WHAT’S IN A NAME
By Kyle LoJacono
This week will look into how Lake Jovita and Land O’ Lakes got their names.
(1) LAKE JOVITA is generally associated with the area in the town of Saint Leo between SR 52 and St. Joe, Happy Hills and Hancock Bluff roads. The location contains a large number of small to medium-sized lakes and ponds. The largest is located behind Saint Leo University, which is called either Clear Lake or Lake Jovita.
Lake Jovita’s naming goes back to Feb. 15, 1882 when judge Edmund F. Dunne and his cousin Capt. Hugh Dunne are said to have come upon the lake. The feast of Sts. Faustinus and Jovita is observed on Feb. 15, and the two celebrated the day with their company on the shore.
The original name of the body of water was Clear Lake, but the Catholic immigrants changed the name to honor the saint. The settlers even changed the name of San Antonio to Lake Jovita in 1926, but the city reverted back to San Antonio on Aug. 1, 1931.
(2) LAND O’ LAKES is a relatively new name and is made up of several smaller communities, such as Denham and Drexel, to form the central Pasco County town.
The name first appeared in June 13, 1949 when Denham-Drexel Civic Association members voted to call the area Land O’ Lakes. Many people have taken credit for coming up with the name. One of the well-documented namers is Madeline Prince, a real estate agent and community activist. She spoke at the meeting and pushed for the name because she said the area had, “about 2,000 people and about 2,000 lakes.”
Another story states that a man from Wisconsin, whose name is lost to time, was a winner of a 1949 naming contest. He simply borrowed the name from a popular brand of butter he was used to in Wisconsin.
While the name was adopted in 1949, the Pasco Historical Preservation Committee uses 1950 on its historic marker because that was the year the Ehren Post Office closed and the Land O’ Lakes Post Office opened. The 1950 date was also when the State of Florida Department of Transportation formally recognized the name and began putting it on maps. Local residents Walter and Betty Franzell took the request to Tallahassee on behalf of the new Land O’ Lakes Civic Association.
The civic association convinced the Land O’ Lakes butter company to donate some of its product to the town for the old Flapjack Festival, which has since ceased to operate.
Additionally, while the historic marker lists the name Land O’Lakes without a space after the apostrophe, the original name is with the space. It is spelled with the space by the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Postal Service and Pasco County School District.
For additional information on these areas and how they got their names, visit www.fivay.org.
*The Laker and the Lutz News series on how historic places were named will continue throughout the summer. Information is provided by interviews with Pasco County historian Jeff Miller of Fivay.org and the West Pasco Historical Society. See how LeHeup Hill, McLeod, Meridian Avenue, Prospect and Saint Leo got their names next week.
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