HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY

Lacoochee


Timeline

This page was last revised on Sept. 28, 2017.

March 7, 1888. An advertisement for the Florida Railway and Navigation Co. in the Atlanta Constitution mentions Lacoochee as one of the points on the railroad.

May 22, 1888. A post office is established at Lacoochee.

Jan. 5, 1894. The Tampa Weekly Tribune reports on the Commercial Hotel, Lacoochee, Mrs. W. T. Johns, proprietor.

Sept. 15, 1894. A newspaper reports: “T. W. Miller was assassinated near Lacoochee, Fla., while cutting timber. His body was riddled with bullets, and was found at noon by his wife, who had gone to call him to dinner.”

Sept. 18, 1894. The Times Union reports that Abe McGirt, a farmer, was found dead near Lacoochee today. Examination of the corpse showed that McGirt’s neck had been broken and his skull crushed. [On Oct. 12, 1894, the Tampa Tribune reported that Judge Barron Phillips sentenced Lewis Raymond, Will Mitchell, Henry Morris, and Zelina McGirt, all colored, to hang, for killing Abe McGirt, husband of Zelina McGirt, on Sept. 15, 1894. He also sentenced Milton Higgs to hang for killing his wife Susie on Aug. 18, 1894. On Dec. 14, 1894, the newspaper reported the sentences of Zelene McGirt and her two sons and Will Raymond were commuted to life imprisonment.]

June 1896. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports:

Floridians Fight a Deadly Duel.

Dade City, Fla. June 12, 1896.—A shooting affray occurred in the woods between Lacoochee and Trilby, in which Drayton McKinney and O. J. Raulerson lost their lives. McKinney thought Raulerson too intimate with his sister. McKinney went to see a justice of the peace relative to a warrant for Raulerson’s arrest, and found him in the woods building a fence. While talking, Raulerson rode up, also to see the justice relative to the threats he had heard about the case. McKinney spoke to him, saying, “Good morning,” at the same time throwing up his rifle and sending a ball through Raulerson’s body. Raulerson immediately returned the fire with a shotgun, shooting McKinney’s brains out. McKinney died in three hours and Raulerson died shortly afterward.

1897. The Lacoochee Missionary Baptist Church is constituted, according to a WPA study, which also says that services were held in the packing house until the present white T-shape frame building was erected in 1898.

July 18, 1914. Trilby defeats Lacoochee in a baseball game, 5-4. (On Sept. 6, 1914, Lacoochee and Dade City played a scoreless tie game.)

June 18, 1915. The Pasco County Weekly News of Trilby in a section of Lacoochee news items, has “J. T. Neal has been appointed deputy sheriff here.” In a letter to the editor, a person identifying himself as the Mayor of Lacoochee writes, “The news is current throughout La Salle street that Trilby and Lacoochee will be joined together as one town. We believed this a year ago, but refrained from expressing it publicly. With only a mile between us we see no reason why we should not meet half way.”

1918-1919. The Florida State Gazetteer and Business Directory shows Lacoochee with a population of 50 and lists Charles Jensen, general store and express agent and postmaster; J. W. Dutton & Co., turpentine and general store; Lacoochee Machine Works.

Jan. 4, 1918. The Dade City Banner reports, “Fire from unknown causes broke out in the hotel at Lacoochee Monday night at about nine o’clock and completely destroyed the building and its contents.”

1922. The Tribe of Black Ulysses: African American Lumber Works in the Jim Crow South by William Powell Jones (2005) has:

When Cummer and Sons approached the end of its timber supply [at Sumner] around 1920, company managers prepared to “get out” by establishing a second mill a hundred miles away in Lacoochee, Florida. Workers began to leave Rosewood as production slowed in Sumner, leaving a core of thirty black families and one white store owner by 1923. ... Having turned a blind eye to the destruction of their employees’ property, Cummer and Sons managers arranged for a train to drive through the swamps, picking up survivors of the Rosewood massacre and offering them housing and employment in the brand new “colored quarters” in Lacoochee.

1922. The Cummer Sons Cypress Company sawmill is constructed at Lacoochee.

June 18, 1923. The Janesville Daily Gazette reports that three masked bandits in an automobile held up Elwood Wilson, manager of the Cummer Cypress Company at Lacoochee and escaped with $11,700, the company’s payroll.

Aug. 12, 1923. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports:

Day by day the time for the starting of the great mill of the Cummer Cypress Company, a subsidiary of the Cummer company of Jacksonville, draws nearer, and day by day millwrights and electricians are rushing to get the last finishing touches done so that the power can be turned on, the wheels begin to turn, and the saws to cut up the great cypress logs that are already stocked in great piles in the yard. The mill, which is to be electrically driven, will be one of the most modernly equipped in the state of Florida. Cutting only cypress, its capacity will be in the neighborhood of 100,000 feet of lumber a day.

June 15, 1924. Fire damages the Jensen building, causing the destruction of almost the entire stock of the Miller Mercantile Co. and of the Almi Mercantile Co. Records and fixtures of the post office, located in the store of the Almi Mercantile Co., were badly damaged by smoke and water, and the supply of postage stamps was ruined. Total damage was estimated at $11,000.

July 18, 1924. The Dade City Banner reported, “Building is again booming in Lacoochee. Two new picture theaters are now going up. Both expect to be in operation in about five weeks.”

June 19, 1925. Rep. Edwin S. Dew writes in the New Port Richey Press: “Application was made for charter for Lacoochee but upon investigation it appeared that there was not sufficient sentiment in favor of incorporation and consequently the bill was not introduced.”

April 1, 1928. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “Miss Elanore Harshbarger, high school pupil, is recovering in a local hospital from injuries suffered in an accident this week. Miss Harshbarger was on her way to Lacoochee, where she is pianist at the moving picture show, and in attempting to close the door of the car in which she was riding, was thrown to the street.” Eleanor Harshbarger graduated from PHS in 1928.

Nov. 2, 1928. There is a reference to a newspaper called the Lacoochee Times existing at this time. (In April 1930, The United States Publisher reported, “S. D. Lovett of Zephyrhills has moved the Lacoochee Times to Dade City and changed its name to the Pasco County Free Press. H. B. Wilkes is editor of the Free Press and J. S. Hughes, managing editor of the Zephyrhills News.”)

1939. Rev. James T. Barber becomes pastor of Lacoochee Missionary Baptist Church.

July 31, 1941. An Associated Press dispatch:

LACOOCHEE, Fla., July 31—An estimated 800 workers were idle today as the result of a strike at plants of the Cummer Sons Cypress company here.

Company officials said the exact number on strike had not been determined but that it was less than half the 800 employed at the company’s cypress mill, crate factory, pine mill and logging camp, all of which were closed. Principal demands of the strikers were for an immediate wage increase and a closed shop.

E. C. Roe, general manager, said at Jacksonville the company had met all but three of the demands of the AFL-affiliated lumber and sawmill workers union in negotiations since last February when the union won a collective bargaining election.

The three points, he said, were an immediate 10 per cent wage increase, a closed shop and five eight-hour workdays in place of the present 40 hours a week limitation. Roe declared the company countered with an offer to consider wage increases after Aug. 5 when the wage-hour division will hold a hearing in Washington on a proposed revision of the present 30 cents an hour basic wage. He said the firm refused to yield on the other two points.

Wages now range from 30 cents an hour for unskilled labor to $1.10 an hour for skilled workers, Roe explained.

A conciliator from the U. S. department of labor has been attending conferences between company and union officials, but no immediate meetings have been arranged for working out a settlement. Roe said some of the company’s units could have continued operations but all were closed after the walkout this morning to avert possible incidents.

The company arranged with J. T. McElveen, president of the union local, for continuation of utilities service at homes of workers.

Nov. 18, 1954. The Tampa Tribune has:

Lacoochee Votes Down Forming City

DADE CITY, Nov. 17.—(Special)—The question of whether or not the town of Lacoochee in Northeast Pasco County should be incorporated was definitely settled last night when, at an advertised election, 228 freeholders in the area voted against incorporation and only 23 for.

The returns from the secret ballots on the question of incorporation made further balloting unnecessary. A mayor, alderman and marshal were to be elected on a second ballot should the citizens of that section have favored making Lacoochee a municipality.

According to law two thirds of the qualified electors of the area must be present at an incorporation meeting, and at least 51 per cent at those present must vote to incorporate. There was a 100 per cent attendance of those qualified to vote at the meeting held in Lacoochee last night.

Heavy Opposition

The idea of incorporating some four square miles of territory including the sawmill town of Lacoochee and part of nearby Trilby met with spirited opposition by land owners in that section since it was advanced some weeks ago by Clark May, Lacoochee merchant. The leading argument of those favoring incorporation was that the cigarette tax would be received by the municipality would finance the local set-up and provide additional law enforcement in that area.

The opposition, headed by M. V. Daly, claimed such a move was unnecessary and would inevitably lead to increased taxation. The court refused to grant a restraining order preventing the holding of the meeting as advertised by May.

April 4, 1958. An early morning fire destroys or badly damages seven buildings in the business district. An Associated Press report quoted Constable J. E. Stanley as saying that if the Dade City fire department had not lent a helping hand, the entire business area would have been destroyed. Buildings housing a beer hall, pool room, two groceries, a barber shop, and a drug store were damaged. Stanley awakened the volunteer fire department to battle the fire until the Dade City fire department arrived.

June 5, 1959. The last timber is milled at the Cummer Sons Cypress Co. sawmill.

June 1, 2003. Lieutenant Charles “Bo” Harrison is shot and killed while sitting in his patrol car in Lacoochee. [Harrison was a 31- year veteran of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and the highest ranking black deputy in the history of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Alfredie Steele Jr. was convicted of the murder on April 26, 2007.]

Oct. 3, 2005. Fire destroys the Lacoochee Boys and Girls Club playground.

Lacoochee front page