If you are curious about Pasco County’s history, perhaps the best way to become familiar with it would be to check out the website, Fivay.org.
Jeff Miller, a recently retired high school mathematics teacher, maintains the website and has invested countless hours piecing together Pasco County’s story.
Miller has gleaned information from newspaper articles, old deeds, post cards, photographs, public records and personal accounts to create a repository of information that provides visitors a chance to learn about the history of the county’s geography and its people.
Miller, who is a member of the West Pasco Historical Society, was the guest speaker last week at the Pasco County Historical Society meeting at Pioneer Florida Museum & Village in Dade City.
His talk focused on the origins of names for various places in Pasco County.
For instance, the name Fivay — for which his website is named — is a community in West Pasco that was established by five men whose last names each began with the letter A: Preston Arkwright, Martin F. Amorous, H. M. Atkinson, Gordon Abbott and Charles F. Ayer.
The town, famously, was put up for sale, Miller told the crowd of about 60 people who gathered for his talk. The 1912 advertisement offered 104 residences, bungalows, stores and hotels, electric lights and a water plant, noting it was willing to sell the property “whole or separately.”
A historic marker that helped share Fivay’s story sadly has been stolen, Miller said.
But, the marker isn’t entirely gone because there is a photo of it on Miller’s website.
The local historian traced Pasco County’s place names by sharing maps dating back to 1714, when Florida was still under Spanish rule.
The name Anclote, appears on that map and may have appeared on earlier maps, going back possibly to 1500s, Miller said. “Anclote is apparently the oldest place name in Florida,” he said.
He told the crowd that Fort Dade, the fort, was established in 1837, and was named after Francis Langhorne Dade, who was killed in the “Dade Massacre,” a battle with the Seminole Indians.
Other places named for Dade include Dade City; Miami-Dade County; Dade County, Georgia; Dade County, Missouri; and Dadeville, Alabama, according to Miller.
“We don’t know what he looked like,” he said, because no photographs were taken of him.
“On the Internet, there’s a web page about him that has a picture, but it turns out the picture is actually Zachary Taylor,” Miller said.
At one point, Fort Dade was in Mosquito County, a huge county that stretched to where Palm Beach County is now, Miller noted.
Hernando County was created in 1843, he said. The name was changed the following year to Benton County, after residents asked the Florida Legislature to rename the county to honor U.S. Sen. Thomas Hart Benton, for his role in passing the Armed Occupation Act. That legislation opened up South Florida for settlement by providing each settler 160 acres, if the settler lived on the land for five consecutive years, built a home on the land and defended the land against Seminole Indians.
But, the county’s name was reverted to Hernando County in 1849 after Benton came out against slavery.
Miller also noted that the name Tuckertown, which was named for a local family, was mentioned in a newspaper in 1870. It was later changed to Richland in 1886.
Wesley Chapel also known as Wesley on area maps
The name Wesley Chapel was known to be in use in 1877, Miller said. Records show a school at Wesley Chapel for the 1877-88 school year. The community was thought to be named for John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church.
A post office named Wesley operated from 1897 to 1902, and during that time, maps show Wesley, rather than Wesley Chapel, he said.
The longer name was probably unacceptable to officials naming post offices at the time, he said.
In East Pasco, the name Lake Jovita is said to have been named by Judge Edward F. Dunne and Capt. Hugh Dunne on Feb. 15, 1822, because it was the feast day for Saints Faustinus and Jovita, Miller said. The lake also is called Clear Lake.
In 1882, the Sumner Post Office was established. The initial request was to name the post office Clear Lake, but that was denied with the request to use a short name, Miller said. Three weeks later, the name was changed to San Antonio. The name was changed to Lake Jovita on Nov. 1, 1926, and then changed back to San Antonio on Aug. 31, 1931.
Neither St. Joseph nor St. Leo were part of the original Catholic Colonies, established by Judge Edward F. Dunne.
St. Leo was named after Saint Leo University, which was named for Pope Leo I, and St. Joseph was named by the Barthle family, who had lived near a town named St. Joseph, Minnesota.
The Hatton Post Office was established in 1882, but it was moved, and its name was changed to the Dade City Post Office on Dec. 18, 1884.
In 1885, the McLeod Post Office was established. It was sort of the original name for Trilby. The name was changed 23 days later to Macon, and then changed to Trilby in 1901.
Trilby’s name came from railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant, who wanted to name the area around Macon after the heroine in wife’s favorite book, “Trilby,” by George du Maurier.
Even though the name wasn’t formally changed until 1901, there were references to Trilby in the late 1800s, Miller said.
“They platted out street maps showing streets named for characters in the story,” he added, and newspapers around the country reported that a small town in Florida was being named Trilby.
The city of Zephyrhills, originally was known as Abbott, got its name in 1888. It was changed in 1910 by Capt. Howard B. Jeffries, who founded a retirement colony for Civil War veterans. The word zephyr means gentle breeze, and Zephyrhills is known for its hills, Miller said.
The Pasco Post Office, established in 1889, was named after the county.
Pasco County got its name in 1887 when Jefferson Alexis Hendley and Dr. Richard Bankston traveled to Tallahassee to lobby the Legislature for a new county to be called Banner County.
The name did not go over well with legislators, who said “my county is just as much a banner county as yours,” Miller said.
Bankston then proposed the name Pasco County, in honor of Samuel Pasco, the newly elected U.S. Senator. On the same day, in 1887, Pasco and Citrus counties were created, with Pasco coming from the southern third of Hernando County and Citrus coming from the northern third.
The community of Land O’ Lakes got its name in 1949 and was the result of giving the Drexel-Denham area a new name. The following year, the Ehren Post Office was moved and renamed Land O’ Lakes.
Revised on August 9, 2018