unflattering name to represent a respected and growing community, so on November 5, 1910 the city was renamed 'Niceville.' Some residents still were not happy with the name, and on May 24, 1919 the city was again renamed, this time to 'Valparaiso' which is Spanish for 'Vale of Paradise.' One mile from the town, another community was developing, and it was dubbed 'New Valparaiso.' This created confusion among the residents of the two towns, and all but halted the mail delivery. After much discussion the town's name was changed back to Niceville on November 1, 1925 and it has held the name ever since.
Over the next decade Niceville continued to develop their small, thriving community. Some type of local government was needed to represent the interests of its citizens. On July 7, 1938 a mass meeting of the qualified voters was held to organize a municipal government and to elect officers. They decided to incorporate the city using its official name of Niceville. The bounds of the territory limits were decided on, and a circular disk with the inscription 'City of Niceville, Florida' was selected as the seal. Two petitions were drawn up, one opposing the proposed incorporation, and the other in agreement with the proposal. Of the 329 registered voters who took part, only four opposed the incorporation. The chairman declared the name duly selected, the seal duly adopted, and the territory limits definitely designated by metes and bounds. J. M. Reynolds was elected the first mayor of the City of Niceville on July 15, 1938 and J. W. Windham was elected the first clerk. C. G. Meigs, Wallace Spence, Herman Anderson, Thomas Powell, and G. B. Anchors were the first five councilmen. Hughey Holmes was elected Marshall of the city.
The first recorded school in Niceville was constructed in 1922. Two other schools, established in the 1920's close to the site of the present Edge Elementary, were demolished, the first by fire and then in 1936 its replacement by a hurricane. Classes were conducted in various locations such as the present-day Valparaiso Community Center and a dance hall on Howell Hill until 1938, when the school was again rebuilt. This school, constructed by the Works Progress Administration, consisted of only the front section of the present Edge Elementary School building. The auditorium and additional wings were erected later.
In the spring of 1963, a high school was established in the City of Niceville. Prior to this time, high school age Niceville students attended Choctawhatchee High School with other students in the area. The first class of seniors graduated in the spring of 1966. One year later, the new Niceville Senior High School was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Over the next few years the school was expanded to include a gymnasium, an auditorium, a band room, a wing of classrooms and an industrial arts building. Another wing has been constructed that will house science labs, a home economics suite, general purpose classrooms and administrative offices.
Today the municipality of Niceville remains a small, close-knit community of just under 20,000 with ever increasing public services. The population is served by one high school, a middle school, two elementary schools, a private center of education and a community college
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