HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
Lacoochee, the Coming Town of the Withlacoochee (1922)
This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on March 17, 1922.
By C. B. TAYLOR
Situated at the junction of the Sanford branch of the Coast Line and the Seaboard railways, in the northeast corner of the county is the thriving little community of Lacoochee. The traveler by rail who merely sees the few buildings around the station would get an entirely false idea of this little neighborhood; for, following the custom so common in many of the large cities, the depot is in the most unattractive section. Really there are a number of very fertile and well tilled farms, to be found if one will only brave the soft white sand and tramp about a little.
The business activities of Lacoochee consist of two well stocked general stores, one of them also containing the post office, a blacksmith shop, and a garage. A very neat but small lunch room and cold drink stand did a good business there also with travelers on the Dixie highway, but the proprietor added to his stock in trade some of the beverages now prohibited by the constitution of the United States and the State of Florida, so the citizens of the community persuaded him to emigrate to a less law abiding place.
A nice little church with its well kept “God’s Acre” cares for the spiritual welfare of the people while the education of the children is carefully looked after in the combined Trilby-Lacoochee school.
The Dixie highway enters Pasco county about a mile from town, passing through it and continuing to Trilby, a mile distant, where it turns south towards Dade City and Tampa. This will be one of the first roads to be paved by the Highlands bond issue and doubtless will assist greatly in building up this place.
The people here are quiet, hard-working, progressive and kind-hearted. They all think well of each other, and there is no evidence of jealousy, cliques or divisions among them to be seen. They welcome the stranger, be he visitor or intending new resident, cordially, assist him in every way and speed the parting guest in such a manner that he looks on the prospect of returning with pleasure.
The principal industry of this neighborhood is, of course, farming—and until this year it has been all-round variety—corn, forage, stock and hog feeds of various kinds, and cane. This year while there is no falling off in the acreage planted to these staple crops, considerable trucking is also being done. Cukes and tomatoes being the main crops. These are all coming along nicely and if no late frost or other unavoidable contingency intervenes will soon be bringing substantial profits to the growers.
Charles Jackson states that the Banner of week before last was in error when it stated in the article regarding Mr. Ackerman’s intention to manufacture brick, that a plant had once boon located at Owensboro. This plant was at Lacoochee, about a mile from Owensboro. When the company went into bankruptcy on account of the manager’s deciding that as drinking whiskey interfered with his business he would let the business go, they had orders for two hundred cars instead of one hundred as stated.
Mr. Jensen has been in the mercantile business at Lacoochee for twenty-six years and doubtless knows whereof he speaks.
George Weems, who combines his farming with the real estate business, as well as being a hunter, sportsman and enthusiastic booster of the community, has a fine Maryland fox hound of which he is very proud. These dogs are considerably different from our ordinary run of hounds and originally came from Ireland.
Mr. Weems was replanting his corn when I called on him as the larks and other birds had pulled up a good deal. He uses an earlier variety for replanting than the one originally sown so the entire crop will mature at the same time.
A large acreage of sugar beets will be planted by this energetic young man as he considers them fine both for cattle and hogs and superior to the usual table variety for human consumption. I don’t know about this last idea but if it is possible to get up there when those beets are ready to pull am sure going to find out. Six acres of tomatoes are looking fine.
J. B. Trowell has a good stand of all staple crops that are in season now as well as a large acreage of cukes, tomatoes, beans and watermelons. He and Mr. Weems are planning to build a dipping vat for their joint use and doubtless will also make it available for their neighbors. Mr. Trowell states that he has always been opposed to a no-fence law but if it ever comes to a vote will vote for it, as while he has a number of cattle and lots of hogs, he can never find over ten per cent of them. He is convinced that although the adoption of such a law would cause some confusion and hardship, to the smaller stock owners at first, that as soon as they adjusted themselves to the new conditions, they would find themselves much better off than under the present free range conditions.
Mrs. J. T. Neal, who has been confined to her bed for forty-two days, three weeks under the care of a trained nurse, is now able to be up to the great joy of her family and many friends. Mr. Neal is considerably behind with his farm work, under the circumstances, but is hustling hard to catch up. He had planned to plant ten acres of tomatoes but has reduced this considerably and is putting in his usual acreage and other staple crops.
Dave Crum believes in being a real “sho nuff” farmer so he plants corn, peanuts and hog feed as his main dependence, but he is also taking a flier in the trucking line and has a considerable acreage in tomatoes and cucumbers.
“Old Man Dave,” as he is affectionately called by all his friends, says that the jackdaws and skunks are eating more than their share of his pindars this year.
The Hon. D. A. Kilpatrick, county commissioner of Hernando county, was in Lacoochee last Wednesday on business and took the Seaboard train south. Mr. Kilpatrick lives two and a half miles north of Lacoochee and is both an extensive and intensive farmer. He informed us that the Hernando commissioners had just opened bids to top coat their rock roads with asphalt. He described his method of building sand and clay roads in his district and stated that every one of his roads was so crowned the water ran off as fast as it fell in the heaviest rain so that they were always in good condition. His method of building roads is to plow two furrows on each side of the roadway throwing the dirt away from the road. Then dig down in the furrow into the clay subsoil which is thrown on the road and properly dressed so the center is well above the sides after which he widens his ditches two feet throwing this top soil on top of the clay, smoothing and dressing it down as necessary. “Such a road,” says Mr. Kilpatrick, “will stand ordinary traffic for years with little or no expense for up-keep and only the hardest storms will damage it.” He is not in favor of using crude oil on sand or clay roads but thinks that “Tarvia” would be good for them. Besides handling his share of the business affairs of his county. Mr. Kilpatrick finds time to attend to his farm where he has a large acreage devoted to staple crops in fine condition, corn planted two weeks ago being large enough to plow. He also has some nice cantaloupes and old fashioned muskmelons coming on.
A newcomer who has just arrived is Mr. I. Glavich and family who moved last week from Groveland. The gentleman is an Austrian by birth but has been in this country a good many years. He has rented five acres of Mr. Jensen and will try to raise vegetables of various kinds but as he has been afflicted with dropsy for some time will not attempt too much. Mr. Glavich lived in the berry section of North Carolina for some time and still has property in the Tar Heel state. He talks quite interestingly about how, when the berry market became unprofitable, they used to pack the fruit in hardwood barrels, “like a whiskey barrel,” and ship them to preserving and canning factories.
Mr. J. Gideon is sticking to general farming and only has an acre and a half of tomatoes planted. They are looking mighty fine.
R. B. Moody is another newcomer who has rented land from Mr. Jensen. He is a retired naval stores man and is putting out tomatoes, corn and cow peas.
Mr. C. P. Fonville, formerly of Jacksonville and Tampa, is building up a nice place north of the station. He has just completed setting out six hundred peach trees besides a large number of plums, figs and grapes. They have all started off nicely and give promise of doing well. Mr. Fonville also has some nice tomatoes and Irish potatoes.
There are a number of other good places here but to mention all of them would be to simply repeat what has been told. The facts of the case are that Lacoochee is a community of farms and farmers who are, by hard, intelligent work, making good. With such citizens, the good railroad facilities, and the coming of our hard roads, this community will surely grow into one of the best and most prosperous of our county.
The place where Major Dade, for whom Dade City is named, and his command, who were massacred by the Indians, camped the night before the battle in which they lost their lives, is a half mile from Lacoochee. The massacre itself took place near Bushnell.