HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
Richland - Lumberton - Tuckertown
Thomas R. Tucker (1798-1865) and Sarah Tucker (1788-1855) settled in Pasco County around 1842. He planted what is said to be the county’s first orange grove in 1845. The earliest marker at the Tucker Cemetery in Richland is that of Sarah Tucker.
On May 11, 1870, the Florida Peninsular reported, “Mr. E. Bettman and Capt. F. Worth have opened a store at Tuckertown, in Hernando County.”
On Oct. 5, 1876, a post office was established at Tuckertown.
On Aug. 7, 1885, the Daily Review of Wilmington, N. C., reported:
The point where the writer is indulging in a little pastime is considered the most beautiful spot in this section, and bids far to be the most popular station. The soil is of a brownish color and is noted for its richness and its superiority for orange culture over other sections of the State. The land is rolling and its scenery is unsurpassed in any portion of Florida. It is known at present as Tucker’s Town, a family of that name being the oldest settlers here. There are several very large cattle ranges here, some numbering upwards of six thousand acres. The writer had the pleasure of visiting one of these ranches and it was without exception the wildest and grandest sight he ever saw. The ranch is owned by a Mr. Joe Tucker, who spends his entire time in cattle raising. During the writer’s visit in the surrounding country he was suprrised to find in one orange grove a grape fruit tree which was eight feet and nine inches in diameter, and was literally loaded with delicious fruit. Tucker Town is situated in the Southeast corner of Hernando county, and thirty-five miles Northeast of Tampa. Game and fish abound in the woods and lakes. The climate here is highly recommended for its medicinal quality for invalids, and those wishing a mild temperature can find it at this place.
On July 17, 1886, the post office was renamed Richland.
On July 23, 1896, the Tampa Weekly Tribune reported that Thomas Green of Richland was killed by George Wilder for abusing Wilder’s wife. The shooting took place on the Polk-Pasco line.
On Aug. 29, 1909, the Tampa Tribune (unseen) reported that five members of the Tucker family, all living near Richland, have been arrested on charges of cattle stealing. The men were Elliott, Fulton, Velpo, Elmore, and Austin. Theft of cattle had been occurring for several years in Polk, Hillsborough, and Pasco counties.
On Feb. 1, 1918, the Dade City Banner reported, “A fire occurred Sunday afternoon, January 20th, at the farm of J. T. Campbell, on the old Pedrick place, adjoining Lumberton on the south, commonly known as the ‘Cedars.’ The family were all away from home attending church, when the fire broke out, from some unknown cause, destroying the entire building with its contents, consisting of about ten tons of hay, some grain and most of the farming tools belonging to the place, together with three hogs, which were in a pen adjoining the barn. The loss is over $600.00 and is a severe one to Mr. Campbell, as he carried no insurance on this part of his property.”
On Feb. 14, 1919, the Dade City Banner reported, “Mr. E. Johnson has sold out his saw mill at Lumberton to Checkley & Barnet Lumber Co., and he is going to live on his farm in Hillsborough county.”
The following is excerpted from Pine Cones by Frankie Daniel Sellas (1908-2006).
The little village of Richland was the first settlement of what is now Pasco County. The pine forest drew men who were interested in lumber andor the wild cattle in the area. There was a deserted Indian village nearby. Several Tucker brothers came from Georgia and established homes, built a sawmill, a hotel and the town of Richland began in the mid 1800s.
My first memory of the town began about 1913. The sawmill was gone. Some large old wooden houses had been deserted. Mr. Velpo Tucker’s family still lived in Richland.
The town had a depot. Mr. Ed Williams was the station master. A clay road ran southward toward Kathleen and Lakeland. Mr. Val Haynes ran a grocery store which contained the Post office. His family lived upstairs over the store. Mr. Warren Haynes had another store and his family of seven children lived behind the store. The Baptist church was active and deserves its own story. The Methodist church was a sweet little church where we knelt at the altar rail and took the Lord’s Supper with our Methodist father.
In my day perhaps a dozen families lived in the town of Richland which was surrounded by small family farms. Families in and around the town that I recall were Ed Williams, Val Haynes, Warren Haynes, Sullivan, Boatwright, Tucker, Connely, Cummings, Singletary, Lillard and Van Duzen.
Compulsory school attendance was not the law then. Mamma had taught us at home and we were reading and memorizing but since we lived a mile or more from Richland they did not allow me to walk to school alone. We did not go to school until Belle was six and I was eight. She was placed in third grade and I in fifth grade as we had been studying at home since we were very small. On our first day at school we wore new gingham dresses and Mamma packed our jointly owned new straw lunch basket with biscuit and bacon, hard boiled egg and a piece of cake. We hung new book satchels over our shoulders and launched the great adventure. Papa took us in the buggy and entered us in school. Then he went to Dade City to buy the needed books. Free school books were not to come for quite a few more years. We felt comfortable in school with children we knew from church and loved the games at recess. At noon we sat on the ground under the trees and ate our lunch and drank water from the outside fountain.
Many years later I visited the Richland Cemetery behind the Baptist church where our parents sleep. I walked among the stones with the names of old neighbors. I had attended many of their funerals. I peacefully recalled faces and voices of good farm people, a few sins, a lot of humor. The echo of the pump organ and the hymns we sang rang in my ears. Wrapped in memory I left old friends to sleep in peace until that day when Christ shall come and they shall be lifted up.
Reminiscences of the Early Days (1923)
THE FIRST FAMILIES OF RICHLAND, FIRST TRAIN AND THE FIRST TELEGRAPH LINE
This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on Sept. 28, 1923.
Among the pioneer settlers of Pasco county must be counted in Mrs. M. P. Redding, who came to this section when she was eight years old, with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. Pederick. They settled in what was then known as Tuckertown, now Richland and Lumberton neighborhoods, in October, 1884. At that time there were no railroads in this section and Mr. and Mrs. Pederick with seven children made the journey from Quitman, Ga., with a caravan of four wagons on which were loaded all of their earthly goods.
With their arrival the community consisted of eight white families. They were Tuckers, from whom the community took its name, Smith, Staffords, Roberts, McMahons, Reddings, Weavers and Pedericks. Some of the original members of some of these families are still found in this neighborhood, while others are represented only by their descendants. There was one colored family, that of Andy Richardson, who at the ripe old age of 110 years, so far as can be ascertained, still lives there, an old patriarch surrounded by his children unto the fourth and fifth generation.
Mr. Pederick had been in this section before and had taken up a homestead, which he developed while working at building bridges on the rail road line being built by Henry B. Plant from Palatka to Tampa. He afterwards took the contracts and built all the bridges on the Orange Belt railroad from Trilby to St. Petersburg. The division of the South Florida railroad from Pemberton’s Ferry (Croom) to Lakeland was then in process of construction and great was the excitement when on Sunday, April 12, 1885, the first train passed through Tuckertown. It was only a work train, but it was a train and a harbinger of the monster freight and passenger trains that were to follow.
In 1887 [should be 1886] the great earthquake which destroyed the city of Charleston, S. C., occurred. The shocks were distinctly felt in Tuckertown and two large “sinks” were formed on the Pederick farm, right by the side of the rail way right of way. Afterwards one of the Pederick boys climbed down to the bottom of one where he found a large rock. With great care he hewed it smooth and carved the date on its surface. He then blacked the figures with some “fire coals” and that rock is still there with its everlasting record of that great disaster. It is quite within the bounds of possibility that the rains of the past 36 years have caused the earth to cover the rock, but if one were to go to the right spot and search it could be unearthed.
The little Pederick girl, who remembered all of these incidents of her early life, grew up and married W. M. Redding, the son of another pioneer settler of the neighborhood, J. E. Redding. He it was who built the first line through this section for the Western Union Telegraph Company running from Lake City to Punta Rassa, where it connected with a cable line to Key West and Cuba. A telegraph office was opened at Tuckertown, which probably was the first in this county. Its nearest neighbor on the north was Wildwood, which Mr. Redding named. The nearest office on the south Mrs. Redding does not remember. Mr. Redding was afterwards made superintendent of this line and for years rode from one end to the other of it horseback.
Mrs. Redding tells some interesting stories of the game in that part of the county in those days. It was no uncommon sight for her to see deer grazing with the cattle between her home and the Roberts farm. One evening her father saw a bear with two cubs, as he was crossing a railroad trestle. He did not have his gun, but hurried home after it and gave chase. He followed the bears all night but they finally got away. Venison was so plentiful that it was the custom to use the haunches for family and feed the rest of the animal to the dogs.
In 1892 Mr. Pederick built the sawmill at Lumberton. This grew till it became one of the largest in the country. For a number of years Mr. Pederick and his son operated it. Afterwards the son died and J. R. Ingram of Dade City, and now a resident of Sutherland, bought an interest. The mill remained in operation till about 1905, when its timber supply gave out and it was dismantled. At this time a small shingle and crate mill occupies its site, a sorry reminder of the days when Lumberton was in its glory.
The soil of this part of Pasco county was extremely fertile. Mrs. Redding tells of her father planting a cane patch in a hammock about a mile and a half from the Dick Williams patch. The crop was prodigiously large and out of curiosity he measured the juice produced from one stalk. With an old fashioned horse power, vertical mill, which extracts about one half as much juice as the crushers used in the modern steam ones, he got over a gallon of juice.
Mrs. Redding also remembers her father raising sweet potatoes that weighed seventeen pounds each. “They were not good eating,” she says. Mr. Pederick was the first person in Pasco county to ship a car load of watermelons.
In those early days Tampa was the | nearest market and source of supply. Oranges were the principal crop. They were gathered and thrown loose in a wagon body and hauled to Tampa where they were sold for from fifty to seventy five cents a hundred. With the money thus secured supplies of coffee, grits, dry goods and other necessities were bought. Very little cash was brought home. It was customary for one member of the community to go to the city each month. He would carry with him the list of supplies given by each of his neighbors. The trip generally took a week, and on the day he was expected to return they would all gather at some appointed spot, where each would get the supplies which he had sent for.
Those days are gone forever now. They were days of hard and simple living. Many articles of food and dress that are now the commonest necessities were then luxuries that were unattainable. Money was scarce. A little to meet the tax bills each year and pay the preacher (though he got the most of his salary, when he got any, in kind) was all one expected. Still who can say that we are any happier in these times than were the pioneers who first prepared this part of the country for use.
This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on Feb. 23, 2023.
By C. B. TAYLOR
As one would naturally judge from the name, this is, or was at one time, a mill town. In this case it is a case of “was,” for in times past one of the largest saw mills in the state and was located here. It has now gone and in its place is a small mill where shingles, laths, orange box heads and such material is cut. The owner of the mill is J. F. Hammett, who lives in Zephyrhills. He is a young man of considerable ability. For a while it has been pretty close figuring with him as to how he was going to come out on his venture. At this time, though, his business seems to be on the upgrade and he hopes to develop it into quite an industry.
Scattered about in the neighborhood are quite a number of colored farmers who appear to make fair livings, though I have never seen their places look to be more than half cultivate. This land through here is good though, and where properly tickled with the plow, harrow and hoe, laughs right out loud with good crops.
Close by the mill is the old Tucker place, probably one of the oldest in this part of the county. Here lives “Grandma” Tucker as she is generally called, one of the settlers. The place is being cared for this year by her son, Malvin, who is putting in beans, Irish and sweet potatoes, watermelons, corn, peas and a general line of forage crops. A fine garden of cabbage, turnips, rutabagas and other vegetables is found here also. There are some fine budded two year old trees that are putting on considerable bloom, for their age. Besides these, there are some fine pear and Japanese persimmons.
Crossing the railroad close to the mill and going a short distance east, one comes to the vineyard o f J. R. Pillar. This is the second largest place of its kind in the county at the present time and consists of twenty acres of vines, comprising some eighty varieties of grapes. Many of these are simply being raised for experimental purposes, and Mr. Piller is continually doing away with such kinds as he finds are not suited to his land or this section of the country and also trying new kinds.
His leading varieties at present are the “White Queen,” “Ruby King,” (he calls these poor land grapes) Agee, (a large sweet red variety) the Worden, Diamond and Madeira. He some Carmens also but says they are too late a bearer to suit him. Mr. Pillar does not think much of the use of the roots of the wild fox grape. Some of his vines are on these roots but he claims that they mature too late. Earliest of bearing seems to be Mr. Pillar’s hobby. He claims that he puts his grapes on the market ahead of everybody else. He believes that there is a great future for the grape industry in this state when it is fully developed, as Florida grapes ripen from six to eight weeks earlier than the California crop, and so reach the market when it is bare.
History of Richland (1954)
The following article is taken from the Richland School 1954 yearbook, provided by Jeff Cannon.
Richland Community, when first settled, was known as “Tuckertown” in the early 1800’s.
Among the Pioneer settlers were Mrs. Redding who came here when she was eight years old with her parents Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Pederick, in Oct. 1884.
With their arrival here the Community consisted of eight white families - they were the Tuckers, from which the community took the name “Tuckertown,” the Smiths, Staffords, Roberts, McMahons, Reddings, Weavers, and the Pedericks.
Some of these original families, a few older members, are still found in the neighborhood, and other families are represented by descendants.
There was only one colored family at this time and they lived in the section now known as the Lumberton settlement. This was the Andy Richardson family, whose descendants still live here.
Uncle Andy passed away in the early 1920’s at the ripe old age of 110 years old.
It was through the memory of the little eight year old Pederick girl that we have the history of our community. This little girl grew up and married W. M. Redding, son of another pioneer family, Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Redding.
It was he, W. M. Redding, who built the first line through this section for the Western Union Telegraph Company, running from Lake City to Punta Rassa, where it connected a cable line to Key West and Cuba.
A telegraph office was opened in “Tuckertown” which was probably the first in the country.
Mr. Pederick, father of Mrs. Redding, worked with the State Contractors, building the first Railroad through this section. And the Community was greatly thrilled when its first Train, only a “Work Train,” passed through “Tuckertown” on Sunday, April 12th, 1885.
It was then the Community began to boom. In 1892 Mr. Pederick built a large saw mill in the section where Lumberton is now located, as that is where its name came from. This mill grew until it became one of the largest in the country, and later a Turpentine Still was located here where it remained in operation until the late 1930’s.
There have been two other saw mills in the community, where a large number of people were employed. And, at this time, we still have a little mill operating on a small scale.
The name “Tuckertown” was changed to “Richland” in the early 1920’s - but Lumberton still stands.
The Western Union and depot wore the name of Richland for several years, but the railroad had to change it to “Vitis” due to the confusion in delivering Express, as other offices near were named - Richloam and Riverland - which sounded so much like “Richland.”
Of course there was a need for education for these pioneer families. The parents taught the children what little they knew, until one of the settlers, a Mr. Tucker, built a little Log Cabin school room for the community children.
Mr. Tucker hired a teacher whom he boarded at his home, and he used a horse and wagon to gather up all the children, and he and the teacher would transport them to and from school each morning and night.
Later on a larger school was built, near a large Oak tree, which was west of the Richland Baptist Church, the old church which was built in 1855. We have a new one at this writing, same lot.
In 1915 a still larger and better school of brick was built and there are two teachers for several years.
Then still later, as the community kept growing, the school building needed repairing so during the W. P. A. times the building was wrecked and the nice two teacher schoolhouse which we now have was built. It has a large auditorium, a library, also a nice lunch room, which the women of the entire Community who were members of the clubs, came forward and furnished inside.
We were at a standstill for a few years, but for the past several years, the community has been growing by leaps and bounds again.
We have three little white churches and three colored churches.
Besides our school here we have two buses that transport the high school children into town to school. We plan to build our school up again so that we may have another teacher in our nice building.
The women are still meeting once each month for a Home Demonstration meeting, and we have had an active club, under various names, since 1925.
We also have a very nice group of 4-H girls, and our charter members came from our local school, and was organized April 5th, 1950.
We have two or three girls to attend 4-H Camp each year, and last year we had two to go to 4-H short course in Tallahassee. This year we also have one for short course.
We still have one store, where we can buy all kinds of groceries, meats, milk, cold drinks and ice cream.
We receive our mail daily over regular mail route deliveries - one Rural and one Star Route.