Dade City

Dade City mayors

Pictures of Dade City

Pictures of Dade City Residences

Pictures of Dade City Schools

Pasco High School

Black Schools in Dade City

Rodney B. Cox Elementary School

Bank of Pasco County

Coleman & Ferguson Co.

Kiefer’s Pharmacy

This page has information about the earlier Fort Dade, located in the 1870s and 1880s in the vicinity of Mt. Zion Cemetery, and the later community of Dade City, established about 1884 several miles to the east. This page was last revised on Oct. 15, 2020.

Dec. 20, 1842. James Gibbons is issued a permit for 160 acres in S 27, T 24, R21, in what would become Dade City. [Information from a deed dated Dec. 1, 1849, conveying the property to Gibbons’ heirs.]

About 1855. A bridge is constructed across the Withlacoochee River. According to a historical marker, it was constructed by the slaves of James Lanier.

June 21, 1856. The Florida Peninsular carries an advertisement: “Look Here Hernando Friends. H. C. Bellows & Co., Ft. Dade, Florida; Dealers in Dry-Goods, Groceries, Hardware, Queensware, and all other articles commonly kept in Country Stores, would call attention to their Stock of Goods, and assure the public that they will sell them as cheap as they can be bought elsewhere.”

Mar. 9, 1870. The Florida Peninsular reports:

SUPPOSED MURDER.—A dangerous character by the name of James Gibson is supposed to have been killed near the Ft. Dade settlement on the 19th ult., by Jack Osborn and Charles Wells (picture), two young men of that vicinity. It appears that Gibson was eloping with a sister of Mr. Osborn, and he was pursued by Osborn and Wells for the purpose of rescuing the girl from his hands and carry her to her parents. On overtaking them resistance was offered by Gibson, whereupon the pursuing party fired upon him and it is supposed killed him, as nothing has been seen or heard of him since that time. The authorities are making a vigorous search, and at last accounts were dragging a lake where the body was supposed to have been thrown. Miss Osborn has returned to her parents, but no facts can be elicited from her as to the murder. Osborn and Wells have left the country. When we hear the full particulars of the affair, we will give them to our readers.

Sept. 28, 1870. The Florida Peninsular reports a political rally at Fort Dade featured speakers T. S. Coogler, colored, John A. Henderson, Capt. F. Lykes, F. E. Saxon.

1872. Mount Zion Methodist Church is constructed in Fort Dade, according to a 1920 article in the Dade City Banner.

Feb. 16, 1872. A newspaper reports, “A young child of a family named Rials was burned to death near Fort Dade last week.”

1878. The Enterprise Church is built. [It was moved to the Pioneer Florida Museum in 1977. A sign on the church lists the charter members as: Bishop D. S. Legget, P. E. W. [illegible] Jordan, Robert Sumner, Jane Sumner, David H. Thrasher, J. Cary Sumner, Mary [illegible] Sumner, Willie Thrasher, James Shearer, Jane Shearer, F. A. Barnes, Mary Clement, Elizabeth Tucker, W. H. Parker [illegible].]

Oct. 12, 1881. A deed dated Oct. 12, 1881, conveys a donation of 11 acres in S29 T24 R21 from Newton Carter and wife May A. Carter to the trustees of the Fort Dade Church. [A deed dated Sept. 26, 1919, conveys 5 acres of the property from A. A. Boone, John Raymond, J. C. Carter, and W. W. Slone as trustees of Fort Dade Methodist Church to J. W. Urquhart. Both deeds provided by Jeff Cannon.]

1882. The Fort Dade Messenger is established. (Information on early newspapers in Dade City is here.)

June 29, 1882. The Sunland Tribune, in an article about Fort Dade reprinted from the Fort Dade Messenger, reports, “There are two post offices in this section, one known as Ft. Dade, and the other Tuckertown. The mail is semi-weekly from Brooksville, but it is getting to be so large that it will soon have to be daily. There are two stores in operation at present, and several others in prospective. The stores, at present established here, are one at the Post-office, owned by our worthy P. M. Mr. N. A Carter, and the other, three miles east as the P. O. owned by Mr. W. C. Sumner.”

Oct. 2, 1882. A newspaper reports, “A German baron is erecting a residence at Fort Dade, Fla.”

Oct. 30, 1882. A post office is established at Hatton.

June 22, 1883. The Fort Dade Messenger, Vol. II, No. 2, consisting of four pages, has “The amount subscribed for the Baptist church organ is almost made up.” R. M. Wilson was in charge of checking off donations. Earnest and Thrasher on Lake Buddy has an advertisement. Land is offered for sale by Judge E. F. Dunne who lived at “Residence E side of Clear Lake, 3 miles southwest of the Post Office.” Jas. A. Grady was selling the “largest lot of buggies ever brought to this market.” Orange trees were sold by D. T. Clements, who could be reached at the International Ocean Telegraphic Office at Tuckertown.

July 11, 1884. The Fort Dade Messenger (vol. 3, no. 4) shows John H. Brown is the publisher. R. J. Marshall is the postmaster. R. M. Wilson is listed as secretary of the Masonic Lodge. A Baptist church directory shows R. E. Bell as pastor of Oak Grove, L. Parish as superintendent of the Sabbath School, W. W. Bostick as pastor at Pleasant Hill, R. T. Caddin as pastor of a church at the county line between Hernando and Hillsborough, and B. L. Ray as pastor at Double Branch Church. There are advertisements for:

  • James G. Wallace, attorney and counselor at law at Fort Dade.
  • Miss P. R. Weaver, at Ellerslie, dress-making, hats trimmed.
  • Fort Dade High School, S. L. Hancock, Charles Croft, and Henry Jordan, trustees.
  • A saw mill owned by Emerson & Chappman
  • A saw mill owned by E. Ravesies.
  • W. A. Jones of Fort Dade, surveyor and real estate agent.
  • Ellerslie Academy, J. G. Wallace, President of the Board of Trustees.
  • C. D. Brockman, contractor and builder, with office at Chipco City.
  • F. P. McElroy & Co., Maine Street, Fort Dade, dealers in drugs, medicines and chemicals.
  • W. C. Sumner, dealer in general merchandise, Fort Dade. Family groceries, canned goods, etc.
  • Ft. Dade Restaurant, Mr. J. G. Jones. Meals prepared at half hour’s notice. Sleeping rooms at moderate rates. Soda water and confectionery kept constantly on hand.
  • Mr. Pixton, photographer, near Hatton P. O.

Dec. 1, 1884. Henry W. Coleman and William N. Ferguson open a store, the second general store in Dade City.

Dec. 18, 1884. The Hatton post office is renamed Dade City.

1884 or 1885. Dade City is incorporated. [A newspaper advertisement on Dec. 5, 1885, called Dade City an incorporated town and identified E. A. Hall as Mayor. There is also a reference to the first incorporation in county commission minutes.

On April 1, 1927, the Dade City Banner reported:

Judging from the questions of number of the pupils in the schools here to older citizens and others, a course in local city and county history is being taught. For the benefit of the children and others interested, the following information concerning the beginning of Dade City, furnished by Col. J. A. Hendley is given. Dade City was first incorporated in 1884, at a meeting held in the old Baptist church, which was located in what is now the older section of the local cemetery. Judge D. O. Thrasher, who later was county superintendent, and concerning whom it is said that he always carried his pockets full of stick candy to give to the children when visiting the schools or campaigning, was the first mayor. Col. J. A. Hendley, John Overstreet, A. C. Sumner, Reuben Wilson and Dr. G. M. Roberts, the first physician to practise medicine in Dade City, and father of “Uncle” Jesse Roberts, composed the first City Council.

A second incorporation occurred in 1889.]

June 6, 1885. A newspaper mentions the Dade City Observer. [The newspaper is called the Florida Observer in an 1885 newspaper directory, which says it is a weekly newspaper.]

Aug. 7, 1885. The Daily Review of Wilmington, N. C., has:

Dade City is a lovely place, and the road passes through its principal streets, and it is also the most hospitable town that we have come to. The people are very polite and their manners are not at all reserved. They have lately erected a beautiful church of the Baptist denomination, in which services are held every Sunday, and as this is the only church here, all denominations attend. There are two hotels here, one of which is kept by Mrs. Davis, and the other by a Mr. Sumner. They are both first class in every respect. Considerable business is carried on as the city has some ten or twelve stores and a fine saloon for gentlemen.

Sept. 14, 1885. The first regular train of the Florida Central and Peninsular Railway passes through Dade City.

Nov. 14, 1885. A letter to The Sunny South has: “Fort Dade is not a city nor a town, as some may think, but a scope of country covering about fifteen miles square; but don’t think it is all country, for every settlement claims that they are going to have the town. Dade City though, I believe, is looked on now as the town. It is quite a growing town; has about two doz. business houses, a hotel and livery stables, and a handsome new Baptist church, also a post office.”

1886. The Dade City hotel is built.

1886. A directory shows William Fletcher Alexander as the pastor at Fort Dade.

Feb 17, 1886. The New York Times reports: “PENSACOLA, Fla., Feb. 16.—R. J. Marshall, alias Morton, Postmaster at Fort Dade, Fla., was arrested here yesterday charged with embezzling money order funds by Post Office Inspector Baird, who came here in answer to a telegram from Postmaster Yonge, who had located Marshall the day before. Marshall absconded last July, leaving a wife and two children at Fort Dade.”

June 1, 1886. A document in the handwriting of H. H. Henley has, “Recognizing the growing tendency toward strong drink, especially prevalent among the young men of today, we the undersigned under the band of ‘Dade City Blue Ribbon Club,’ hereby pledge ourselves not to drink any intoxicating drink as a beverage, and to lend our influence to the suppression of this monster in the great cause of temperance.” The signatures, dated between Nov. 30, 1885, and June 1, 1886, are: Walter R. Lawrence, J. C. Blocker Jr., H. H. Henley, S. E. Millen, J. D. Sumner, D. M. Davidson, Annie Blocker, S. F. Huckabay, Eddie Davis, J. A. Grady, I. F. Kernegay, John F. Bard, L. Olive Millen, Maggie Thrasher, August L. Loftin, F. G. Wilson Jr., Dollie Maynard, Frankie Davis, Mollie Davis, Fannie G. Lewis, Florrie Lewis, Clara Davis, Lula M. Ray, W. A. Vickers.

1887. The first railroad line reaches Dade City, according to a historic marker.

1887. A second newspaper in Dade City, the Pasco County Democrat is established by Capt. John B. Johnston. See this page for more on this and other early newspapers in Dade City.

July 18, 1887. The Pasco Board of County Commissioners meets for the first time. Dade City is named the temporary county seat.

Aug. 1, 1887. The County Commission votes to accept the proposal of Coleman Ferguson and Co. for a two-story structure on Meridian St. in Dade City for use as a temporary court house free of rent. The company promised it would be finished by Sept. 5.

Dec. 21, 1887. An Iowa newspaper reports, “A special from Dade City, Florida, says Dick Hines and Charley Metz, colored, were lynched there Tuesday for assaulting Mrs. Oberry and her daughter, living near Owensboro. When arrested the negroes confessed their crime and begged for mercy, but were speedily lynched. No particulars can be learned more than they were tortured before being strung up, and the ropes were so arranged that they slowly died of strangulation. Their bodies were left hanging and it is reported they were afterward riddled with shot.”

June 7, 1888. A newspaper reports, “Berry Miller of Dade City, Fla., killed an alligator fourteen feet long, weighing 600 pounds on Thursday. Within him was found an alligator six feet long. The vertebra is as large as that of a 4-year-old steer. The monster was very savage, and fought most viciously until killed.”

Aug. 21, 1888. The Semiweekly Age of Coshocton reports, “A. J. Gill of Dade City, Fla., is the owner of an orange tree fifty-three years old, which is two and a half feet in diameter and thirty-five feet high. This tree has yielded 10,000 oranges in a single season, and it is believed, if no mishap intervenes, the product will reach 12,000 the present year. It is one of a group of eighteen, each but little inferior in size.”

1889. A Methodist church is erected on College Street by James E. Lee.

Jan. 13, 1889. The First Presbyterian Church of Dade City is organized. [A church was erected on College Street in the early 1890s.]

Jan. 15, 1889. An election is held to select the city officials of the newly-incorporated Dade City. [According to the Pasco County Democrat, 47 voters, more than two-thirds of the proposed citizens, cast their ballots. City officers elected were: Mayor, John B. Johnston; Clerk, J. C. Calhoun; Councilmen, A. A. Boone, D. T. Clement, J. E. Lee, F. P. McElroy, and J. T. McMichael. This incorporation was approved by the state legislature on June 5, 1889. According to a 1916 newspaper article, Dade City was incorporated as a town in 1889 and as a city in 1909.]

Apr. 11, 1889. An election to name the county seat is held. Dade City won with 432 votes. Gladstone received 205 votes. Pasadena received 96; Urbana, 20; Fort Dade, 4; Clear Lake, 2; Jefferson, 2; and Owensboro, 1.

Aug. 8, 1889. School board minutes refer to a “graded and high school” in Dade City. [A history of Pasco High School and earlier schools in Fort Dade and Dade City is here.]

Aug. 15, 1889. The Bank of Pasco County announces in the Pasco County Democrat that it will open for business as soon as its banking house is completed, but that meanwhile, anyone wishing to borrow money can write to A. A. Parker, Tavares, the president of the bank. [A charter was granted on Sept. 5, 1889. The bank, the first in Pasco County, opened in a two-story red-brick building completed in 1891 at Meridian Avenue and Seventh Street. It was the first brick building in Dade City. On Oct. 30, 1925, a newspaper reported that the Bank of Pasco County moved into its new home, which was remodeled from the old building.]

Aug. 28, 1889. The Pensacola News reports, “J. K. Davis has been elected marshal of Dade City.”

Apr. 23, 1890. A newspaper reports, “Mrs. N. E. Harwood, while tearing up the flooring of an old school house, about fifteen miles southwest of Dade City, Fla., caused the building to collapse and fall upon herself and little daughter. Mrs. Harwood was instantly killed, her skull being crushed by the fallen timbers. The little daughter was only slightly hurt.”

1891. The county’s first court house is constructed in Dade City. [County government had earlier been conducted in a temporary location. According to Bill Dayton, this court house was moved a couple of blocks east when the brick court house was built in 1909. He says he has always heard that this court house burned down in the 1920s]

May 9, 1891. A newspaper reports, “Vol. 1, No. 1 of the Industrialist, published at Dade City, Florida, lies on our table. C. F. De La Mater, a former teacherof Wabaunsee county is the editor. Fremont sticks to his old time democratic faith, but will adhere to Alliance principles as he gropes his way along the thorny pathways of the editorial jungle. We wish C. F. the best of success in his new venture.” The reference is to John Charles Fremont Delamater (1856-1937).

Oct. 20, 1891. A Texas newspaper reports, “The farmer’s alliance meets at Dade City today. Nearly 3000 delegates will attend to discuss the sub-treasury bill and a resolution to support only alliance men at the state election, which means a third party in Florida. The convention will endorse the Ocala platform.”

Oct. 24, 1891. The Bismarck Daily Tribune has: “DADE CITY, Oct. 28.—The State Farmers’ Alliance, after discussion lasting five hours, endorsed the platform adopted at Ocala last year. Senator Pasco, who was not barred from the meeting because of being a lawyer, went on record against the sub-treasury plan.”

Nov. 14, 1891. College Street Baptist Church, later First Baptist Church, is organized by ten leading families of Oak Grove Baptist Church, according to an article in East Pasco’s Heritage.

1892. A brick jail is constructed at Dade City. [The marker at the Pasco County Jail lists these county commissioners: B. C. Campbell, T. F. Williams, L. S. Bradham, W. H. Haager, J. W. Clark.]

July 20, 1893. The Tampa Weekly Tribune mentions a newspaper, The World, in Dade City. [On Oct. 20, 1893, the Tribune reports John Post and family, merchants, Dade City World newspaper, return to Tampa to live.]

1894. The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette has: “A letter received from Dr. George C. Muirhead (?) at Dade City, Florida, states that he has been offered an office for the practice of his profession and will remain there. A host of warm friends here are sorry he does not intend to return, but are rejoiced at the news that he is enjoying excellent health.”

Aug. 20, 1894. The Trenton Times reports: “Dade City, Fla., Aug. 20—Milton Higgs came home from Floral City, where he works, to see his wife. As he reached home his wife drove up in a cart with another man. Higgs led the woman into the house and blew out her brains. The murderer escaped.” [On Oct. 12, 1894, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported that Judge Barron Phillips sentenced Milton Higgs to hang for killing his wife Susie on Aug. 18, 1894.]

May 3, 1895. The Galveston County Daily News reports, “Dade City, Fla.—Leslie Wilson, the 15-year-old son of R. M. Wilson, was caught in the belt at Bass’ saw mill, two miles north of Dade City on the 27th. Both of his legs were broken and he was otherwise badly injured. His condition is critical.”

Apr. 27, 1896. A heavy rain, wind, and hail storm passes through Dade City. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “The Brown brothers report their great water melon crop totally ruined. H. C. Griffin’s melon crop, corn and other crops were ruined or damaged. The residence of A. T. Hamilton, two miles east of here, was lifted from its foundation. Hamilton’s daughter was injured, but not seriously. The heavy rain breaks the drought of six weeks. Hail-stones filled a ditch six inches deep. H. H. Brown reports hail three inches deep on a level on his melon farm. … Later reports show that the crops of Major C. Lewis, two miles northeast of town, are completely destroyed. He lost about forty turkeys killed by hailstones.”

Aug. 10, 1896. A fire in Dade City destroys Coleman & Ferguson’s general store, T. J. Howard’s drug store, J. J. Wilson’s poolroom, Powell’s barber shop, and A. A. Boone’s grocery store. The loss was estimated at $27,000.

Sept. 10, 1896. The Tampa Weekly Tribune mentions Rev. D. A. Cole, Methodist minister in Dade City.

1897. Embry Tobacco Co. is established.

Mar. 7, 1898. Minutes of the Dade City City Council meeting have: “Mr. T. F. Cheek and others appeared before the board asking that the Council take some step to rid the town of the illicit sale of whiskey. After discussion C. W. Furman offered the following resolution which was adopted: ‘The Mayor and Marshal are commanded to abate all disorder in this city by enforcing the law in its fullest meaning and effect and arrest all parties who are in any way connected with any house of disorder and arrest the proprietors for keeping such hours.’”

May 2, 1898. James A. Delcher is elected Chairman of the Dade City City Council, replacing J. D. Sumner, who resigned.

Apr. 14, 1899. The Tampa Tribune, in an article of Dade City news, reports, “The business of the cigar factory is exceeding all expectations of its originators. An order for 100,000 of their smokers came in yesterday. A stock company organized and will take charge of the business at once. The company will erect immediately an ample building, and will employ fifty cigar makers.” (A newspaper article in July reported that 14 cigar makers were employed by the Charles Torricella Cigar Manufacturing Co.)

June 8, 1899. The San Antonio Herald reports:

Dade City was visited yesterday by a conflagration, which terminated in the destruction of a handsome church and several dwelling houses, besides damaging a number of adjoining buildings. At 1:30 p.m. sparks from a defective flue set the fire to the top of Mr. Walter Seay’s residence, and although there was plenty of help, nothing could be done to save the building. Meanwhile Dr. Baker’s house was exposed to all the heat and sparks, but an excited crowd saved it, forgetting, however, all about the Baptist church on the west of Baker’s. It was not long before the roof of the church caught and no efforts could save the structure, owing to the scarcity of water. The next building in danger was the one of the Hon. John Raymond. It was on fire several times, but after heroic exertions it was saved. For a time the High School appeared to be doomed also, but the teachers who were present for examination with some other help stationed themselves on the building, each with a supply of water, and the Superintendent and the chairman of the Board were on hand, ready to act, in case of emergency. This building escaped through a change of wind. The next building doomed was Mr. Keith’s villa, a handsome home, which was soon consumed by the flames, the heat of the burning church being too great for any attempt to extinguish the flames. The sparks from the burning buildings set at different times fire to the Presbyterian church and parsonage and the adjoining woods. Other houses in immediate danger were those of Messrs. Brown, Mobley, Ray and Henley. At 4 o’clock the fire was under control and further immediate danger past. A low estimate puts the loss at $11,000 with but little in insurance.

June 29, 1899. The San Antonio Herald reports, “Dr. Lowry, a physician of Plant City, has moved to Dade City with his family and will practise his profession.” (In Aug. 1899, Western Druggist reported, “Dr. F. P. McElroy of Dade City has sold his drug store to Dr. C. S. Lowry, formerly of Plant City.”)

Aug. 10, 1899. The San Antonio Herald reports, “The Dade City cigar factory is said to be in a flourishing condition. Over 8000 cigars were shipped last week and sufficient orders are on hand to warrant an increase.”

March 8, 1900. The San Antonio Herald reports that Dr. Howard of Dade City has died.

Jan. 27, 1901. Early the morning, a riot breaks out at a negro dance at Rice & Phelps’ turpentine camp near Dade City. Dan Childers, a white man, is killed and J. B. McNeill is fatally wounded. Two black women and one black man were shot and seriously wounded. [On Feb. 5, 1901, a mob lynched two black men, Will Wright and Sam Williams, in the county jail at Dade City. They had been implicated in the killing of Childers and the wounding of McNeill. Sheriff Griffin refused to give up the keys and the mob, said to be 30 to 50 men, broke down the outer door. Unable to break down the steel doors of the cells, they opened fire through the steel bars, shooting both prisoners to death. The Coroner’s jury found that they came to their death at the hands of “parties unknown.” On Feb. 14, 1901, the Tampa Tribune apparently gave the names as Will Wright and Sam Johnson.]

Mar. 11, 1901. American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record reports: “Dr. C. S. Lowry, of Dade City, Fla., has sold his drug business to J. Clarence Griffin. Dr. Lowry will locate in Lakeland, where he will practice his profession. He has also purchased a drug store in Lakeland.”

Aug. 18, 1901. The Tampa Tribune reports, “Fire, early yesterday morning, did $1,000 damage to the building at Eight avenue and Fifteenth street, owned by Coleman & Ferguson, of Dade City, and occupied by A. Noriega, grocer.”

Jan. 8, 1902. Jno. B. Johnston is selected as Mayor of Dade City.

1903. The Mount Zion A. M. E. Church is constructed in Dade City. [The trustees of the church at the time of the purchase of the property were Rufus Johnson, George Young, and Butler T. Green. The minister at this time may have been Rev. Amos Thompson. The building was demolished in 2007.]

Jan. 29, 1903. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “The Dade City House, which has been run for a number of years by Col. J. A. Delcher, has been purchased by Mr. Bragdon and he will assume the management March 1.”

May 23, 1903. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “The Pasco County Telephone Company is now getting a number of phones into successful operation in Dade City. Poles have been erected to Blanton, Jessamine, St. Leo, and San Antonio. Phones will be placed in all along the line as fast as the wire arrives and is put up.”

1904. The Dade City Star is established. [On Dec. 8, 1904, a newspaper reported, “The Dade City Star is one of the latest ventures on the journalistic sea.” According to a 1972 newspaper article, “Basil Orville (“Villie”) Bowden became owner and editor of the Dade City Star which he established in 1904….” On Oct. 15, 1909, B. O. Bowden is shown as editor and owner.]

Jan. 4, 1904. J. K. Ward is elected Mayor of Dade City.

Mar. 17, 1904. At about 2 a.m., safe blowers attempt to rob the Bank of Pasco, dynamiting the large iron doors leading to the bank vault. The charges of dynamite were so heavy that the large brick building was cracked from roof to base and every one of the plate glass windows was blown out.

May 5, 1904. A letter to the editor of the Crittenden Press by Foster Threlkeld has: “Dade City is the county site of Pasco county; has 700 population, fine school, 3 fine churches, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist, 2 R. R.’s, 1 bank, 1 paper, 1 drug store, 3 general stores, 2 dry goods and notion stores, 2 millinery stores, 1 butcher shop, 1 mill, 2 blacksmith shops, 1 barber shop, no saloon, 2 livery stables, 1 hotel of 30 rooms but not open, owing to litigation. One opening for good hotel man.”

Nov. 2, 1904. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “The people of Dade City are delighted to know that they will soon have a telephone system connecting with San Antonio, Blanton, Greer and Jessamine Gardens. The business men and a good many of the residents are having phones put in. … Dade City is soon to have another newspaper. … A short time ago the town council purchased a gas plant and lighted the streets. They have given such satisfaction that the business men are putting them in their stores. Thelkeld & Mills have also put them in the hotel.”

Feb. 6, 1905. D. O. Thrasher is selected as Mayor of Dade City.

Feb. 9, 1905. Dade City Council meets to consider granting a franchise for an electric light and water works plant to Isaac D. Sperry, Drew B. Mills, and Emille Muller for a period of 25 years.

Feb. 14, 1905. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “Electric light and water works plants will soon be in operation here, the franchise for them having been granted to a company incorporated by J. D. Sperry, D. B. Mills, and Emile Muller. Mr. Sperry is a capitalist hailing from St. Louis who intends settling with his family in this city. D. B. Mills is the well-known and popular proprietor of the Dade City Hotel and Emile Muller proprietor of the ice works, which has been a success since its start. … The Dade City Hotel, now under the management of Messrs. Mills and Utley, having made many improvements in its interior and exterior appointments, is being well patronized both by the tourist and commercial fraternity, who are fortunate as to become its guests. Mrs. L. P. Utley, who recently bought a half interest, has recently come from Salem, Ky., where she and her husband, J. A. Utley, kept a hotel successfully for many years.”

May 3, 1905. The Gainesville Daily Sun reports, “W. B. Keith, near Dade City, has harvested the finest crop of ten acres of oats ever raised in Pasco County.”

Aug. 17, 1905. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “J. C. Griffin is placing the material on his lot and in a few days will begin the erection of a handsome brick block. … Pasco Wilson and R. W. Jordon, two of our cleverest young men, have opened a market and the people of Dade City are glad to know have employed Charlie Taylor as meat cutter. He has had 12 years experience and thoroughly understands the business. They have also secured the services of Ashford Sturkie to deliver meat, which assures the people of prompt delivery.”

Feb. 8, 1906. A newspaper reprints an article from the Pasco County Democrat which has:

Mr. and Mrs. Utley have purchased the interest of D. B. Mills in the Dade City hotel and they are now sole proprietors of this splendid hostelry. The proprietors are determined to raise the hotel to the highest standard and they will spare neither pains nor expense in their efforts to cater to the comfort and pleasure of their guests. By reason of environment and the fine field offered to sportsmen this is really an ideal tourist hotel. The fishing and hunting are indeed satisfactory and both the hunter and angler can find all the sport he desires. The hotel is admirably situated on an eminence within a stone’s throw of the S. A. L. depot. Its sanitary condition is of the highest order and health is assured. Mr. Utley is an admirable host, genial, warmhearted and accommodating, his highest pleasure is found in contributing to the pleasure of his guests. Mrs. Utley is a lady of charming manner and tireless energy, who labors in season and out of season to make the hotel a model of homelike comfort and render each and every guest comfortable and happy. The future of the hotel is bright with promise.

Mar. 1, 1906. The Arcadia Champion reports, “Boon Embry, of Dade City, who owns one of the largest tobacco farms in the state, has just closed a ten-year contract for his crop at 40 cents a pound. He has nearly thirty acres under sheds.”

1907. Sunnybrook Tobacco Co. buys out the Embry Tobacco Co. [In the early 1920s Sunnybrook became the largest employer in Pasco County. The plant was heavily damaged by fire on Dec. 15, 1924, and closed down.]

Jan. 31, 1907. The Tampa Tribune reports E. Wilson was elected Mayor of Dade City.

July 7, 1907. The Tampa Tribune, repeating an article from the Dade City Star, reports, “Dade City has never had such a rush as it is having now, and no slacking off for the summer seems probable, as every carpenter, every brick mason and all other workers are employed, and you can’t get a man for anything, even to the women and children are employed, as Boone Embry, the tobacco man, has work for 400 men, women and children to take care of his immense crop. A large number of houses are under construction and others waiting for the carpenters to get around to them. Among it all our town is forging to the front so fast we can hardly realize how it is being done.”

July 11, 1907. A Kentucky newspaper reports:

E. Boone Embry, son of W. E. Embry, formerly of Howell, Christian county, Ky., who moved to Dade City, Fla., in 1898 to grow Cuba and Sumatra tobacco, has grown successfully eight crops, the last five being grown under an lattice shade structure in order to make the texture very fine. Mr. Embry has made such a success that he has attracted the attention of capitalists who have gone in with him and organized a corporation with paid up capital of $100,000.00. The capitalists are of our state, the Rosenfield Bros., of Sunny Brook Distillery Co., and the name of the corporation is Sunny Brook Tobacco Co. The company of which Mr. Embry is general manager has bought five or six hundred acres of very fine tobacco land at Dada City and will erect fifty acres more shade for next years’ business, making 80 acres all told. Mr. Embry is busy now erecting dwelling houses for the various ones who will doubtless flock to Dade City when they read the terms of the contract made by Sunny Brook Tobacco Co. Eighty acres of tobacco means four hundred acres in Kentucky so far as the amount of labor is concerned, and for other reasons Mr. Embry wants men of families to come to him at Dade City and go into business with him on share terms the first year until they learn the business at which time the company expects to build shades for other men and give them liberal contracts such as Mr. Embry himself has had for the five years past with Toussig & Co., of Chicago.

Sept. 28, 1907. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “F. S. Daigir will move in a few days into his handsome brick store. The Seay brick building is nearing completion. When completed will be occupied by Boon & Touchton, druggists.”

1908. Electric power is brought to Dade City by Dade City Ice, Light, and Power Co. [George C. Dayton recalled that the first electric street lights in Dade City were in 1908 and were 20- and 40-watt bulbs. He also recalled that the installation of the white way lighting system was celebrated in 1924.]

1908. The Touchton Building is erected at the corner of Seventh Street and Meridian Avenue in Dade City.

Jan. 26, 1908. The Gainesville Daily Sun reports, “Pasco County has the tobacco fever. In Dade City it is difficult to find clerks for the stores or landlords for the hotels—all rush out to grow tobacco.”

Apr. 23, 1908. The Tampa Tribune reports that Joseph Henry and George Roberts, soldiers who robbed the Fort Dade post office, were detained by officials on desertion charges in hopes they receive a more severe punishment.

May 14, 1908. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports that ex-Sen. Kirk and George W. Dayton addressed an unruly crowd in Dade City.

Nov. 12, 1908. The Tampa Weekly Tribune mentions Dade City Orange Growers, Dade City Vegetable Co., Sunny Brook Tobacco Co., Dade City Star, B. O. Bowden, editor, and the Dade City Drug Co., Boon & Touchton, proprietors.

May 11, 1909. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports that the Mutual Construction Co. of Louisville, Ky., was awarded the contract for erecting Pasco County’s new court house at $34,860. It reported the company was allowed 250 working days to complete the contract. [According to one source, Circuit Court Clerk Archie J. Burnside accepted the completed building on July 5, 1909, and made the first payment of $6,360 on that date. However, the Atlanta Constitution of Sept. 20, 1909, carried a classified ad: “WANTED – Ten good carpenters to go to Dade City, Fla., work on courthouse, 30c per hour, 10-hour day. Call upon A H Haggard, 16 W. North avenue Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 12 m.” According to Eddie Herrmann, County Commission records reflect that acceptance was refused on Dec. 16, 1909, “on grounds, not fully completed,” and was subsequently accepted on Jan. 3, 1910.]

Oct. 15, 1909. The Dade City Star states that it “has the largest circulation of any paper ever published in Pasco County.” The newspaper reports on a four-day murder trial that resulted in a hung jury. State Attorney Herbert Phillips prosecuted the case and defense counsel included Col. E. F. Green, Capt. John B. Johnson, and Col. Robert W. Davis. School board minutes show that board members are L. J. Sellers, W. S. Larkin, and D. E. Wallace, and M. L. Gilbert is superintendent. In an advertisement, J. D. Sumner invites everybody to make his store headquarters during court or any other time when in town. S. Daiger advertises groceries, feed, fertilizer, crockery, clothing, oil stoves. O. N. Williams & Son advertise that they are the original Racket Store and have added a grocery department and a millinery and dress making department supervised by Mrs. Jennie Knapp. O. N. Williams is an agent for the Standard Fertilizer Co. Coleman and Ferguson advertise. W. L. Baker states that he is successor to R. C. Davis and advertises fresh fish each day, fresh pork, sausage, beef, and mutton. R. T. Thrasher is a dealer in general merchandise. Brown’s Livery has good teams and careful drivers. E. M. Staley is a contractor and builder.

Oct. 28, 1909. The Dade City Hotel is destroyed by fire. It was formerly known as the Delcher House.

Oct. 30, 1909. The Gainesville Daily Sun reports, “E. B. Embry of Dade City, who is manager of the Sunnybrook Tobacco Company, says that Florida wrapper tobacco is bringing two dollars a pound. The Dade City plantation is one of the largest in the State.”

Dec. 19, 1909. A newspaper reports, “E. M. Harvey, of Dade City, in the south of Florida, has sold the Dade City Hotel plot of ground to S. H. Gerowe, of Atlanta, Ga., who will give that city its crying need, a new hotel, which he intends to manage himself.”

Dec. 30, 1909. The Tampa Times reports that the temperature at Dade City dropped to 19°. [On Dec. 31, the Evening Independent reported, “Oranges have been hurt in this section, where exposed to the cold, but not in every case. Much firing has been done. Dade City has experienced some of the coldest weather in its history, but the cold wave at no time has equaled that of the big freeze of 1894.”]

May 20, 1910. The Fort Pierce News reports, “At Fort Dade, the first organization of Spanish war veterans in Florida have just been organized, with a membership of about fifty. Capt. A. G. Clark, of Fort Dade, is organizer.”

Apr. 4, 1911. The Atlanta Constitution reports: “Dade City, Fla., April 3.—While personally directing the completion of a hotel he has built here, S. H. Gerowe fell 30 feet today and was instantly killed. He was standing on a window ledge on the second story, pulling a nail. The nail came out suddenly and Mr. Gerowe lost his balance. He was formerly a traveling salesman for Harry Schlesinger, of Atlanta.” (This hotel would become the Edwinola.)

Nov. 16, 1911. The Zephyrhills Colonist mentions vol. I, no. 1, of the Dade City Record. [On Nov. 26, 1911, the Miami Herald Record reported, “Dade City has a new newspaper and it is called the Pasco County Record. The first number was sent out last Friday and Editor A. G. Waldron, who is also the proprietor, declares in his introductory that he intends to ‘publish the news of all the county just as it happens and from an unbiased and unprejudiced viewpoint.’”]

Nov. 22, 1911. Noah Green, a local farmer, an inmate in (apparently) the city jail, is killed by a fire he set to keep warm. The fire burned down the wooden jail. He had been arrested and jailed on a charge of drunkenness.

1912. A Guide to Florida for Tourists, Sportsmen, and Settlers lists three hotels in Dade City: Woods’ Tavern, I. A. Woods, capacity 25; Embry House, W. E. Embry, capacity, 25; Osceola, Mrs. M. D. Cochran, capacity, 20.

Feb. 11, 1912. A newspaper ad identifies Jasper C. Carter as Mayor of Dade City and Charles F. Touchton as President of the Dade City Board of Trade.

Mar. 8, 1912. A newspaper reports that the Hotel Edwinola had its formal opening on Saturday night. The owner was Edwin J. Gasque, and A. J. Stebbins was the manager. It was located on the same site as the former Dade City Hotel. (In the 1950s the building became Florida East Coast University; the university was closed in the 1970s. The Edwinola reopened in 1974 as a restaurant, and as a retirement home in 1982. It closed as a retirement home on Sept. 30, 2016. It reopened in May 2017 under the management company Priority Life Care of Fort Wayne, Indiana.)

July 7, 1912. A railroad depot in Dade City is destroyed by fire. (The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Station was erected late in 1912 to replace it.)

Oct. 13, 1912. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “Work has begun on the breaking of ground for the erection of the new Atlantic Coast Line depot at the foot of Meridian street. … The work of erecting this building is in charge of Mr. G. H. Boring, local contractor.”

1913. The Dade City Banner is established. See this page for some history of the Banner and earlier newspapers in Dade City.

May 4, 1913. The new St. Rita Church is blessed by Benedictine Fr. Augustine Feller, O. S. B., the pastor. [It was dedicated on Jan. 4, 1914. More information about this church is here.]

May 23, 1913. The first of two legal executions occurs in Pasco County as Tom Bush is hanged by Sheriff Sturkie according to a later account in the Dade City Banner.

Oct. 12, 1913. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “We have three hotels, i.e., Hotel Osceola (transients and boarders); Edwinola, transients and boarders. Woods Tavern is small so can only take transients. Mrs. Ward keeps The Ward House, Mrs. Embry The Embry House, three as good boarding houses are anyone can find and the Oyster Bar Restaurant. So you see we are prepared to care for all who come.”

Mar. 13, 1914. Frederick A. Cook speaks in Dade City, claiming that he discovered the North Pole.

Sept. 25, 1914. The Dade City Banner reports that J. T. Futch is about to build a packing house south of the depot, that A. J. Reed has leased the old mill site between Church and Meridian streets, which he will convert into a wood yard and mill, that concrete sidewalks are soon to be constructed on College Street, and that J. T. Teston will operate a laundry.

Oct. 9, 1914. The Dade City Banner reports that C. D. Hubert, Dade City’s progressive jeweler, is making arrangements to install a wireless outfit whereby he can get the time from the government station at Arlington, Va. There will be two 75-foot towers, 150 feet apart, between which four antenna wires will be stretched.

Nov. 13, 1914. The Dade City Banner reports:

Mrs. Raymond Hitchcock, wife of the noted actor, and her brother arrived in the city Tuesday, and are making their headquarters at the Edwinola for the present. Mrs. Hitchcock bought the old Blanton tract, consisting of 300 acres, last year from Mr. Stewart, manager of the Hippodrome, of New York, who was here last winter, and expects to spend the winter here in improving her property, setting out a large orange grove on it in the near future. The Blanton estate is about six miles from town, and Mrs. Hitchcock and brother, should they decide to stay here, will probably buy property and build a winter home in the city, managing their grove from this place.

Nov. 20, 1914. The Dade City Banner reports that Mr. C. Beech resigned as city marshal and that Mayor A. F. Price appointed W. F. “Bill” Flemming to fill the unexpired term. [Beech had been beaten up in the negro quarters earlier in the month.]

Nov. 27, 1914. An advertisement in the Dade City Banner announces that Dr. F. C. Wirt, osteopath, will be at Dade City Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at the Edwinola Hotel, and at San Antonio on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning, beginning Nov. 16.

Sept. 4, 1915. A publication reports that the Dade City National Bank has applied for a charter. Capital $25,000. Correspondents are: R. B. Sturkie, E. T. Vaughn, E. W. Stapleton, L. B. Bessinger, J. M. Harvey.

Oct. 9, 1915. The Dade City Banner and the Dade City Star are consolidated.

1916. The population of Dade City is 1950, an increase of 83% in five years.

1916. A brick, two-story city hall is constructed on Meridian Ave. in Dade City.

June 29, 1916. The Bank of Dade City opens. [However, the Tampa Sunday Tribune of July 23, 1916, reported that the bank formally opened on Thursday, which would have been July 20, 1916.]

June 30, 1916. The Dade City Banner reports on an attempted rape of a white woman by a black man. It reports, “Tension runs high tonight, and armed parties are scouring every nook of the woods for miles around. Men are posted at every railroad crossing and every public road and swamp is guarded. Every effort is being made to catch the brute. Blood hounds have been sent for, and it is thought he will be overtaken in a short while, in which event he will doubtless be made to pay the penalty in the usual manner.” [It is not clear whether a lynching occurred. Another newspaper reported on July 1, “Dade City, Fla.—A sheriff’s posse today is searching the woods hereabouts for a negro who last night attacked a white woman two doors from the county jail. Mob violence is feared.”]

Nov. 24, 1916. The Dade City Banner has: “The undersigned agree to close their respective places of business for Thanksgiving on November 30, 1916. Coleman and Ferguson, T. L. Shofner, J. A. Peek, Cash Grocery Store, Hubert Jewelry Store, S. F. Huckabay, H. C. Griffin, O. N. Williams and Son, W. M. Redding.”

Jan. 5, 1917. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “The finishing touches are being put on the City Hall and jail this week, and it is expected that the building will be ready for occupancy some time next week.”

Jan. 19, 1917. The banner headline in the Dade City Banner reads: “Everything in Readiness for Pasco County’s First Fair, Opening Wednesday, January 24th.” [According to the web site of the Pasco County Fair, “On April 7, 1947, the Pasco County Fair Association Inc. was chartered with the purpose of hosting an annual fair to promote youth and other county resources. The first documented county fair was Jan. 20 through 24, 1948.”]

Dec. 28, 1917. The second and final public hanging takes place at the Dade City jail. Edgar London, a black man convicted of murdering his wife at Ehren in 1917, is executed by Sheriff I. W. Hudson, who sprang the trap door. This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on Jan. 4, 1918.

The second legal hanging to be carried out in Pasco county was performed Friday afternoon in the jail yard, when Edgar London, a negro convicted of murdering his wife, was hanged by Sheriff I. W. Hudson. The execution took place at ten minutes past one in the presence of a large crowd of whites and blacks who had come in for miles around to witness the affair.

The negro was led to the platform by Sheriff Hudson and Deputy Osburn. He was accompanied by Rev. Father Francis, who had been with him all during the day, preparing him for his death. While the noose was being adjusted about his neck by Deputy Osburn, the negro displayed the utmost composure, never flinching once during the nerve-racking ordeal. He had the side of his face to the crowd and his lips could be seen moving in prayer. He never offered to say anything to the crowd, but kept his head well up and an erect position to the last, exhibiting a wonderful nerve. The black cap was placed over his head and the trap was sprung by Sheriff Hudson at 1:10. His neck was broken by the fall, and in six minutes he was pronounced dead by Dr. E. L. Reigle, the attending physician.

The body was prepared for shipment and sent to his mother at Hawthorne.

It will be remembered that London killed his wife at Ehren sometime last summer. He was tried and convicted in the October term of Circuit court and sentenced by Judge Reaves to be hung. The first legal hanging ever to take place in this county was performed by Sheriff Sturkie in 1913, when a negro named Tom Bush was hung for a similar crime.

Bush did not murder his wife, according to a contemporary account.

Interviewed by Madonna Jervis Wise in 2014, Buddy Jones stated that a photograph exists from the hanging, and that it has been described to him as showing a wooden gallows at the western side of the jail and the perpetrator at the gallows, with an array of picnickers positioned on the grounds surrounding the gallows area.)

1918. The Mount Zion AME Church on 7th Street in Dade City is constructed, the first Protestant church in Pasco County to be built of masonry [Historic Places of Pasco County].

Oct. 25, 1918. A headline in the Dade City Banner reads “Joe Parker Victim of Spanish Influenza” and a subheadline reads “No Other Death Here and the Epidemic Giving Way.”

Dec. 6, 1918. The Dade City Banner reports that Orville L. Dayton will be the next Mayor of Dade City.

May 1919. The Lakeland Ledger reports

Luther Wilson goes Home and Gets Gun and Hides Out.

Luther Wilson, a white man, who has been confined in jail for an alleged attempted assault on a girl at Lacoochee a few weeks ago, broke jail on Sunday and made good his escape.

The walls of the jail are brick. The inside of the outer walls are lined with steel, but the not the partition walls. Mr. Wilson took advantage of this and first removed sufficient brick from the partition wall to allow him to get behind the steel lining of the outer wall. Once behind this lining he did not have difficulty in removing enough bricks to make an opening large enough to make his exit.

As he removed the bricks and the mortar during the days, he carefully concealed them on top of the cell and he kept a blanket hanging over the opening to hide his operation, the blanket did not seem to cause any excitement or suspicion.

Mr. Wilson lives at Lacoochee and after leaving the jail he went by home, where he provided himself with a shotgun, half a box of shells, ectra clothing and a hatchet.

Mr. Wilson is familiar with every foot of the swamps in the eastern part of the county, and it is likely he will be hard to recapture.

Officers are searching for him.

At the time of his arrest, officers had difficulty in persuading the citizens to let the law take its course.

Dec. 17, 1920. The Dade City Banner reports that F. D. Cosner was elected Mayor and that, because of reports of rabies among dogs in town, city council voted to require dogs to be muzzled year-round or be shot by Marshal Sparkman.

Jan. 1923. C. F. Touchton moves his drug store into the Daiger block, which he had previously purchased and remodeled. [In February he installed new glass front folding doors.]

March 1923. Roger Babson visits Dade City.

June 6, 1924. The Dade City Banner reports that Judge O. L. Dayton was elected mayor by the city council, filling the vacancy caused by the resignation of F. D. Cosner.

July 4, 1924. The Dade City Banner reports, “The little settlement just south of Dade City heretofore known as the Fort King community has decided to re-name it ‘Oakhurst.’ This is a very appropriate name on account of the many magnificent oaks along the roads as well as on private property in that vicinity. The community begins just where the new paved road leads off to San Antonio and extends south a couple of miles along the Fort King road to the Pasadena settlement.”

Dec. 12, 1924. The Dade City Banner reports that Frank P. Ingram was elected Mayor of Dade City, defeating W. M. Larkin 144-120.

Dec. 15, 1924. Fire destroys the three-story Sunnybrook Tobacco Co. building in the worst fire in the history of Dade City. 150,000 pounds of fine wrapper tobacco valued at $200,000 was destroyed. [It was the largest single industry in Dade City. The building was constructed in 1907.]

Nov. 24, 1925. The Dade City Banner reports:

Notwithstanding the fact that a large part of its furnishings have not yet arrived, owing to the freight embargo, the Gray Moss Inn, Dade City’s new hotel, will formally open its doors to the public on Thanksgiving evening. The event will be featured by a public reception to which every resident of Dade City and the surrounding country, ever 16 years of age, is invited. The Gray Moss Inn is located on the corner of Church and Eleventh streets, opposite the Methodist church. It is an imposing appearing stucco finish building and contains 18 guest rooms, besides lobby, dining room, kitchen, and several bath rooms and toilets. The Inn is owned and managed by Mr. and Mrs. M. F. Dudley, under whose supervision the building was erected, and who are both experienced in hotel work. While a considerable portion of the furnishings have not yet been received, the new hotel is in a position to comfortably care for as many guests as its rooms will hold. The lobby is most attractive, with well cushioned chairs and settees, while two large fire places give a comfortable warmth on cool evenings, as the flames cast a cheerful glow over the room. The dining room, with its many windows, is bright and cheerful and is furnished to seat 36 guests at one time. It is of ample size to accommodate nearly twice that number, if it should be found necessary. In speaking about their plans for opening the Inn Mrs. Dudley stated that it had been planned to start with the serving of a regular Thanksgiving dinner, but owing to the failure of a chef, engaged in the north, to report for duty, they had decided to simply keep open house that evening from 7:30 to 11:30, during which time it is hoped that everyone who possibly can, will visit and inspect the new hotel. The reception Thursday night is free to all and it is hoped that everyone who possibly can will attend. Light refreshments will be served. While not a large hotel, the Gray Moss Inn is first class in every respect, and its opening will do much to help the congestion due to a shortage of accommodations in Dade City. Mr. and Mrs. Dudley are being assisted in the management of the Inn by Miss Agnes Moyer.

[On June 13, 1914, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported that fire had destroyed the two-story frame home of S. (sic) Brummer. A few days later the newspaper reported that Mr. and Mrs. F. Brummer are moving to Tampa. On Jan. 29, 1915, the Dade City Banner reported, “Mrs. F. Brummer, formerly of this city, but who has been residing in Tampa for some time, has purchased from W. N. Ferguson the house and lot on Church street now occupied by T. F. Ziegler and family, and will take possession and conduct a boarding house. Mr. Ziegler expects to build in the near future.” Local historian Kate Futch recalled, “Back in 1913 when we lived on Church Street across the street in front of (or north) was the home of Mrs. Brummer and her family. As I remember, it was a very pretty two-story wooden house, with a porch on three sides. Mrs. Brummer had boarders and served meals.” The Dudley family bought the house and remodeled it in 1925-1926, choosing the name Gray Moss Inn. In 2019 Susan McMillan posted on Facebook under a picture of the Gray Moss Inn: “The building was built by my Gr Gr Uncle Jefferson Davis Sumner before 1900. When he passed away his wife had to turn it into an inn. He had one of the early stores in Ft Dade. Today there is a sewing room there. She married and sold it and moved to Tampa.”]

Apr. 16, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports that the Crescent Theatre opened Thursday night with the presentation of A Japanese Girl by local talent.

Apr. 30, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports that the historic Palmer House, on Eighth St. and the Seaboard Air Line railway tracks, was badly damaged by fire early on Friday. The article reported that the building is one of the oldest residences in Dade City and that it was formerly a well-known hotel opposite the old Seaboard station at Pasadena. (The building was earlier the residence of George W. Dayton.)

May 18, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports that the new $25,000 home of the Dade City Woman’s Club was formally opened Monday night.

May 28, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports, “Workmen will start early next week clearing the property at Fourth street and East Meridian avenue, preparatory to the breaking of ground and the construction of Dade City’s new Community Hotel, according to the announcement of M. Williams, president of the corporation, which has been formed to carry out this structure.” [The hotel was never completed but the building became a city hall.]

July 13, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports: “The Bank of Dade City failed to open its doors this morning and a notice posted on the door stated that the directors had decided to close the institution, as the cash reserves were below the legal requirements. The bank was considered solvent, and it was thought that the depositors would suffer no loss. The action was taken by the directors at a monthly meeting Monday night following a run during the day participated in largely by out of town depositors, among whom rumors that the bank was not sound became circulated over Sunday.” [The bank reopened in September 1926, but closed again on April 2, 1928.]

Oct. 22, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports: “Dade City now has a 12-bed hospital, the equal in equipment to any to be found in South Florida, with the moving this week of the little emergency hospital operated for the past few years by Dr. T. F. Jackson on the second floor of the Touchton building to the former residence of the Rev. H. N. Abraham on Church street. First class equipment for the care of medical and surgical patients has been installed, and a corps of trained nurses have been engaged. While the hospital is a private one, in the sense that it is owned entirely by Dr. Jackson, its facilities will be at the disposal of all practicing physicians of Pasco county, and it has the moral support of the Pasco-Hernando Medical Association.”

Nov. 14, 1926. Three inmates escape from the county jail by digging a nine-foot tunnel. Their escape was discovered by Sheriff J.W. Hudson while on his usual rounds of the jail.

Dec. 17, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports that William Friedman was elected Mayor of Dade City on Tuesday.

Aug. 2, 1927. The Dade City Banner reports, “The opening of the Hugh S. Embry Memorial Free Library Saturday afternoon marks the starting of something long needed in Dade City ….”

Jan. 19, 1928. The Pasco County News reports, “An ordinance has been passed to permit numbering of all homes in Dade City. Mr. A. H. Pering is said to have received the first number, in the 400’s, for his home on the corner of 12th and Main streets, having complied with the ordinance. This ordinance is a preliminary step to city mail delivery. The possible delivery of mail at the homes is not an arbitrary matter as postal regulations do not require or exact this. It will still be possible to obtain mail if preferred, at General Delivery or through rental of a box.”

Feb. 21, 1929. The Pasco County News masthead shows that it is published every Thursday by the Highlands Printing Co., Dade City. Harley S. Bazzell is editor and general manager.

Aug. 3, 1934. The Dade City Banner reports that Pasco County took over management of Jackson Memorial Hospital on Aug. 1.

1936. Pasco Packing Association (Lykes-Pasco) is organized.

July 6, 1936. Moore’s Academy, a black school in Dade City, is destroyed by fire of undetermined origin.

1938. Coleman and Ferguson, the oldest mercantile business in Dade City, closes its hardware, dry goods, and grocery store.

1940. City Hall is completed in Dade City.

April 16, 1944. The Florida Times Union reports: “A Unit of 250 German prisoners arrived on a special train this week from a camp in Augusta, Ga. and have been moved into the camp on the eastern edge of Dade City. Buildings to house the prisoners and the force of sixty military police have been built under the direction of Army engineers. The military personnel of the camp are permitted to live off the reservation when not on duty and many of them have been joined here by their families and have taken apartments in Dade City. The prisoners were brought here to work at the plant of the Pasco Packing association and the mill at Lacoochee, operated by Cummer Sons Cypress Co. Most of the prisoners are young and groups of them in the camp last evening were singing. An officer remarked that they would no doubt soon be singing ‘God Bless America,’ as they seem rather content to be here.”

Aug. 24, 1945. The Dade City Banner reports, “A disastrous fire of undetermined origin broke out about 10 o’clock Wednesday night in the parts room on the second floor of the two-story brick garage building of the Pasco Packing Association causing damage which will run into thousands of dollars.”

Dec. 21, 1948. The Pasco Theatre opens in Dade City.

Mar. 9, 1950. The Joy-Lan Drive-In Theatre opens.

Dec. 2, 1954. The Dade City Banner reports, “Dade City’s new radio station, WDCF, will hold formal opening ceremonies next Sunday, December 5, from 2 to 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend the affair and witness broadcasts that are planned for the day. Elmo B. Kitts, station manager, announced that live programs are being arranged for Sunday afternoon and that refreshments will be served during the afternoon hours. The station is located two miles south of Dade City, west of Highway 301.”

Oct. 11, 1956. The New Port Richey Press reports that Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield will dedicate the new Dade City post office on Oct. 19.

Apr. 2, 1959. A tornado causes property damage of one million dollars in Dade City. It destroyed several structures on Lock Street and damaged Lykes Pasco.

Jan. 13, 1981. The temperature in Dade City drops to 16 degrees, with a rural area nearby reporting 8 degrees.

March 2016. The new Dade City Municipal Complex is dedicated.

Nov. 1, 2016. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at Pasco-Hernando State College in Dade City.

Fort Dade Items (1879)

This article appeared in the Sunland Tribune on June 19, 1879.

RELIGIOUS.Missionary Baptist, Parson Bell, of Brooksville, pastor, Oak Grove church. Service on Saturday before and first Sunday in every month.

Methodist Parson Parker, Ct. preacher, service at Mt. Zion on Saturday before and 2nd Sabbath in each month, at Fort Broom in the evening after Mt. Zion. The Ct. preacher assisted by Parson Barns.

CROPS—Corn is good, although damaged 20 per cent by the dry weather. Oats generally turned out well. Cotton is very good, in fact the farmers wear cheerful faces.

SCHOOL.—Ft. Broom—John Raymond, teacher, today closed his first session. He will open for the balance of the year on Monday week. He closed by giving a public examination, and in order to contribute to the occasion, the patrons and friends furnished a “fish fry picnic dinner.” I am unable to name it, but will tell you what I saw and heard. In the first place everybody came and “mammy” (?) with them. Examination opened by prayer by Parson Barns, followed with the answering of questions by the students, that gave entire satisfaction to all concerned. …

Local Intelligence (1884)

This column appeared in the Fort Dade Messenger on July 11, 1884. Thanks to Julie Billedo for supplying images of this newspaper.

Yancey McMinn is convalescent.

Buy your Grits and Meal at R. B. Jones’ store.

Miss Maggie Thrasher has been sick with fever.

Corn, Oats, and Hay at R. B. Jones’ store.

Jackson Wilson wears the belt for the boss jumper.

Call at R. B. Jones’ and get a glass of Soda Water, it is first-class and don’t you forget it.

Commercial travelers are numerous on our streets nowadays.

Choice Groceries of every variety at R. B. Jones store.

Grady & Garner are at work on their stables.

Go to the Fort Dade Barber Shop for a neat hair cut and shave.

Draughts seem to be the only amusement for the boys. Too warm for base ball.

Mr. Lofton, at the Fort Dade barber shop, is a first class tonsorial artist and will give his customers the worth of their money.

David Lofton has the sympathy of the community over the loss of his fine horse.

Mr. A. C. Sumner attended the regular meeting of the County Commissioners at Brooksville Monday.

Rev. R. E. Bell gave us a most excellent discourse last Sunday, and from the attention paid him, it was appreciated by all.

Rev. M. H. Outland is agent for “The Well-springs of Truth,” a very valuable book, and one’s library is scarcely complete without it.

Dr. Cochran has been getting the deeds for the right of way for the Florida Railway and Navigation Company between the Withlacoochee river and Long Prairie. The property owners have freely given the right of way.

In looking over the old files of the MESSENGER, we notice the noms de plume of various correspondents who have at different times favored the paper with their communications. We wish they would come to the front again, and let us hear from their respective sections. When we fail to hear from the old friends [illegible] banquet hall deserted.

Mr. R. D. Lofton has one of the best equipped barber shops in the county. When you come in town Saturday, give him a call.

Last night the ladies of the Baptist church gave a grand supper, and festival, which was one of the most pleasant entertainments of the kind we ever attended. The church realized over one hundred dollars from the supper.

We were pleased to see Dr. Wallace, of Ellerslie, yesterday. The doctor is looking well, and reports things booming in his section. He says that work is being pushed on the railroad at that place, grading being already commenced.

We thank our Chipco friends for the alacrity with which they responded to our call for a correspondent from that growing town on the occasion of the picnic on the fourth. We hope that the people of the other sections will soon cease keeping themselves concealed, an use the columns of the MESSENGER to let the world know that they exist. The MESSENGER is for the whole county, and not simply for the lot on which the office is built.

Camp House Party (1909)

Happy Gathering Enjoyed Delightful Occasion At Jarve Springs

This article appeared in the Dade City Star in 1909, and was reprinted in the Dade City Banner in 1947.

Jarve Springs, Nov. 13. Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Renfroe entertained a jolly party at Jarve Springs owned by the genial host. Camp life appeals to all lovers of nature, and what is more restful and delightful than to cast all dull cares aside and enjoy nature in all its loveliness. Art may err, but nature can not miss. When Capt. and Mrs. Renfroe extended their hospitality to a few their friends, all were delighted to accept Jarve Springs situated about seven miles from Richland, reached by bus or by auto. A most delightful spot where the hunter may indulge in satisfying his love for sport and the lover of fishing may be repaid in a short space of time with ample fish. Good bathing and boating, excellent water, shady nooks conducive to romance makes an ideal spot that will in the near future be made famous.

Our party of campers comprised Dr. Brinson of Richland. Dr. A. L. Hyatt of Kathleen, Dr. B. H. Maynard of Lakeland, Mr. Wade of Aiken, S. C., Mr. A. F. Price of Dade City, Leo Renfroe, Master Jack Renfroe, Misses Virginia, Agnes and Annie Renfroe, Miss H. Cox of Kathleen, Miss Martha Howell of Leesburg, Miss Mary A. Tolande of Boston, Mass. Miss Renfroe and Mrs. C. C. Hamilton of Kathleen, acted as chaperones for the party.

The days were very pleasantly spent, the gallants hunting and fishing so that we had fish and game in abundance for every meal; they also showed their skill in preparing the same and were generally useful in assisting the ladies in any duties.

Mr. Greer, of Greer, and his charming wife visited our camp several times and he very generously took some of the party for an enjoyable spin his fine automobile.

Mrs. Hennington of Abbott made an afternoon pass very delightfully with her presence among us.

Mr. and Mrs. Jeffries of Zephyr Hill were among some of the visitors, and were very favorably impressed with the springs.

Kodaking was one of the pleasant employments, and how delightful it will be to have a reminder of those happy days. At night when the sun had set and darkness closed in over all things, the men folks made a large fire and our congenial party all gathered around to sing camp songs and tell stories. On our last day we were treated to a ’possum dinner prepared by an excellent chef, equalled any ever eaten by our highly esteemed President. Around the dinner table happy party partook of it with enjoyment.

When the time for breaking up came many sighs were heard, for we all felt reluctant to leave behind us such pleasant scenes, and there were friendships formed that as years roll by the silver cord that binds them will be drawn closer though we may be many miles apart. With the poet we will say:

“Sweet is the memory of distant friends, Like the mellow rays of the descending sun, It falls tenderly yet sadly on the heart.”

We bade good-bye to the scenes of our good times and drove back to Richland to the hospitable home of our host, where we were royally entertained. The weather while in camp was ideal, as it generally is in God’s beautiful Southland. Those happy days are now of the past, but we all look forward in the future when we can have a happy reunion at the springs and listen to the musical drip of the water and live over again some of the pleasures and comforts that our kind and thoughtful host and hostess extended to us all.

One of the Jolly Campers.

An Historical Sketch of Dade City (1921)

Read in a Recent Meeting of the Alpha Sorosis by Mrs. E. M. Staley

This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on April 1, 1921.

Looking back thirty-seven years, I see a collection of a dozen houses, most of them made of logs with stick and clay chimneys. A few were frame, these were without chimneys. A (illegible) in the yard served as a living room. Here the family and friends gathered for warmth, rest and recreation. These were busy days, each house-wife did all her work, but found time for neighborly visiting, or to gather at the river or lake for an all day picnic or fish fry. The young people would meet in the evening for a dance, to play games or to have a song service.

Aunt Georgia Ann Hicks was the first colored help that came to the settlement. She found her visit so profitable that she located among us. Her children and grandchildren are with us today. T. L Shofner and W. C. Sumner were competitors in dry goods and groceries. Dr. Hall owned the drug store. Dr. Roberts and Dr. Wallace cared for the health of the community. I was told that no one “ever died, except with old age.” Dr. Wallace was also a lawyer, editor and teacher, and convinced the community that there is no truth in the old adage “Jack of all trade and good at none.”

The Baptist was the only denomination that had a church in the settlement. This was a log house built near the entrance of the cemetery. Here all denominations met to worship. Their pastor, Mr. Bell, was a most eloquent preacher, and the church was always filled with interested listeners. It was whispered that Bell was an assumed name and that he was John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Lincoln. Here in the old log church Mr. Etherly taught the children how to read and write and to develop into useful men and women.

Mr. Blackman and R. O. Carter were the editors of the Fort Dade Messenger. The witty writing of “soap sticks” are still recalled by the old settlers.

The nearest shipping points were Wildwood and Tampa. Dry goods, groceries and people were brought from these towns in wagons. Often the merchants would be without flour meat or something else just as necessary.

I remember my first attempt to make corn bread and what a failure I had and how proud I vas when someone told me to scald the meal. We had no milliner—when a new hat was needed, we had one made of palmetto. They were light, pretty and serviceable, and often sent homes as a curiosity.

The mail was brought from Brooksville to Marshall’s store at Fort Dade. It was brought from there to the settlement by some passing neighbor, and was carried to Sumner’s store to be distributed. Mr. Roe kept a post office in his store at Hatton. He got permission to move to the settlement. As the post office required a name, Mr. Reuben Wilson, J. A. Hendley, R. O. Carter and Alex Sumner was appointed a committee to name our future town. After much discussion Dade City was selected. It was incorporated in 1885. Mr. D. O. Thrasher was elected mayor. J. A. Hendley, A. C. Sumner, J. C. Overstreet and Dr. Roberts were elected councilmen.

Things began to change. People came to see the country and stayed to enjoy the climate and invested. Boarding houses were built, new stores were opened, a skating rink, pool room and a saloon was added to make the town more attractive Plant built a narrow gauge railroad to connect the Southern at Croom and Lakeland.

The White House field, lying one mile north of Dade City, was owned by the railroad company. The company had it laid into lots and the depot was built there. Mr. Roe and his partner was given a lot. They accepted it, built a store and moved the post office. The people objected to walking a mile twice a day for their mail and a petition was circulated requesting the return of the post office to Dade City. It was granted and Dr. McElroy became postmaster.

In 1887 the depot was struck by lightning and burnt. It was rebuilt a little east of the crate mill. That too was burned and replaced by the one now in use. I think that it was in the spring of 1887 that the F. R. and N. came through Dade City. The railroad gave an excursion to Wildwood to celebrate the event. Seat were arranged on flat cars and all Dade City went and reported a fine time.

Mr. Balwin through the influence of Mr. Hendley offered to donate to the town land if the F. R. and N. would build the depot on it. The rail road accepted the offer and built the depot near where it now stands. The land around the depot was owned by Dr. Roberts, he sold it to Dr. McElroy, who had it laid out in business lots. He built and opened a drug store and donated a lot or two to merchants if they would build.

The land was high and rolling and being near the depot made it a more desirable location for the town. One by one the merchants left the old. townsite and moved to the new and the old town was gradually given to the negro population.

Pasco county was created from Hernando county in 1887 and Dade City became the county seat of Pasco county. Mr. Grady was elected sheriff and Mr. H. H. Hendley clerk of the court and held the office for twelve years. Mr. Mobley was elected tax collector. The first printing in Pasco county was done by Mr. Jasper Carter.

While the growth of Dade City has been slow, it is on a substantial basis, situated in the center of a fine citrus and vegetable section that helps to make it a good all the year town. It is backed by the various industries, packing houses, tobacco factories, crate mill, ice factory and electric lights, the banks, the business houses, the many churches, a good graded school, the pretty homes and grounds, the modern hotels, and a good home paper. All these indicate a prosperous and growing town.

In Defense of Character of a Good Man (1921)

This letter was published in the Dade City Banner on April 15, 1921, in response to the above article.

I have just read with interest “An Historical Sketch of Dade City,” published in your last issue.

Referring to the statement in said article that it was whispered that Rev. Robert E. Bell, deceased, was Booth, President Lincoln’s assassin. In defence of the name and character of a good man that has gone, I beg to state that said whisperings were, and are without foundation of truth in any sense.

For several years prior to his death, Mr. Bell and his family, were our nearest neighbors. He was born in England. I have seen his birth certificate. At the time of his death he had a living brother and sister. He was educated for a Catholic priest. He was a highly educated man. He could use seven languages, equally as well and conveniently. He was a great student, and was fond of fishing. Prior to his moving to Dade City, he was a member of the house of representatives from Hernando county. He would mix up in politics—hence the above mentioned whisperings.

His poor wife was from one of Florida’s most wealthy, and prominent families, and an educated lady, although feeble minded and afflicted. Throughout her life Mr. Bell, however, stood his domestic burden manfully, which was no doubt great.

He was one of the best posted men nationally in Florida. He had traveled around the world. He walked across the South American continent, and sailed from a port in Chile to the United States.

Mr. Bell was my fishing companion during my early childhood days.

Sincerely, ED. SUMNER.

This 1887 map shows both Fort Dade and Dade City.

In the Early Days Around Dade City (1922)


Aunt Harriet and Mrs. E. A. Jordan

This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on Sept. 1, 1922.


The close of the first Seminole war saw Fort Dade the only settlement of whites in the eastern part of what is now Pasco county. With the ending of hostilities and the removal of the greater part of the Seminoles from this region, the necessity for troops was past and the station abandoned by the government. This fort still was used as the destination of settlers, attracted by the fertile soil and rank pasture growths in the woods that clothed the hillsides.

Among these was Captain Bill Kendrick, who settled a plantation just north of the present site of Dade City and built a large house that evidently was painted or whitewashed, for it was known through the country as “The White House.” This house stood in about the same location now occupied by the Ackerman home. Captain Bill was a noted Indian fighter and several members of his command also made themselves homes in the vicinity. Among them were Lyburn Kersey, John Platt, and Tony Tucker. No information seems to be obtainable about these men and the exact locations of their homesteads is not known. Other settlers also came in and when Bradley Massacre took place, in 1856, where Darby now is, there were a large number of families who “forted up” at the White House.

To the south were other settlements and the people of that vicinity all gathered at “Fort Broome” when the news of the second outbreak of the Indians in 1856 came. This “Fort” was located on the south line of the farm of W. C. Brown, about half way between the Wire road and the Richland road, a mile and three quarters south of the present site of Dade City. No signs of the block house itself are left, but the close observer, who chances to visit the spot, can see by the discoloration of the soil under the oak trees now growing there, where the little cabins stood in which people crowded themselves. For nine months the women and children of the neighborhood remained there, such men as were not away hunting Indians going to their fields as often as they dared and returning at night. Two children belonging to a family named Tucker died and were buried on the high ground just north of the fort. There are no marks now to show the location of their graves, but it must have been about where a fringe of palmettoes edge the basin in which the fort was.

Among those who were forted up there was a woman who was well known to nearly everyone in the eastern part of the county up to the day of her death, at the ripe old age of 90, a few years ago. In fact it is due to the recollections of “Aunt Harriet Smith,” which she gave to Mrs. C. A. Lock, historian of the Woman’s club of Dade City, that this part of the article is written. Aunt Harriet came from pioneer stock, her parents being among the first settlers in north Florida. When the war broke out in 1835, two of her brothers, Bill and Jerry, were sent south as scouts, leaving her mother, sister Mollie, and brothers Joe and Tom, at home. This was in the vicinity of what is now the town of Madison. One night, her brother Tom noticed that the horses, cattle, and dogs were acting strangely and decided that the Indians were about. Her brother Joe was sick at the time. After dark the Indians made an attack on the house, which they defended as well as they could. During the attack, one brother, Joe I think, was killed, as was the mother, and the Indians got so close to the house that one of them thrust the barrel of his rifle through a chink in the stick and mud chimney and fired, the bullet passing through the belt of Mollie’s apron as she stood by the fireplace. Realizing the hopelessness of holding out any longer, Harriet and her surviving brother slipped from the house and ran to a pond, where they hid under some lily pads till daylight when the brother managed to get away and go to the nearest fort for help. In speaking of this tragedy, though it occurred so many years ago, Aunt Harriet was always greatly affected and said “Sometimes I’m almost a Hardshell.”

Ten years later, at the age of 27, Aunt Harriet came south and went through the second Indian war cooped up in Fort Broome. She lived to see many changes come to this country and was one of the most determined opposers of the building of the first telegraph line through this section to Tampa that could be found. The line ran along the road which passed her home and her objection to it was based on the fact that “I don’t want everybody to know every time I whip my children.” By the way, the route which this first telegraph line took is known as “The Wire Road” to this day, though the present Wire road does not quite follow the original route all the way.

Other settlers who were at Fort Broome in those days were Frank Higgins, who had a homestead a half mile north, where Mrs. L. M. Davis now lives, and families of the name of Lanier, Moody, and Mills. Nothing seems to be known of these people now, though I believe Mr. Lanier was the father of Mrs. E. A. Jordan, now living north of Dade City, Mrs. Jordan is the mother of W. R. Jordan, the well known farmer and of Mrs. E. P. Wilson.

Mrs. E. A. Jordan, then Miss Lanier, came to this section in 1849. Her father had been a soldier in the war just closed and it was while on duty in this section that he became attracted by its beauties and decided to settle here. Mrs. Jordan’s experiences were quite similar to that of others of the early settlers, she was forted up in 1856 but saw no fighting. The Indians would run off cattle and horses and steal anything they could find on the abandoned farms but did not attempt to attack the settlers huddled about the block houses that were called forts. Her father lost all of his horses and cattle during this time, but after the war was over he bought a pony and a cow from the Indians and started over once more. She says that they kept the pony for 25 years and the cow “till she died of old age.”

While there was no fighting in this part of the country during the Civil war, there was a good deal of bush-whacking, stealing, and hard feelings among the neighbors, the sentiments of the people being strong Secessionists and other sticking to the Union side of the question. While a good many of the Union sympathizers got away to the coast and enlisted in the Federal army or navy, there were enough that stayed home to make it necessary for the Confederates to organize and maintain home guards, so many of the men served in that capacity. Among the Confederate sympathizers, the Union men were known as “deserters” as they evaded the conscription laws, either by joining the Federal ships which were blockading the coast or hiding in bands in the swamps. The Home Guards made several expeditions against these latter at different times. On one of them the “deserters” captured their wagon train, helped themselves to all that they wanted of supplies with which it was loaded and burned the rest, forcing the expedition to return home empty-handed.

The reconstruction days that followed the Civil war probably saw less suffering in this section than anywhere else in the south. For some years, the offices were largely held by negroes who refused to stay with their former masters, though offered good pay, but it was so far to the state capital at Tallahassee or the county seat at Brooksville, the means of travel were so primitive and the country so thinly settled that each neighborhood was pretty much a law to itself and so the “Carpet Bag” regime was not noticed so much.

Mrs. Jordan tells that when she first came to this part of the country the nearest post office was for a long time at Brooksville and it was not at all uncommon to go a month or more without getting one’s mail. Whenever anyone in the neighborhood went to the post office it was the custom to get the mail for all the neighbors and to distribute it around on their return. Before the Civil War broke out, a post office had been established at Fort Dade, the mail being brought from Brooksville every Monday, the carrier continuing on to Tampa and returning Tuesday. Everyone was greatly pleased at getting such good service and each Monday say the entire countryside gathered at the office to await the coming of the mail.

All supplies for the community were brought by ox teams from Tampa, several of the neighbors going together and camping on the road. These trips were greatly looked forward to by all and the night camps were places of great jollity and frolicking.

The trip to Tampa and back occupied three days as a rule and might take four, and before long certain places became regular camping places on the route and were marked by the signs from the camp fires. The signs of some of these camps were easily noticeable a few years ago and may be yet.

The first school in this neighborhood was established in the loft of Tyner’s gin near Fort Dade. The furniture consisted of a long desk made from a plank and of benches made from boards, the legs being stuck in holes at the four corners, nails were scarce and too expensive to use. Mr. Plumbley was the first teacher.

The first church in the neighborhood was established at Mt. Zion. More will be told of it in a later article. It belonged to the Methodist denomination. The first Baptist church established was north of Fort Dade at Spring Branch. The first railroad station was close to the White House. It was destroyed by fire and a new one built about where the ice factory now is. Later, that one burned and the present Atlantic Coast Line station was built.

Fifty-four Years in Pasco County (1923)

J. C. Carter Qualifies for Pioneer Association

This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on Sept. 21, 1923.

Editor Dade City Banner:

Noting your request for recital of experiences from “Pioneers” of Pasco county, I write to tell you that I came to this section in December, 1869, settling with my father two miles west of Dade City. There was no Dade City then, but the wild woods were full of untamed animals, such as bear, panthers, deer, wildcats, etc. The Seminole Indians had been driven farther south a few years before we came, but the ruins of their villages were distinctly marked by the plum, haw and other trees, broken pottery, arrow heads and beads scattered about their homes.

Our nearest railroad was at Waldo, 100 miles north, our post office was Brooksville, 20 miles north, and our trading post Tampa, 50 miles south, with no roads but trails through the woods, and no bridges across the streams, so that we had to wait until dry seasons exhausted the water supply enough that we could ford the creeks and rivers. Tampa was about half as large as Dade City, with no sidewalks, telephones, telegraph or street lights. Many times, after we had traveled through the wild woods, and forded the streams to get to Tampa for coffee, matches, tobacco and other such things as we could not grew at home, we were confronted with the information that the goods were not to be had, as “The boat has not come in this week.”

People were few and far between, but social and enjoyed visiting, church going and other coming together, events as much or more than we do now, it seems.

I do not claim to be the oldest person in the county, but write this much to get your proposition started, and would enjoy very much hearing from the “old people” of our county.

Respectfully JASPER C. CARTER.

Dade City History Is Reviewed (1928)


This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on Aug. 17, 1928.

At the meeting of the Kiwanis Club Wednesday, with the program in charge of C. A. Lock, a very interesting review of the early history Dade City and the community was given.

Dade City first went on record under the name of Fort Dade and comprised the territory with uncertain bounds, extending for miles in every direction. This territory was named after the old fort of the same name, which was located just south of the business section of the present city in what is now the grove of the Coleman estate at the first bend in the Fort King road. The fort was erected about 1856 or 1857, of logs firmly planted in the ground to form a barricade for protection against Indians. Huts were erected inside the walls of the fort. There was another fort about two miles east; about one-half mile south of the W. C. Brown residence and was known as Fort Broome.

The territory was at that time part of Hernando county, but later, in 1887, when Hernando county was divided, the county took the name of Pasco, being named after United States Senator Samuel Pasco.

Dade City proper dates back to about the year 1874. The first store in the town was operated by Reuben M. Wilson, father of the present States Attorney, Pasco Wilson. The first postmaster was Dan I. Ryals, who was succeeded by Reuben Wilson. The Department at that time required quarterly reports. This did not suit Mr. Wilson, and he wrote the Department that yearly reports were often enough; that it was too much trouble to make them oftener. Shortly after this he gave up the office.

At that time the community was called Fort Dade and covered a large territory known as the White House Field, north of the present town, where the Hills now live and west of Mt. Zion cemetery; south to include the Brown and Scoville places, and as far east as you wanted to go.

The postoffice was kept any where in the territory, usually in the home of the postmaster. Mr. Carter still has the first post office cabinet, made in Tampa from cypress for Mr. Wilson.

The first railroad was built by the South Florida Railroad Co., under charter of the Florida Southern Railroad Co., in 1884-85. It was first known as the South Florida Railroad, then changed to the Florida Southern, later to the Plant System, and is now a part of the Atlantic Coast Line. The first depot was located in the White House Field and the name at that time was changed to Dade City. M. G. Rowe was the first postmaster for the town under the new name.

The first hotel was known as the “Kentucky House,” and was built by A. C. Sumner, and first operated by Mrs. J. K. Davis. This is the house now occupied by Mr. Peebles. There was another hotel known as the “Shands House,” which is now the old Wiley Sprow house.

The first depot burned and was rebuilt at the location of the present Hawes and Edwards packing house. Hunter Henley and M. G. Rowe built the first store in the new town. The first saloon was run by Calhoun & Avant where George Young now lives.

The second railroad to Dade City was built in 1886-87, and known as the Florida Railway & Navigation Co. A present esteemed citizen of Dade City, Henry C. Griffin, was given the contract for making the right of way for this road from the Withlacoochee river south. This road was later changed to the Florida Central and Peninsular, and is now the Seaboard Air Line Railroad.

After the division of the county, the first chairman of the board was Col. E. G. Lyles; the first clerk, Hunter H. Henley. The first meeting was held in 1887.

The first court house was erected by Coleman & Ferguson Co., and given to the county, rent free, for two years. It was located on the lot where the Nides building now stands. The present court house was erected in 1909.

Activities of Old Fort Dade Told by Editor of First Pasco County Paper (1931)

map showing Fort Dade

This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on Dec. 4, 1931.


Fifty years of by-gone days may seem to some to be a long time for recalling to memory social and business conditions as they existed in old Fort Dade at that time. There are but few of us left to tell the tale of our sorrows and joys, disappointments and surprises, but there are many descendants of those old pioneers living in Dade City and other sections of Pasco county who will relish being reminded of the trials their forbears encountered in blazing the way for succeeding generations to live in a country inhabited by a prosperous and enlightened people.

Fifty years ago some of the people living in the eastern part of Hernando county (which is now Pasco county) were unacquainted with Brooksville and its inhabitants and did not care to form such acquaintance; they did not violate any of the state laws and were never molested by a sheriff in pursuing their even tenor, therefore they had no business at the county seat and were not invited to participate in the social or political functions of the elite of Hernando’s capitol. Yet there is the friendliest feeling between the people of Hernando and Pasco county, connected by blood and life-long friendship, and to cast aspersions upon one you have offended the other.

We marvel at the wonderful changes wrought by those who have made Dade City one of the state’s handsomest little cities, a town of lovely homes, splendid business concerns and backed up by profitable orange and grapefruit groves and a vegetable industry unexcelled in many sections of the state.

Fifty years ago Dade City was not on the map; it was old Fort Dade, with two business houses, both of which did not have a combined investment, including buildings and stocks of merchandise, that would inventory more than three thousand dollars. Today there are stores in Dade City that carry stocks of goods valued at more than ten times that amount.

Toney Sumner, who has gone to his final reward, was proprietor of one of the general merchandise emporiums, carrying in stock anything from hairpins to mule gear, and D. H. Moseley, the other, who was also connected in the publication of the Fort Dade Messenger, a weekly paper that boasted of having the largest circulation in Hernando county, with a paid-up subscription list of 87 and delinquent only 13; all of whom were loyal and progressive citizens, but they never had their names erased from the black list, and if any of them are living and will ask for a receipt for the release of the obligation it will be promptly given in order to relieve a harassed and guilty conscience.

The Fort Dade postoffice at that time was conducted by a Mr. Carter, at a point on the Brooksville road four miles west of Dade City. A star route from Wildwood via Brooksville brought the mail and other things that the heart and appetite craved—twice a week—Tuesday and Friday. Six or seven letters were considered a big mail, but the carrier’s buggy was never empty, all available space under the seat and other places of the vehicle contained jugs and bottles of “joy producing fluid.” The mail carrier would notify the anxious recipients of mail of the proximity of the old gray horse and buggy, as he never failed to give his old trumpet a blast when he reached a hill about a mile west of Dade City. All activities in old Fort Dade ceased without further warning and everybody in the village fell in line and gave the carrier a royal welcome. Those were “good old days,” gone but not forgotten by a few of the old guard now living to relate the story—Jesse Roberts, who after a few years of buffeting around the different stores of Dade City as a salesman went behind the counters of Coleman & Ferguson, where he has been the past twenty-five or thirty-five years, and where he will probably remain until old age or death issues …

Mrs. J. A. Hendley Gives Pioneer Party (1934)

This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on June 8, 1934.

An unusually enjoyable event of last week was the pioneer party given last Thursday afternoon by Mrs. J. A. Hendley. The guests were early settlers of Dade City who had come here from other states.

Those attending were Mrs. Annie E. Huckabay, Mrs. M. L. Gilbert, Mrs. M. E. Coleman, Mrs. J. F. Roberts, Mrs. A. A. Boone. Mrs. S. C. Embry, Miss Ruth Cooper, Mrs. C. F. Touchton, Mrs. B. Peebles, Mrs. J. E. Turner, Mrs. J. K. Davis, Miss Hettie Spencer, and Mrs. C. A. Lock.

Each guest related the story of her arrival in Dade City and the prize for the most interesting narrative was awarded Mrs. M. L. Gilbert. She received a beautiful china cookie jar. The hostess served a lovely salad course at the close of the afternoon.

Mrs. J. K. Davis, the latest arrival present, began the stories, telling how Dade City looked in 1908, when as Miss Nancy Van Meter, she arrived with her parents from Kentucky. Mrs. B. Peebles told of her arrival in 1898, when they left their home In Kentucky on account of Mr. Peebles’ health and located in Dade City, the home of relatives, the Luther Ashbrooks. They first lived in the old Dr. Cochrane place north of town.

In the same year Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Embry and family arrived from Kentucky and first located in the Pasadena neighborhood at the time the Lake View Highland hotel was open and a center of social activity. Mrs. Embry mentioned that Col. and Mrs. Wylie, who became large property holders here, arrived the same year with their little son, John. John Wylie, now in the diplomatic service, was a recent visitor in Dade City. Miss Ruth Cooper, Mrs. Embry’s sister, joined the family here, but it was not her first trip to Florida as she had previously visited a brother in Lake Weir.

Miss Hettie Spencer told of the arrival from Indiana of her father and mother, Col. and Mrs. C. E. Spencer, and family, ten years earlier in 1888. Col. Spencer had purchased his property in the Pasadena settlement several years before coming here to reside and at the time of his first trips here the Coast Line railroad came only as far as White House field.

The Coleman and Ferguson store was established in Dade City in 1884 and the following year Mrs. Coleman came from Atlanta to join her husband, H. W. Coleman. She told of her trip on the Coast Line, then a narrow gauge railroad going only as far as Wildwood, where Mr. Coleman met her with a buggy and mule. The year of her arrival was the first year mail was brought in to Dade City.

In 1884 Mrs. Hendley, then Miss Dolly Maynard, arrived with her parents from Indiana. They drove from Wildwood with a mule team and at first boarded with the John Overstreet family who were living on the present location of the grammar school.

Ruben Wilson and “Uncle” Dave Thrasher were responsible for the Weaver family of South Carolina hearing of this attractive location, then known as Ft. Dade. Mrs. J. F. Roberts, who was then Miss Estelle Weaver, told of their arrival in 1882, coming by railroad as far as Wildwood. They purchased the property which is now the Currie golf grounds. At that time Ft. Dade mail was brought in on mule back from Brooksville and distributed at the Newton Carter place, near the present Denlinger place, and there the Weavers walked twice a week for their mail.

In November of the same year Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Boone became Ft. Dade residents. They came by boat from Jacksonville to Palatka, and by way of Lake Harris to Leesburg. From there they drove across the country to Ft. Dade. Mrs. Boone’s brothers, Bob and Charlie Seay, homesteaded what is now the Jette place north of Trilby, and the Boones settled on the present Ashbrook place at Elba Heights. Mrs. Boone used to get the mail from the Carter home and distribute it in her neighborhood.

Late in November, 1881. Mr. and Mrs. M. L. Gilbert reached this locality. Former residents of Kentucky, seeking a warmer climate on account of Mr. Gilbert’s health, they left Tennessee by boat for New Orleans where they took a boat for Cedar Keys, then sailed from Cedar Keys to Hudson by schooner. The trip from Hudson to Ft. Dade was made by ox team, taking several days. They settled on “Gilbert Lake,” a mile south of the present Seaboard grove, in a log cabin with puncheon floors. They went four miles to get their mail at old Tuckertown, in the Richland neighborhood. Mrs. Gilbert said they also were attracted to the Ft. Dade community by letters written by Dave Thrasher, in which he spoke of his own place by the descriptive title, “Double Kitchens by the Pond.”

One of Mrs. Gilbert’s early experiences was the subject of an article written by Captain Bill Kendrick, an Indian fighter of pioneer days, and which appeared in the Louisville Courier Journal about a half century ago.

The story in brief is as follows: Mrs. Gilbert was fishing in Lake Gilbert having with her her six-months old baby which she had placed in a box near the lake. She noticed large alligator near the shore of the lake which would rise up for a short time and then disappear. It repeated this performance several times, each time coming nearer the baby. Mrs. Gilbert suddenly realized that the reptile was being attracted by the crying of the child. Becoming greatly alarmed she dropped her fishing tackle, seized the baby and climbed a high rail fence which she had been unable to get over previously without assistance.

Perhaps the earliest settler in the gathering was Mrs. Annie E. Huckabay. Then Miss Annie Lee, she came with her father, “Uncle Jimmie” Lee and family, leaving their home in Georgia on October 17 and arriving here November 5, 1881, making the trip by mule team. They homesteaded what is now the Seaboard grove and also got their mail at Tuckertown. Mrs. Huckabay said she attended school in the old Baptist church which stood in the present location of the Dade City cemetery.

Early Dade City (1976)

The following article is taken from East Pasco’s Heritage.


My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wallace E. Embry, my seven brothers, and I arrived in Dade City on January 5, 1898. My father had promised my two little brothers that they could go barefoot in the soft Florida sand. They stepped off the train in the dark into a bed of sandspurs, a cruel experience for tender feet. My father brought his family from Kentucky hoping that the milder climate would improve his bronchial cough and my brother Boone’s rheumatism. Both were cured after a few months of Florida sun.

The Lakeview Highlands Hotel where we stayed for our first year was the social center for the whole area. It was on the shore of Lake Pasadena, overlooking two miles of blue water. The white-painted wooden building had a large veranda full of rockers, sheltered by trellises of yellow roses. The hotel usually had from twenty-five to forty guests, including many Yankees. There were no bathing parties, but much boating, fishing for bass, and hunting for quail. Every Sunday night the people of the neighborhood were invited over for a song service, including many hymns. This hotel burned down about 1899.

My father and brother Boone went into the shade-grown tobacco business. For years very fine cigar-wrapper tobacco was grown in east Pasco County, until black-shank disease got into the ground. Then the hurricane of 1921 finished tobacco growing here. The Sunnybrook Tobacco Co. packing house occupied a three-story building adjoining the Bank of Pasco County in Dade City, now taken over by the bank. During the harvesting of the tobacco many of the girls and boys worked in the packing house in summer vacation time. Tobacco leaves were stripped off, strung on twine, tied to sticks, and placed on tiers in the barn for curing.

Among our favorite entertainments were hayrides. My brother Boone had mules, horses, and wagons used on the tobacco farms. He would hitch a team to a wagon, put on a hayrack filled with hay, load up a bunch of young people, and go serenading. During cane grinding season we always wound up at some farmer’s home where we were welcome to drink all the cane juice we wanted. Our favorite host was Mr. S. E. Millen, maker of prize cane syrup; Mrs. Millen was the prize guava-jelly maker. They were grandparents of Charles, Frank, and Paul Ashbrook.

The Dade City Woman’s Club was organized in 1909 after beginning as Dade City Board of Trade Auxiliary. My mother, Mrs. Sallie Embry, was organizing president. This body of women did much good work for the betterment of the community. Even one old man who lived at Greer’s Mill heard of our efforts, and came looking for the club which fed and clothed poor people in east Pasco. The Woman’s Club first bought the sample room of the Dade City Hotel, on Dr. J. C. Johnston’s present parking lot on Edwinola Way; the hotel had burned. We paid $250 for this and later sold it for $450. Then we bought Judge O. L. Dayton’s home where Pasco Theater now stands, for $3,000. He used this building for a number of years until the 1925 boom, and then sold it for $15,000. We bought from J. R. A. Williams the lot where Cosner Apartments stand for $2,000. Before we built there, Mr. I. M. Austin gave us a lot in his newly developed Congress Park if we would build our clubhouse there. We sold the Williams lot to Mr. Cosner for $10,000, and thus had $25,000 to build our clubhouse in 1926. After the boom bubble had burst, we decided we had come out better than most people.

When our son, Charles F. Touchton Jr., was born in 1911, my husband bought a beautiful rubber-tired baby carriage. Dade City had no pavement or sidewalks, and you couldn’t push a baby carriage in the sand. I got a little red wagon and pulled him in that: the buggy was for house use only.

One morning Mr. Touchton went to his drug store to open up for business as usual, and found a five-foot alligator waiting at the front door. Fortunately a policeman close by disposed of the alligator before anyone was hurt. In those days cows were allowed to roam the streets at will, and nearly everyone had a cow. At night there were no street lights; you never knew when you might fall over a cow—dangerous in more ways than one!

My father, Mr. Embry, was a great booster for Pasco County. At South Florida Fair time he would always arrange the county agricultural exhibit at the fair. He did such a good job that for three successive years Pasco County won first prize. Then they would not let Pasco compete for several years.

My oldest brother, Hugh Embry, came home for Christmas in 1903 and took a severe cold enroute. It hung on so long that my mother would not let him return sick to Ohio in the dead of winter. After several weeks at home he had read everything in the house and all the neighbors’ books. He decided that Dade City needed a library, and went out and collected fifty dollars in one afternoon. He and Mrs. Lucy Lock, Mrs. Laura Porter, and my mother got together and ordered the books. They also had a book shower, and so the library was begun. After my brother’s death from tuberculosis three years later, it was named the Hugh Embry Memorial Library in his honor.

The home-talent plays and minstrels put on by the young people were great entertainment. Some fine talent was discovered, and several romances developed that later matured into happy marriages. The young people’s societies of the various churches were very active: the Baptist B.Y.P.U., the Presbyterian Christian Endeavor, and the Methodist Epworth League. Churches played a great part in our social life as well as our religious life. It was a quieter time, a friendlier time. In fact, those were the good old days!

Downtown Dade City (1976)

Downtown Dade City

The following article is taken from East Pasco’s Heritage.


During the summer of 1926 I was en route from my home in Gainesville to St. Petersburg with a high school group. We stopped at a drug store in Dade City for “cokes,” then dispensed by curb service to the car. A few of us walked across the street to a large store and were amazed to find in it clothing, dry goods, notions, household supplies, hardware, groceries, and a meat market. None of us had never seen such an old-time general store (years before supermarkets); we found it both interesting and amusing.

In 1933 on a return visit, I learned that the drug store, Touchton Drug Company, had been owned in 1926 by my future father-in-law, and that the “cokes” were probably dispensed and served by my future husband. The store that had everything was Coleman and Ferguson. This department store, established by H. W. Coleman and W. N. Ferguson, had been on that location, though in different buildings, since 1890. Coleman and Ferguson also built the first courthouse used by Pasco County, facing north on Meridian Avenue in the middle of the block between 7th and 8th Streets. Court was held there until about 1903 when the nucleus of the present courthouse was completed.

I became a resident of Dade City in 1937, which makes me almost a newcomer. However, I have heard reminiscences from many whose families have been a part of the community since the late 1800’s. My husband was the only child of Ruth Embry Touchton (Miss Folly), whose family came from Kentucky in 1898, and Charles Floyd Touchton, who came from Georgia in 1904. He worked for a year as a pharmacist in a drug store on the east side of 8th Street, owned by Dr. Thomas Seay and R. T. Thrasher. He returned in 1906 to a permanent position in the same store, then under Dr. Seay and Alec A. Boone as partners. Shortly thereafter he bought Dr. Seay’s interest, and moved the business around the corner to the middle of the block, the site of the first courthouse. Subsequently he purchased Mr. Boone’s interest, and the first Touchton Drug Company was started.

On the northeast corner of this block (just west of the present courthouse), was a wooden building housing the Garner and Daiger Variety Store. Here Mr. Daiger later built the present brick structure which Dr. Touchton bought in 1922. A Touchton Drug Store remained there until 1957. However, in 1927 the business was sold to Dr. W. C. Touchton of Avon Park (founder of the Touchton Drug chain). Fred L. Touchton became manager, and Dr. and Mrs. Charles Touchton moved to Gainesville. They returned to Dade City in 1933, and he again assumed ownership from Fred Touchton, who had purchased the business several years before. Dr. Touchton and his son conducted the business until his death in 1957, Other owners conducted a drug business in this location until 1969.

Until 1920 Dade City had only a few scattered single electric lights in the downtown area at night. Dr. Touchton was made chairman of a street lighting committee. Plans were made to have a “white way” on Meridian Avenue from the Seaboard tracks east to the Atlantic Coast Line depot. Not all property owners were in sympathy with this plan because of the expense. In order to have a continuous lighted area, Dr. Touchton paid for two blocks of lighting. With the great oaks arching over the streets and the new night lighting, Dade City became known as one of the prettiest towns in central Florida. Later residents have commented that they were first attracted to the city because of the pleasing views from the train on their initial visits to Florida.

Since 1898 there has been some drug store in the block bounded by 7th and 8th Streets and Meridian and Pasco Avenues. On the northwest corner in 1893 F. P. McElroy had his drug store, followed in this location by Henry Clay Griffin, Erwin Seay, DeCarr Covington (business managed by Fred Touchton), Walgreen Drugs, Edwin J. Helen, and the present owner, Don Chandler. Earlier in this century Harry Neal had erected a building on the southeast comer where he had a drug store and a popular ice cream parlor, the Shop Perfect. This business was later purchased by Monroe Covington.

Popular eating places over the years were Staley’s Restaurant on the east side of 8th Street opposite the Seaboard depot; Lanier House where the mother of Mrs. Leta Lanier Thornton catered to select boarders; and a tearoom under Mrs. M. E. Houdlette, open only at noon and specializing in oyster dishes—a favorite meeting spot for friends.

A special gathering place for young people was William Shofner’s corner lunchroom, which at one time was the only place in town offering 24-hour food service. Mr. Shofner later moved his restaurant to the corner building erected by Harry Neal. To this day the location continues as a popular dining place. After Mr. Shofner was the Valencia owned by Joe Hevia and then by Tommy Barfield. It is now the Crest, operated by Earl Fitzgerald.

No account of early Dade City would be complete without reference to the Osceola Hotel. This was built on the southwest corner of 5th Street and Meridian Avenue by M. L. Gilbert as a boarding house for workers of the Sunnybrook Tobacco Co. Later it was bought and operated by Mrs. Douglas Cochrane, whose daughters (Inez, Ethel, and Lula) and sons (William and Fred) were popular members of the younger set. The Osceola, both as a hotel and as a boarding house, became a home away from home for visitors and local people. One of the most “beloved figures of the town was Mrs. Rose Fyffe, known to all as Aunt Rose, who succeeded Mrs.. Cochrane. Among the regular boarders during the years were the families of John S. Burke, L. C. Hawes, Mrs. Laura Porter, DeCarr Covington, Monroe Covington, Frank Price, and C. F. Touchton, to name just a few. Fred Gregory, who came to Dade City with the L. B. McLeod Co., contractor for Pasco County’s first paved roads, remained as a resident of the Osceola Hotel for many years.

The Edwinola Hotel was built on the site of the old Dade City Hotel, which burned in 1907 [should be 1909 -jm], by Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Gasque from Florence, S. C, and his brother-in-law, Mr. Gerow. This structure was completed about 1912, and for many years was the focal point of much of the city’s social life. It was built not only for local residents, but also to attract winter people. On occasion Seaboard trains stopped in front of the hotel to allow passengers to detrain for meals. People came by train and auto from nearby towns to dine at this lovely spot. The hotel had frequent dances and parties which were attended by the “swinging set” of that day. Among these were Chris and Lou Spencer Lock, Edna Peebles (Turner), Mildred Butz (Huckaby Price), Jane Butz (Bourke), Dell Shofner (Douglas), Lawson Howard (May), Annabelle Clark (Ghiselin), Mabel Turner (Clark), Nell Coleman (Embry), George and Daisy May Massey, Younger and Edith O’Neal, Woots Huckaby, Fountain May, Darryl Clark, Frank Price, and many others. After being vacant for a number of years, the Edwinola was restored and reopened in October 1974, now a beautiful and successful restaurant.

Popular with the ladies just after the turn of the century was Mrs. Carroll’s Millinery Shop where hats were made to order. Shofner’s Millinery sold hats, trimmings and dry goods, with a section where Mr. Shofner served ices with a variety of syrups much enjoyed by young and old. Schofield’s sold laces, embroideries, and notions. J. R. A. Williams built the store operated for many years as Williams Department Store by several family members: Mr. Bob and Miss Anna Lee, Vergil, Paul, and Virginia. “Williams” is now owned and operated by Mr. Bob’s nephew, Phil.

Also in the area at various times were grocery stores owned by J. D. Sumner; S. F. Huckaby and his son Woots; Everett Thornton; and Vic Adams, to name a few. It was the custom in the 1920’s through the 1940’s for the ladies to do their marketing in midmorning and then meet at one of the drug stores for “cokes and conversation,” a forerunner of today’s coffee break.

Other prominent merchants and businesses were Pasco Abstract Co. with the Locke family; Treiber and Otto Hardware; Madill, hardware and furniture; R. D. Guymon and Harry Tipton, bakeries; Covington, Gruetzmacher, Burks, and Butler, automobile dealerships.

Oak-Lined Meridian Avenue in Dade City, Florida

This article, by Nell Moody Woodcock, is taken with permission from the EPHS website.

This photograph is reminiscent of a time when people around the country shopped in their home towns at the end of a long work week. This is Meridian Avenue, the heart of Dade City, Florida, located in east Pasco County. A time when its residents valued the large oak trees that lined the median. A town dependent on its farmers, cattlemen, citrus growers and the timber industry.

Life was simple. People stopped on the streets and talked, or sat in cars and visited.

Joy Tipton Andrews, whose parents owned Tipton’s Bakery, recalls how popular their bread sticks were. And how her mother made sure she had a parking place downtown for the parade on Friday and Saturday. She would have her husband drive her car downtown, park it, then he would walk back home, pick her up in his car and return to open the bakery.

During the day, Joy and her little friends played in a yard at the back of the store. Marbles was a favorite game and one little Black boy was very good at it. Years later when they met in the teachers lounge at Pasco Junior High School the truth came out. A lot of children showed up because of free bread sticks. Ms. Andrews now lives in Blanton. Unknown are the identity or location of the other teacher.

In the “Good Ole Days” the median and the oak trees ran all the way east from 8th Street to the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Depot where the Truck Route (U.S. 301) is now located, recalls Clyde Hobby, another Dade City native who lives in New Port Richey.

In the picture above, in the block on the left looking west: Touchton’s Drug Store (Charley Touchton’s father, manager); Treiber Hardware; A&A Grocery Story; a millenary shop; Naber’s Jewelry Store; and Fred Touchton’s Drugstore. The drug store families were unrelated.

On the west side of the block facing the Seaboard Airline Railroad tracks and agent’s station: the IGA Grocery Store; Madill’s Furniture Store at the end. On the east facing 7th Street and the county courthouse: Bill Shofner’s Restaurant (later Valencia, then Crest); Williams Department Store; a barber shop; a wide set of stairs that led to offices above occupied by attorneys and other professionals; Touchton’s side door opened into the building at the end of that block.

Shofners and the other restaurants were the favorite early morning “watering holes” for merchants, farmers, cattlemen, ranchers and courthouse workers.

In the block on the right: After the Dade City Bank folded in the 1930s (the Bank of Pasco County survived on the opposite corner) a five and dime store occupied the corner building in the block on the right Moving west: a barber shop; Fred Varn’s Shoe Store; Tiptons Bakery; and Coleman and Ferguson’s General Store on the corner. (Later it became Belk-Lindsey and then Tatum and Johnson). The only other business in that block was a service station at the rear of the five and dime store.

The Edwinola Hotel was thriving across from Coleman and Ferguson’s general store and the railroad tracks. Luggage wagons stood at the Seaboard Airline Station and passengers loaded or unloaded on schedule. On the opposite side of Meridian the frame two-story Dade City Banner building is visible in the upper left hand corner of the photograph.

Cars parked at an angle on the streets and in the median. The drug stores had lunch counters and soda fountains. Curb service was available, waiters were summoned when the driver made use of the car horn.

A narrow set of stairs from the Meridian Avenue side led to other offices. Mary Myers Rosier, a retired University of Florida professor in Gainesville, remembers Dr. I.S. Futch. “As a young girl, I dreaded going to the dentist but I thought it was so neat looking out the windows into the tops of those oak trees.” A medical doctor, Dr. Sistrunk had offices upstairs too. Mary’s father owned Myers Metal Shop located north of the Edwinola.

Vivian Head Sparkman, who started working at City Hall in 1948 remembers her first assignment. She had to go to City Attorney George Dayton’s office and copy old city statutes. One required all horse drawn carriages have their kerosene lamps lit after sunset.

She recalls city officials’ concerns about cars parked in the median and limbs from the oak trees falling on them. She doesn’t recall what year the city commission voted to have the trees removed but it was during the tenure of Mayor John Burkes. Charles Jackson, a non-native Floridan, was the new City Manager. It was an unpopular move with a number of residents.

Hobby thinks it was around 1960. He had just finished his first year in college and remembers calling the mayor to voice his objection.

Noting the utility pole in the picture at the street intersection, he recalled that was Bill Barber’s customary parking spot (although there was a no parking sign) where he sold insurance and collected premiums Monday-Friday.

Mr. Bill Barber, the insurance man, was highly visible in Dade City, recalls J.W. Hunnicutt of Tampa. My parents had a policy with him and he collected the premium weekly. Probably less than seventy-five cents.

Hunnicutt added that Tipton’s Bakery was his favorite place. Breadsticks were twenty-five cents per dozen. He had many dozens. Every bakery in Dade City after Tipton’s closed was required to have bread sticks.

Like the ancient oak trees, Dade City’s 1920’s historic city hall is about to be demolished. Bids were received in January 2013. This has upset a few oldtimers

Today Dade City’s state designated Historic District contains fine restaurants and numerous retail antique stores. They draw tourist and antique dealers from all over the country. While all citrus fruit was King in Pasco County now the tiny little kumquat holds the crown. Kumquat Pie is a big attraction during the city’s annual Kumquat Festival in January.

Recollections of Helen Eck Sparkman (1977)

The following is a talk given by Mrs. Helen Eck Sparkman to a 1977 meeting of the Pasco Historical Society. She was one of eight girls who graduated from the high school in Dade City in 1913. Her talk was reproduced in the St. Petersburg Times in 1987 with the permission of her son Mike.

We lived in Waterloo, N.Y. in a colonial type house known locally as “Paradise,” and so titled in the 1896 deed of purchase. It was from “Paradise” that we came to Florida.

Papa, grandpa and one of our friends had each bought one unit of Zephyrhills property, consisting of five acres of country land and a city lot for $50. So we were to come to Zephyrhills, out of the cold north, and be farmers.

Accordingly our grandmother sold Paradise, with its fabulous six-hole brick privy with simulated cupola for $1,500. People had often stopped to ask her if she rented her smokehouse. Then we loaded our belongings in a freight car and came.

We brought everything, even my ice skates and the carpet beaters. Then, in addition, we bought and brought a fine Jersey cow and two pigs. So my father, who I supposed had never been near a cow, had to ride in the freight car and feed and milk her, while the rest of us came by passenger train.

We left Geneva, N.Y., at 6 p.m. on the night of Friday, Nov. 4, 1910, and arrived in Dade City at 4 p.m. on the following Sunday afternoon, Nov. 6. It was one of these rainy days, gray, with water dripping from the moss on the trees and in a sandy street between the depot and Griffin’s Drug Store (now Nolen’s) a scrawny, dirty cow was munching on a paper bag.

Since the original sale of the Zephyrhills property had occurred only in March of 1910, there were no living quarters available there. So we rented the house on the southeast corner of 12th and Church streets, recently known as the I.W. Smith house. It then belonged to the M.D. Cochrane family, who had just moved to the Osceola Hotel at the corner of Fifth and Meridian streets. They ran the hotel there for a great many years. There were the family shown in one of the early pictures shown in Pasco News. The children were Inez, Lula (a beloved third-grade teacher), Ethel, Will and Fred, the baseball player.

Early Monday morning my mother took me to school – of course it was unthinkable that anyone should miss a day.

The teacher introduced me to the class as being from New York and everyone just sat there looking at the newcomer. Finally one girl got up from a back seat, came up to me and took me by the arm and invited me to go back and sit with her. I’ve always been grateful.

Then, when our first noon hour was over (nearly everyone went home for lunch, there were no buses in those days), while I was in an assigned seat, one of the girls rushed in, almost flung a paper on my desk in front of me and said, “Here, read this!” I looked down at a glaring headline, which read: “Was Jefferson Davis a traitor?” What a reception for a timid Yankee! I didn’t know then and I never found out.

This was in the original wooden building where I spent my last three years of high school under the tutelage of Professor Corr and several of the teachers shown with him in the early picture. We graduated in 1913 in the new school, now known as the Annex, which had only the upstairs auditorium finished and where the Jefferson Davis supporter graduated as valedictorian with her shoes on the wrong feet.

In January of 1911 grandmother paid $750 for the house at 202 North 11th St. opposite the Episcopal Church. It was at that time known as a “Dogtrot House.” The north half had three rooms in a row and a single room on the south side had a fireplace; an open space about 8 to 10 feet wide – the dog trot separated them.

In April 1911, my parents, sister and I moved to the house where Sally’s Dance Studio is located, for which we paid $12.50 per month rent. It was not the size it now is, Richardson’s Funeral Home made the additions. When, a year later, the rent was raised to $15 per month, this was just too much to pay. So my folks went to the Bank of Pasco County, borrowed $900, and with it built our house. Lumber came from Greer’s saw mill, located where Barber Block now is, and the windows, doors and inside stairway were ordered from Sears, Roebuck since Pasco Lumber had not arrived yet.

The first place my father worked was on the Edwinola Hotel, which was being built at that time. The former hotel had been a wooden building that had burned in 1907, as people were wont to say jokingly “with great loss of life” (not human). Mr. Gerowe, whose wife was a sister of Mr. Gasque, had begun the present hotel, when he fell from second story window and was killed. So Mr. Gasque bought the property from his sister and completed it combining the names Edwin and Lola to name it Edwinola.

Minutes of May 10, 1909, in Commissioner’s Record Book 1, state that the contract for the new courthouse had been let to Mutual Construction Company of Louisville, Ky. at a cost of $34,860 and Mr. A.J. Burnside accepted the courthouse on July 5, 1901, and made the first payment of $6,360.

On Oct. 7, 1912, bids were let to Mr. L. M. Eck (my father) for sidewalks around the courthouse, the cost to be 13 1/4 cents a square foot; and for several years he built many of the sidewalks in Dade City and later in San Antonio.

Later he had other Dade City appointments. First he was in charge of the new Community Hall where the Armory now stands. In those years Dade City was the southern meeting place of what was known as the Tin Can Tourists Club. I don’t know if this was because they came here in “Tin Lizzies” or that they brought much of their food from their homes in the north in tin cans. One of Dade City’s early merchants told me of how one day one of these tourists came to his store with a pint jar, bought a quart of milk, took out a pint and asked him to keep the balance until the following day.

Then for a number of years Dad was in charge of the waterworks and later was appointed chief of police. There was not a great deal of crime in those days. Some time ago I was going through the first book of the minutes of the city fathers’ meetings, in an effort to determine what the salary for the chief was at that time. I didn’t find out what it was because people had been paid individually; by that time the city had authorized certain consecutively numbered vouchers that gave no names. No government in the sunshine then.

But what I did find reminded me of a situation that everyone insists I must tell you. You know how much of a furor we have had over the matter of the government ordering certain regulations regarding sewers. What I found in the city’s minutes was a bill for replacement buckets for $158.

This was a reminder that in 1912 the city conceived the idea that, instead of the usual open type of outdoor privy using unslaked lime, they would require that we install big buckets under each opening. It would be required that the seats which had been stationary be hinged so that these buckets could be installed and removed at certain times.

To notify people of the plan, the city had printed fliers in real bright colors, red, blue, pink, green – all noticeable, to explain the plan and advise that your buckets would cost a full dollar apiece.

What I remember was how terribly embarrassed I was the noon I walked into Dr. Yocam’s science class to have Fred Cochrane hand me that blaring pink paper as he said, “Here, read this, it won’t cost you anything to read it, it’ll cost you a dollar to join!”

Jackson Memorial Hospital

This article was written by Virginia Blake in 2016 for the release of the Jackson Memorial Hospital Christmas ornament.

Jackson Memorial Hospital served the medical needs of much of Pasco County between the early 1930s and its sale in 1981 to Adventist Health Systems. The hospital was originally owned by Dr. T. F. Jackson, who came to Dade City in the early 1920s and established a two-room emergency hospital on the second floor of the Touchton building (corner of present-day 7th Street and Meridian). Seeking to expand his facilities, Dr. Jackson purchased the former home of Rev. H. N. Abraham on Church Street and moved his hospital there. As reported in the Dade City Banner of October 22, 1926, “First class equipment for the care of medical and surgical patients has been installed, and a corps of trained nurses have been engaged. While the hospital is a private one, in the sense that it is owned entirely by Dr. Jackson, its facilities will be at the disposal of all practicing physicians of Pasco County, and it has the moral support of the Pasco-Hernando Medical Association.” That Church Street building is still standing and is a private home.

After several years at the Church Street location Dr. Jackson moved the hospital functions to a building located on East Howard Avenue just west of what is now Pasco Middle School. In 1933, Dr. Jackson became disabled. When he died in 1934, the county purchased the hospital and named it Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Additional wings were added over the years. The original frame portion of the hospital was torn down in 1961. The county ran the newer wings as Jackson Memorial Hospital until 1981 when Adventist Health Systems took over management and eventually moved their facility to what is now East Pasco Medical Center, in Zephyrhills. The use of the Howard Avenue property reverted to the county and is now the location of the Pasco County Health Department.

Early east Pasco County doctors seeing to births, surgeries, and all manner of hospital care at Jackson Memorial included physicians R. D. Sistrunk, J. T. Bradshaw, W. Wardlaw Jones, Harry G. Brownlee, Frank Farley, and Dwayne L. Deal. Although their practices were centered in Lacoochee, Doctors A. B. Cannon and William Walters saw patients in Jackson Memorial, as did a number of Zephyrhills physicians.

While the building depicted in our 2016 ornament no longer exists, it played an important role in the history of Pasco County and in the lives of many of us living here today.

Presidents of The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce

Source: The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce, 14112 8th St., Dade City FL 33525.

1960 H. A. Freeman
1961 E. V. Garren
1962 Lawrence Puckett
1963 Lawrence Puckett
1964 George Nicolai
1965 Ernest Griffin
1966 Leon Douglas
1967 Phillip Williams
1968 Edward Garren
1969 Edward A. McNally
1970 C. L. Goddard
1971 A. R. McClelland
1972 Thomas Clark
1973 Melvin DuBose ?
1974 E. Stevens
1975 E. S. Dix
1976 E. S. Dix
1977 Patricia Burdick
1978 Patricia Burdick
1979 Albert Joseph Kiefer
1980 Leonard Stovall
1981 Leonard Stovall
1982 Ben Thompson
1983 Ben Thompson
1984 Al Dorsett Tampa Electric
1985 Ralph Evans
1986 Janet Gibson Landmark Realty
1987 Sandra Jones Humana Hospital
1988 David Class First Union National Bank
1989 Carl Littlefield Littlefield’s Furniture
1990 Carl Littlefield Littlefield’s Furniture
1991 Joy Hampton Lykes Pasco, Inc.
1992 Rachel Piersall First National Bank of the South
1993 Carl Gude Gude Brothers Construction
1994 Brian Jarrett Dick Jarrett Ford
1995 Ed Lachance
1996 Brenda Minton Tampa Tribune
1997 Matt Hillen PHCC
1998 Matt Hillen PHCC
1999 David West Keep Pasco Beautiful
2000 Penny Morrill Sunrise of Pasco County, Inc.
2001 Charlotte Kiefer Individual
2002 Charlotte Kiefer Individual
2003 Charlotte Kiefer Individual
2004 Jim Scott
2005 Joey Wubbena Dade City Business Center
2006 Kathy Britton Coldwell Banker Britton & Associates
2007 Carolyn Hodges Hodges Funeral Home
2008 Missy Lea Engraving Systems Support, Inc.
2009 Joey Wubbena Dade City Business Center
2010 Joey Wubbena Dade City Business Center
2011 Pete Odom Individual
2012 Cliff Martin Jarrett Ford

Dade City Articles of Incorporation (1889)

An earlier incorporation apparently occurred in 1885. Transcription of this document was provided by Jeff Cannon.

Notice of Incorporation

The citizens of Dade City within the boundaries specified below will meet at the Court House on Tuesday the 15th day of January A. D. 1889 at ten o’clock A. M. for the purpose of holding an election to decide the question of no incorporation of the said town of Dade City and also if the majority of votes cast are in favor of incorporation, to elect the following officers viz. A Mayor, Five Alderman, A Marshall and Clerk. The following boundaries include the proposed incorporate limits viz: Beginning at the South East corner of the SE1/4 of the SE1/4 Section 27, Township 24 South, Range 21 E. thence East1/4 of a mile to find a starting point, thence North three quarters of a mile, thence West three quarters of a mile, thence South three quarters of a mile, thence West one hundred and ten yards, thence South one quarter of a mile, thence East fourteen hundred and thirty yards, thence North one quarter of a mile to point of beginning. The registered residents within said boundary & limits are urged to attend the election and to participate in it. Polls will be opened at 10 a. m. on said day and closed at 4 P. M.

Citizens of Dade City

Dade City FLA Nov 6th 1888

Pursuant to the above Notice published weekly for a period of thirty days previous to the 15th day of January A. D. 1889 in the Pasco County Democrat, a newspaper published weekly in the town of Dade City, Pasco County, Florida. Forty seven qualified voters being not less than two thirds of those whom it is proposed to incorporate came to the Court House in Dade City where the Polls were duly and legally opened on the 15th day of December A. D. 1889. R. H. Hartley, J. P. Wallace and J. J. Smith being duly impowered to act as managers and inspectors of said election proceeded to incorporate the city of Dade City and complying with the laws relation to incorporation proceeded to and elected the following officer to wit:

For Mayor- Jno B. Johnston

For Councilmen- F. P McElroy, D. Clermont, J. T. McMichael, A. A. Boone, J. E. Lee

For Clerk and Assessor- Jno. C. Calhoun

For Marshall and Collector- Wm. Beard

And the following bounds were adopted for the City of Dade City viz: Beginning of the South East corners of the SE quarter (1/4) of SE quarter (1/4) of Section Twenty Seven (27), Township Twenty Four (24) South of Range Twenty-one (21) East thence east one quarter of a mile to field a starting point, thence North three fourth of a mile of a mile, thence West three fourths of a mile, thence South three fourths of a mile, thence West one hundred and ten yards, thence South one quarter of a mile, thence east fourteen hundred and thirty yards, thence North one fourth of a mile to point of beginning. And the following seal was adopted as incorporation. Seal of said City of Dade City.


Jno B. Johnston, Mayor

D. J. Clermont, Alderman

F. P. McElroy, Alderman

J. T. McMichael, Alderman

All ut

J. E. Lee, Alderman

J. C. Calhoun

City Clerk

Waivers of Incorporation and Registered Voters

1-T. J. Howard 2-D. J. Current 3-J. T. McMichael 4-G. M. Roberts 5- E. R. Wallace 6-J. U. Senniur 7-H. W. Coleman 8-John B. Johnston 9-Henry Macon 10-J. C. Overstreet 11-J. D. Sumner 12-D. T. McLeod 13-T. H. Thompson 14-W. A. Vickers 15-C. W. Bell 16-Will Cohen 17-D. Dortch 28-Wash Robles 19-J. C. Sumner 20-J. E. Lee 21-George W. Young 22-W. H. Garner 23-A. A. Boone 24-J. C. Calhoun 25- J. A. Grady 26-J. A. Hendley 27-C. T. Lewis 28-S. F. Huckabay 29- J. J. Smith 30-C. T. Seay 31-J. B. Roberts 32-W. Kindall 33-H. O. Benton 34-R. L. Seay 35-Wiley Sprouls 36-B. D. Sturkie 37-W. U. Ferguson, 38-H. J. Burton 39-H. H. Henley 40-J. G. Wallace 41-J. G. Roberts 42-T. L Shofner 43-T. B. Porter 44-F. S. Daiger 45-J. K Davis 46-J. P Wallace 47-R. H. Hartley

Recorded this 18th day Jany A. D. 1889

H. H. Henley Ck of Ct.

By M. G. Rowe D. C.

American Dust Bowl Affects Dade City

This article, by Arno Surls Webster, is taken with permission from the EPHS website.

Recently, my daughter and son-in-law were telling me about a news story about satellite pictures of dust being blown from Africa to South America and sometimes to Florida, when I happened to remember our experience with dust from the American dustbowl during my childhood in Dade City.

When I was about 9 years old, around 1934, our family lived just north of Dade City on highway 301 near Jordon Lake, which is east of the road near the present Moose Lodge. Our little house faced a lane that turned to the right off 301 and the back of the property sloped down to the lake.

In that year, huge dust storms struck the Midwest, the result of draught and the effects of extensive plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains. While disastrous for those farmers and the American economy, for us in Dade City it was a persistent nuisance.

The news reported black, red or tan dust blowing east from South Dakota, Kansas and Oklahoma to Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Washington DC; for us, the dust was tan. It settled on, in and around everything.

Of course we had no air conditioning, so the windows were open a good part of the time, but even when closed, the dust filtered into the house and settled on the pots and pans, the beds, the floor, it was on our clothes; a little grit found its way into our food. When you closed your mouth, there was grit in your teeth.

Our house was so small that we ate our meals on the screened back porch. The dust accumulated about a quarter inch on the dining table between meals. Mama hung blankets, bedspreads and sheets all about the porch to deter it, but it still got in. We had our meals in a blanketed twilight.

From our house down to the lake, my daddy planted corn. During this time, the corn sprouted and came up to about four inches high with two little leaves. Shortly, it was covered with dust, never to be seen again. But, we replanted.

Sometimes the sky looked hazy or “smoky” from the dust and it made for very pretty sunsets.

At the time, the Federal government in Washington, D. C., debated the Frazier-Lemke Farm Bankruptcy Act which would decide whether or not to help the dust bowl victims. As I recall from discussion among the adults in my family and their friends, for a while, it seemed that the congressional vote would defeat the proposed financial aid proposal. Then, a black cloud of dust covered Washington and the Frazier-Lemke act was passed.

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