HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
Early Residents of Pasco County
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Dr. JAMES GOODWIN WALLACE (1836-1911). According to information posted in a genealogy forum by Marion Turano, Wallace came to Florida Kingstree, S. C. He was a widower with at least two sons and a daughter. They lived in Ocala before moving to Leesburg. The following is from The History of Zephyrhills 1821-1921 by Rosemary W. Trottman:
It was in 1876 that another Confederate surgeon settled on the shore of Lake Buddy. He was Dr. James Goodwin Wallace, who had regained his health while living near Ocala. When he felt able to practice again, he had founded the town of Leesburg and was its first mayor, serving two terms. There he began the study of law and was admitted to the Bar. He was elected state’s attorney for the Leesburg district and served two terms. His patients, his clients, his study of law, and his participation in politics soon sapped his strength; and he moved to Lake Buddy for a rest. He brought with him his mother, Mrs. Ida McCulloch Wallace, who managed his household after his wife died, his young sister, Jennie, his four sons, Edward, Julius, Emmett, and Murry, and his three daughters, Eva, Lee, and Ida. Dr. Wallace filed for homestead or bought land on the east end of the ridge of hills beginning at Lake Buddy and extending toward Tuckertown. He founded the town of Ellerslie and began to promote it as a health resort. He established the first newspaper, the Fort Dade Messenger, in Fort Dade. In its columns he gave attention to promoting the region. In one such article he made a bid for some investor to build a sanitarium at Ellerslie. He pointed out that in just a short time a number of residences had been built there within sight of each other. These homes were his own, his son, Emmett’s, and those of L. D. Shearer, P. R. Weaver, Horace Anderson, Eli Vaughn, Thomas Godfrey, and John R. Summer. Joseph and Elizabeth Smith Tucker built a Methodist Church there. The promotion of Ellerslie seemed to be Dr. Wallace’s main interest. His neighbors, Dr. Abbott at Pasadena and the aging Dr. Gill at Tuckertown, were practicing medicine. His work on the Messenger and his law office at Fort Dade soon gave him all he cared to do. He must have done some medical work, because one historian wrote, "Practicing before the courts (of Florida) during the period of 1877 to 1901 were approximately three hundred attorneys, but in the smaller counties a number of these had to pursue other vocations to make enough for a fair living. One local attorney of whom the author knows was also a physician." On a succeeding page, Mr. Cash named seven practicing attorneys at Brooksville and in Fort Dade, D. H. Thrasher and Dr. J. G. Wallace.
In a letter published in the Sunland Tribune of Oct. 13, 1877, Dr. Wallace called for an end to the shame and lawlessness in Hernando County. He believed that the division of the county would soon be necessary. On July 19, 1906, the Tampa Weekly Tribune reported that Edwin R. Wallace, son of Dr. Wallace of Dade City, was killed at Ellinger City, Tampa, by Francisco Alfano. Dr. Wallace was born June 24, 1836, and died Jan. 13, 1911. He is buried in the Dade City cemetery.
DR. FRANCIS WALLER (1877-1957) and MARY ANN WALLER (1885-1933)
were perhaps the first doctor and nurse in Elfers. They came to Elfers
in 1911. Francis Waller was born in Virginia.
According to a genealogy page, he was born on Jan. 8, 1877, although another source gives 1876.
His wife was born in Ireland. They had a son, William (Bill) Waller, the father of
Mary Ann Waller (Johnson), who graduated from Gulf High in 1959 and
John W. Waller, who graduated from Gulf in 1963.
JOHN T. WALLER (1850-1915) was an early settler in eastern Pasco County. According to the 1900 census, he was born in Aug. 1850 in Ohio. His obituary in the Dade City Banner of June 4, 1915, reported: "Mr. Waller came here twenty odd years ago and bought valuable property, much of which he still retained up to the time of his death. He owned eleven hundred acres of land near Pasadena, including three orange groves. He also had an interest in several traveling carnivals, having a partner, said to be a French count, who looked after these, but who is now reported to be sick in a hospital in Oklahoma."
JAMES CHARLES (JIMMY) WASDELL (1914-1983), a major league baseball player in the 1930s and 1940s, died in New Port Richey. As a first baseman for the Washington Senators in 1939, he committed four errors in one game, setting an American League record.
HERBERT WATERS (1884-1962) and WINONA (DUSTIN) WATERS (1889-1977). Both came to New Port Richey around 1923; her father William A. Dustin retired to New Port Richey in the winter of 1922. Winona began giving violin lessons in 1924 and organized the High School Orchestra, consisting of eight pieces, in 1925. Herbert sang in Hyde Park Church in Tampa and then directed the choir of Community Church in New Port Richey. Winona played the violin and Herbert sang at the Junior-Senior Banquet held at the Kissimmee Inn in Elfers in 1926 and at the banquet held in 1927 at the Hacienda. Herbert died on July 2, 1962. (This information from West Pasco’s Heritage.) The newspaper column "Early Days in New Port Richey" by John W. Parkes of May 22, 1958, has:
Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Waters were among the first young couples whom we met in those good old early days. Mrs. Waters, who began teaching at Gulf High School in 1924, organized the first high school orchestra in the city. It was composed of her violin students and pupils in the school, who were learning other instruments. Mittye Walker Pierce, now Mrs. Floyd Locke, who was attending Gulf High at the time, was her first pianist. From that small beginning was formed the Gulf High School band directed by Wood Ross, now deceased, and later taken over by Gilbert Stansell, who did a splendid job of developing an outstanding band which did much to favorably publicize New Port Richey.
Their son, Wendell D. Waters (1918-2009), was the GHS valedictorian in 1934.
J. S. WEEKS, JR. (died, 1914). The following is from his obituary:
J. S. Weeks, a prominent naval stores operator, died at Hudson at 2 o’clock yesterday morning. ... Mr. Weeks’ remains will be carried this morning across the county to Dade City, and placed on a train for Georgia. He will be buried near his old home in north Colquit County. His father, J. S. Weeks, Sr., and his wealthy uncle, J. B. Norman, live there. A widow and one child survive him. ... Mr. Weeks is survived by three brothers, T. L. Weeks, of Enville; J. M. Weeks, of Brooksville; and Caesar Weeks of Ehren. He was familiarly known as “Bud” Weeks, and, with his brothers, owned a vast tract of timber reaching from Tarpon Springs to Brooksville.
JOHN MORGAN WEEKS (died, 1947, age 66) is shown as 28 years old, living at Anclote, in the 1910 census. The following is taken from his obituary:
John Morgan Weeks, 66, prominent Hernando County merchant and citrus grower, died Tuesday, Nov. 18, at his home in Brooksville. Mr. Weeks, better known here as “Caesar,” lived many years ago at what is now known as the Joe Knight grove at Elfers. He, with his three brothers, Bud, Pete and Jim, owned a turpentine still in West Pasco County. Later he lived on the John Craver property in Old Orange Grove, owning a turpentine still south of the old Swartsel home on the south side. Following the sale of their holdings here, the Weeks brothers moved to Ehren, where they started another turpentine still, later moving to Brooksville, where the late Mr. Weeks owned a hardware business which has been operated by his son, John M. Weeks, Jr., since his father was taken ill about a year ago.
JOSEPH N. WEISKOPF (1888-1959) first visited the area on Easter Sunday in 1920 and moved to New Port Richey with his family in 1925. He was engaged in several businesses. He was a charter member of the local Chamber of Commerce. He was married to Anna Marie "Mame" Weiskopf. He was born in Chicago. Mrs. Weiskopf died at age 94 on March 22, 1986. Her obituary stated that she and her late husband ran the Oasis Bar at the corner of South Boulevard and Main Street for more than 40 years, and had the first liquor license in town. She continued to run the business after her husband died. Her obituary stated that she was born in Chicago, arrived in Clearwater in 1921, and moved to New Port Richey three years later. A son, George, died at age 20 in 1936. He had suffered from heart trouble since he was a child, and according to his obituary, his parents came here because of his health.
JACOB WELLS (1825-1872). A 2003 Tampa Tribune article has: “Jacob Wells...came from Madison County in 1842 and set up a home near Riggs Hammock on what originally was Handcart Road, now Prospect Road. A community developed there called Prospect.”
A son, John Wesley Wells (1844-1899) operated the first sawmill in Pasco County just south of Dade City, according to J. A. Hendley.
A grandson, John Ruben Wells (1873-1926) married Lourina Geiger in 1898. They are shown in Wesley Chapel in the 1900 census.
A great-grandson, Reuben Wesley Wells (1898-1964) was the police chief of Zephyrhills, according to his obituary, which states that
he was born in Abbott (later Zephyrhills). A picture of his grave marker is
RALPH WERNER (1867-1955) was an early resident of what would become New Port Richey. According to his obituary, "He was a native of Germany, born November 22, 1867, and coming to America in 1879. He came to New Port Richey from Elyria, Ohio, 44 years ago, residing on a farm hewed out of the semi-jungle. His nearest neighbor at that time was 2 1/2 miles away through a jungle trail that led to where the town of Elfers is now located. In later years, he controlled Werner Company, owners of the Green Key Stone Quarry. Mr. Werner donated the stone for several of the churches in this community as well as assisting in a number of early civic developments. He was a retired farmer and former railroad conductor."
DANIEL WESA (1879- ? ) was living in Port Richey by 1915, when he applied for U. S. citizenship. He was born in Mikkeli, Finland, and moved to Florida from Escanaba, Michigan. He was a farmer and he also repaired shoes in his home. His children were Helga, Eino and Selma.
JAMES WHIDDEN (1824-1882) and his wife Mary Thomas (1828-1882) were early settlers. According to an Internet page, "the James Whidden family settled in the Hidden Lakes area in the 1860’s." They died in Tarpon Springs. James Whidden is shown in Hernando County in the 1880 census but apparently does not appear here in the 1870 census. See the Whitehurst-Whidden-Stevenson feud. Their children were:
ELIAS AUGUST WICK (1872-1927) married Hilma Irene Berglund (1878-1970) in 1903 in Finland. She had been a member of a choir that toured the Scandinavian countries and had performed for King Oskar of Sweden. August Wick, who had been a gold miner in Africa, was shown an advertisement for the Port Richey Company in a Brooklyn newspaper while he was in England. The couple arrived in Port Richey in March 1914, and Irene’s third son Elis Gustaf was born in Port Richey on April 12, 1914, according to John W. Parkes, who interviewed her in 1961, or on April 12, 1913, according to WPH. Elis Gustaf Wick may have been born in what is now New Port Richey, which might qualify him to be the first baby born in New Port Richey. However, the name New Port Richey did not yet exist. The 1930 census shows Irene Wick living with children Oscar J., 20; Elis G., 17; Svea I., 14; Wilhelm P., 12; and Florence, 8. Oscar was born in Finland; the others were born in Florida. The obituary of Elias Wick says he died of an illness "said to be tuberculosis, caused from the settling of gold dust on his lungs while he was a gold miner in Africa several years ago."
BILL WILLIAMS (1862-1927) was an early black resident of Dade City. His obituary follows:
Uncle Bill Williams, one of the oldest of the colored residents of Dade City, died at his home here Tuesday. Uncle Bill was born one year before the Emancipation proclamation was issued by President Lincoln during the Civil war, in the neighborhood of Madison, in the western part of this state. He came to Pasco county something over 40 years ago, and was well known for years as a butcher of hogs on the farms, and for his skill in putting up home-made sausage, chitterlings, and other farm delicacies. Of late years he operated a barber shop on Seventh street. Funeral services for this old negro will be held Sunday afternoon at St. Paul’s Baptist church (colored) and will be buried at the colored cemetery at Indian Pond. J. R. Harper, colored undertaker, will be in charge of the arrangements.
Rev. OWEN N. WILLIAMS (1855-1922) founded O. N. Williams and Son Department Store in Dade City on June 30, 1908, according to his obituary. The store was known then as the Racket Store. He was born in Bulloch County, Ga., on Feb. 23, 1855. He moved to Florida in 1885 and married Belle Tucker of Fort Christmas, Orange County, and lived in Orlando before moving to Dade City. He was a Baptist minister for 38 years, establishing churches in various parts of the state. He represented Pasco County in the state legislature, and is listed in the Legislative Blue Book of 1915. He died at his home in Dade City on Dec. 15, 1922. According to this web page, his name is Oscar Nathaniel Williams.
WRIGHT W. WILLIAMSON (1836-1917) was an early settler in what is now Pasco County. The following is his obituary which appeared in the Dade City Banner on Nov. 2, 1917, under the heading "Wright W. Williamson Dies at Ripe Old Age":
Mr. Wright W. Williamson one of the oldest settlers of Pasco County passed away Tuesday at the sanitarium at Chattahoochee after having been confined there about a week. Mr. Williamson had been in good health up until a few months ago, when he began to fail, and about two weeks ago became mentally unbalanced. The body was brought to Dade City Wednesday and taken to the home of Mr. W. W. Guy where funeral services were held Thursday. Burial was made in the Prospect Cemetery Thursday afternoon at 2:30. Mr. Williamson was born in 1836. He came to Dade City in 1856 and settled on a farm in the Pasadena neighborhood. He was one of the active pioneers of this county and was prominently identified with the early development of this section. He was known far and near as a man of good repute and could always be depended upon to lend a helping hand to any honest enterprise. He is survived by three children, Mrs. W. W. Guy, and Mrs. Willis Dormany of the Pasadena section and Mr. Giles Williamson of Tampa. Besides these he leaves a host of friends throughout the county who greatly regret his departure.
According to a later newspaper article, he came here from South Carolina in 1855 as a soldier in the Seminole Indian war. When the Civil War broke out, he furnished a substitute in the Confederate army, while he served with a company in the Union army and was stationed for a period at Fort Myers. He was detailed to make caskets for victims of the war.
The 1870 census shows he was a wheelwright and his wife was Mary Wells, who according to another source was a daughter of Jacob Wells. The children are shown in the census as William, Mary S., Nancy, and Ella A. In 1872 he helped build the Mt. Zion Methodist church, according to the obituary of Newton Carter. An 1888 deed shows Williamson was a trustee of the Prospect Methodist Episcopal Church South. Early records from the church show that he became a member in 1855. An deed dated Nov. 14, 1888, shows his homestead at S 8, T 25, R 21, which is on the north side of Lake Pasadena. Old homestead records and his headstone in the Williams cemetery show that his real name was William W. Williamson.
One of his daughters, Mary S., was born Jan. 12, 1860. At age 19 she married Willis A. Dormany. Together they developed a farm and citrus grove on Lake Pasadena where they lived until Mr. Dormany died in 1921.
HENRY STEVENS WILSON (1840-1933) was the oldest resident of Pasco County at the time of his death, according to his obituary. He was born in Upholland, Lancashire, England, on Dec. 26, 1840, and died on July 29, 1933. On March 31, 1861, he married Sarah Jane Beale of Manchester, England; she died on Aug. 8, 1912. At the time of his death, only one of their ten children was living in Florida; she was Mrs. F. N. Mills of Dade City.
HENRY S. WITT (1879-1921) married Annie Jane Frierson (b. Dec. 14, 1893; d. Oct. 6, 1957). He began work a citrus inspector engaged in canker eradication work in 1914. He died on June 18, 1921, at Elfers; on the morning of that day he was at work inspecting citrus groves for canker. His obituary reported that he had lived in Seven Springs “for the past 10 or 12 years.” On Jan. 18, 1922, widow Annie married James Edward Bosely (b. May 16, 1890; d. Apr. 3, 1970). Children:
JACOB WORLEY (1818-1881 or 1821-1881) appears first in a list of earliest known settlers of Hudson compiled by Hendley. Born in Camden County, Georgia, he arrived around 1868. Jacob Worley’s tombstone, indicating he was born on Feb. 13, 1818, was stolen from the West Elfers Cemetery in January 1987 and smashed into about ten pieces. He married Mary Alderole (b. ca. 1821, Camden Co., Ga.). The 1870 census shows him, age 49, a wheel wright living in Hernando County. The 1880 census shows him, age 59, a herder living in Hernando County with two children, James, 18, and Jacob, 12.
JACOB M. WORLEY (1868-1942), a son of Jacob Worley, married Maggie E. Baillie (1875-1972) in Dade City in 1893.
DANIEL CYRIL WRIGHT (1869-1933) was a merchant in Dade City. He was born in Ogdensburg, N. Y., on Oct. 9, 1869. He married Winifred Doyle and in 1915 moved with his family to Florida, where he first engaged in the mercantile business in Lakeland, later moving to Dade City and buying the Ferrell and Redding dry goods store, on the corner later occupied by the Touchton Drug Co. With his sons Ed, Cecil, and Harold, he operated this business, known as D. C. Wright and Sons, for about five years. He then moved back to New York. He returned to Dade City near the end of his life, where he farmed at his home south of Dade City.
EDGAR ALLEN WRIGHT (1868-1929) was elected Mayor of New Port Richey in 1926 and 1927 without opposition. He was born in Lewiston, Maine. In 1910 he moved to Tampa to take charge of the Florida Grower, which he edited for 14 years. In 1924 he moved to New Port Richey to develop his large property interests in the town and he continued to write for publications covering the citrus industry.
ALFRED C. WUERTHELE (abt. 1878 - 1947) was an early resident who wrote a newspaper column of Seven Springs news in the New Port Richey Press under the name “Dutch Al.” According to his obituary, “He operated a small farm on his property, coming to this city selling his vegetables, fruits and plants, as they came in season.” His obituary spells his name Alford C. Wuerthele and says he came here from Pittsburgh. The 1930 census shows him in Elfers, age 52, born in Baden, Deutschland. His wife Mary J. died in 1952.