HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
Early Residents of Pasco County
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JAMES HONOUR ST. CLAIR (1871-1949) was a long-time teacher in Pasco County. He was born in Marion, S. C., on December 8, 1871. He attended the University of Georgia and began his teaching career in Georgia at age 17 as an assistant to his father who was also a teacher. He moved to Florida in 1919 and taught one year at Oak Hill near Dade City and two years at Pasco High School before moving to Elfers in 1921. He served as principal of Elfers Junior High School and then taught at Gulf High School from 1923 until his retirement in 1941. At Gulf he taught Latin and English and coached baseball and basketball and was known as "Pop" St. Clair. He taught for 53 years. In 1947 the athletic field at Gulf was dedicated in his honor and on Nov. 28, 1952, a memorial plaque was placed at the southwest corner of the field during ceremony at half-time. The Gulf High Future Teachers of America chapter was named for him.
In Tales of West Pasco Ralph Bellwood wrote:
Jumping from the far corner of the County at Aripeka where Kolb lived, to Elfers, we find another outstanding personality whose influence will be felt through generations to come, for he imparted culture and learning through precept and example as an educator. We refer to Professor J. H. St. Clair. He taught in Gulf High school for many years. Principals came and went, but Professor St. Clair was perhaps the strongest personality that Gulf High has ever had. He was a quiet, dignified man, with a knack of getting ideas over to his pupils, as few educators have. He was an avid fisherman and caught more bass out of the Cotee and Anclote rivers than any other single man in the area. He not only taught hundreds of young people, but gave three teachers from his family, one being Mark St. Clair (now retired) who for a number of years was Superintendent of Public Instruction for Pasco County. Indeed, the St. Clair family has been a family of educators. The Professor’s Mother and Father were teachers. His wife and three children were or are now teaching, and two of his grandchildren are teaching at present.
The 1942 Gulf High School yearbook is dedicated to St. Clair, as follows:
Because he is devoted to the ideals of our school,
MARK ST. CLAIR (died in 1995 at age 90) served as Pasco County Superintendent of Schools from 1949 to 1957. He was born in Statesboro, Ga. His family moved to Dade City in 1919. He attended 7th through 9th grades there. In 1921 his family moved to Elfers. St. Clair was a member of Gulf High School’s first graduating class in 1924. He graduated from Florida Southern College in Lakeland in 1928. He was the principal at Trilby and Lacoochee before being elected Superintendent of Schools. He subsequently was an assistant principal in Leesburg. Lorise Abraham, a student at Lacoochee, recalled, "Prof. St. Clair was principal in my day and everybody, just everybody loved that man, even when he had to reprimand us. Now, it really takes a special talent to have students love you even when you've been forced to give them a licking or a lecture! Prof made learning so much fun and he always brought humor into the classroom with him.” In 1926 St. Clair married Alice Mullin, a teacher. She died in 1960. He married Helen Jackson Swartsel in November 1962.
EDGAR SAPP and his wife Florence Dix Sapp lived in the house abandoned by Aaron M. Richey after Richey moved to Tarpon Springs. Sapp subsequently moved to Anclote. In a 1983 newspaper article Sapp recalled that there were 14 houses at Anclote when he moved there in the early 1900s. He was a commercial fisherman for 70 years. He was born in Bradenton. In the 1900 census he is shown as 14 years old, a fisherman. He married on Oct. 31, 1915. A listing for Cycadia Cemetery shows Edgar Sapp died on Feb. 2, 1985. [Some information provided by Audrey Thomas Newton and her mother Frances Irene Sapp Thomas, daughter of Edgar and Florence Sapp.]
GENE SARAZEN (1902-1999), one of the greatest golfers of all time, wintered in New Port Richey. More information is here.
FRED R. SASS (died, 1945, age 74) arrived in Florida in 1912 and purchased a hotel which was under construction by the Port Richey Company, and which became the Sass Hotel. He wrote in The Genesis of New Port Richey that "Mrs. Sass was the first woman to live in New Port Richey.” Fred Sass was a talented painter; a painting by him of Elroy Avery hangs in the New Port Richey Library. Many examples of his art were exhibited in St. Petersburg, where he and his wife Ollie M. retired. They were both born in Missouri. His name appears as Fred G. Sass in a 1919 newspaper.
JOHN RICHARD SAWYER II (1861-1935), an early resident of what would become Elfers, had a fish camp he built on stilts off shore between Green Key and what is now Gulf Harbors, according to the recollection of a son Irvin Sawyer (1914-1993). His obituary says, “Sawyer, who was in his 75th year, was born February 12, 1861. He had made his home in the Elfers community for 53 years, settling there following his marriage.” John R. Sawyer II married Georgia Joanna Butler. Their first child, Fred Sawyer, was born on Feb. 28, 1886, and could be the first male child born in the settlement which became Elfers.
ROBERT LOCHRIDGE SEAY (1856-1937) was a prominent resident of Dade City for 60 years, according to his obituary. He was born in Water Valley, Ky., on July 26, 1856. As a young man he moved to Fort Dade and set out citrus groves and later entered the livery business. He married Carrie Turner in Florida. He died on Nov. 21, 1937. He was followed to Florida by his sister and brother-in-law and by his parents. His father, Dr. Charles Thomas Seay (1824-1907), was a local physician.
GASINGAMER or GLASINGAME G. SHEFFIELD (1818-1898) probably came to what later became Elfers around 1868. He is shown as a farmer in the 1870 census. His wife was Marguarite (1828-1900). [These are the spellings in the 1870 census; their grave markers at West Elfers Cemetery have Gaim G. and Margaret.] The 1870 census shows their children Julia, 20; John, 19; Moses, 16; Martha, 10; Mary, 8; and Ellis Lee, 4. Mary married J. O. Brown, q.v.
MOSES D. SHEFFIELD (1854-1928), a son of G. G. Sheffield, lived at Elfers for 60 years according to his obituary. The 1880 census shows that Moses Sheffield was born in Georgia, and that he was a sponger living in Hernando County.
J. HENRY SHELDON is named as the postmaster of Port Richey in 1918 and 1920 newspapers, although his wife Emma E. Sheldon is listed as the postmaster from 1916 to 1920 in official records. He came to the Port Richey area in 1915, according to Avery. He was selected as a member of the original New Port Richey city council in 1924, and in 1925 was named (by charter) the first clerk of Port Richey. He operated the Sheldon House, a hotel which was advertised in newspapers in 1918 and 1919. He later operated the City Market, a grocery store in New Port Richey. He died when he was thrown by a horse, around 1953. He is buried at Belleview Cemetery in Marion County. A son was Harvey O. Sheldon (b. about 1897), who married Jane Gray Edwards, a longtime teacher in western Pasco County. He died at age 56 at Bay Pines.
JENNIE SHELDON (1899-1994) taught school in Pasco County for 47 years.
She was born Jane Gray Edwards in the Bahamas and was brought to
the U. S. by her uncle John Edwards when she was three years old.
At age 19 she married Harvey O. Sheldon (born about 1897) and she then worked at the Sheldon House, a hotel
operated by her father-in-law.
According to her daughter Edna Brower, she started teaching at about age 18.
Jennie recalled in a 1978 newspaper article that from 1918 to 1920 she taught grades 1 through 8 at
the Port Richey school.
School board minutes of April 5-6, 1920, reported that the Board appointed Miss Corinne Jordan to teach at the Port Richey school, succeeding Mrs. Sheldon.
School board minutes of Jan. 7, 1921, show
she was appointed to teach at the Elfers School. During the depression, she walked
from her home in Elfers to Pierce Elementary to teach; teachers were not allowed to ride
the school buses. By 1935 she had transferred to Pierce Elementary
School and subsequently taught at Richey Elementary School when
Pierce Elementary closed. On July 6, 1945, the New Port Richey Press reported
that her resignation from Pierce Elementary School was accepted by the school board.
She received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Florida Southern College in 1950.
She retired at the end of the 1969-70 school year.
She was born on Dec. 4, 1899. She married Harvey Sheldon, Conrad L. Keller (1886-1958), Steve Voelker, and Russell Crane.
She died on Jan. 24, 1994.
Her children are Wilford H. “Skid” (GHS ’37, died in 2008 at age 88) and Edna (GHS ’39).
JACOB NATHANIEL SHOFNER (1823-1899) was a prominent businessman in Dade City. He was b. in Columbus, Ga., on Jul 8, 1823; m. Georgia Anna Gresham; d. Nov. 6, 1899, Dade City. He was the father of Dr. T. L. McElroy of DeLand, Tobe Lee Shofner of Dade City, M. G. Shofner of Palmetto, and Mrs. J. S. Root.
TOBE LEE SHOFNER (1861-1927) was an early businessman in Dade City. He was born in Newton, Miss., and came to Dade City in 1884, according to his obituary. He and his father built what was then the largest mercantile business in the town.
GEORGE REGINALD SIMS (1876-1954) was a leading developer in the Florida boom years of the 1920s. He moved to New Port Richey in 1916. He purchased the Port Richey Land Company, owner of some ten thousand acres along the Pithlachascotee River. He became acquainted with movie celebrities while spending the summer months at his home in Great Neck, Long Island, and he invited them to the area, hoping to develop it as another Hollywood. He donated land for city parks, one of which is named in his honor. He was a native of Detroit and he attended the University of Michigan. His parents were Walter R. Sims and Elizabeth Knowles Sims. He married Marjorie Bartlett Byington (died, age 77, in 1965) on March 1, 1904; she was selected as Queen Chasco in the first Chasco Fiesta in 1922. The New Port Richey Post reported in January 1916, "George R. Sims, of Chicago, President of the Port Richey Co., has erected a bungalow near the Boulevard and facing the Club House grounds and the Cootie River, and expects to spend the greater portion of his time enjoying the pleasures of this section, as well as assisting in the development of one of the prettiest little cities in the state.” He was born in Detroit. On Dec. 5, 1930, the New Port Richey Press wrote that Sims "is known as the 'Father of New Port Richey.'"
HARRISON H. SLAUGHTER (1840-1905) was a farmer and pioneer settler. The area where he settled was called Slaughter or Clay Sink. He married Martha Ann McKinney (1839-1903), who was the widow of William Gay, whom she had married about 1859 at Newnansville. She had three children with Mr. Gay, and at least ten children with Mr. Slaughter. According to descendant Frank McKinney, Slaughter escaped a Yankee POW camp during the Civil War and fled to the Everglades. A historic marker which will be placed here has: "Harrison and Martha Ann McKinney Slaughter acquired 120 acres in this area from Jesse Sumner May 20, 1862.” A deed shows that Slaughter transferred property in S24 T23 R22 to the Hernando County School Board on Oct. 3, 1885. Martha Ann and Harrison Slaughter donated the land for the Clay Sink cemetery after they buried their infant daughter there in 1873. Harrison Slaughter was born in Georgia on Oct. 7, 1840, and died on Sept. 2, 1905. Martha Ann McKinney was the daughter of John McKinney and Serena Crane. Martha Ann was born on May 9, 1839, and died on Oct. 6, 1903. She came from Alachua County but was born in Alabama.
MOSE STEPHEN SLAUGHTER (1866-1945) was a farmer and stockman. His obituary has: "He was born at Slaughter, December 8, 1866, and became a prominent farmer and stockman of Pasco county. For several years he has made his home in Rerdell, not far from the community of Slaughter, long ago designated as Precinct 1 of Pasco county and named for his father, Harrison H. Slaughter, who came to Florida from Virginia as a pioneer.”
THOMAS OWEN SLAUGHTER (1870-1942) was a Pasco County native and one of the most prominent farmers and citrus growers. He was married to Mrs. Louanna McCollum Slaughter. His daughter Mrs. D. S. Bishop was living in Dade City at the time of his death.
Rev. B. G. SMITH (1873-1924) was pastor of the College Street Baptist Church in Dade City for three years, until the time of his death. He was born in Twiggs County, Georgia, on Jan. 29, 1873, and was educated at Locust Grove Institute and Mercer University. He entered the ministry in 1898. He served as pastor of the Vineville Baptist Church at Macon, Ga., and also at East Point Ga. He served as a state evangelist in Georgia for 12 years before returning to the pastorate to take charge of the church at Coma, Ga. He then transferred to Monticello, Florida, before coming to Dade City. He was pastor of College Street Baptist Church in Dade City at the time of his death. His obituary states, “During his pastorate in Dade City his church made the greatest growth in its history, receiving over 300 new members and placing, for the first time, its financial affairs on a sound footing. In accomplishing this result the spiritual life of the church and its membership was not lessened but increased, so that it became one of the greatest moral and spiritual forces in the city.”
JOSEPH H. SMITH (1847-1924) was an early resident of Hudson. He was born in Terre Haute, Ind. He enlisted at age 17 with the volunteers of his state and continued with the army until the close of the war. He was wounded at the Battle of Resaca and suffered from those wounds for the rest of his life. He preached throughout much of this part of Florida. He was the Hudson postmaster from 1906 to 1921. He died at his home in Hudson on Jan. 19, 1924, and was buried the following day at the Baptist cemetery at Elfers. He was survived by a widow, Mrs. Florence Smith.
JOHN G. SNELL (1857-1943) served as Justice of the Peace of
New Port Richey for 21 years. On Nov. 11, 1924, the Tarpon Springs
Leader reported that Snell had been elected justice of the peace
on Tuesday by a vote of 49 to 2. He was born in Albany, N. Y. According
to WPH, “He came to New Port Richey in 1918, settling first in
Brooksville, later moving to New Port Richey.”
FELIX SOWERS (died, 1884) married Martha Ann Bradshaw (died, Aug. 22, 1893) on June 29, 1843, in North Carolina. In the late 1850s he moved to Atlanta and was living there in the 1870 census. An article in the Atlanta Constitution of Sept. 6, 1876, mentions that Felix Sowers built the smoke stack for a new cotton factory. By 1879 he was living in Hopeville, which would become Port Richey, as his daughter wrote that she was married in Port Richey on Nov. 11, 1879. The 1880 Hernando County census shows him as 62 years old, born in North Carolina, and it shows his wife M. A. as 61 years old, born in Virginia. On Jan. 30, 1883, Sowers received a deed for S30, T25, R16E, the South half of Lot 2. This area is near the mouth of the Pithlachascotee River in what would later become Port Richey. He also owned the NE4 of the SE4 of S32, T25S, R16E, which is apparently on what is now Grand Boulevard. In 1883, Sowers sold his property on the coast, which included a house, to Aaron McLaughlin Richey, who established the first Port Richey post office there. Felix Sowers is buried at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, where the records indicate he died in 1884 at age 60.
WILLIAM ALBERT SPARKMAN (1875-1945) was a Pasco County surveyor and practiced in the county as a civil engineer. He was born in Williamson County, Tenn. His wife Ida was deputy clerk of Pasco County.
JAMES IRVIN SPIVEY (born, 1838) was a Civil War veteran from Georgia. He is one of the county commissioners shown in this 1909 photo. He often led services at Oakdale and nearby communities. The following is from The History of Zephyrhills 1821-1921:
Irvin Spivey had a most unusual voice with a unique carrying quality. General Gordon of the Confederacy discovered this. He proceeded to make the most of the attribute. Bellowing like a bull, Irvin Spivey transmitted signals in code that could be heard for miles. Most of his bellowing was done in the Smoky Mountains of Virginia. The enemy learned that Gordon’s frequent devastating raids were in some way connected with this bellowing bull, and, unless they were well prepared, would avoid confrontation. On one occasion, the battle being joined, Gordon realized that his supply of ammunition was running out. He sent for young Spivey and said to him, "If you have ever bellowed in your life, do it now. It is our last hope.” The maneuver was a success. The enemy apparently decided that Gordon’s force, known to be one of the South’s best, was reinforcing the forces that the scouts had reported, and retreated. "The Bull" was given a citation and presented with a gold fountain pen engraved with his name and the date of that battle, September 4, 1864.
According to Judy Hughes, James’ brothers and sisters were: John (q.v.), Dannell, Patrick "Parrot," Dora, Effie, and Minnie. They are all from around Douglas, Ga. Their parents are Mathew and Adelina.
JOHN DAVID SPIVEY (1840-1921), a Civil War veteran from Georgia, and brother of James Irvin, filed for homestead land between Pretty Pond and what is now Lake Zephyr. He built a home and called the place Oakdale. He held Baptist services in his home and later the Spivey brothers erected a building which was used for a combined school and church until the Lakeview Baptist Church was built. School board minutes of Sept. 5, 1887, show the Oak Dale School (No. 21), with trustees A. E. Geiger, J. D. Spivey, and M. G. Frizell. He married Roxie Ann Wooten (1845-1895) and in 1898 he married Delilah Wilson Seeley.
SAMUEL H. STEVENSON (1810-1897) and his wife Elizabeth Osteen (1820-1900) were apparently the first property owners in what would become Seven Springs, as early as 1866. At this time, the area was part of Hernando County. Records show that his voter registration in Hernando County was accepted by mistake on Aug. 28, 1867, as he was born in Canada and did not exhibit documentation of his naturalization. He replied that he had taken the oath and that he would have nothing more to do with it. On Nov. 11, 1871, the Florida Peninsular reported that Samuel H. Stevenson attended the Tax Payer’s Convention of Hernando County. According to Julie J. Obenreder in WPH, Mrs. Stevenson performed the duties of midwife and assisted in the birth of many babies. According to Ash, their children were:
The 1850 census for Hillsborough County shows the children of Samuel Stevenson as Martha Jane, Mary, Henry Washington, and Sandusky.
CONSTANTINE “BUD” STEVENSON (1857-1897), married Mary Ann Louisa Luffman (1854-1948). According to Mary’s obituary, she was born at Silver Springs and lived to the age of 93 years, seven months, and four days. They were married at Seven Springs on Dec. 23, 1875, and lived there several years before moving to Hudson. See the Whitehurst-Whidden-Stevenson feud.
The children of Constantine and Mary Stevenson:
RICHARD D. STEVENSON SR. (1882-1964) was born at Seven Springs, the son of Mary Ann and Constantine Stevenson, and the grandson of Samuel H. Stevenson. On July 9, 1905, he married Sarah Early Hicks (1892-1969) and they lived in Port Richey at what is now Route 595 and Pine Street. They owned a 20-acre farm which they sold in 1908. They later purchased many acres of land in the Elfers area. In 1915 Stevenson started a small real estate business, advertising in northern papers, according to WPH. He was a member of the school board for 18 years. According to Ash, he operated the first real estate office in western Pasco County in his home from 1910 to 1923. She wrote, "He sold property, sight unseen, to Northern residents and others.” He was elected to the Pasco school board in 1936 and served until Jan. 4, 1955. Children:
HENRY STRAUBER (1898-1973) was elected a county commissioner in 1972 but died in office the following September. Before being elected to the county commission he was the County Coordinator, and he was instrumental in the establishment of the position of County Administrator. Strauber Memorial Highway is named for him. He was a founder of the Southwest Pasco Volunteer Fire Department. Earlier, he had served four five-year terms as Fire Commissioner in Bethpage, N. Y., and three terms on the Bethpage School Board.
BARTOW DANIEL STURKIE (1861-1928) served as the sheriff of Pasco County from 1904 to 1916 and from 1920 to 1924. In 1913 he performed the first legal hanging in Pasco County. He also served four terms as city marshal of Dade City. He was born in Opelika, Alabama, on Aug. 14, 1861, and died in Chattahoochee. He came to Hernando County in 1879, living near Brooksville for two years. He came to what is now Pasco County in 1881. He married Alice Gertrude Harrell (b. Sept. 4, 1861; d. Aug. 2, 1907, Dade City). Their children were Robert Bartow (q.v.), Ashford, and Fay.
ROBERT B. STURKIE (1887-1932) was an attorney, mayor of Dade City, and in 1930 was elected to the state legislature. He was born in Dade City and lived in Pasco County all his life except for time in the military. He served in the Spanish-American War and in World War I, when he was a Lieutenant Colonel. He married Franc L. Trough (1889-1929), a classmate at Stetson University. They had one child, Alice Carroll, who died in infancy. He served as mayor of Dade City in 1912-13. In 1929 he married Mrs. Edith Akin Collins of Leesburg. His father was Bartow Daniel Sturkie, a Pasco County sheriff.
HENRY H. STUBBLEFIELD (1873-1953) was an early settler who served on the Port Richey City Council in 1925. He married Winnie Lawton (b. July 7, 1889; d. April 24, 1940), who was an early school teacher in Port Richey before their marriage. H. H. Stubblefield died on Dec. 24, 1953. In 1923, Winnie Stubblefield wrote the following for the Tarpon Springs Leader, one of a series of recollections by early settlers.
I really can't see why I should tell my story for I have no home as yet to point to with pride, and no wonderful tale of immense sums of money earned. Mine is the everyday story of the family who comes to Florida with a limited amount of money and tries to get a foothold while the country is young and land is cheap. Fifteen years ago my husband came to Florida and invested in ten acres out Hudson way. Twelve years ago I was teaching in Florida, in Port Richey, and met my husband, who was here looking after his land. We were married and went back to Ohio, where we lived until two years ago. During that time our babies grew along toward maturity. You know what they say about Florida sand. I believe I had my shoes full, for we both felt it was time for us to go south and see what we could do about our land, lying idle all this time. So we sold out and packed our personal belongings and started for Florida. Arriving in Tampa, we purchased 200 hens, loaded them onto our truck with the children and other effects, and started for Port Richey, the land of our future home. We arrived, but what was our dismay to see where the house once stood a mass of ashes and debris. Our house was burned. We stood a minute overcome by the catastrophe, then turned the truck around and headed for Tampa. We purchased an army tent and returned to Port Richey and camped out. Of those long, weary, dreary, days when we worked like negroes clearing the palmetto land of the discouragements I cannot tell, but we finally cleared the land and got started, built a screen porch where we could eat and sleep in comfort, bought a cow, built a shed for fodder, and house the chickens, and on the whole we had a wonderful time accomplishing what would in time be the home for our future. It has not been comfortable. I missed cruelly the comforts of my Ohio home, but somehow we folks in Florida forget the hard part and let the sunshine in and it is in this way we accomplished so much. There is something in this lovely southern state that keeps us happy in spite of difficulties and now we are so busy planning our new house, and the grounds about it, we have succeeded, and have found there is a profit and a living in the combination fruit, dairy and poultry farm. It isn't the farm so much as the man, tho of course we have fine truck lands that will grow the best of vegetables, but you have to work, and you must accumulate your finances dollar by dollar, the same as in the north. Are we sorry? No, a hundred times no. When we have as good a home here as we left I in Ohio, I shall be the happiest and most contented woman in Pasco county.
This article was contributed by David E. Sumner
“Sumner” is an old English name based on the occupation of “summoner”—a sheriff’s messenger who served summons and citations to appear in court proceedings. Dade City, Florida, has historically been home to at least three branches of the Sumner family. Growing up in the 1960s, I knew the other two as the Edsel Sumner branch and the Robert Sumner branch.
Among eight pioneer Sumner families recognized during the re-dedication of the Pasco County Courthouse on Dec. 5, 1998, three of them were part of our branch: David Edwin (hereafter referred to as “D. E.”) and Frankie Thrasher Sumner, Jesse Cary and Caroline Hall Sumner, and King Joseph and Susan McMinn Sumner.
My great-great grandfather, Jesse Cary Sumner, was born in Richmond, Virginia, and came to Dade City in 1838. His brother Alexander Chestnutt Sumner came here in 1841 and half-brother Robert Lawton Sumner moved here around 1864. A History of Pasco County, which was edited by J. A. Hendley, contained an article written in 1927 by my grandfather D. E. Sumner (1874-1937). I will quote from the most interesting parts.
He wrote: “My grandfather Jesse Cary Sumner [1820-1871] was born near Richmond, Virginia. His father moved to Georgia where my grandfather lived until about 1838, at which time he heard of Florida as a country full of wild cattle free to any man provided he could corral and tame them. But alas! Things were not has he had dreamed. Cattle, yes, the wood were full of them—there were also five Indians for every cow in the woods,” he wrote.
“Of course, the white man’s activities soon provoked the Indians into hostilities and trouble started in earnest. It was necessary for my grandfather to. . .keep a large pack of vicious watch dogs on hand at all times for his family’s protection.”
D. E. Sumner goes on to describe several brutal skirmishes and killings that occurred in the 1840s between the white settlers and the Indians. “The Indians had a way of scaring women and children...they preferred to capture and kill his children, as the Indian seemed to realize that such persecution was more effective than killing the man,” he wrote.
“At the time the Indians were driven out, my grandfather decided to move and located two miles east of Dade City, where he acquired a large body of land, at which time he had six sons and four daughters and they all entered into farming,” he wrote.
The father of D. E. Sumner was King Joseph Sumner (1850-1920). King Joseph’s brother, William Chestnutt Sumner, was publisher of the Fort Dade Messenger, Pasco County’s first newspaper. According to Webb’s Historical, Industrial and Biographical Florida (1885), the newspaper was established in 1882.
When King Joseph Sumner died on July 23, 1920, the Tampa Tribune obituary named ten surviving children: D. E. Sumner of Dade City; Marion Earle Sumner of Clearwater; Lawrence Sumner, Yancey Sumner, Miss Ella Sumner and Mrs. E. L. Randall, all of Tampa; Mrs. A. J. Drew of Homestead; Mrs. W. L. Fulton of Savannah; Mrs. J. W. McDonald of Wauchula, and Mrs. A. E. Edwards of Los Angeles.
A copy of the “Manual of the College Street Baptist Church” (now First Baptist Church) dated Jan. 1, 1907, indicates that John R. Sumner, William Chestnutt Sumner, J.D. Sumner, and G.N. Sumner were all deacons. Other deacons included David O. Thrasher (my great-grandfather), O.L. Dayton, M.F. O’Neal and Fred Hack. Other historic Pasco names included in the 1907 directory were: Coleman, Dayton, Embry, Hendley, Larkin, Mobley, Sistrunk, Tait, Touchton, and Thrasher.
At the time of his death in 1937, D. E. Sumner lived in Winter Haven, where he was district sales manager for the Virginia-Carolina Chemical Corporation. His obituary was published in Dade City on April 26, 1937, and read: “Mr. Sumner was born sixty-two years ago in a log house a mile east of the present site of Dade City. . . .He received his schooling in this county and entered the citrus business here when a young man, raising a large acreage of groves known as some of the finest in the county. ...
“He was first married to Miss Frankie Thrasher [1880-1922] of South Carolina who passed away a good many years ago (see separate article on Thrasher family). Their three children are Edwin M. Sumner [1897-1963], Joe Sumner [1913-1959] and Mrs. Susie Bugbee [1902-1989], all of Dade City.” D. E. Sumner left about 150 acres of land to each of his two sons, who spent their lives as citrus growers. Edwin Sumner’s land was located on Duck Lake Canal Road (off River Road about four miles east of the city) while my father’s land, where I grew up, was located off of River Road and Sumner Lake Road about two miles east. My father, Joe Sumner, lived from 1913 to 1959 and died young due to lung cancer.
My mother, Ruth Sumner Hoffman, died May 11, 2011, at the age of 92. My two sisters, Joann Bandy and Frankie Goldsby, now live in Belleair Bluffs near Clearwater. I left Florida to pursue a college teaching career. The only remaining members of the family living in Dade City are Frankie’s son, Joey (and Lisa) Wubbena, and his daughter, Lyndsi (and David) Greim, who have homes on the property that have been in our family for more than 80 years. Joey has been a firefighter, city official, and served two terms as president of the Dade City Chamber of Commerce.
JESSE SUMNER (1814-1871). The following article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on Feb. 21, 2009.
The original article, with photos, is at tbo.com here.
On Feb. 18, 1871, the Florida Peninsular reported that Jesse C. Sumner died at his residence in Hernando County on Feb. 12.
JEFFERSON DAVIS SUMNER SR. (1862-1911) was born at Fort Dade on Oct. 26, 1862. On April 20, 1887, he married Mildred Roberts (1866-1941) at Dade City. He died at Dade City on June 12, 1911. On June 15, 1911, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported that Dade City “is mourning the death of J. D. Sumner, one of the oldest merchants here.... Mr. Sumner’s three sons, J. D., Jr., Wamboldt, and Mabry, came up from Tampa.” J. D. Jr. was killed in Kansas City in April 1927.
W. C. SUMNER (d. 1915). On March 23, 1915, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported: “W. C. Sumner, familiarly known as Tony, one of Pasco County’s pioneer citizens, residing near Dade City, passed away this morning [Mar. 22] at 8 o’clock. ... The interment will be at the City Cemetery Tuesday at 3 p.m., under the auspices of the Masons.”
DAVID EDWIN SUMNER (1874-1937) was born in a log house a mile east of Dade City. His parents were Joseph Sumner and Mrs. Susan Q. McMinn Sumner. As a young man he entered the citrus business. He married Frankie Thrasher of South Carolina. Their three children were E. M., Joe, and Mrs. Susie Bugbee. After his first wife died, he married Mrs. Alice Williams of Fort Meade. He later lived in Tampa and Winter Haven, where he was sales manager of the Virginia-Carolina Chemical Corp. He died on March 24, 1937. His obituary, from the Tampa Tribune, April 26, 1937, follows:
David Edwin Sumner, a life-long resident of Pasco County, died early Wednesday morning at the home of his son, E.M. Sumner, in Dade City. He had been in poor health since last May when he suffered a stroke. Mr. Sumner was born sixty two years ago in a log house a mile east of the present site of Dade City. His parents were Joseph Sumner and Mrs. Susan Q. McMinn Sumner, members of some of the oldest Pasco County families. He received his schooling in this county and entered the citrus business here when a young man, raising a large acreage of groves known as some of the finest in the county. He was first married to Miss Frankie Thrasher of South Carolina who passed away a good many years ago. Their three children are E.M. Sumner and Joe Sumner and Mrs. Susie Bugbee of Dade City. About thirteen years ago he married Mrs. Alice Williams of Fort Meade, who survives him. Although Mr. Sumner always claimed Dade City as his residence and spent a great deal of time at his country home near here, he lived for some years in Tampa and later in Winter Haven where for the past fifteen years he has had his headquarters as district sales manager for the Virginia-Carolina Chemical Corporation. He was one of the most valuable members of the company's sales force and very active up until the time of his illness. His ambition, industry and splendid character made him a highly respected citizen of this community and he will be greatly missed both her and by associates all over the state. He was a member of the Dade City Masonic lodge and former members of the Knights of Pythias and Woodmen of the World. At the time of his death in 1937, D. E. Sumner lived in Winter Haven, where he was district sales manager for the Virginia-Carolina Chemical Corporation. Funeral services were held at the Methodist church Thursday afternoon with the Rev. C. M. Cotton officiating and burial was in the Dade City cemetery. The active pallbearers were Fred L. Touchton, Joe Perry Smith, John S. Burks, Guy Fountain, Stanley Cochrane, and A.J. Burnside. Acting as honorary pallbearers were J.F. Revels., W.V. Gilbert, J.A. Carper, W.S. Cochrane, John Bryant and Col. J.A. Hendley. Besides his wife and children, Mr. Sumner is survived by three brothers: H.L. Sumner and Y.E. Sumner of Tampa, M.E. Sumner of Clearwater; and six sisters, Miss Nora Sumner and Mrs. Neta Edwards, San Francisco; Mrs. Addie Drew, Clearwater; Mrs. Liddie Fulton, Savannah, Georgia; Mrs. Mary Randall, St. Petersburg, and Mrs. Stella McDonald, Wauchula.
ROBERT HUGHIE SUMNER (1884-1942) was born in Dade City and lived most of his life there. He was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Alex C. Sumner, pioneer residents of Pasco County. He was survived by his wife Katherine and two children by a former marriage, Robert L. Sumner of Dade City and Mrs. Corinne Peeples of Zephyrhills, a brother John C. Sumner of Tampa, and five grandchildren. A son of Robert L. Sumner was Robert Sumner (b. June 17, 1934; d., May 25, 2011), who was a county attorney for Pasco County.
SAMUEL WALTER SURRATT, JR. (1920-2012). The following article is taken from the Zephyrhills Free Press of Aug. 16, 2012.
By GARY S. HATRICK
JOSEPH F. SWARTSEL (died, 1926) and his wife Sarah (1848-1934) migrated from Kansas to Florida in November 1912. They arrived in Tarpon Springs by train and traveled to Elfers by mule and wagon. They planted a nursery of citrus stock on land they had purchased while in Kansas located where the first phases of the Colonial Hills subdivision are now situated. Children included: