It sounds unbelievable, but this actually happened.
In September 1910, the Washington, D.C. newspaper, The Evening Star, ran the following article:
Atlantan Buys An Entire Town
E. G. Willingham Purchases Florida Town.
Bought Everything Except the Church and School Buildings in Aripeka, Fla., for Approximately $15,000—It Is Located Directly on the Gulf.
The entire town of Aripeka, Fla., situated on the Gulf of Mexico just to the north of Tampa, with the exception of the church and school house, is now the property of E. G. Willingham, a well-known citizen of Atlanta.
A telegram received from Brooksville, Fla., county seat of Hernando county, announces the purchase of Mr. Willingham, stating that it is his purpose to undertake its development and growth into an important municipality.
The town site of Aripeka consists of 120 acres, numerous dwellings, two hotels, several stores, postoffice, parks, church, school house and everything pertaining to a first-class community.
By the purchase Mr. Willingham acquires everything except the church and school house, as stated. Aripeka is located on a neck of land running out into the gulf and is said to be one of the most beautifully located spots on the west coast of Florida. There are around it beautiful island spots covered with the cabbage palm.
The town of Aripeka was founded about six years ago by a man who borrowed the money for the purpose. He thought it one of the most beautiful spots he had ever seen. He sold a large part of the tract to emigrants on the installment plan, and when the last payments were made he could not make title, so the town was sold under the original mortgage by order of court.
Mr. Willingham, the purchaser, is the well-known Atlanta lumber merchant. He has made his home here for many years and is almost numbered among pioneer citizens.
The purchase of an entire town is something out of the ordinary, and there will be no little interest in the progress of its development under Mr. Willingham’s direction.