Is it true that Destin has had three names?

H. C. “Hank” Klein

A reader has asked if it is true that Destin, Florida, has been called by other names, and why and when were these names used. Yes, it is true that Destin hasn’t always been known as Destin. Before it was named Destin, it was called East Pass. Before being called East Pass it was known as Moreno Point. I will try to explain the History Mystery of the names that this area has been called.

Moreno Point - The peninsula that we know as Destin, Florida is actually Moreno Point. Moreno Point was the name Spanish map-makers chose for the land mass on the south side of Choctawhatchee Bay, east of Santa Rosa Island. The name Moreno was the name of a very prominent family who lived in Pensacola, when Spain owned Florida.

Don Francisco Moreno was born in Pensacola on November 25, 1792, when West Florida was owned by Spain, and his father was the surgeon at Fort Barrancas. Over his lifetime he married 3 times, had a total of 27 children, 75 grandchildren and 127 great-grandchildren.

Francisco Moreno was a businessman. He established the first bank and the first hotel in Pensacola. He also bought and sold real estate. The U.S. Government bought 6.32 acres from him for $3,000 on June 2, 1828, that is a part of what is today the Pensacola Naval Air Station. When he died in 1885 at the age of 93, he was one of Pensacola’s richest men. Moreno was affectionately known as the “King of Pensacola.”

In 1842, when Moreno Point was designated a military reservation, it was named Moreno Point Military Reservation, and that name con-tinued until 1926 when the War Department no longer perceived a need for the land and began to sell it. The name Moreno Point is still found today on many land deeds. There is also a street and a condominium that bares the name Moreno Point.

East Pass – When Leonard Destin arrived at Moreno Point, the land began to be called by the name of the inlet to the Choctawhatchee Bay from the Gulf of Mexico: East Pass. Fishing was important to Leonard, and others who fished from the inlet, so calling it East Pass was appropriate when describing where they fished from.

When trying to locate the earliest mention of East Pass as a land location, we found a grave at the Marler Memorial Cemetery that helped us determine the earliest use of the name East Pass for describing the land mass, not just the inlet.

Jane Woodward was Leonard and Martha Destin’s oldest daughter. She was born on August 1, 1855 and died on July 31, 1901. On her gravestone it states she was born at “East Pass”. So we know it was being called East Pass, not Moreno Point, when Jane (Destin) Wood-ward was born in 1855.

It probably began being called East Pass regularly in 1851. That is when Leonard Destin arrived at Moreno Point, married the daughter of John and Rebecca McCullom, who were already living there, and started fishing from East Pass.

Destin – Changing the name to Destin, Florida, officially happened during the application process to the United States Post Office Department to establish a post office at East Pass on March 26, 1896. On the application William Marler (Destin’s first postmaster) stated that the proposed post office would be located at East Pass, Washington County, Florida.

The application asked that that applicant “Select a short name for the proposed office, which, when written will not resemble the name of any other post office in the State. William Marler initially chose to give the area the name “East Pass.”

The initial application was returned for additional information. The applicant was asked to “Select new name of one word.” William Mar-ler selected “Destin” as the single word name for the new post office. Of course, Destin was the name of William Marler’s first employer and the man that initially established fishing as the primary industry of the small village.

The additional information was provided to the Post Office Department on August 17, 1896 by William Marler and included a hand drawn map showing the location of the new Destin post office and other nearby post offices. William Marler indicated that his post office was supplied by the post office at Point Washington, which was 35 miles to the west. The closest post office was at Mary Esther which was 10 miles to the east, and Boggy post office was 12 miles to the north.

So, while Moreno Point is the name of the land mass, and East Pass describes the inlet to Choctawhatchee Bay from the Gulf of Mexico, Destin became the official name of the post office and the village in 1896. Over the past three centuries the name has changed as the area became settled, grew and matured. Today we also know Destin, Florida, as the “Luckiest Fishing Village in the World.”

H. C. “Hank” Klein is a Destin historian who visits often and lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with his wife (the former Muriel Marler of Destin). Klein recently published a historic book about Destin’s pioneer settlers. DESTIN Pioneer Settlers...A Land History of Destin, Florida from 1819-1940 can be obtained from, Tony Mennillo of Arturo Studios at 850/585-2909, Dewey Destin’s Restaurants, in Destin, the Magnolia Grill in Fort Walton Beach, or Bayou Books in Niceville. Klein can be contacted at