History of Pasco County Florida, by J. A. Hendley

This web page consists of the entire text of the book by Jefferson Alexis Hendley (1854-1947) apparently published around 1943.




Colonel Hendley Elected Honorary Member of Florida State Bar Association

J. A. Hendley Colonel J. A. Hendley, the last living member of the Constitutional Convention Of 1885, has been elected an honorary member of the State Bar Association.

Colonel Hendley, a native of Kentucky, was graduated from Neophogen and Washington and Lee in 1879 and probably holds the oldest diploma of anyone living in Florida. He began the practice of law at the age of 14 years. In 1879 he moved to the Western Texas frontier, where he organized Mitchell county and was elected its first prosecuting attorney.

Returning on a visit to his old home in Kentucky, in 1881, he found a number of young men preparing to come to Florida, so sent in his resignation as prosecuting attorney in Texas and drove to Florida in a mule-drawn wagon.

In 1883 he was elected county surveyor of Hernando county, which then comprised Hernando, Pasco and Citrus counties. In 1885 he was elected a member of the convention that wrote the present Constitution of Florida. He was elected to the State Senate in 1896, but after serving four years retired to private life and lives in Dade City at the present time.

When honored last year by the Legislature of Florida, Judge Hendley uttered these significant words: “My message to you is to stand by your Constitution and the principles of the Democratic party if our great State is to survive.”—Florida Law Journal, July 1940.

James B. Whitfield, son of Richard A. Whitfield, was born on November 8, 1860, on his father’s plantation in Wayne County. North Carolina. The father and family moved to Florida in 1863 and lived on his plantation in Leon county and afterwards to Tallahassee. James B. Whitfield attended the West Florida Seminary several years and later took the law course at the Seminary of Virginia. He was cashier of a bank at Jacksonville, Florida, in 1888; private secretary of Governor E. A. Perry, elected County Judge of Leon County, 1888, Clerk of the Florida Supreme Court, 1889 to 1897; State Treasurer, 1897 to 1903; Attorney General of Florida 1904-1904; Justice and thrice Chief Justice Supreme Court of Florida, February 15, 1904, until his voluntary retirement, January 4, 1943. Resident of Tallahassee, Florida.



I was born, at an early period of my existence, in Farmington, Kentucky, a small town in the western part of the state, known as the Pennoroyal district. Farmington was noted for some of the bravest men in the Civil War (most of them never came back), nice farms, fine women, good horses, and cattle. The Home Guards and Gorillas—they were called—made a football of that part of the county during that terrible war of bloodshed. It was a divided country, feuds caused by the war arose and many were killed and property destroyed, but the younger generation have inter-married until the feudal days have been forgotten, let them rest.

I was always a lawyer, such as I was. At fourteen years of age I was practicing in the courts presided over by esquires, same as justices of the peace in this state. My first case was one in which I defended a boy friend, Joe Bridges by name, who was charged of fraudulently beating another boy in a horse trade. I stood before the jury barefooted, with pants rolled up to my knees. Dozens of boys rigged just as I was came to court to hear Jeff defend Joe for his alleged misdeeds. From that day until I retired a few years ago I have been at it most of the time. I studied law at Washington and Lee University, graduating in 1878.

In this large farming community we had only three months school. In 1879 a young man by the name of H. L. Finney and I came home from High School, built what we called the Farmington Institute. We issued great circulars describing the school building, and offering the young people a high school education. The response was overwhelming and our school was a grand success from the start. I sold my interest to another school teacher and went to western Texas.

There I organized Mitchell county and was elected to first prosecuting attorney. The adjoining unorganized counties were attached to Mitchell county for Judicial purposes, thus giving me a territory as prosecutor as large as Florida south of Dade City to Key West.

Later on I wanted to see my father and mother who still lived at Farmington, where he practiced medicine for fifty years. In 1881 I went home and found quite a number of young men planning to come to Florida. I sent in my resignation as prosecuting attorney to the governor of Texas, and joined the boys in the trip to Florida.

We all settled in that portion of Hernando county, now Pasco county, on the hills north of Blanton. The following named persons were the first new comers, as we were called, with the exception of the Ravisees, McCrays and Cochranes, to-wit: R. L. Seay, Charley Seay, H. L. Anderson, Robert L. Anderson, Charley Wray, W. L. Hendley, J. A. Hendley, M. L. Gilbert, William Sherill, Jacob Sherill, James Black, Dan Boone, Bill Kemp, A. A. Boone and Dr. Thomas Seay and family. Dr. J. F. Roberts and family came later on. The boys all engaged in orange culture. William Sherill and J. A. Hendley planted orange groves and operated a saw mill, about the first circular saw mill brought to this country. Our saw mill was located on the Levi Eiland farm about three miles west of Dade City. Hutto hauled the mill for us from Wildwood through the deep sand, with eight yokes of oxen.

Our end of the county was represented by J. A. Hendley in the constitutional convention of 1885. Pasco county was at one time a part of Hillsborough county. Later on the territory comprising Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties was cut off from Hillsborough and made a new county called Hernando. This end of Pasco county east beyond San Antonio was called Fort Dade in honor of Major Dade, who with his entire army was massacred by the Indians near Bushnell, Florida. This part of the county was called the “clabber end,” for what reason I don’t know unless it was because clabber milk entered so much into the diet of the people in this part of the county.

We had two water mills that ground our meal and grits. One of these mills was located a little south of Chipco—now called Blanton. The other was farther south near the J. W. Hudson farm. Levi Eiland built these two mills in 1874 and 1875. One of them was operated by John Howell, who later sold to L. Fortner, who was running the mill when I came to this country. Columbus Gant owned the other mill. Gant’s mill ground corn meal and grits, and he also had a cotton gin and press where the farmers had their cotton ginned before taking it to market. The power of these mills was furnished by dams fed by springs and high water level ponds. Before these mills were established the old-time cracker had a steel mill something on the order of an old-fashioned coffee mill on which he ground his dally bread and hominy. He had no money but always had something to eat. Commercial fertilizers were unknown to the citizens of that day. They had a few orange trees planted around near their houses and in the yard and used cattle to fertilize their orange trees and potato patches. They made the finest vegetables and oranges that the heart could wish. Many of the blighting insects of today were practically unknown.

Political subdivisions of that time were Hudson, Anclote, Hammock Creek, Darby, Wesley Chapel, Wake Forest and R. M. Wilson’s store, called Fort Dade.


Winter Haven, Florida, August 13, 1927.

Mrs. J. A. Hendley, Dade City, Florida,

My dear Mrs. Hendley:

Supplementing our recent conversation with reference to History of the Pioneer Settlers of (now) Pasco county, in my feeble way I will endeavor to tell you as best I can some of the experiences and tragedies in Pasco county as realized by my grandmothers and good friends that have long since passed away.

My Grandfather Sumner was born near Richmond, Virginia. His father moved to Georgia where my grandfather lived until of age or about 1838, at which time he heard of Florida as a country full of wild cattle free to any man provided he could corral and tame them. Hence he came to Florida and located in the northeastern part of (now) Pasco county, or to be exact, the present home of Mr. Henry Boyett is the spot where my grandfather and mother first located. But alas! things were not as he had dreamed. Cattle, yes, the woods were full of them—there were also five wild Indians for every cow in the woods.

Their nearest neighbor lived twenty miles north of them, and while there were a number of cattle herders who lived in other sections of the state, none had located near him as at which time that particular section was considered an Indian Rendezvous. Therefore, my grandfather’s place soon became a headquarters for other cattlemen, owing to the large quantity of cattle in that section, and the fine grass range as it is to this date.

Of course, the white men’s activities soon provoked the Indians into hostilities, and trouble started in earnest. It was necessary for my grandfather to clear all timber and underbrush away for a long distance from his house, and to keep a large pack of vicious watch dogs on hand at all times for his family’s protection. Strange to say it seemed that the Indian in those days did not make any great effort to kill the adults of a family, especially the men. They preferred to capture and kill his children, as the Indian seemed to realize that such persecution was more effective than killing the man. The Indians had a way of scaring women and children at night when alone by rapping on a pine tree with long switches. My grandmother related to me many instances when she stayed awake all night with only her young brother and small children and the dogs for her protection.

After living in such torment as above related for about two years, my grandparents were forced to retire to near Gainesvllle for a year. After said time, the Indians had quieted down and the government had promised protection when they returned to Pasco county, and at which time they acquired a neighbor ten miles away. And another man had located where what is known as the White House field, now a part of Dade City. Very unfortunately that man died, leaving a widow with several children to be cared for by what few people knew of them and their condition. The oldest child was a boy and under the circumstances his mother gave him to my grandfather to raise, which proved to be the saddest thing that ever happened to them. Since their return to the ranch, the Indians had been very friendly and peaceable and all seemed well. Their fears had vanished. The cattlemen had again become active. In those days rope for lassoing cattle was extremely scarce and cost a great deal. Therefore it was necessary for several men to own rope together. My grandfather had all the rope on his ranch. His neighbor ten miles away needed the rope on a certain day. He placed this boy (If I remember correctly his name was Sylvester which had been assigned to him) on a black horse and directed him to take the rope to the neighbor. The start was made in early morning. When night came the boy had not returned. My grandfather set out to find him and upon arriving at the neighbor’s house, he learned that the boy had not been there. Naturally they became suspicious of the Indians again. They immediately sent out a messenger and instituted a search. They tracked the horse to the Little Withlacoochee river. The place of crossing at that time which was the old sand road is about 300 feet west of the present bridge on the new road between Riverland and Webster. There is the spot where the Indians had hidden beside a large tree and had taken the boy and horse. The white men tracked the horse considerable distance and returned for more help. In the meantime the horse came in with the boy’s suspenders platted in its mane, which was a message from the Indians to my grandfather that they had his boy. During this time, men had gathered from far away and a general search was made. Three Indians were captured who confessed that they were present when the boy was killed and his scalp taken, later, to be presented to their chief, which I am told in those days the scalper received an ovation for taking the scalp of a white man. The three Indians captured were placed in a temporary log jail for keeping until further investigation. During the first night they stripped their buckskin clothes, made rope and hung themselves and were all dead when found the following morning. It was a custom in those days with the Indian never to die by the hands of a white man if he could avoid it. This practically ended the search for the lad and a general drive was made upon the Indians.

This sad event caused grandfather to move farther up the state again, where he remained for a long time. In the meantime there were many tragedies committed by the Indians in (now) Pasco county, one of which was the murdering of the two Bradley children near what is now known as Darby settlement. I was told that Mr. Bradley, the father of the old Rev. Robt. Bradley, was sick in bed; his wife and some of the children were at the cow pen milking late in the evening, while his oldest boy and girl were sitting on the door steps mending a bridle by a candle light, when an Indian slipped upon them, shot the girl dead, and wounding the boy, but he crawled inside his father’s room, took the gun and shot the Indian as he was advancing upon the house. Mrs. Bradley had washed their clothes and they were hung out on the fence. The wounded Indian’s comrades took the sheets from the fence, wrapped the wounded Indian and took him away. Mrs. Darby could tell you more of this if she is living in Pasco county.

This tragedy caused the final removal of most of the Indians to the Everglades, and the clearing out of Indians brought several new settlers into Pasco county section. Among them Isaac Lanier, the grandfather of Reubin Jordan.

Old Uncle Bob Sumner, the Crumbs [probably should be Crums], and from that time since the county has settled annually.

At the time the Indians were driven out, my grandfather decided to move and located two miles east of Dade City, when he acquired a large body of land, at which time he had six sons and four daughters and they all entered into farming. They grew cotton, ginned it by hand, spun and wove cloth that clothed them, tanned hides and made their own shoes. They raised all the grain that the family used, also stock feed, made the sugar and syrup, they used, but had no market for anything except beef cattle which were shipped to Cuba. All their power used was oxen and their wagons were strictly home made. The wheels were cut from large cypress trees. Their houses were built of logs, and as there were no nails, the shingles were pegged on. The house floors were hewn from split logs. Robert Sumner owned and operated the first blacksmith shop in Pasco county, near Enterprise. John Wells operated the first saw mill in Pasco county just south of Dade City. Dr. Shade Hancock and R. Alexander were the first doctors in Pasco county. Dr. Hancock lived where Mr. A. L. Auvil now lives. Dr. Alexander lived near Lake Jovita.

With reference to the first dedicated school house ever built in Pasco county, especially the eastern part, it was built where Pled Sullivan now lives and I am quite sure is the same little log smoke house that still stands in Mr. Sullivan’s yard. This wonderful school building was erected by Tony Sumner, John Sumner, Cary Sumner, Alec Sumner and Joe Sumner, my father. Those boys’ ages ranged from 18 to 24 years at the time they erected their school house and attended school three months which was all the schooling any of them received, each paying the teacher his portion. I do not recall the name of their teacher, but will get the name for you. In later years, Mrs. Sullivan who was a widow was donated the little log house to live in. Later she homesteaded the land the house stood on.

I might say that here is how Dade City began: One of my uncles, J. B. Sumner, married Geneva Wilson, now Mrs. B. L. Blackburn of Tampa. She is a sister of the deceased R. M. Reuben Wilson. Buck Sumner owned a lot of cattle, but did not like the business, therefore, he sold his cattle and he and Reuben Wilson opened a store where the cigar factory just south of the ice plant was erected a few years ago in Dade City. K. B. Sumner did not live but two or three years after he had opened the store. At his death W. G. Sumner bought the store and engaged R. M. Wilson to manage it for him. The business was continued for several years, when it was sold to J. T. McMichael. In the meantime the town had developed and the country was really on a boom. About 1886 the present location of Dade City was surveyed out by Mr. J. A. Hendley, who was at that time the official civil engineer. Mr. Lastinger was the first school teacher that taught in Dade City. Rev. W. H. Parker was the first Methodist minister in Pasco county. Rev. Wilson, grandfather of E. P. Wilson, was the first Baptist preacher in Pasco county. C. C. Gant owned and operated the first cotton gin and press and grist mill in Pasco county. It was powered by water near Chipco. The first newspaper in Pasco county was called the Messenger and edited by B. L. Blackburn. The first printer or type setter was Mr. Mahoney.

Now a word about wild life from 1850 to 1875. Wolves predominated. It was necessary for cattle herders to work unceasingly destroying them by poisoning in order to protect live animals of value. By 1880 the once dreaded wolf was extinct in Florida and there is none now. Pasco county was once considered the greatest game rendezvous in all Florida, because it afforded such diversified hunting, bear, panther, wild cat, deer, wild turkey, duck and squirrel, all were so numerous that it was necessary for the farmers to employ assistance in destroying them in order to protect their crops and stock.

Strange to say that in the early days there were but very few rattlesnakes in Florida. In fact I had lived to be fifteen years old when I saw the first rattlesnake. This is attributed to the fact that all wild animals are enemies of rattlesnakes, especially the wild hogs and deer. And since these are practically extinct, the rattler has taken the field. In conclusion, beg to say that I have given you a brief of my childhood memories as related to me relative to pioneering in Pasco county. You may use as you see fit.

Sincerely, D. E. SUMNER


Tampa, Florida, Nov. 25, 1927.

Mrs. J. A. Hendley Dade City, Florida.

Dear Madam:

You ask me to relate how Pasco county received its name. From 1881 to 1887, Hernando county, especially the southern end, rapidly filled with a high type of settlers, many of whom I knew and remember pleasantly. We all were weary of traveling the sand trails of Brooksville, the county seat, to attend court, or transact other business of varied nature, and when we would meet, as neighbors will, at our community post office and stores, comment was loud and complaint vigorous and prolonged against the hardships of the trip. Such conditions aroused sentiment in favor of county division as a means of relief.

Enthusiasm was spontaneous and hope ran high. The result was a mass meeting which was attended by nearly all our male citizens, and was very representative, there being present people from every precinct in the southern end of the county. Unanimous sentiment was for division—the proper steps to take to attain that result was the issue for discussion. After deliberation, it was resolved that a committee of two be named to go to Tallahassee in the interest of the desired end, the Hon. J. A. Hendley and myself being the committee selected. Mr. James Grady moved that we be instructed to call our county “Banner” county.

As the legislature was in session, we went on at once, being fearful for the success of our undertaking we concluded that as Mr. Hendley had an extensive acquaintance with the members of the legislature, that he should circulate among them and lobby for the bill, while I should get the measure in shape for presentation and passage. While working on it we interviewed right and left, trying to work up sentiment in our favor, but when we would tell them we wanted our county to be called “Banner County,” from the immediate change of countenance we could see that we had thrown a damper upon their favorable interest. As we learned that nearly every member thought he came from the Banner county, we began to seek for an unobjectionable name. At that time the body was in joint session, voting for United States Senator, and very enthusiastically elected Judge Samuel Pasco of Monticello to the position. It struck me as an inspiration to call our county “Pasco.” I immediately went to the committee room, where I had a desk and changed our bill making the name Pasco instead of Banner. We gave the finished bill to Senator A. S. Mann, who at once introduced it in the Senate, and it passed unanimously. It was expedited to the house and sponsored by F. Saxon, where it passed unanimously. The Governor was favorable and signed it. Having accomplished all we purposed, we returned home, able to report the complete success of our mission.

An interesting volume could be written of the sturdy pioneers of that day, most of whom have gone to their reward, but such is not the purpose of this article, it being a brief biographical sketch of the origin and name of Pasco County. It might be appropriate to say that the bill for passage read “A bill to divide the county of Hernando, and make therefrom the counties of Citrus and Pasco. At the request of my warm personal friend, Senator A. S. Mann, I wrote the bill that way. The offset in the northern boundary line was to bring the town of Trilby into our county. The archives at Tallahassee will bear out this statement and establish any historical point in question, and its true value in the annals of Pasco county.

Most Respectfully, R. C. BANKSTON

On or about the 25th day of May, 1887, the people of the south end, known then as the clabber end of what was then Hernando county, assembled at Dade City, then known as Fort Dade, for the purpose of forming a new county off of the south end of Hernando. We agreed to convention assembled to make an effort to get away from Brooksville, but before this Reuben Wilson and J. A. Hendley were sent to Brooksville to see if we could come to some terms, that is to see if they would let us go, but they refused to let us go.

When the meeting was called to order, R. M. Wilson was chosen chairman; D. O. Thrasher, Secretary. A resolution was passed that we form a new county and three names for a new county were suggested as follows: Tropic, Banner and Emanuel. After much wrangling Banner was chosen for the name of the new county.

Dr. Richard Bankston, who now lives in Tampa, and J. A. Hendley, of Dade City, were chosen as a committee to go to Tallahassee and lobby for the bill. At that time the United States senators were elected by the legislature and Senator Pasco had just been elected and was at the height of his popularity. In order to get his help and influence to put the bill through, we changed the name of the new county to Pasco.

Frank Saxon and James Latham were in the House of Representatives and A. S. Mann was in the Senate from Hernando county. H. W. Coleman had written to J. F. Latham who was from our end of the county, in regard to the division of the county, and to reply Mr. Latham wrote a very discouraging letter, stating that it was too late to the session to accomplish anything. Coleman held a consultation with N. A. Carter, John Raymond, Rube Wilson, James O’Berry and others in regard to the matter and decided that the committee go and make an effort. Frank Saxon, from Brooksville, was dead against any division. Mann, our senator, a strong determined man, hardly knew what to do, but to the meantime the north end of the county, now Citrus county, sent a delegation to Tallahassee asking to have that end of the county cut off and form a new county, and this decided Senator Mann, who was from that end of the county, and he agreed to help us. M. H. Mabry, then president of the Senate, who owned a large body of land two miles north of Dade City, also agreed to help us.

We told Frank Saxon that unless he came across and helped us out that we would send a man from the north end of the county, and one from the south end to the legislature next time, and we would split the county right in the middle of Brooksville. Brooksville was dear to his heart, and he knew that we had the power to send such men as we wanted to, and that we would surely split old Hernando right to the middle and make two counties instead of three, that it was up to him, and Frank came across and introduced the bill dividing the county into three.

Dr. Hawkins of Tallahassee also owned a body of land within two miles of Dade City. He had a nephew. Gen. Lamar, and a negro that belonged to him in slave time, I think, members of the legislature, and he agreed to help us—there were negroes in the legislature at that time. We got the Doctor’s negro to fix the balance of the negroes, for many telegrams were coming form Brooksville to defeat the bill and we had to work fast. The bill was introduced in the house and senate at the same time, and in four hours after it as introduced it was in the hands of the Governor to sign, and Pasco and Citrus county were born, and Dade City was made the county site [probably should be seat] of Pasco on the 2nd day of June, 1887.


There were two political factions in the county, at that time, known as Mann and Anti Mann. The Mannites were in power at that time and had the ear of the governor. The Mannites held their meeting for the selection of officers for the new county at San Antonio, the other at Dade City. The Mann faction succeeded in getting the appointments for all of the officers except one, which they overlooked, and that was the county surveyor, as well as I remember.

The meeting at San Antonio selected the following named persons to fill the various offices of the new county, who were all appointed by the governor: County Judge D. O. Thrasher; Clerk Circuit Court, H. H. Henley; Sheriff, J. A. Grady; Tax Collector, Robert Bradley; Tax Assessor, Nick Bishoff; Superintendent, A. H. Ravisies; E. G. Liles, Daniel McLeod, Bird Hudson, Jack Gillet, and W. R. Lilburn were appointed county commissioners; and C. W. Beardon, J. W. Higgins, Mitchel Jones, Stephen Weeks, and William B. Hay, the first school board. Later on J. A. Hendley was elected, by the board of county commissioners, as attorney for the county, and he held the place continuously for more than a quarter of a century with the exception of one intermission of two years.

Coleman and Ferguson built a long one-story house where the hardware store of Treiber and Otto is now located, and gave it to the county for two years for a courthouse, and court was held in that house until an election was called to locate the county seat.

The commissioners called the election and Dade City, San Antonio, Ehren, Urbana and Pasadena were all put in the field as aspirants for the capital of Pasco county. Then business picked up, perhaps it was the hottest campaign that was ever pulled off in any part of Florida. It was bitter, the best of friends fell out and abused each other, but after it was over with everything got lovely. J. A. Hendley was the first senator from Pasco county and J. F. Latham was the first representative.

Reuben Wilson never aspired to any county office, but was always ready to help any of his friends, a true and loyal old boy, peace to his ashes. He never asked his friends to help him except one time, he wanted the post office at Dade City, and he got it.


There were no railroads in this county. We drove a thousand miles in wagons, and the further we drove, the further we got from railroads and towns. Finally we found the village of Leesburg, a little one-horse place, one sandy street white as snow through which our weary teams drew the wagons, the wheels sinking eight or ten inches in the sand. Next, the hamlet of Sumterville, the place looked more like an abandoned turpentine farm where a few lingered behind after the others had left. Then to Brooksville, where we bought some hot beer in order to get the corks for our fishing tackle. Kirksey, one of our crowd, asked the bar keeper how far it was to an ice plant. He replied that he might find one in Atlanta, Ga.

The most of the towns and villages followed in the wake of the railroads so we will remark in that direction. The Atlantic Coast Line railroad was chartered as Florida Southern Railway Co., and H. B. Hanes was its first President. Later on it was called South Florida Railway Co., with H. B. Ingraham president. It was purchased by H. B. Plant, merged with other roads and called the Plant System, with Mr. H. B. Plant its president. The Atlantic Coast Line railroad was built into this county in the year of 1885. R. M. Wilson, enthusiastic for railroads, and James Redding of Tuckertown, now Richland, obtained the right of way through the county without money and without price. The survey for the right of way went through Reuben Wilson’s orange grove, big trees bearing ten or twelve boxes to the tree. The engineer informed him that it would take two rows of his orange trees in order to have sufficient room for the right of way and wanted to know what the damages would be. Reuben said, “They will cost you nothing, dig ’em up, and I will give them to Rev. Belle, the Baptist preacher.” The preacher got the trees and set them out on his place.

H. C. Griffin, late of Pasco county, brought about a hundred negroes here and built the railroad through this part of the country. He anchored here and made this his home until he died about a year ago. Many of his hands who followed him to this country also stayed, after the road was finished, the remainder of their lives. Griffin was made sheriff of the county and served eight years. After the death of his son, Clarence, he took over the drug and hardware business which occupied him until his death.

J. F. Roberts was the first depot and express agent in this county. He filled the position for many years until he finally resigned and accepted a position with Garner and Daiger, merchants, who built the store in which the Touchton Drug store is now doing business. Later on Mr. Roberts worked for Coleman and Ferguson Co., until he was retired a few years ago. He is still active and engaged in the poultry business and farming.

The writer will be excused for relating a story illustrating the character of Reuben Wilson. He was a man strong for his friends, and his enemies could go—hunt water, or some other place. He was one of the most noted characters in the country at that time. He had been so liberal with the railroads he thought that they would be very liberal with him for past favors. He didn’t know that a corporation had no soul. Soon after the road was built Gov. Bloxham came through here, campaigning for governor or something, and he requested some of us go with him to Lakeland where he was to speak at night. Several of us went with him, Reuben was one of the number invited. We started to the depot about train time, but Reuben lagged behind. He was told to hurry up, that the train was then due, but he said, “You go ahead, they will wait for me.” The train pulled out, Reuben wasn’t there. As we passed through his orange grove there stood Reuben on the track, waiving his handkerchief, a signal to stop. The engineer gave one little toot, and Reuben had to jump off the track to save himself. What Reuben said about that railroad afterwards wouldn’t do to print.


The Seaboard railroad has quite a history, has been in troubled waters most of the time since it was built. It was first called the Ulee Road. Mr. Ulee obtained a large grant of land in the state of Florida which was given by the government to aid the building of this railroad. In 1886 it was built to the Withlacoochee river. It got into financial trouble and H. R. Duvall was appointed receiver of the road. He had no money to continue the work, but an old negro—wish I knew his name—and his family were stationed at the Withlacoochee river. If I had the old darkey’s name it would go into the history of Pasco county. This lone darkey worked on the railroad grade for months with shovel and wheel barrow. The writer asked him how long it would take him to grade the road to Dade City. He said, “Next Fall.” I was told that they kept this old darkey there at work to save their charter while the people who owned the road were making arrangements to finance it. The government made a large grant of land, called swamp and overflowed lands, to aid in building this road. This grant contained every odd numbered section fifteen miles wide along the right of way as surveyed at that time, which was called the fifteen mile limit; but this land was not all swamp and overflow and contained many thousands acres of the most elevated land in the country; and it also embraced the Withlacoochee river together with the swamp lands. Many squatters settled on the high lands, of course they had no title, but had built houses, cleared fields and planted orange trees which were then bearing. These squatters had what they called a shotgun title to these lands on which they had settled, and we all respected their rights. Wouldn’t you under the circumstances? D. T. Clements was the first agent for this road at Dade City.

The railroad company had a public sale of these lands in Sumter county, hundreds of people attended the sale, the land brought from three to seven dollars per acre. At this sale those who had squatted on the lands had the preference to purchase the lands on which they had located. All they were required to do was to make an affidavit describing the land on which they were situated and their improvements. The writer remembers that he made quite a sum of money that day fixing papers for these squatters.

The engineers made one survey through Dade City, and one a mile and a half west of town. The people of Dade City then held a meeting to adopt ways and means in order to bring the road through here. The engineers claimed that it would be very hard to get through the hills out of Dade City should this route be adopted; that the better route would be a mile west around Hay Pond. Again we came together in consultation and it was agreed that we would secure the right of way from Macon—Trilby—throughout the county without cost to the railroad; we also got up $150.00 and gave them some lots in the town for their extra trouble in changing the route. Dr. G. M. Roberts and Dr. McElroy donated the lots. We also gave them all of the land from the Edwinola Hotel east down to Coleman and Ferguson’s store for depot purposes. The engineer then told McElroy to drive a stob where he wanted the depot built, which was done, and the depot stands there to this day.


The Orange Belt Railway was built in Pasco county in 1887. The people of Macon (now Trilby), Blanton, Chipco and San Antonio made a great effort to obtain the route where the road is now located, which would miss Dade City about four miles to the nearest point. We made rather a puny attempt to obtain the road through our city. Some of the broader minded citizens, as they were called, said that, “we had two railroads and this was enough” and suggested that we not interfere, but let Macon, Chipco, Blanton and San Antonio have this road, that “they needed it, we didn’t.” In vain some of us tried to show them that it would make Dade City a railroad town, and it would build up much faster. We could have gotten this road if we had been united and in earnest. Our failure to get this road was the biggest mistake that we made in the building of Dade City for thirty years, up to the time it was plunged into debt by an unthinking people. When the boom swept over us like a blight; when most everybody thought that they knew how to build a town. They called it “progress”—some of them didn’t know what progress meant, and they wanted to make this place a playground for the northern tourists, etc. The man that didn’t fall for their ideas was a slacker, non-progressive, and they said that we needed some first class funerals to get rid of this class of demented citizens. But enough of this, back to the railroads. A few got in touch with the engineer and showed him a good route from Slaughter to the Lanier bridge, thence to Dade City and through San Antonio; but the railroad people saw that we were not enthusiastic for the road, and adopted the other route, and we lost one of our best chances, to build up the city. Had we obtained this road, Cummer with his great plant would have been here; and many other interests at that time looking for a place would have settled here; and Dade City would have rivaled any town this side of Tampa in size. P. A. Deeman was the first president of this railroad; and John Spinks, a boy raised partly in Dade City and partly in Trilby, was the first conductor. Later on this road was purchased by the Atlantic Coast Line and was merged into the Plant system of roads.

The Tampa Southern railroad was built through Pasco county from Brooksville to Tampa, passing through the center of the county. So far as the writer can find from records, it was built in 1907.

The Tampa & Gulf Coast railroad, so far as records have disclosed, was built into Pasco county in 1908, and runs from Tampa via Tarpon Springs to New Port Richey, thence to St. Petersburg. It is a part of the Seaboard railroad system. P. L. Weeks built this road from Lavilla to New Port Richey.


In 1884 the hamlet known as Fort Dade, now Dade City, was surveyed and cut into lots and blocks. It included the old store where Reuben Wilson and Sumner did business, which was then owned by W. C. Sumner. This old store house had been occupied, perhaps ten years before the survey was made, by different merchants, and was the only mercantile business conducted in the county. The survey was made in the valley and is a part of north Dade City, which is now occupied mostly by the negroes.


When the Atlantic Coast Line entered Dade City, they built the depot in the old White House field, a mile north of Fort Dade, where they surveyed a town site and expected our merchants and citizens to abandon our town and follow them to their new location, there they built their depot. This gave our little town a solar plexus blow. There was a little post office two miles south of Dade City called Hatton, kept in a store owned by M. T. [should be M. G.] Rowe. The railroad people induced Rowe to move his store and the post office to their town. This gave us another hard knock.

The White House referred to was an old field cleared by William Kendrick, it was claimed. Others claimed that it was settled by Jimmy Goodbread. Kendrick told the writer that he assisted Goodbread to break out of jail, where they had him incarcerated, at Ocala, then a hamlet, which was the closest place they had that they called a jail, and a poor excuse for a jail it was. When Goodbread got out of jail he gave Kendrick this property. About 1857 Kendrick built a house on this property and painted it white. It was the only white house, so far as known, at that time in south Florida, and it was a stopping place for the traveling public. It was the first settled place in this county long before the Indians were driven out. Kendrick’s wife was buried in the old White House field near where Mrs. Hill now lives. At one time two oak trees marked the spot.

When the railroad entered Dade City, Jacob Shofner, A. C. Sumner, W. C. Sumner, Coleman and Ferguson, and R. B. Jones, were the merchants who carried general stocks of merchandise; and F. P. McElroy, T. J. Howard, and A. B. Hall conducted the drug business. Dr. G. B. Roberts. Dr. J. G. Wallace, Dr. C. T. Seay, and Dr. Alexander attended to the health of the country at large. About this time everything was in confusion. All our merchants owned the store houses which they occupied and they hated to move. The railroad people were pushing the sale of lots in their town. We saw that our little town was doomed and we were both mad and chagrined.

Then about this time the Seaboard railroad made its appearance and it was suggested that F. P. McElroy and Dr. Roberts lay off an addition to Dade City where the town is now located, which was done. All of our merchants secured lots on this new location and immediately built store houses in which to conduct their businesses. James Lee, Ed. Staley, and G. D. Brookman were the leading carpenters who built the dwellings and store houses as fast as they could. The merchants and citizens of Fort Dade removed their businesses into their new quarters about the same time, and left the old town for the bats and owls to roost in and the railroad town died a homing. Our merchants gave all their patronage to the Seaboard railroad.

About this time Wilkerson Call, our U. S. Senator, and R. H. McDavidson came here on a campaign. When they were ready to leave we went with them to the Coast Line depot, and we walked with them, so they would understand the situation, through the sand. They were very warm when they reached the depot. Rube Wilson said. “Now gentlemen, we have to walk here to get our mail every day.” They agreed that it was all wrong. We gave them the name of F. P. McElroy and in a few weeks he was appointed postmaster and brought the post office to Dade City, and the Hatton post office was discontinued.

As the writer now remembers B. L. Blackburn, the big Sumner family, Mode Wilson, the father of twenty-two children, and his offspring, Jake, Jack and many others too numerous to mention; John Lanier, the grandfather of the Bryant family, some of whom now live on the River Road, R. O. Carter, Jack Tait, Shade Hancock, Charles Croft, Henry Jordan, and Dowling were the old-time settlers around Fort Dade. The writer remembers quite an experience with Uncle Henry Jordan, as he was called. One day he asked me to help him get one of his cows out of a bog. We pulled the old cow out on dry land; he told me to run, and I jumped behind a bunch of palmetto where she could not see me, but took after the old man and ran him around a tree. I could not imagine what she held against us, we had done her a favor. I suppose that she was like some people that I know, do them a favor and they hook you in the back, first chance they get.

Dave Leneave, Dr. Cochrane, the Ravisies, McCrays and Thrashers were here when the writer came, but they were not numbered with the old-time Florida crackers.


(By Jasper Carter)

All this section of the country was called Fort Dade after Major Dade’s Massacre. There was no post office for a long time, and mail was brought from Brooksville, by any of the neighbors who happened to go up there.

About the year of 1872 a post office was established at Fort Dade and Henry Ryals, the father of the late Rev. Henry Ryals, was appointed postmaster. He lived south of Lake Pasadena and kept the post office at his home. He had a cabinet made of cypress by a cabinet maker in Tampa, in which he kept the belonging of the post office. Jasper Carter now has the old cabinet at his home in Dade City.

Mr. Ryals gave up the office after a time and it floated about the country just where anyone would have it, as it did not pay more than about $10.00 a year commissions. It was at one time kept by a school teacher at the school house near Indian Lake, and as mail came only on Saturdays from Brooksville on horse back, the teacher would meet the mail man and those who were looking for mail, and open the pouch and deliver the mail to them, put the balance in his pocket and take it home with him.

After that R. M. Wilson, who had a store near the present ice plant, was postmaster for a time, but turned it down because the government wanted a report each three months and he thought once a year was enough.

Then Mr. N. A. Carter took it and kept it in his home for several years, and then in his store, until he sold his store to Marshall and Sumner in 1883, Mr. R. J. Marshall becoming postmaster.

In 1885 Mr. Carter was appointed assignee for the firm of Marshall and Sumner, and Jasper C. Carter was appointed acting postmaster.

Dade City was granted a post office about this time, and as business of the section moved to Dade City after railroads came, the Fort Dade post office was abandoned about 1889.

Rev. Henry Harper, a negro, Jim Rowe Harper’s grandfather, brought the mail from Brooksville to W. C. Sumner’s store once a week.


As before noted, the county was organized in 1887, and Dade City was named as the county seat in the bill dividing Hernando county. Coleman and Ferguson built a low rambling building on a lot on the south side of Meridian street where Treiber and Otto now conduct a hardware business, which they tendered to the county, to be used for the court house free of rent for two years; the county commissioners accepted it. E. B. Hall owned considerable property down in the old town of Fort Dade. About this time all of the merchants had abandoned the old town and moved to the present site of Dade City. Mr. Hall, who was left alone, objected to the removal of the books and county records from one of his buildings and filed a bill of injunction to prevent the removal of the records. The county commissioners were represented by J. A. Hendley, and Hall was represented by Thrasher and Thrasher, attorneys. The writer is satisfied that this was the first civil suit filed in this county. The court decided in favor of the county commissioners; and the building tendered by Coleman and Ferguson was used for a court house March 4, 1889, when the county commissioners called an election, to permanently locate the site, to be held April 11.

There were five places put in nomination for the electors of the county to select from, to-wit: Dade City, San Antonio, Pasadena, Urbana and Ehren.

The citizens of Dade City executed a bond in which they covenanted to build the court house provided the electors of the county selected this place by their votes in the election. P. A. Deemans, president of the Orange Railroad, made a verbal promise to build the court house at San Antonio provided that place was selected; likewise James L. Clarkson made the same kind of promise for Urbana; Pasadena tendered an uncertified check, for the sum of five thousand dollars signed by Thomas Mclenden, a non-resident payable to the county commissioners provided Pasadena was selected; and Ehren’s big drawing card was that it was near the center of the county, later on Ehren was withdrawn from the contest.

There was quite a stir among the people of the county caused by the deep interest in the election. Up to this time everything had been lovely between all religious creeds. It was the first time that religion had entered into the political affairs of the county. It was charged that the people of Dade City had stirred up the Protestant clergy to take an active part to the election against the Catholic colony at San Antonio in order to control the Protestant vote; and we were constantly nagged about the preachers taking such an active part in the campaign.

The negroes also played an important part in this election. Henry Macon, a barber, a big yellow fellow; and Dan Hartfield, a big black fellow, were the leading negroes in the county. It was suggested to them that they organize a company, have a captain, a band; and all march to the polls and vote at the same time. On the day of the election here came Henry and Dan, dressed In long black Jim swagger coats; tall silk hats, and each with a great silken sash extending over the left shoulder down to the hips; a bunch of flowers pinned to the sash on the right breast; just behind them a great company of negroes, waving banners, marching two by two, and keeping step to the martial music of a string band; inscribed on cash banner was: Dade City for the court house. John Waller, a citizen of Pasadena, on the look out to see that we didn’t stuff the ballot box. looked up and said: Who in the hell is that bunch coming yonder? Coleman told him: That it was just another crowd of preachers that he had heard so much about.

Dade City was selected by a good majority, then we tried to wiggle out of building the court house. The county commissioners let the contract to James Lee and H. C. Griffin to build it for sum of seven thousand dollars; but the San Antonio boys would have none of it, and they proceeded to obtain an injunction against the county commissioners and Griffin and Lee. We claimed that none of the other places that sought the county seat were sincere, because they made verbal promises to build the court house which could not be enforced, therefore we should not be held liable; and the court agreed with us that none of them were sincere but us sincere we made a good bond, and that we must build it, which we did.


Ellerslie was founded by Dr. J. G. Wallace, who claimed to be a descendent of General William Wallace of Scotland, in 1881. Dr. Wallace was a gentleman of the old school. He operated the first circular saw mill in this county except one. Oscar Meacham, John Sumner, and Emett O’Neal were the merchants. The A. C. L., R. R., gave them a depot later on. Oscar Meacham was the first postmaster. The above named persons, together with R. B. Sturkie, J. P. Emerson, D. E. Wallace, Harold Dobson, Thomas Williams, E. A. Farra, M. F. O’Neal, John White and Thomas Cheek were the first settlers. During the Civil War Dr. Wallace was a field surgeon of the 10th South Carolina regiment; and J. P. Emerson was a sharp shooter under General Pickens; he was in the battle of Gettysburg in July, 1863.

There was a great deal of disturbance caused by a contest over the land that D. E. Wallace attempted to homestead, as I understand, he made a mistake in the township, or range when he made his application to the land office. In the fall of 1882, M. F. O’Neal and E. A. Farra landed here from Kentucky, and were stopping at D. H. Thrasher’s place, which was called “Double Kitchens by the pond.” D. H. Thrasher wrote many letters to a paper called Home and Farm, published at Louisville, Ky. These letters were signed D. H. Thrasher, “Double Kitchens by the pond,” Fort Dade, Florida. Mrs. E. M. Larkin now lives on this place. D. H. Thrasher was Justice of the peace and land agent; and had a supply of maps from the land office at Gainesville; these maps showed that the land was vacant; and O’Neal and Farra homesteaded these and other lands adjacent through D. H. Thrasher. They built a double-room house on the line between their lands, one room on Farra’s homestead and one room on O’Neal’s homestead so they could live together and keep batch, they were both single men. Wallace built on one corner of the land; trouble began between O’Neal who had homesteaded this land, and Wallace who thought that he had homesteaded it also. The older settlers took sides in the controversy which raged between the contestants and many threats were made. John Raymond was leader of the bunch that favored O’Neal and D. T. Clements led the clan that sided with Wallace. Finally cooler heads interfered to bring about a settlement between the contestants. It was agreed that O’Neal was to pay for the buildings that Wallace and Sturkie had put on the land. O’Neal drew a check on a bank in Kentucky for the amount agreed upon.

Later on the houses burned; and O’Neal stopped the payment of the check. They took the matter into court, and it was never settled until after the county was divided. O’Neal was a gentleman to the manor born. The outstanding man of the community in which he lived. It was through his efforts that a thriving church was built and maintained at Richland. His home was a stopping place for the ministers of the gospel. Mrs. O’Neal was a cultured lady and was one of the leaders in the church work throughout the county. The writer was a very close friend of Mr. O’Neal, we often visited together. All of Ellerslie has been wiped out and almost forgotten. Strangers now occupy and cultivate the land where a thriving village once stood.


In 1917 John Costakis established the first canning plant in this county. John was a new arrival in this country, and he had a vision of the canning industry. The products of the farm, lakes and rivers appealed to John and Ellerslie, about four miles south of Dade City, looked good to him. He thought that he would have more beans, peas, pineapples, pumpkins, turtles and other products of the country than he could use. John proceeded to build his cannery. After he had spent about seventeen thousand dollars he awoke, one morning, to find his pockets empty. John felt like we all did after the boom. He left this part of the country and the last time I heard of him he was engaged in farming, and raising stock down in the central part of the county near road No. 5. One day when John was looking after his stock a mad bull rushed him, and bit or tried to, and John shot him in self defense—so I heard.


San Antonio was founded by Judge Edward [should be Edmund] F. Dunne, A. D. 1881. Judge Dunne, a brother-in-law of Hamilton Diston, who purchased vast tracts of land in Florida, established a Catholic colony on the lands around Clear Lake. Fifty thousand acres of the Diston land purchase was reserved for this colony, extending north six miles, south six miles, and west 12 miles, five miles north of the lake was a settlement called San Felip, situated on Lake Adlaide, five miles south of Mount Carmel, and one mile south was a settlement called Villa Marie. All of these places were christened by the Catholics.

Prior to the Catholic settlement this territory was sparsely settled by such men as John Platt, John Howell, Isam Howell, Jack Howell, N. A. Carter, Jack Jackson and his numerous offsprings, William Mobley, Dave Osburn and his offsprings, N. A. Carter and Levi Eiland. At that time there was plenty of wild life in this territory such as deer, wildcats, foxes, etc.

After the Catholics took hold of this part of the country, the name of Clear Lake was changed to Lake Jovita. It was occupied by such citizens and their families as Dr. Harved, E. G. Liles, T. J. O’Neal, John S. Flanagan, Thomas Boland, Jack and Pat McCabe, L. M. Fountain, Miss Exie Fountain, Adam Dick, William Sultenfuss, P. Carroll, Nathan Wischers, Dr. Corrigan. N. P. Bishoff, and M. B. Weaver. A store, known as the Colony store, was established by John Frese, and Joseph Frese in 1881. P. Carroll also conducted a general merchandise business in San Antonio. R. H. Down was the first postmaster, and Paul Gailmard assistant.

About December, 1887, the San Antonio Literary Society was organized, John J. O’Neal was elected president; on this date the society established a newspaper called the San Antonio News. John J. O’Neal was chosen editor and P. F. Lyons assistant editor. Prior to this there was a small paper published by Judge Dunne and his two small boys; name of the paper and date of its birth forgotten. The first Catholic church was erected in 1883; Rev. John O’Boyle was the first resident priest. He built the first Catholic church in San Antonio, a rough barn-like structure in which they worshipped until the Rev. Albert Schaller took charge of the mission and constructed the present buildings, both the church and the parochial school. From the inception of the mission a Catholic school has been maintained. Mrs. Cecilia Morse was the first teacher.

Later on the Benedictine Sisters took charge of the school which has been in continuous operation to this day. The Sisters of St. Joseph, through Bishop Moore, purchased the Sultenfuss hotel, had it remodeled, and opened school on the 28th day of February, A. D. 1889. This Convent was incorporated May 24, 1893, under the name and title of Holy Name Academy. Sister Dolorese was the first mother superior, and served, for six years in that capacity. Later on Mother Rose Marie held this important position. She was probably the most widely known, among the Protestants, of any since the Convent was established.

In June, 1911, the Benedictine Sisters decided to remove the Convent to a more desirable location on Lake Jovita. This action, on their part, brought about considerable opposition, of some of the residents. Father Albert consulted the writer, in regard to whether they could legally change the location, who told him to go ahead, move it and apologize afterwards; but they all became pacified and well pleased since they saw that the new location was much more pleasant, picturesque and lovable.

J. G. Kirchner and Adam Dick were the blacksmiths. The San Antonio nursery was conducted by Brand and Wichers. In 1884 R. H. Brown raised the first strawberries for the market; as the writer remembers, he broke the land and cultivated the berries with a garden push plow. Afterwards the strawberry crop was extensively cultivated in the San Antonio district, and it at one time rivaled Plant City in the growth and shipment of the berry.

The writer has known this colony of Catholic people since they first settled in the county. They have always been a law abiding, harmless people that attended to their own affairs.


San Antonio had one of the first baseball teams in the county. In the spring of 1884, the first match game was pulled off between Dade City (Fort Dade) at the west end of Hay Pond. one mile and a half west of Dade City.

The following persons composed the team of Dade City: Jesse Roberts, captain; A. P. Hill, D. T. Clement, James Grady, Joseph Roberts, John Cox, Bart Sturkie, David Lofton and W. Vickers. Will Lynch was captain of the San Antonio team. The writer did not know the rest of them, all strangers that had recently settled in and around San Antonio. If a lot of noise, quarreling, and threatening the umpire with baseball bats made a good game, it was a success. The writer umpired the game. Jesse Roberts, captain of our team, still lives in Dade City, engaged in the poultry business.


Clear Lake has quite a history. It was at Clear Lake school house that the Farmers Alliance of Pasco county was organized on the 2nd day of May, A. D. 1888. It was claimed that the object of the Alliance was:

1st. The mutual information to enable its members by cooperation to purchase their supplies and dispose of their products.

2nd. To buy for cash and sell for cash.

3rd. The Alliance believes it were better, and prefer dealing with local merchants if they could do as well as elsewhere.

4th. Disclaiming control over politics of its members.

5th. Meetings to be held on Saturday of each month.

It was the largest crowd of people that ever assembled in Pasco county. The writer was there, and noted the expressions and actions of some of the leading members; could see politics written all over them which, proved true later on in the next election. The writer was then a candidate for the Senate, while the Alliance disclaimed taking any part in politics the leaders seemed to think that the president of the Alliance was the right man for the Senate, and was put in the field to oppose the writer because he was a lawyer.

The alliance had little use for the lawyer in the open, but did like to consult him when it came to fixing papers and perfecting the organization.

In 1888, the Alliance started a general mercantile business at Dade City in one of the business houses which had been vacated in the old town—Charles Blocker was put in charge of the business, which flourished for awhile; but when the members of the Alliance began to want to get credit in their store, which they had been used to, when trading with independent merchants, Blocker saw the handwriting on the wall; and got out of it, then Mr. Delemeter [should be John Charles Fremont Delamater (1856-1937), also spelled C. F. De La Mater].

built a small store house on the northwest comer of the lot where the court house is now located, put in a stock of general merchandise, and catered to the trade of the members of the Alliance. In the meantime most of them had gone back to trade with their old merchants. The president of the Alliance had been defeated together with those, who sought county offices on the same ticket. About this time Mr. Delemeter started a paper called “The Industrialist,” the organ of the Alliance, which became the standard bearer of the third party organized in this county. The main plank in the platform was The Government ownership of railroads and utilities.

2nd. Do away with lawyers and other junk not otherwise provided for.


St. Leo College, located at Lake Jovita, was established by the Benedictine Fathers in May, 1889, and was incorporated on the 4th day of June, 1891. On the 4th day of July, 1889, the Rev. Frederick Hoesel was appointed to take over college affairs to Florida, but died on his way to this state, and was succeeded by the Rev. Chas. H. Mohr (who was known as Father Charles) on the following 18th day of August; he was also the first Rector. The school was opened on the 13th day of September, 1890. A post office was established in the following October, and Father Charles was appointed postmaster and held the office continuously until his death to 1931.

The St. Leo College was raised to a priory in 1894, and in 1902 it was raised to an Abbey and Father Charles was the first Abbot, which position he held until his death.

Dr. J. F. Corrigan, a very estimable gentleman, a brother of Bishop Corrigan of New York. was the first mayor of St. Leo. It was at his palatial home that I met the first and only bearded priest that I ever saw. The first passenger train stopped at the station at St. Leo to February, 1888. The railroad hesitated when it came to having a station so close to San Antonio, but Dr. Corrigan and the brotherhood built the station so they would have no excuse to ignore the wishes of the St. Leo people.

The school at St. Leo has been a success from the start. True it had a small beginning and has had many back sets. The original building was destroyed by fire. A splendid stone building was erected in its stead with all proper equipment of a first class College. It is a monument to the enterprise of Abbot Charles and the industry of the brotherhood who did the work.

This college ranks highly and its curriculum is equal to any College in the state. Many a boy, without much chance elsewhere, has been educated there and given a chance in life and they have become prominent useful citizens.

St. Leo Abbey has extended its influence far and wide in the southern part of Florida. St. Anthony church at Lake Jovita, Sacred Heart church at St. Joseph, St. Rita church at Dade City, St. Joseph church at Zephyrhills and the New Port Richey church at New Port Richey have all been established by the brotherhood of priests sent out from St. Leo Abbey.

Abbot Charles was a high type of man, sociable, liberal, a fine host and entertainer. On two occasions he donated $100.00 to the Woman’s Club at Dade City. On the 14th day of April, 1914, the Woman’s Club, through Mrs. J. A. Hendley, president, and Mrs. C. A. Lock, corresponding secretary, invited the president of Women’s Clubs and other prominent club women throughout the state to a convention to be held at Dade City. The club women of Dade City entertained about three hundred guests. While here Abbot Charles invited the whole convention to St. Leo where they were entertained at luncheon in the large dining room of St. Leo College. C. A. Lock and the writer furnished conveyance to some of these visiting club women on that day. Of course we were not invited to the luncheon (it being a skirt affair) and we stayed on the outside waiting for them to finish their repast, but before they were through some brother came outside and conducted us into the dining room. The Abbot, in a humorous way, said, “There are two guests that are not clothed with the proper garments,” and called upon the women to know whether we should be expelled or stay and eat; a chorus of voices rang out, “Let ’em stay,” and we sat down, in the midst of that great bunch of women, to broiled chicken, salads, cake and refreshing drinks on which we feasted.

Mrs. W. S. Jennings, wife of a former governor of Florida, with the sanction of the late Abbot Charles obtained a request from the Governor to ban all restrictions for the day, permitting this group of women to be personally conducted through the building where they had the privilege of viewing the beautiful vestments and symbols and received special prayers in the Chapel.


Lourdes is in France, on the right bank of the Gave-de-Pau. It is at the base of a rock about five hundred feet high. The place was fortified by Julius Caesar; later it was held by the English in the 14th century. There are marble and slate quarries, and curious grottoes in the vicinity. It is a noted place of pilgrimage among Roman Catholics on account of the affirmed appearance of the Virgin Mary at that place on the 14th day of February, 1858.

In 1872 about two thousand persons visited the Virgin Mary grotto. It is said that many miraculous cures have been wrought in answer to prayers offered at this shrine.

The Abbot has the full jurisdiction over his community, Church, Seminary, College, High School and the Lourdes of St. Leo which he built at St. Leo College is quite a show place to strangers who come to Florida. When they look upon the works that have been done there, they realize what can be accomplished in Florida, backed by honesty and purpose, industry and enterprise.

On the 4th day of October, 1924, the South Florida Press Association, on invitation from Carl Rerick, then editor of the Dade City Banner, held its annual convention at Dade City, was entertained with a banquet in the large dining room at St. Leo College. The party and their wives consisted of about seventy-five. Mrs. C. A. Lock and husband and Mrs. J. A. Hendley and husband were requested to furnish cars to assist in conveying the party to St. Leo, and we were also at the banquet.

Mrs. J. A. Hendley and Mrs. C. A. Lock, president and corresponding secretary, invited Dr. Cook of North Pole fame to lecture on his trip to the North Pole. Dr. Cook arrived on the 11th day of March, 1914. Hendley and Lock went with him to the College to invite the Abbot and brotherhood to hear him lecture, but the Abbot failed to appear.

During the World War all sorts of complaints were made against these people; that they were sympathizers with Germany; that they had a wireless outfit on top of the college and were in daily communication with the German government. A man from Washington was sent to investigate the charges. He found a freight elevator used for carrying mortar and blocks to build the addition to the college.

The writer was sent out to San Antonio to make a war talk to these people and find out how they stood. After the speaking a crowd gathered around him, took him by the hand and pledged themselves to do their part in maintaining the war.

Among the many good priests that served one way and another at St. Leo Abbey one of the best known to the people of all denominations and classes was the Rev. James Aloysius Delebar prior, generally known as Father Aloysius. He was known as a kind, consecrated man. He contracted the white plague while nursing a consumptive. His body lies in the Catholic cemetery at St. Leo.

Also the Rev. Father Francis Sadlier (now Abbot). He was for a long time financial man of the order and had held every office from prior to Abbot. In the year of 1929 Abbot Charles, in failing health, recognized that the work was too much for him and called for a Coadjutor to assist him, and on the 2nd day of the following August, Father Francis was elected and consecrated as assistant Abbot Coadjutor and held this position until the death of Abbot Charles, then he became the Abbot and holds that office to the present time.

The school has not suffered since he took charge, and he maintains it upon that high plane of usefulness, accomplished by the efforts of Abbot Charles in his lifetime.


Darby is situated near the center portion of the county. It is one of the oldest settlements, also one of the most historical places in the county. The last Indian Massacre occurred in this section. The Dade Massacre occurred on the 28th of December, 1835, and the murder of the Bradleys in the fall of 1855.

John Darby, Captain Robert Bradley, Captain John McNeal and Charles Johnston the grandfather of Charles Johnston who still lives in that section of the county, were the early settlers who blazed the way for civilization.

It was late in the evening in the fall of 1855, Captain Robert Bradley lay sick in a room in his double log house. There was a large hallway between the two cabins where the children were romping and playing; and the larger children and negroes were out gathering the herd of cattle for the night. The sun was low, its last lingering gleam had flashed its spears of light on the tips of the lofty pines and hid behind the great waters of the Gulf. Out in the gloaming over the distant hills and swamps the long drawn, weird notes of the Florida cow whoop rolled along the low atmosphere, then gradually increased in volume as it rose higher and higher into endless space, and the echo took up the notes and passed them along the hills and dales until they died away on the waves of sound. Gun shots were heard, the Bradley home was attacked by the Indians. Billy Munday, leading a bunch of Seminole Indians, had steadily approached the house and fired on the children playing in the hall; Billie and his little sister, Mary, were wounded; Captain Bradley returned the fire, and little Billie, although wounded unto death, went into the battle and killed one of the Indians before he fell; after the battle little Billie and his sister lay dead in the hall. The savages took sheets hanging on the line in the yard, wrapped them around their dead and carried him away. The negroes and other children at the cow pen heard the shots and ran to Charles Johnston’s home for protection. Mr. Johnston went to Fort Taylor, got some soldiers who came and guarded the Bradley home. Later on George W. Adkins, the father of Mrs. J. W. Douglas now living in Darby, Charles Johnston, Captain John McNeal and others with some soldiers drove the Indians out of the country into the Everglades. A short time before the attack on the Bradley home Captain Bradley had killed an Indian Chief in a skirmish which was the probable cause of the Indian raid on his home.

Darby has been divided into two political subdivisions known as Pasco and Greenfield. J. W. Douglas, Charles Johnston, M. F. Hancock, R. B. McKendree, C. W. Hancock, J. E. Bellamy. G. W. Bates, J. C. Bates, W. J. McNatt. C. T. McNatt, N. V. Sessoms, W. J. Sessoms, J. W. Wells, H. L. Burnside, B. F. Asbell and many others of the same names are now residing within the boundary lines of old Darby.

Let me here remark that someone who loves to listen to the radio, loves poetry and song, and is interested in preserving the history of Florida, should have a record made of this cow whoop which is a product of Florida, and used nowhere else, it will soon pass away and be forgotten unless preserved by record.

Long ago when Wilks Call was making the race for the U. S. Senate and R. H. M. Davidson, opposed by Pope, a Republican, was making the race for Congress several of us went with them from here to Socrum, Joe O’Berry was our guide, now and then, Mr. Davidson would call upon Joe to “give the cow whoop” and Joe would make the welkin ring “with the cow whoop.” It is no longer heard around Dade City. Henry Boyett and a few others are the only ones left who can hallo it.


New Port Richey, gem by the side of the sea where many notables have purchased lands and made homes thereon, shrubbery, clinging vines, all kinds of lovely flowers around the rest houses of Tudor design, whether it be poet, architect, actor or philanthropist, seek their homes for quietude and rest in this little city near the great waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1883 Captain A. M. Richey and family settled at the mouth of the Cotee river. In that vicinity they found Malcolm Hill and family, James W. Clark and family and Jack Caraway and family, who had come close on the heels of the red man that had been pushed further into the glades and swamps of South Florida.

There are two places: one is called Old Port Richey and the other New Port Richey. They are so close together that it is hard to tell where one quits and the other commences. R. E. [should be H. R.] Nicks, who settled there later on, owned most of Old Port Richey.

In 1911 P. L. Weeks bought a portion of these lands and he and his brother and W. E. Guilford formed the Port Richey Land Company. In 1911 P. L. Weeks built a branch railroad from Lake Villa to Port Richey, about eight miles long. He afterwards sold it and it is now a part of the Seaboard Air Line system.

Among the first settlers of the city were Fred Sass and family, J. H. Moran, Frank Grey, John Holzcheiter, Mrs. Nymon [should be Nyman], O. W. Hermes, B. H. Hermanson, C. E. Snell, and R. E. Nicks, together with their families. In January, 1915, P. L. Weeks, owner of the property, sold his interests. R. E. Flicher [probably should be Filcher] and George R. Sims acquired Weeks’ interest and still have it in charge. In 1919 George R. Sims built the first brick building in New Port Richey. The first public school was opened in 1914. In 1921 The First State Bank was completed and occupied. In 1921 a new high school was built. In 1922 bonds to the extent of a half million dollars were voted by the people of Pasco county to build a paved road from Dade City to Paradise loop to the Dixie highway that runs through New Port Richey.

October, 1927 [should be 1924], New Port Richey was incorporated [see note below] and E. M. Avery was the first mayor. In 1913 the Methodist church was organized, the first minister was Rev. H. Logan. J. M. Mitchell was the first superintendent of the Sunday School; later on the Methodists built a substantial church. There is also a community church, a Catholic church and a Baptist church which were established later on.

It has grown to be quite a little city and has a cosmopolitan population. People from the east, north and west have settled along by the side of the Florida cracker and they all dwell together in peace and harmony; but I notice that when the election time comes up the candidates get mighty busy down that way, for they are all Democrats during the primary.

Fivay is located in the western part of the county near the Gulf of Mexico. In 1905 Sessions and Bullard sold a large body of land north of New Port Richey to the Aripeka Saw Mills corporation. This corporation built a huge saw mill around which a town rapidly grew. Gordon Abbot, Charles P. Ayer, H. M. Atkinson, M. P. Amorous and P. S. Arkwright owned the property. One will notice that all the names of these five men began with the letter A, so the town was called five A’s, at first, later on the name was abbreviated and called Fivay for the five men who owned the property.

The town flourished like a green bay tree for awhile. Many whites and negroes were employed by this corporation; trams were built over which the logs were conveyed to the mill, and many houses were built for stores, dwelling and drying rooms in which the green lumber was seasoned for the market. The boilers of the mill were never cold, a day and night shift kept the mill in constant operation. Millions of feet were cut from the maiden forest and shipped to northern and southern markets. The timber supply was finally exhausted, a town without a payroll, abandoned. It looks like a deserted western mining town after the gold ore had been exhausted.

It was here that this writer came in contact with a jooke for the first time. I do not know how the name originated. It sounds like voo doo and hoo doo, an echo from far off Africa. Anyhow it was a place used for the entertainment of the negro society at large. A yellow negro calling himself Forest Brazill operated the jooke and on Saturday nights they had quite a high time; with the money in their pockets, firearms up under the left arm, their guts afire with bootleg liquor, gathered there for a frolic and to have a good time. There was a dusky damsel called Sugar who seemed to be very popular with the male sex and two of them tried to dance with Shug at the same time. The multiebrity [probably should be muliebrity] developed in the woman even if her skin was black, so she made eyes at both of the enamored swains which brought on trouble, and they reached for their firearms to settle the matter according to their code. It was then that Forest Brazill interfered to settle the trouble. One of them turned on to Forest and he was obliged to kill in self defense, so he said.

I was employed by the management to defend Brazill and I learned all that the negroes would tell me about the history of the jooke, which was very little.


Tuckertown took its name from the number of Tuckers that settled in that neighborhood in early times. One can not tell who first settled the place if he takes his cue from the records of the county, for most of the early settlers were squatters or homesteaders and the homesteaders lived on their homesteads for many years before they made proof and secured their patents. The squatters’ rights were also respected by the old settlers. When new blood began to fill up south Florida they were fearful that their rights would not be respected by the new element and made arrangements to homestead or buy the land from the government. We have no record of any land being purchased prior to 1875, but many settlers were in there prior to that time.

The vicinity of Tuckertown was first settled by a Mr. Smith (Christian name unknown). Henry Tucker, Harriet Tucker, who after her first husband, died married William Smith; Joseph W. Tucker, Alfonso Tucker, Elijah Tucker, A. W. Tucker, Sam Stafford, William Stafford and Isaac Lanier settled there before the Indians were driven out and often had to resort to Fort Broom for protection. Fort Broom was located about two and a half miles a little southeast of Dade City near a pond just below the E. S. Larkin farm. This fort took its name from Governor Broom, one-time governor of the state of Florida.

Harriet Smith was a well-known woman. The writer got much of his information from her. She at one time got mixed up in the ownership of a sawmill and had something to do with operating it. She wrote a long letter to the paper giving her experiences in the sawmill business, and she was known for some time as Sawmill Harriet. The writer has questioned some of Smith’s posterity as to his Christian name but none of them seem to remember. Away back in the dim distance someone told the writer that his name was Henry; but it seems unlikely, for none of them I know of bear the name of Henry. Smith had five boys, Frank, Willis, Allen, Chap, and William. He had six girls, Elizabeth, Sarah, Elisa, Mary; the names of the other two I cannot call to mind. They all married cattlemen and settled in that part of the country, and to Smith and his family goes the honor of settling that part of the wilderness.

In the years of 1881 to 1884 John Raymond, James Pedrick, Alonzo Shearer, Captain J. W. Renfrew, A. T. Roberts, Richard Williams, Thomas Williams and James Ingram settled in that neighborhood. Roberts and Williams raised orange groves. The name of Tuckertown was changed to Richland when the Atlantic Coast Line railroad was built through the place in 1885.

Joseph W. Tucker, Isaac Lanier, Wilder, and others owned large herds of cattle that roamed in the swamps of the Withlacoochee river. This coveted range gave rise to much trouble in which many thousands of dollars were spent in prosecution of murders that occurred; but the chief characters in the drama have passed away and it would serve no good purpose to record them here. Like all other feuds in this country at that time the writer will pass it by.

The first telegraph office in this section was located at Tuckertown. The federal government built a line from Ocala to Tampa via Tuckertown along the public highway which is known to this day as the Wire road. [see note below] One James Redding of New York superintended the construction of the line. He established an office at Tuckertown where he settled and married one of Harriet Smith’s daughters. Redding and D. T. Clements were the first telegraph operators in this part of the country. The first store was operated by little Joe Tucker, I think. Later on Anderson and Kersey did a general mercantile business at this place then known as Richland. This Anderson had a pistol duel and killed Thomas Evans in a political brawl at Richland. G. A. Combs, Warren Haynes, M. D. King, A. Mote, and others were merchants at this place. Among the principal inhabitants at this time are Warren Haynes, R. Sullivan, Ed. Williams, J. L. Wells, Buck Stewart, John Browning, Sessions and George W. Tucker, who is one of the best, most progressive farmers in the country. There is a big sign on a shanty which reads, “The Chamber of Commerce”—progression.


In 1882 I found a place near the Withlacoochee river, northwest of Richland. I was told by a Mr. White that it belonged to the Rev. Cadden, a Baptist preacher who lived in the Garden of Eden. I said, “I thought that was the proper place for a preacher to live but I don’t know how to get there.” Ignoring my facetious remarks, he directed me to the place. One day I got upon my mule and rode away to find it. After several hours’ ride through a beautiful hilly country I came upon a small lake or pond, I stopped to view the scenic beauty that unfolded before me; wild flowers with variegated hues circled the lake; a vagrant October breeze gently swayed them. Many large fowl with black wings and white bodies, others decorated with tinted plumes, with long legs, sedately walked around in the blue waters. On the south side a herd of wild horses came down to drink; and this was the Garden of Eden.

On the north side I discovered a log house and a small outbuilding which proved to be the domicile of the Rev. Cadden, the man I was looking for. In later years immigration, they called it progress, destroyed all of this beautiful scenery. The woodman’s ax, the log wagon, and sawmill destroyed it all. It is now the home of George W. Tucker, one of the most successful farmers and stock raisers in the county.

You will excuse a little digression. It has to do with Tuckertown. When Tilden ran against Hayes for President, Florida was stolen from the Democrats and placed in the Republican columns, thereby electing Hayes. The late Judge Fan Taylor, Judge of the state supreme court for more than forty years, was sent to Tampa to get the election returns and take them to Tallahassee. Judge Taylor, driving two ponies hitched to a small wagon, followed the Wire road on his way to Tampa. He spent the night with James Redding at Tuckertown, and next morning Redding directed him a nearer way to Tampa, so he left this road and followed Redding’s directions; and luck for him that he did; the carpet-baggers had been put on notice that Taylor would pass that way, so they hid in the swamp on the Wire road to kill him when he attempted to pass. He was on the other route and thus saved a long and useful life for the state of Florida.


The first settlers that we have any record of settled there in 1868; Mr. Worley, Jess Hay, William Hay, and Joseph Hay. Later on W. D. Frierson, Bill Lang, William Bailey, Bill Tillet and Crocket Whiden. Sam Stevenson, Bud Stevenson, Allen Hill and Malcolm Hill, Hill House and J. W. Hudson made a scattering settlement along the coast.

J. B. Hudson writes the following history of Hudson as he remembers it:

Isaac W. Hudson and family settled on the Gulf in February, 1878. When we moved over there, we brought with us corn, bacon, sugar and syrup to last until we made a crop. We had put up a couple of log houses here the year before, and we used one for living quarters and the other for storage of supplies for ourselves and the stock.

Our nearest neighbor was two miles away and there was no road to get here except the Old Salt Road which took its name from the Confederates who came over here in the time of the Civil War to make salt while the Yankees had us bottled up, so we could not get salt to season our rations with.

Our nearest post office was Brooksville and Bay Port, a distance of twenty-five miles. There was not a church house, nor a school house in this end of the county, except a little round pole cabin down near the mouth of the Anclote River.

When we moved over here game was plentiful. There was also plenty of bear and panthers in the nearby swamps in 1881. The neighbors got together and decided to put up a school house. B. L. Blackburn taught our first school, a three month term. The Post Office Department established a Star Route from Brooksville to the mouth of the Anclote River, and there was an office established out east of Port Richey at old man Worley’s place, the name of which was Hopeville. While Blackburn was teaching the school he got a Post Office established at Hudson. When the department asked for a name for the office, Brother Bill and Father suggested that we call it Hudson’s Landing, but I disagreed with them, and suggested the name of Gulf View, but Hudson’s Landing was sent up. And in a few days we were advised that the Department had cut off Landing and named the office Hudson, so this is how the town got its name, in the year of 1881. J. W. Hudson was made postmaster and J. B. Hudson was made assistant.

The school house was also used for church purposes. Old Uncle Alderman Wilson preached our first sermon. He was a great preacher to go to the out-edge of civilization and preach and establish churches.

After the mail route from Brooksville to Anclote River was established, the road was made a public road, J. W. Hudson being appointed overseer, so he summoned out the eligible road hands, and the Whiddens flatly refused to work, saying they could go through the woods anywhere they wanted to go.

In 1874 the fishing industry started at this place. Bill Lang operated it. The price of mullet then, and for several years after, was one cent each as they were thrown out on the bank.

Our great Florida West Coast Scenic Highway is now coming through. The right-of-way “which is 200 feet wide” has been cleared across the town plot of Hudson. This road is going to be the greatest highway in the state, when completed.


I knew I. W. Hudson as far back as 1882. He was a very hospitable man and entertained anyone that stopped at his place, without charge. In those days we candidates for office roamed over the woods, riding horses and in cheap buggies from one settlement to another. I. W. Hudson, Sam Stevenson, Malcolm Hill, Allen Hill, John Bailey, William Bailey and Bud Stevenson were our stopping places. Sometimes we spent the night in the woods by a log fire and made it to Spark Prodham’s or Adam Dick’s for breakfast. Adam lived down near Ehren at that time.

J. W. Hudson, a youth of about twenty-two years, owned the first boat that made regular trips between Hudson and Cedar Keys; the only outlet for produce raised in that part of the country which was shipped to Cedar Keys. On his return voyage he brought merchandise for the neighborhood. He should be called Commodore Hudson for his aggressive progress and aid to civilization, when but a youth. He and his brother, William, established the first mercantile business at Hudson. The store room extended from the bank to a boiling spring in the bayou where he anchored his boat and discharged the freight. The cause of this spring is a matter of conjecture. Some hold that it is caused by the ebb and flow of the tide, others claim that it is water through some hidden passage from Bear Creek which finds an outlet at the bottom of the bayou.


A charge was made against an Indian Maiden that she had committed a grave offense for which the penalty was death, according to their tribal law. She was at the age when womanhood breaks through the beautiful chrysalis of girlhood. Her braided hair wound in a coronet about her head; dressed in a robe of deer skin with dark purple beads around her neck and her feet covered with moccasins. She stood before the council and maintained until the last that she was innocent. But the council decided that she was guilty and must die, to be bound hand and foot and cast into the Gulf of Mexico, and with great ceremony she was escorted to the place of her execution. Bound hand and foot she was cast into the bayou and as she struck the water her garments were changed into a fiery red tinged with delicate tints of green, blue and gold, which the Indians thought was caused by the reflection of the sunlight on the water.

A few days afterwards an Indian hunter, passing by, saw the body of the maiden still tossing around in the same place. He reported what he had seen and the Chieftain went to investigate and there sure enough was the maiden’s body dressed in fiery red tinted with green, blue and gold, flashing in the sunlight as it tossed around. While they viewed the body, her hands were freed. She stood straightway up, one hand, paled with death, pointed to the Chieftain and she said: “My curse upon thee. May you be pursued by the pale face, driven from place to place, perish in the swamp where the wild animals shall feast upon your flesh and your bones rot in the murky waters of the swamps.” Then it slowly dropped into the water and was thrown out of the whirlpool to drift with the tide into the Gulf of Mexico and was seen no more, but the fountain stayed on in commemoration of the tragedy.

In the long ago, this legend was attributed to the Everglades, but the Everglades do not border on the Gulf and Hudson is the only place that has a bayou leading into the Gulf, so we locate it at Hudson.


In slave times no one was allowed to give a negro whiskey except his master.

It originated on the Dunbar farm about eight miles South of Mayfield, Kentucky. On Sunday evening the negroes would play what they called Boot. They would divide into two squads, two or four on a side, and pitch the boot at each other, something like football, and they would gradually work toward the fence next to the woods, slip a silver dollar into the boot and throw it over the fence in the woods and Old Gill Watson or some other moonshiner picked the boot up, took the money and put a bottle of whiskey in the boot and threw it over into the field. The negroes took the bottle of whiskey and went to the creek and drank the liquor and fished as much as they wanted to on Sunday. So you see those moonshiners (called Pot Rum) were named bootleggers, hence the name bootleggers.

You ask how did the slaves get the money? Many of the men who owned slaves in that day and time gave them Saturday evening off to make a patch of tobacco (Bawker) as they called it. The money the patch of tobacco brought at sale was absolutely theirs. They always demanded silver for the purchase money of their tobacco, which brought them ten or fifteen dollars. They were well clothed and fed and had no use for the money except to play big negro among their women and buy whiskey with it when they got a chance.


I have been told that this poem reminds one of Poe’s Raven. While the things in this epigram remind one of Poe’s Raven, the occasion is different, the surroundings are different, so are the circumstances.

Poe was filled with a drug and his thoughts were the wanderings of a distorted mind. Ravens do not come to a door in town, and this was one of the distorted illusions of a wandering mind.

In this poem the surroundings were natural and possible and true. That which I called a chimney was made of boards with a built-in dirt hearth and was about six feet high. Owls or any other birds could fly into the wide opening. There was no ceiling in the cabin. There were some poles which reached across from wall to wall and rested thereon, so an owl or other birds could fly into the cabin and light on one of those poles, which it did while I was sitting there smoking and thinking of a girl in a far away Eastern state.

A little owl, called a “screutch owl,” flew into the opening of my chimney and lit upon the pole above my head and uttered one of those shrill piercing notes which sounded like “Never for you.” I seized my pen and wrote the poem just as it is here written, before I left my seat, which was about midnight.

Tonight to reverie I sit me down, The breeze through the mossy bows is gently stirring Permeating the forest with that peculiar muttering sound Like some phantom’s wings a-whirring. The night is dark, the hammock dense, My cabin to the wild storms a puny defense. Out beyond in the dreary night The Will-O-Wisp, its lantern lights, Upon the marshy plains Wet and cold like some spectre in a region old Its flickering rays dance upon flock and herd

And upon the plumage of many birds.

In the lofty cypress, they have sunk to rest. The zephyrs gently fan their snowy breasts. To the left winds the Withlacoochee, That wandering stream. Upon its peaceful bosom the pink curlew makes its wildest scream, The gentle breeze from off the cove Wafts the sweet perfume of the orange grove. The lotus berry is eaten, The Land of birth forgotten. Before me rises a vision bright As if touched-with a heavenly light. A beautiful girl with golden hair, Soft blue eyes and a form like the angels fair. The lotus berry has failed to veil away This vision to me bright as day.

Her voice, like an eolian harp, charms the very oaks. Gazing upon the picture before me, I cried. We will meet again somewhere, sometime On this broad domain My beautiful Minnie, My Minnie Mildrew. Never for you, burst like a damned spirit’s wall. Above my head from off the rafter rail. Darkness around me seemed to fall As I watched the shadows on the. rough and uneven wall. Gazing, never stirring, fearing the table upon which I was leaning would turn to a damned spirit too, and cry out, Never for you.

At last a friendly beetle crept from the crevice of the rude table And pointed with one of its long beards To the moss-covered roof above my head. Upward I turned my nervous gaze, There In the lamp light’s flickering rays, An owl gray and old, Sat perched upon the rounded pole.

You hateful and fiendish bird. Did you utter those startling words? Prom whence do you come to break the reverie in my cabin home? There are no mice here on which you can feast. Then go from here, ungainly- beast, For I am thinking of My Minnie Mildrew. Never for you.

I cried, bird of the dreary regions, Enemy to Saints and friend to Demons, What know you of the emotions of the human heart? Upon the arena of life, go act thy part. From an aged spinster’s coop, One of her finest and fattest fowls hook, And away in the dense hammock to thy nest, And fill the ugly young upon Its tender breast. I hear their young with hunger scream, Go, break not into my dream, For I am thinking of Minnie, My Minnie Mildrew. Again the hellish bird quoth. Never for you.

Demon of the night. What knowest of my vision bright. Away amid New England snowy hills I see, This night she bends her beautiful form to pray for me. Together we are linked with destiny’s chain. How can she or I be remembered with the slain! No conception of the human heart can enter thy old pate, Whose blood never quickened in Its channels when calling to thy Go back to thy mate and thy young which are calling thee. And let me continue my reverie Of Minnie, My Minnie Mildrew. Again the owl sang out, Never for you.

Old croaker, how do you know for me she was never created? The only being on earth to which my heart could be mated. Of all beauty, full of life and glee, She Is the light of the world to me. Through her influence gentle and kind, I was led through the Valley of Sin, weary and blind. While at the foot of the cross, kneeling, My eyes upon the Lamb a-bleeding, And there upon the bended knee, I felt that she was given to me. Many barks are sailing the mystic waters blue, But she the old Scythe of time never slew. Again those ominous words, Never for you.

Now beneath the hand of superstition fierce and wild, I bowed like a trembling child before the bird, With a wild feeling of unrest for my love. I stretched one trembling hand above, With a voice filled with utter despair, I plead with this untamed bird of the air. In the dense hammock or wild mountain cliff, What spirits do you hold communion with? These ominous words, like a fiery dart, Sink into the depths of my poor heart. Sweet bird, open thy bill one time and say, for you. But the owl sat for a moment without a word, As though my wild pleadings were unheard. The lamp light flickering in the breeze that blew, He whetted his bill on the round pole and sang out, Never for you.

With a wild wall I leaped to my feet, The gazing of the Demon to meet. Bird of Devil. Mountain or Hill, Nothing but lies utter thy old bill. In my heart thou hast fastened thy fangs, And would feed thy hateful young on its tender strings. The heart that throbs for Minnie, My Minnie Mildrew. He flapped his wings ‘and away he flew, With a farewell, Never for you.



The Florida Cracker—as he called himself—one of the most unique of all the different classes of people I ever met. He had a peculiar code of morals, custom made his rules of conduct.

It seemed to be a pleasure to beat a Furiner in trade—and tell each other how he hooked the Furiner who came here to live and he wanted to buy about sixty head of cattle, so the Cracker drove the cows through a lane to be counted, about twenty head, and turned and at the other end of the lane drove them through the woods and back up the lane to be counted again. The Furiner counted them and they repeated the drive until he thought he had sixty head of the cattle, the number he wanted. In the drove there was a big old white-faced cow and the Cracker said when he drove the cows through the lane to be counted that old white-faced cow turned her head around and looked right at him and he was so afraid that the Furiner would recognize her but he did not notice her, so when he gathered his cows he found twenty head instead of sixty.

I heard him tell it to a bunch and they all thought it was a shrewd trick.

His Home

His castle was built with round pine poles—generally two rooms and shed rooms on the side with an open shed for a porch. The foundation stood upon wooden blocks—puncheon floor hewed out of pine or cypress poles. In the shed that he called a porch was a mill, shaped like an old-fashioned coffee mill only larger and longer, cranks were nailed to a post under the shed. In this mill he ground his hominy and grits, which he often used in the place of bread. In his yard close to his house a pen was built about tour feet square by four and one-half feet high filled with dirt. And upon this his wife fried his meat, boiled his turnips, collards, and his coffee. In his yard was a dozen or so of seedling orange trees and one grapefruit for an ornament but not to eat. Some thought they were poison.

His gentle hogs slept under the house and the wild hogs stayed in the woods and were captured with well-trained dogs. His field was from five to ten acres in size. He made a farm each year as he called it. He raised a corn patch, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, collards, turnips, and rice. He also filled his larder with wild turkey and deer. Game was plentiful. His cows came home at night and “tromped his pens” and stood by a log fire to keep off the mosquitoes. In these pens he raised sweet potatoes, which often took the place of bread. His hair was never cut short. His wife was his barber. His beard was cut off now and then. His wife made him a full suit of clothes out of a cotton cloth which resembled blue denim. She knit his socks. A cotton patch furnished the material which he made each year. She also wore cotton socks, a cotton dress through the week, but she had a calico dress for Sunday. The lakes, rivers and ponds were filled with fish and thousands of wild fowl (one to four feet high) could be seen fishing in these waters. The Crackers also knew how to catch them. At their picnics they had plenty of fried fish, tater pone and orange pie for dessert, washed down with coffee and buttermilk. A patch of long cotton was their money crop, which they hauled to Tampa, a small village, and sold it to Miller & Henderson.

He paid no taxes to speak of. Many of them were squatters. He cultivated his crops with a pony horse geared with wooden harness, traces and plow. They had no collar for their work horses. He hauled his “Stuff” to market and went to church in a two-wheeled cart. His horse walked in the shafts, his women and children were bunched in the center of the earthed and he rode the pony with his feet on top of the shafts, with his stirrups dangling down.


He was intensely religious. On Sunday he and the family went to church in the two-wheeled cart. Often he took his dinner and stayed preached, and prayed all the day. During the time two or three old-time preachers would talk to the listening crowd. He paid the preacher some of such as he had, sweet potatoes and shoulder of meat now and then. The place of worship was a log house and sometimes a Brush Harbor with seats made from split pine logs but all seemed to enjoy the surroundings. I have attended some wonderful meetings. Many got happy and some received the Second Blessing. There was no pretense in those meetings, but he had his enemies and if occasion required he lay in the woods waiting for a chance to get a shot. He had feuds. Regulators, disguised, called his enemy to the door and gave him a good licking afterward. He kept busy hunting around and digging into circumstances, until he was satisfied he had traced it to the ones who licked him. Then someone would die. He drank whiskey but he seldom got drunk. His woman would take a drink also.

I rode with one of the old-time preachers from Brooksville home. I had a bottle of whiskey in my saddle bags. I asked him to excuse me, that it was a little bit cool and I would take a drink. He said, “Well, I believe I will join you.” So the ice was broken and we had several drinks during that long night ride and enjoyed each other’s company and the bottle, too, but we did not get drunk.

Believe it or not, many of those old Crackers are descendants of Heroes who fought under Washington and gave this country the freedom that we have enjoyed—pure blood not mixed with any foreign blood like most of us. He did not like to work but loved to fish and hunt. He raised Hyda potatoes, large sweet potatoes four or five inches thick and seven inches long. His wife would cut them across to circles and fry them. He loved a fish fry on the river and had plenty of fish, corn pone, coffee and clabber milk. I have been with them many times and enjoyed these picnics The woods full of hogs, cows, deer, and turkey and the lakes full of fish, he had only to look out for his coffee, which he dearly loved.

Jack Wilson, an old-timer, was hunting hogs across the river. He looked up the road and saw a buggy, as he thought, a horseless buggy. Jack was scared and hid behind a stump and watched it pass. He saw two ordinary men in it, which reassured him some. It was representatives of the Pine Lumber Company riding in an old-time car, operated with endless chain power. These men were making estimates of the lumber owned by Pine Lumber Company.

Circuit Court

Oh then through the sand and through the mud, in comes the Cracker riding on his stud. A wonderful entertaining and financial time for him. Oh. boy, here they come in one-horse wagons, ponies and sometimes a steer hitched to the cart. They came in droves, jurymen, witnesses, bystanders, who hoped they would be summoned, on a special venire, all camped on a woodland spot where the Coca-Cola plant is now located. Some came to hear the Lyyars, as they called the lawyers talk. The old-time lawyers studied elocution. Some were orators, others did their best to be. The court house would be crowded to hear us speak. There was no crowding around the Judge’s stand but every lawyer addressed the court from his place at the bar, and in clear, ringing voices could be heard all over the courtroom. Oh, how the Cracker enjoyed it. He selected his favorite lawyer and in his own mind sided with him throughout the trial.

Hugh McFarland and Mat, his brother, Robert W. Davis, Herbert Phillips. Sinclair Abrams, Thomas Palmer, and J. A. Hendley were the Criminal Lawyers of that day and time.


I will now introduce you to his flea trap. He would peel off the bark of a small pine sapling running a sticky fluid, and place it on two blocks about four inches from the ground. Around the house and near the bed where the hogs slept. The white pine with its running fluid seemed to attract them, and when the fleas leaped upon the pole they were stuck for life. It was covered two fleas deep and at times the pole would become black with fleas.


Sixty-five years ago the carpetbaggers and niggers ruled this country. This was then a part of Hernando county. There was a negro on the school board, and one was elected to the legislature, but did not take his seat. Mayfield, a carpetbagger, was circuit judge, and all over the western part of the state there were negro officers. In the Constitutional Convention of 1885 there was a bunch of ignorant negroes representing counties in West Florida. One negro from Ocala and one from West Florida were in the Senate when I was selected from Hernando, Pasco and Citrus counties.


Out of a flock of geese we selected an old gander, the older and tougher, the better. His legs were tied and suspended in the air, head down within the reach of a man on horseback. His neck was soaped and greased until it was as slick as ice.

The riders who were contesting for the prize gathered at the end of the track. Each one would come down the track at full speed and reach for the gander’s neck as he passed under, but he would dodge from the outstretched hand; often the whole cavalcade rode down the line and missed. Finally someone more fortunate grabbed his neck and the shock was so great that the rider would be almost unharmed but his hand slipped off of the slick neck and left the gander addled until it was easy to grab him by the neck, but still hard to hold as each one gave it a pull until the weakened neck gave way and off came his head into the hero’s hand, who rode out in front to receive the reward and hold the head aloft, facing the cheering crowd.


All history written of the South during the days of slavery was written with a prejudiced pen. The understanding between Master and Servant, his love and loyalty for his Master and the kind treatment of the Master, has never been told in the history of that day and time. An isolated case embellished and soaked with falsehood to fire the hatred and jealousy of the enemies of the southern people and the spirit of that day and time was buried in the rubbish. And I, a remnant of the past, will endeavor to give you an idea of the institutions of our fathers and the true spirit of the South in that day and time. A lot of it will be what I saw and experienced myself.

The experience of the Hendley family will apply in a general way to all others who owned negroes, hence I will call it the Echo of the far distant past.

The Aristocracy, the Chivalry and the Spirit of that day and time, is worthy of a place in history.


This administration reminds me of my father. He was a Doctor and owned several farms in Kentucky.

He fed all the widow women in the country. I have seen three wagons at a time, one after the other, load up with corn, wheat, meat and milk if they wanted it.

He doctored the poor sick people without money and without price. Everyone seemed to hold out their hands for what he made, both black and white. There were seven of us boys and if we got a nickel or dime we had to work for it. I have worked for five cents a day. He neglected his own family in order to feed outsiders. Dad was a good man. I had to educate myself and it took me seven years to do it. When I’d make some money I’d spend it on my education until I was far enough along to teach school.

I did not start to write about myself but In regards to the similarity of this administration. Every nation on the earth not at war with us is standing with outstretched hands and, without a blush, calls upon us to give and give until it hurts.

Billions of dollars have been given to other nations under what is known as the Lend-Lease Act, but it is the give-lease act. We are told that not one dollar of this money will ever be paid back to us. England, who boasts that the sun never sets upon its vast possessions, is worth twenty times the wealth and is the greatest and boldest to ask aid. We fight for our liberty and freedom and for others’ freedom. Also because we are bound together against the common enemy, we are allies. Their freedom is our freedom, their destiny is our destiny. May we some time in the future see the bright sunlight and be close to God with peace on earth and good will to men.


I never said damn or any other curse words but a few times in my life, that was when I was engaged in a fight.

My first and only damn for many years was just after the Confederate War. My Dad was a large, dignified Kentucky gentleman, a doctor also. He did not swear himself nor did he allow anyone around him to do so, neither black nor white. I was captain of a band composed of my little brothers and little negroes. Riding stick horses with wooden pistols strapped around the waist with pieces of grass rope, I charged around in the yard mustering my soldiers and hunting Yankees. My father was sitting under an aspen tree in front of the porch reading. I whirled my company around, galloped up, halted and saluted him (I had outside of home heard them called nothing but “Damn Yankees,” but I meant to say, Yankees, but instead I said), “Sir, have you seen any ‘Damn Yankees’ around here?” I and my whole band tucked our heads and sneaked off. We were completely licked by that one slip of the tongue.

It was many years after that before I used a curse word again, and that was when I was in a fight. I swore three times in my life when I was in a scrap.


Christmas started on Christmas Eve and lasted until New Year’s night at twelve o’clock. One day was just as much Christmas as another. This space of time was measured by a log. About three months before Christmas the negroes cut a green black gum log and put it in the creek to soak. On Christmas Eve they put that soaked log in the family fireplace. I mean the big family room. For four days the fire made but little headway and it was found that it took the log until New Year’s night at twelve o’clock to bum into ashes, which established the length of Christmas, and it was a covenant between the slave and master. On Christmas Eve night the negroes assembled in front of the big house, as they called the master’s home, and with their fiddles, tambourines, bones and mouth organs to play and dance. When the boss man came out, the negroes crossed hands joined together and made a seat. (I have seen my father sit on that kind of a seat.) They lowered their hands so he could sit down and then marched around the big house, accompanied with their fiddles, tambourines, and bones and making the wildest, most fascinating music, dancing together with joyful negro songs. After they passed around the building they stopped at the front porch and lowered their hands so he could step off and hand them a big lug of good whiskey.

They would barbecue a hog and a lot of chickens and have what they called a “Festibule.” Songs, dancing, music and feasting were the order of the time until New Year’s night.

The negro who had the most silver jingling in his pocket was the big negro and was the most popular among the darkey maidens and old women alike. But on New Year’s night everyone must be at home.


Before the Confederate War Dr. Hendley’s farm was west of a little town called Farmington, Kentucky. The Hendleys were among the first settlers over one hundred forty years ago, and until this generation there was an unbroken line of Dr. Hendleys in this little town.

Izah Colley joined us on the West. Dad and Colley threshed wheat together. When the war broke out the Colleys and their connections sided with the Yankees and the Hendleys with the Confederates or Rebels, as they were called, and trouble began. There was a band of what was called Home Guards who ransacked the place and took our guns in my father’s absence. There was also a Gorilla band commanded and controlled by Jim Kess (Kesterson) and Howell Edmonds, his chief aide. Two more daring men never lived, as much so as Frank and Jesse James. They sided with the South.

Old John Acre died soon after the war commenced in 1861, and his slaves were put on the block and sold. Dr. Hendley bought a woman and children which were girls. Women and young girls were worth more because they would soon have a flock of children. The woman’s name was Moriah; Grace and Dice were the girls. Moriah was a large, bony woman with long, wiry black hair; said to be one-quarter Indian. She resented being sold and refused the name of Hendley and called herself Moriah Acre. She lived a resentful life while she lived with us.

These Colleys placed a lot of poison in a hollow tree at the foot of the hill near the house and told Moriah where to find it. She mixed the poison with some wheat bran and put it in the troughs where the mules and horses were, left the stable doors open and next morning every horse and mule lay dead on the snow in the lot except one old buggy horse and he was bad sick but got over it; afterwards they cut one of his feet half off.

Uncle Jeff Poster with General Morgan, a doctor and a surgeon, stopped to spend the night with us and they got his cavalry horse.

Old Moriah went off to the Yankees and told how she got the poison and killed all of the horses and mules. Old negro Wince found an old Government mule with a US brand on him. This mule had been turned loose by the Yankees because he was so old and slow. So Wince took him to make a crop with.


They had swords made by the blacksmith. Riley Turnbow had a rifle, Dr. Hendley had a rifle. They were at least five and a half feet long, with a thick barrel and a small hole for the bullet. Drinkard had a shotgun.

They were on their way. Turnbow was bragging about how far he could kill a Yankee with his Hawkins rifle. They had reached the toot of the hill east of the old Tobe Orr place, where Tobe lived before he went to town, when on the crest of the opposite hill appeared, like a wraith, a road full of Yankees, not over 200 yards from where these three brave Knights were. Turnbow whirled his horse to run back up the hill in the lane. Dr. Hendley grabbed the reins of his horse and said, “Don’t run, boys, they will kill us all if we attempt it.” In the meantime the Yanks came running down the hill, yelling like demons, calling on them to surrender, which they did. They came by the house and the doctor got a blanket; they marched the little negroes through the gate and took them also. I rolled on the grass in the yard, my young heart filled with hatred, and wished I was fourteen years old so I could kill every Yankee in the Army.

They took the prisoners on to Paducah and were debating whether to have them shot when some friends who had boys to the Yankee Army interceded for them and found favor with General Paine, who put them in prison. Patoe was having men shot at that time, men who they claimed were guilty of treason.

Old Bill Duggar, whose boys were in the Yankee Army, lived in the neighborhood of our home and he had to flee to Paducah, afraid that the Gorillas (Jim Kess and his men) would kill him in retaliation for some men who had been taken and shot. Men like Elie Enoch, a good man, he was too much in sympathy with the Rebels, also Bud Hicks et al.

Duggar got a telegram that his wife was very sick with pneumonia. He went to General Paine and told him that his wife was very sick and that he had Doctor Hendley, his doctor, in prison and he would like for him to go and treat his wife. Paine sent an orderly and the doctor was brought before him. Paine said, “Are you Dr. Hendley?” “Yes, sir.” “Well, Duggar tells me that his wife is sick and he wants you to go and look after her and you be damn sure to cure her and as soon as she is well or convalescing so you can leave her, you report back. A penalty of death if you fail to return. Here is your pass. Go now and do as I tell you.” The doctor said, “Yes, sir.”’

He came home, saw Duggar’s wife and treated her until she was well on the road to recovery so he could leave her. He went the other way and has failed to report up to this day.


The daughters of the Confederacy, in 1861, were as loyal and full of patriotism as any women ever were upon the face of this earth. There was no marriage and joining in marriage as there is in this present war. They told their sweethearts to go to the war and they would marry them when they came home if they had their legs or arms shot off and had not a penny. And to the Southern boys who were lucky enough to get back the girls made good their promises and the young man who refused to go to war had no part or lot in their affections. They were called Yankees and Traitors until they gave in and went to war. The girls wore long gray skirts with a cut-away jacket and Confederate brass buttons extending from the bottom of the skirt to the waistline and a row of brass buttons on each side of the jacket.

James Williams came back with one leg off, but Sue McNealy fulfilled her promise and married him, and other boys who did get back found their girls, but many of the boys failed to return but lay under the ground in some battlefield. So it was with my sister Allie.

Captain Harry Rogers fell in the Battle of Chickamauga, while leading his men on a battle charge against the Yanks. His body lies there under the ground on the battlefield and her heart was buried there. She made up her mind to go to Palestine as a missionary. About that time a preacher by the name of Frank A. Dupont, a kinsman of the Dupont powder people, appeared on the scene and told her that he aimed to go there as a missionary also, and she fell for it and married him, but they never went.


These two young ladies were so intensely Confederate that they wrote many letters to the Confederate papers and magazines which gave them much notoriety. General Paine, Yankee general, located at Paducah, said that he intended to have them banished to Canada. A friend in Paducah put out the warning. There was an old man distantly related to the family; he was a big, fat man, dark complexioned, with rosy cheeks. His beard was shaven except that which grew below and under his chin and from ear to ear and lay flat on his breast like a pad. He was called Cousin Hughey (he sure was a hot-looking cuss). He owned two old poor mares and a wagon. So Cousin Hughey put a large box in his wagon and put in front of the wagon bed some potatoes. Allie and Nan crawled into that box and he stretched a wagon sheet over the box on his wagon body like a man traveling out west and he drove right into the Yankee lines, selling the soldiers potatoes. So ridiculous-looking was the outfit the Yanks got a kick out of it. They bought a few potatoes and pelted his old mares with potatoes as he drove around peddling his potatoes. They thought that he was an old farmer who came to sell his produce. Little did the Yanks know that there was in that box two Rebel girls sought after by their General. So they got through the Yankee lines and went further South and stayed until things got so they could come home.

Years ago, just after the war, Jeff Hendley and Boyd Goodlet were out rabbit hunting about a quarter of a mile east of Colly springs. While hunting through the woods they found an old musket hid in a hollow tree, and a powder horn and some caps, no shots or bullets of any kind. The old musket was split a little. Some poor old soldier was out of lead, his gun was split at the end and he had no further use for it, so he hid it in the hollow tree, where we discovered it. As we came near the road Old Dan Colly came riding by on an old unshorn mule, his tail spread out until it looked like a shield in an old-fashioned loom, with his oil can on his way to town to get some coal oil, as we people in Kentucky called it. Dan also went after his mail, so we got to talking about Dan, who belonged to the Home Guards in war times. How they came to our house, ransacked the place, had our horses poisoned, which I have related before, and Boyd told how his brother Mansfield had to leave the country after Jim Kess, his captain, was killed, which broke up the Gorilla Band and his men scattered, some to the regular Army and some of them joined Quantrell. So adding all things together, Boyd and Jeff made out quite a complaint against Dan, so we decided to have some revenge. We filled the old gun two-thirds full of powder and one-third full of small pebbles, which we found near the bank of the creek. These rocks were about the size of or a little larger than a buckshot. We then drew straws to see who should do the shooting when Dan came by from town. It fell on Jeff, and Boyd was to watch out and let him know when Dan was coming, so we lay in the bushes. As Dan came riding by, I, down on my belly, took aim and fired. When I came to (the old gun kicked so hard), Boyd was using his hat for a bucket and brought water from the creek, and poured it on my head. First thing I remember I asked Boyd, Did I hit him? Boyd said, “No, but his damned old mule ran away like hell.” We took the old gun up the creek to the deepest hole that we could find and threw it in, and there it lies sunk in the mud to this day. We then swore that we would never tell it. I saw Boyd many times after that and saw him after he was grown but neither of us ever mentioned it.

Boyd is long since dead and I am here to tell the tale. We heard afterwards that Old Dan said some boys were shooting squirrels, which scared his mule and caused him to run away. Dan never knew how close he came to being shot if that old soldier had left some lead with his gun.


The farmers in the neighborhood where I lived gave the negroes a plot of land and aided them in building a church. The church was big, long plank structure with openings for windows and doors. It was a great gathering place for the negroes. In fact, they went there in crowds on Saturday evening and stayed until Sunday. Headed by some mean negroes, they plotted and planned to rise and slay the white people all in one night, but some darky through fear or friendship for the whites told what they were up to.

Once upon a time we were watching the negroes, for it had been circulated that they were fixing to rise. When the crowd creeped up to listen an old negro preacher was in the pulpit, he was ignorant but eloquent, his voice a sad, superstitious wail. He said, “Brethren, the time will come when we will be white as snow with flowing garments and we will sing our songs of love and joy, but before dat Christ must be here, and you be prepared to see Him coming on a great white horse down through the clouds.”

Pete Loyal was riding a big white horse that night. He put a red handkerchief around his head and just as the old preacher got in the midst of his pre-oration where Christ would come on the great white horse, Pete rode into the door on the big white horse. The negroes stamped, screamed wild and some jumped out of the windows, crowded under the benches, crying and shouting and treading on each other underfoot. They didn’t want that great day as bad as they thought.


In 1879 Farmington was a little, old, dead town where the rowdies gathered, drank whiskey, ran their horses up and down the street, played marbles and fought for pastime.

J. A. Hendley and H. L. Finney were the only two boys who had attended college in that country between Mayfield and Murray. There were no pianos or any other musical Instrument except the fiddle and the harp. There was one old piano at old Tommy Collins’ farm and it was so old it had whiskers.

It was in 1879. Farmington boasted of two general stores, a drug store and one saloon. Finney and Hendley were sitting in this drug store one night discussing college days and the chance the boys and girls had for an education. I remarked that it was a pity, for these old Grangers around in the country had pocketbooks filled with greenback money and could do a better part by their children. Finney said, “Let’s build a college and get some of it.” I okehed it and we went to work next day.

Finney and I hauled the lumber from a mill on dark’s river, Wilford’s mill and Paducah, Kentucky, to build the college. We built the house sixty feet front length, by one hundred feet and two stories high. We called it the Farmington Institute.

We went into the west end of Kentucky and Tennessee and distributed our circulars. The citizens of Farmington saw that we meant business and they did their part in helping us. They boarded the students for $6.00 per month, every house was opened to the student body. We had patronage from Illinois, Mayfield and Murray, Kentucky, Tennessee and the surrounding country. We made it a success from the start. We opened with ninety-nine boarding students and the free school which they gave us also.

A drummer by the name of Bugg came through Farmington every month selling goods and watching us work and work hard. He was there the day we opened the school. He asked me how many scholars we had enrolled. I told him ninety-nine and the free school which the trustees had turned over to us. Bugg said, “Here is the money for one more student, I will subscribe one and make it one hundred. Put me down one scholar and give it to whom you please.”

It was not long until we had one hundred fifty enrolled. Boys and girls who never would have had a chance for a higher education came to that school and many of the leading doctors, lawyers and merchants were educated at the Farmington Institute.

We had Joseph Glass, a Baptist preacher about forty-five years old; a Methodist preacher (have forgotten his name) and a Mormon preacher (I have forgotten his name also). They were all mature men who had had no chance and they wanted a better education, and they got it.

Yes there was another instrument at William Stevens’ place and this was all we had in the country at that time, except fiddles and banjos and guitars. There was nothing in the way of education and refinement except a three months free school but we put Farmington on the map.

I can never forget how responsive the citizens of that little town were. They were ready to do anything we said.

Professor J. F. Brannock taught Greek, Latin and philosophy. Miss Eva Brannock taught music. J. A. Hendley taught mathematics, grammar, geography and history. H. L. Finney taught the free school. It was truly the Athens of Kentucky.

Once every two weeks we gave a ball at the college. We had a host and hostess students whose duty it was to superintend the ball, give proper introductions to boys and girls, and taught them the ways of society and refinement. These balls were also open to any other young men and ladies who had had no opportunity to learn polite society.

Truly this is a white stone in my past, a monument to H. L. Finney and J. A. Hendley, the love for their home town, the nerve, the energy, the activity displayed by these two young men to make a better, wiser and refined citizenship.

It was a venture, a leap in the dark, but our fondest hopes were realized.


In the long ago, soon after the Confederate War, the young people gathered around to have an ether party. The young ladies held the ether to the nose with a handkerchief until they were well under the influence of it, not enough to put them to sleep but make them talk. I, as a kid, stood amazed at what they said and did. They did not hesitate to tell a young man that she loved him or disliked him and did not want his company. Some cried, and some laughed, sang love songs and went so far as to kneel down before a young man and tell what she thought of him and speak of some who had gone to war and never came back; saw him while in a trance, and if wounded tell where they saw the wound on the body, which sometimes it bordered on vulgarity. Finally the old people put a stop to such parties.


Roll back a few generations and look into the past of my old Kentucky home.

Hauling tobacco to market was one of the occupations of our citizens. Hogshead of tobacco rolled on top of a wagon drawn with four mules. The two mules in front had bells attached to their harness. These bells could be heard for a mile. The teamster sat astride the mule on the left-hand side near the wagon. The mules seemed to like it. They walked along with a swinging stride in step with the music of the bells They needed no whip, which was curled up in the hand of the teamster.

When the schoolboy saw them pass, heard the bells ring such a joyful sound, he said in his heart, Some day I will be a teamster.


Late in the evening the wealthy gentry would bring out two fine horses hitched to a tandem, one a wheel horse and the other strung out in the lead. He blew his trumpet and away they went with a wild burst of speed. The tandem swayed back and forth and rocked as if about to turn over and spill the daring driver, but it would hold to the ground until the wild ride was over.

Life in those days seemed greater and fuller than ours of the present day. Every person knew his or her station in life and accepted it without a murmur.


In my old Kentucky home, in the long, long ago, where the slaves gathered in their cabin homes and prayed, sang and danced. It was summertime and a great drought had scorched the earth. The crops were drying up, with no relief in sight. An old negro preacher, almost blind, was so feeble his tracks were not over one and a half feet apart as he walked along. His name was Patrick McClure, he was ignorant, could not read but had the faith. Seated in the door of the cabin where the Key roses bloomed around the door, Moriah, our cook, said, “Uncle Pat, why don’t you pray for rain?” He called us little fellows, negroes and white boys, into the cabin and had us to kneel down with our heads bowed. He bowed his white, woolly head and with an humble, mournful voice he pleaded to the Lord to send rain upon the dry earth and save our crops that were wilted and burned with the heat. He prayed for half an hour, wiped the sweat from his brow, looked out and saw a big cloud gathering in the southwest, and said, “It’s coming.”

Thank the Lord. it did come in torrents and the crops were saved.

I was one of the kids that were in that cabin and saw and heard it all.

This took place on the Hendley plantation, Farmington, Kentucky.


Andrew, Sam, Albert, Foster and Jeff Butler Domint. Andrew was very black and he claimed old Pete, a big, black negro with whiskers, for his pa. Sam was also black, and was a volunteer, did not know his daddy, he was my hunting pal. Albert was a mulatto; Lum, a very black negro, was his pa, but Haley, his mother, was nearly white. Foster was a mulatto and claimed John C., a white man, for his pa.

Dow was a mulatto and claimed Bourg Colley, a white man, for his pa. Jeff Butler Domint was a black Guinea negro and was stolen when a kid in Washington, D. C., and brought to Kentucky and sold. He was playing in the street in Washington. A man riding a fine horse stopped and asked it he would like to take a ride. Of course the little negro wanted a ride, but Jeff was old enough to remember his name and remember Washington. After freedom he got our congressman to make inquiry about a family by the name of Domint and such a family was found in Washington. So it was supposed that he belonged to some member of that family.

We hunted together, played marbles and mumble peg and told witch stories. All of them had seen a witch and their description of a witch was very lurid.

When a horse got a tangle in his mane the witches had been riding him the night before.

The way to keep off the witches was cut the hair off of the end of a dog’s tail and bury it under the doorstep.

If you started some place and turned back you must make a cross mark and spit in the cross.

If a squirrel ran across the road before you it was good luck.

If a rabbit crossed the road before you it was bad luck.

Ringing in your ears was a death bell.

If a star fell down in the west there would be a death in your family if you saw the star fall.

There was a man in the moon burning brush, which accounts for the dark spots on the moon.

It was bad luck to dream of your little sweetheart.

Death in the family, if one killed a dove.

Turning your coat wrong side out when walking in the night kept the witches off.

Jaybirds all went to Hell on Friday to make reports to the Devil.

Very black, blue gum, red-eyed negroes could weave a spell on you, or a negro who had the power to weave a spell or bewitch must be very black, blue-gummed and red-eyed.

Uncle Tom Hendley had a negro named Bill. He said an old witch negro put a lizard in the calf of his leg. When he was attacked at times with his leg he would fall to the ground and yell.

Uncle Tom and my pa were both doctors. They filled a tub half full of water, caught a lizard and had him put his leg in the tub of water and they made an incision in his leg, and when the blood commenced to flow they flipped the lizard in the water, said here it is. Bill looked and there it was swimming around in the water.

That negro jumped about three feet high and as soon as the place was well he was cured and had no more lizard trouble.

We were taught by our parents to have great respect for the older negroes—called the men Uncle and the women Aunty. We did not call them slaves—called them darkies. People who did not—some—called them niggers.


Out in the gloaming over the distant hills, I hear the long-drawn notes borne along on the low atmosphere, gradually increasing in volume as they rose higher, then rollicking in a circular motion toward me, then rolling backwards, dying out with a sad, superstitious wail, like the song of a Banshee. Then the echo took it up and passed it along the valley, growing fainter and fainter, until the last sad whippoorwill-like notes were borne beyond the reach of the ear and died away on the sound waves.

Epoch in the history of the country in the passing of horse and buggy days and the beginning of a new era—the arrival of the automobile. There was a kind of free masonry among those who owned cars. He was your friend If you owned a car, but law, how the horse and buggy and mule and wagon drivers hated those who owned cars! The roads were sandy and muddy and hard on the driver and hard on the car. If he overtook one driving a team he would turn neither to the right nor the left but kept on in his slow, plodding way; could not pass him because the car was in the rut and had not the power to pull out, get on the low and burn up your engine. He was glad if you stalled. It you blew your horn he paid no attention to it. At last you came to a hard place where the sand was not so deep and the engine gave a groan and a puff and brought you out on the side of the road where you could pass your tormentor and his team frightened at the noise of your car and tried to run away and he cursed you as you passed. They were the sworn enemies of those who drove a car, but the comradery was between those who owned cars. If a car got stuck in the mud, while prying it out with poles the horn of another car is heard. He may be a stranger, but he stops and with a cheery “Hello, my friend. What is the trouble? Can I be of any assistance?” and goes to work with a will to help his stranger comrade out of his trouble. Another horn is heard. The car makes a halt and he also is ready to help. Other cars arrive, until perhaps half a dozen are standing, all rendering their assistance until the comrade gets out of trouble. Not a car passes, but all stop. In the meantime the women from each car get together and become acquainted and make new friends. It was a long drive from Tampa to Leesburg and Ocala. After the car was recovered and placed on firm ground someone would pull out a bottle and all take a drink, and the women got out what refreshments they had and turned the whole trouble into a joyous occasion of a night picnic.


I strolled into the court house yesterday, court was in session and a criminal case was in progress. The judge, venerable and wise, seemed to know what it was all about. I didn’t after I had been in there half an hour. A small female lawyer dressed in shimmering silk with puny sleeves which had the appearance of being rolled back over the forearm. He hair was short and black, her features Semitic. A pair of peggy-heeled shoes adorned her feet, which gave out a rat-ta-tap sound as she paced up and down before the jury giving the state’s attorney a round-up because he had failed to show that her client had a pistol. In fact, she finally decided that he hadn’t proved a single thing by any witness placed on the stand against her client.

The jury, with a kind of a persimmon smile playing over their classic features, sat still and listened. I turned my head and looked over the very much male audience but found no phylacteries there. On the other hand, I found they were all leaning forward with a kind of a I-wish-I-were-on-that-jury look on their faces, backing with their expressive looks everything the woman lawyer said. The sensation was profound, not a whisper, not a spit, not a clearing of the throat as the female lawyer paraded up and down before a sympathetic jury telling them of the weakness of the state’s case. It was not shown that her client had a pistol nor did the testimony of any of the witnesses involve her client in any way at all, according to her remarks. The state’s attorney, poor fellow, had no more chance than a grasshopper in a forest fire. The jury was out about two minutes. As I got up and walked slowly out with my cane in one hand and the remains of a two-cent cigar in the other I sympathized with poor old Adam when he had been kicked out of the Garden of Eden.


Roll away the stone from the past to the very dawn of creation. Hatred between the different nations. The stronger conquering the weak and making them pay tribute, a penalty for being conquered. A child weaned from its mother’s breast taught to hate the enemies of the father, and later on the newspapers and the radio teach him malice and hatred for other nations with which they are at war. Jealousy when they are outstripped in learning, culture and refinement. War commenced soon after man was created. Cain killed Abel when there were few people on the earth. Time rolled on and nations grew stronger and greater. They went forth to conquer. Greed for wealth and power to subjugate was the restless, stirring aim of mankind.

The stronger they grew the more terrible and bloody were their wars. Century after century has passed and finds man still a destructive creature who loves not only to kill his fellow man but absorb his wealth. The devils creeping under the waves of the deep, blue ocean and flying in the air singing the song of death over the house tops, killing anything in their wake. Then why say that we can have a perpetual peace? Many Hitlers unborn will come forth in time and disturb the world. Then to say we will have world peace for all time gives the lie to history and the Bible.

In this life we have but one true light to guide our pathway in endeavoring to reach a perfect form of government which may be approached but perhaps never attained.

That is the lamp of reason based upon the experience of the past: That in order to perpetuate such government, its laws must be administered by men too broad to stoop to fanaticism and prejudice in order to control the people to be ruled.

A government based on such fallacy cannot live, but in order to live and grow toward an ideal government it must be in the hands of those who have moral and religious principles of such a high degree that they can revere that which is good wherever it may be found.

The great necessity in our schools of learning is to teach the student body how to think, and they cannot think right unless they have been taught in our churches and our religious institutions the story of the cross and have a realization of what it means to the human race. Let us be sure that we do not instill in the minds of the children religious intolerance and hatred. Better be ignorant than intolerant.

The peoples of today are confronted with all kinds of isms, socialism, infidelism and atheism, and many other isms that we learn through secular literature from the pens of our most learned men.

For instance we are taught that matter always existed, which is a fallacy. Out of nothing was it created and that same power that created it can destroy it.

Man must have some hope of the future Let him cast that hope aside—doubt will take the place of faith—loosed from his moorings, he will drift into an unknown sea charted with the opinions of bigots that know not God, and will seize upon any theory that is contrary to the lights of Christian religion.

Science is hunting the truth in a material way, in the rocks, in the caves, in the sand dunes, in the air—but that which they announce today as positively true is discarded tomorrow for some new discovery that takes the place of it. Science is never stationary, but a constant change except certain natural laws, that God has allowed them to discover and be utilized by mankind.

There are many laws, we call natural laws, which are the laws of God—yet to be discovered. Because we have learned something of a few of His laws, why should we become egotists and repudiate Him because He has given us a little knowledge of these hidden mysteries?

Man searches in the dark for more light—the great blue dome of heaven above us studded with innumerable stars—Man has before him a great dome of darkness—studded with thousands of undiscovered laws like so many electric bulbs with a swinging cord attached to each; within the reach of man as soon as he is able to utilize them.

He reaches out in the darkness with his wandering hand, he touches a cord, he pulls it, a light is flashed on and he has discovered another one of the immutable laws of God.

And thus we mark the slow progress of mankind, which will continue in this world until God shall say thou shalt go no further.


January, 1766, first big freeze. St. John’s River froze forty feet into the river.

February, 1835, the worst freeze of all time. Cold lasted ten days, lakes and rivers were frozen as far south as the Everglades. All vegetation was killed, many animals were frozen.

Freezes of December and February, 1894 and 1895, did the most damage on account of so many orange groves.

February 12, 1935, last freeze, which damaged about twenty-five per cent of the oranges and trees in low ground.



I do not own a ranch nor do I raise and sell fine stock which roam over large pasture lands, but I have been energetic and made great effort to build up Pasco county. And I think it is now the Banner County of the state in both fruit and vegetables. I have not done it all. There are others who helped and I take off my hat to them, but I have gone further and have done more without pay than any man in the county. Some of the high spots will be related below.

I landed in this county about sixty-two years ago fresh from Texas. I went first to Kentucky to see my father and mother who were growing old. I found some boys getting ready to drive through to Florida. Brother Lynn and I fixed up a team and joined them. I have seen Florida prosper and I have seen it in adversity. Darkened like a funeral pall which swept over it when every fruit tree in Florida was killed. I stood upon the bank of the lake and watched the wagons filled with sorrowful-looking men and women on their way back north. They had built their houses and made their groves and then saw them swept away in one night by the cold winds of the northwest. They had risked all and lost and now they were abandoning what was left of their once beautiful homes. But some of us lingered behind. We had a meeting and the people said it they had a grist mill and cotton gin they would raise corn and cotton. Long staple cotton bore a good price. I got up in a meeting and told the farmers to go home and raise their corn and cotton, that I would have a grist mill and gin ready for them. On my word they went to work. I employed Mike Rogers, gave him half the mill and gin to operate it. We built a gin and a baler—and a fine grist mill and gin. The farmers raised lots of corn and cotton and we ginned and baled many thousands of pounds.

In 1883 I was elected County Surveyor of Hernando county before it was cut into three counties. In 1885 I was elected to the Constitutional Convention which wrote the Constitution of your state. I was the youngest member and am now the only living member. It was carpetbag days and we had a great fight to wrest the state from under carpetbag rule. Dr. Richard Bankston and I went to Tallahassee and succeeded in getting the county divided by an act of the legislature and named the new county after Senator Pasco, and Dade City was made the county seat. I surveyed Dade City and you have me to thank for its wide streets and beautiful shady thoroughfares. I gave one church a lot on which to build a parsonage, and I cut the price on all property which was wanted for church purposes. The negroes had but little money and I gave them a lot and helped them build their first church in Dade City. Ruben Wilson, H. W. Coleman and I secured the rights of way in order to get the two railroads into Dade City. I was agent and attorney for a Mr. Baldwin who owned property in Dade City and I gave Mr. Delcher some of the Baldwin lots to induce him to build a hotel in Dade City which was badly needed. And he built the hotel on the land where the Edwinola now stands. H. R. Duval was receiver of the Seaboard railroad. I went to Jacksonville, got in touch with Duval and induced him to donate the land where the high school is now located. I advocated the building of two great hard roads, one leading east and west to the coast, the other north and south through the county, and a levy of forty mills which would build twenty miles of road each year until the roads were finished. Then it would be an easy matter to build laterals into each neighborhood so all could enjoy the benefit of good roads, but the people said “no,” they could not stand forty mills, but they would sell bonds, build the roads and be done with it. My last words in that meeting were, “When you sell bonds to build roads you will double the cost and put a lien on your homes and your grandchildren will come and go before these bonds are paid.” Which is so.

Allow me to say that all of these high spots in my life were accomplished without one penny of cost to the county. When I had to travel I paid my expenses and when I worked I did it without pay.

When I look around and see my fellow citizens prospering and growing wealthy it makes me feel proud in the fact that I laid the foundation upon which they are building and growing wealthy.


Note: Hendley’s book is actually a series of articles which appeared in the Dade City Banner in the 1930s. The following article by Hendley appeared in the Banner on Dec. 1, 1939. It is being reproduced here, although for some reason it was not included in the published book.

This part of the country was settled in 1879 by William McLeod and his offsprings, Daniel McLeod, Eligah McLeod, William McLeod, Jr., and Freeman McLeod, his sons and son-in-law, Freeman Croft. Other settlers in this territory were McWhite, Stephen Weeks, Marion Page, William Sealey and Esq. Daniels.

In 1884, the writer surveyed and mapped the town of Macon. It is a part of the Freeman McLeods homestead. Later on in 1896, the A. C. L. R. R. changed its name, and called it Trilby. There is no other place just like Trilby. The people seem to be perfectly satisfied with their town, nor do they need any one to come into their midst and teach them big words like Prestage and Progress, and throw them in debt which has been done to the run of many a small Village by leaders who are ignorant and don’t know the difference between primordial construction of a city and a village, which when pushed out of its environment will throw back to atavism, and the village will have to readjust itself which has occurred in the history of Trilby.

Business men—J. A. Hendley and N. H. Garner owned the first drug store in Macon, later on H. C. Spinks and Dr. N. A. Williams operated drug stores in Macon. Thomas Blitch, Walter Edwards and H. K. Bankston were the merchants at that time, later on Forest Bankston, O. Barron and Bud Backston, William Friedman and Charles Branas all had mercantile business in Trilby, and Joseph Obery operated a meat market and —— Thompson, who went by the name of Tiger Thompson, had a barber shop and conducted other business which appealed to the weary and thirsty.

At this time John Dick and Mrs. Wilson are engaged in the restaurant business. Mrs. W. H. Edwards, Mrs. Stevens and H. L. Walker are the merchants at the present time. Trilby is just what it wants to be. Once upon a time it had a Sanitorium near by, a phosphate plant, a packing house for shipment of fruit and vegetables, it also had an ice factory, a bank, a jail, and it was incorporated. Most of all it went up in smoke except the bank, and it just quit, went under like most of the banks of that day. I was told that the Incorporation was dissolved in the manner herein stated: To Wit: Certain Citizens went to see about their taxes, and the clerk, who had the books containing assessment roll, at the request delivered the books to them; he did not sell the property for unpaid taxes because the books got lost or mislaid. He might have been a little gun shy. Trilby has good intelligent citizens who are satisfied with their town, which is the best that can be said of any community.

Trilby has a Baptist Church and a Methodist Church. I have heard the most soul stirring singing in the Trilby church to which it has ever been my good fortune to listen.


Dedicated to


The following document was provided by Jack Malarkey, who obtained it in 2016.


For 16 years she was the President at the Women’s Club in Dade City and a main factor in building the club house at Dade City. A splendid building—one of the best in the state.

She was Vice President of the Women’s Club of Florida and traveled over the State from Pensacola to Miami organizing women’s clubs in towns which were sleeping in the dark and did not know the wonderful possibilities they possessed until awakened from sleepy, silent towns to higher and nobler efforts through her instructions.

She was an orator and convincing talker and by her help Florida was put on the map as one of the leading states of the nation in Women’s Club work.

During the World War I, she was President of the local chapter of the Red Cross at Dade City, with 500 women working under her guiding hand. They paid for all the allotments and made all the garments for the soldiers. Mrs. C. A. Lock was her co-worker and they were called upon to raise $5,000 to help clean up and get started in England, which they did.

So perfect was her record, she was recorded in Vol. II in England as one of the famous women of America.

Her soul now rests in paradise and her good work is a monument to her memory.



Far up in the hills of Tennessee attending a dance, I saw a girl dressed in a lincy dress. She had a beautiful face, soft brown eyes and a head like an aristocrat who had been trained for high social life. She looked at me and smiled and I also smiled as she bent her head with a slight bow, unlike Maud Muller raking hay on a pleasant Summer day. When the Judge came riding by, she said, “Oh, that I might be the Judge’s bride that I might have a new dress each day and my brother should sail in a painted boat!”

The Judge married a woman in high social life but often thought of Maud Muller raking hay.

Maud married a man unlearned and poor and many children played about her door. My silent romance ceased when down in the hills of Florida, I met my fate and lost my heart to a girl from Indiana. And we mated until death us did part. But often I think of the girl in the lincy dress.


As I sit this Sunday morning in the City of the Dead by my wife’s tomb, I look around me and see monuments erected in memory of the dead. The different tastes displayed. Some are fresh and bright, some are seared and scaled, blackened by the ruthless hand of Time. These monuments under the tall oaks surrounded with green sward, decorated with flowers by some loving hand.

Everything calm and peaceful, no sound except the wind, a mocking bird in a nearby tree and the doleful notes of a mourning dove. And these, our departed loved ones, are sleeping that long sleep of dreamless rest. Their souls are in Paradise.

I am reminded that this is Father’s Day, June 19th, 1898.

I sit by the tomb of my noble wife, who was the first to suggest Father’s Day in Florida—who blazed the way for our wealth and happiness.

Life is hope and regret, today dawns fair and bright, tomorrow is a goshen land like a golden mellow osher sifts its bitter dust on our eager lips.

I stand up and look on these silent sleeping people who have fought and lost their life, but awakened to a higher and holier life in the great beyond the clouds and the tomb where is rest and peace.

I looked upon my father’s picture in the morning, looked almost as natural as life.

A mocking bird sings in pleasant notes, “Sweetheart! Sweetheart! Sweetheart! My heart is so full I must close and face a burning sun in a mile walk to my lonesome home.



Allen Hill, Malcolm Hill, Bud Stevenson, Sam Stevenson and I. S. Hudson were the first settlers on the Coast, soon after the Indians were run out. They made one more raid and killed some of the Bradley family in the County, which is fully related in my first issue of the History of Pasco County.

Isaac W. Hudson was a man of the old school. His house was open to all without charge. We candidates running for different offices traveled in buggies and on horse, dragging through sand and mud would camp out until we reached Mr. Hudson’s. He would house a dozen of us in some way, feed us on fish, cornbread and coffee, and would not take a cent from any of us.

A full history, written by J. B. Hudson, his son, is written up in my first History of Pasco County.

There were many feuds in those days but I will not say anything about the many killings which occurred.


Old man Bob Sumner, who lived near Richmond, Virginia, came to Florida and settled at Clay Sink, near Lacoochee, where Henry Boyette now lives. He had five sons, Cary, Bob, Alec, Joe and John Sumner. Old Bob settled here among the Indians. Plenty of feed here in that day but he had trouble with Indians. They were the first settlers here.


Doctor Cochrane came from Columbia, Tennessee. He was Scotch descent. His son, Wallace, came to Florida first. He chose a place in the northern part of Fort Dade. He had four sons, Wallace, Douglas, James and Essex Cochrane. Mary married Dave Leneave, Palen married Willice Thrasher, Molicy married Reynolds, State Comptroller, and Douglas married a Miss Ravisies, once a very prominent family from Alabama.


Henry Jordan was born in Colquitt County, Georgia, in 1827. A single man who settled East of the Withlacoochee River on Damon Creek, where he met Eliza Lanier in 1841. He met the daughter of Isaac Lanier, a big cattleman, and married her. He had six children, and Kate Jordan, his oldest daughter, the first wife of Glen Borring, was born there. He afterward moved to the place where Rubin Jordan now lives. He died at the age of 58 in 1935.


Old man Ryals, a short, thick, sturdy man, who was the first settler at Zephyrhills, Florida. He loved his drink and when he came to Fort Dade, now Dade City, he would invite the boys to go with him to a saloon to have a drink.

He had two sons—Will and Henry—Henry was a Baptist preacher. Will and his family still live west of Zephyrhills.


Bill McCloud came from Georgia like most of the early settlers of that day. He and his boys founded Macon—now Trilby, Florida. He and his four sons—Elija, Bill, Freeman and Dan, who was a Baptist preacher. Bill McCloud raised one of the first orange groves in this county. He had several daughters around Trilby. [McCloud should be McLeod -jm]


Alderman Wilson, a Baptist preacher, came here from Georgia in an ox cart. He had three sons, Rubin Wilson, William Wilson and Henry Wilson. Eats were scarce in those days and they had to resort to catching gophers for meat until they raised some hogs.

Rubin, Pasco, Leslie and two daughters, Rena, and one called “Took” Rubin was one of the first school teachers. He had one daughter who married Buck Sumner. After he died she married B. L. Blackburn, a school teacher. Rubin was an intelligent man who could have gone high in civil and political life, but was unfortunate. We went to many political rallies together.


Henry Hancock settled in the middle part of Pasco County in an early day from Georgia.

He had three boys, George, Horace and Break Hancock, and many girls who married into the families of Wells and Gants, and through his children the middle part of Pasco County was populated.

He, like most early settlers, was a stock man and had many herds of cows, sheep and hogs. He was one of the first County Commissioners of Pasco County.


Stephen Paul Douglas came from Georgia. He settled near Brooksville. He was the father of J. W. Douglas. He had three boys—W. E., S. C., and J. P. Douglas, raised in Pasco County. J. W. had five boys—Wilford, W. E., J. C., J. D. and Sam. Wilford lives in the old place near Pasco. Their mother’s maiden name was Virge Adkins. She was a fine woman if she was raised in the woods and did not come in contact with society of that day. She would measure up with the women of high, social rank of that day.

W. E. Douglas is now Marshall of Dade City.


Tom Bleach was one of the early settlers in Florida. He settled in Lacoochee. He was the first one to raise cabbage in this country. It was thought at that time that nothing would grow here except turnips and collards. I would go to his home to buy cabbage—I lived on Lake Mirror then.

Tom had one son. He was called Tommy, whose wife was a Bradham.

He married Maud Bleach and when he died, she married a man by the name of Woods. She crossed the great divide. She understood the Hagada—an open book to her. She has crossed the great divide and her soul now rests in paradise.


Jim O’Berry, John O’Berry, Henry O’Berry and Joseph O’Berry, brothers, came from Georgia soon after the Indians were driven out, and settled near Blanton, except Joe, who settled near Lacoochee.

Jim had three sons—Dan, Estin and Edmond—and several daughters. Edmond O’Berry had three sons—Marion, Greg and Winn O’Berry. Marion holds a position under the Comptroller, at Tallahassee. Edmond held the office of County Superintendent for many years. Greg and Winn settled around Dade City. This was an outstanding family in that day.


Hon. J. A. Hendley:

Reverend Newell of this city told me of stopping at Dade City and eating dinner at the same table with you and that the conversation drifted to the original survivors of that city still living.

Mr. Leo Wotitzky of this city has told me about you being a member of the Legislature in Tallahassee. I remember you used to have two pistols strapped on your belt and I recall that we nicknamed you “Pistol Pete.”


A belt strapped around my waist filled with shells for my .45 pistol, a large hat on my head, and they called me “a renegade from Texas.”


As I lay and listen to the cars run through the long, dreamy [hand corrected to “dreary”] night, I think of the men who operate them. The engineer, his hand on the wheel and his eye along the track to see that all is clear. Loads of humanity in his hands, reckless drivers, risking their autos across the track in front of him, crushed and killed without a moment’s notice, thrown into eternity. It is wearing on his nervous system, but he must drive on until he reaches the end of his run, his cars delivered to the yardmaster, he rushes home to see his wife and family so that he can enjoy their company. He must lie down and rest until he is awakened again to take that nerve-racking trip, and he goes on and on, until his head is whitened with age and worry. He has missed the society of his wife and children.

Finally, he is dismissed from the service with one-half pay. Can anyone blame him for having a labor union? I don’t. Neither do I belong to a union.

When he sees the high officials, rich with big salaries, eating and drinking the best the country affords, while he lives in a small home, his salary hardly enough to keep clothes and feed for his family.

Do you blame him for joining together and having a union to protect him? I am not a member of any union but I have sympathy for his class of humanity and I am human.


The greatest crime of its kind happened in Kentucky. A negro brute caught a little white girl on her way to town, assaulted her, knocked her in the head, cut her throat and left her mangled body in the bushes. A bloodhound was put on his trail and you could hear the sad and lonesome baying of that hound all day as he followed the trail. All evening and all night long you could hear his mournful baying until he reached the creek.

The negro had waded upstream about 50 yards before he came out on the other side in order to throw the dog off the track. When the dog crossed over to strike the trail of the negro, he went up stream. There his mournful baying told that he had struck the trail again. He kept it until he came to the depot and trailed him right into a box car, where he was found.

The dog had followed the negro 20 miles and had caught him in the box car.


Old time lawyers who could be heard all over the courthouse and out in the courthouse yard. People from all over the county came in to hear the “layers,” as they called us, speak.

Sinclair Abrams, H. S. Phillips, Hugh McFarland, Matt McFarland, Robert W. Davis, Thomas Palmer, J. A. Hendley were the criminal lawyers of that day.

Judge J. F. Glenn, T. M. Shackleford and John Davant were the best civil lawyers in Florida. John Davant has a son, J. C. Davant, living in Clearwater. He is one of the best lawyers in Florida.


Eight mules attached to long levers walking round and round was the power that operated the old ground hog thresher. The straw, the chaff and the wheat all came out together, followed by an old fan mill with a long crank operated by hand to clean the wheat.

In later years a new thresher was invented with an elevator which ran the straw and chaff out at the top and the wheat, fanned and cleaned, came out the side. The power was eight mules attached to long levers and the mules walked round and round in a circle.

Three young boys, Lee Finey, Bill Galloway and J. A. Hendley and Miles Dunbar, an old crippled bachelor, purchased one of the machines and farmers for miles around saved their wheat for the new machine.

When noon and night came we ate and fed on the farmer without any cost to us. The farmers and their girls came to help. The girls helped cook and wait tables and make eyes at the boys—truly days of romance.



One evening I sat on the porch and watched the sunset glow through the screen. I watched a large bug, entangled in the web of a spider. The bug, which was larger than the spider, worked, twisted and fought to get loose, but the spider worked and drew his web around the bug. With legs and feet fastened, he held him until he could struggle no longer and the spider sucked away his life.

I sat and thought of poor Humanity. All at once we begin to feel the pull of our habits, and like the bug, we commence a useless struggle to break away from our entanglements and be at peace once more. But it seems that we are bound and cannot escape. We call upon God to help us but he does not seem to hear. And our past and sinful life, had deeds rise up before us like Banco’s Ghost, and the good deeds loiter in the dark while we languish and pray and pray until faith comes to us. Then, the great Almighty hears our prayers and we are set free.


Have faith in GOD, our Father and CHRIST, our big Brother. Then we have faith in God and Christ, His son for health and happiness in this life.

We must see God through the eye of faith—we must thank Him for what He has done for us. We must pray for our enemies who persecute us, that they may see the truth and turn to God also on the bended knee of sorrow for the unhappiness and persecutions they have given us.

Christ, our big Brother!

God, our Father!

The Holy Ghost!


[The heading above is hand-corrected to Ku Klux.]

Col. Ead Crossland was at the head of the clan in Kentucky. The Ks at that time meant something. They were not a political band which went around burning fiery crosses and did nothing else. We needed them in that day.

The negroes had just been freed and did not know what freedom meant. Freedom to them meant licenses and they had to be regulated with a firm but friendly hand. They had guns and a chip on their shoulder and dared the white man to knock it off.

The Band did not dress in white like many did in different parts of the country. On the contrary, this Band dressed in red long flowing gowns. A white strip extended from the bottom to the top of the robe and the collar was also white. The sleeves were trimmed with white. The red hood which covered the face was trimmed with white. The hair from a cow’s tail was sewed to the hood for whiskers.

On a raid they did not ride on their own horses, but stole out the horses from people who did not belong to the Klan, and if the horses were recognized the owners were at home and had an alibi.

Each member of the clan had a number and addressed each other by his number. The first thing they did was to disarm the negro who had a gun. They took his gun, and right in his presence beat the barrel around a tree until it was out of shape and broke the locks. They told him where to call for pay for his gun. When a negro got to feeling his freedom too much he was lectured and told what would happen to him if he didn’t behave. Many of them would walk in a white man’s house and would not take his hat off and would take a seat like one of the family, but as they were educated learned better, and the southern man is now his best friend. They respect him and he respects them, each one in his place.

I write this as a matter of history which should be preserved to show the spirit of the times.


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