Milton was settled in the early 1800s as a small village centered on the lumber industry. The settlement originally was known as Scratch Ankle because of the briars and bramble that grew in the area. Another name was Jernigan's Landing after Benjamin Jernigan (died April 1847), who built a water-powered saw mill at what is now Locklin Lake between 1828 and 1830. Other names were Lumberton, Black Water, and Hard Scrabble, but by 1839, it was being referred to as Milltown. Milton was incorporated as a town in 1844, one year before the Territory of Florida joined the United States as the 27th state.
During the Civil War, much of Milton was burned by Confederate forces retreating from the Union capture of Pensacola in May 1862. The Confederates intended to prevent the town's industries from falling into Union hands. After the Southern forces evacuated the Union troops had a small garrison in nearby Bagdad where they had a base for expeditions in the surrounding area. Many Milton residents fled to Alabama.
Naval Air Station Whiting Field was constructed during World War II with the help of many German prisoners of war who were housed in a camp on the site. The station was commissioned on July 16, 1943 by Rear Admiral George D. Murray and the widow of Captain Kenneth Whiting, after whom the station was named.
Santa Rosa Medical Center (SRMC) is a 129-bed general hospital in Milton. SRMC is the primary provider of hospital-based healthcare services and emergency medicine in Santa Rosa County.
Milton is the home of the West Florida Railroad Museum and the historic Imogene Theater, owned and operated by the Santa Rosa Historical Society.
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