History of Prospect School in Pasco County, Florida


Prospect School

This page was last revised on May 1, 2019. A photo of the school is here.

Apparently, there were three locations for the Prospect School.

The first was a log church and school about one-fourth mile west of Handcart Road and on the north side of Prospect Road. According to Historic Places of Pasco County, this church was built in 1855 and closed in 1868.

However, an 1877-78 list of Hernando County schools shows the Prospect School operated that school year from Nov. 26, 1877, to Feb. 26, 1878. The teacher was E. S. Benson.

A second Prospect Church and School church was raised in 1887. Its congregation was part of the Florida Methodist Conference.

The third location was on the Wally Guy property in the present Gaskin settlement probably three-fourths to one mile south on the Handcart Road and on the west side of the road. The second school may have been moved to this location.

School board minutes of Sept. 5, 1887, show Prospect School, no. 17, with trustees A. C. Middlebrook, David Osborn, and Lewis Gaskins.

A deed dated Jan. 4, 1888, shows that James D. Gaskins and wife Martha Gaskins donated two acres of land to Board of Public Instruction. [Information from Patricia Raposa.] School board minutes of Feb. 6, 1888, have: “Also presented deed from J. D. Gaskins and wife for two acres of land on which is built the Prospect School No. 17. The house is large and commodious.”

School board minutes of Dec. 3, 1888, show Prospect School, no. 17, with 36 students enrolled and an average attendance of 22.

School board minutes show these teacher appointments: W. G. Williamson on Aug. 7, 1893; John Barnes on Sept. 4, 1893; Miss Minnie Osborne on July 1, 1895; E. F. Greer on Aug. 2, 1897; Miss Bessie Miller on Aug. 1, 1898; Miss Minnie Osborne on July 1, 1901.

School board minutes of Oct. 9, 1894, show that the board agreed to pay $30 to help repair the Prospect School, which was blown down by the recent storm.

On Jan. 6, 1898, the San Antonio Herald reported, “The Prospect school house was burned Friday night and as there is suspicion that it was set on fire purposely, the county commissioners have offered a reward of $50 for the conviction of the guilty parties.”

School board minutes of June 2, 1902, have: “Prospect School, Dist. No. 17, held an election on the 12th of April, 1902, and elected L. J. Gaskins, Thos. Roach and Henry Adkins trustees and voted a three mill tax.”

School board minutes of July 7, 1902, have: “Mr. L. J. Gaskins representing the patrons of Prospect School, informed the Board that the patrons of said school by a vote had located the School site in Section 19 Twp 25 R 20, and asked permission to remove the school building to said location. On motion it was agreed to take up the question at the August meeting, provided the patrons file a township map locating the patrons in said district, by the first Monday in next month.” Permission was granted by the school board on Aug. 4, 1902.

School board minutes of July 6, 1903, show Gilbert Evans appointed as teacher.

A 1903-04 roster of pupils shows: Lawrence Adkins (12), Meadow Gaskins (8), Marvin Gaskins (6), Norton Gaskins (13), Wally Guy (14), George Richburg (13), Robert Richburg (6), Pearl Richburg (9), Henry Richburg (18), Belle Adkins (10), Lottie Guy (8), Leila Gaskin (7), Bertie Gaskin (7), Flora Adkins (7), Lawrence Gaskins (12), John Jackson Gaskins (5), Fred Gaskins (14), Henry Taylor (12), Willie Roach (6?), John Roach (11), Annie Roach (13), Ella Roach (7), Emily Gaskins (11), Burton Lang (9), Agnes Gaskins (13), Garfield Evans (13), last name Gaskins (16), Leslie Kersey (14), Lula Barns (14). Gilbert A. Evans is the teacher.

Photo from the Ruth Osburn Jones Collection, courtesy of Nick Linville larger picture

School board minutes of July 5, 1909, show Ida Jackson appointed as the teacher.

A 1909 roster of pupils shows: Belle Adkins (15), Flora Adkins (13), Leila Gaskins (12), Carrie Gaskins (8), Lottie Guy (14), Ila Lyons (9), Pearl Richbourg (15), Catherine Richbourg (8), Lawrence Adkins (17), Paul Emerson (11), Vivian Gaskins (7), John Gaskins (11), Marvin Gaskins (11), Meadow Gaskins (14), Jesse Lyons (13), Edmond Lyons (14), Loney Lyons (10), Robert Richbourg (12). The teacher is R. S. Moseley.

School board minutes of June 1913 show Walter Martin appointed as a teacher at Prospect. Mr. Martin tells an interesting story here about being hired to teach at the Prospect school in 1913. He calls it Prospect Point, although school board records call it Prospect.

School board minutes show these teacher appointments: Edwin Sidney Dew on Aug. 2, 1915; Mrs. Anna Grey on July 5, 1921.

School board minutes of Sept. 5, 1921, indicate that Barthle & Jones was paid $3.00 on a new building at district # 17, Prospect.

School board minutes of Aug. 7, 1922, show that Miss Ellen Heath was appointed the teacher for Prospect School, no. 17.

On July 11, 1924, the Dade City Banner reported that Katy Allen was appointed a teacher at Prospect.

According to McCormick, school board minutes of June 15, 1925, show that Prospect School attendance had fallen too low for a teacher. The minutes of Aug. 11, 1925, show that Prospect School will continue in lieu of transportation.

School board minutes show these teacher appointments: Mrs. Bertha Cottle on July 2, 1928, and July 19, 1929; Miss Virginia Burtz on July 3, 1930, and June 15, 1931; Sarah Kate Simms (Sarah Kate Sims Burnside Rhodes) on June 3, 1935; Miss Nealie Tucker in 1936; Helen McNeil on June 7, 1937, and April 3, 1939; Susie Clark on Aug. 23, 1940.

In 1940 Med and Mae Stanley Gaskin (a branch of the family who spelled their name without the final “s”) purchased this later Prospect School building for $100.00. They used the lumber from the Prospect School building to enlarge their home, which itself was another school, the old Sand Pond School.

On May 19, 1941, the school board accepted a petition from the trustees of Prospect School requesting that the school be discontinued and pupils transported to the Dade City Grammar and High Schools. The trustees were M. R. Heath, R. E. Richburg, and W. M. Gaskin. On Sept. 5, 1941, the Dade City Banner reported, “The schools formerly maintained at Sand Pond and Prospect have been discontinued and this year the pupils will be transported to the Dade City schools, or to Zephyrhills.”

The Prospect Community historical marker reads:

The first Prospect Church/School, built of logs in 1855, was located southeast of here. In 1887, David and Elizabeth Jane Osburn deeded two acres north of here, near Blue Sink, for the next church and school. They were built of pine lumber by Jack Osburn and Jack Gaskin. … The second Prospect School continued at this location until the 1890s when a third school was built about three miles south. It continued until 1942 when the students transferred to Dade City schools. S. M. “Med” and Mae Gaskin bought the building and used the material for an addition to their home, which had been the Sand Pond School on Ft. King Road south of Leheup Hill.

The following is taken from The Historic Places of Pasco County:

The heart of this historic community was located in the center of the horseshoe-shaped portion of Prospect Road south of the present town of Saint Leo. The first recorded settler was Jacob Wells, who arrived about 1842 from Madison County, Florida, and settled on a homestead near Riggs Hammock on the original Handcart Road. Located a few hundred yards west of the current Prospect Road and along the west side of the present-day Saint Leo Town Hall, Handcart Road got its name (according to Ruth Osburn Jones) because it was a trail just wide enough to push a two-wheeled cart, but it was broadened to accommodate an ox cart as more settlers arrived in the 1850s.

Wells’ sister, Elizabeth Jane Osburn, her husband, David (1802-1877), and their seven children arrived from Madison County in 1853 and settled on a 160-acre farm to the west at what is now the Saint Leo Abbey Farm at S.R. 52 and Interstate 75. Lybron Kersey built a home on the lake which bears his name in 1850, and Lewis Gaskin settled on Buddy’s Lake (now called Lake Pasadena) in 1855. In addition to the name “Prospect,” the community was also known as the “Buddy’s Lake Settlement” in its earliest years. … In the 1880s, the name was changed to Lake Pasadena.

About one mile southwest of the south end of the lake, near the present-day center of the “horseshoe,” the first Prospect Church was built of logs in 1855 and lasted until 1868, also serving as a school. The community made use of Williams Cemetery. The second Prospect Church and school was constructed in 1887 of pine lumber by Jack Osburn and Jack Gaskins a few hundred yards north of the original church on a 20-acre site deeded by David Osburn Jr. and his wife, Sally Kersey Osburn. … Families pictured in a photograph from the 1880s include Osburn, Gaskins, Kersey, Hodson, Revels, Kennerly, Barns, Ticknor, and Wells. Area residents frequently find Indian “projectile points” on their land.

The following article, by Helen McNeil, is taken from East Pasco’s Heritage:

Prospect School was off Handcart Road, south of St. Leo. According to Marvin Gaskin, born nearby in 1897, the community took its name from Prospect Branch Arbor Church. His father recalled that Holiness, Methodist, and other Christians joined in community worship under a branch arbor near a large spring. About 1850 they started Prospect Cemetery, now in the middle of an orange grove and no longer used. Soon afterward a church building was erected. As time passed, the membership became smaller, and the church disbanded. In 1942 Mr. and Mrs. S. M. Gaskin Sr. bought the Prospect Church and Sand Pond School buildings, and from the two constructed their new home.

My three years, 1937-39, as the one teacher at one-room Prospect School, were a real challenge in spite of my college training and my experience teaching in city schools in Georgia. The building had no paint, no bathrooms, and only a hand pump for water. I taught first through eighth grade to an average of sixteen pupils. Mrs. Heath drove her family car as a “school bus.” A big hand dinner bell called the children to order in the morning and after recess. Each class in turn came to the bench in the front of the room to recite lessons. I learned more about teaching there than I ever had from books. Even with those meager resources, we managed to have many enrichment projects which the children enjoyed while they were learning. I appreciated the loyalty of the parents and the support of the whole community.

About once a month we had a meeting for the community at night at the schoolhouse. We had interesting speakers from Dade City or Zephyrhills. The American Legion was always cooperative and would send interesting speakers. At each meeting we also had a program in which every child took part. At one program in November 1938 we had a patriotic play, patriotic songs, and marching drills with homemade flags. The room was always full with people looking in every window. These appearances in public were good experience for the children, as well as a source of pride for their parents. We had plenty of cooperation from the parents and the community in securing the simple costumes and props we used. Mrs. Matthew Gaskin, a good seamstress, was especially helpful.

In 1939 I gave the eighth grade graduating class, four children, a trip to Tampa, where none of them had ever been. For five dollars they all had street car rides, elevator rides, their first movie, and their first cafeteria meal. The children had the time of their lives, and so did I.

Among my rewards for teaching at Prospect School, seeing the development of those children is perhaps the most important. From that group came teachers, nurses, a doctor, a pharmacist, and many excellent citizens.

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