San Antonio Schools

Pictures of San Antonio, including the schools

This page was last revised on June 13, 2018. Thanks to Will Plazewski for his assistance with this page.

Isaac Washington Hudson Jr. (1870-1972) recalled in an interview that he attended school at Clear Lake, living with the J. L. Portner family. He recalled the log house where school was held three months of the year. His teacher was a Mr. Benson.

Hernando County school board records indicate a school was established at Clear Lake on Sept. 30, 1882. The teacher was R. S. Pringle and the supervisors were Wm. Mobley, Stephen Sear, and B. L. Ray.

According to The Historic Places of Pasco County, Mrs. Cecilia Morse started the first school in San Antonio in 1883.

Charcila Celilia (Moore) Morse (b. June 3, 1838, Anahuac, Texas; d. June 13, 1926, in Tampa) married Charles Nathan Morse (1837-1881) in Louisiana in 1862.

Pioneer College: The Centennial History of Saint Leo College, Saint Leo Abbey, and Holy Name Priory has:

Another central priority was a Catholic school. Mrs. Marie Cecile Morse, the mother of six children, began classes in her own home with 14 pupils in the fall of 1883. Classes were moved into the church on April 29, 1884, and in the fall a separate 12-by-24 foot frame schoolhouse was erected next to the church with funds supplied by Bishop Moore. Joseph Kast noted on November 14, 1884, that the pious colonists found themselves too busy to help construct the school: “Mr. Mullan finished the school house & the Bp. wanted all to help. They refused.“ Kast added on November 30 the judgment of the visiting Tampa priest: “Rev. Peterman scolded the people in the Church.”

Apparently, the name “Marie” in the above is erroneous.

In an article here, Fr. Len Plazewski describes locating the tombstone of of Mrs. Cecilia Morse at St. Louis Cemetery in Tampa. He describes her as “the foundress of Catholic parochial education in our diocese.” The marker reads, “Charcila Cecilia Moore – Wife of Charles N. Morse – 1838-1926 – Her children rose up and called her blessed.” A separate picture of her gravemarker is here

According to Will Plazewski, the children of Charcila Cecilia Morse (1838-1926) apparently were:

  • (infant) Ethel Morse (May 8, 1866 – January 2, 1867) -probably buried in New York
  • Malcolm Edward Morse (July 1, 1867 – July 7, 1918) or born 1868, buried in Tampa
  • Charles Colegate Morse (June 11, 1870 – July 30, 1913), buried in Tampa
  • Ethel Mary Morse (December 7, 1872 – December 25, 1948) or born Dec 5, 1878 -buried in Tampa
  • Evangeline St. John Morse (Dec 3, 1874 – March 29, 1952) or born Dec 27 -buried in Tampa
  • Cecilia Marie Morse (Sept 29, 1876 – Aug 19, 1902), died of Typhoid Fever, buried in Tampa
  • Francis “Frank” Pius Van Pradellas Morse (July 9, 1878 – April 2, 1956), World War I veteran, buried at Arlington Cemetery

According to Madaline Govreau Beaumont, whose grandparents settled in San Antonio in 1884, on May 30, 1883, Ethel Morse told Judge Edmund F. Dunne, as he was clearing a site for a church, that “the minds of the children now here won’t wait for the settlers.” She organized and taught classes in her home until her 14 students were moved to the completed church in April 1884 and to a one-story wood frame building next to the church in November 1884.

According to an article by Helen Christmas and Jeanette Barthle in East Pasco’s Heritage, on April 29, 1884, the first formal classes for the children of San Antonio were held in the kitchen of Mrs. Morse. In November of that year a twelve by twenty-four foot frame schoolhouse was built in town, and Mrs. Morse moved her fourteen pupils there.

In a 2009 email to this web site, Will Plazewski wrote:

I contacted the archivist at the Diocese of St Augustine last year, the only diocese in Florida at the time. She found no records of the school from 1882, 83 or 84. But it was her opinion that due to record keeping procedures at that time 1884 is the most likely date. If you didn’t have a school in existence by January 31 it would often get left off of the records until the following year. Based on the evidence presented, she felt that Mr. Morse probably began teaching in her home in November 1883 (after harvesting season). Records indicated that Judge Dunne wanted to wait until more colonists arrived. And though records indicate that she taught religion among her subjects, she would have had no parish affiliation at that point. Fr. Dunne moved the classes into the church on that April 29, 1884, date. Though the diocese of St. Augustine has no record, St. Anthony Church records seem to confirm this. That would be the point that it was “officially” sanctioned as a school affiliated with a parish (i.e. a parochial school). The move was made presumably to accommodate her growing class because she already had 14 pupils with more interested. In Nov. 1884 the first schoolhouse was constructed (again after the field work was done). I have seen a published photo of this building but am not sure who owns original. The January 1885 parish listings for the Diocese of St. Augustine indicated that St Anthony Parish in San Antonio, FL has a school. Other stories seem to indicate that Morse taught for 8 years or so.

(Plazewski is the son of Walter Plazewski, Sr., who was the first permanent lay teacher at Saint Leo College Prep. He was hired in January of 1951, at the midterm, by school headmaster Fr. Raphael Schoof to teach English and Spanish.)

According to A History of St. Anthony Interparochial Church, in April 1884, classes were moved to the church and in November 1884, to a 12′ x 24′ frame building. On Apr. 29, 2009, St. Anthony’s celebrated its 125th anniversary, based on the date April 29, 1884, when classes were said to have been moved from Mrs. Morse’s home to the church, although other sources say that Mrs. Morse began lessons in her home on April 29, 1884.

The 1885 Webb’s Historical, Industrial and Biographical Florida refers to the San Antonio Academy, Mrs. Carrie Mullan, teacher. The book also refers to a Clear Lake High School in San Antonio, Robert O. Carter, principal. The same directory lists Clear Lake as one of three academies in Fort Dade and implies Dr. Pringle is the teacher.

An 1885-86 list of Hernando County schools shows a San Antonio School.

A deed indicates W. L. Mobley transferred property in S6 T25 R21 to the trustees of Clear Lake School on July 13, 1886.

The Florida State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1886-87 lists Charles A. Preston as a high school teacher in San Antonio, although it does not name the school.

An August 1887 report has: “The school was taught last session by Brother Francis de Sales, O. S. B., a Benedictine Brother. It was attended by about 40 children.”

Pasco County school board minutes of Sept. 5, 1887, have a list of schools which includes Clear Lake (#14), with trustees B. L. Ray, R. A. Brown, W. D. Eubank, and Geo. T. Davis.

School board minutes of Oct. 3, 1887, have: “Mr. M. B. Weaver appeared in behalf of the patrons of Clear Lake School preferring charges against B. L. Ray as trustee of said school for allowing his religious prejudices [illegible] in the discharge of his public and official acts.” The charges were later dropped after Ray resigned as trustee of the school.

The historical marker here reads: “Mrs. Cecelia Morse started the first school in San Antonio in 1883. The Benedictine Sisters assumed the administration in 1889. This red brick schoolhouse was built in 1922, at a cost of $22,000.00, eleven years after the adjacent church had been erected. The grotto and the wall facing the Plaza were constructed in 1935 of native rock.”

On March 11, 1889, the Benedictine sisters, newly arrived from Pennsylvania, established Holy Name Academy with 40 boys and girls. The following September the sisters began teaching at the San Antonio and St. Joseph elementary schools and their academy became a “select school for young ladies.” Later in 1889 the main Saint Leo College building, a three-story structure, was constructed. On June 4, 1889, the Order of St. Benedict received a charter from the state legislature to confer college degrees. This date is considered the founding date of Saint Leo College and Saint Leo Abbey.

On Sept. 14, 1890, “St. Leo’s College” was formally dedicated. It is the first Catholic college in Florida. [St. Leo’s College was a military college for several periods between 1890 and 1920. The school has also been known as Saint Leo College Preparatory School, Saint Leo College High School, Saint Leo Academy, and Saint Leo University, among other names.]

School board minutes of Aug. 19, 1891, have:

The San Antonio matter, which was deferred from the last meeting, was taken up, and Messrs. Liles, Bishoff, and Higgins came before the Board in behalf of the school asked for at San Antonio. The conditions of the school law having been complied with the Board on a motion granted the school and it being represented that there would be 70 or 75 pupils in attendance at said school the Board granted the request that two first class teachers be appointed for the coming scholastic term. On motion Rev. Father Rowman was appointed supervisor of said school. The school to be known as the San Antonio School No. 9.

Thus, beginning in 1891, at the request of pastor Roman Kirchner, the Pasco County school district began operating the school in San Antonio as school number 9, but the school continued to be staffed by Benedictine nuns from Holy Name Convent, which was located across the plaza (park). This arrangement continued until 1918.

In 1892 a large two-story frame structure with an auditorium became the school building for the seventy-five pupils attending, according to an article by Helen Christmas and Jeanette Barthle in East Pasco’s Heritage.

On Aug. 7, 1893, Rev F. Roman O. S. B. was appointed supervisor of the San Antonio school (#9).

On Sept. 4, 1893, Sr. M. Scholastica was recommended as the teacher for San Antonio (#9) and Sr. M. Agnes, was recommended as her assistant.

The school board minutes of Nov. 6, 1893, have: “On motion the Supt. was instructed to draw a deed conveying to W. L. Mobley the site of Clear Lake school No. 14 – said school having been discontinued.”

On June 29, 1899, the San Antonio Herald said, “For the coming school term of School No. 16 the HERALD suggests as teachers Sr. Scholastica, Sr. M. Immaculate, and Miss K. O’Mahaney. In making these recommendations we are guided by the wishes of a number of the patrons, who believe in teachers that have the experience of years of teaching to their credit.”

On July 6, 1899, the San Antonio Herald reported, “At the meeting of the County School Board, last Monday, Sr. M.Scholastica was appointed principal of the San Antonio school, with Miss M. Osborn as assistant. The remaining position as third teacher was left vacant. The regular term comprises four months, an extra term, subject to the will of the people and amount of the special tax realized.”

On Oct. 5, 1899, the San Antonio Herald reported, “The work on the school house is nearly finished. The first floor has been entirely changed to meet the demands of the increasing attendance. Instead of the two former class rooms it now has three, and the porch and outside stairway have been taken away altogether. The alterations are quite an improvement over the original arrangement which will be appreciated by the teachers.”

On Oct. 12, 1899, the San Antonio Herald reported, “The San Antonio Graded School resumed studies yesterday morning in the newly repaired quarters.”

On Oct. 26, 1899, the San Antonio Herald reported, “Owing to the illness of Rev. Mother Rose Marie, the Academy will be closed this session. Parents desiring their children to be in school will do well to send them to the Graded School.”

On Nov. 30, 1899, the San Antonio Herald reported, “The enrollment at the Graded School for the past month was 85. The pupils present every day during the month were: Albert Grimm, Katie McMaster, Mary Smith, Ida Govreau, Stella Frese, Ella Cross, Sadie Semmes, Sallie Smith, Anthony Halsema, Eunice Dooner, Amelia Gailmard. The small number in regular attendance shows a lack of interest on the part of parents. Teachers cannot advance pupils who do not attend regularly, therefore parents should see that their children attend school promptly.”

On July 1, 1901, Sr. M. Immaculata was appointed the teacher at San Antonio school (#16) and Miss Dollie Sumner was appointed her assistant.

In 1917 the anti-Catholic Sidney J. Catts became Governor and nuns were banned from teaching public schools. [Pioneer College]

On June 3, 1918, the trustees of the San Antonio school district recommended to the county board of education as teachers for the San Antonio public school Sister Marie Dolores and Sister Annunciatta, both of whom had formerly taught at the school. The school board rejected both nominations, on motion of Mr. Douglas, seconded by Mr. Larkins.

In a special session on July 15, 1918, the nomination of the teachers was reconsidered. Mr. Douglas moved to reject the nominations and Mr. Larkins moved to accept them. The question was settled by Mr. Gaskins, voting with Mr. Douglas to reject them.

In a special session on Aug. 19, 1918, the board rescinded a rule made in June 1917 that no teacher be employed who had a relationship with any church other than membership.

On Sept. 2, 1918, the San Antonio trustees renominated Sisters Marie Dolores and Annunciatta, and they were again rejected by the board unanimously. The trustees had then exhausted their right to nominate teachers. On Sept. 6, the Dade City Banner reported that the Order of St. Benedict, which had previously rented two rooms in a building in San Antonio to the school board for school purposes at $10 per month, notified the board that the rooms would no longer be available for rent for a public school and that a parochial school would be established. Thus St. Anthony’s Parish assumed full responsibility for the school. The Tampa Tribune reported that the school board’s action “brings a crisis in the public school…. The school board has no building at San Antonio, having heretofore used a building that belonged to the Catholics. It is the intention of the Catholic sisters to teach a private school in this building, so that the school board is without a school house.” Board members Larkins and Gaskins went to St. Petersburg to see the owners of a building in San Antonio so that it might be rented as a public school building.

On Sept. 16, 1918, the school board contracted with Madame B. D’Equivilley for her bungalow to be used as a school building. On Sept. 19, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported, “But now it is doubtful if there are now enough children to justify the public school. When the authorities failed to open a school at San Antonio September 2, the date on which all other schools of the county were opened, the Catholics of that place organized a parochial school, to which both Catholics and Protestants are admitted free of charge, and which had a larger enrollment than the public school had last year. As a result only six children are left to attend a public school.” On Sept. 29, the newspaper reported that the public school would open on Monday morning with Mrs. C. J. Ouellette as teacher.

In October 1919, a newspaper reported that Holy Name Academy, the public school, and St. Anthony’s school were closed because of the influenza epidemic.

On May 11, 1919, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported, “The public school closed Thursday afternoon, the teacher, Mrs. C. J. Ouellette, will leave shortly for her home in Canada.”

On June 8, 1919, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported, “St. Anthony’s school closed Wednesday following a very successful year. Work will begin next week removing the old building, and the new brick building will go up at once.”

On Sept. 14, 1919, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported that St. Anthony’s school would open on Monday.

In November 1919 a fund raising campaign was launched to build a Catholic school [Pioneer College]

On July 5, 1921, Mrs. Ida Dunne was appointed the teacher at the San Antonio public school.

In August 1922, Mrs. Ida Dunne was appointed to teach at the San Antonio school, no. 16.

Saint Anthony School
In Sept. 1922 the red brick St. Anthony’s school opened for 100 students [Helen Christmas and Jeanette Barthle in East Pasco’s Heritage]

On June 6, 1927, Mrs. Ida Dunne was appointed the teacher at the San Antonio public school.

On July 30, 1931, Ida Dunne was assigned to the 8th grade at the San Antonio public school.

San Antonio public school, 1930s. Photo courtesy of Robert Myers.
On Sept. 22, 1933, the Dade City Banner reported, “The public school building at San Antonio was destroyed by fire early last Saturday morning, the fire being discovered at about 2:00 o’clock, after it had gained such headway that it could not be brought under control. It is believed the fire was of incendiary origin. About $1500 of insurance was carried. A room in the San Antonio parish school has been given for the use of the public school temporarily, while awaiting an insurance adjuster and completion of plans for rebuilding.” (The fire was one of three school fires in eastern Pasco County in a short period of time; arson was suspected.)

1933 – When San Antonio Public School on Curley St. burned down, Mrs. Jesse Dunne, teacher, and her pupils in eight grades had no school. At Mrs. Dunne’s request Fr. Bernard (Wiegl), pastor, made a front room of St. Anthony’s available for their use. It was arranged that Public School #15 could be housed in St. Anthony School for the remainder of the year. [from page 15 of: Saint Anthony School Memories of the First Hundred Years by Sr. Margaret Dunne, OSB]

On July 5, 1934, the school board awarded a contract to Fred J. Grace for the construction of a new public school building in San Antonio.

On May 6, 1935, Mrs. Georgia Wells was appointed the teacher for District No. 16, San Antonio (the public school).

On Sept. 4, 1936, the Dade City Banner reported that Mrs. Georgia Wells was appointed teacher at the San Antonio School.

On May 19, 1937, Mrs. Mary Hancock was appointed the teacher for San Antonio, District No. 16.

On July 5, 1938, Laurel Roland was appointed the teacher for the public school.

On April 3, 1939, Mrs. Georgia Wells was appointed the teacher for the public school.

On May 17, 1943, Georgia M. Wells was appointed the teacher for the public school.

On Aug. 2, 1949, H. M. Govreau submitted the low bid of $650.00 to disassemble the Tucker School and re-assemble it on the Board property in San Antonio. The school was rebuilt, as San Antonio public school, on the north side of Michigan Ave., two blocks west of Curley.

At the school board meeting of April 10, 1951, the superintendent reported that the school trustees recommended closing the San Antonio public white and colored schools.

On Feb. 12, 1952, the school board approved the sale of the building and grounds to Andrew Hughes for $1310. He converted it into a home, which is located at 32531 Michigan Ave. in San Antonio. A picture of the home is here.

In 1996-1997 Kay Rizzo was Principal of St. Anthony’s Interparochial Catholic School.

In 2009 Sister Roberta Bailey was Principal of St. Anthony’s Interparochial Catholic School. She was principal for 11 years. She left in 2010 to serve as prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Florida at St. Leo.

At the start of the 2010-11 school year, Sister Alice Ottapurackal became Principal of St. Anthony’s Interparochial Catholic School. In an article in the Tampa Tribune on Aug. 29, 2010, she said, “Academics are important here, but faith comes first. That’s the main thing you need for your lifetime. … We want these children to get to know Jesus and follow his ways.” She is a native of India and member of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Elizabeth.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a new St. Anthony Catholic School classroom building took place in November 2013. The new building was designed by D.E. Holmes and Associates, Inc. to have a similar appearance to the 1922 red brick building. The new classroom building opened in January 2015 and was formally blessed and dedicated by Bishop Robert Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg on February 9, 2015. Renovation of the old red brick building began in July 2015. It became operational in March 2016. The school held re-dedication/blessing ceremony for the 1922 building on June 3, 2016, with the Rev. Isaac Camacho OSB, Abbott of St. Leo Abbey, officiating.

School Blessed With Longevity

This article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on April 26, 2009.


SAN ANTONIO – Elizabeth Tombrink Bodine conjures images of beanie caps, milk cartons and student assemblies on the steps as she recalls life at St. Anthony Interparochial Catholic School when she was a student in the 1960s.

“A lot of the people I went to school with are still around in the community,” said Bodine, who now teaches at St. Anthony.

The school, based in a three-story brick structure built in 1922, is celebrating its 125th anniversary this month. Over the years, St. Anthony has built a rich history of educating Pasco children.

Many families pass the tradition from one generation to the next. Sister Roberta Bailey, the school’s principal, points out kindergartner Bern Plazewski, 6, as an example.

He’s fourth generation; his mother, Cassandra Plazewski, is the school’s physical education teacher.

As part of the school’s 125th anniversary celebration, St. Anthony is hosting an alumni gathering Wednesday for teachers and former staff members.

Bodine recalls fondly her days as a St. Anthony student in the 1960s, a time when the girls were required to cover their heads for Mass. They wore blue beanies.

“Mine never stayed on,” she said.

Student enrollment was small enough in those days to hold student assemblies on the steps outside the building, she said.

St. Anthony students bring their lunches these days, but when Bodine was a student cooks prepared hot meals. The lunch ladies checked milk cartons before they were thrown away because students slipped food they disliked into the cartons. The lunch ladies insisted everyone eat everything, Bodine said.

St. Anthony’s history actually dates to before the school opened. In the fall of 1883, 14 students met for classes in the kitchen of a woman named Cecelia Morse, who reportedly said, “The children will not wait.”

They didn’t have to wait much longer. On April 29, 1884, classes moved to St. Anthony Church for the official start of the school. In November of that year a wooden schoolhouse opened as the school’s new home.

Oddly enough, St. Anthony spent part of its history as part of the public school system, Bailey said. From 1891 to 1918, the school was known as San Antonio Public School No. 14 with nuns still teaching the classes.

That arrangement ended during the administration of Gov. Sidney Johnston Catts, a politician with anti-Catholic leanings, and the St. Anthony parish assumed responsibility for the school.

By the 1980s, maintaining the school became financially difficult for one parish, so the St. Rita, St. Joseph and Sacred Heart parishes joined in to help support the operation.

Today the school has 158 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, a staff of 23 and a budget of more than $1 million.

The main part of the school is still in the 1922 building, which houses administrative offices, classrooms, the cafeteria and the library.

Enrollment has grown too large for one building, so the school also has portable classrooms for fifth through eighth grades.

Kindergarten is across the street in a house the original owner had built to resemble a mobile home.

Family ties

Like Bodine, Tammy Barthle is a teacher with family connections to the school. Her four children attended – one still does – and so did her husband, Mark, his siblings and his fatherr.

“We’re trying to find out if his grandfather J.A. Barthle went here,” she said.

Betsy Navin, who teaches third grade and is a 12-year veteran at the school, said she likes St. Anthony’s “nice homey feel.”

Navin, a product of Catholic schools, also likes that students have religion lessons every day.

“We can always bring morality into every subject,” she said.

Livia Guadarrama, who assists kindergarten teacher Lourdes Milan, has two daughters who attend the school. Her son, now a student at Saint Leo University, and a daughter, now at Zephyrhills High, also are alumni.

“I like that we combine the faith with assignments,” Guadarrama said. “I also like the uniforms.”

Her connection to the school won’t end for a while. Guadarrama has a 4-month-old son, a future student.

A Christian foundation

Linda Whitman, who teaches fifth grade, works out of a portable classroom that students have dubbed “The Zoo” because of the reptiles Whitman keeps, including a bearded dragon, chameleons, geckos and blue-tongued skinks.

“We get to hold them sometimes while we’re watching videos,” said Katie Ray, 11.

Deborah LaRue, a substitute teacher, said all four of her children attended St. Anthony.

“I like the fact that it provided the kids with a good strong Christian foundation,” LaRue said.

Some students who complete eighth grade at St. Anthony enroll at Catholic high schools. Others opt for public high schools.

Ian Barreto, 14, vice president of the student council, plans to attend the International Baccalaureate program at Land O’ Lakes High. He said St. Anthony does a good job preparing students for high school.

One of his favorite teachers is Lynn Powers, who teaches math and language arts for eighth grade. She began teaching at St. Anthony in 1972 and all five of her children attended the school.

The family tradition with the school continues into another generation. Kelly Vester, 10, a fourth-grader, is Powers’ granddaughter.

Powers has seen plenty of changes at St. Anthony, but some things remain constant.

“The values are the same as 30 years ago,” Powers said. “Good manners. Respect. Being responsible. Self discipline. That has not changed.”


WHAT: St. Anthony School is celebrating its 125th anniversary with an assembly at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Join students and faculty for the historical celebration. Pledge and pray alongside students at morning assembly and stay for a reception.

WHERE: 32902 St. Anthony Way (Massachusetts Avenue), San Antonio

FOR INFORMATION: Call (352) 588-3041.


School board minutes of Sept. 6, 1897, indicate that “a colored school in San Antonio” was granted.

School board minutes of Aug. 6, 1928, show Louise O’Neal appointed teacher at the San Antonio colored school.

A November 1942 directory shows Susie King Johnson as the principal.

At the school board meeting of April 10, 1951, the superintendent reported that the school trustees recommended closing the San Antonio white and colored schools.


32416 Darby Road
Dade City, Florida 33525

1985-1991 Katherine Piersall
1991-2001 Jean Johnson
2001-2005 Eva Hunsberger
2005-2007 Sara Lynn Pabst
2007-2011 Vanessa Hilton
2011-2015 Kay Coe
2015- Kim Anderson

History of Education front page