Early Residents of Pasco County

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This page was last revised on Jan. 3, 2013.

CORINNE M. TAIT (1896-1992) could be considered the first school teacher in New Port Richey, although there were earlier teachers in Port Richey and at the Cootie School. She taught in the 1914-15 school year in the McNatt Building at the southeast corner of Central Avenue and Adams Street, before the New Port Richey school was built in 1915. She was born in Dade City on March 1, 1896, and died there on May 25, 1992. She married Jackson Ward Hancock (b. Jun 11 1892, d. Jun 8 1961). Both are buried in Dade City. Her obituary is as follows:

HANCOCK, CORINNE MINNIE, 96, of Dade City, died Monday (May 25, 1992) at Humana Hospital Pasco. She was a lifelong resident of Dade City and a rancher. She was a member of the First Baptist Church, Dade City. Survivors include a stepson, John B., Willoughby, Texas; four nieces, Lucille Smith, Dade City, Corinne Peeples, Zephyrhills, Doris Stewart, Dade City, and Anna Lee Lewis, Crystal River; and a nephew, Roscoe Tait, Tampa. Coleman and Ferguson Funeral Home, Dade City.

CHARLES ALMANZOR TANSILL (died, age 66, in 1936) was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and served in an executive capacity in the occupation of the Philippines until 1920. While there, he met Mabel Dobbs, a nurse from Baltimore and New York, whom he married. He and his wife settled in New Port Richey in 1920. Mr. Tansill had a role in the Indian pageant in the first Chasco Fiesta in 1922. His wife taught at the New Port Richey school and became its principal in the 1924-25 school year.

The Thrasher Family in Dade City

This article was contributed by David E. Sumner. According to the Dade City Banner, John J. Thrasher settled on Lake Buddy in 1884.

David Oliver Thrasher (1848-1912) and Barton Conway Thrasher were Atlanta natives and sons of a prominent Atlanta merchant and railroad builder who was also one of the founders of that city. Their father, John James Thrasher (1818-1899), built the first railroad through the village originally known as “Thrasherville” and then “Terminus” and “Marthasville” before it was officially incorporated as “Atlanta” in 1845. John J. Thrasher had lost his wealth and his home during the Civil War, which forced the family to leave and seek their fortunes elsewhere. (For a biography of John J. Thrasher, see “Everybody’s Cousin: John J. Thrasher was one of Atlanta’s Founders and Most Colorful Figures” by David E. Sumner in the Georgia Historical Quarterly, Summer 2000, pp. 295-307.)

The exact date of Barton and David Oliver Thrasher’s move to Dade City isn’t known, but it was probably during the 1870s. Their move was followed by their father’s move to Dade City—probably in the 1880s. Other children of John J. Thrasher and Margaret Scaife Thrasher (1826-1898) included: Jesse Scaife (1845-1927); John Joseph (1853-1962): Margaret V. (1843-?); Mamie D. (1857-?); Ellen B. (1859-1894; and Willis Edgar (1862-1934). David Oliver, Barton, and John J. Thrasher are all buried in the Dade City Cemetery.

David O. Thrasher became county judge in 1887, the third superintendent of schools for Pasco County in 1896, and was elected Dade City mayor on Feb. 6, 1905. The 1907 directory of the College Avenue Baptist Church (now First Baptist) lists him as a deacon. Barton Thrasher became a pharmacist and drug store owner. Little else is known about Barton or his family. David O. Thrasher’s daughter, Frankie Thrasher (1880-1922), married my grandfather David Edwin Sumner in 1897. I have a copy of their marriage license, which was issued by County Judge J. K. Davis on Feb. 24, 1897. Other children of D. O. Thrasher included: Marguerite Warren Thrasher (1869-1919); John Wylie Thrasher (1870-1891); David LeLand Thrasher (1872-1953); Robert Toombs Thrasher (1881-1945); and Ellen M. Thrasher (dates NA).

Four Thrasher families were recognized among official “founding families” in the 1998 re-dedication of the Pasco County Courthouse. They included David Hughey and Sarah Harper Thrasher, Judge David O. and Ellen Mason Thrasher, John James and Margaret B. Scaife Thrasher, and Willis E. and Pallen Cochrane Thrasher.

After his move to Dade City, there is some evidence that John J. Thrasher played a role in bringing the first railroad to the area. A family history published in 1977 says: “Thrasher was always promoting railroads. He was next traced to Dade City, Florida. In 1946, an interview with an elderly gentleman, Mr. Jasper C. Carter of Dade City, who knew John J. Thrasher, told how Thrasher made speeches and helped get a railroad through that town.” [Vessie Thrasher Rainer, Thrasher-Barton Descendents of Georgia (privately published, 1977).]

When John J. Thrasher (also known as “Cousin John”) died on Nov. 13, 1899, the Atlanta Constitution published his obituary the next day, which read in part: “Cousin John Thrasher, one of the best-known and oldest citizens of Atlanta, died in Dade City, Florida, yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock at the advanced age of eighty-two years. . . . He was a prominent figure in the old days of Terminus and Marthasville, as well as later when Atlanta became the greatest southern city, and now his death carries away next to the last of the three famous pioneers who were here before any of the people making this their home had ever heard of the place.” He and his wife are buried on the western edge of the Dade City Cemetery closest to the railroad line he helped bring to the city.

David Edwin Sumner and Frankie Thrasher had three children: Edwin Mason Sumner (1897-1963), Susan Bugby (1902-1989) and Joseph David Sumner (1913-1959). Frankie Thrasher died of an illness at the age of 42, and D. E. Sumner later re-married. The children of Joseph David Sumner included this author (b. 1946) and his two sisters: Frankie Goldsby (b. 1939) and Joann Bandy (b. 1938).

While a few Thrashers settled in Florida, the family’s roots remain in Georgia where the Atlanta hockey team is known as the “Thrashers” and the Brown Thrasher is the official state bird. The Thrasher Family Association sponsors an annual reunion and publishes a quarterly newsletter. The newsletter editor is Barbara Eger, a Thrasher descendent now living in Dade City.

NICHOLAS TIEDEMANN (1874-1943) was a farmer who came to what would become New Port Richey in 1913 or 1914, originally living in a houseboat. He was born in Germany and came to the U. S. in 1888. He drowned in the Pithlachascotee River in June 1943 and was buried at Cycadia Cemetery. A nephew was George C. Blume, who became Mayor of Jacksonville.

FRED L. TOUCHTON (1892-1947) was a state senator and businessman. He was born Aug. 28, 1892, in a log house on a farm in Lowndes County, Ga. After completing the eighth grade, he went to Valdosta and was hired as a clerk in a drug store. On Aug. 8, 1947, the New Port Richey Press reported, “Fred L. Touchton of Dade City, formerly a state Senator for Sumter and Pasco counties, and for many years connected with drug stores, both in Dade City and elsewhere in the state, died Sunday, July 27 of a sudden heart attack which came upon him about eight o'clock in the morning as he reached the Service Drugstore following the walk from his home to his place of business. Immediate survivors included his wife, a son Fred L. Jr., and a daughter, Mary Letha. Burial was in Dade City cemetery.”

Capt. JOHN T. “JACK” TOWNSEND (1793-1867) built a log cabin about 14 miles northwest of what is now Dade City about 1846 to 1848. He was a son of Light Townsend III. He was born in South Carolina. He married Nancy Leigh (Lee) in Georgia. During the Second Seminole War he raised a company of Mounted Volunteers and was elected its Captain in February 1840. After some months of service as a unit of the Florida Militia, it was mustered into the service of the U. S. He was elected a County Commissioner in Hernando County in Jan. 1852, in 1855, 1857, and 1863. He died in Hernando County on Dec. 28, 1867 (his tombstone in Townsend Church Cemetery reads “died Dec. 28, 1868, age 78 years”). His wife died in Hernando County on Dec. 2, 1868. The children of John Townsend and Nancy (Lee) Townsend were:

  • Eliza Livonia, b. in Georgia in 1817, d. in Brooksville in 1890, married Joseph Obida Hale, q.v.
  • Thomas Jefferson, killed before the Civil War by his overseer
  • Elizabeth, b. in Georgia in 1820. She married John S. Taylor (1813-1895) in 1852 and died on Mar. 3, 1854, two days after the birth of their first child, Nancy Elizabeth Taylor. Nancy Elizabeth Taylor married Dr. Bethel McMullen (1845-1940) at Brooksville in 1874.
  • Jane Elizabeth, b. in Florida in 1827. She married Stephen T. Hancock in Alachua County.
  • Sarah Caroline, b. in Jefferson Co. Florida in 1829. She married Henry William Hancock, q.v., and died Jan. 18, 1895, and was buried in Townsend House Cemetery.

ROSEMARY TROTTMAN (1901-1990) was a long-time teacher and the author of The History of Zephyrhills 1821-1921. According to her obituary, she was a lifelong resident of Zephyrhills, and a schoolteacher for 40 years until her retirement in 1965. She attended Zephyrhills Consolidated schools, graduating in 1919. She earned a bachelor's degree in education from Florida Southern University and a master's degree from Florida State University in 1950. Her husband, Warren E. Trottman, died in 1985 at the age of 90. Their only child, Warren Trottman Jr., died in World War II.

JOHN M. TUCKER (1858-1926). According to his obituary, Tucker was born in Tampa on June 28, 1858, and came to Pasco County, near San Antonio, with his parents at age 11, and had lived there ever since. He died at his home in Lake Jovita (San Antonio) on Aug. 6, 1926.

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