Mannfield is a ghost town similar in appearance to many others in the area, the better known being Fivay and Centralia. The two latter towns sprang up and provided lumber for the building booms. They only lasted a few years before the booms ended and the people moved on. Mannfield is a little different in that it's demise was a multi-step process, with the federal government providing the final nail in the coffin.
Mannfield was created in 1884 by Austin Mann, Father-in-law of William Sherman Jennings, the governor of Florida who was elected from Brooksville. Mann had one of the larger orange groves at the time along the Crystal River.
Mann was also a State Senator and he guided a bill through Legislature that split Hernando County into three parts, creating Citrus and Pasco Counties in 1887. The bill selected Mannfield as the acting Citrus County seat for two years, after which a vote of the county electors was to be held to determine the permanent site.
The vote for where the county seat was to be located was very contentious. It came down to two popular choices either Mannfield or Inverness. There were passionate people on each side, so passionate in fact that there are reports of numerous fist fights over the issue. This caused several indeterminate elections to be run before a vote that was considered definitive was held in 1891. The 1891 outcome was Inverness, two years late.
However, that did not settle the issue. Mannfield refused to relinquish the county seat. A group from Inverness came to Mannfield in the middle of the night and moved court records, furniture, Captain (W.C.) Zimmerman as well as the County Clerk still in his chair (he had refused to go) in wagons to Inverness.
While Mannfield was still the county seat, it had a population of 250 people, almost twice the population of Miami at the time. Mannfield reportedly had a hotel, church, school, 3 general stores, a sawmill and even a newspaper. In 1893 a railroad was built through Citrus, it bypassed Mannfield and stopped in Inverness. The town of Mannfield faded away with many people moving south to the Brooksville area. In fact, K.O. Smith of Brooksville, who originally gave me a background on Mannfield is descended from residents of Mannfield.
However, there were still a number of residents living in Mannfield up until the Great Depression, when the federal government acquired Mannfield and surrounding areas to make up the Withlacoochee State Forest. Residents in the towns of Oriole and Croom were also "resettled" under this program. The private land acquisition was run through the U.S. Land Resettlement Administration between 1936 and 1939. Mannfield is part of the Lecanto Sandhills, categorized as an environmentally sensitive region.
You can find what is left of Mannfield by visiting the Withlacoochee State Forest. The town stood around a small pond called Mannfield Pond. The pond still exists and has water because of all the rainfall we've had in the last year. The are also steps that descend into the ground and what appears to be a recently capped artesian well. The town remains are located at approximately 28.784, -82.444. It can also be found on google maps. The remains are located a few feet off trail 12. We were only able to get to within a couple of miles by car and the rest of the trip has to be on foot or horseback. The road has been washed out by the recent rains, so you may need a truck to even get that close.