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Did You know Wesley Chapel is close to 200 years old?

Wesley Chapel is currently one of the fastest growing areas in the United States, but it actually got it’s start in the 1840s.  The pioneer families Boyette, Gillette, Godwin, and Kersey received land grants in the area in the 1840s.  Before it was named Wesley Chapel, the town went by the names Godwin and Double Branch.  It also had the nickname Gatorville.  I read that living in Wesley Chapel in the late 1800-early 1900s was like living in the Wild West.

The historic marker at Wesley Chapel says :


The pioneer Boyett(e), Gillett(e), Godwin, and Kersey families received land grants in the area in the 1840s. The real influx of settlers, however, began around the War Between the States when the Stanleys and Coopers arrived. Originally called Double Branch for the twin creeks that flowed across the Boyette land, the community was named for the Methodist chapel that stood on the northwest corner of SR 54 and Boyette Road. A popular nickname for the area was Gatorville.

Since its founding in 1878, the Double Branch Baptist Church (now the First Baptist Church) has served as a focus for community life. The church has had three buildings in its long history. Henry Ryals was pastor in the first building in 1880, Ed Bryant the second in 1935, and Lynn Foster the third in 1970.

The turpentine still and sawmill represented early industries, though cattle ranching and hog farming on the then open range, crop farming, and citrus growing predominated. When times were hard people turned to charcoal making and even moonshining to survive. Construction of I-75 and the 1979 opening of the Saddlebrook Resort marked the beginning of the current growth of the community.