What's in a Name?

Hernando, always fickle with names, was renamed Benton County in 1844 in honor of Sen. Thomas Benton of Missouri. Sen. Benton became popular in the rural Hernando area when he proposed the Armed Occupational Act in the early 1840s, which provided men with provisions for claiming land.

But in 1850 the name reverted to Hernando when Sen. Benton switched positions on the Missouri Compromise, which dealt with the rights of slaves.

In December of 1886, the county seat was moved to Brooksville, which was recentley renamed from Melendez in honor of Sen. Brooks.

Sen. Brooks gained national fame after he assaulted Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. Sen. Sumner had addressed the senate on slavery issues and spoke ill of Sen. Brook’s pro-slavery colleagues, Sen. Stephen Douglas of Illinois and Sen. Andrew Butler of South Carolina.

Sen. Brooks, infuriated, marched onto the senate floor and beat Sen. Sumner into unconsciousness. Both senators became celebrated heroes of their respective factions, and the citizens of Hernando were so taken with Sen. Brook’s actions, they sent him a whip and named their county seat in his honor.

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