HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY

Lacoochee


The Brothers Abraham — Elias and Joseph

By NELL M. WOODCOCK

In 1924 two men, who a few years earlier had arrived at Ellis Island in New York from their native Lebanon, moved their fruit stand and small business that was in Newberry, Levy County, Florida to Lacoochee in Pasco County. They were Elias Abraham and his younger brother Joseph.

Before the move, Elias, had purchased building lots from Charles Jensen, the town’s postmaster and express agent. A man named Tom Beagle was hired to supervise the construction of a store with a four-room living quarters connected at the rear by a covered breezeway. Elias and his wife Esther, also from Lebanon, moved into the residence in May of 1924.

Joe was 26 when he met and married a woman in Bradford County with the unusual name of Marvin. Marvin was born in Baker County in 1906. They lived in one of the group of houses behind Elias’s store.

The brothers had planned to open a restaurant along with their fruit stand, but since the town had three restaurants Elias opened a drug store with a soda fountain. He became known as “Abe,” the man who lived up to his motto “make friends of your customers, not customers of your friends.”

Joe opened a bar and pool room two doors down from Abe’s drug store. Marvin opened a restaurant in between the drug and the pool room.

Elias and Esther’s first child, a boy they named Lewis, was born on March 20, 1925. Their second child, a girl they named Lorise, was born on July 7, 1928.

Joe and Marvin’s first child, a boy named Tommy, was born in 1927 and their daughter Jeanette followed in 1928. Their father, Joe, died in 1932 and was buried in the cemetery behind the Baptist Church in Lacoochee. When Elias moved his family to Dade City in 1954 he had his brother’s body exhumed and moved to the family plot in the Dade City Cemetery.

On April 4, 1958, Abe’s Drug Store went up in flames in an early morning fire that destroyed six of the frame buildings in that block and badly damaged a seventh. The fire started in a building occupied by a beer tavern and pool hall known as Marvin’s Place. Constable J.E. Stanley gave the alarm and told a reporter for the Tampa Tribune that faulty electric wiring probably caused the blaze. The story appeared in the Tampa paper under the by-line of Tribune Correspondent Nell Woodcock.

There was a drive-by shooting in front of Abe’s Drug Store in 1938 that was never resolved. Cummer Cypress Company had several male employees on their payroll who were deputized by the local sheriff and who patrolled the company quarters. The merchants hired a constable to patrol the downtown area at night. One of them was a man named Doc Wiggins. Abe always had a bench against the outside wall of his drug store where he and other merchants would sit during the day to chat. One night, as Wiggins sat on that bench, a car drove by and his body was riddled with a hail of bullets. Jeanette Abraham recalls that the next day her Uncle Abe was outside inspecting the bullet holes in the front wall of his drug store

That same year, Elias decided to tear down the living quarters in back of the store with its “outhouse” accommodations and build a house on Franklin Street with indoor bathroom and hot and cold running water. Something the family had enjoyed while they stayed at the Cummer Hotel in the company quarters awaiting completion of their new home.

Abe died in Dade City on December 2, 1972, and was buried in the family plot at the Dade City Cemetery next to his brother Joseph’s grave.


The Lacoochee Reunions

By NELL M. WOODCOCK

Lewis and Lorise Abraham, who grew up to become prominent people in the Dade City business community, are now deceased. Until their deaths, each of them was highly sought after for their knowledge and history of their beloved Lacoochee.

Tommy and Jeanette began the tradition of today’s Lacoochee Reunions. They planned the first one held in November 1986 at Fort Dade Park near Bushnell, in Sumter County. According to the guest book, more than 400 people from all over the country attended. Unfortunately Tommy died suddenly just before that event.

After that, Lorise and Lewis helped Jeanette with the task of preparing and mailing out so many invitations. Today the reunions are held at the American Legion Hall in Dade City and kept alive by another Lacoochee couple, Roger and Marion Kaminsky.

Jeanette, a very independent woman, never misses a reunion. She settled in Leesburg, Florida, where she lives today in her own home.

Lewis and Abe. Picture courtesy of Lisa Abraham, granddaughter of Abe.

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