Pasco’s early law enforcement days were notorious

Pasco County’s early law enforcement days inspired quite a few dramatic stories. An illegal killing captured headlines during Henry C. Griffin’s tenure as sheriff. During his second term, a mob killed two black men who were being held inside the county’s first jail located near downtown Dade City. Will Wright and Sam Williams had been charged in the murders of Dan Childers and J.B. … [Read more...]

Dade City star had familiar face, but unfamiliar name

Imagine this: A fictional round on the popular game show, “Jeopardy!” The contestants listen closely as host Alex Trebek says: "During the middle 1960s, he was one of the most recognizable faces on network television.” A contestant responds: “Who is Roy Barnes Jones, of Dade City, Florida?” Indeed. Who is this man — whose face was familiar to millions, but whose name remains … [Read more...]

‘Cow Palace’ attracted music greats

The block structure was built in 1957, without heat or air conditioning, according to records kept by the Pasco County Property Appraiser’s Office. It was located in Carver Heights, a predominantly black neighborhood where many people lived hard-scrabble lives. And, during the next 20 years, the building attracted performers who would become some of the biggest names in soul-blues and … [Read more...]

Larkin’s legacy goes beyond ‘tough guy’ reputation

William M. Larkin’s reputation for being a tough character outlasted his lifetime. Known as “The Meanest Man in Pasco County,” some people still recall that moniker applied to the Dade City man, nearly a half century after his death in 1973. Larkin reinforced that image by keeping a single-shot .22 rifle in the gun rack of his truck — a statement that often left a lasting impression with … [Read more...]

Mock battle presents live history lesson

Nearly 200 re-enactors from all over Florida take part in the mock battle that’s held every year. With about 1,500 spectators watching from a hillside, the re-enacted battle  takes place a few hundred feet from the actual battleground inside the Dade Battle Historic State Park in Sumter County. The real battle, that took place 181 years ago, started the Second Seminole War. That war … [Read more...]

Tracing the development of early Lutz

Once one of the most active stops for wood-burning locomotives, Lutz was settled with just a handful of homesteaders. There was a store and a couple of houses there in 1907, and once the Tampa Northern Railroad was extended from Brooksville to Tampa that same year, the Concord Stagecoach Line went out of business. But, that news didn’t discourage two brothers from West Virginia — William … [Read more...]

A citrus king who savored the art of the deal

When James Emmitt Evans was 12 years old, he already knew what he wanted to do. He aimed to be “a general business man,” as he liked to call it. By the time he died, at age 96, the Dade City man would have gone on to build one of the first citrus concentrate plants in the state south of Dade City. He is perhaps best remembered for his pioneering strategies to hedge juice inventory on … [Read more...]

Nobody seems to know for sure if Coolidge visited Dade City

About a year ago, my first history column for The Laker/Lutz News posed the question: “Did President Calvin Coolidge have lunch in Dade City?” Since that column published, on Aug. 19, 2015, new information has surfaced that keeps the question open. At the July meeting of the Pasco County Historical Society, I reminded those gathered that Dade City didn’t appear to offer much back in … [Read more...]

Thrasher’s impacts felt, from Atlanta to Dade City

While he doesn’t have the name recognition of other famed railroad builders, John James Thrasher played a role in bringing the first railroad to Dade City, thus helping to develop the future county seat of Pasco County. Little is known about his life before he reached the age of 21. He was born on Feb. 14, 1818, as the second oldest in a family of 14 children. He would go on to be … [Read more...]

Brick roads preserve a sense of history

When four people tripped and fell during Dade City’s Church Street Christmas celebration in 2000, the incident triggered an unexpected outcome. The strollers were enjoying a holiday outing when they stumbled across holes in the street where asphalt paving had worn through to the brick street beneath. The city's director of public works, Ron Ferguson, reported at a January 2001 City … [Read more...]