sanford florida began as fort mellon during the seminole indian wars. in 1870 henry shelton sanford bought 12,500 acres on lake monroe and laid out the town of sanford. sanford was incorporated in 1877 with a population of 100 people. sanford during this time was the largest shipper of oranges in the world. the freezes of 1884 and 1885 ruined the citrus industry so sanford grove owners switched to growing vegetables. sanford became known as "celery city" after that crop. in 1942 the sanford naval air station was established which was helpful to the local economy. the NAS was shut down in 1968 and the base became sanford airport. between the base closing and the opening of walt disney world sanford had an economic down turn in the 1970's and 1980's. today orlando's urban sprawl has reached sanford and now sanford is orlando's northern most suburb. downtown sanford retains it's old southern charm and is close to a number of natural attractions. a worth while place to visit when in the orlando area.
the town of sanford was founded by henry shelton sanford in 1870. henry sanford was a famous american diplomat. sanford was the secretary to the american legation to st. petersburg in 1847. in 1848 he was the secretary to the american legation to frankfurt. in 1849 president zachary taylor sent sanford to the paris legation where he served until 1854. president lincoln appointed sanford to the minister to belgium in 1861. after the civil war sanford came back to the united states and became a real estate developer. in 1870 he bought a large parcel of land on lake monroe in central florida from former confederate general joseph finegan and founded the town of sanford. between 1886 and 1888 sanford led the sanford exploring expedition in the belgium congo. sanford had two steamships, the "florida" and "new york" and these ships were the first commercial steamers to penetrate the waters of the upper congo.