HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
Early Residents of Pasco County
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This page was last revised on June 1, 2020.
FRANK ZANE RANKIN SR. (1852-1931) was an early resident of New Port Richey. He had been Deputy Sheriff of Santa Fe County, Territory of New Mexico. In 1902 he married Mary Janet Black (1869-1948). After spending several winters here, they moved here on August 17, 1923. Zane Jr. recalls that the first night was spent at the Enchantment Inn. In a day or two Zane Sr. purchased Senator J. M. Mitchell’s home in Elfers and the family lived there until 1926. In March 1927 the family moved into the Clarence E. Craft home, 1301 Boulevard South. They had twin boys, one of whom died in infancy. The other was Frank Zane Rankin Jr., q. v.
FRANK ZANE RANKIN JR. (1906-1982) was born October 8, 1906, in Lickin County, Ohio. He was a second cousin to Zane Grey, the author. In the evenings and on Saturdays, while attending Gulf High School, Zane worked for Charles Thorpe at Thorpe’s Grocery. (In 1926 Clarence E. Craft built a store building at Gulf Drive and Boulevard South and rented half of it to Thorpe for his grocery store.) After graduating from Gulf High School in 1927, he worked for a short time for Claude Hudson, who had a garage and filling station. Then for ten years he worked at the City Market, Adams and Main Streets, and Register’s Grocery in the Arcade Building, part of the time delivering groceries. Zane and his father were custodians at Gulf High School and Pierce Grammar School. When his father died in 1931 Zane continued on the job for eighteen years. From 1930 to 1942 he was a real-estate salesman and also did lawn work. In 1935 he married Dorothy Kingsley (died, 1970). In 1941, Thorpe passed away at age 91, leaving the store building, which he had purchased in 1929, to Zane. Zane continued operation of the grocery business at this location until 1966, when he closed the store. In 1967 he started managing the coin laundry next to the Pick Kwik store at Boulevard South and Gulf Drive. (Information from WPH, based on an interview with Zane Rankin.)
AUGUSTINE HENRY RAVESIES (1838-1906) was the first Superintendent of Public Instruction in Pasco County, taking that position on July 8, 1887. His salary $720 per year. Ravesies taught at Fort Dade Seminary in 1878-79. He is shown as school board chairman of Hernando County in the 1885-86 district report, which also shows a Ravesies School. He was appointed Postmaster of Herndon on Aug. 2, 1900. Ravesies was born on Oct. 25, 1838, and died on Nov. 6, 1906.
BENJAMIN LAWRENCE RAY (1840-1911) and Ella Z. Ray were among the first settlers in Pasadena township. Mr. Ray was a farmer, physician, and minister. He was born in Blackville S. C. An early Baptist Ministerial Directory shows that he was pastor of Double Branch Church from 1877-1882.
JOHN RAYMOND (1840-1926) arrived in what is now Pasco County in 1880, where he homesteaded a place a short distance east of Ellerslie, according to his obituary. He was born in Kentucky on Dec. 22, 1840, and moved to Texas before coming to Florida. The following is excerpted from his obituary:
On June 19, 1879, the Sunland Tribune reported that Raymond was the teacher at the Fort Broome School and had today closed his first session by giving a public examination. Raymond died on Feb. 13, 1926, and is buried in the Enterprise Cemetery.
TRILLA G. REED (1883-1968) was a long-time mathematics teacher at Pasco High School. A 1968 newspaper article at the time of her death has:
A 1921 listing shows her teaching at a high school in Hot Springs, Arkansas. According to school board minutes, on Sept. 3, 1928,
she was appointed Principal of Pasco High School, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of W. L. Carter. She may have served as principal
for two years. A 1930 newspaper article reported that she was a professor at the University of Florida, and a
1932 newspaper article reported that she was a teacher of the extension course at Clearwater High School. She was again appointed principal at Pasco High School on Dec. 7, 1942, and served in that capacity for several months. She apparently was the
first woman to become a principal of a Pasco County high school. She was a graduate of the University of Kansas. Miss Reed lived
on Lake Iola Road just north of the intersection with St. Joe Road. Lake Iola is named for Iola, Kansas, where she was living
with her parents in 1910. Norman Carey, who provided information for this entry, recalls that his mother and grandmother said
that Miss Reed declined to develop property she owned on the north side of Lake Iola because she loved birds and wanted it to
remain a sanctuary for birds. According to Carey, she had a pond behind her home dug up, either to enlarge it or because,
as the story goes, she believed a report that some Confederate gold was hidden in the pond around 1865. Her death was caused by drowning in the pond.
Trilla Reed was born in Kansas on Sept. 8, 1883. She died in November 1968.
HENRY C. REMLING (1884-1951) was an early resident of New Port Richey. He was born in Brooklyn, N. Y. His obituary said that he came here with his wife Florence 39 years ago. He was a carpenter.
ANDREW JACKSON REWIS (1843 – ca. 1920) was born in Tattnall County, Ga., the son of Pvt. Robert Daniel Rewis and Bethany Anderson Rewis. In 1860 Andrew married Martha Cynthia Anderson (born in Tattnall, Ga., daughter of John and Cynthia Anderson). On July 13, 1861, Andrew and his brother Obadiah enlisted in the CSA, Company I of the 3rd FL infantry under the command of Capt. Jesse S. Wood. Andrew enlisted as a musician and trained in infantry tactics at Fort Clinch, Fernandina Beach. He was captured in battle and was included in a prisoner of war exchange near Vicksburg, Mississippi, on Nov. 15, 1862. Andrew re-enlisted at Lake City and served in Company M in the 9th FL infantry commanded by Capt. B. L. Reynolds. On February 15, 1864, just before the Battle of Petersburg, also known as the Battle of Old Men and Young Boys, Andrew deserted his company and headed for home in Lake City. On April 26, 1865, Andrew surrendered at Durham Station near Greensboro, N. C., to Company I of the 3rd FL Infantry. Andrew filed for a Land Patent from in 1885 for land in Sumter County. Sometime in 1885 Andrew and his brother Randall opened the Bethlehem School House near the intersection of Hudson Ave. and Hays Road. A. J. Rewis, Randall Rewis, and J. H. Dicks are shown as trustees of the Bethlehem School in school board minutes of Sept. 5, 1887. Martha Anderson Rewis died on May 22, 1920, and is buried in an unmarked grave in the Anclote Cemetery. Andrew died sometime shortly after 1920. He was living in Anclote at the time of his death and may be buried next to his wife at the Anclote Cemetery. Andrew and Martha had eight children in the following order:
Most of their children were born in Hernando and Pasco Counties. [Information provided by Jeff Cannon in May 2005.]
RANDALL DANIEL REWIS (1847-1889) was born in Ware County, Ga., the son of Pvt. Robert D. Rewis and Bethany Anderson Rewis. Randall married Margaret Ann Jane Taylor (1852-1914) while in Georgia. She was a daughter of Robert Brazell Taylor, b. 1821, d. January 1, 1897 in Jasper, FL, m. (1) Emily Unk Maiden, (2) Jane Green, (3) Parmelia Nobles. Margaret was a granddaughter of Labrun (LaBan) Taylor b. ca. 1795, NC d. 1841, m. June 4, 1819 to Sarah Williams, b. 1800, GA. On September 19, 1863, while living in Lake City, Randall enlisted in Capt. Stewart’s Company, 6th Battalion FL Infantry for service with the Confederate forces. Like his brother Andrew Jackson, he was assigned as a musician. On October 1, 1863, Randall was transferred to Capt. Reynold’s Independent Company, which became known as Company H, 9th FL Infantry. On April 30, 1864, Randall was discharged under orders of Brig. General Finnegan because he was under age 18; he had enlisted at age 16 and had lied about his age. Randall and his family subsequently moved to Hernando County, applying for a U. S. land patent in January of 1882. He did not receive the deed for his property until 1887, when Pasco County was formed. On February 15, 1886, Randall and his wife Jane sold two acres of land from their 160 to Hernando County Public Schools for $2. On this land they erected the Bethlehem School. A. J. Rewis, Randall Rewis, and J. H. Dicks are shown as trustees of the Bethlehem School in school board minutes of Sept. 5, 1887. Randall died in Feb. 1889; the place of his burial is unknown. On March 9, 1889, his wife Jane assumed a mortgage of $700 at 12% interest from A. M. C. She satisfied this mortgage on April 18, 1898. On July 31, 1889, Jane purchased an additional 10 acres from Aaron and Anne Ryals for $100. Jane continued to raise their children at their homestead. On Aug. 8, 1889, she married Jesse Hiram Ryals in Brooksville. On March 14, 1903, they divorced. Ryals is listed as the trustee of the Bee Tree Pond School (at the same location as the earlier Bethlehem School) in school board minutes of Aug. 7, 1893. Margaret Ann Jane Taylor Rewis Ryals died Dec. 27, 1914, and was buried at the Loyce Cemetery. Her second husband Jesse and most of her children are also buried in that cemetery. Randall and his wife Margaret Ann Jane Taylor Rewis had ten children in the following order:
Most of their children were born in Hernando and Pasco Counties.
Jesse H. Ryals and Margaret Ann Jane had three children, all born in Pasco County, in the following order:
[Information provided by Jeff Cannon.]
ELIJAH “LIDGE” NATHANIAL REWIS (1881-1958) was born April 18, 1881, at the Rewis homestead in Hudson, Hernando County, and was the son of pioneer residents Randall and Margaret Ann Jane Rewis q.v. On August 6, 1906 Elijah married to Maude Shearer q.v., the daughter of James M. and Jane Crum Shearer, pioneer residents of Hernando County. In 1910 while living in the Sagano Community of Pasco County, Elijah was in charge of convict work crews who were recorded with him in the 1910 census. During this time Elijah worked in the sawmill and turpentine industries that were centered in and around the Sagano community of Pasco County. The practice of sawmill and turpentine communities leasing prisoners from the state was not uncommon during this time period. In 1917 Elijah was elected and served as a Hernando County Commissioner for two terms, until 1921. As a county commissioner Elijah was again given the responsibility of watching over convict work crews who maintained and improved area roads. The prisoners lived in tent cities that were under his supervision and on his land. Families of the prisoners sometimes lived there also, and performed chores at Elijah’s home. After the sawmills at Fivay closed, Elijah worked near the former mill site and may have used its remains to cut and manufacture railroad ties that were shipped to Cuba for the price of $1 a piece. He may have operated a type of mobile mill, which could be easily moved. He contracted and cut lumber on a stumpage basis. According to an obituary of one local resident, during the 1930s the WPA paid Rewis and his wife to care for elderly residents. Their home was known as the Rewis Rest Home and residents were brought in from Dade City. In 1941 Elijah purchased two pieces of property in Hudson, for $5 and $10. He died April 13, 1958, at his home on U. S. 19 just north of New Port Richey. Elijah was buried in the West Elfers Cemetery where several of his children are also buried.
MAUDE ANGELINE SHEARER REWIS (1888-1966) was born on April 26, 1888 in Brooksville, the daughter of pioneer Hernando and Pasco County residents James and Jane Crum Shearer. On August 6, 1906 Maude married to Elijah Nathanial Rewis, son of pioneer residents Randall and Margaret Ann Jane Rewis q.v. Maude and Elijah Rewis moved from the Sagano and Needmore areas and settled in New Port Richey in the late 1920’s. Eventually the family moved into the old Kentucky Inn hotel owned by Dr. Isaac Vickers and situated on Grand Blvd. in New Port Richey. Maude became the proprietor of the Inn where she cared for the areas elderly who stayed in the several rooms of the old hotel; some residents were brought in by ambulance from Dade City. The Rewis family received compensation and pay from the W.P.A. for their care of the elderly and the old home became known by locals as the Rewis Rest Home. In 1943 Maude and Elijah took the former home of W. McIntyre, situated on Missouri Ave. behind the Kentucky Inn, and converted it into a laundry establishment. While the young Rewis children were off being taught at the Pierce Grammar school, Maude was busy washing laundry in her new establishment and caring for the elderly. Eventually the family purchased a home and property situated just north of Port Richey on U.S. 19. In 1958 Maude lost her husband, Elijah, who had passed away at the family home. In 1961 the old one-story frame home burned to the ground after a fire started in the kitchen and quickly spread, the family lost everything they owned including several family antiques that had been handed down. Immediately after the fire the family was given a place to stay by Port Richey Mayor Paul Runyon, who owned a hotel. Eventually the rubble of the old home was replaced with a Jim Walter’s home, which still stands today as a business. Maude Shearer Rewis died on Nov. 2, 1966 and was buried beside her husband and several children who preceded her in death at the West Elfers Cemetery. Elijah and Maude Rewis had seven children in the following order:
RANDALL JAMES REWIS (1910-1994) was born on May 20, 1910 in Brooksville, son of Elijah and Maude Rewis q.v. Randall James was married twice; his first marriage was to Mabelle Tindall. This first marriage occurred sometime before 1937 but was short. Randall’s marriage was to Katie Wood of New Port Richey, this marriage occurred sometime after 1937; exact dates of both marriages are still being researched. In 1942 Randall and Katie purchased the former Peek property located on Montana Ave. in New Port Richey, which comprised a cottage and three acres of land with a fruit grove. Prior to their purchase of the Peek property, Randall and Katie had lived in a cottage owned by Mrs. Ella Brownlee of New Port Richey. Randall was a sponge diver before becoming a life-long commercial fisherman. Sometime in the 1950’s Katie and Randall purchased a piece of property on Green Key Road where he soon established a small fish house, which became known as the Rewis Fish Camp to the locals. From his fish camp Randall sold blue crabs and fresh fish, typically mullet, for many years. Life and work on the Gulf waters was dangerous and in 1968 Randall was rescued after the commercial fishing vessels, he was working on, sank 45 miles off Tarpon Springs in 95-foot of water. The 35-foot vessel called “The Gulf Pride” was owned by New Port Richey resident Bill Brush. At the time Randall was working as a crewman when they awoke at 5 a.m. to the boat half full of water, sinking shortly after. Randall lived at his Green Key property the remainder of his life, eventually retiring from the fishing industry. In 1994 Randall passed away at his Green Key home following his 84th birthday bash at his home, he had not been ill in health and his death was unexpected. Three years earlier, in 1991, Randall rode out the No Name Storm at his Green Key home. Upon awaking in the middle of the night he rolled out of his bed and stepped into knee deep water inside his home, instead of panic Randall simple used the bathroom and laid back down to wait for morning. Today the Rewis Fish Camp and home still stands off of Green Key Road and remain in the family. Instead of a burial Randall’s requested that his remains be cremated and spread over the Gulf waters to spend eternity where he had spent his life and made a career, this request was respectfully followed by his family. Children:
[Information from Linda Keebler and Jeff Cannon]
ANDY RICHARDSON (died, 1928). A profile in the Dade City Banner in 1924 called Richardson, whose home was a farm in the black settlement at Lumberton, the oldest man in Florida and possibly the United States. His age was given as between 108 and 109. Known as “Uncle Andy,” he was born a slave in the Edgefield district of South Carolina. He was brought to Florida “in the last year of the Indian War,” and enjoyed telling of seeing Billy Bowlegs and his band of captured Seminole Indians being loaded on ships at Tampa to be taken to their new homes in the west. Until the Civil War he worked as a field hand for his master, Absom Coombs, who he says was killed at Olustee. Near Brooksville met a woman named Nancy, who had been the slave of Josh Stafford. They were married soon after and lived in the present homestead ever since. Nancy was thought to be 30 years younger than her husband. (The preceding information is from the 1924 article.) On Aug. 28, 1920, Sheriff Hudson arrested Richardson on a charge of selling intoxicating liquor. He was brought from Lumberton to Dade City but was released without bond. A newspaper article at that time said that Richardson was said to be 105 years old and a former slave belonging to Henry Hope before the Civil War. However, Richardson is shown as 60 years old in the 1900 census, so the claims about his advanced age could be exaggerated. A newspaper article at the time of his death in 1928 reported that he was said to be about 119 years old.
AARON McLAUGHLIN RICHEY (1837-1912) settled near the mouth of the Pithlachascotee River in December 1883 at a spot which became known as Richey Point. He arrived with his wife and daughter from St. Joseph, Mo. He is shown as a furniture dealer in Missouri in the 1870 census. He founded a post office on July 9, 1884, giving it the name Port Richey. In a letter to the New Port Richey Press published on Jan. 12, 1922, Mrs. J. O. T. Brown of Jacksonville, a daughter of Aaron Richey, described the eight years spent there as
In a postcard sent to Alice Nicks, Maggie Richey Brown wrote:
A deed indicates Richey purchased property in July 1883 from Felix and Martha A. Sowers of Fulton County, Ga., in S30 and S32 T25 R16. He also purchased two pieces of property in 1885 from John Parsons in S32 T25 R16. Records show that A. M. Richey purchased property in T24 R17 S31 on June 16, 1883, and received the deed on Feb. 25, 1885. This area is southeast of the intersection of Hudson Avenue and Hicks Road. [Information from Jeff Cannon.]
In 1862 Richey led a party in a wagon train to Sierra County, California, to prospect for gold. A letter dated Aug. 30, 1862, sent from Great Salt Lake City, Utah, is transcribed here.
The 1880 census shows Richey as a horticulturist in Washington (Buchanan County), Missouri, and indicates he was born in Ohio. A 1914 newspaper article reported on a fish fry on “Cap’n Richey’s Island at the mouth of the Cootee River.” A 1916 newspaper article has: “We landed on Captain Richey’s Island, so called from an early settler who many years ago conducted a store there for fishermen, the ruins of which may still be seen as well as the remains of a large old-fashioned stone house, in which he lived.” Richey moved to Tarpon Springs on April 10, 1891. He served for two years as President of the Council and was the sixth mayor of the city, in 1894 and 1895. One of his acts while in office was to shoot a 12-foot alligator that some boys had noosed and tied to a tree, according to a 1975 newspaper article by Wilfred T. Neill. Richey was the census enumerator for Tarpon Springs in 1900, and his is is the first residence in the census for the city.
A Dec. 13, 1914, newspaper article written by Mrs. Gerben DeVries has: “On an island in the river near the Gulf of Mexico is a dilapidated wooden building in which, years ago, Captain Richey, from whom the settlement is named, conducted a store for the convenience of fishermen and a few scattering settlers. A small slot in one side of the building indicates where letters were posted in the early days, the store also serving as a postoffice.”
On Aug. 11, 1904, the Athens Messenger reported:
The Tarpon Springs News of June 30, 1906, carries a small advertisement for A. M. Richey Real Estate.
Aaron’s younger brother Llewellin or Lewellen or Lewelen (b. Jan. 1840, Ohio; d. 28 Aug. 28, 1917, Athens County, Ohio) purchased property near Hudson. Aaron Richey died on Apr. 9, 1912, and is buried at Cycadia Cemetery in Tarpon Springs, along with his wife Mary L. Richey (1832-1899).
KATHERINE L. RIGGINS (1878-1960) was an early school teacher and a daughter of George W. C. Littell, q.v. She was born Katherine E. Littell in Missouri but used the name Kate L. Riggins after she married William Robert Riggins (1870-1925), who was born in Blackshear, Ga. Her grandson Bill Griffith recalls her saying that she taught school at age 14 at a schoolhouse on U. S. 41 north of State Road 52. She is shown as the principal and one of two teachers at the Hudson school in school board minutes of July 3, 1905. She is shown as one of the two teachers at the Hudson school in school board minutes of Aug. 9, 1928. School board minutes of June 15, 1931, show Kate Riggins appointed conditionally to the Drexel School. She is buried in Hudson Cemetery. A daughter, Catherine (1911-1988), was in the Gulf High School class of 1927. She married George Edward Griffith (1897-1973). They lived in Tampa.
ARTEMAS or ARTEMUS ROBERTS (1841-1944), an architect, was described as Pasco County’s oldest citizen when he died at his home in Pasadena in May 1944 at age 102 years, six months, and ten days. He came to Florida from Lincoln, Neb., for his health, and in 1903 purchased a home in Pasadena, where he lived for 41 years. He was born on a farm near Richmond, Ind., on Oct. 28, 1841. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1867 and at the time of his death was the oldest surviving alumnus. He married Elizabeth Bellangee of Dover, Ill. After his first wife died, he married her sister Mary Bellangee. He learned to drive a car at age 73. He was the first and only president of the Pasadena Farmers’ Club, which he helped organize in 1901. The picnic ground for the club meetings on the shore of Lake Pasadena was named Roberts Hall in his honor. An article in the Dade City Banner on Nov. 1, 1940, says, “Among the buildings in Dade City for which Mr. Roberts drew the plans are the Pasco County courthouse before its present addition.” However, local historian Eddie Herrmann recently determined that the court house was designed by Edward Columbus Hosford, of Eastman, Ga., who designed many courthouses in Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Roberts, however, did design the Griffin Block at Meridian Ave. and Eighth street and other buildings in Dade City, and was the supervisor of construction of the court house.
HARRY SHARPE ROTHERA (1877-1942) was a businessman who came to New Port Richey in 1918, according to his obituary, or 1919, according to WPH. He operated Rothera’s Garage, Rothera’s Electric, a Western Union office, and the local bus station, all from the same location. He also served on the New Port Richey city council. He was born in Bradford, England, and later lived in Toronto, Canada, and Peekskill, New York,
before coming to Florida. He was married to Nellie Hayden Rothera. A son, Wharaust “Warrie” Rothera (1906-1971), was also a local businessman.
FRED C. ROWAN (1856-1946) moved to New Port Richey with his wife
on Oct. 26, 1914, according to his obituary.
He married Emma M. Geyer (1860-1952) in Petoskey, Mich., on Aug. 18, 1880. An experienced
carpenter, he built many homes in the area. Rowan Road is named for
him. A 1942 newspaper article indicated that Mrs. Rowan
was President of the Civic Club and had held that position for the entire 26 years that
the organization had existed.
She was listed on the ballot as a candidate for city council
in the first New Port Richey city election in 1924.
He was born at Watertown, N. Y., and his wife was born in Newark, N. J.
DANIEL C. RYALS (1815-1890) was born in Emmanuel County, Georgia, on Nov. 7, 1816. He came to Florida in 1835-40.
m1. Mary Gill, in Columbia County. Children: John, Mary, Henry, all born in Columbia County, and Eliya, born in Pasco County.
m2. Mary Studstill. Children: Sherrod, Margaret.
m3. Mary A. E. (maiden name unknown). Children: Elvis, Idella, Allie, Sarah (Sally),
m4. Clara A. Boyette. Children: John Madison, Daniel, Ellen, Clara E., Martha Jane, all born in Pasco County.
Daniel outlived all of his wives except Clara. He died on Aug. 1, 1890. [Information from The Florida Genealogist, Summer 1992.]
HENRY DANIEL RYALS (1845-1933) was born Oct. 29, 1845, in Columbia County, Florida. His family moved to Hernando County in 1849, unloading the household goods at the foot of a mammoth oak tree on the south side of Lake Buddy. They moved to the Fort Broome settlement during the Indian War of 1856. Henry was confirmed as a Baptist minister at Six Mile Pond Baptist Church in 1885. He rode horseback for miles to visit the sick and preach the gospel, and he knew enough of medicine and law to administer to the physical and mental ailments of his people. He married Marietta Hurst (b. April 1870; died, 1902, in Pasco County]. He died at age 88 in Plant City, survived by nine children. [The Florida Genealogist, Spring 1984]
JESSIE HYRAM RYALS married Jane Rewis. They had three sons:
Jane was earlier married to Randall Daniel Rewis until he died. They had several children. J. H. Ryals was her second husband. After J. H. and Jane were divorced, Jessie married Bell Scarborough. They had six children. [Information from Sandra DeLeo.]
HORACE W. RYALS (1893-1972) was born in February 1893 to parents Jesse H. Ryals and Margaret Ann Jane Rewis Ryals. Horace was the second child of three born to this marriage. His brothers were Aaron J. and Robert M. Ryals. Margaret, his mother, was previously married to Randall D. Rewis (see above), resulting in Horace having several half brothers and sisters. Their names: (1) Thomas Rewis, (2) William Henery Rewis, (3) Charles Marlton Rewis, (4) Daniel Rewis, (5) Randolph Adolph Rewis, (6) Elijah Nathanial Rewis, (7) Nalona T. (Lonnie) Rewis, (8) Minnisley McNatt Rewis (Minnie), (9) Ella Lee Rewis Weeks Slaughter. Randall D. Rewis and Margaret Ann Jane Rewis established the Bethlehem School in 1886. After Randall’s death in 1887 the school name changed to the Bee Tree Pond School and then in 1893 it was operated by Margaret’s second husband Jesse H. Ryals. The following obituary appeared in the Sun Journal on Oct. 10, 1972:
[The obituary and additional information were provided by Jeff Cannon.]