HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN PASCO COUNTY, FLORIDA
Recollections of Clarence Walter Martin Sr.
Mr. Martin tells an interesting story about being hired to teach at the Prospect school in 1913. He calls it Prospect
Point, although school board records call it Prospect.
At the end of the document, he tells of being offered the principalship at what is presumably the Zephyrhills school. He did not
serve in that capacity (although his father did). More biographical information about Mr. Martin is here.
This document was contributed by
Laveda Martin Rogers, daughter of Clarence Walter Martin.
By CLARENCE WALTER MARTIN
C. W. Martin, Sr. born 10/30/1886 at Appanoose in Douglas
County, Kansas. Married Mary Evella Tanner on 12/22/1912; nine
children: Alice Antoinette, Marguerite Lucille, Clarence W., Jr., Gayln
Earl, Nolan Lavelle, Melvin Merrill, Doris Vanita, Ramona Evella and
I graduated from High School in 1900, attended Washburn
College (Topeka, Kansas) from 1903 until 1907 when the panic of that
year forced me to quit for financial reasons. I went to work as a floor
hand at the H. H. Hackney Flour Mill in Topeka. In 1908 I learned to be
a “flour packer.” At the end of that year, I was
transferred to the Cereal Division as night foreman and in the spring
of 1909 became day foreman.
In July of 1910 I resigned to be a farmer. (In the Cereal
Division, the Mill employed up to 100 girls on the several floors and I
met the girl who later became my wife.) I rented 160 acres of land near
Tecumsey, Kansas and bought machinery and stock on credit.
I put out 72 acres of corn, 10 acres of alfalfa and 60 acres
of prairie hay. Everything worked fine until corn gathering time when
it started to rain for several days, then November 10th it turned cold
and started to snow — 14 inches fell and from that time until the
middle of February, we did not see the ground. I gathered the corn by
kicking it out of the snow. I HAD ENOUGH! I sold all of the corn, 10
tons of tame hay, 30 tons of wild hay, had a sale and sold everything.
After I paid off my debts, I had about $400.00 left. I took the train
to Florida and this has been my home nearly ever since.
While living in Topeka, I joined (on May 6, 1905) the Kansas
National Guard, the Topeka unit being at that time Battery B - Light
Artillery. Later it became Battery A, First Field Artillery. I got
several promotions until June 15, 1912, when I was discharged from the
organization as First Duty Sergeant.
Father had a heart attack and the doctor had ordered him to go
to a warmer climate. He had traded for 200 acres near Dade City,
Florida and asked me to look it over, as the rest of the family would
soon start for Florida. I went there and sold trees off 40 acres which
gave him a little money to move with. When he arrived, he felt much
better so decided to try teaching again. As he had a State Certificate,
he felt sure that a Kansas Teaching Certificate, as well as a College
Graduate Certificate from Ottawa would be accepted in Florida, but that
counted for nothing there at that time, so he took the examination,
which of course, he passed.
We talked it over and I thought I would try too. I had never
taught, but both Mother and Father had taught for years in Kansas, and
I felt they could help me get off to a start. We took the examinations
and all got certificates, but of course, mine was a lower one. As
teachers were scarce then, we soon had schools signed up. Mine was a
one-room school paying $45 a month with a 6-month appointment, at
Emmaus, which was southwest of San Antonio, Florida.
The next thing was to make arrangements to get my girl down
and find a place to live. Father lined up an old empty settler’s
house about 6 miles out of Dade City and we set up housekeeping. The
old place was crawling with roaches and bed-bugs, but it seemed to be
the only place we could get.
There was a car load of horses that had been shipped in from
Texas to sell, claimed to be broken. As I had ridden horses since a
boy, that didn't worry me too much. I got one that looked very good and
priced for $50 and brought him home, also purchased a saddle on time,
and laid a plan for riding him to school every day, as the school was
eight miles south of where we lived.
When I found that we were going to stay, I joined a new
company of National Guards that was being organized at Dade City - this
was May 22, 1912. They saw on my application blank that I had about
eight years in the Kansas National Guards, so the Captain made me a
First Sergeant even though I had served in the Artillery, rather than
Infantry. This meant that I sure had to study and I did. Soon there
were 60 men in the Company, to equip, train, and organize. Talk about
problems! There were many problems, and, as there was no 2nd Lt., I was
elected to try for this rank. More study!! I took the Military
examinations on June 26, 1912, and was appointed 2nd Lt. and assigned
to Company D, 2nd Infantry, Florida National Guards.
In August, the streetcar motormen and conductors of the
streetcar lines in Jacksonville, Tampa, and Key West, went on strike.
Soon strike-breakers were called in by the company and things got
rough, car workers were beaten up, even killed and both Regiments of
the National Guards were called out and all Companies in the state were
sent to Jacksonville except the Companies in Tampa and Key West, who
were kept in those towns to handle any disorders there. The Companies
of Guardsmen were bunked in unfinished store buildings, halls, etc.
Orders went out to issue 60 rounds of ammunition and guardsmen were
assigned certain streets to patrol and as the streetcars were started,
it certainly was a mess. Orders went out from headquarters that all
pedestrians were to keep on the move, and no groups to be allowed to
talk. The first day whole Companies were kept in one block on Bay
Street, then a day or so later, it was stretched and just Platoons were
on one block, then to Squads. This lasted until the lines were mostly
running. After a while the strike was settled and we went home. I had
my hands full! We were on duty 30 days. Our Captain went on a drunk
after 12 days; the only 1st Lt. we had was a banker who had been called
home; and since the Captain had been relieved, I had to command the
Company and bring it home. If I had not had some non-coms, who were
solid men, I would never have made it! Some of our men got on a drunk,
had to be put under guard etc., etc. We got back to Dade City, no
serious trouble that couldn't be handled. But for me, no more strike
That Fall, plans were perfected that Evella and I would get
married on December 22nd. With my Mother and Sister (who is 14 years
younger than I) we laid the plans for action at this end of the line.
We thought it would be brilliant to have a surprise wedding
arrangement. We arranged with the pastor and a friend of mine that on
that Sunday, we would attend church in the evening, Evella wearing a
light coat to hide her wedding gown, and after the services, we would
march down to the front and then all would take their appointed places.
SECRET was to be the byword to all the principals. So, Evella came in
on the morning train. I met her, but of course, was seen by friends. We
went to the hotel where she was to rest until evening. Mother and my
sister were to help when the time came. We were going to walk the three
blocks to church in order to dodge notice. We arrived at the church,
listened to the sermon (though what he preached about, I never knew),
and at the close, started down the aisle. By that time, a large number
of people began coming into the church. The ceremonies completed, we
hurried to the front door and there at the entrance was a long line of
soldiers drawn up in double line, and as we walked down the walk, the
trumpeter fell in behind with the soldiers following and that fool
bugle blew every step of the way back to the hotel. Somewhere the
secret had been leaked, but we never could find out by whom. Some of
the other churches had made the announcement and let out a few minutes
earlier, which explained the arrival of the extra people. There was
enough rice scattered all the way to the hotel to feed flocks of
chickens. We decided to get out of town as soon as possible, so left
for the farm, thus dodging any other pranks.
It was quite a come-down for a city girl to go miles from her
home to rough it in a backwoods country with no modern conveniences,
but to her credit, she took it in stride, complaining very little and
accepting it as the best we could do.
Teaching school was quite a new adventure for me, and I, of
course, had my problems, teaching seven grades of one of more in each
grade and trying to teach all the required subjects while giving equal
advantages to each child. In addition, teaching in a school that was
run down, part of the window panes were missing, seats were falling
down at the most inopportune times, and teaching real
My biggest problem was a 7-year-old Spanish girl, Vera Dedine,
as pretty as a picture, with winning ways, but able to lead you on a
merry chase, seemingly going just as far in her mischievousness as she
dared. To illustrate: she tried me a little too much one day and I
shook her up very roughly one evening. Her eyes really flashed fire,
but the next morning, she came to school with a cheery “Good
morning, Mr. Martin” and handing me a large red apple. Her Uncle
said she was devil-possessed and sometimes I really wondered.
My oldest pupil was French-Canadian, Gerald Equaway, and after
we became really acquainted and he understood that there were some
school rules he must obey, I never had any more trouble with him; he
was a good scholar. (The following year, he had a man teacher about to
whip him when he stabbed him with a knife. I never learned how it was
settled, but I was certainly surprised).
In February of 1913, I became very sick and my sister, then
13, rode my bronc to school and supplied for me for a week. The boys at
school helped take care of the horse and she got along very well. In a
couple of years, she was teaching in a regular school under a Special
Certificate. As for riding my horse, she and I had been riding and
racing horses a good many years in Kansas. After my six-month teaching
appointment was up, the patrons of the school got together and by
popular subscription, extended the school term two more months.
That summer, the County Superintendent of Schools, Mr.
Saunders, called me to tell me the school board of Prospect Point (a
community about 20 miles southeast
[should be southwest -jm] of Dade City) had asked that I come out to a
Board Meeting at the home of a Mr. Gaskins. He advised that I go and
talk with them on a certain date, so I did.
I rode out horseback and met Mr. Gaskins, his brother-in-law,
Mr. Miller, and another brother-in-law, Mr. Lyons. After we sat down,
Mr. Gaskins told me they would like to have me teach at their
two-teacher school and me as principal. I told them I had been offered
another teaching term at Emmaus, but had not signed the contract. They
offered me $15 more a month, and the use of a one-room house, over the
Emmaus offer. (A picture of the house is here.)
I signed for the position. After signing, Mr. Gaskins
told me that I had agreed to teach the school and if I got into trouble
doing it, I was not to look to them to get me out. For a moment, I was
“stumped,” then I told the Board if that was the way they
wanted it, then if I did have trouble, it was understood that the Board
was not to interfere in any way. That was the way we left it.
When I got back to Mr. Saunders’ office, I asked him to
tell me what I had gotten into. At first he said he would rather not
get into it, but I told him that he had sent me there and must know of
their trouble out there. Finally he told me there were five big boys
there who ran the school, that of the 55 pupils going to the school,
all but 8 were related, and furthermore, the teacher there the previous
year had been soaked with water on a chilly evening and left locked
overnight in the hall to the school. The next morning he had left and
they had had no regular school the rest of that year.
I thanked him and returned home to talk it over with Evella.
We decided to see it through. The first of September, the school
started, and we had a very good turnout. (I knew nothing would happen
for a couple of weeks, as it generally takes them that long to size the
During intermission, I generally am in the habit of strolling
around the yard until time to take in. (I have had four years training
in a gymnasium at Topeka and had advanced to the Senior Class. This
training included working out on bars, rings, etc., as well as
I felt that the time had arrived to try something. Of these
five troublemakers, one was a tall gangling boy, two were sturdy but
small, and the other two were really men, in build. I told the boys
that we had a little time and since it was all in fun, how would they
like to wrestle. I turned to the tall boy and told him I would take
him, two out of three falls. He said “O.K.” We squared off
and as he came forward, I was lucky to twist his foot out from under
him with my foot and give him a shove that set him down. He got up all
determined then, and I got a flying mare on him and set him down again.
I told him that was the best two, and then turned to the biggest boy
and told him it was his turn. He looked at me a little while and said
he was not feeling up to it. I invited each one for a try, but never
got a bid. I taught the 8 months that year with no serious trouble.
I got it back on the County Superintendent, though. The
two-room school was built on high stumps which held it about three feet
off the ground and all summer and nights, wild hogs made their home
under the school, so that fleas fairly swarmed in the school and yards.
I had been to the Superintendent’s office asking for a couple of
barrels of lime to scatter around, but got nothing but promises. One
day I asked him to come out for a visit with the school saying the
Board would like to see him. Then I told the Board that he promised to
come a certain day about repairs for the school. (They had been talking
about the repairs and I only made it more definite.) He came out that
day, but the Board had not arrived yet, so I asked him to come around
to a certain corner (where I knew the fleas abounded) and engaged him
in conversation a few minutes. Soon his pants were rather black with
fleas; then he was slapping his pants and getting out of there. I
noticed he kept scratching the whole time he talked to the Board. The
next morning a car came out from Dade City with three barrels of lime
and spread it all around so the school and grounds became livable
On October 4th, 1913, a baby was born in our one room home, which we named Alice Antoinette after the two grandmothers.
The whole year previous to this, we had been living out at
Prospect Point we had lots of fun hunting. Whenever we could, we were
out each night rambling over much of the area hunting. Evella was a
pretty good sport, wanting to tag along, just to see what we could get,
willing to help carry the game we could bag. We both liked rabbit and
squirrel which was quite plentiful, but she would never shoot either
the rifle or the 12-gauge shotgun I had.
One night we were hunting a new territory a few miles from the
house (I had purchased a new Carbide hunting light, which I liked best
because it gave a dull light which was better than a bright light. The
bright light scared animals, while the dull one excited their
curiosity, as we passed through a swampy place. I saw an eye, which I
took for a rabbit. I shot and we couldn't find anything, no matter how
we searched. I don't miss very often in that kind of shooting, and I
couldn't get over it. After we left, a few hundred feet away, I got to
thinking that there were a few small pools of water there, so I said
“Let’s go back.” When we got there, I looked in one
of the larger pools and there on the bottom, was the largest bullfrog
that I guess I have ever seen. Then we shot another one close by and
she said she had never eaten the meat but would like to try them. We
had five rabbits and the problem now was how to carry them and still
let me be free to shoot again if I had a chance on the road home. I
tied two on my belt, gave her one for each hand, and the two bullfrogs,
so we started but after a few steps when she gave a yell, I looked back
to see all her game on the ground. She said those bullfrogs were still
alive. I told her of the reaction of the frog’s muscles. Well, we
finally got home after dropping the game every 10 minutes or so. After
cleaning the kill, she started frying the frogs and every little bit,
they would draw up in the hot skillet. I had to finish frying them, and
to top it all, she couldn't even eat any, said she could see those legs
in the skillet moving as if alive.
That Christmas I got her a light shotgun, thinking she could
have more fun that way. We found a rabbit the next day in a clump of
grass. He did not move, even when we got within 20 ft. I told her how
to aim and shoot and asked her to shoot at his head, as I knew she
would tear it to pieces being that close. She shot, but tore its
hindquarters to bits and I had to finish killing it with a club. She
never pulled another trigger to this day.
After the baby came, whenever she felt she could, she would
dress the baby real cute and walk the quarter mile to the school during
recess or noon at the school, and the children, boys or girls, would
run to meet her, just to carry the baby the rest of the way. It seemed
that the baby pleased all.
I taught the second year there with another $15 per month, if
I would take the ones that graduated and teach them 9th grade subjects.
On November 24th, 1914, the baby took violently sick and the
next day, Mr. Gaskin took her to the doctor but she died on the 26th,
of Colitis, a disease the doctors had not learned how to cure at that
time. This was by Dr. Rice of Zephyrhills.
Of course, it was hard for Evella to come back and finish out the school term, but such is life.
The next school year, (1915) a new four-teacher school had
just been completed with a large auditorium on the second floor. A very
beautiful building and I had been recommended for the place at $90 per
month, which I signed up to teach. (I was asked to be the Principal at
$90 per month, which I accepted.)
Original written and typed on tissue 10-1-63 by Clarence W. Martin