Earleton is named for General Elias B. Earle (1821-1893) who received government land grants in Florida for his service in the U.S./Mexican War (1846-48). Born into a prominent South Carolina family, Gen. Earle fought in the Palmetto Regiment, enlisted as a private, and at the war's end received the honorary commission of General from the Governor of South Carolina. He moved to the western shore of Lake Santa Fe with his wife and four children between 1856 and 1860. When the Civil War began, Gen. Earle owned a 2000-acre cotton plantation north of here and had 50 slaves, making him one of the largest slave holders in Alachua County. A colonel of the Seventh Florida Regiment, Earle joined Capt. J.J. Dickison's Company H for the 1864 Battle of Gainesville, leading an infantry of ninety men down what is now E. University Ave. After the war, Earle became a director for the canal company connecting Lake Santa Fe to Lake Alto and president of the Green Cove Springs to Melrose Railroad. His son-in-law, German botanist Baron Hans von Luttichau (1845-1926) created the "Collins-Belvedere Azalea Gardens" in Earleton, introducing Formosa azaleas to Florida. Earle is buried in the family plot at Eliam Cemetery in Melrose.
St. John's Episcopal Church and Cemetery were established at this site in the late 1870s by English settlers. Completed in 1880, the church was one of the first carpenter gothic chapels in Florida. It was at the time known as the mission at Balmoral and the Lake Santa Fe Mission. When Trinity Episcopal Church (still standing) was completed in Melrose in 1886, this smaller church was sold for $15 and torn down. The cemetery was established in 1878 and held between 60-70 graves at the turn of the 20th Century. Little is known about who is buried there because the records were lost when the Diocesan headquarters burned during the Jacksonville fire of 1901. The only legible headstone belongs to Emma Lucy Hilton, who was born in England in 1827, and died in Earleton in 1884. On the banks of Lake Santa Fe (east of here) sat the Balmoral Hotel, which catered to northern tourists who came by train to Waldo and then by steamboat through the Lake Alto canal. Balmoral was an impressive two-story, U-shaped structure and a popular resort through the 1880s, until the 1894-95 freezes ruined the local economy. The hotel was turned into a private residence and eventually burned. No trace is left.