HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
Clay Sink (Slaughter)
Detail from a 1956 map
Slaughter was a settlement
in the extreme northeast corner of Pasco County; it no longer
appears on most maps. It is sometimes called Clay Sink.
Riverland is now located on the other side of the Hernando
county line. This page was last revised on April 20, 2017.
See a separate page on the history of the Clay Sink/Slaughter school.
A historical marker here
Harrison and Martha Ann McKinney Slaughter acquired
120 acres in this area from Jesse Sumner May 20, 1862. The
settlement that developed here was first called Slaughter after
this pioneer family. Over time it became known as Clay Sink,
after the clay sinkhole that is in the area. This cemetery was
established on this hill of moss-draped oaks in 1873 when the
Slaughters buried their infant daughter here. It is now
maintained in perpetuity by the Clay Sink Cemetery Association
Inc. On Feb. 19, 1897, the Clay Sink Missionary Baptist Church
was organized with 21 members, with Elder G. A. Bryant,
moderator. In 1904 a wood-framed building was erected on this
site and served the congregation until the present pine building
was constructed in 1956. The one-room Slaughter/Clay Sink school
building was built in 1912 on Cobb Slough and moved in 1915 to
this site that was donated by William Henry and Joanna Slaughter
Boyett. It became the fellowship hall for the church in 1943
when the school closed due to consolidation. The teacher’s
raised platform remained a part of the structure. Some of the
early settlers who were charter members of the church were
Slaughters, Sumners, Boyetts, Sapps, Robbins, McKinneys,
Hardins, Mobleys, Gays, and Weeks. Descendants of these families
still live in the area.
A picture taken at the dedication of the marker is here.
About 1838. Jesse Cary Sumner moves to Florida,
according to the recollection of his grandson D. E. Sumner. (He
is shown in Marion County in the 1850 census. J. C. Sumner died
at his home in Hernando County on Feb. 12, 1871.)
May 20, 1862. Harrison
Slaughter and his wife Martha Ann McKinney Slaughter
acquire 120 acres from Jesse Sumner on May 20, 1862, according
to the historic marker. Images of the grave markers of Harrison
and Martha at Clay Sink Cemetery are here
1877-78. Hernando County school records show a school at
1879-80. Hernando County school records show a school at
Tillis Hammock. The trustees are shown as H. Slaughter and C. W.
Bryant. (C. W. Bryant is age 60 living in Slaughter in the 1910
1883-84. A list of Hernando County schools indicates
that a school was established at Kalon on Oct. 1, 1882. The
teacher was R. S. Pringle and the trustees were Steve Weeks,
Harrison Slaughter, and J. E. Mills. A 1916 map shows the town
of Kalon in Hernando County, very near the Pasco-Hernando county
Oct. 3, 1885. A deed shows that Harrison Slaughter
transferred property in S24 T23 R22 to the Hernando County
Feb. 19, 1897. The Clay Sink Missionary Baptist Church is organized with 21 members, with Elder G. A. Bryant, moderator,
according to the historic marker. According to the WPA history, the first settled pastor, 1897-1908, is Richard Calden.
1904. A church is erected, according to the historic marker. According to the WPA history,
the church was erected in 1900. Before the church was erected, services were held in the schoolhouse.
Sept. 19, 1924. The Dade City Banner reports,
“Rev. McDaniel of Lakeland preached an excellent sermon at the
Baptist church of Slaughter Sunday. He was favored by a large
congregation of interested listeners. There was also church
Saturday afternoon and prayer services Sunday afternoon. ...
Mrs. R. S. Moseley, our Slaughter school teacher, and daughter,
who have been boarding at Mrs. J. E. Brown’s removed to Mr.
Mills’ Friday, where they will reside in the future.”
July 24, 1925. The Dade City Banner reports,
“Slaughter, July 21.—Quite a number of the folks of this place
were present at church at Riverland which, in spite of the rain
was enjoyed by everyone. Rev. Bishop of Webster will preach at
the Baptist church here next Sunday. We wish all to be present.”
Sept. 22, 1925. The Dade City Banner reports,
“Saturday a raid in the Slaughter neighborhood resulted in the
capture of two stills, both small ones. No arrests were made in
one instance, while Bob Johnson, colored, not only lost his lard
can outfit and a gallon of shine, but was also lodged in jail.”
Feb. 19, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports,
“Roy Slaughter, son of N. S. Slaughter, formerly of Slaughter
but now a resident of Atlantic Beach, was buried in the cemetery
at Slaughter on Wednesday morning. The deceased was a veteran of
the World War who incurred tuberculosis while in the service and
his death occurred at the United States Veterans’ Bureau
hospital at Asheville, N. C., Feb. 12th, the government shipping
his body here for interment. Besides serving in the World war he
is said to have been a member of Pershing’s punitive expedition
into Mexico during the border troubles caused by the Mexican
Revolution. Besides his father, he is survived by two brothers,
both World War veterans, and one still in the service as a
lieutenant of aviation.”
Apr. 13, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports that
W. J. Bryant of Lacoochee, pastor of the church at Slaughter,
has announced his candidacy for the nomination as member of the
legislature from Pasco county, subject to the Democratic
primary of June 8.
May 21, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports that
W. H. Boyett of Slaughter has announced his candidacy for county
commission from District 1.
June 15, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports:
Slaughter cemetery picnic will be held June 24.
Everybody invited to come with well filled baskets. Miss Dolores
Revels has been spending some time with her grandparents, Mr.
and Mrs. T. O. Slaughter. We are having some fine rains. The
folks out here are still picking and selling some strawberries
and have picked and canned quite a few blackberries. We are sure
glad to know that our road is being put through from Richloam to
June 25, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports,
“Last week the community met and cleaned up and beautified the
cemetery, one of the prettiest and best kept up rural burying
grounds in Pasco county. Located off to one side and until
recently almost inaccessible for lack of roads, Slaughter has
been somewhat out of the march of progress. It is one of the
finest trucking sections of the county and from now on will come
rapidly to the front.”
Aug. 10, 1926. The Dade City Banner reports,
“The Slaughter neighborhood is right up to the Hernando county
line, and a road has been graded to connect it with Richloam,
the postoffice and shopping point of the settlement. This road
is to be hard surfaced but under present conditions we prefer to
travel the Pasco county road.”
June 14, 1927. The Dade City Banner reports:
W . H. Boyett appeared before the board and asked that
any balance left from the $40,000 appropriated for the
construction of the Seventh street extension road be used to
improve the road between Lacoochee and Slaughter. He stated that
under present conditions the people of Slaughter were
practically cut off from the balance of the county, and that
both Lacoochee and Dade City were losing the handling of their
strawberries and other crops grown there on this account.
Colonel Auvil, on being asked for his opinion, stated that any
balance of this fund remaining could be used for this purpose,
if desired. Chairman Thomas opposed, saying he would not favor
any expenditures or bonds that would increase taxes until the
people of the Pasadena section were taken care of. Secretary
Rerick of the county chamber of commerce urged that this money
be used for Slaughter, as road conditions in that section were
worse than in any other part of the county. On motion of
Commissioner Dowling, seconded by Commissioner Boyett, it was
voted to use any balance left for the building of this road,
Dowling and Boyett voting aye, Commissioner McCarthy no, and
Commissioner Clark not voting, as his district is outside the
Sept. 13, 1927. The Dade City Banner reports
that J. A. Barthle was awarded the contract to construct five
miles of hard surfaced road connecting Lacoochee and Slaughter.
Jan. 10, 1928. The Dade City Banner reports, “W.
A. Barr, of Slaughter, was in the city on Saturday and reported
that the Brinson’s store at Richloam, the only business building
in that community, and which also housed the post office, was
burned last Tuesday night, both building and contents being a
total loss. There was a small amount of insurance. The origin of
the fire is not known, but it is thought by many that the fire
was incendiary, and for the purpose of covering a robbery.”
Sept. 9, 1929. The Tampa Morning Tribune refers
to “Clay Sink cemetery, near Lacoochee.”
Jan. 23, 1931. The Dade City Banner reports,
“Slaughter, Jan. 22—The death of James Boyd came as a shock to
this community Saturday morning at seven o’clock. He had only
been sick a few hours. Mr. Boyd was 77 years of age, and was
born and reared in Georgia, and came here about forty years ago
and made his home in this community. He was a member of the Bay
Lake church, and has many friends and relatives there.”
Oct. 9, 1931. The Dade City Banner reports,
“Pasco Baptist Association will meet in its forty-second annual
session at Clay Sink church in the Slaughter neighborhood,
October 13 and 14.
Aug. 18, 1933. The Dade City Banner reports,
“Funeral services for Marion Lanier, aged 59, of Bay Lake, who
died at his home Wednesday morning, were held Wednesday
afternoon at Clay Sink Baptist Church. He was born September 2,
1873, in Kissimmee, and has been a resident of Bay Lake for many
Nov. 19, 1937. Juanita Marlene Boyd, age 2½, dies. She
was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Boyd. She was buried in
the Clay Sink cemetery.
Aug. 7, 1940. Jack A. Mobley, known as “Uncle Jack,”
dies at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Henry Weeks of Slaughter.
According to his obituary, he was born March 13, 1872, and spent
his entire life in the Slaughter community. He was buried in the
Clay Sink Cemetery.
Feb. 20, 1942. Thomas Owen Slaughter, age 71, dies at a
hospital in Wildwood. According to his obituary, he was a native
of Pasco County and at one time one of the most prominent
farmers and citrus growers. He moved to Oxford about two years
Jan. 3, 1945. Mose Stephen Slaughter, 78, dies in a
nursing home in San Antonio. According to his obituary, he was
born Dec. 8, 1866, at Slaughter, and became a prominent farmer
and stockman of Pasco County. For several years he has been
living at Rerdell, near Slaughter, which was named for his
father Harrison H. Slaughter. Funeral services were held at the
Clay Sink Cemetery.
1947. The Dade City Banner refers to “Clay Sink
settlement in Slaughter.”
Feb. 23, 2005. The St. Petersburg Times reports:
“Pasco County commissioners voted Tuesday to add the Clay Sink
Baptist Church, school building and cemetery to the county’s
register of historic resources. The property is on 2 acres in
the Withlacoochee State Forest near the Hernando County line.
The school building, now a church fellowship hall, was built in
1912 and served as the county’s first voting precinct. The
cemetery is a private graveyard, bearing the graves of about 500
people from the area’s pioneer families.”
2011. The St. Petersburg Times has: “Clay Sink
has fewer than 100 residents in less than 20 homes. There’s a
sawmill, the cemetery and a schoolhouse that closed in 1943. Now
it’s a Sunday school room and fellowship hall.”
Clay Sink Baptist Church seen behind the cemetery sign
Among the Farmers of Slaughter (1923)
By C. B. TAYLOR
This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on April 20,
Situated in the northeast corner of Pasco county is the farming
neighborhood of Slaughter, as it is officially known. The people
living there call it “Clay Sink,” from a sink hole in the
neighborhood. It is a flatwoods country, with cypress ponds
interspersed here and there, and, at the present time is almost
inaccessible in wet weather. While it is only fifteen miles from
Dade City the best route to take is around by the new hard road
past Lacoochee, across a corner of Hernando county and back into
Pasco. A road is now being built from the bridge over the
Withlacoochee on the river road that will afford direct
communication between the two places. This road, which is a part
of the Highlands District sand clay system will be graded high
enough to permit travel in all kinds of weather and will do much
to bring the people of the two sections together.
Truck and general farming form the main occupations of the
settlers in this neighborhood. At one time it was one of the
greatest strawberry growing sections of the state. This crop was
dropped when the Plant City neighborhood was developed, on
account of the inadequacy of shipping facilities. The branch of
the Atlantic Coast Line running from Trilby to Sanford is the
nearest railroad, and only furnishes one train each way, a day.
This same lack of good service handicaps the growers now, but
they ship out a good many crates of beans and cucumbers during
the season. During the winter just passed hundreds of hampers of
English peas were also shipped from here.
The soil of this section seems to be especially adapted for the
growing of cucumbers. Unlike the Sumter county fields nearby,
they seem to do as well in the fall as in the spring. Oddly
enough, however, beans only do well here in the spring, while in
the other neighborhoods mentioned they grow at both seasons of
the year. The growers of Slaughter have never introduced the
trough protection for their cukes used in other parts of the
state. They are thinking seriously of doing so now, as the cold
last February has caused their crops to be very late this year.
In fact, they are just starting to ship beans and will not have
any cukes on the market for another week, or more. They have no
need of irrigation, as the soil seems to be drought proof. In
fact, the heavy rains last fall drowned out a good many of their
An effort has been made this year to revive the strawberry
industry, once the leading one of this section. It has been only
partially a success, owing to poor shipping facilities and the
inability to reach the best markets. The yield was large and
quality fine. With the completion of the good road, making it
possible to quickly reach other shipping points, there is no
doubt but what this will become one of the most profitable
crops. This is recognized by the growers, many of whom are
planning to increase their acreage.
At J. L. Wilson’s farm the writer saw some very good young corn
growing. It was well advanced for its age and had a healthy
color. His beans were full of young fruit and this week should
see him make his first shipment. A good sized patch of
strawberries were loaded with as fine flavored fruit as the
writer ever tasted. They were simply going to waste, except as
Mrs. Wilson was able to can, or otherwise preserve them. These
strawberries were grown without fertilizer and have excellent
testimony as to the fertility of the soil.
G. W. Fender is credited by his neighbors with being the “best
farmer in the neighborhood.” This year, however, he says that he
has lost his grip. His cukes and beans are looking fine, but are
late and he has not yet made any shipments. He has a small patch
of Irish, potatoes that are doing well. Corn, pindars, and other
general farm crops are grown as well as truck. One odd thing
impressed the writer when he visited this place. Some of his
beans were growing in four foot rows and others in five. Both
were planted at the same time. The ones in the five foot rows
were twice as far advanced as those grown closer together.
J. D. Mobley is advancing in years and does not till a very
large acreage. He has some of the best corn seen so far this
season. It averages over five feet in height and was planted
after the heavy frost last February. His cukes and other
vegetables are coming on nicely and the same can be said for a
good sized watermelon patch. A small seedling grove bore a heavy
crop of fruit last winter and has set a good one this season.
W. H. Boyett has a fine crop of beans and cukes coming on. He
also grows corn, velvet beans, peanuts and a full line of
general farm stuff.
T. J. Morris is well ahead of the bean game and is shipping a
good many hampers. His cukes are coming on and he has some fine
T. O. Slaughter is in my opinion one of the best farmers in
this vicinity. He has a habit of never planting one crop in a
field. A row of corn or cane and one of beans, cukes or tomatoes
is what the visitor finds in looking over his farm. In this way
he says he is pretty sure to win out on one crop, if not on
both. Last year on a tract of land 80 yards square he made 750
gallons of syrup and shipped 551 crates of cucumbers. This same
rule is followed with all of his crops. It may cut down the cash
returns to some extent, but as he says, “What’s the use of
making so much money and having to spend it all at the store.”
Mr. Slaughter’s cukes seem to be somewhat ahead of his
neighbors, and this week will probably see him making one or two
small shipments. On the other hand, his beans are not as well
advanced as some others. He has a fine field of tomatoes that
are setting fruit and some well advanced watermelons.
P. O. Wiggins did well this past winter with English peas. He
is following them with beans and cukes, like everyone else, and
they will be quite profitable, provided the market holds up.
Other places which were visited were the farms of Seby Boyd, J.
A. Mobley, Willis Brown and F. J. Johnson. All had crops of
corn, beans and cukes that were quite promising. At Mr.
Johnson’s a good seedling grove was observed.
Young Folks Enjoy Candy Pull (1924)
Good Congregation Attend Church Services
Saturday and Sunday
This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on Sept. 19,
Slaughter, September 9.—A jolly crowd gathered Saturday evening
at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Boyett, while the young folks
spent a pleasant time playing games, older folks cooked some
delicious candy, which being done they had nice time pulling and
later eating it, after which they all returned home, at a very
late hour, having reported a very enjoyable time. Those enjoying
Mr. and Mrs. Boyett’s hospitality were: Mr. and Mrs. J. M.
Schrenck, Mrs. N. Boyd and little daughter, Marie, Mr. E. R.
Luke and Frank Wilson, and Misses Linnie Boyett, Ida Mobley,
Lillie Boyd, Corinne Jordan, Myrtle Kilpatrick, and Curtis
Mobley, and Messrs. Nelson Boyd, James and Charley Johnson,
Elbert, Ebbie, Merle and Sam Boyett and George Brown.
Rev. McDaniel of Lakeland preached an excellent sermon at the
Baptist church of Slaughter Sunday. He was favored by a large
congregation of interested listeners. There was also church
Saturday afternoon and prayer services Sunday afternoon.
A jolly crowd of young folks accompanied by Mr. J. A. Mobley,
gathered Friday afternoon at the Slaughter bathing place. While
they were enjoying a pleasant time in the nice cool water, Mr.
Mobley announced that it was time to go home. They all anxious
for the time to come when they can go again and stay longer.
Those attending were Misses Linnie Boyett, Ida and Eva Mobley,
Louise and Viola Slaughter, Ruby Griffin and Ruth Brown, and
Messrs. J. A. Mobley, Barney Brown, J. Layton and Floyd Boyett.
Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Brown and children, Lucile and Walter, and
Mr. Gresham motored to Mr. Brown’s farm Friday afternoon.
George Brown and Effie Boyett were business visitors in
Among those who attended church out here Sunday were: Mr. and
Mrs. J. M. Johnson and children, Mr. and Mrs. L. S. Brinson and
children, and Miss Myrtle Selex and Clothilde Morris, and Mr.
George Schrenck and Miss Dees.
Mr. W. H. Boyett was in Lacoochee Wednesday on business.
Mr. W. R. Jordan and son Ray were business visitors of Mr. and
Mrs. H. Boyett Friday.
Mrs. R. S. Moseley and daughter, Virginia, spent the week-end
with relatives and friends in Bartow and Kathleen.
Mrs. G. M. Boyett and little children were the guests of her
sister, Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Mobley.
Barney Brown and Sam Boyett motored to Trilby Tuesday.
Mr. G. M. Boyett, J. L. Boyd, and Mr. J. A. Mobley were
visitors Dade City Tuesday.
Mrs. R. S. Moseley, our Slaughter school teacher, and daughter,
who have been boarding at Mrs. J. E. Brown’s removed to Mr.
Mills’ Friday, where they will reside in the future.
Mr. C. A. Walker visited friends Sidney Sunday. Returning he
brought with him his little daughter, Edith, who will spend a
while with her father.
Mr. J. D. Mobley and nephew James motored to Lacoochee
Mr. G. C. Slaughter and Mrs. H. E. Revels of St. Catherine were
guests of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. T. O. Slaughter, Thursday
Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Schrenck, Miss Lillie Boyd and Mr. Charlie
Johnson were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. W. Fender Sunday.
Doris Fender spent the day with her cousin, Frances Fender,
Born to Mr. and Mrs. F. M. Harris Sunday, a fine baby girl.
Miss Louise Slaughter visited Misses Ida and Eva Mobley Sunday
Mrs. Addie Patterson spent Sunday with Mr. and Mrs. W. C.
George Brown motored to Knight’s Station Monday, on business.
Mr. and Mrs. H. Robins and family who have been living here
only a short time, moved to Socrum, last Saturday.
Mrs. J. L. Boyd and little son, Walter, spent Sunday afternoon
with her daughter, Mrs. J. A. Mobley.
Messrs Herbert and Jake Parker were the guests of Mr. and Mrs.
P. J. South Sunday.
Mr. G. C. Slaughter and Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Revels of St.
Catherine were visitors at the home of their parents, Mr. and
Mrs. T. O. Slaughter, Sunday, taking their mother and little
nephew Gladyn back with them to spend a few days.
Mrs. Beck, Miss Lydia Slaughter and Mr. Jim Croft were visitors
at the home of Mr. and Mrs. T. O. Slaughter Tuesday.
Mr. Gresham, who has been visiting his daughter, Mrs. J. E.
Brown, and Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Brown and family motored to Ross
Sunday to visit Mrs. Brown’s sister, Mrs. Chilson.
Virginia Moseley gave her schoolmates and a few friends a
pleasant surprise Monday after school, at the school house,
celebrating her 11th birthday. A table was prepared on which was
placed a birthday cake, on which burned eleven candles. The cake
was cut and enjoyed by all. Games were also enjoyed. All
departed about five o’clock wishing someone would celebrate a
birthday every day.
Mr. J. E. Brown motored to Groveland Monday.
Mr. George Weeks and family, who been living over at the
Bevels’ place, moved to the Robins’ place.
“Back of Beyond” In Pasco County (1927)
GOOD ROADS AND DRAINAGE ALL THAT IS NEEDED TO
SLAUGHTER TO BECOME BIG BERRY AND TRUCK CENTER
This article appeared in the Dade City Banner on Feb. 25,
Probably one of the least known sections of Pasco county is
located in the extreme northeastern corner, and yet it is one of
the most fertile, and potentially wealth producing parts of the
state, occupied by a score or so of hard-working, industrious
farmers, and producing large quantities of strawberries,
cucumbers, beans, and other products that, owing to its peculiar
location, and the fact that its own county government has done
very little in the way of furnishing it with roads over which
these products may be hauled to marketing or shipping points, is
credited in the production and shipping records of the state as
being produced in Hernando and Sumter counties.
“And why not,” said T. O. Slaughter, whose father‘s name is
perpetuated in the name of the community, and himself a man of
three-score years, and one of its leading farmers. “ We have
always been the tail of any improvements. Hernando county has
done more for us than our own county ever has, for a hard road
has been built from Richloam, our nearest railroad station, post
office and express office, almost to the county line (their
money gave out before they could complete it), while all that
Pasco county ever did was to grade a road to Dade City, which in
its present condition is not usable, and built another grade to
the hard road near Lacoochee, part of which is almost impassable
in dry weather on account of the sand. When we want to go to
Lacoochee and Dade City we find it most convenient to go through
Hernando county by Richloam, through the “Dark Stretch,” now a
most excellent piece of road most of the way. This takes us
about five miles out of the way, but is better than trying to
use the dirt road built by our own county for us.”
The sentiments expressed by Mr. Slaughter the writer found were
held by nearly everyone with whom he talked on a recent visit to
the Slaughter community. These people feel that they have not
had fair treatment, and this feeling, together with the fact
that their best routes of travel lead in other directions, is
causing them to make the greater part of their contacts with the
outside world in other counties than the one in which they live,
vote and pay taxes. The day the writer visited them several
hundred quarts of as fine strawberries were hauled by truck to
Webster, in Sumter county, where they were packed in
refrigerator crates and shipped direct to northern markets.
“It’s more convenient to ship by Webster, but if we could get to
Dade City as easily, we would take them there,” the writer was
At the present time all the berries going from Slaughter are
being shipped by express, but they are proving such a profitable
crop that there is talk of increasing the acreage and producing
sufficient to make car load shipments possible next year. This,
however, is largely dependent on improved road conditions,
making it possible for them to use Lacoochee as their shipping
point, Webster being too long a haul for such large amounts
while Richloam is on a branch line, with fast refrigerator
freight service lacking. The hard surfacing of about seven miles
of asphalt, that is already graded, from the end of the hard
road near Lacoochee, through Slaughter, to where the road to
Richloam crosses the Hernando county line, would give this
community every road facility needed, and is all that they ask.
One handicap with which these people are struggling is the fact
that their lands are low, and in wet seasons subject to
overflow. This, however, will probably be overcome in time. The
movement to clean out the Withlacoochee river, which is being
pushed by Congressman Drane, at the instance of the Dade City
Kiwanis club, will make a start possible along the line of flood
control, and this can then be worked out by the cleaning of the
channels of a couple of creeks, and the digging of one or two
Notwithstanding the handicaps with which the people of
Slaughter have been contending, there is a surprising- amount of
vegetables and small fruits produced and shipped out. On his
recent trip through this neighborhood the writer saw many fields
of Irish potatoes, beans, cucumbers, sweet corn and other
toothsome dainties growing. It is one section where fall crops
of beans and cucumbers as well as spring crops of these
vegetables, do well. Besides strawberries, which will probably
become one of the leading crops, and vegetables, staple farm
products are grown in abundance. Corn, cow peas, sweet potatoes,
cane, sorghum and other grains and forage crops are cultivated
by nearly everyone. Many of the farms have good dairy cows for
home use, and milk and butter of the finest quality are found in
the homes. While hog raising is not carried on on a large scale,
home needs are looked after, and some meat, lard and other
products are marketed.
Slaughter, for the first time, put on a community exhibit at
the Pasco county fair this year, and was given fourth prize.
Many of their exhibits were taken to Tampa and used in the Pasco
county exhibit at the South Florida Fair, and all of this has
tended to build up a community pride. An incident told by W. H.
Mills, one of the leading farmers, will illustrate Mr. Mills has
a fine black walnut tree growing on his farm, walnuts being a
rarity in this section. Some of the nuts from this tree were in
the community exhibit and were prominently displayed at the
South Florida Fair. Recently Mr. Mills received a letter
containing a check for $1 and a request that he send the writer
six nuts for seed. The letter, it may be said, was from New Port
Slaughter is one of the communities whose development means
much to Pasco county. That it will come to the front is an
assured fact, but the rapidity with which it does, and the
benefit that its development will be to other communities of the
county depends largely on the co-operation given it by the
county as a whole in making it more accessible, and bringing it
to the front from “back of beyond.”
My Life in Clay Sink
Mrs. Pritchett’s residence, over 100 years old. A typical "cracker" house
modifications, e.g., the front porch screened in. larger picture
Mrs. Frances Fender Pritchett was interviewed by Theresa O. Smith
for the EPHS web site, from which this article is taken. Frances Fender
Pritchett was born August 22, 1913, in Clay Sink, Florida. She is the
daughter of George and Annie Lacy Fender and married Richard
Pritchett. Dick Pritchett was also known as Slim. Mrs. Frances has
lived in the same house all of her life, all 97 years of it. The house
was built the year she was born. She is not sure if she was born in
this particular house as there was also a log house on the property that
the family lived in prior to this house. Her daughters, Susan Jones
McElveen (now deceased) and Barbara Boone, were born in this house. Her
granddaughter, Roberta “Robbie” Jones Graham, lives with her now in this
almost 98 year old house.
My daddy’s name was George Henry and my momma’s name was
Annie, and I was the only child living. Now I had a brother that was
seven years old that died in 1900, I believe. Anyhow, my Daddy came here
from Green Swamp and back then, in the 1800s, you could come and improve
40 acres. I don’t know how much more you could get, but he got 40
acres. But then you had to stay on there a certain length of time. Then
they would give you a deed. But you had to build a home, clear the land
and stay there so long, you know. Calvin Coolidge signed his name on my
deed. He was president you know and his signature is on my deed.
When my daddy got a place fixed, he wanted to go somewhere else, but
he’d been living in Mascotte, Green Swamp and different places
after they go married. After they got here and he got everything fixed,
Momma said, "I’m not going anywhere else. We’re going to
stay right here." So that’s what happened.
Lumber for the house came from Groveland by train to Riverland then
hauled up to the property by horse and wagon. Papa and his brother built
the house which had four rooms with a separate room for the kitchen. The
two buildings were connected by a breezeway and a covered porch. This
porch was called a dog trot.
My momma and daddy married during the big freeze of 1895. Well, my
brother was born about a year later, maybe, and he lived to be seven
years old. But he lived to come here. And this is where he died. Momma
said I was born 17 years later. He died of some kind of fever. Momma
said she didn’t know what kind of fever, but anyway, he was out of
his mind. See his fever, I guess, got so high. That’s the only
thing I heard her say was he had the fever.
My Papa farmed, mostly cukes and beans, in the spring and summer. In
the winter he trapped animals for furs and also hunted alligators. I
would drive him to the traps. He bought a car but never learned to
drive. I helped with the farming. When my Daddy got sick, I would go out
and we had a big old black horse and he was trained. He knew just what
to do, how to walk with a plow and all, and I’d go hitch him up
and I’d plow. I’d work the field, and my Daddy would say,
"When you get through with that working there, we’ll go fishing."
He loved to fish. I did too and we’d hurry up and get the work
done and go fishing.
Daddy died when he was 57 years old. I was 16 at the time. I took
care of Momma, staying here after I was married.
Let me tell you a story about two boys buried in our cemetery. This
man, his name was Sumner, lived where Freda Boyett lives now, and he had
cattle. That was back in the 1800s. He needed help with the cattle so he
had this boy from Dade City to come work for him. He got to have rope,
used to they didn’t have too much to work with, but he had a rope
and he was going to send the rope by the boy to lend it so somebody that
worked with cows. He got up here to this Flag Ford and the Indians got
him. Two Indians killed him at Flag Ford on the river. So the horse came
back that he was riding with his suspenders woven into the horse’s
mane. So they knew then that the Indians had killed him.
So they put out to find him and found him up there close to this
place and brought him back. They got the Indians and put them in jail.
The Indians hung themselves that night. Well, there was no cemetery then
so they buried this little boy, I guess he was about 10 or 12 or so, up
there behind this house.
Me and my friend Vera decided to do something about that. We decided
to give that little boy a resting place because there was another boy
that was buried somewhere in the Flag Ford area. There was somebody
lived there and a little boy that fell into a stump hole and burned up,
so they buried him out there. His name was Mobley and he had a new hat.
His family was burning stumps to clear the land. His hat blew off his
head and into one of the stump holes. The boy went after his hat and
fell in and burned. We wanted to give both boys a place of rest so we
went to Leesburg and we got them a monument, each one, and we put on
there their name and what happened to them. So that’s how they
came to be in the Clay Sink Cemetery.
My Life in Clay Sink — Part Two
The old Clay Sink school house now being used as
the fellowship hall at the Clay Sink Baptist Church
Mrs. Frances Pritchett, a lifelong resident of Clay Sink, is interviewed by
Sid Taylor, employee of the Division of Forestry,
August 26, 2006. Ms. Taylor was working on an oral history project for the Citrus County
Historical Society. This article first appeared on the EPHS web site.
Sid: Go ahead, tell me about school.
Mrs. Frances: Well, I went to school at eight years old. One
teacher taught all eight grades, and what we had to play with was
baseballs, trip around the mountain, marbles, and stuff like that. And
we had to carry our own lunch, and we had to put it up in the
schoolhouse because the hogs would get it. There were wild hogs going
everywhere and they would come in that schoolhouse and get your lunch.
Sid: How many kids were there usually in the school?
Mrs. Frances: Let’s see, I'd say there were 30, something like
that. The schoolhouse is still there.
Sid: Did I pass it?
Mrs. Frances: It’s up there by the church house now, and they
use it for a fellowship hall at the church. It’s the original school
house, but they added on a bathroom and a front porch. But the rest of
it is the original thing.
Sid: Wonderful. What was your teacher’s name?
Mrs. Frances: My teacher’s name was Mr. Hammer—H. A.
Hammer—from Dade City. He taught all eight grades. I went to school
and finished up the eighth grade, and that’s as far as I went. I didn't
go no further.
Sid: Tell me what you remember about the time during the
Depression, when they started buying up this land out here, the
Mrs. Frances: Let me see. I married in ’32 and we had it
kind of rough. We didn't have too much money, but we had our own meat,
we had butter, we had syrups, we had meal for bread. We had all that
stuff here at home, you know. We grew all that stuff, sweet potatoes.
Anyway, then I had my two daughters during the depression and the War.
We got along fine, we were rationed, but we never did go without
anything we needed. I would go to the feed store and get these real
nice feed sacks with real pretty printed stuff, looked like linen, and
I made school dresses for the children to wear to school. Then we were
helped out and everything went along nice and we got along fine during
that time. Do you want to know what happened here one night?
Mrs. Frances: My husband he had from 3-11 at night. That was
his shift (at Pasco Packing Co). So one night he came home about 12
o'clock. It was dark and when he turned out the lights at the front
gate and opened the gate, something ran into him and like to knocked him
down. He thought it was a dog.
He came out around the house but the dog was in the yard.
Whatever it was ran by him like to knock him down, he said. Well, when
he got along there about the chimney, it squalled out. It was a
panther, and he had to go on around it to come in the house. And he
thought that what had happened is his Momma was still living then, and
this was her bedroom. He though that she fell off the bed. So he go
inside. He looked inside and she was all right. About that time it
hollered again. A panther. And then about that time the dogs taken
after it, and that was it. But there are panthers here.
I'll tell you something else that we done. My grandfather, my
Daddy’s daddy, he was a Confederate soldier and he’s buried up there at
Bay Lake, a cemetery between Mascotte and Bay Lake called Fender
Cemetery. So he was buried there, so we thinking one day, I told Robbie
(her granddaughter), "Call down here at Dade City at the Veterans place
and see if we can get him a tombstone." She did, but they said, "No, we
can't do that, but we'll tell you what to do." He said, "Go to
Bushnell, up here to this place where they have the cemetery, you
Sid: The National Cemetery.
Mrs. Frances: Yes. "they will give you what you need to
know." And that’s what she did. They gave her the paperwork and they
sent the monument on the truck, and we had to go up there and put it on
the cemetery on the grave. It was nice, it had his name on it and all
that. Then we got another one for my Grandpa, on Momma’s momma’s
husband, and he is at Clay Sink. We got one for him. His name was Jim
Lanier. We got one for him. He was a soldier, too. But we got two
tombstones, one for each one of them. I thought we were proud of that,
and those little boys' tombstones, too. (See previous Clay Sink story
for details on the little boys.)
Sid: Your grandfathers that you got the stones for, did they
both live through the war or did they die in the Confederate War?
Mrs. Frances: They lived through it. Now. There’s something
else I've got to tell you. My Grandpa Lanier, he built this, in Dade
City, called the River Road. He took his slaves and made the bridge
across the river. It’s called Lanier Bridge, and it stayed there. It was
made in the 1800s and this man (at) Swiftmud. He had it restored, but
it’s made out of cement and stuff, but it’s in the same location. He
didn't want to have a two-way drive. He had it one single-way drive,
but my Grandpa Lanier started that with slaves.
The Beginning of Clay Sink
This article by Theresa Osbron Smith first appeared on the EPHS website.
There is a large sinkhole or clay pit in the northeastern section of Pasco County, only minutes from both Sumter and Hernando Counties around which a community developed in 1862 known as Slaughter or Clay Sink and which is very alive today.
Information for this story comes from pascocemeteries.org , fivay.org and other sources.
Harrison and Martha Ann McKinney Slaughter acquired this property from Jessie Sumner on May 20, 1862 owning 120 acres in all. This area and community, around Harrison and Martha’s property, became known as both Slaughter and Clay Sink. According to the McKinney Family "In 1873 Martha and Harrison had a child that was born and died. Harrison made a coffin for the infant, put it on his shoulder and told Martha he was going to find a hill for the infant’s grave." This would be the start of the Clay Sink Cemetery.
Following this Harrison and Martha gave 2 acres for the cemetery and a church. The Clay Sink Missionary Baptist Church was formally organized on February 19, 1897 with twenty-one members, including Serena McKinney, Martha’s mother. Elder G.A. Bryant was the moderator in 1904 and erected the first church on the site The wood framed building served the Clay Sink Baptist Church for almost 50 years. There are members of the Bryant family buried here at the Clay Sink Cemetery.
In 1956 the old church was burned after being struck by lightening and was rebuilt using pine provided by the Withlacoochee State Forest. This building still remains on the property today and continues as the home of the Clay Sink Baptist Church.
Former pastors of Clay Sink Baptist Church include:
John William Wright Gideons, 1909-1917 ; as was common for many pastors, he preached the first Sunday at Clay Sink and other churches on the remaining Sundays. He arrived at the church in various ways; driving his buggy, walking or a church member would pick him up, have dinner with a member and then preach the evening service before returning to Trilacoochee in the same manner as he arrived. He is the great-grandfather of Theresa Osbron Smith. (source: Vera Boyett; Myrna Gideons Osbron, granddaughter)
Bartley Dean Baldwin, early 1930’s; Everett Boyett said he and his dad used to pick up Pastor Baldwin on Sunday mornings and drive him to Clay Sink to preach. He would have lunch with a member of the congregation, preach again that evening and the Boyetts would bring him back to Lacoochee. His daughter, Betty Baldwin Haycraft, said she often accompanied her father to Clay Sink and would play with the kids there between services. Mr. Baldwin was usually paid in chickens and vegetables. He is the grandfather of Gloria Baldwin Hunnicutt. (source: J.W. and Gloria Baldwin Hunnicutt; Everett Boyett)
On September 19, 1885 Harrison and Martha Ann Slaughter deeded a portion of their property to the Hernando County School Board. The school building became known as both the Slaughter and Clay Sink Schoolhouse.
As Pasco County was formed from Hernando County in 1887, the Clay Sink School was transferred and became a part of the Pasco County School Board district. The school was not only known as the Clay Sink/Slaughter school but it was also known as Riverland.
For 27 years the Clay Sink/Slaughter/Riverland schoolhouse served the community of Clay Sink. In 1912 a one-room schoolhouse was constructed nearby on Cobb Slough. In 1915 the building was relocated to the cemetery property using a team of mule and logs to roll the building along.
However the property was not big enough to accommodate the cemetery, church and schoolhouse so William Henry and Joanna Slaughter Boyett donated additional acreage.
In 1935 the school board decided that only the six primary grades would be taught at Clay Sink, with the older students transported to Lacoochee. In 1943 the last class was conducted in the old Clay Sink schoolhouse as consolidation of the school system occurred and children were bused to Dade City.
Not letting the school building go to waste it was converted into a fellowship hall for the congregation of the Clay Sink Baptist Church. Today the schoolhouse still serves its purpose of a fellowship hall and remains on the cemetery property where it is maintained and cared for.
Former teachers of the Clay Sink/Slaughter/Riverland school include:
Enoch W. Gideons; he would often stay the week with the Pritchett family rather than walk home to Trilacoochee after the school day. He is the grandfather of Theresa Osbron Smith. (source: Mrs. Frances Pritchett)
C. R. Lyon; appointed teacher of Riverland School
M. S. Slaughter; appointed supervisor of Riverland School
D. C. Cripe; appointed teacher at Slaughter
Gertrude Slaughter; appointed teacher at Slaughter
As the Clay Sink community, church and school grew so did the cemetery. Many of the original charter members of the Clay Sink Baptist Church and pioneer families of the community are interred here.
Among those families are: Slaughters, Sumners, Boyetts, Sapps, Robbins, McKinneys, Hardins, Mobleys, Gays and Weeks. There are five generations of the Slaughter Family buried in the Clay Sink Cemetery. Also interred here are Rev. G.A. Bryant and family and S.R.A. Kemp and family; both families helped in the building of the Clay Sink Community.
There are many infants buried here at this cemetery. In the late 1890’s and early 1900’s Pasco saw the mortality rates rise due to malaria fever, whooping cough, and other diseases of those times. These diseases always attacked the children and elderly first, many times sparing no one.
Quarantine stations were established at many of the train depots in the area in the attempt of stopping these diseases from spreading, not knowing that these diseases were caused many times by insect bites. There are many descendants and relations to these families still living in the area and surrounding areas of Pasco County.
There are many graves in this cemetery that are marked with small headstones only containing the individuals names and no other information. There are a number of areas where the ground is sunken, indicating older graves, but at this time there are no records of who lies there. This is one of the older cemeteries in Pasco County and it holds a great deal of history. The Clay Sink Association is currently in charge of this property and they do a great job in keeping up this cemetery.
Mustard Gas Testing in East Pasco
In the 1940’s Jean Brinson Ward’s father, Titus
Brinson, worked for the United States Forestry Service in the
Brooksville-Richloam area. One of his jobs was to monitor the
Richloam-Clay Sink area from the fire tower at Richloam. The US Army
maintained a bombing range in the forest east of Clay Sink near a second
tower called East Tower where they conducted mustard gas tests. Here is
Jean’s story, which first appeared on the EPHS web site.
Mustard Gas is an oily liquid used as a shell filling in WWI and
evidently used as a bomb filling during WWII as the US Army tested it at
their bombing range near East Tower which was east of Clay Sink. They
had goats and rabbits that they used during the testing to see what the
effects would be on humans if a bomb filled with it was dropped on a
populated area. Mustard gas is a violent irritant and has blistering
properties that causes severe skin reactions. This area of the Forestry
Department was headquartered in Brooksville. Mr. Lane who was the
forester over this area got into the gas on one of his trips to the
range. He spent several days in the hospital with severe skin burns and
blisters from the gas. We could feel the earth shake when the bombs were
dropped and our house was in Richloam which was about nine or ten miles
from the range.
The soldiers who were at the range would get a new supply of
commodities at the end of each month. If they had extras left over from
the previous month they would throw some out on our front lane for
us. . .coffee, tea, sometimes sugar, k-rations and other things that I
can’t remember as I was a young child. These were things that were
rationed for us. The commodities were in brown metal army containers.
They would throw them out on Saturday evenings on their way into Dade
City to the USO.
Richloam is in Hernando County and Clay Sink is in Pasco County. The
Atlantic Coast Line Railroad ("The Goat") ran through Richloam at that
time. Richloam even had a depot, grocery store and post office during
the 1920’s and 1930’s. The residents of Clay Sink bought
their groceries at the store and used the post office. The post office
closed the day I was born. The store which housed the post office was
owned by my uncle, Sidney Brinson, and the building still stands in
Richloam, not in the best condition. My brother, John, bought it from
our uncle years ago.
In Pasco Hamlet, Past Looms Large (2007)
Tribune photo by ANDY JONES
Constructed of heart pine, Clay Sink Baptist Church is one of the few churches in Florida that are on state forest land. About 100 people attended Sunday services when the hamlet of Clay Sink was thriving in the 1920s and early 1930s.
This article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on Dec. 26, 2007.
By JO-ANN JOHNSTON
CLAY SINK - This tiny community, dwarfed by the Withlacoochee State
Forest that surrounds it, might have been run over by development by
now, like many of Florida's rural outposts, except for a quirk of fate.
The state Division of Forestry owns all the land in Pasco, Hernando
and Sumter counties surrounding Clay Sink, including the 2 acres where
the community's old schoolhouse, historic cemetery and Baptist church
sit. That dynamic has rendered this remote hamlet in northeast Pasco
County useless to developers - and given the local congregation the
distinction of being one of the few functioning churches within Florida
Now, a handful of current and former residents are trying to preserve
the community's history. With people such as 94-year-old Frances
Pritchett aging, though, time is running short to capture the story of
how her parents homesteaded, farmed and hunted here.
It's the current generation's responsibility, Clay Sink's amateur
historians say, to document Vera Boyett's stories of young married life
in the 1930s, when 100 or more people came to Clay Sink Baptist Church
on Sundays to worship. They want to save the gravesites in the private
cemetery, which dates back six generations.
Then there's the one-room schoolhouse, which the church uses as its
fellowship hall. The place where generations went to school now hosts
big Southern-style meals after church events.
The Clay Sink community, so named for a sinkhole, dates back to about
1862, when the Sumner and Slaughter families acquired land here for
farming and ranching.
Those days seem to loom largest in the minds of the people here
today. Ancestors who started farms worked through intense heat without
modern tools. Florida ranching and cowboy culture literally started in
People who survived those times became role models to later
generations who revere their perseverance and guts.
"In the pioneer days, the people who came to Florida came for the
same reasons people originally came to the United States," said Robert
Sumner, whose family dates back to the 1820s, before Pasco County was
created. "People wanted to live in an area where they were free to do
what they wanted to do without being fenced in, where they could develop
their own church."
The Slaughters started the graveyard after an infant girl died in
1873. Her father buried her in the best spot he could find - a hill on
his family's land. Eventually, the family gave 2 acres for a church and
cemetery. Descendants of the founding families keep up the cemetery, and
some of the same people make up the church congregation.
The school came in 1885 - again on land donated by the Slaughters.
The community fostered a complex economy by the 1930s, according to
Jean Brinson Ward, the cemetery association's volunteer historian. In
addition to farming and ranching, the expansion of the railroad in the
1920s spurred a timber harvesting industry and a turpentine business.
The Great Depression kept much of the community poor, though.
When the turpentine and timber industries retreated in the 1930s,
many people left.
In the late 1930s, the federal government started buying forest
lands, first from the timber companies and then from area families.
Ranching declined as grazing lands went into public ownership. The state
of Florida became official owner of the public forests in 1958.
Today, Clay Sink is simply a cluster of farmsteads, homes and
trailers on private parcels grouped around Lacoochee Clay Sink Road.
State land engulfs the community, which you don't stumble on by
accident. The church, built of heart pine, offers weekly services and is
the only remaining community institution.
Still, it's a place people call home - even some who have moved away.
Twice a year, members of the cemetery association drive up and meet in
the old schoolhouse. They come to talk about finances and maintenance
issues, but they spend a lot of time catching up and looking at
At the most recent meeting, in October, members decided to get
estimates for repairing some of the cemetery's oldest headstones, which
are breaking and crumbling. Aside from showing respect for those buried
there, the markers contain valuable genealogical information and need to
be protected, said Henry Boyett, Vera's son.
They applauded a new historic marker from Pasco County, discussed new
cemetery markers honoring two boys who died during Clay Sink's pioneer
days, and talked about soliciting family histories to publish with the
"We need to do it while we still have some of our older members
living," said Ward, 71, a retired schoolteacher who now lives in Dade
Ward has been looking for photos and combing through old census
reports, newspaper clippings and funeral home records. She has several
binders full of material, though she's not sure what she'll do with it
That Ward and others have started gathering the history of this
place, where she raised her family and still goes to church, pleases
Boyett. She likes to say Clay Sink offers both heritage and salvation.
"You don't find this every place," she said.
Links to Other Sites
List of Names on Cemetery Markers
a Space They All Worship: Clay Sink Baptist Church, 2007 St.
Petersburg Times article
vs Preservation, 2005 St. Petersburg Times article
Sink Cemetery, 3 photos from findagrave.com