HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
Life in Lacoochee — According to Troy
By NELL MOODY WOODCOCK
Troy Jones was an unforgettable red haired, freckled face boy whose family came to Lacoochee in 1930 from Sumner, Florida. When Cummer Cypress Company’s sawmill burned in Sumner in 1926, the company had kept Troy’s father there to oversee shipping the remaining lumber as orders continued to come in.
The Jones’ house was one of the few houses in Sumner not consumed by that fire. In his later years, Troy wrote his memoirs about those two sawmill towns. In the section “Life in Lacoochee – 1933-1942,” he gives an account of a Methodist pastor’s friendship with a man called “Shorty” Daley.
Now Daley, who smoked cigars and smelled of grease, had a garage located on a curve in the road that ran between Lacoochee and Trilacoochee. He was well known throughout the area. But, because of his language and conduct, he was not considered to be a gentle soul.
Troy’s story goes like this:
Churches were small back then and their pastors were often just out of divinity training at college on their first assignment. Many brought young brides with them. In spite of their lack of experience, they had fresh ideas and lots of enthusiasm that attracted people to their fold
To supplement their income, they often preached in churches in Trilby, Clay Sink and sometimes as far away as Blanton.
Troy remembered two Methodist ministers, the Bolands and the Gambills. He described Brother Boland as a large, red-faced, bluff sort of man who was a great outdoorsman. And, when “Shorty” Daley wasn’t out cussing or drinking, or even maybe when he was, he was out hunting or fishing, often with Brother Boland. (Methodist always called their pastors by the title, Brother.)
Troy wasn’t sure, but he doubted that Shorty had ever darkened the inside of a church. As could be expected, the local church people began to chide Brother Boland for spending so much time with Shorty.
Brother Boland shot back with the phrase from the Bible that Christ did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. And continued his association with Shorty. Troy was convinced that it all boiled down to the fact that Brother Boland “just flat out” enjoyed Shorty’s company.
He was also pretty sure that Shorty did start coming to church while Brother Boland was there.
He remembered that Mrs. Boland had a high soprano voice and could always be heard in the choir belting out the hymns.
Like Troy, I remember the Gambills, and agree with his description of them. Brother Gambill was a gentle teacher and really seemed to make the teachings in the Bible come to life. His wife Dorcas was a beloved Sunday School teacher. To her students, Dorcas was a funny sounding name, but we quickly learned it was an old biblical one.
The Gambills generated a very active youth group. Special events included hay rides (in the back of a large truck filled with hay) to the Crystal Springs skating rink near Zephyrhills. And on Halloween, a spectacular “haunted” house. The spooky old two-story house was located on U.S. 301 halfway between Lacoochee and Dade City.
Ministers and their wives of all denominations played an integral part in the day-to-day life of this little sawmill town.