HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
Early Residents of Pasco County
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MARCUS LEROY BAILEY (1878-1956) and his wife Mary Jane Bailey arrived here from Jackson, Michigan, in the fall of 1917. Mrs. Bailey was hired as the chief cook and general maid at a hotel which the Baileys purchased in 1920 from J. Henry Sheldon. They named it the Bay Lea Inn. The building had earlier been the Clark homestead, which Sheldon had purchased after Mrs. Clark died in 1915. Mrs. Bailey recalled that their toughest problem was obtaining vegetables and groceries to feed the patrons. Tarpon Springs was the nearest place to buy groceries until the Sheldons opened a store in New Port Richey. Sometimes they went to Dade City for groceries, but that was a day’s journey. Leroy Bailey was born in Florence, Michigan. Mr. Bailey served as the Port Richey postmaster for 20 years, retiring in 1948. The Bay Lea Inn was at one time the site of the post office. Henry Nicks recalled recently that Bailey built a small building which held all the post office boxes, and that the building was still standing (2009) on the premises owned by Jerry Higgs, who operates the Cotee River boat rental next to the Crab Shack. Bailey children included a son Wilfred and a daughter Mrs. Betty Frierson.
WILFRED G. (BILL) BAILEY (1905-1933) opened a law practice in
New Port Richey in January 1933. According to his obituary, “Following his
graduation from law school at the Florida university he opened a law office in New
Port Richey, later coming [to Tarpon Springs] to practice. A year ago he moved his office
back to New Port Richey.” A Gulf High School graduate, Bailey
gave the welcoming address at the Gulf High alumni banquet in 1932.
He secretly married Pauline Stevenson on January 7, 1933. Bailey died at age
27. His father was LeRoy Bailey. [He took over the offices previously
occupied by an attorney named W. H. Brewton, who had come to New Port
Richey from Claxton, Ga.]
PETER KARR BAILLIE (1800-1877) was an early settler in Hernando County. He was born in Scotland. He married Maria Ann Cope (1820-1899) in Lowndes County Georgia. A deed dated Dec. 24, 1850, indicates that on March 6, 1843, Baillie was given a permit for 160 acres of land in S7&17 T22 R19, northwest of Brooksville. However, he left Hernando County by 1850, as the 1850 census shows Baillie, age 49, a merchant, in Jefferson Co., Florida. On June 16, 1856, he was issued a patent for 160 acres in Jefferson Co. under the Sale of Public Lands Act of 1820. The 1860 census shows Baillie, age 60, a farmer, in Lowndes County, Georgia (Valdosta post office). He sold his land in Valdosta in December 1865 and settled in Hernando County in January 1866. In 1867 Baillie received title to all of Fractional Section 22 which was known as Baillie’s Bluff. It was upon this high point of land that he established a merchandising business, trading with local fishermen and apparently doing some carpentry work. At about the time of Baillie’s death, Baillie’s Bluff was sold and the family moved inland to the area which became known as the Baillie settlement and Elfers. He is buried in West Elfers Cemetery. The inscription on his gravemarker indicates he died in March 1877 at age 77. Children of Peter Karr Baillie are as follows. Information is mostly from Carl Gause.
Joseph H. (1843-1861), died in the War Between the States at Camp Barlow, Va., on Nov. 12, 1861.
William John Sr. (1841-1931), twice wounded in the Civil War, married Sarah Ann Stevenson (1851-1940) at what would become Seven Springs on Feb. 1, 1873. An obituary stated, “He had resided in this section for 60 years.” Children: Virginia Isabell (1873-1897), married Iron Pinkney Butler (1871-1942); William John Jr. (1880-1965), married Hattie Estelle McKendree (1890-1980) (see below); Robert Edward (1884-1960), married Emma Annie Trowell (d. 1946) in 1906 and Effie Estella Butler in 1947; Peter Joseph (1889-1973), married Julia Clark (1895-1970); Elizabeth "Teet" (1887- ), married Harold Charlie Butler (1884- ); Florida Anna (1878-1941), married Samuel O. (Nott) Howse (1889-1965); Clara M. (1886-1975), married John Thomas Baker (1880-1957).
John Morrison (1859-1947), married Sarah Elizabeth (1862-1953) on Sept. 13, 1886. Sarah Elizabeth was born in Sumter County, on Dec. 8, 1862, and resided in what would become Elfers since she was 10 years old, according to her obituary. Children: Ruby Abigail (1897-1992), married Charles Gause (1888-1969); Albert David (1893-1974), married Leola Louise Boyett (1895-1982); Wallace Kenneth (1895-1972); married Grace Inez Boyett (1908-1974); John Brown (1900-1972), married Audrey Edie Gibson (1910-1989).
Florida Ann (1859-1892), married Joseph Duval Gause on Nov. 18, 1879. Children: Johnnie Marshall (1880-1946), married Claudia Belle Wilkerson (1886-1966); Joseph O. (Ollie) (1890-1968), married Lula Mae Dowling (1898-1962); Eula Lee (1887-1942), married Hence Edward Fulford (died, 1914, in a work related accident at the Largo railroad station); Edna Ruth (1883-1947), married Emmett R. White in 1907 and Iron Pinkney Butler in 1914. [Information from Charles Gause.]
Susan P. (1856-1948) [Covington says b. 1847]. She died at Anclote and was buried at West Elfers Cemetery. "Aunt Sue," as she was known to most everyone that knew her, lived to be 94 years of age. Susan never married, although she had many proposals. She remained single to care for her parents. She and her mother lived together after her father’s death. Aunt Sue had a home built for herself in Tarpon Springs, where she lived until her eyesight failed and she then moved in with her grand-niece Florida Bell Gause Whitehurst, where she remained for the rest of her life. [Information from Charles Gause.]
Eliza W. (1848-1939), married Moses Anderson on Jan. 30, 1871. Her obituary begins: “Eliza Williams, 92, pioneer resident of Pinellas county, died yesterday evening at 6 o'clock at her home in Odessa. Born in what is now Valdosta, Ga., Mrs. Williams came to the vicinity of Elfers 75 years ago.” Children: Lawrence L. Anderson (1873-1951), married Rosa Stephens in 1899; Markus K. Anderson (1876-1965), married Nettie (Midget) Dearey (1886-1955); Samuel Leslie Anderson (1879-1944), married Mina Renette (1894-1958); Ada S. Anderson (1882-1916), married Dick Clark; Phillip Lorrain Anderson (1888-1965), married Jennie Lee Clark (1897-1921); Maj. Byrd Anderson (1885-1954), married Dilly V. Zigler.
Sarah S. (Pinkie) (1854-1915), married Charlie Brown. Children: Annie Vistie Brown (1879-1906), married John S. McNeil. Lurina (Rena) Brown (1883-1966), married John E. Mobley.
Rosannah C. (1847-1899), married Benjamin H. Gaines (1845-1895) in Anclote in 1870. Children: Lewis Gaines, married Daisy Pearl Stevenson. Bertha Gaines, married Ruben Gause. Rosalee Gaines, married Samuel Benjamin Baker. George B. F. Gaines, married Sarah E. Baker.
Burton B. (1845-1899), served in the Civil War and was wounded in the same battle as brother William J. In Dec. 1871 in Tarpon Springs Burton married Julia Ann Sheffield (1850- ?), daughter of G. G. and Margaret Sheffield. Burton became a minister and had an active part in establishing the first school in the Anclote area of Hernando County. Burton and his sister Rosannah were among the founders of the Baptist Church that was on the site where the West Elfers Cemetery is today. Burton and Julia had one child, Maggie E. Baillie (1875-1972), who married Jacob M. Worley (1868-1942) in Dade City in 1893, the youngest son of Jacob and Mary Alderole Worley. Julia Sheffield Baillie died sometime between Maggie’s birth and the 1880 census, in which Burton is listed as a widower. [Information from Patricia Bronson and Carl Gause.]
Florida Baptist Witness, Oct. 25, 1899, has: “Our Honored Dead — Brother Baillie. Many are the hearts made sad in our community by the death of our beloved brother, Elder B. B. Baillie, an earnest worker and faithful member of the Anclote Baptist church. After an illness of two weeks, he fell asleep in Jesus, having no fears to meet his God, whom he so faithfully served. I have known him personally fourteen years, and for nearly nine years have been his pastor, and feel assured that he has gone to rest. He died Monday, Oct. 9, and was buried Tuesday, the writer preaching the funeral sermon. He leaves an aged mother, four sisters and two brothers, one daughter and a host of relatives and friends. He was about fifty-four years old and was ordained to the full work of the ministry about six years ago. While we realize we have sustained a great loss in our community and church, let us remember our loss is his great gain. We deeply sympathize with the bereaved family, and especially the aged mother and sister that lived with him. May the Lord bless and comfort them is the sincere desire of my heart. J.T. Pittman.”
Minnie (1858- ), married John Stephens. Children: Charlie Stephens (1878- ); Ernest Stephens (1880- ); Effie Stephens (1881- ); Katie Stephens (1882- ), married House H. Frierson.
Virginia Irene (1864-1936), married John J. Stephens (1847-1936) on July 4, 1889.
[However, the 1880 census shows Susan, age 23, John, age 21, and Minnie, age 19, as children of M. A. Bailie, age 58.]
JOHN MORRISON BAILLIE (1859-1947), a son of Peter Karr Baillie, was a pioneer farmer who lived in Elfers. He came here with his parents at age 6, according to his obituary. His wife was Sarah Elizabeth Brown (1862-1953). According to his obituary:
Attaining manhood, Uncle John homesteaded a 160 acre tract and started a large citrus grove, the original of what now comprises some of the O. J. Harvey and Joseph Knight Groves. The '95 freeze killed all his citrus nursery. In 1912 and 1914 he sold his original holdings, and then purchased his present grove, where lived until his death. In his earlier years in addition to his citrus work, he was known for over 35 years as the best "hunting and fishing guide in these parts.” During his later years, he was one of the greatest believers in the future of the citrus industry. Uncle John was also active in community life, and was a charter member of the Anclote Church.
On June 8, 1914, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported that J. M. Baillie had won the Democratic nomination for county commission, District 5.
PETER JOSEPH (JOE) BAILLIE (1889-1978), a son of William John Baillie Sr., was a farmer in Elfers known as Uncle Joe Baillie. Interviewed for West Pasco’s Heritage in 1972, he recalled attending a one-room school in a heavily wooded area south of the present State Road 54. He married Julia Clark of Amelia, Florida, and built a home near Elfers on State Road 54. His wife had died shortly before the 1972 interview. He was born in what is now Elfers on Nov. 25, 1889.
JOSEPH WOODROW BAILLIE (1918-1980), or Woodrow Joseph Baillie, was a son of Peter Joseph Baillie. He graduated from Gulf High School in 1936. In 1963 Ralph Bellwood wrote, "Joe is the father of Rev. Woodrow Baillie, known as 'the biggest preacher in the world.' While his avoirdupois is tremendous, Rev. Baillie is quite active, and his pastorate at Live Oak is a flourishing one.” A 1978 newspaper article reported he was an evangelist living in Tampa.
WILLIAM JOHN BAILLIE JR. (1880-1965), a grandson of Peter Karr Baillie, was elected to the Pasco County Commission in 1940 and held the office for twelve years. Born in what is now Elfers, he was a farmer, trapper, and a hunter. According to Ash, he married Hattie Estelle McKendree, age 16, in 1906. She died in 1980 at age 90. According to a granddaughter, Mrs. Baillie was 15 at the time of her marriage and died at age 91, having lived on the same property on East Trouble Creek Road (now Summer Lakes) for 74 years. The couple had 12 children. At the time of his death he was chairman of deacons of the new Westside Baptist Church. According to Julie J. Obenreder in West Pasco’s Heritage:
His salary [as County Commissioner] was $25 per month. The needs of the county were great and there was no money to do anything with. Men were paid $1.50 per day labor and since the County couldn't afford a full time employee, Baillie would hire a man for a day or two whenever some very urgent job came up, such as a washed out bridge to be repaired. There were some children who needed care, today would be called "juvenile delinquents.” Mrs. Baillie states there was no place for these children and Will always brought them home. One boy, fourteen years of age, had been released from a correctional institution and sent to Elfers. He had no place to go. Will brought him home and he lived with the Baillie family until he was 24 years of age. Hattie said there were many children that stayed varying lengths of time, with she and her husband footing the bills out of their own pocket.
Hattie McKendree recalled, "When my husband told his father he was going to get married, his father said Willie, you will have to have a house to live in. What about putting it on this ground? My father-in-law had eighty acres. We cut down enough timber to build a house and floated the logs down the Anclote River from Elfers to Alderman’s Saw Mill at Tarpon Springs just south of the old wooden bridge. After the logs were sawed into lumber, the wood was floated back up the river. The good neighbors pitched in to help build the house, and that was our first home.” [Quotation from Carl Gause.]
BENJAMIN BAISDEN (b. 1835) was a former slave who settled in eastern Pasco County, south of Buddy Lake, in December 1866. Baisden is listed on the 1867-68 voter registration roll of Hernando County, in Precinct 4. (At that time, what is now Pasco County was a part of Hernando County.) The 1870 census shows Baisden, 35, his wife Jane, 27, and children Angeline, 7, and Samuel, 5, enumerated in the Fort Dade district. Upon settling in eastern Pasco County in December 1866, Benjamin Baisden and his family settled on the south side of Buddy Lake, where he proved up a traditional 80-acre homestead and acquired an additional 80 acres through cash entry. Witnesses and neighbors who testified on behalf of Benjamin Baisden’s homestead claim were Velpo C. Thrasher and Jackson Gaskin. In addition to his 160-acre homestead, Benjamin Baisden also acquired an additional 80 acres from the state for a combined total of 200 acres. On March 10, 1880, a newspaper reported, “Ben Baisden, colored, living near Fort Dade, has an orange grove, and says that his trees have borne him three crops within the year, and that the oranges of the third crop are now the size of ordinary apples.” After he settled south of Buddy Lake, several other African-American families followed, and a considerable settlement formed. By 1890 these residents petitioned the school board for the establishment of an African-American school where their children could be educated. On September 1, 1890, this school was granted. School board minutes show that Baisden was appointed Supervisor of the school on the south side of Lake Buddy on Oct. 9, 1893. Following the establishment of an itinerant A.M.E. preaching circuit in Hernando County in 1884, the area south of Buddy Lake became a regular stop. On July 18, 1892, Benjamin Baisden and his wife sold an acre of his property to “Alec Branden, Henry Whitfield, and Benjamin Baisden, Trustees of the African M. E. Church of the County and State aforesaid.” This small church was situated in a centralized location of the community south of Buddy Lake. In conjunction with the community’s A. M. E. Church, a small cemetery was also established. It was destroyed in the 1950’s during the development of the area’s citrus industry. After the Great Freeze the community south of Buddy Lake was abandoned, with residents moving to Tampa and Dade City. However, Benjamin Baisden continued to live on his property until ca. 1905. The 1900 census shows Benjamin Baisden living with his wife Virginia in the Pasadena District of Pasco County. Around 1905, and possibly after the death of his Virginia, Benjamin Baisden moved to Tampa, where his son Samuel was living. After moving to Tampa, on December 31, 1907, Benjamin Baisden married a second time to Grace Timmons Williams Patton; it was her fourth marriage. Benjamin Baisden died sometime between 1907 and 1910 while living in Tampa. (Information provided by Jeff Cannon)
SAMUEL BAKER (1849-1898) was born in Florida on Dec. 6, 1849. He married Elizabeth Pinder (b. Bahamas, Jan. 30, 1849; d., Aug. 30, 1910) in Key West on April 9, 1866. They moved to Bailey’s Bluff in 1880 and established a grocery store there. In 1882 he built a home at what is now Elfers on a 40-acre tract of land he had purchased for one dollar per acre. A deed dated April 5, 1888, transferred an acre of property in S20 T26 R16 from Samuel and Elizabeth Baker to the school board. The Bailey school house was located on this property. Samuel Baker died on Aug. 12, 1898. He and his wife are buried at East Elfers Cemetery. Their 1882 house is the oldest surviving home of its type in western Pasco county. Information on the house is here. Children:
GIOSUE BALDASSARRE (died, 1917). The Dade City Banner reported on Jan. 26, 1917:
Word was received her today of the death of Mr. Giosue Baldassarre which occurred suddenly Thursday night at Hudson at the home of J. B. Hudson. Death is supposed to have been the result of heart failure, of which he had been a sufferer a number of years. Mr. Baldassarre had large property interests in Pasco county, and his business at Hudson at the time of his death was in the interest of organizing a large development company, of which he was to have been one of the stockholders. He is survived by a sister in New York city. The body will be brought to Dade City, but the place of burial has not yet been determined.
His name is spelled Giosne Baldassarre in the Florida Death Index.
FRANCIS ASBURY BARNES (1850-1935), a farmer, was born in Marion County. His father was Rev. James Franklin Barnes, a Methodist preacher who came from South Carolina to Marion County, Florida, in the early 19th century. According to the obituary of Francis, Rev. Barnes moved here in 1852 and settled on the shores of Lake Pasadena. Francis married Margie A. Geiger. He died on April 21, 1935, and was buried at Geiger Cemetery. Their children include: two sons, J. A. of Tampa and F. R. of Zephyrhills; four daughters, Mrs. C. L. Leggett of Brooksville, Mrs. S. M. Redbrook of Lutz, Mrs. H. H. Strickland of Lutz, and Mrs. E. L. Godwin of Zephyrhills.
CHARLES W. BARNETT (1898-1964) was president of First State Bank in New Port Richey. He was mayor of New Port Richey from 1929 to 1931. According to his obituary, he was born Aug. 16, 1898, of a prominent pioneer family in Brooksville. He began his banking career in Brooksville following World War I. After his work in New Port Richey, he was associated with the Florida National Bank at Tampa and the Florida Bank of Bushnell.
CHARLES BARTHLE (1852-1936) owned and operated the St. Charles Hotel in San Antonio. He was born in Wertenburg, Germany. He came to the U. S. at age 9 and lived in Ohio for ten years. In 1874 he married Mary Ehlert (1858-1945) in Wisconsin. The family moved to Florida in 1888, according to his obituary, which also stated that Charles had lived in San Antonio for 51 years. The 1945 obituary of Mrs. Barthle states that "about 15 years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Barthle moved to San Antonio.” In a 1988 St. Petersburg Times interview Rosemary Gude recalled that her grandfather, Charles Barthle, was one of the three Barthle brothers who arrived in the area in 1883 as homesteaders. She said that the brothers had emigrated to Minnesota a couple of years earlier from the Black Forest area of Germany. She said that after a freeze destroyed his fledgling citrus grove, her grandfather gave up his homestead and moved into the nearby village of San Antonio and built the St. Charles Hotel. The 1945 obituary of Mrs. Barthle states that the hotel was established “30 years ago.” The hotel was run by members of the Barthle family until the mid-1930s. In 1988 it was the St. Charles Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor. A son of Charles, Joseph Albert Barthle (b. July 10, 1885, Walperton, N. D.; d., Dec. 18, 1970) of San Antonio, was chairman of the Board of County Commissioners of Pasco County.
HARRIS GRESHEM BATCHELOR (1890-1960) was a prominent citrus grower and Pasco County tax collector, first elected in 1932. He served until he resigned in 1945. He had lived in or near Dade City for 50 years until his death. He was a native of Eatonton, Ga. [Information from his obituary.]
HARLEY SMITH BAZZELL (1898-1943) was the editor and publisher of the Dade City Banner. A native of Kentucky, he came to Dade City when a small boy and began his newspaper career as a printer’s devil for the Banner. He worked his way up to editor and bought the paper from Wayne Thomas.
JAMES H. BECKER (died in 1931, age 66) was a prominent businessman in New Port Richey during the boom of the 1920s. He was a partner in the Burns-Becker Corporation, chairman of the First State Bank, and an officer of Community Hotel, Inc., which operated the Hacienda Hotel. He came to New Port Richey in 1926 from Ohio, where his family owned the Elmore Manufacturing Company which produced bicycles and, starting in 1900, automobiles. The company was sold to General Motors in 1910.
AXEL WILLIAM BEIJAR (1883-1952) was an early resident of New Port Richey. He was born in Wasa, Finland, and came to what would become New Port Richey in 1912 from New York City. He was a carpenter. He built many local structures and also worked at Moon Lake Gardens and Dude Ranch He married Anna Upgard. A granddaughter is Pauline Asbell (GHS ’51), who provided some of this information.
ABRAHAM MELTON BELLAMY (1841-1891) was the fifth child of Abraham Bellamy, who lived on the Waccamaw River in Horry Co., S. C. On April 4, 1861, he married Sussanah Duett Vereen. He fought in the Civil War. By 1883 he and his family came to what later became Fivay, bringing with them Sussanah’s parents. Her parents died within a few years and were buried on the edge of a pond on their land which is called Vereen Pond. In 1888 Bellamy deeded two acres to be used for a Methodist Church and cemetery. The church was built by his family and neighbors and was used for a time as the local schoolhouse. It later burned and a school was built across from the church site. In February 1891 Bellamy was the first person to be buried in the cemetery named for his wife’s parents. Children:
[Information from The Early Settlers of Hudson]
RALPH BELLWOOD (1895-1969) came from Richmond, Virginia, to become the
pastor of Elfers Baptist Church around 1924. He described the church
as a "flourishing church, teeming with children and young people.”
He subsequently returned to the Richmond area where he served as a
pastor for 25 years and sang on Radio Station WRVA. He returned to
New Port Richey in 1953 after his retirement from the ministry,
and became the Executive Secretary of the New Port Richey
Chamber of Commerce. He was the author of Tales of
West Pasco (1962) and subsequently wrote newspaper columns about
local history. He was born in Chesterfield County, Virginia, and graduated from Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
NATHAN COPELAND BERRY (b. Feb. 13, 1876, in Georgia; d. Sept. 14, 1904, in Dunellon) was an early resident of Dade City. He is shown as a druggist in Dade City in the 1900 census. This photo from about 1904 shows Berry and others at Berry & Griffin Drug Store at the SE corner of Meridian and 8th Street. On May 21, 1903, a pharmacy magazine reported on the new name of the partnership, Berry & Griffin. Griffin bought out his partner soon after the photo was taken. On April 29, 1904, the Ocala Banner, in an article of news from Dunnellon, reported, “Mr. N. C. Berry has within the past few days purchased the drug store of Dr. J. M. Samuel. Mr. Berry came here from Dade City and will in a few weeks move his family here.” On Sept. 17, 1904, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported, under news of Dade City, “The friends of Nathan Berry are deeply grieved to hear of his death, which occurred at Dunnellon. He had recently left here and purchased a drug store in Dunnellon. His remains will be brought here for burial.” In 1898 Berry married Mattie Carter (b. Feb. 12, 1880; d. July 21, 1900), the youngest child of Newton A. Carter (q.v.) and Mary Howell Carter. On Jan. 7, 1903, Berry married Frances Cutler. [Information provided by Patricia Raposa.]
LEWIS BURRELL BESSENGER (1866-1933) operated a naval stores business in Dade City. He also was a large landowner and operated a sawmill in Blanton. He was born on Feb. 25, 1866, in Barnwell County, S. C. On Nov. 5, 1892, he married Alice Brannen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wiley Brannen of Bulloch County, Georgia. According to his obituary, he came to Dade City around 1902. Their children were Alice, Frank Leslie, George Ralph, Lewis Inman, and Lillian.
BENJAMIN LEE BLACKBURN (1852-1940) was an early school teacher in several Pasco County schools. According to his obituary, he was born on a plantation near Monticello and in 1880 came to Dade City, where he established the Fort Dade Messenger. He married Emma Geneva Wilson Sumner in Dade City in 1882. He was the supervisor of voter registration for Hillsborough County from 1918 to 1933. He lived the later part of his life in Tampa.
JESSE GOODMAN BLANTON (1831-1891) acquired property in T24 R21 S7 and S8 in 1883 and built a log cabin east of Blanton Lake. The town of Blanton is named for him. He was born Sept. 9, 1831, in Georgia. On Dec. 10, 1857, he married Martha Howell (1838- ? ). He enlisted in the Confederate Army in May 1862 and served in Company A, 20th Battalion, Georgia Cavalry, in the Georgia and Virginia campaigns. Jesse died on Apr. 22, 1891, in Gadsden County. More information is at www.my-blanton.com/nelle/JesseGBlanton-main.htm.
THOMAS J. BLITCH (1879-1931) operated a drug store in Trilby, where he lived his entire life. According to his obituary he was born near Trilby on Jan. 4, 1879, and was a justice of the peace since 1909. He was a trustee of the school located at Owensboro.
SANFORD BLOCKER (1877-1934) was an early settler in Blanton. He and his son Norman were postmasters of Blanton. Sanford was born on Apr. 11, 1877, in North Carolina. He married Emily Ellen O'Berry (b. Oct. 29, 1872, in Dade City; d. Nov. 12, 1918, in Dade City). Sanford died on Jan. 6, 1934, in Waycross, Ga. More information is at www.my-blanton.com/nelle/sanford_blocker_main.htm.
BASIL ORVILLE BOWDEN (died, 1938) was the publisher of the Dade City Star. He was also a sheriff of Citrus County and the owner of a billiard parlor in Clearwater. He died in Clearwater on April 30, 1938.
GEORGE SUMMERS BOWEN (b. 1841) was a representative from Pasco County. He was born in New Franklin, Md., on Nov. 28, 1841, and grew up in Baltimore. He was a manufacturer before coming to Florida in 1888. He settled in San Antonio, where he built the first house and was engaged in merchandising and fruit growing. He was still living there in 1899. He married Julia Wicks in Baltimore in 1872. [Information from an 1899 article in the Jacksonville Times-Union & Citizen.] The 1910 and 1920 censuses show him and his family in Hillsborough County.
JOHN SAMUEL BOYETTE (1865-1954). The following is from a 1987 St. Petersburg Times article by J. S. Baillie:
The story I am about to relate concerns one of Pasco County’s native sons, and perhaps, one of early Pasco County’s largest cattle owners. At least that is what the records show.
According to his obituary, Boyette was born in Webster on Aug. 24, 1865, and died at his home in Tarpon Springs on Apr. 12, 1954. He was a resident of Tarpon Springs for 54 years. He was survived by two sons, W. F. Boyett and Melvin Boyett of Tarpon Springs; three daughters, Mrs. Leola Baillie, Elfers, Mrs. Bessie Coachman and Mrs. Grace Baillie, Tarpon Springs; a brother, Harrison Boyett of Clay Sink; and a sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Gay of Tampa. A photo of Boyette is here.
WILLIAM H. “QUET” BOYETT JR. (died, 2002, age 84). The following article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on June 6, 2002.
DADE CITY - A pioneering rancher whose parents settled Clay Sink - a tiny community of about 30 people in northeast Pasco - died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. William H. "Quet" Boyett Jr. was 84. He died in his home, no more than 10 feet from where he was born, said his daughter, Cherry Norris, 43, of Dade City. He was called Quet all his life. The nickname came from his father, who used to call Boyett "sweet" as an infant. The boy would talk baby talk back to his daddy, saying "qweet" instead of sweet. Boyett was the youngest of four boys. In their younger days, he and his brothers cut the timber and built by hand the Clay Sink Baptist Church. Their family has been in the area since 1873. Quet Boyett’s passing marks the end of an era for the Clay Sink community, Norris said, because he is the last of his four brothers to die. He attended a one-room schoolhouse with a handful of other children. He went only to the eighth grade because the closest high school was 20 miles away in Dade City and he would have had to ride a horse to get there. But at the end of his eighth-grade year, Boyett felt he had not learned enough, so he went back and voluntarily did his last year over, Norris said. Despite his limited education, he was rich in wisdom, his daughter said. Boyett was an avid hunter and fisherman. He worked as a rancher for many years, leasing 17,000 acres near Clay Sink. At one time, his family had 3,000 head of cattle. He later went on to be a game warden for the Southwest Florida Water Management District. In his later years, he had a smaller farm where he grew peas and okra. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. His daughter said he will be remembered for his integrity. Other survivors include his wife of 58 years, Frieda; two sons, William III of Clay Sink and Larry of San Antonio; seven grandchildren; and two great- grandchildren. The funeral service is at 2 p.m. Friday at Coleman & Ferguson Funeral Home, with the Rev. Lee Burham and the Rev. Jerry McDaniel officiating. Burial will follow at the Clay Sink Cemetery. Friends may call from 5 to 8 tonight at the funeral home.
ZEBEDEE BOYETT (died, 1995, age 71). The following obituary appeared in the Tampa Tribune on Apr. 20, 1995:
ZEBEDEE BOYETT, 71, of Clay Sink died Sunday at home. A native of Clay Sink, he was a longtime resident of this area. He was a foreman at Fort Myers Construction Co., and member of Missionary Baptist Church. He is survived by his wife, Sarah A.; four sons, Charles J. of Fort Lauderdale, Scott White of LaBelle, and Todd and Zeb, both of Clay Sink; four daughters, Sharon Ann Rodriquez of Lake City, Ginger Tinsley of Fort Lauderdale, Debbie Denman of Stuart, and Kelly of Clay Sink; a sister, Nora Mae Ray of Lacoochee; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandsons. Coleman and Ferguson Co., Dade City.
EVERETT W. “EBB” BOYETT (died, 1992, age 86). The following obituary appeared in the Tampa Tribune on July 27, 1992:
EVERETT W. "EBB" BOYETT, 86, of Clay Sink, died Saturday at Royal Oak Nursing Resort, Dade City. A lifelong resident of Pasco County, he was a rancher, and a deacon at the Clay Sink Baptist Church. He is survived by his wife, Ruby G.; a son, Everett Henry of Clay Sink; a daughter, Imogene Parker of Valrico; a brother, W. H. "Quet" of Clay Sink; eight grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren. Coleman and Ferguson Funeral Home, Dade City.
DR. ERVENE C. BRAGG (1912-1995) was a founding member and first pastor of the Gospel Church in New Port Richey, later known as Jefferson Street Baptist Church.
He was born in Jacksonville. He entered the Florida Fundamental Bible Institute in 1932, its first year of existence, and graduated from the college
(now known as Trinity College of Florida) in 1934. He served as pastor of several churches in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, before coming back
to teach at Trinity College in 1943. During that time he also began to learn watch and clock repair and in 1945 he opened what Ralph Bellwood described as the first
jewelry store in New Port Richey.
Dr. Bragg taught at Trinity for more than 55 years. A web site devoted to his memory is
MENNO COUSENS BRAKE (abt. 1861 - 1948) was an early settler in what would become New Port Richey. His obituary has: “A retired elevator operator of Dutton, Michigan, Mr. Brake first came to Florida and New Port Richey in 1914 and later in 1920 his family followed to make this their permanent home. He was born in Berlin (now Kitchener) Ontario, Canada, and moved with his parents to Michigan at the age of six. In his younger years he had resided in several of the western states, and was present when the Cherokee Strip was opened for settlers, participating in that celebrated race for choice selections of the opened territory.” He is shown as the custodian in a Pierce Grammar School picture taken in 1940-41. He was married to Carrie Brake. Children:
WADE HAMPTON BREWTON (1888-1965) came to New Port Richey from Claxton, Ga., in June 1925. He served as the City Attorney for New Port Richey before moving to Dade City, where he eventually became a county judge.
MITCHELL “MIKE” BROERSMA (1870-1939) built the Hotel Newport with Anthony J. Pauels in 1914. He was a candidate for city council in the first municipal election in 1924. Interviewed on Armistice Day 1935, Minnie Broersma (1874-1938) recalled that she and her husband arrived in the area on Armistice Day 1911, at which time there were no more than 200 people in the entire area. “When New Port Richey was just a promise, we built Hotel Newport, which we kept going for 19 years, and many of the early settlers of the town made their headquarters with us.” A 1929 newspaper article reported, “Mr. and Mrs. Broersma, bringing Mabel and Herbert their adopted son, came to New Port Richey in February 1914 and started the hotel they now run.” They operated the hotel until 1920 and then moved to Sarasota for a year. Returning to Port Richey, they built the Magnolia Tavern, which they sold to C. F. York. In 1923 they purchased the Newport Inn from A. J. Pauels. They came from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Children:
DR. EDWIN CHARLES BROOKMAN (1900-1973), an osteopathic physician, was one of the early doctors in New Port Richey. He was born on Aug. 1, 1900, and died on Dec. 15, 1973. He came to New Port Richey about 1938. He served as Mayor from 1944 to 1952. He resigned as Mayor on Oct. 1, 1952, because he had been Chief of Staff of Doctor’s Hospital in St. Petersburg for a year and decided to end his practice in New Port Richey. He arranged for Dr. Gerard R. Sprankel to take over his office and practice in New Port Richey. His wife, Thamar Brookman (b. May 10, 1910; d. Dec. 1986), was a professional ballet dancer in Europe. Edwin’s only daughter Cecily Grace (d., Feb. 13, 2010) was a Pasco County teacher for 37 years. She married James Grey.
WILLIAM H. BROPHY (1871-1939) was one of the earliest settlers of the town of Crystal Springs and was the first merchant. He was the first and only railroad agent until the office was abolished and was the first postmaster. At one time he served as president of the National League of Postmasters. He was born in Hopedale, Ill., and came to Florida in 1911. He married Mrs. Elsie M. Chancey of New York in 1912. After her death he married Mrs. Mazie Brett of Jacksonville in 1932.
JAMES O. BROWN (1826-1884) served in the Civil War and is listed among the veterans buried at East Elfers Cemetery in the WPA survey. James O. Brown was the contractor for the Hopeville post office in 1878. The 1870 Hernando County census shows James O. Brown, age 34, a farmer, b. in Alabama with his wife Mary F., age 30, b. in Alabama and son John, age 3, b. in Alabama. The 1880 Hernando County census shows J. O. Brown, age 53, a farmer, b. in Alabama, with his wife M. F. age 40, b. in Georgia, and son J. O. T., age 13, b. in Florida, attending school. The 1885 mortality schedule for Hernando County shows James O. Brown had died in August 1884 at age 58. It reported that he lived in the county for 16 years and was born in Alabama. Children:
JOHN ALLEN BROWN (died, 1879) married Abigail Sarah Conyers. The 1850 Marion County census shows him as a farmer, age 22, born in Alabama, and her as age 20, born in Florida. He died at Anclote and is among the first persons buried in West Elfers Cemetery. The WPA survey of that cemetery lists him as a private in the Civil War. Their children were:
A different source adds a daughter, Virginia M. (1856-1899), m. John Pinder, q.v., on July 27, 1878.
JOHN O. BROWN (1854-1941) was a long-time resident of Elfers. He was known as “Uncle Jack.” According to his obituary he came here from Marion County in 1875. On Jan. 19, 1878, he married Mary Elizabeth Sheffield (b. June 1, 1862, in Thomasville Ga.; died May 29, 1954, in Elfers). Her brother Ellis Sheffield lived with them. He was a farmer. According to his obituary, he joined what would become the Elfers Baptist Church in 1883. According to Forrest Hill Jr., John did not own a horse and would walk from Ocala to what would become Elfers to court Mary. It was a two-day trip. Their children were:
JOHN GIPPSON “GIP” BROWN (1882-1969) homesteaded Green Key Island in 1924, hoping to promote it as a subdivision. Ralph Bellwood wrote that he believed Green Key was the last island on the west coast of Florida to be homesteaded. Brown was born in what became Elfers and later moved to New Port Richey, where he lived for fifteen years before moving to Land O’ Lakes, where he died. He was involved in many occupations but was best known as a boatbuilder. The 1930 census shows him as a wholesale dealer in guano. He married Cora Stevenson (d., 1953, age 75). At the time of his death he was survived by a wife Florence L.
IVAN BRUSH (1892-1975) came to New Port Richey in 1917 according to the obituary of his son. He married Flossie A. (1891-1970) about 1915. He was born on Aug. 7, 1892, and died in December 1975. Children included:
BURNEY, RUFUS LAWRENCE SR. (1875-1958) was born in Blackshear, Ga. He married Seally Ann Josephine Wade on Dec. 24, 1902, in Mayo, Fla. He came to this area in 1928 according to his obituary. He died in Elfers on July 28, 1958. Seally died Dec. 13, 1973, in Elfers. Children who lived locally are shown below.
BURNEY, JAMES ARTHUR (1910-1976) was born on Mar. 8, 1910, in Lafayette, La. He was a retired owner of a trucking company, according to his obituary. He married Alma Christine Porter in 1931. She died on Mar. 4, 1976, in New Port Richey. Children:
BURNEY, RUFUS LAWRENCE JR. (1912-1975) was born on May 8, 1912, in McAlpin, Fla. He married Ruth Lucile Hall on Oct. 20, 1934. She served as the acting postmaster of Elfers from 1960 to 1968. Mr. Burney, known as “R. L,” died on June 4, 1975, in Lake City.
BURNEY, ALLEN MARVIN (1928-1991) was born in Elfers. He was in the GHS Class of 1946. He married Rhea Rosamond Spooner in 1948. They had no children. He died on Nov. 4, 1991, in Saucier, Miss.
WARREN E. BURNS (1876-1941) was an important developer in New Port Richey in the 1920s. He was president of the Burns-Becker Realty Co., which built the Hacienda Hotel. A 1922 newspaper article reported that he was the largest property owner in New Port Richey outside the Port Richey Company and that he held the controlling interest in the Gulf Utilities Company, which provided electric power in the city. He was the acting mayor of New Port Richey in 1928. He is shown as 50 years old in the 1930 census; the dates above are from his gravemarker. He was born in Milford Junction, Indiana. His mansion on the Pithlachascotee River was demolished in December 2002.
JAMES EDGEFIELD BURNSIDE (1845-1936) was a pioneer resident of Pasco County and a Civil War veteran. His obituary follows:
James Edgefield Burnside, a prominent resident of Pasco County for seventy years, passed away June 4 at the home of his eldest son, A. J. Burnside, clerk of the circuit court. Last Christmas eve his ninetieth birthday was celebrated with the customary family reunion.
An article about his son Archie J. Burnside is here.
ETTA BURT (1883-1959) was the first black teacher in Pasco County with a college degree. She was born in Atlanta on Feb. 3, 1883. Her mother was a teacher, and her father worked as a preacher and a hack, or wagon driver. In 1902, she moved to Ocala to begin her teaching career after graduating from Atlanta University, now Clark Atlanta University. She married in 1903 and had 11 children by the time her husband died in 1933. Four of her children became teachers. Her son, Foster 'Jack' Burt, then 91 and living in Harlem, said his father was a brick mason and barber who built their home in Trilby. Burt spent most of her career, which lasted more than 40 years, in Pasco. She worked in Dade City, Blanton and Trilby, along with Crystal River, Flora City and Plant City. She died on Oct. 4, 1959. More information is here. [Information from a 2007 Tampa Tribune article by Imani Asukile.]
HENRY CLAY BUSH (1857-1906). The following is taken from
The Early Settlers of Hudson. It was compiled by Christie Bush Knowles.
An early settler of the little town of Hudson in the early 1800’s was Henry Clay Bush. He came from the cotton-farming state of Mississippi, where he was reared near Pickens in Holmes County. Evidently, he decided at an early age that farming cotton was for someone else, because he left that state after his schooling. It is believed that he never returned to Mississippi.
The Florida State Gazetteer and Business Directory of 1886-87 shows Bush as a Justice of the Peace living in Hudson. According to Stanaback, "Eventually I. W. Hudson was able to purchase 200 acres and to have H. C. Bush survey and plat a town site.” On July 18, 1903 the Tarpon Springs News reported, “H. C. Bush is doing surveying on the Hudson & Brooksville railway.”
STEWART BUTLER (b. 1842) married Leuanna Emeriler Tucker (b. 1847). According to Ash, they came to Florida in a covered wagon from Birmingham around 1884 or 1885 and settled on the Cotee River. They built a log cabin on five acres given to them by John R. Sawyer II for their daughter, Georgia. Children: