Clay Sink remains; others fade away

Small communities with names such as “Mexico,” “Drexel,” “Ehren,” and  “Chipco” appeared on Pasco County maps more than 100 years ago. They were located along the Orange Belt Railway, the first — and last — railroad to cross Central Pasco with a potential for future development. The names of those small towns now are mere footnotes in Pasco County’s history. But, a tiny community has … [Read more...]

Did Lincoln actually sign this document?

My travels to Lincoln, Illinois, began with a column published in The Laker/Lutz News on July 11, regarding a document that had been passed down, from one generation — to the next, to the next. That column pondered: What would it be like to have a large document signed by Abraham Lincoln, and not know its value or its history — or if it really had been signed by the nation’s 16th … [Read more...]

Some things truly are priceless

Remember finding a coin or arrowhead and wondering if it’s worth anything? Imagine having a large document signed by Abraham Lincoln, passed down from one generation to the next, and not really knowing its value or its history with the nation’s 16th president. For now, it has a safe and protected place in the home of 84-year-old Martha M. Fountain, a lifelong resident of … [Read more...]

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...]