DeSoto County was created in 1887 and named after Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, who landed in Florida in May, 1539 with nine ships and 620 men. Historians debate whether de Soto landed in Tampa Bay or Charlotte Harbor. Either way, he named the land Espiritu Santu, or Holy Spirit. Over the centuries, blessed by abundant sunshine and the fertile soil of the Peace River Valley, DeSoto County carved its success from the land. There is a heritage of being in touch with the outdoors. On January 10, 1909, the Tampa Morning Tribune summed it up this way: “The man who is looking for a comfortable home in a country where something more than a mere living can be made, will find no country that offers greater inducements than the Peace River country. Its soil, climate, healthfulness and natural advantages make it the finest and richest country on earth.”

The city of Arcadia is the county seat for DeSoto County. It was founded in 1886 at what is now the crossroads of US-17 and State Road 70. Today, Arcadia is well known for its antique district. There are more than 25 antique stores in the historic downtown district. On the fourth Saturday of each month, vendors take over the streets to display their rare finds for public sale. Throughout the year, there are Watermelon and Orange Blossom Festivals, Beer Walks, Wine Walks, a Roaring 20’s Gala for charity, car shows and a huge, 4-day rodeo every March. Culturally, Arcadia and DeSoto County display elements of Midwestern “niceness” and old-fashioned Southern charm. Manners matter here; “sir” and “ma’am” are heard often. During the winter months, a sizable contingent of Canadians arrives, drawn as much by these qualities as the exceptional weather.