The section of the Gulf Coast lying between Perdido and Mobile bays has had a long and significant history of almost five hundred years, and the flags of Spain, France, Great Britain, the United States, Alabama, the Confederacy, and of a Naval Commander Ashore have marked the succession of powers that have exercised sovereignty over the area. Once one of the most remote and unsettled areas in North America, it has become a dynamic, rapidly-growing area, truly a kingdom by the sea. This is the story of Baldwin County, Alabama. The largest of Alabamas counties, and older than the state itself, Baldwin provides an interesting case study of the evolution of a distinctive society and culture. Cosmopolitan, yet Southern, it was peopled by a surprising variety of immigrants, most of whom arrived as late as the 1890s. Its rapid growth in recent years has been due to the attraction of its beaches and as a retirement haven. This is not a typical county history, a list of old houses and prominent names. Instead, it is an effort to present the story of an area that is a distinctive if not unique part of the American past. The story is often larger than life and stranger than fiction.