City of Mary Esther is noted as one of the first areas settled in this part of Northwest Florida. The first settler of Mary Esther came in 1842 when Jesse Rogers and his family drove a large cattle herd from Louisiana to the shores of Santa Rosa Sound and settled here.
During the mid-1850's John Newton, a minister and teacher, settled in the area west of Fort Walton Beach known as the Narrows, today known as Mary Esther. Reverend Newton founded the first school, which also doubled as a church during the Civil War.
Origin of the Name
There are three stories about how Mary Esther got its name*. One says it was the name of Newton's wife, the second says it was a combination of his two daughter's names and the third says it was a combination of his wife's and daughter's names. No one knows the true story. John Newton established the first post office in the Mary Esther community October 10, 1871 and old-timers say that may have been when he honored his daughters, because the community had to have a mailing name. The location was probably in the home of John Newton who became Mary Esther's first postmaster.
*We found out in 2014 that the city is indeed named after Mr. Newton's daughters, Esther and Mary Christine Newton. Interestingly, Mary is the younger daughter.
Incorporation of the City
Mary Esther was incorporated in 1946 with E. Roger Pryor as the first Mayor. Page Bacon was the second Mayor, and Tom Pryor, the third Mayor, served for 28 years.