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Florence is a small town in Rankin County, Mississippi. The first European-American family to come to the area was the Steen family. Mr. and Mrs. Steen came from South Carolina with their four sons, William, Elias, Robert and Silas, but Mr. Steen was lost along the way and no one every found out what had happened to him. Mrs. Steen and her sons settled near the site of the future town, which originally was known as Steen’s Creek. John B. Lewis was the next settler. He opened a store, post office, and race track. Later, Sam Ellis bought the store and race track. The Steen’s Creek Baptist Church was organized in 1824, and school houses were built in 1855 and 1885. Henry Whitfield, the school principal, later became governor of Mississippi. By 1900, there were several stores, a blacksmith shop, grist mill, steam cotton gin, and a hotel. The Gulf and Ship Island Railroad extended its tracks through Steen’s Creek. The son of Sam Ellis, who had taken over the store by then, offered to donate land for a railroad depot if the railroad would name the depot after his wife, Florence, and the town soon adopted that name. The town did not build or operate a town hall until 1979. Florence is situated along US Highway 59, south of Richland. Other nearby communities include Lakeland, Monterey, New Byram, Sinai, Star, and Whites. Jackson, Mississippi is about twelve miles to the north.

 

 

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