HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
This page was last revised on March 5, 2017.
Nov. 11, 1886. Simon J. Temple purchases 280.74 acres of land for $1,026.69 from Florida Railway and Navigation Corp. [He named the area Abbott; it later became Zephyrhills.]
1888. Abbott is surveyed for Simon J. Temple, who owned much of the land.
Feb. 2, 1888. The Abbott post office is established. [The name was changed to Hegman in 1890 and back to Abbott in 1892. In 1910 the post office was either renamed Zephyrhills or discontinued and replaced with the Zephyrhills post office.]
Apr. 17, 1888. Abbott is platted and recorded in Plat Book Number 1 on page 5.
1892. An article in the Pasco County Democrat refers to John D. Austin of Hegman.
Aug. 3, 1899. The San Antonio Herald reports, “Mr. Tanner, a turpentine operator, with two colored assistants succeeded in arresting a colored fugitive, whom they located in Abbott. The prisoner, who is wanted for murder, was brought to Dade City and turned over to Sheriff Griffin for safekeeping until the sheriff of Hernando county could be notified and send for him.”
Mar. 6, 1906. The Gainesville Daily Sun reports: “One of the most important transfers in real estate recorded in Florida in some time was the sale of 18,000 acres of timber land, together with forty ‘crops,’ or 400,000 boxes, and the complete naval stores outfit of W. B. Phifer, located at Abbott, Pasco county, a few days ago. It is understood that the consideration was $90,000. A large acreage of the tract is virgin timber, and said to be among the finest for turpentine purposes in Pasco county.”
Feb. 1909. Capt. Howard B. Jeffries, a Civil War veteran from Pennsylvania, searching for a site for a colony for Union Civil War veterans, selects the site of Abbott.
Aug. 6, 1909. The land for Zephyrhills is purchased for the Zephyrhills Colony by Capt. Jeffries, according to a 1928 newspaper artice.
Sept. 26, 1909. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “The Stebbins Real Estate company, Tampa, has sold to New York Capitalists 35,000 acres of land in Hillsborough and Pasco counties for development.”
Sept. 28, 1909. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “J. L. Greer left Abbott last night for Jacksonville to transact business. Mr. Greer is the lumberman who recently transferred 35,000 acres of land in Pasco and Hillsborough counties to eastern capitalists for colonization purposes.”
Oct. 1, 1909. The Weekly True Democrat of Tallahassee reports, “A big colonization company has purchased 35,000 acres of land in the southern portion of Pasco county for colonization purposes. The settlement will be known as Zephyrhills, and it has already been arranged to settle 6,000 families thereon.”
Oct. 15, 1909. A newspaper reports that the State Department of Delaware issued certificates of incorporation to the Zephyr Hills Colony Co., to develop industrial farming and manufacturing colonies in Florida. The incorporators are Ferdinand M. Jeffries, of Pleasantville, N. J.; Wallace Campbell, of Bayonne, N. J.; William L. B. G. Allen and G. G. Baker, of New York. The capital stock is $500,000.
Nov. 9, 1909. An advertisement in the Tampa Morning Tribune has: “Mr. H. B. Jeffries of New York City, the Vice-President of the Zephyrhills Colony Company, is in the city [Tampa] and has opened up headquarters in Suite 219, American Bank Building, with the Stebbins Realty Co. He will be here only a short time, as he will soon move up to the Colony site, where he is now locating a town site.”
Jan. 27, 1910. The Zephyrhills Colonist reports, “There are a few houses near the station at Abbott now. It will be but a few months until it will be a bustling town.” It also reports, “Mr. Hennington’s store on the Colony Townsite is large and well stocked for the small community at present relying upon it for dry goods, groceries, hardware, etc., but by and by there will be need of enlargement and multiplication.”
Feb. 9, 1910. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “A. E. Stebbins, of the Stebbins Realty Company, of this city, has returned form Abbott, where he went to assist the purchasers in the Zephhyr Hills colony to select their lands and reports that all were greatly satisfied and pleased with their purchases. He delcares that some of them were so well pleased that after being there a few days, they purchased additional tracts.”
Feb. 11, 1910. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports: “DADE CITY, February 10—Meager details of a dual tragedy have just been received here in which William Stafford, a prominent farmer of that section, shot and killed Joseph and Mit (?) Hale. According to the reports received, Stafford had accused the young men of taking hogs that did not belong to them and which were his property. Meeting on the streets of Abbott this afternoon, the quarrel was renewed, and from the best information obtainable the Hale boys picked a quarrel with Stafford. The latter went off and procured a double barrel shot gun, with which he shot both men. The bodies of the two dead men were taken to Dade City tonight and a coroner’s inquest will be held tomorrow. All of the principals are well known in this county.”
May 31, 1910. The name of the Abbott post office is changed to Zephyrhills. [A newspaper from November 10, 1909, listing towns, shows Zephyrhills colony.]
July 2, 1910. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “Captain J. B. Jeffries, of the Zephyr Hills Colony near Dade City, was in Tampa yesterday. The genial Captain has just returned form a trip to New York made in the interests of the colony, and reports that the affairs of Zephyr Hill are in a most flourishing condition. They are now mailing the 120,000 edition of the ‘Zephyr Hills Colonist,’ recently put out by the presses of The Tribune Publishing Co.”
July 20, 1910. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “Captain H. B. Jeffries, president of the colony, has engaged E. A. Nolan, of Tampa, to erect for him a house on the corner of Fifth avenue and Eighth street. The building will be two stories, with suitable porches.”
Sept. 7, 1910. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports that the school house will soon be completed. (See a separate article on the Zephyrhills school.) it also reports:
Capt. H. B. Jeffries, president of the company, will soon move into his new house on Fifth avenue. It is receiving the finishing touches from the skilled hands of E. H. Goold and G. F. Hayden.
Aug. 2, 1911. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports that A. E. and J. F. Sterbbins have bought out the interest of Capt. Jeffries and his associates in the Zephyrhills Colony Company, as Mr. Jeffries’ health has declined. The newspaper called it the largest land deal ever consummated in Pasco County.
Oct. 5, 1911. Vol. I, No. 1, of the newspaper the Zephyrhills Colonist appears.
1912. The Grand Army of the Republic Hall is constructed in Zephyrhills.
1912. The First Methodist Church traces its founding to this year, when 30 members met with the Rev. N. J. Hawley in the dining room of a home.
Aug. 1, 1912. The First State Bank of Zephyrhills begins operations, having bought out the McCormick, Stapleton, & Co., bankers, of Zephyrhills. [On July 16, 1915, the Dade City Banner reported that the banks in Zephyrhills have consolidated, with the American State Bank of Zephyrhills purchasing the assets of the First State Bank of Zephyrhills.]
Aug. 8, 1912. The Atlanta Constitution has: “Zephyr Hills, Fla. August 7.—Richard A. Burke, vice president and general manager of the Homestead Land company of Crystal Springs, near here, jumped in front of a fast moving passenger train today and was instantly killed. ... Burke came here two years ago from Milwaukee, Wis., and was one of the foremost citizens in this section. No reason is known for the rash act.”
Jan. 5, 1913. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “The Colony Company is putting up a stand in the park for the band boys.”
June 27, 1913. An advertisement in the Tampa Morning Tribune states that Zephyrhills is a new town, three years old, and now has a population of nearly 2,000. It is on the main line of the Seaboard Railway.
Sept. 11, 1914. The Dade City Banner reports:
School opened Monday morning with eight teachers and 185 pupils. All the children were not out the first day; will probably run to two hundred and fifty, as many of our settlers have not yet returned from their visit to the north.
Sept. 13, 1914. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports that on Sept. 18 there will be a celebration of the laying of the cornerstone of the First Methodist Church. The bricks have arrived on the ground belonging to the S. A. L. for the new depot.
Sept. 18, 1914. The Dade City Banner reports, “Tuesday the citizens of Zephyrhills showed their progressiveness by voting in favor of good roads. They voted to create a special road and bridge district No. 4, and to build 20 miles of hard roads at a cost of $30,000, to be paid for in warrants of the district. The county Commissioners met Wednesday for the purpose of canvassing the returns and declared the election carried in favor of roads—and progress. With these roads and the Richland roads that have just been voted for and the good roads we already have this county will be in the front rank when it comes to good roads.”
Oct. 30, 1914. The Dade City Banner reports, “We have just instituted a new G. A. R. Post, ‘Farragut, No. 41, Dept of Florida.’ The officers of Farragut Post are: Commander, Benjamin Franklin Gilbert; Senior Vice Commander, H. W. Kirby; Junior Vice Commander, L. A. Barnett; Adjutant, Samuel E. Nyce; Quartermaster, J. C. Percival; Officer of the Day, C. G. Hopkins; Officer of the Guard, Rev. J. A. Ball; Chaplain, Rev. E. T. Gray; Patriotic Instructor, Lemuel P. Stovens. They already have between 25 and 30 members, with more coming. They have pledged themselves not to proselyte the members of Garfield Post—from which the members of this new Post have chiefly withdrawn—or in any way antagonize the welfare of that Post, preferring rather to cultivate the spirit of true fraternity, charity and loyalty towards all comrades, and thus give to these words meaning more than of “Sounding brass of a clanging symbol.” We are building a fine M. E. Church, which, it is expected, will be ready to occupy sometime in December.”
Nov. 13, 1914. The Dade City Banner reports, “O. N. Williams & Son, popular owners of the Dade City Racket store, announce that they will open up a racket store at Zephyrhills Saturday of this week. The store is to be run in connection with their racket store of this place and will carry a complete stock of dry goods, toys, novelties, and a general line of five, ten, and twenty-five-cent goods. The Dade City Racket Store is one of the progressive business houses of this city, and has enjoyed a liberal patronage from an appreciative public during its existence here, and while the store at this place will be kept up to its high standard, the proprietors will put in a first-class establishment at Zephyrhills.”
Nov. 17, 1914. The vote to incorporate Zephyrhills is held at the G. A. R. Hall. [It passed 65 to 12. W. C. Boggs was elected Mayor, and the five aldermen elected were N. L. Wright, S. J. Lyons, A. D. Penry, S. G. Allen, and W. J. McLaughlin. Peter O. Bobb was chosen marshal and P. T. Williams was chosen city clerk.]
Dec. 4, 1914. In an article about Zephyrhills, the Dade City Banner reports:
Zephyrhills is to have a new depot. The Seaboard people are unloading brick and other material just north of their old depot. We are very glad to see this move taken by the Seaboard. The present depot has been very inadequate to serve the people of Zephyrhills. It is one of the best paying depots between Tampa and Jacksonville, and we feel we are entitled to some consideration from the Seaboard people, as they have treated us pretty well. The Methodists have commenced on their new $5,000 building, contract for which has been let to Clark & Fuller. It is located on the corner of Fifth avenue and Tenth street; it is to be a fine building and the Methodists can justly feel proud of their endeavors.
Jan. 29, 1915. The Dade City Banner reports, “J. M. Harvey, president of the Bank of Commerce, of Tampa, and the Latin American Bank, of Ybor City, in company with E. W. Stapleton, was in the city Monday, making arrangements to put a new bank in this place. The name of the new one will be The American State Bank of Zephyrhills. The capital stock will be $15,000, and it was virtually all subscribed before they arrived in town, except that which they were holding for resident stockholders. The preliminary moves have all been made, and the institution will be in running condition at the earliest possible moment. L. D. Stapleton, who is now at Ellenton, looking after the bank at that place, will be cashier. The Stapleton boys are well known and well liked at Zephyrhills, and will be intensely welcomed back in the financial world of Zephyrhills.—Colonist.”
Feb. 26, 1915. The Dade City Banner reports, “Rev. J. A. Davis, who has just recently accepted the pastorate of the Baptist Church of Zephyrhills, was in the city Saturday.”
March 26, 1915. The Dade City Banner reports, “The American State Bank of Zephyrhills opened for business Tuesday morning with pleasing ceremonies. A social reception was held in the bank, during which refreshments were served and carnations presented to the ladies and cigars to the men. J. M. Harvey, a leading banker of Tampa, is president of the new institution, and L. D. Stapleton, of Zephyrhills, is cashier, with E. W. Stapleton, assistant. With the opening of the new bank, this gives Zephyrhills two state banks, which should take care of the situation in that city for some time to come.”
May 14, 1915. The Dade City Banner reports, “A deal was consummated this week in Zephyrhills whereby Mr. Len Gilbert of that city became the owner o f the Zephyrhills electric light plant, he buying the business from Mr. W. M. Francisco. Mr. Gilbert came to Zephyrhills from Grand Rapids, Mich., about a year ago. Mr. Francisco was compelled to sell on account of his engineering business, which consumes the greater part of his time.”
Nov. 28, 1915. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “The dedication of the new Christian Church last Sunday was a grand success. A large crowd was in attendance at all the different meetings during the day, and a satisfactory program was rendered, according to published schedule. Rev. McHargue, of Jacksonville, was the speaker of the day. The solos of Mrs. U. L. Wright and Mrs. A. H. Harvey were fine, as they always are. The church starts out with good prospects ahead and its future is enthusiastically predicted.”
Dec. 13, 1915. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “There are three church buildings here, the Methodist Church North, which was completed this year at a cost of over $7,000, is one of the finest in the State, considering the size of the town; the Christian Church, which has been partially finished on a few months, will cost about $2,000 when completed, and the Union Tabernacle, where different denominations hold services, also a Catholic Church in the north part of town.”
July 16, 1916. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “This city is to have a real hotel. The Zephyrhills Hotel Company was organized here yesterday, to construct a two-story hotel building, with four storerooms and hotel lobby on the first floor, and twenty-five rooms, parlor and other necessary rooms and convenience on the second floor. The structure is to be of concrete blocks with stucco finish and modern in every respect. It is to be completed in time for the winter tourist business. The cost will be about $12,000.” [A 1971 newspaper article reporting on the demolition of the hotel has: “Built in 1917, the hotel was operated for several years by Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Wrennick who leased it from the Zephyr Hotel Co. It was owned by a time by Mr. and Mrs. G. F. Hosburg, who sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Howard Powell. They later leased it to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Richardson. It was again taken over by the Powells until Powell’s death. Their son Lawrence Powell then operated it until his death in an automobile accident two years ago.”]
Nov. 26, 1917. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “The new Hotel Zephyr is now open for guests. .... There has been quite a delay in opening the hotel on account of getting furniture caused by the congested condition of the railroads.”
Jan. 18, 1918. The Dade City Banner reports, “The council of this city did itself proud and greatly benefited the town by providing the people with a commodious city hall, located on Ninth street between Sixth and Seventh avenues. The council traded some property which the city owned for the building heretofore known as the ‘Tabernacle,’ a spacious hall 30 by 50 feet, provided with stoves for heating purposes and electrically lighted, and in the best possible location. The hall will not be rented for any purpose whatsoever, but will be for the use of all public meetings to be held by citizens of Zephyrhills. The council is to be commended for providing the citizens of this city with such a substantial public meeting place, and at the same time without expense to the town. Several public meetings have already been held at the new hall.”
Mar. 22, 1918. The Dade City Banner reports: “Zephyrhills was completely terrorized Tuesday morning shortly after one o’clock when a band of bank robbers blew the safe of the American State Bank and attempted to rob the bank of about $5,000. In the melee following the first explosion in the bank, in which twenty or more shots are said to have been exchanged between the robbers and citizens, Mr. A. B. Storms, a baker and prominent citizen of Zephyrhills, was killed by one of the bandits. Failing to gain entrance into the inner door of the safe, the bandits escaped in an automobile, which they had stationed in the edge of town, after cutting the telegraph and telephone wires, to prevent the alarm being given.”
May 25, 1919. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “Floyd Hennington has sold his grocery business to J. F. Stebbins, and will move to Wauchula to engage in the lumber business. Mr. Hennington was in the firm with his father, L. F. Hennington, the first business house in pioneer days, before the colony company was organized.”
Aug. 6, 1920. The Dade City Banner reports, “Col. H. B. Jeffries of Zephyrhills, Republican candidate for Congress from this district, was a caller on the Banner yesterday, and recalled that it was eleven years ago today that he bought the land for the Zephyrhills colony, which developed into one of the most successful colonies of the state and has the second largest town in the county today. Col. Jeffries is in dead earnest in regard to his candidacy and asserts confidence in his election.”
Aug. 26, 1921. The Zephyrhills Colonist reports that William H. Mountain was brutally murdered, and that Eugene Blakely was arrested but denied involvement.
June 16, 1922. The Dade City Banner reports, “The machine and carpenter shop in Zephyrhills owned and occupied by P. T. Williams was totally destroyed by fire early this morning. The building was near the home of P. E. Bobbs and the latter was in danger for a while. The loss amounts to $500 or more. The Dade City fire company was asked for assistance, but before the boys could start, a second message stated the fire was under control.”
Nov. 24, 1922. The Dade City Banner reports, “Zephyrhills, November 20.—The ladies of the Rebecca lodge and member of the Oddfellows lodge gave a supper Tuesday evening at the G. A. R. hall, the proceeds of which will be used toward buying new equipment for the lodge rooms. The Oddfellows recently had the misfortune to lose all their furniture and equipment in the fire which destroyed the Blodgett building on Fifth avenue a week ago last Sunday.”
Feb. 19, 1926. The Zephyrhills News reports, “Bandits entered The American State Bank Wednesday during the lunch hour, when it was closed, choked, bound and drugged the bookkeeper and escaped with approximately $11,000.00 in cash.”
Mar. 15, 1940. The Dade City Banner reports: “A fire of undetermined origin destroyed the former Hennington building and three adjacent structures, completely wiping out one of the business blocks of Zephyrhills last Saturday morning about one-thirty o’clock, during a period of high wind which quickly swept the buildings and caused a complete loss. The Dade City fire department responded to a call for assistance. However it and the Zephyrhills fire truck were unable to quench the flames, but by their efforts nearby buildings were saved.”
May 9, 1962. WZRH 1400-AM begins broadcasting, owned by Zephyr Broadcasting Corp, John Dent, President. [The station was acquired by Paul Lasobik on Oct. 16, 1963. It subsequently changed call letters to WPAS. The station now has the call letters WZHR.]
June 5, 2013. The name of the largest Powerball winner in history is announced. It is Gloria MacKenzie, 84, of Zephyrhills.
Building a Town Among the Hills (1910)
Zephyrhills Colony Has Wrought Transformation
Seven Months Ago, There Were Only Three People There—Now a Hustling Little City Exists
This article appeared in the Tampa Morning Tribune on July 17, 1910.
ABBOTT, July 13.—(Special.)—Seven months ago when the rising sun shot its rays over the hills at Abbott only three people were awakened. There were only three to awaken, Mr. and Mrs. Hennington and their son Floyd.
They looked up and down the street, the only street in town, the one leading from their store to the depot. Not a soul to be seen, not even a dog. Three dilapidated houses, inhabited by bats and owls. A more desolate scene could not be imagined. How a family like the Henningtons could be contented here is past all comprehension. It could not be anything man had done for the place, so we looked about to see what nature had done.
We saw beautiful hills, more than 200 feet in height, their long, sloping sides dotted with beautiful oak and pine trees.
We went to the top of one of the hills, said to be 230 feet in height. What a beautiful panorama was spread out. Hill after hill could be seen rising one after another for miles. While, nestling in the valleys, and on the lower hill tops, were farm houses surrounded by fields of corn, peach orchards and orange groves, small herds of milch cows. Some large droves of cashmere and Angora goats were seen on some of the hillsides. It was a grand sight.
When we read many years ago that story of Jules Verne, how he was shot from a cannon planted in the mountains east of Tampa to the moon, we did not believe it, we had never seen mountains east of Tampa, but what are these great piles of sand, clay and rock if not mountains? At any rate they look like mountains to one who has lived the past thirty years in the flat, piney woods of Florida.
This morning when the sun shot its rays over the hills at Abbott, several hundred people awakened. On looking out, up and down the streets and avenues, there are now over three miles of streets cleared up. One, Fifth avenue, is 90 feet in width, all others are 60. Men, women and children are seen going in every direction; some to their work, some to their places of business, while others with rod and reel to the Hillsborough river or some of the nearby lakes, returning with a string of trout (black bass).
What has brought about this great change?
Last fall, Capt. H. B. Jeffries, of New York City, bought through the Stebbins Realty Company, from J. L. Greer, a large tract of land. A company was organized, called the Zephyrhills Colony Company, with Capt. H. B. Jeffries as its president. The land was divided into five acre tracts and placed on the market. One section one mile square was laid out into town lots. The name of the town is Zephyrhills. The advent of this company was not heralded by a brass band or great magazine articles. The company had a few thousand papers printed by the Tampa Tribune Publishing Company, called the “Zephyrhills Colonist,” setting forth the facts about the land that they were placing on the market with a few letters from prominent citizens of Hillsborough and Pasco counties, making honest statements of the healthfulness and resources of this section. From this simple and straightforward manner of advertising, thousands of acres have been sold, and several hundred settlers have come and are building their homes. All seem to be contended, many of them buying more land and writing to their friends to come, that they have found a place where they can spend the sunset of life amid scenes of pleasantness.
The great majority of the settlers are old soldiers and draw a pension so their welfare need not be feared while they are bringing their farms and orchards to a paying basis. Since March 1, about seventy houses have been built, many of them on their acreage tracts. Those who have bought represent not less than 4,000 people, the majority of whom will be here by Christmas. Tampa had better look well to the east. This we judge is being done as we see Tampa people on the streets every day.
In some future article, I will make more personal mention of what is being done and who are doing it.
Postoffice Changed (1910)
Abbott Will in Future Be Known as Zephyrhills
This article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on July 20, 1910.
ZEPHYRHILLS, July 19.—(Special)—The name of the postoffice at this place has been changed from Abbott to Zephyrhills.
Mrs. Josephine Huntington [should be Hennington], who has so faithfully stood by the people in this section in maintaining a money order office when the compensation was scarcely worth mentioning, has been reappointed postmaster. This is justly due her for her faithfulness.
The business done at a postoffice is a good index to the growth of a town. Money orders paid for the month of April, 1909, one $10. Money orders paid for the month of March, 1910, 119—$2,869.40.
Captain H. B. Jeffries, president of the colony, has engaged E. A. Nolan, of Tampa, to erect for him a house on the corner of Fifth avenue and Eighth street. The building will be two-stories, with suitable porches.
Mr. W. R. Dunn has built a cottage on his residence lot, also a two-story store building on his lot on East Seventh street.
George Suinburn has completed his store on Fifth avenue.
Dr. Brinson has completed his building and is installing a soda fountain and opening up drugs for his store.
Mr. J. C. Price, of Minneapolis, Minn., with his two daughters, arrived yesterday. He has en route a carload of household goods and stock.
The Masons are contemplating the erection of a hall out of artificial stone.
Mr. Lyons, of Tampa, bought at lot on Eighth street, erected a building and stocked it with hardware all in a week. That is a fair illustration how business is rushed at Zephyrhills.
Monster Realty Deal in Pasco (1911)
Stebbins Brothers Buy Zephyrhills Colony
Price Is Up In Hundreds of Thousands; Entire Holdings Taken Over By Former Tampans
This article appeared in the Tampa Morning Tribune on Aug. 2, 1911.
ZEPHYRHILLS, Aug. 1—(Special)— The largest land deal ever consummated in Pasco county, and one of the largest in the State, has just been made public, wherein A. E. Stebbins and J. F. Stebbins, formerly doing business in Tampa, under the name of Stebbins Realty Company, bought out the interest of Capt. H. B. Jeffries and his associates in the Zephyrhills Colony company. While the price paid has not been given out, it must have been away up in the thousands, as the company is capitalized at $500,000 and their land holdings are large, lying in the hilly region of Pasco county. It is one of the finest bodies of land in the State and will produce anything adapted to this climate successfully and profitably.
This colony is one of the most successful in Florida, having sold lands to about 1,300 families, of which about 300 have already arrived and are building homes, opening up and otherwise improving their property. The population has reached about 1,000, with new people coming in almost every day, and the present indication is that there will be close to 3,000 people here before next winter is over.
The business in the future will be managed by A. E. Stebbins as president and J. F. Stebbins as treasurer. Those gentlemen have had over thirty years’ experience in Florida soil, having moved to this State from Illinois in 1877, and are competent to select land adapted to the different products grown in Florida. A. E. Stebbins served in the Eighty-Eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry during the late Civil War, and hence is a suitable person in take the place of Captain Jeffries to look after the interests of the old comrades who are settling in the colony. While this is not exclusively an Old Soldiers’ colony, yet it is largely composed of Union Veterans and has the second largest G. A. R. post in the State.
A very attractive feature of this colony is its nearness to Tampa, the metropolis of South Florida, with its deep-water harbor second to none in the State and the work now going on will make it the largest and deepest in the State. With all this Tampa furnishes a market and a trading point for this colony, which is daily being demonstrated by the trade that is being carried on with Tampa by the colonists.
Captain Jeffries founded this colony and made it the most conspicuously successful colony in the Slate; and in doing so wore himself out by hard work, day and night, and suffered such damage to his sight that for some months he has not been able to attend personally to the business of the company. While in the North recently he was prostrated on the street by an attack of sickness, from which he has not recovered, and he found himself compelled by lack of strength to retire from the presidency of the company. He will continue in residence at Zephyrhills.
The company has laid out a park three hundred feet long on the east side of the depot, and is fencing and improving it in other ways. They intend to put down a well and install a system to water the entire park, have fountain, etc., and keep the place fresh and beautiful all the time with grass, flowers, shrubbery and trees.
At the meeting of the Masonic lodge of this place this week, the lodge decided to build a three-story brick building. J. L. Geiger, C. O. Halliday and C. C. Wetherington were appointed as a committee to locate the site. The first floor is to be occupied by a bank and two stores; second floor, office rooms; third floor, lodge rooms. This building is to cost about $15,000.
Mr. Francisco, a recent arrival from Michigan, is going to put up right away a two-story cement stone building, in which will be operated a drug store and ice-cream parlor. Mrs. Cunningham, owner of a large cement stone plant at San Antonio, is going to move her machinery here to supply blocks for this and other prospective buildings.
A gentleman was here this week to seek about a location for an ice plant. The parties interested in this enterprise have plenty of money and will put up their building of cement stone.
The Rise and Progress of Zephyrhills (1911)This article appeared in the Zephyrhills Colonist on Nov. 23, 1911.
By SAMUEL E. NYCE
In February 1910 we made our first appearance at Abbott, now Zephyrhills. We arrived at 4 P.M. during a drizzling rain. The first impression was not an inviting one.
As we looked around, we found a few old and dilapidated buildings, about all of them paintless and lots of black walls. The buildings here were Hennington’s old store, the house directly opposite the station, the house now occupied by J. F. Stebbins, and one in the rear of same located along what is now called 7th Street.
The only one occupied prior to the organization of the Colony Company was Hennington’s store. There were also three R. R. houses about two blocks north from the station, and the shacks at the turpentine distillery occupied by Negroes. The distillery has now disappeared.
The main view before us were black oaks, on a tract opposite Hennington’s old store which was at one time cultivated. The Colony Company office was in the old house now occupied by J. F. Stebbins, but faced the east, since turned so as to face 5th Avenue.
We made our appearance at the office of the Colony Company rather disgusted at the surroundings, and the conditions existing.
We were royally received by Captain Jeffries and Mr. Moore, and on inquiry we found that the only place for lodging etc., was with Mrs. Davis at the Colony House opposite the station and then we went and found her house was well filled, but that she would feed me, provided I was willing to sleep in the school house in the woods on the other side of the R. R.
Of course with the rain and night approaching we were ready to accept almost anything and we were reconciled to the conditions existing.
After supper we were told that a number of men were ready to go to the school house in the woods and I accompanied them, bringing up the rear. It was dark and as I followed them, stumbling, and tumbling a number of times, I was reminded of the night marches under similar conditions in the Army of the Potomac. At last we came to the school house, rather an ancient building and uninviting lodging place, surveyed the field and, being tired was soon in the embrace of Morpheus.
Next morning the sun rose before we did and soon disappeared behind the clouds, with threats of more rain. The schoolhouse was located on what is now 9th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues. We returned to the Colony House, had breakfast and then returned to the office of the company, not pleased, and felt like leaving at once.
We were invited to see an orange grove, in company of others just as we were. We were taken to Captain Renfroe’s grove, about three miles from the office, and all hands were pleased. It seemed that this was the turning point, seeing what could be done in this wilderness. The sun came out in full glory and the day was a delightful one, and we had a better opinion of the surroundings.
At this time, no doubt fully convinced of the success of the colony, Mr. Hennington laid the foundation for, and commenced the erection of his new store, also a few new houses were going up and a number of men commenced operations.
The only streets opened were 5th Avenue, and this only partially, and a few cross streets, perhaps a block. Willis Geiger had erected a house on 6th Street above 5th Avenue, which was then among the oaks, and several were in the course of construction.
There were some tents, part tents answering for a habitation but no real homes had been erected, save those mentioned, and the greatest complaint existed. After a few days we secured lots and land and made preparations to build, then returned north for one month, and when we returned found great changes and all for the better.
In most every direction the saw and hammer were heard, mostly by amateurs. Geiger & Geiger’s store, Orcutt’s barber shop, the Zephyrhills Inn, Mr. Summy’s home—these places had, Phoenix like, arisen, the black oaks were disappearing and general industry appeared to be on.
The newcomer made inquiry from the native and it seemed no two had the same idea or the same way of cultivating. In consequence, some colonists did one way and some another in planting, while some followed northern habits. Some started correctly, more incorrectly, and the errors were a great education to the tiller of the soil.
We had our ups and downs; not all the newcomers were desirable or beneficial. The place, being new, like all other new places received the adventurers and, for a time, raised more or less discontent. According to their ideas they had expected the streets paved with gold, and that they could lay under the orange trees, simply picking off the fruit. They had an idea it was no work.
For a time the growls were infectious, but they soon disappeared in one way or another for the colony’s good. If any remain their places will be taken by these less in expectation but more industrious. Other places have received their growls or will receive them.
In these early days, nigh unto two years ago, colonists were ignorant of farming conditions in this climate, all being used to frozen soil in northern climates. This was a different proposition, but clearings were made by some and preparations to plant.
Zephyrhills Has Taken on a Splendid Growth (1912)
Is Handsome Little City of 1,500 People
Many New Settlers Arriving. Evidences of Substantial Prosperity on All SidesThe following article appeared in the Tampa Daily Tribune on Jan. 6, 1912.
Zephyrhills, Fla., Jan. 4—Zephyrhills is located in the highlands of Pasco County, about (illegible) feet above sea level; no swamps, and, best of all, no mosquitoes. There is plenty of good water and it is the healthiest place in the state of Florida. We are on the main line of the S. A. L. railroad, thirty-eight miles from Tampa by rail and twenty-seven by wagon road. Dade City is our county seat and is located nine miles north. The town was formerly called Abbott, in February, 1910, the colony was started. At that time there was but few buildings here. Today in the town site there are about 300 residences. The colony covers 35,000 acres and all told there are about 450 houses built. People from the north have come in and bought five and ten acre tracts and cleared, fenced and built on them and are now raising all kinds of vegetables, etc. We have a population of 1,500. New people are arriving every day. We have twenty-two business firms in town. Many new buildings are being built for businesses and dwellings. Mr. Francisco, our druggist, has just completed a large two-story cement block building for his drug store and ice cream business, on the north side of East Fifth avenue, and is now comfortably located in it.
One of the most beautiful places in the colony is a park which was put in by the colony company. This park is sixty feet wide and 300 feet long. The park was started in August, 1911, and has been kept up in the best of shape. They have now installed the overhead irrigation system. The town has now got what is called a Welfare league. The purpose of this league is to build up the welfare of the colony. They have made a great improvement in the streets, having hauled sawdust in and covered up the sand. This is much better for teams to haul heavy loads over.
The most important thing of our beautiful little city is our school house. A little more than a year ago there was a small one-room school building located on the hill south of Fifth avenue, where school was held. Only one teacher was employed, as there were but few pupils. In the spring the teacher was turned off, as there were not enough pupils to justify carrying on the school. Today Zephyrhills has a four-room, two-story frame school house, five teachers and 150 pupils. This shows very plainly that Zephyrhills is growing, and we are proud to say that we have one of the best schools in Pasco county, with Prof. J. W. Sanches [should be Sanders] at the head. We have two churches—Baptist and Tabernacle—where services are held every Sunday morning and night.
Zephyrhills now has an up-to-date newspaper shop, where a weekly paper is published. This paper was started in October, 1911, and edited by George H. Gibson, who with his family moved here from Nebraska. The name of the paper is "Zephyrhills Colonist." Since October 3, the date of the first publication, up to the present date, there has been 55,000 copies issued. Next week’s issue will be the anniversary number of the Colony, which will be 11,000 copies, eight pages, home print, printed on heavy book paper.
Next month (February) the G. A. R.’s will hold their state encampment here, and there is a large crowd of comrades expected.
Ground is being cleared for the erection of the new G. A. R. hall on Sixth avenue, east of the Colony house.
Jenkins and Hennington, who have been operating a hardware store on East Seventh street, have sold out to J. H. Stewart & Son of Ohio. The new firm took charge at once.
B. F. Gilbert, formerly postoffice inspector for Pennsylvania, is now located in his new residence in the northeast part of town. Mr. Gilbert came here in November and at once commenced building him a new home to spend the balance of his life here. He thinks there is no place like Zephyrhills, and that there is a bright and prosperous future for it.
A. E. Stebbins, president of the Zephyrhills Colony company, is now living in his new residence on Fifth avenue. This is one of the best residences in Zephyrhills.
Many new buildings are under construction in the colony now. New arrivals are coming every day. Some who have already purchased and others who come here for that purpose are building.
The handsome new residence of Mr. Lean is fast nearing completion. Mr. Lean, with his wife and daughter, arrived here from Washington state in November.
Mr. Gear, who recently arrived from Pennsylvania, is erecting a handsome residence in the southeastern part of town. Mr. Gear and wife were here last winter and were not very favorably impressed with the place and returned home, but as this winter slowly came on they decided that Zephyrhills was not so bad after all and in December they returned and since have concluded to build them a home here.
Charles Larson of Loup City, Neb., arrived in the colony Sunday evening for a month’s visit. Mr. Larson says when he left Nebraska there was six inches of snow on the ground and the thermometer stood six below zero. This makes the cold chills run up your back to stop and think of it.
Dr. E. A. Lyman and wife of Red Wood Falls, Minn., arrived in Zephyrhills Wednesday evening for an extended visit with the former’s father, E. A. Layman, also sister, Mrs. E. C. Cook. They expect to visit St. Petersburg, Tampa and other cities of the south before returning home. [...]
Zephyrhills Scene of Much Activity (1912)
Winter Visitors Rapidly Filling City
New Buildings Being Erected by Homeseekers Adding to Appearance of TownThis article appeared in the Tampa Daily Tribune on Jan. 13, 1912.
Zephyrhills, Fla., Jan. 13.—Zephyrhills has as fine a lake of water as any community would desire. Since the last two rains the upper lakes have filled up and run over, thus sending the water down this way and filling up the lake in the western part of town. This lake covers about ten acres and is surrounded by beautiful live oaks. The grounds used for a ball diamond are covered with the high water.
Charles Larson, who has been visiting friends and looking over the soil in the colony, returned to his home in Loup City, Nebraska, this week. While here he bought two lots in the business part of town on Fifth avenue. When Mr. Larson left his intention was to return with his family to Zephyrhills.
A joint installation of Garfield Post and Garfield Relief corps was held at the Tabernacle last Saturday afternoon. After the installation the president, Mrs. Leekley, gave a short talk. Mrs. Prisk, on behalf of the corps, presented Mrs. Leekley, Mrs. Cook and Mrs. Calvert with recognition pins. Mrs. Lowry then presented Mrs. Prisk, the retiring president, with a recognition pin. Mrs. Prisk then presented the corps and post with the history of the stars and stripes, to be framed and hung in the lodge hall. Mrs. Laura B. Prisk, the retiring president, was the founder of the corps here and has done much for the society.
J. E. Jones, a young man who came to the colony about ten days ago from Indiana, died Thursday afternoon. He was a young man about twenty-three years old. The body was shipped to his home in Indiana on Sunday. He leaves a mother and one sister.
Zephyrhills is to have a new restaurant in a few days. W. M. Davis and Floyd Hemmington are the promoters. They will occupy the old drug store building on East Fifth avenue.
W. I. Jenkins and George Siggins are starting in the auto liberty business in Zephyrhills. People wanting to make a hurry-up drive now have an opportunity. Mr. Jenkins was formerly in the hardware business before selling to J. H. Stewart & Son.
Mr. Maxwell is building a home on West Fifth avenue, just back of Hennington’s department store. Mr. Maxwell arrived from Ohio a few weeks since, suffering very much from asthma, but is greatly improved.
Mrs. Theodore Johnson died at her home in Zephyrhills Saturday night. Mrs. Johnson, with her husband, came to Zephyrhills about two months since to spend the winter, in the hopes of regaining her health, which has been very poor for a number of years. Mr. Taylor, her son-in-law, and Fern Taylor, a grandson, were here spending the winter with the couple. Mr. Johnson and Mr. Taylor returned to their home in North Dakota with the body Sunday night.
School opened Tuesday morning after the Christmas holidays.
E. A. Lyman and wife, who are visiting relatives here, visited Tampa and St. Petersburg this week, returning to Zephyrhills Wednesday.
Why do so many people form the north come to Zephyrhills for their health? Because this is high, dry and free from all disease.
Work has commenced on the new G. A. R. hall on Sixth avenue and Eighth street.
Mr. Willard, who sold his tract of land north of town a few days ago, has commenced the erection of a large two-story frame dwelling on Ninth street, north of the Tabernacle.
Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Nicodemus of Newcomerstown, Ohio, arrived in the city Wednesday night. Mr. Nicodemus is a breeder of thoroughbred English bloodhounds, and seems to bear the distinction of producing the finest dogs in America.
Miss Daisy Fuller, the actress, who was visiting her parents in the city a few days last week, went from here to Atlanta to fill an engagement.
George P. McMillen is building a residence in the southern part of the city.
George Orcutt, our newsboy, has won the prize for the month of December for selling the largest number of the Saturday Evening Post in the state of Florida.
V. D. Burt and wife, of Sheridan [should be Chardon], Ohio, arrived in the city Friday noon.
Mr. Shepherd, an old gentleman living in the northwest part of Zephyrhills, is desperately ill.
Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Hart visited Tampa Wednesday.
Roy Elgin and wife, of Jennings, Kansas, arrived in the city Monday to make this their future home.
Zephyrhills, the Town of Much New Building (1912)
165 New Structures Are Counted from One Spot.
Electric Light Plant Installed. Many Other Signs of Substantial Progress.This article appeared in the Tampa Daily Tribune on Feb. 9, 1912.
Zephyrhills, Fla., Feb 9.—Work began on the roof of the G. A. R. hall to get the building cover by the end of the week. This hall is 34x100 feet, with a covered porch 14x30.
The hall is 14.6 in the clear inside. This is a big undertaking for an organization no larger than the local post, but the work is going forward as though there was thousands behind it. Great credit is due the old veterans for undertaking so large a proposition and finishing it along as they have done.
Chas. Soper is building a residence on Eighth street, south, with the assistance of Shapbell & Ogden.
Rev. E. E. Gray will have the frame up for a fine dwelling on Fourth street, near Sixth avenue, before the end of the present week. But, what’s the use? There is so much of this class of work going on that there is no keeping track of it.
The Colonist of February 1 quotes E. E. Brown of Grand Rapids, Mich., as saying that he counted fifteen dwellings from a certain coign of vantage when he was in Zephyrhills a year ago, but counted 165 the other day from the same spot. He claims that his eyesight was "about the same" in both cases.
Our merchants reports business exceptionally good in all lines with trade in wire fencing very heavy. This feature of trade points to great activity in improvement of acreage.
W. Francisco has installed a 150-light dynamo and recently turned on at his drug store the first electric lights ever seen in Zephyrhills. The plant proved a success in every respect.
A big deal is on of which your scribe is not permitted to speak in detail at present, which means much to Zephyrhills, but the deal is certain to go through.
An up-to-date moving picture machine for the Post & Holbook show room is on the way from New York city. W. Francisco will furnish the electric "juice" for operating the same.
The foundations are laid for the Post & Holbrook building on the corner of Eighth street and Sixth avenue. This structure is 25x50 feet and two stories high. The first floor will be fitted up as a moving picture theater and the Masons will fit up a lodge room on the second floor.
Zephyrhills Will Lay Cornerstone on Sunday (1914)
SPLENDID PROGRAM HAS BEEN ARRANGED
Band Changes Its Name—Public Schools Open—News Notes and Personals
This article appeared in the Tampa Morning Tribune on Sept. 13, 1914.
ZEPHYRHILLS, Sept. 12.—(Special)—Zephyrhills has planned to have a grand day on next Friday, September 18th, when her people will celebrate the laying of the cornerstone of the First Methodist Church. The program will start at two-thirty with a concert from our excellent band, the boys having volunteered their services for the afternoon. Dr. R. A. Carnine, the District Superintendent of the Jacksonville District of the St. Johns Conference, will be with us and will deliver the address, assisted by Rev. F. N. Laphorn, who will conduct the ceremony.
The Zephyrhills Cornet Band has changed the name of that organization to the Zephyrhills Citizens Band. The reason being the support received by our citizens who have always been loyal and stood by that organization.
Last Monday was the opening day of our public school for the years 1914-15. When the school had assembled, Garfield Woman’s Relief Corps, represented by their president, Mrs. DeRyder, and the patriotic instructor, Mrs. J. L. Geiger, accompanied by a few of its members, presented to the school a very nice present, the Stars and Stripes, which was need by the school very badly.
Frank A. Feltcher has purchased a very fine blooded horse, also a nice buggy and harness, which he surely is enjoying.
At last the bricks, some tens of thousands, have arrived on the ground belonging to the S. A. L., and behold our dreams of a new depot. The contractor for the brick work has been let to our boss bricklayer and plasterer, John Ellis. The carpenters are now at Wildwood putting up some buildings, when finished, they will come to this place and our new depot will soon be a reality.
The usual band concert was held last evening from the bandstand. Under the instruction of Prof. W. L. Wright, the band is favoring the public with some first class music.
Mr. and Mrs. C. McWheaton left last Monday for Dade City, where they have accepted positions as teachers in the public schools there.
W. J. Deshaw, of Charlotte, Vermont, arrived in our city the first part of the week and has designs on our vicinity.
L. A. Durnell, living some two miles north of town, brought two samples of millet in with him last Tuesday, which from its size surely demonstrated what can be done in Florida with that crop. Mr. Durnell came here a year ago, and has got himself a very nice home, has opened up a farm and it was on this new land this millet was raised. Why send North for it when it can be raised right here at home all over the State?
Watson Spoeltra, son of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Spoeltra, died here last Saturday, September 5, 1914. He was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., January 8th, 1896. He came here last fall with his parents, seeking some place that might in some way benefit his health, which was very poor, he having a short while before contracted consumption, but the fiat had been issued and death, finally relieved him. The funeral was held from his home last Sunday at two-thirty p. m. Service conducted by Rev. J. A. P. Harris.
The young man making the long bicycle trip from Tampa to San Francisco by the way of New York, passed through Zephyrhills last Thursday. September 2.
The new barber shop and jewelry store on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street, makes a very neat appearance since completed.
J. F. Stebbins, Treasurer of the Colony Company, returned home last week from a business and pleasure trip in the North.
Mrs. Joseph Heaton left last Thursday for Newton Falls, Ohio, for an outing for the benefit of her health.
Mrs. E. A. Hill has again opened her ice cream parlors, etc., last Friday at the old stand.
E. E. Brown is putting up a large double apartment house at Gulfport for rental purposes and a home for himself.
Quite a number of our citizens were in attendance at the Pasco County Singing Convention at Richland last Sunday, and all report a first class time.
Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Black, and Mr. Black’s sister, Mrs. Walker, has returned to Zephyrhills last Wednesday evening from their visit to old haunts in the North.
Mrs. Sarah C. Sage returned home from New York State last Wednesday morning.
Waldo Francisco now has charge of the road work for the north one quarter of Pasco County, and we opine the people of Dade City will be satisfied with the job when it is completed.
Lloyd A. Gibson went to Fort Lauderdale last Tuesday morning where he has accepted a position as foreman in a printing office.
Mrs. W. J. McLaughlin, son and daughter, returned to their home at Zephyrhills last Saturday evening after an extended visit with relatives and friends in Illinois and West Virginia.
Mr. and Mrs. W. B. White celebrated Labor Day at Ocala with friends.
Mr. and Mrs. M. Yingling returned last Saturday from their summer’s vacation at Newcomerstown, Ohio. They both enjoyed their trip, but, as usual, were glad to return to Zephyrhills.
The territory to be incorporated in our city, as decided upon, will be the entire boundary section and one-fourth of section fourteen, joining eleven on the south. The original town of Zephyrhills and Moore’s Addition, comprising eight hundred acres. The question will be put before the people for final action on November 3, 1914, election day.
The infant child of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet Ogden died last Wednesday night, after a very short sick spell.
Mr. and Mrs. Geo. E. Hall, parents of Mrs. Chas. E. Gibson, spent a couple of days in town this week.
The people are now returning from their summer visits to the Northern States, many new faces are seen each evening stepping from the train to stand upon the soil of the best city in the best State in the Union. They come and go, but the largest per cent, either stay in Zephyrhills or locate in some other part of the State. Once in Florida they cannot leave for good, but as one party said this week upon his return from the North after a two yours absence, “When I drive over the country and see the fine young groves where only two years ago stood pine forests, it makes me feel as if I wanted all the land in Florida I can buy and settle down to live a thousand years.” Hurrah for Florida.
Mayors of Zephyrhills
Recollections of Mrs. Melville HallThis article appeared in the Tampa Tribune, date unknown.
On the eve of Zephyrhills Founders’ Day celebration pioneers are recalling the good old days.
Fifth Avenue, where the festivities will be held, was a sand street and the only sidewalks were wooden. Horses and oxen were hitched to oak trees where the Chamber of Commerce building now stands and wagons and buggies parked in the shade. The large oak in front of City Hall was a mere switch way back when.
Electricity was provided by a one cylinder gas engine with belt-driven generator, operated by Waldo Francisco. Plumbing was in the Chic Sale manner, and the pure water for which Zephyrhills is now famous was pumped by hand. There was no telephone service.
Copies of the Zephyrhills Colonist, printed by the father of present Mayor Floyd Gibson, who is also publisher of the Zephyrhills News, on a plant brought here from Nebraska, wended their way back North to tell kinsfolk in wintry climes of life in sunny Florida, and gave folk on their homefront the news. There were no radios then, either.
The Seaboard Railroad, which came through in 1896, had a whistlestop north of town called Herndon. Part of the present depot was built in ’96. Greer’s Mill, north of town, was a major industry and Jim Greer had sawmilled the townsite and sold it to Capt. J. B. Jeffries to start the Zephyrhills colony.
Grand Army hall, Garfield Post, now the American Legion hall, was an imposing porchless edifice on 8th Street where the town’s few Model Ts had difficulty negotiating the deep sand. The Zephyrhills Cornet Band, forerunner of the Citizen Band, cut a figure in parade circles from St. Petersburg to St. Cloud. Without uniforms for two years, they blossomed forth in spic and span white shirts, pants and caps in the third year as they continued to tootle their way into the hearts of a music loving citizenry. Young couples spooned ’neath the moss hung oaks by Zephyr Lake and Professor Morris’ Museum was a cultural center.
Mrs. Ruth Isadora Marsh, who will be 94 years of age October 10, and who is active in church, Chamber of Commerce and civic circles as well as in the management of her apartment properties, related interesting sidelights on the area as she first knew it to the Tribune.
Aunt Dora, as she is affectionately known, is credited by Earl Hart—himself a pioneer, a realtor and presently serving as publicity chairman for the Lions Club which sponsors the annual celebration -- as having started Zephyrhills on its way up following the collapse of the boomtime era.
Coming to Pasco County from Lawrenceville, Ill., in 1913, Aunt Dora first settled in Dade City and lived in the old Lanier house. She later operated restaurants at the present site of the Dade City hotel and in the Wettstein building. Urged by Dr. Parker, a retired dentist, to reopen Hotel Zephyr, which had been closed for two years, she decided to cast her lot with the struggling town of Zephyrhills. With the town’s only bank closed and drummers off the road because of the economic situation, this gentlewoman pioneer, assisted by her nephew James Fyffe, renovated the hostelry and opened for business.
A Dr. Sanburn, connected with the University of Florida at Gainesville and owner of grove property in the Lake Pasadena area near the present Jim Hammett grove, was the first customer of the new venture.
At the time the Lake Pasadena area, located between Zephyrhills and Dade City on historic Fort King Road near LeHeup Hill—the brow of Florida, overlooking the sea—was a flourishing Winter resort with large lakeside hotels. The Ernestville store and postoffice, located on the hillsite where Henry Bozeman is presently building his home, was the community shopping center where another pioneer, Mrs. Reese Knapp, recalls buying her first pair of shoes.
Having boarded at Aunt Dora’s in Dade City, Dr. Sanborn advertised her good cooking along Fifth Avenue and Mrs. L. M. (Neukie) Neukom who, with her son, George Neukom, presently operates the oldest business in Zephyrhills, was one of the first local customers. Through Dr. Sanburn’s good offices a crew of ten Florida Power workmen came to put up at the hotel. From that time on the business has prospered.
Earl hart had a grocery store in the hotel building where Roy Kaylor now has his hardware business, and the late beloved Uncle Jim Geiger operated a general merchandise store on what was later to be Gall Boulevard, named in honor of Walter R. Gall, former State Road Board member, and now a prominent grove owner, realtor and operator of a sand and silica business.
Gall arrived in Jacksonville with his wife and children from Edwardsburg, Mich., on Thanksgiving Day, 1922 after making the trip in a Model T Ford. It is related that what with struggling through deep sand and fording unbridged streams the trip from Jacksonville to Lakeland, where his father, the late Edward Gall, wintered, consumed two days. On this two-day jaunt the dream to build highways in the state of his adoption, which was later to reach fulfillment, was born.
Aunt Dora recalls having gone by train to Tampa from Dade City to buy groceries. She described the trip, when ventured by automobile, as arduous. There seemed to be more rain then than now, she said, and as we went the 12th Street route by Greer’s Mill through Crystal Springs we were always glad to reach Hillsborough County and travel on their fine eight-foot paved road.
Emil and Amalie Reutimann had come over from Switzerland and settled in Tampa. It was recalled that in moving here to open the town’s first garage they stopped their car on the Crystal Springs road to put water in the radiator. The family cats jumped out and disappeared into Six Mile swamp. After being retrieved by the children, who balked at the thought of leaving their fine pets to be killed by bobcats licking their chops atop cypress stumps, the cats were hauled aboard and the family came on to Zephyrhills, where the garage they established is still being operated as a modern automobile dealership by their son Emil "Buzz" Reutimann, former city councilman, who is also well known in auto racing circles.
Reese Knapp, another pioneer who knew Zephyrhills when, came here from West Virginia in 1899. He recalled that the first general store here was run by a man named Moates; that Downing and Blount ran a turpentine still where Herman Chenkins’ big Natural Food Products building now stands, and that there was a sawmill where Walter Vogel has his Standard Oil station. Floyd Hennington ran the old general store on the corner where the Gall real estate office is now located.
Time has marched on and Zephyrhills is a progressive little city now. Many of the oldtimers still take active parts in business, civic and church affairs. Civil War veterans with flowing beards, chin whiskers and handlebar moustaches no longer parade down Fifth Avenue. In their stead tomorrow will march Legionnaires, Veterans of Foreign Wars, United Spanish War Veterans and many young and not-so-young citizens, all proud to be a part of community life in the town that grew from A to Z—Abbott to Zephyrhills."
Golden Anniversary of Zephyrhills
This article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on Mar. 9, 1960. It was provided by Monica Wise.
Miss Lynn Nichols was crowned Miss Zephyrhills tonight after winning the contest staged at the Municipal Auditorium to climax the two-day, golden anniversary Founder’s Day Festival. The new queen is the daughter of Mrs. R.R. Nichols and the late Mr.Nichols, and won the title over nine other girls competing in the finals of the contest, one of the features of the 11th annual Founder’s Day event. Chosen first maid was Miss Delores Jones, whose guardian is Mrs. Elizabeth Flemming, Miss Linda Freeburg, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Freeburg, was named second maid. More than 8,000 spectators jammed the city’s main street this morning to watch the longest parade in Zephyrhills history. Music of three bands—Pasco High School of Dade City, Gulf High School of New Port Richey and the hometown pride, Zephyrhills High School—enlivened the line of march.
Parade Officials: J. Robert Hinds was parade marshal; Freddy Peterson, famed Danish-born artist was the master of ceremonies for the fun and frolic event. He was joined on the reviewing stand by R.L. Bryan, Bartow, first secretary of the Zephyrhills Colony Company, the initial developer of the town; Mrs. Harry L. Rice, Mayor of Zephyrhills, and Pasco County Sheriff Leslie Bessenger. F. Earl Hart and C.A. (Biff) Hough were co-chairmen of the annual event sponsored by the Lions Club.
Judges for the parade entries were Mrs. G.H. Whitman, Joe Collura and Pasco County Agricultural Agent, J.F. (Jimmy) Higgins, all of Dade City.
Prizes Awarded: Prizes were awarded by the Lions club in these categories: Best decorated out-of-town floats—Plant City Queen/Strawberry Festival, first; Dixie Lily Milling Company, second; and Culligan Soft Water Service, San Antonio, third. Hometown floats included: Bufferteria, Inc., first; Bank of Zephyrhills, second; and Joe Herrmann’s Inc, third.
Best decorated automobile—Gold Star Mothers of the Veterans of Foreign Wars; oldest vehicle in the parade-PeniSaver stores oxen-driven rare schooner brought here by L.W. Wilson of Arodarko, Oklahoma; best decorated bicycle—David Guthrie; most typical mounted cowboy in the parade-Sandy Simons; most typical mounted cowgirl in the parade—Linda Reece.
Best pioneer costumed man in the parade—Owen Lefevre; best pioneer costumed woman in the parade—Mrs. Martha Windnagle.
Oldest in Residence: Woman living longest time in Zephyrhills was Mrs. Edwina Beaver, who came here as a baby from her native Hudson on March 10, 1910, eight days before Abbott changed its name to Zephyrhills. Man living longest time in Zephyrhills was G.R. (Bob Williams, who moved to Abbott from his native Delhi, Louisiana, on November 9, 1909.
Best matched horses and riders as a group were the Egypt Temple Shrine Patrol. Residents and visitors found themselves tossed into the “lions den” hoosegow and had to “fine” themselves out with coin of the realm, which went into the sponsoring group’s eyesight conservation fund. Everyone either watched of “joined” in as kiddies rode all manner of time-honored contraptions, ate cotton candy and popcorn and patronized food and drink booths manned by members of local organizations.
Talent Show: Miss Alice Zimmerman directed a talent show in the early afternoon and there was a pie-eating contest for youngsters. Mrs. Jody Evans pounded the ivories for the corn-huskers who furnished music for square dances and Virginia reels.
The festival got under way yesterday at the Zephyrhills West Elementary School in ceremonies in the new cafetorium at which County School Superintendent, Chester Taylor of Dade City officiated.
Street Dancing: Street dancing and community singing to lively music by Mrs. John Thompson on her electric organ played on the reviewing stand along with a 100-year old foot pedal reed organ played by Mrs. T.O. Mays who were also on the afternoon agenda. Mrs. Wynn Jones led the singing.
Preliminary judging of 27 beauty queen contestants took place at intermission time of “Scandals of “60,” a follies production by Zephyrhills Junior Woman’s Club with Mrs. Robert Ahrens as director in municipal auditorium last night.
Merle M. Bright, Mrs. A.J. Thompson, Mrs.Henry L. Kinnard, Jr. and Ralph Barefoot, served as judges and selected the finalists from whom the queens and maids were chosen. The ten finalists were: Karen Etter, Lynn Nichols, Linda Freeburg, Alice Faye Bembry, Sandra Pricher, Delores Jones, Margaret Ann Johnston, Ann Fazio, Carolyn Maddux and Janet Weicht.
History of Zephyrhills (1956)
This history was written by X. L. Garrison, a former General Supervisor for the Pasco County School District, for the Zephyrhills News in March 1956. This is a transcription of the article as printed again in the News in 1994. The article was provided by Madonna Jervis Wise.
The history of the Zephyrhills area has been compressed into less than a century.
Many of our elderly citizens who were children in the early years recall seeing the land covered with virgin timber, saw it worked for turpentine, helped cut the timber, watched the stumps pushed out, and saw the land seeded to pasture or set in citrus groves.
Others now living in Zephyrhills witnessed how this land has passed through well defined stages, each of which has left its mark on the land and the resources. The first stage was turpentine production when the trees were tapped. The second, lumbering, overlapped the first.
During these early stages many settlements were started. Some of these grew into towns, others hang on today as crossroad settlements, while others have faded into memory. All of these towns had an active phase filled with romance of exploitation and activity. Some of these nearby settlements were Greer, Herndon, Childers, and Lumberton.
The third stage was a combination of exploitation and produce. The exploitation of this period was mostly real estate development and financial manipulation. Much of the agricultural production was attempted on locally unsuited soil and in a climate hostile to the more northern plant.
A few illustrations from surrounding communities: Crystal Springs tried to build an industry on dasheens; Columbus Grant and others grew cotton at Chipco; and the Sunnybrook Tobacco Company raised tobacco around Dade City.
Most of the farmers were from the north and many of them came from cities. Markets had not been developed and transportation for produce was primitive. Most of these products soon disappeared, leaving only relics like the old cotton gin at Chipco.
Cattle took over from produce and dominated agriculture until the 1930’s. Within the last 35 years, improved pastures and blooded stock have made the cattle industry thrive, but the increased cost has led to concentration. Acres devoted to citrus have increased rapidly in recent years (Remember, this article was written prior to the disastrous freezes of the past two decades — Editor.)
Chickens joined the other two C’s, cattle and citrus as a cash crop starting in about 1925. Even though the value of agriculture products has grown rapidly, the number of farmers has decreased.
Contrary to the opinion of some, Captain Jeffries was not the first to visit the Zephyrhills area, nor was he the first to recognize the potential of the town site.
Before Jeffries and Moore of the Zephyrhills Colony Company entered the picture, two major operations had taken place: the trees had been turpentined and the timber had been cut. Due to soil conditions, the trees were covered with only a few branches, so the timber was much in demand. A town site had been chosen and platted at this place more than 20 years earlier.
The first settler who left his mark was Alias E. Geiger (pronounced Giger at that time), who had moved to this area from Ocala just after the Civil War. His son, James Geiger, ran a store and together with Bramlett, operated a sawmill just south of town near Childers.
James Geiger’s daughter, Mrs. Joel Turner, still lives in Zephyrhills. Many other farmers, turpentine men, and sawmill operators worked in the area. Prominent among these were the Hills. When Pasco County was formed in 1887, the site of Zephyrhills was controlled by Simon J. Temple, who had purchased the land Nov. 11, 1886, from the Florida Railway and Navigation Company. Temple paid $1,026.69 for 280.74 acres. After the Florida Railway and Navigation Company became involved in litigation, H. Rieman Duval was appointed trustee for the company. He issued another deed to Simon J. Temple Jan. 31, 1895, conveying the same property. However, Temple had developed and sold much of the land before 1895, and a cloud hung over some titles for years.
The village of Abbott, named in the honor of Dr. Abbott who ran a drug store and practiced medicine here for a number of years, was laid out for Simon J. Temple at the present site of Zephyrhills and the plat was recorded in Plat Book Number 1 on page 5, April 17, 1888.
Temple and his wife Sarah sold lots for $50.00 each during the first three years.
Lydia E. Mote paid $400 for a plat of land between the railroad and the road. Later the value of the lots sank to $25 each.
Temple sold the trustees of Oakdale School, W. Mote, A. E. Geiger, and J. C. Geiger, two lots for $30. These lots were sold to the Zephyrhills Colony Company for $1 in February 1910.
Abbott became a voting precinct before 1893; candidates for county office considered the Abbott vote important and much campaigning went on in the area. Hennington, who ran the store, was considered a key man in politics. James Geiger was another active political worker.
Captain Hall, who came from Georgia, had a turpentine still about where Lake Necessity retention pond is now located. He had barracks for his Negro workers just west of what is now Gall Blvd. He was a big operator and worked the area for several miles in each direction.
James Greer, who operated a mill as “Greer Brothers,” owned much of the land in southeast Pasco County. He had a sawmill, planing mill, kilns, and other equipment just south of the present Highway 301 at the foot of Greer Hill. Greer was quite a town between the busy years of 1900 and 1910. Some relics of the Greer operation have been found on the Valle Oaks Golf Course land.
The mill company operated narrow-gauge railroads for miles around. A visitor described these trains as she saw them in 1907: She told how the Negro workers were carried to the woods before daylight and then cooked breakfast over open fires; she said that the toots of the whistles calling the workers to the train late in the afternoon was “very touching.” These trains were pulled by wood burners, sometimes referred to as “copperheads” because of the copper boilers which all good engineers kept highly polished. One of these locomotives purchased by Greer is still operating in Collier County. The tracks were laid on rough logs and were frequently moved to keep up with the logging crews.
Greer, who was a practical man, recognized the value of the townsite and secured as much of it as possible. Later, he refused to sell it in small tracts.
The Seaboard depot which was constructed in 1896 is still standing as the old part of the present depot. The Abbott station shipped a great deal of naval stores and timber.
The First Baptist Church of Zephyrhills was formed in 1902 as the “Lakeview Baptist Church,” but this same group had held outdoor meetings since 1888. Six Mile Pond Church sponsored the Lakeview group.
Captain H. B. Jeffries served in Pennsylvania’s 28th Calvary during the War Between the States. He spent several winters in Florida and visited the state during the summers at least twice before 1909.
Jeffries wrote the Stebbins Realty Company of Tampa and asked them to find a place in south or central Florida large enough for a colony. He laid down the following requirements for the location: The land must be high and fertile. Oranges must grow well. There must not be any swamps, mosquitoes, or malaria. The water must be good.
Stebbins found three sites, and Capt. Jeffries visited the locations recommended by the Stebbins Agency. He chose the 35,000 acres which are now a part of Zephyrhills and suburbs.
While he was investigating the site, Capt. Jeffries was cooled by a pleasant breeze; therefore, the name “Zephyrhills” was decided upon for the colony of pensioned Civil War veterans and their families.
The Zephyrhills Colony Company was formed in January, 1910, to advertise and sell Zephyrhills among the veterans of the “Grand Army of the Republic” throughout the north.
Hundreds of old soldiers bought land; some came to build homes. One of the first to buy was John Zanette of Alaska. Others were from Oklahoma, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Nebraska, Illinois and many other states.
The Zephyrhills Colony Company was H. B. Jeffries and his son-in-law, Raymond Moore, and their wives. Jeffries signed deeds as vice-president through May of 1910; he later signed as president.
The Deed Books showed that the Zephyrhills Colony Company purchased the following land plots: James L. Greer and Mattie Greer, 40 acres for $160; 3360 acres for $1 and other considerations; 40 acres for $160 and 1,070 acres for $1 and other considerations.
It has been estimated that the lands cost the Zephyrhills Colony Company between three and four dollars per acre. They bought lots in the old Abbott plat from the school board and a few individuals. On Oct. 24, 1910, the Circuit Court gave the Zephyrhills Colony Company a clear deed to its land after a suit to quiet title.
The Zephyrhills Colony Company has many earmarks of the land developers of the boom era of the 1920’s in Florida. The advertising was similar to that of the modern developer. The buyer was urged to buy five acres for prices ranging from $75 to $100, and a city lot was to be thrown in free; but here was the joker: the city lot was a 30-ft. one and extra lots to make a building site were $50 each. In fact, many more lots were sold than given away.
The second modern characteristic was the small down payment; a $75 tract could be bought for $7.50 down and $5 per month for 15 months, or a total of $82.50; on a $100 tract, the terms were $10 down and $5 per month for 20 months or a total of $110.
Even as early as 1910, additions were being made to the town. Raymond Moore platted Moore’s first addition, south of South Avenue, Dec. 20, 1910.
Oakside Cemetery was surveyed in November, 1910, but the survey was not filed until Aug. 16, 1911.
M. Yingling filed his first addition to Zephyrhills east of 20th Street Dec. 13, 1911.
Many churches were founded in the first decade of the town. “Suffering Hills,” as the town was sometimes called by its neighbors, soon became known for its many and varied kinds of churches.
By the end of 1912, the population of Zephyrhills was said to exceed 1,500. The city was incorporated in 1915.
Simon Geiger, Member of Oldest Family,
The following article appeared in the Zephyrhills News on Mar. 12, 1964. It was supplied to this web site by Madonna Wise.