William Lee Popham first came to the small fishing and lumbering town of Apalachicola in 1916. Seat of government for Franklin County in northwest Florida and located at the mouth of the Apalachicola River, the town had an aesthetic appeal. Equally important, it enjoyed strategic economic advantages. As a port opening to the Gulf of Mexico, antebellum Apalachicola imported manufactured goods and luxuries and shipped them by steamboats up the Apalachicola River and beyond. They went to individuals and businesses in north Florida, southwest Georgia, and southeast Alabama. In turn, Apalachicola received timber and agricultural products, especially cotton, from the interior and transhipped them to American and international markets. It became Florida’s premier port of shipment and third on the Gulf of Mexico after New Orleans and Mobile. With little agricultural income from Franklin County’s poor soil or from limited urban manufacturing, Apalachicola became a conduit of trade. It prospered from the 1830s through the mid-1850s. Yet, over sixty years before the exuberant Popham came to town, Apalachicola had begun to decline.
Rogers, William Warren
"The Power of the Written Word and the Spoken Word in the Rise and Fall of William Lee Popham,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 76:
3, Article 3.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol76/iss3/3