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Carozza, Adam J.
New Port Richey :
b myth and history of a city built on enchantment
h [electronic resource] /
by Adam J. Carozza.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 100 pages.
Thesis (M.L.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: This thesis aims to discover, understand and appreciate the history of New Port Richey. New Port Richey's growth was affected by many of the same social changes taking place all over Florida, most notably the coming of the railroad, the popularity of the automobile, and the land boom of the 1920s. Post-World War II prosperity, pest control, air conditioning, and interstate highways attracted people to this city nicknamed the "Gateway to Tropical Florida." Unique to this area was the Legend of Chasco, an invented tradition to draw tourists and new residents to the area, and the beautiful Pithlachascotee River meandering through the heart of town as it makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico.New Port Richey hoped to become the "Hollywood of the South." What remains distinctive about New Port Richey today? What are its special features and characteristics that separate it from hundreds of other locales in the Tampa Bay metropolis? My methodology is simple; I will analyze and evaluate information gathered from available primary and secondary sources: Interviews, observations, newspapers, books, articles and government documents. Chapter one analyzes the invented tradition of Chasco, which is a part of the history and heritage of this community. New Port Richey wished to cash in on the land boom of the 1920s. Having little history of its own, the invented tradition of Chasco was born, first celebrated in 1922; it is still celebrated today. Chapters two and three chronicle the history, as well as the tales of New Port Richey, from its first inhabitants and pioneer settlers to present-day New Port Richey.Chapter four introduces the land known as the Starkey Wilderness Park and Preserve, a supplier of West Pasco's freshwater supply, which lies just east of the city. Starkey donated several thousand acres to the Southwest Florida Water Management District for his dream of permanently protecting the land and its resources for future generations. Uncontrolled growth and development has eliminated evidence of New Port Richey being the "Gateway to Tropical Florida." Land and water conservation needs to be a top priority. New Port Richey, no longer has that "special something."
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Co-advisor: Raymond Arsenault, Ph.D.
Co-advisor: Gary Mormino, Ph.D.
Sense of place
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
New Port Richey: Myth and History of a City Built on Enchantment by Adam J. Carozza A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Liberal Arts Department of Humanities College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Co-Major Professor: Raymond Arsenault, Ph.D. Co-Major Professor: Gary Mormino, Ph.D. Darryl Paulson, Ph.D. Date of Approval: March 31, 2009 Keywords: crime, heritage, preservation, retirees, sense of place Copyright 2009, Adam J. Carozza
i Table of Contents List of Tables iv List of Figures v Abstract vi Introduction 1 Chapter 1: The Legend of Chasco 6 Folklore and Legend 6 1920s Florida 9 New Port Richeys Piece of the Pie 10 Discovery 11 Chasco Fiesta 12 The Legend Begins 13 Something Borrowed, Something New 17 Tocobaga not Calusa 19 First Annual Chasco Fiesta 21 A Dance in Fairyland 23 Chasco Fiesta Revival 24 Centennial Celebration 25 Storm of the Century 25 Chasco Fiasco 26
ii Chasco Fiesta Immortalized 28 The Legend Continues 29 Chapter 2: Early History of West Pasco 30 First Inhabitants of West Pasco 30 Early History of Pasco County 31 The Founding of New Port Richey 32 Early Pioneers of Pasco County 33 New Port Richey on the Map 35 Turn of the Century 38 Common Lifestyle 41 World War II 45 Chapter 3: After the War 49 Growth 49 Organized Crime 52 Ancestry 54 New Port Richey Today 59 Community Improvement 60 The Main Street Four-Step Process 64 Neighborhood Conversations 66 Crime Statistics 68 Chapter 4: Historical Evolution of th e J.B. Starkey Wilderness Preserve 70 Early Inhabitants of the Land 70 History of the Land 72
iii Survey of the Land 76 Starkey Wilderness Preserve 78 Serenova Tract 80 Anclote River Tract (Starkey Ranch) 87 Twenty-First Century 88 In Space and Time We Have Choice 89 Conclusion 91 List of References 93
iv List of Tables Table 1 Population 1920-1945. 44 Table 2 Comparison in dollar value of permits issued. 50 Table 3 Population 1950-2000. 54 Table 4 Ancestry, 2000. 55 Table 5 Ancestry pie chart, 2000. 56 Table 6 Place of birth in 1995. 57 Table 7 Place of birth pie chart. 57 Table 8 Crime in New Port Richey and U.S. per 100,000 inhabitants, 2006. 69 Table 9 Crime in New Port Richey by year. 69
v List of Figures Figure 1 The Jos Gaspar passes the Lafayette Street Bridge, 1922. 7 Figure 2 First Chasco Fiesta on Main Street 1922. 8 Figure 3 Map showing the Tocobaga n ear the west-central part of Florida. 18 Figure 4 Oelsner Mound, 2002. 20 Figure 5 New Port Richey s first Water Carnival, 1921. 22 Figure 6 King Pithla and Queen Chasco, 1947. 24 Figure 7 Chasco Fiesta Street Parade, 2001 29 Figure 8 Map showing New Port Richey as Hopeville, circa 1880s. 32 Figure 9 Aaron McLaughlin Richey. 35 Figure 10 Advertisement in the Tampa Daily Times, 2 March 1912. 36 Figure 11 Main Street, New Port Richey, looking east. 37 Figure 12 View of the enchanting Pithlachascotee Ri ver, circa 1922. 39 Figure 13 Newspaper announces the arrival of celebrities. 40 Figure 14 Fishing, 1926. 42 Figure 15 Main Street, 1924. 42 Figure 16 Sims Park 2 000, with view of river. 62 Figure 17 Tax Collectors office, 2003. 66 Figure 18 Florida Cracker Home stead, Starkey Wilderness Park 75 Figure 19 Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park 79
vi New Port Richey: Myth and History of a City Built on Enchantment Adam J. Carozza ABSTRACT This thesis aims to discover, un derstand and appreciate th e history of New Port Richey. New Port Richeys growth was aff ected by many of the same social changes taking place all over Florida, most notably th e coming of the railroad, the popularity of the automobile, and the land boom of the 1920s. Post-World War II prosperity, pest control, air conditioning, and interstate highway s attracted people to this city nicknamed the Gateway to Tropical Florida. Unique to this area was the Legend of Chasco, an invented tradition to draw t ourists and new residents to the area, and the beautiful Pithlachascotee River meanderi ng through the heart of town as it makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico. New Port Richey hoped to become the Hollywood of the South. What remains distinctive about New Port Richey today? What are its special features and characteristics th at separate it from hundreds of other locales in the Tampa Bay metropolis? My methodology is simple; I will an alyze and evaluate information gathered from available primary and secondary sources: In terviews, observations, newspapers, books, articles and government documents.
vii Chapter one analyzes the invented tr adition of Chasco, which is a part of the history and heritage of this community. New Port Ri chey wished to cash in on the land boom of the 1920s. Having little history of its own, the invented tradition of Chasco was born, first celebrated in 1922; it is still celebrated today. Chapters two and th ree chronicle the history, as well as the tales of New Port Richey, from its first inhabitants and pioneer settlers to present-day New Port Richey. Chapter four introduces the land known as the Starkey Wilderness Park and Preserve, a supplier of West Pascos freshwater supply, which lies just east of the city. Starkey donated several thousand acres to the Southwest Florida Wate r Management District for his dream of permanently protecting the land and its resources for future generations. Uncontrolled growth and development has eliminated evidence of New Port Richey being the Gateway to Tropical Florida. La nd and water conservati on needs to be a top priority. New Port Richey, no longe r has that special something.
1 Introduction When even the memory of this people [ the Calusa ] is forgotten, the Great Spirit will give this land to another a str ange but noble people made up of every tongue yet speaking the same language from the East and West, from the North and the South they shall come, and they shall possess the land on the banks of this river of beauty and enchantment, and they shall dwell here in numbers greater than the number of the palm leaves that rustle in the evening breezes, the river a winding length even from the Trident Palm to the broken altar of Toya by the sea. And they sha ll remain here always in peace and happiness. 1 In 1883, Aaron McLaughlin Richey migrated from St. Joseph, Missouri, to visit an old friend who lived in Brooks ville, Florida. That frie nd, James Washington Clark, was also one of the early pioneers of Hickor y Hammock, about forty miles southwest of Brooksville, now known as New Port Richey. He owned land near the Pithlachascotee River, where he had lived before moving to Brooksville. The two friends decided to travel to this Gulf Coast settlement, wher e fishing was excellent and game plentiful. Upon arriving and setting up camp on the Clar k holdings, Mr. Richey decided this was the place for him. He thought that the sunshine and warm climate woul d be just the thing for his ailing wife and an ideal spot to rear his children. Richey negotiated with a man by the name of Felix Sowers, who had an ora nge grove and some cleared land, to buy the point of land at the mouth of the river. It wa s here that he established his home, in a small weather-beaten house overlooki ng the Gulf of Mexico. Richey soon found that the fastest and perhaps the only method of transportati on to ports along the Gulf was by water. 1 Gerben M. DeVries, Chasco, Queen of the Calusas (New Port Richey: New Port Richey Press, 1922), 12; poem from the legend, signed by fictitious Calusa warrior chief.
2 With an eye to commerce and transportation, he soon had a schooner built in Cedar Key. When the schooner was delivered, Richey found it necessary to have it registered, giving it the name of its homeport. There being no sp ecific name for the place where it would be moored, he simply called it Port Richey, a na me that would remain for one of the most beautiful places on the coast. This was the beginning of not only Port Richey, but the newer and larger city of New Port Richey, which was settled shortly after. Later, New Port Richey would incorporate in 1924, one year before Port Richey. 2 Before the American Civil War, or ange groves and cattle ra nches were abundant in Pasco County. Most of the cattle of this area were exported to Cuba until the Civil War, when they were needed to supply the Conf ederate Army. Pasco County also developed into a major citrus producing center. In a ddition, a nearby salt works at Salt Springs supplied the substance to the local residents, as well as the Confederate Army. It was a valuable commodity used to preserve m eats before the advent of refrigeration. 3 After the turn of the twentieth century, New Port Richey was a planned community designed for people of means. The city planne rs attempted to attract tourists with the hope of turning them into residents. Hotels were built and advertisements were posted as far north as New York. Fishing was one of the main attraction s in the area. In time, golf courses and theaters would also be built. Banks, drug stores, and various shops opened along Main Street and the Boulevard. 2 Elroy M. Avery, ed., The Genesis of New Port Richey (New Port Richey, Fl.: West Pasco Historical Society, 1996), 15-16; Pauline Stevenson Ash, Florida Cracker Days in West Pasco County 1830-1982 (New Port Richey, Fl.: n.p. 1984), 37; Ralph Bellwood, Tales of West Pasco (New Port Richey, Fl.: n.p., 1962), 1-3. 3 Bob Mallet, Salt Springs Resour ces Part of Areas History, Clearwater Sun 21 August 1983.
3 The annual Chasco Fiesta remains one of the largest attractio ns to lure people to downtown New Port Richey. Started as a sma ll event in 1922, it has now become a huge fund-raiser for many philanthropic causes. Th e festivities were derived from a myth about a Spanish boy and girl captured by the Calusa Indians. After acceptance into the tribe, they were later wed as Queen Chasco and King Pithla. Legend has it that on New Years Day in 1922, Gerben DeVries, New Port Richeys first postmaster, discovered a parchment in an old clay cylinder found on the banks of the Pithlachascotee River. The te xt, in old Castilian Spanish, was written by a priest named Padre Luis. Mr. DeVries later wrote a narr ative based on that parchments message entitled Chasco, Queen of the Calusas, which is widely recogni zed as the basis of the legend of Chasco. 4 In the 1920s and 1930s, New Port Richey was considered a boom town in a boom state. Some notable people in the early da ys of theater came to New Port Richey and bought land. Jasmine Point, an exclusive subdivision of homes, was built in 1924. The Palms Theater, designed to show silent movies, opened in 1921, and the Meighan Theater was built on the Boulevard at Nebraska Avenue in 1925. The theater was named for the Silent Screen star Thomas Meighan. In the spring of 1930, Thomas Meighan was present at the theater to push the button that would bring sound to the screen for local residents with the coming of the talkies. Ne w Port Richey was slated to become a new movie production center. However, it never reached fruition. 4 Gerben M. DeVries, Chasco, Queen of the Calusas (New Port Richey, Fl.: New Port Richey Press, 1922).
4 The countrys economy slowed after the stock market crash, and growth capital was hard to accumulate. The untimely death of Thomas Meighan in 1936 finally brought an end to the fabulous dream of so many, and the H ollywood of the South was not to be. 5 New Port Richey, Florida, like many cities between Jacksonville and Tampa, can thank Henry Plants 1885 railroad for much of the phenomenal growth of the region. Thirty-five miles northwest of Tampa, in West Pasco County, New Port Richey eventually hosted its own railway connec tion right through downtown. City planners constructed the community in a grid, naming nor th-south streets after presidents and eastwest streets after states. The arrival of the U.S. Post Office in 1915 confirmed this citys importance and put New Port Richey on the map. In 1924, New Port Richey incorporated, one year before Port Richey. Hotels, banks, and businesses sprang up in the downtown area to serve those who came in search of a better life. Fishing on the Pithlachascotee River and in the Gulf of Mexico attracted many visitors, as did the construction of golf courses. Businessmen, both then and now, have been able to recognize the importance of an area that caught the attention and the hearts of people from all states north of Florida. In 1926, the St. Petersburg Times described New Port Richey as the most noted little town in all Florida. 6 Many people trekked to New Port Ri chey and the West Pasco area from parts north for various reasons, including their health and the warmth of the sun. It was promoted as a place for fishing, hunting, golfing, leisure, and retirement. Early advertisements claimed it was a place with an abundance of fish, oysters, and game. 5 New Port Richey Press 7 March 1930; New Port Richey Press 18 April 1963; New York Times Thomas Meighan Movie Actor, Dies, 9 July 1936, 21. 6 St. Petersburg Times 10 April 1926.
5 It was a place boasting good neighbors, sc hools, churches, and a wholesome moral atmosphere. New Port Richey also provided its citizens with the freedom, comfort, and pleasures of a small town within easy access of big cities and fashionable resorts a claim still made today. In New Port Richeys early beginnings, concentrations of people sharing a similar lifestyle formed an enclave. There is a strong tie between that lifestyle and the geographic space these residents occ upy. New Port Richey is recognized as the Gateway to Tropical Florida, and with the stunning Pith lachascotee River winding its way through town on its journey to the Gulf of Mexico, it has remained the place for people to settle. 7 7 Adam J. Carozza, Images of America: New Port Richey (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2004), 7-8.
6 Chapter 1 The Legend of Chasco As I gaze upon the sea! All the old romantic legends, all my dreams, come back to me. -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Folklore and Legend Folklore and legend are firmly embedde d in American culture. For generations these traditional customs, beliefs, tales, songs, and poems have been ingrained on the American imagination. The notion of invented tradi tion is myth created by the upper classes for their advantage. 8 We learn at home and in school. Everyone has heard about the boyish George Washington cutting down an English cherry tree with his new hatchet and when questioned, he bravely answ ered, I cannot tell a lie. 9 One of our favorite legends comes from a heroic poem by Henry Wadsworth L ongfellow: Listen, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. 10 The most powerful historical myths commonly have a solid core of historical reality. 11 A considerable amount of folklore has crept into the popular beliefs of modern Americans and is a ccepted as truth, representing the learning of our society. 8 For more on the notion of invented tradition, see Eric Hobsbawn and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: University Press, 1983). 9 American Folklore and Legend (New York: Readers Digest, 1978), 104, condensed from Mason Locke Weems Weems Cherry Tree, The Life of Washington. (Philadelphia: Mathew Carey, 1800). 10 Ibid., 92-93, quoted from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Paul Reveres Ride, The Poetical Works of Longfellow (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975); for more on the study of Paul Revere, see David Hackett Fischer, Paul Reveres Ride (New York: Oxford Univ ersity Press, 1994). 11 William R. Ferris, The Power of Regionalism: A Conversation with David Hackett Fischer, Humanities vol.20 n.4 (July/August, 1999).
Based on fact or fiction these myths have become part of the history and heritage of the people who keep them alive, while preserving our past and enriching our future. How many parents would deny their young children the myth of a certain magical gift-bearer who seems to appear at the same time each year? As people mature and come to realize that Santa Claus is a myth, they accept it as such and then carry on the oral tradition of passing it down to the next generation. We know that Santa is not realyet it makes no difference. 12 Figure 1. The Jos Gaspar passes the Lafayette Street Bridge, 1922. Courtesy of the Burgert Brothers Photograph Collection. The Tampa Bay area is not without its share of folklore and legends. In 1904, Tampas social and civic leaders adopted a legendary pirate, Jos Gaspar, Last of the Buccaneers as patron rogue of their city-wide annual celebration known as Gasparilla. The pirate Gaspar is an advertisers folk hero for Florida folk. 13 Members of the local business elite, disguised as pirates, arrive on a galleon, and take the city to sack it. 12 Dell deChant, The Sacred Santa: Religious Dimensions of Consumer Culture (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2002). 7 13 John Rothchild, Up for Grabs: A Trip through Time and Space in the Sunshine State (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000), 67.
Legend has it that the pirate Jos Gaspar terrorized the coastal waters of West Florida during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Gaspar, given to calling himself "Gasparilla," supposedly served as a lieutenant in the Royal Spanish Navy for five years until 1783 when, upon seizing command of a Spanish sloop-of-war, he with his fellow mutineers set sail for the Florida straits. And so the young Spanish aristocrat-turned-pirate began an adventurous life as outlaw of the sea. Gaspars history is hopelessly mixed with lore. Behind the festival lies a recurring debate about the historical authenticity of the pirate Jos Gaspar. 14 Figure 2. First Chasco Fiesta on Main Street, March 1922. Photo courtesy of the West Pasco Historical Society. Not to be out done, the founding families of New Port Richey wanted to cash in on the boom. Being a fairly new city with little history of its own, the invented tradition of Chasco was born. In 1922, postmaster Gerben M. DeVries self-published Chasco, Queen of the Calusas, the basis for the annual Chasco Fiesta, celebrated each year in New Port Richey (Pasco County, Florida). 14 AndrMarcel dAns, The Legend of Gasparilla: Myth and History on Floridas West Coast, 8 trans., MarieJole Ingalls, Tampa Bay History (Fall/Winter 1980): 5-29; Also, see Gasparilla website: http://gasparillapiratefest.com/history1.htm
9 The Fiesta honors the romantic legend intertwining the lives of a Spanish boy and girl, a priest and the Calusa Indian tribe who captured them after defeating a Spanish expedition. However, this lege nd is pure fiction and not ba sed on any historic details; disquieting is the fact that many people believe the legend surrounding this event. Napoleon Bonaparte once asked, What is history, but a fable agreed upon. Even though the legend of Chasco lacks historical reality, other than the fact that the Spaniards and Calusas did at one time inhabit certain parts of Florida, the fiesta has played an important role in bringing new life to New Port Richey. 15 Myths provide many communities, such as New Port Richey, a sense of identity. Eric Hobsbawn describes this type of invented tradition as having a distinctive function establishing or sym bolizing social cohesion and collective identities. 16 The local legend of Chasco has become just that, a part of New Port Richeys identity. Chasco Fiesta is tr ue coming-together of our community, said Cami Austin, the festivals chairperson (2004) Its something that Pasco County is very proud of. 17 1920s Florida The annual Gasparilla (Tampa), De Soto (Bradenton), and Chasco (New Port Richey) celebrations attracted an abundant supply of tourists to the Tampa Bay area. Local businesses had high expectations that some tourists would become permanent residents. 15 For more on the known natives of the Tampa Bay ar ea, see Charles Arnade, The Tampa Bay Area from the Aborigines to the Spanish, Tampa Bay History vol.1 n.1 (Spring/Summer, 1979):5-16. 16 Hobsbawn and Ranger, 9. 17 A Celebration of Legendary Proportions, St. Petersburg Times special advertising section (pamphlet) 17 Marc h 2004, 8.
10 In the 1920s Florida was the focus of one of the greatest booms in American history as hundreds of thousands of Americans poured into the Sunshine State and forever changed the global image of Florida. By 1925, 2.5 million tourists visited Florida. Two important elements played roles in the Florida land boom. For the first time, Americans had the time, money, and means to travel to Florida to invest in real estate. For the educated and skilled working American, the 1920s meant paid vacations, pensions, and fringe benefits unheard of during the Victorian Era. The United States also had embraced the automobile: that indispensable family transpor tation that allowed you to travel to Florida; made easier by a state-constructed and maintained highway system started in 1915. Spreading the word about the Tampa Bay ar ea, WDAE, in Tampa, went on the air in 1922 as Floridas first commercial radio station. 18 New Port Richeys Piece of the Pie In order to bette r promote New Port Richey, to help build up a winter tourist business, and to welcome with newcomers, a board of trade was organized during the winter of 1915-1916. Gerben M. DeVries wa s named secretary and the board was instrumental in bringing favorable attenti on to New Port Richey. From the beginning, New Port Richey wanted its piece of the pie for that reason; numerous advertisements were placed in newspapers, some as far north as New York, highlighting the towns assets. 18 William W. Rogers, Fortune and Misfortune: The Paradoxical Twenties , in The New History of Florida, ed., Michael Gannon (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996), 287-301; See Florida in the 1920s at website: http://floridahistory.org ; Also, website: http://www.keyhistory.org/fl-fla-us.html
11 In 1920, the New Port Richey Press reported: A river t eaming with fish, and unparalleled for its tropical grandeur; Woodland scenery of rare excellence; Sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico which artists dream of but fail to depict; A salubrious climate, with invigorating breezes to temper the heat of summer; A delightful perfume pervading and impregnating the air; A comm unity of home-loving people, contented and hospitable. 19 Discovery Chasco, Queen of the Calusas was dedicated to the Aver y Library and Historical Society of New Port Richey, 2 March 1922. DeVr ies claimed it to be a translation from an original manuscript he discovered while fi shing along the banks of the Pithlachascotee River (commonly known as the Cotee River), near the old Indian stone steps at the first palm grove on the west side above Enchantment Park (now called Sims Park), on New Years Day, 1922. According to DeVries, he no ticed a peculiarly sh aped object at the base of a palm tree which had been disturbed by a recent storm. A hurricane hit the Tampa Bay area 25 October 1921. The New York Times called it the worst since 1897, the West Coast having heretofore been imm une, largely from the tropical hurricanes. 20 Freeing the object from roots and soil, DeVries found it to be a clay-glazed cylinder about fifteen inches long and four inches in diameter, shaped much like a glass testing tube or large necked bottle. The neck of the cylinder was sealed with a substance like hard resin. This cylinder contained parchments that were badly deteriorated, yet whole. 19 DeVries, 30; New Port Richey: Our Assets, New Port Richey Press, 17 September 1920. 20 Tampa is Inundated by a Tropical Hurricane; Florida West Coast Swept; Freight Ship Sunk, The New York Times, 26 October 1921, 1.
12 Covered with writing in old Ca stilian Spanish, the document was translated [names were anglicized] to show that it contained valuable information relating to the early history of the Pithlachascotee River and of a tribe of Calusa Indians who had migrated from farther south and made this section (now New Port Richey) their home, after having driven out the Timucuas. Even though these Indians, (Calusas) had a higher degree of civilization than the aborigines and a remarkable civil and moral code, they offered animal and human sacrifices to Toya (the Sun God) on a mound near the rivers mouth. 21 Chasco Fiesta The idea of Chasco Fiesta originat ed as a means of raising funds for the construction of a new and permanent home to be built on Ma in Street for the Avery Library; and with the intention of luring tourists to this West Pasco city. The proposal at once found favor. New Port Richeys elite class was ready to back it. In a few days time it had emerged from its embryo stage to an achievement. It was to be a festival worthy of the ambitions of a progressive community and in line with all their highest aspirations. It was felt that Chasco Fiesta must be an annual event. It wa s predicted that Chasco Fiesta will grow as the town grows, and if both grow in the same ratio as New Port Richey has grown in past years they shall soon have a festival known the world over. However, due to economic and political reasons, this 1922 celebration proved short-lived until its revival in 1947. 21 Gerben M. DeVries, Chasco, Queen of the Calusas (New Port Richey: New Po rt Richey Press, 1922); The supposed English translation of this fictional O ld Castilian Spanish manuscript is being held at the University of South Florida Library Special Collections, Tampa.
13 In the years between 1923 and 1946, New Port Ri chey had smaller even ts such as water carnivals, dances, Fourth of July celebrations and a miniature one-day Chasco Fiesta in 1931. 22 The Legend Begins In 1922, according to postmaster Gerben M. DeVries, the manuscript bears the signature of Padre Luis, who was a Franciscan missionary of th e order of St. Francis, and was written probably two-hundr ed and fifty years ago. 23 Padre Luis, writ ing near the end of his life, pictured a city that is to come, built upon the river. Using his Indian name Lakanokee, Padre Luis wrote: Being now near the end of my days and the only su rviving subject of our good Queen Chasco, I La-ka-no-kee, write this in my eighty-fifth year, that those who in future generations dwell where ebbs and flo ws this palm hidden river may know their wonderful inheritance and carry out the wi ll of the Supreme Ruler; also that they might not fall into the grievous error of the Calusas, who were before them, in deeming the Divine Sacrifice of the Cro ss of no avail and persisti ng in the practice of animal and human sacrifice to Toya; neithe r to do as did so many of our companions who journeyed with us from Spain. They gave unto God lip service, but in the real Christian virtues they were lacking. Bei ng deceitful, selfish and cruel most of them perished most wretchedly on the sacrificial altar of the Calusas. 24 Among the soldiers that rebui lt Saint Augustine, was a nobleman who by his associates was called DeValla. He was a valiant soldier and set no man under him to so dangerous a task that he hims elf would not do in fact, he preferred the more dangerous undertakings for himself. 22 New Port Richey Press 17 September 1920; Evening Independent 6 September 1930, 6-a; 27 June 1931, 5; 22 June 1933, 2. 23 For more on the Franciscan Order in Florida, see Maynard J. Geiger, The Franciscan Conquest of Florida, 1573-1618 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America, 1937). 24 DeVries, 6.
14 When the work of rebuilding Saint Augustin e was completed and the neighboring tribes who had not been converted were scattered he took ship for Spain and spent some years with his family at Madrid. As time went on he again became restless and desired to return to the New World. When his wife died, DeValla secured permission from the king of Spain to form an expedition and help subdue the unconverted Indians in La Florida so as to insure safety for col onization. Going to Barcelona, he gathered a following of men for this purpose. With him DeValla also br ought his foster son, don Phillip, an orphan of his friend, and his own daughter, doa Isabella, th eir servants, and a priest of the order of St. Francis by the name of Luis, who was their spiritual advisor and tutor. Don Phillip was a youth of sixteen, and Devallas daughter doa Isabella, onl y three years younger. The teller of the tale, Padre Luis, describes doa Isabella: She was a rare flower, almost too exquisite and beautiful for the unknown w ilderness-even though the wilderness was a land of unsurpassed beauty and pleasant surp rises. Yet she was lithe and strong of body and well fitted her surroundings, matter not what they be. The expedition landed at Saint Augus tine on Christmas Day, there they rested until spring. With a select following of three-hundred soldiers, together with DeValla, don Phillip and doa Isabella, Padre Luis, missionaries and attendants, they proceeded west until they came to the Welaka River. The e xpedition crossed the river on rafts made of large trees. Immediately they engaged in a ba ttle with the Apalachees. The Indians were scattered after the great slaught er. DeValla spared but a few captives to carry the burdens the rest he put to the sword. In the fighti ng fourteen of DeVallas men were slain and eighty were so grievously wounded they were sent back to Saint Augustine.
15 The expedition then proceeded s outhward and came to an area where there were many lakes, and there they established camp. Th ey would then travel westward in order to destroy a strong tribe of Calu sas who lived by the sea. It was said that no Spaniard had ever been able to pass through the land of the Calusas by the sea. Also, it had been told how captives had been taken to a large s acrificial mound near the mouth of a palm bordered river and while yet alive their hearts were cut out and still beating placed upon an altar as an offering to the setting sun as it sa nk to rest in the sea. Ships could not enter from the west because of shell bars and every expedition that had attempted to enter by small boats or by foot from the Bay of Esp ritu Santo (Tampa Bay) had been captured by the Indians. For the successful destruction of the Calusas the king of Spain had promised to give DeValla all the territory on the wester n coast from the waters of Espritu Santo northward. But it was not to be that DeValla w ould set foot on the wester n coast as a conqueror. He was taken captive and his was the first br east to be split open on the altar as an offering to the god Toya. A large force was sent eastward under the command of the chieftain Mucoshee to find DeVallas remaining command. All of DeVallas command was overpowered and captured by the Calusas including DeVallas daughter doa Isabella and his foster son don Phillip. After being made to march westward several days they arrived at the western sea. Each day as the sun sank bleeding hearts were placed upon the altar until only three remained Phill ip, Isabella, and Pa dre Luis. Many years passed and still the three were spared. They began to realize that they were being considered as part of the tribe.
16 By his feats of strength, prowess and endurance, don Phillip found favor in the eyes of the young men. Doa Isabella by her grace, beauty, and sympathy, won the hearts of even the most relentless warriors; they liken ed her unto their river and because of this they called her Chasco. No fu rther sacrifices had been made and in the fifth year of captivity, the Cross was plante d over the altar on the old sacrificial mound. Padre Luis (now known as Lakonokee) had been teaching the way of the cross to the tribe. Doa Isabella, was adopted as a daughter to the chieftain Mucoshee so she might reign over the tribe as their queen. Don Phillip was named Pithla. During the ceremonies a garland of flowers and leaves was placed on Chascos head and Mucoshee said, Unto thee, my daughter Chasco, I give au thority to have domin ion over the entire people. Pithla, thy foster brothe r, shall be chief of the city, and into his care do I now give the badge of thy authority an emblem of the trident palm. Shortly after, his time having come, Mucoshee silently departed in his canoe and was seen no more. At the gathering of warriors soon after chief Mucoshee had departed, it was deemed wise that the queen should choose one of th e young men of the tribe as her chief. Ten days after Chasco was made queen, was the Moon Dance, which was the time of betrothment between the young men and maiden s. As the moon rose the young men of the tribe went towards the lake and the queen with the maidens came out of the shadows of the palms. Twice around the lake in opposite directions they danced and the third time the young men met each maiden. The maidens w ould then place on the head of the man she chose a garland of flowers. Chasco advan ced towards Pithla and placed on his brow a wreath of moon flowers. The following year, in accordance with the sacred rites, Padre Luis pronounced them as one.
17 The tribe lived in peace for forty years and in that time queen Chasco and chief Pithla had three sons. But, the young warrior s were restless and wanted their people to return to the ways of their fathers and make sacrifices to Toya. Two French sailors were captured by the young warriors and they were determined to spill human blood as an offering to the sun. Even the three sons of Chasco and Pithla joined the other warriors and took the captives by canoe down the river. All the warriors were destroyed when a great storm brought the sea up over them. This great sorrow soon brought Chasco to the end of her days. Pithla mourned the loss of his queen and their three sons and soon after he died. Padre Luis was left al one to record this story for another people that would come to inhabit this land beside the river. Something Borrowed, Something New It appears that this [original] my th borrowed some historical details from the early Spanish explorers Pnfilo de Narvez, Herna ndo de Soto, and Juan Ponce de Len. In the legend, DeValla was promised all territory on the western coast of La Florida from the waters of Espritu Santo northward. Pnfilo de Narvez was promised these same lands by the king of Spain, Carlos V. Each had a pproximately 300 soldiers (count varies among historians) on their ill-fated expeditio n, and each battled the Apalachee Indians. 25 In 1528, Timucua Indians captured Juan Ortiz and three other Spaniards who were searching for missing explorer Pnfilio de Narvez near Tampa Bay. Three of the Spaniards were killed but Ortiz survived. 25 Michael Gannon, First European Contacts, in The New History of Florida ed., Michael Gannon (Gainesville: University Pres s of Florida, 1996), 23; fo r a slightly different acco unting of expedition, see Jerald T. Milanich and Charles Hudson, Hernando De Soto and the Indians of Florida, (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993).
He was captured by Hirrihugua, (Hirrigua) chief of the Uzita (Ucita) village. The Chasco legend mentions Hirrigua as the brother of chief Mucoshee. Ortiz was strung up over a fire to be roasted alive but the young maiden Ulele (Uleleh) pleaded with her father to spare his life, John Smith and Pocahontas? 26 The chiefs wife joined in the appeal and the chief relented. However, the chief again threatened to have Ortiz killed. Before his sentence could be carried out, Ulele helped Ortiz escape to the village of a neighboring chief, Mocoso. The Chasco legend uses the name Mucoshee as the chief who accepted doa Isabella, don Phillip, and Padre Luis into his tribe. Furthermore, a hurricane did hit the Tampa Bay area 25 October 1921. However, the cylinder containing parchments unearthed by the storm was not seen by anyone except the postmaster who claimed possession. In addition, an Indian mound (Oelsner mound) does exist at the mouth of the Pithlachascotee River. 27 Figure 3. Map showing the Tocobaga near the west-central part of Florida. 26 For more on comparison of Juan Ortiz and John Smith, see F. P. Fleming, The Story of Juan Ortiz and Uleleh, Florida Historical Quarterly vo.1 n.2 (July, 1908): 42-47. 18 27 New York Times, 26 October 1921; St. Petersburg Times, 30 October 1921.
19 Tocobaga not Calusa Although Gerben DeVries built the le gend of Chasco around th e Calusas instead of the nearby Tocobaga Indians, also serves to confuse, and in a sense add to the mystery of the events. When the Spanish first arrived, th e Indians of this area were known as the Tocobaga. These were a confederacy of sm all Timucua sub-tribes ranging from the Tampa Bay region northward to the mouth of the Withlacoochee River. The Tocobaga were not, in fact, part of the Timucua culture which usually only extended as far south as modern day Ocala. However, at times some of the Tampa Bay groups [may] have been ruled by a Timucua chief named Urriparacoxi who temporarily extended his range of influence. 28 The Tocobaga way of living is referred to by archaeologists as the Safety Harbor Culture (named after the location of their main town on Tampa Bay at Philippe Park). The Timucuas mentioned in the stor y were neighbors of the Tocobaga, inland and to the north, of this west-cen tral Gulf Coast community. The Calusas lived along the southwes t coast of Florida, with Pineland Island in Charlotte Harbor as their capital. Most of the Calusas died within a short time after the Spanish landed but a few outposts lingered in the Florida Keys and near Miami until around 1763. Possibly a small tribe of Calusas or Timucuas may have settled at the mouth of the Pithlachascot ee River near what is now known as New Port Richey? 28 For more on the early tribes of Florida see, Jerald T. Milanich, Florida Indians and the Invasion from Europe (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995); idem., Floridas Indians from Ancient Times to the Present (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998); Jerald T. Milanich and Charles Hudson, Hernando De Soto and the Indians of Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Fl orida, 1993); Also, Native American genealogy website: http://www.accessgen ealogy.com/native
Although questionable, it can not be proved or disproved at this time. Unfortunately, most of the mounds (sacrificial or burial) were destroyed over the years, especially during the 1950s and 1960s, in the name of progress, for the building of subdivisions. Perhaps one day a Florida hurricane may possibly uncover buried artifacts along the Gulf of Mexico and shed light not myth about the ancient inhabitants of this area. 29 The shell mound at the mouth of the river mentioned in the story is located on the Oelsner property in Port Richey. It contains [no] burials but once had a temple on its flat top. Figure 4. Oelsner Mound, 2002. Photo courtesy of the West Pasco Historical Society. 20 29 William C. Pasco jr., Despite Legend, Indians Really Timucuas, Pasco Tribune, 27 February 1975; James W. Covington, Tampa Bays Native American Religions, A Religious History of Tampa Bay (Tampa: National Conference of Christians and Jews, 1992), 6; Additional information gathered from West Pasco Historical Society Museum and Library, New Port Richey; Also, Terry Kline, interview with author, 3 November 2004; For more about the Calusa, see Darcie A. MacMahon and William H. Marquardt, The Calusa and Their Legacy: South Florida People and Their Environments (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2004); For more on the Aborigines of Florida, see Robert Allen Matter, Pre-Seminole Florida: Spanish Soldiers, Friars, and Indian Missions, 1513-1763 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1990).
21 An historical marker placed on the Oelsner property states: This Indian mound is all that remains of a late Weeden Island period community, probably settled about A.D. 1000 and inhabited for several hundred years. Excavations conducted in 1879 by S.T. Walker for the Smithsonian Institution indicated this was a temple mound. A nearby burial mound, excavated in 1903 by Clarence B. Moore, was subsequently destroyed by developers along with other remnants of the prehistoric community. The mound was preserved by its owner, the late Aunt Martha Oelsner, (1886-1981) who believed that it also contains Timuqua [sic] or Calusa Indian graves. 30 First Annual Chasco Fiesta Based on Chasco, Queen of the Calusas the first annual pag eant and Chasco Fiesta took place at New Port Richey for three days starting 2 March 1922. After a most spirited contest over the election of a queen for the festival, Mrs. George Sims (wife of the man known as the Father of New Port Richey) was chosen. A grand car nival parade began at two oclock, followed by carnival games. At five oclock queen Chasco arrived by boat along the Pithlachascotee River at the Indian village in Enchantment Park, followed by her coronation as queen Chasco. The eveni ng ended with a moonlight cabaret, comic opera, vaudeville songs and dances. Friday, 3 March, a decorated automobile parade traveled along Main Street, followed by fancy riding and equestrian stunts. 30 William Pasco, Jr., Pasco Tribune, 27 February 1975; Historical marker placed by the Pasco Board of County Commissioners and the Historical Preservation Committee, 1983; Also, S.T. Walkers Smithsonian report can be seen at the West Pasco Historical Soci ety, New Port Richey; Sixty-two burials were found by Clarence B. Moore, see County Ma y Save Site of Indian Mound, St. Petersburg Times 14 April 1989, 1.5; In 1903, Moore also ex cavated sites at Crystal River taking ma ny of the artifacts away from Florida, see Bringing History Home, St. Petersburg Times 8 January 2005, 1E.
Figure 5. New Port Richey's first Water Carnival, 1921. In 1922, the Water Carnival was combined with the first Chasco Fiesta. Photo courtesy of the West Pasco Historical Society. Later that evening dances were performed at the Indian village. Topping off the night was a fun revue and vaudeville act at the new Palms Theater, opened in 1921 for community events and moving picture shows. Saturday, 4 March, the second annual water carnival and decorated boat parade up the Pithlachascotee River took place. In its second year, the water carnival was combined with the Chasco Fiesta celebration. Later that afternoon thirty-six entries took part in the grand motor boat race for the Commodores Cup. In the evening a state banquet was held for queen Chasco and prince Pithla. Later that night a coronation ball was held. Midway attractions, high-wire walking, trapeze performances, and curio exhibitions took place all three days of the celebration. The event was so popular that when the president of the United States, Warren G. Harding came to Florida on vacation in St. Augustine, the Elfers West Pasco Record placed the article below the top story, Queen Chascos moonlight ball. 31 22 31 All Set for Chasco Fiesta Opening at New Port Richey, Elfers West Pasco Record, 2 March 1922; Pres. Harding at St. Augustine, Elfers West Pasco Record, 16 March 1922, 1.
23 A Dance in Fairyland Queen Chascos Moonlight Ball of 1922 was a brilliant affair bringing two Tampa Bay legends together. She grac iously received the pirat e Gasparilla, who came to Enchantment Park in New Port Richey from his stronghold in Tampa to take part in the festivities. There are some interesting c onnections between Gasp arilla and Chasco: prominent men played the role of Gasparillas pirates as they sailed into Tampa to take the city; just as they took Tampa, the Ch asco queen arrived by boat to claim New Port Richey upon her arrival. Both events incl uded dances, parades, and diversions that encouraged people to open their wallets and patronize the events. With excellent music by an orchestra from Tampa, dancin g continued until a late hour. The New Port Richey Press labeled the function A Dance in Fairyla nd. Never has a more lovely scene been staged in New Port Richey, than that which Enchantment Park and the Pithlachascotee River presented on that night. It was just an illustrated page taken out of the Arabian Nights, and it proved to what effective purpose the public grounds and waterway of New Port Richey can be put by the exercise of tasteful ideas a nd the application of determined effort. 32 32 Queen Chascos Moonlight Ball a Brilliant Affair, Elfers West Pasco Record 16 March 1922, 1; Queen Chasco Holds Court, New Port Richey Press 16 March 1922, 1.
Figure 6. King Pithla and Queen Chasco, 1947. Bob Jackson and sister Mildred. Photo courtesy of West Pasco Historical Society. Chasco Fiesta Revival Now that the lean years of the Depression were gone and World War II had ended, the time was right for the rebirth of Chasco. On 14 February 1947, thousands of local and visiting guests lined the banks of the meandering Pithlachascotee River, to witness a revival of the Chasco Fiesta, as merrily decorated boats and authentic replicas of Indian craft paraded up the river. The Junior Womans Club presented the Chasco Fiesta in much the same manner in which it was given in 1922. United States congressman from Florida, James Hardin Peterson (1894-1978), was one of the citys distinguished guests for the Chasco Fiesta, having canceled a previous engagement to speak at the Ft. Myers Festival of Light, honoring the late Thomas A. Edison, to be present for New Port Richeys outstanding affair of the year. Congressman Peterson expressed surprise at the scope and beauty of the pageant, the river display of decorated boats, and the fine and thorough manner in which the entire program was handled. 24
25 It would do credit to a city many times the size of this, the congressman declared in a brief address to the thousands who had assemble d for the fiesta, and I am sure that each year as the city grows, and it is growing ra pidly, this fiesta will approach the greatest project in the state. Mayor of New Port Richey, E.C. Brookman, declared a public holiday and urged all to fittingly observe th e importance of this occasion, urging all business to suspend where possible, during the afternoon. 33 Centennial Celebration During Pasco Countys centennial celebration (1987) John Grey, president of F.I. Grey and son, the real estate company his grandfathe r started in 1924, recalled fond memories of growing up in New Port Richey to the St. Petersburg Times. Chasco Fiesta was a really big event in my childhood days everyone in town dressed as Indians for one long weekend a year. Sims Park was full of all types of homemade foods and games. The major events were the Indian Pagean t, barbeque, and the Sunday boat parade. Most years there would be 150 to 200 d ecorated boats. They would come from Clearwater to Weeki W achee to join the fun. 34 Storm of the Century Since its revival in 1947, after a twenty-five year interr uption, the Chasco Fiesta has been an annual event until a storm with no name canceled the celebration in 1993. In the early morning hours of 13 March 1993, the sto rm of the century hit Floridas west coast with awesome fury. 33 Chasco Fiesta Gala Event is on Today, New Port Richey Press, 14 February 1947; Congressman Peterson is a Visitor at Chasco Fiesta, New Port Richey Press 21 February 1947. 34 A City Where Everyone Knew Your Name Series: Pasco 1887-1987; John Grey, St. Petersburg Times 20 June 1987, 26.
26 Hurricane-strength winds and a tidal surge as high as twelve feet in some places swamped houses, smashed cars, scooped up furniture, appliances and boats. According to the St. Petersburg Times only Hurricanes Andrew and Hugo and a California fire inflicted more damage on the nation than this storm, which continued to wreak havoc as a record-breaking blizzard as it moved up the east coast of the United States. 35 Chasco Fiasco Through the years, New Port Rich ey has been referred to as: the Palm City, Wonder Town of the Florida West Coast, Hollywood of the South, Hollywood of the East, and Gateway to Tropical Florid a. In recent years, the American Indian Movement of Florida (AIM) refers to New Port Richey as Racist. AIM argues, the script used in the play performed at the Chasco Childrens Pageant, based on the story written by postmaster Gerben M. DeVries in 1922, is belittling and offensive. We say at the price of our children's dign ity and their opportunity for an equal place to stand in this society. Beginning in 1995 Fl orida AIM State Executive Di rector Sheridan Murphy, State Information Director Ma rk Madrid, and State Field Director Jennifer Smith began attempting dialogue with the West Pasco Cham ber of Commerce, organizer of the event, in an effort to address the "Chasco events racist and ster eotypical portrayal of Indigenous peoples. 36 35 St. Petersburg Times Storm Watch online website: http://www2.sptimes.com/weather/sw.3.html 36 St. Petersburg Times 3 March 1916; West Pascos Heritage, 1974, 55; Also, American Indian Movement of Florida website: http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/aimfl/chasco.html
27 According to AIM, in this page ant traditional Indigenous peoples and culture is depicted as barbaric, heathen, and savage , and falsely alleged to be based upon human sacrifice. The play involves the spiritual leader of the mythical band of Calusa's renouncing his barbaric ways to adopt the more enlightened ways of the Spanish invaders. This story has the Calusa adopt th e two children of the invading soldiers to become their king and queen, because of their superior ways. During the festival large numbers of non-Indians dress as Indians and act in a stereo typical manner based on their misperceptions of how Indians live and what Indian cultures are. This pageant was performed for the last time at the 2002 Chasco Fiesta. AIM plans to continue their protests at future events dire cted at the Krewe of Chasco, an organization of local white citizens who portray Native Americans during the festival. 37 The American Indian Movement pl ans to conduct a peaceful protest at the Chasco Fiesta street parade on March 21, 2009. The pr otest would mark the return of what had become a regular feature of Chasco Fiesta that has been absent the past few years. Ruby Beaulieu, executive director of American Indi an Movement of Florida, views the Krewe of Chasco float as racially offensive becau se in her view Krewe members perpetuate negative stereotypes and caricatures of Am erican Indians. According to Beaulieu, American Indian Movement, hopes to e ducate the public about stereotypes that denigrate American Indians. 38 37 For more on ethnic identity and social movements, see Timothy B. Gongaware, Collective Memories and Collective Identities: Maintaining Unity in Native American Educational Social Movements, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography vol.32 n.5 (October 2003): 483-520. 38 Carl Orth, Protest to Return to Chasco, Suncoast News 14 March 2009.
28 Chasco Fiesta Immortalized The Suncoast News reported that the Chasco Fies ta drew 250,000 visitors at the 1999 celebration, generating an economic impact of nineteen million dollars for the local community. 39 Additionally, hundreds of thousands of dollars benefit loca l charities. In May 2000, memorabilia dating back to the original Chasco Fiesta in 1922 was immortalized in a Library of Congress collection in Washington, D.C. United States representative Karen Thurman no minated the venerable event in New Port Richey as part of the local legacies program in 2000, at the national library. 40 In 2004, according to the Southeast Tourism Society, Chasco Fiesta joins the top twenty events in the southeast. 41 In 2004, at the 82 nd annual Chasco Fiesta, for the first time, Noche Latina (Latin American Night) was added to highlight the local Latino culture. Hispanics and Latinos, of any race, showed the largest per centage of population increase in New Port Richey. In 2000, (5.2 percent) of the populat ion was Hispanic, up from (2 percent) a decade earlier. 42 39 Carl Orth, Chasco Fiesta Could Draw some 250,000 Visitors March 18-28, Suncoast News, 27 February 1999. 40 Carl Orth, Chasco Fiesta to be Im mortalized at Library of Congress, Pasco Times, 18 December 1999. 41 Barbara L. Fredricksen, Chasco Fiesta to Highlight Latino Culture, Pasco Times, 24 March 2004; Also, Southeast Tourism Society website: http://www.escapetothesoutheast.com/top_20_january_2004.asp 42 U.S. Census 2000, http://factfinder.census.gov/ ; 1990 Census of Population, General Population Characteristics, Florida (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1992).
Figure 7. Chasco Fiesta Street Parade, 2001. Photo courtesy of the West Pasco Historical Society. The Legend Continues In February 2005, Tampa once again celebrated Gasparilla, a successful tradition since 1904, and in March 2005, their neighbor New Port Richey held Chasco Fiesta, a similar tradition since 1922. The discovery of this legend of Chasco coincided with the Florida land boom of the 1920s, growing competition for the tourist and snowbird dollar with larger cities (such as St. Petersburg and Tampa), and was enshrined by a person with less than objective motives. In summary, these two celebrations offered excellent opportunities to draw and attract visitors and season residents to Tampa and New Port Richey. Gaining widespread acceptance, each event grows more elaborate each year. Fact or myth may [not] have been settled by some, but to those who take part in the annual eleven day celebration, the Legend of Chasco lives on. 43 43 Chance Discovery May Have Led to Legend of Chasco, Pasco Times, March 1986, 11; 29 Visit Chasco Fiesta website: http://www.chascofiesta.com
30 Chapter 2 Early History of West Pasco The earliest recorded memories of Pasco County pioneers have survived in written and oral records. Ralph Bellwoods stories depicting the hist ory of western Pasco County, covers more than a century, as told to, or experienced by, hi m. While many of the tales cannot be documented, for authenticity, a line given to Ralph Bellwood by Colonel McNeer of New Port Richey, captures the spir it of oral history: I know not what the truth may be, but tell the tale as it was told to me. 44 One wishes many more stories had been preserved from an earlier time. The early pioneers of Florida a nd their way of life have vanished. First inhabitants of West Pasco When the Spanish first arrived, Native Americans known as the Tocobaga Indians lived in small villages at the northern tier of Tampa Bay. A confederacy of small tribes ranged from Charlotte Harbor to the mout h of the Withlacoochee River. European diseases and warfare almost annihilated these people, some archaeologists believe they were entirely decimated, those remaining joined with the Creek and Miccosukee who were being displaced by white settlers farther north. These remnants of groups and their diverse ways of living, melded together to become the present day Seminole. 45 44 Ralph Bellwood, Tales of West Pasco (New Port Richey: West Pasc o Historical Society, 1995). 45 Interview with Terry Kline, New Port Richey, 2003. Mr. Cline is an authority on the Indians of Tampa Bay; for further research, see Jerald T. Milanich, Florida Indians and the Invasion from Europe
31 It is important to note that evidence of early inhabitants of the West Pasco area are being argued and could have been Tocobaga, or Timucuan. 46 Early History of Pasco County In 1830, Samuel H. Stevenson and hi s wife first settled in West Pasco. They named the area Seven Springs, located just south of todays New Port Richey. West Pasco was at that time part of Alachua County, soon to be part of Hernando C ounty. Created in 1843 and named for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, Hernando County was renamed Benton in 1844, in honor of Missouri Senato r Thomas Hart Benton, who urged Congress to pass the Armed Occupation Act. The bill s passing opened central west Florida to settlement. But, in 1850, it was reverted back to Hernando County due to Senator Bentons strong anti-slavery stand. The first se ttlement in what would eventually become West Pasco was Hopeville, established around 1850. The first post office in West Pasco was in Hopeville. James W. Clark settle d Hickory Hammock, on the Pithlachascotee River in 1872, where he raised cattle and citrus. He became postmaster in 1878. Aaron M. Richey later came to live there and estab lished a post office. It was the custom to name the town after the person who establishe d the post office; as a result, Port Richey was born. The settlement of Hickor y Hammock became New Port Richey. 47 (Gainesville: University Press of Flor ida, 1995); also, see Theodore Morris, Floridas Lost Tribes (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2004). 46 Michael Gannon, ed., The New History of Florida (Gainesville, Fl.: University Press of Florida, 1996); Charles Arnade, The Tampa Bay Area fr om the Aborigines to the Spanish, Tampa Bay History vol. 1 n. 1 (Spring/Summer, 1979): 5-16. 47 James W. Covington, The Armed Occupation Act of 1842, Florida Historical Quarterly 40 (July 1961): 41-54; Sixth Census of the State of Florida, 1935 Winter Park, Fl.: Orange Press, 1936.
Figure 8. Map showing New Port Richey as Hopeville, circa 1880s. Courtesy of West Pasco Historical Society. The Founding of New Port Richey Before the Civil War, orange groves and cattle ranches thrived in West Pasco County. Most of the regions cattle were exported to Cuba until the Civil War, when beef was needed by the Confederate Army. In addition, a nearby salt works supplied salt to the local residents and the Confederate Army. 48 It was a valuable commodity used to preserve meats and fish in the days before refrigeration. Pasco County also became a major citrus producing center. New Port Richey, situated along side the Pithlachascotee River has a waterway leading out to the Gulf of Mexico. With all this it seemed like the perfect place for people to settle. 49 48 For information on the Civil War, see Lewis Wynne and Robert Taylor, Florida in the Civil War (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2001). 32 49 For more information on the citrus industry in Pasco County, see West Pascos Heritage compiled by West Pasco Historical Society, 1974.
33 Early Pioneers of Pasco County In 1883, Colonel J. A. Hendley was elected county surveyor of Hernando County, which then comprised Hernando, Pasco, and C itrus counties. In 1885 he was elected a member of the convention that wrote the new Constitution of Florida. He was elected to the State Senate in 1896, but after serving four years retired to priv ate life and lived in Dade City. Colonel Hendley recounted his re cord, I do not own a ranch nor do I raise and sell fine stock which roam over large pa sture lands, but I have been energetic and made great effort to build up Pasco County. Hendley goes on to say in his book that Pasco County is the Banner County of the state in both fruit a nd vegetables. Hendley first considered Banner for the countys ne w name before coming up with Pasco. He is credited with getting Pasco County separated from Hernando County by an act of the Florida legislature and named it after Senator Sam Pasco. Hendley insisted that Dade City was made the county seat and that it be designed with its wide streets and beautiful thoroughfares. Hendley also mentions that th e Negroes of Dade City, having little money, were given a lot by him on which he helped build their first church. Hendley claims that all the high spots in his life we re accomplished without one penny of cost to the county. When he traveled he paid his own expenses and received no payment for his work. In his later years as a Judge, Hendley uttered these significant words: My message to you is to stand by your Constitution and the principles of the Demo cratic Party if our great State is to survive. 50 50 J. A. Hendley, History of Pasco County, Florida (Dade City, Fla.: n.p., n.d.), see http://www.lib.usf.edu/cgi-bin/Ebind2h3.pl/pamphlets_hendley_pasco
34 In 1883, Captain Aaron McLaughlin Richey came from St. Joseph, Missouri, to visit an old friend that lived in Brooksville, Florida. The ol d friend was J. W. Clark, who owned land on the coast where he had lived before moving to Brooksville. The two old friends decided to go over to the coast where fishing was excellent and game plentiful. Upon arriving and setting up camp on the Clar k holdings, Richey decided this was the place for him. He thought that the sunshine a nd warm climate would be just the thing for his ailing wife and an ideal spot to rear his children. Richey negotiated with a man by the name of Sowers, who had an orange grove a nd a cleared tract, to buy the point of land referred to at the mouth of the river. Here he established his home, in a small weatherbeaten house overlooking the gulf. Richey soon found out that by far the best and fastest method of transportation to ports along the gulf was by water. So convinced, he had a schooner built at Cedar Key, with an eye to commerce as well as transportation. When the schooner was delivered it was necessary to have it registered, giving its homeport. There being no specific name for the place wher e it would be moored, he simply called it Port Richey, a name that would remain for one of the most beautiful places on the coast. This was the beginning and origin of not only Port Richey, but the ne wer and larger city of New Port Richey, which was established later. 51 51 Ralph Bellwood, Tales of West Pasco (New Port Richey: West Pasco Historical Society, 1995), 2.
Figure 9. Aaron McLaughlin Richey. Date unknown, courtesy of West Pasco Historical Society. New Port Richey on the Map In February 1883, the state of Florida sold to the Florida Land Improvement Company several hundred-thousand acres of land located mainly in what are now Pinellas and Pasco counties, at twenty-five cents per acre. Part of the city of St. Petersburg and almost all of the town of New Port Richey are located on these lands. In May of the same year, the Florida Land Improvement Company conveyed part of these lands, including the site of New Port Richey, to Anson P.K. Safford, former governor of the Arizona Territory. In this year, (1883) Aaron M. Richey, with his wife and daughter came from St. Joseph, Missouri, and settled near the mouth of the Pithlachascotee River at a place now known as Richey Point. 52 35 52 For more on the land purchase, Hamilton Disston and Anson Safford, see Raymond Arsenault, St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream, 1888-1950 (Gainesville, Fl.: University Press of Florida, 1996), 45-49.
In January 1885, Safford conveyed his lands to the Cooty Land and Improvement Company. 53 In 1887, Pasco County was formed with the passing of House Bill #305. It was named after Confederate veteran, school master and political leader Samuel Pasco. However, there is no evidence of Samuel Pasco ever setting foot in the county named in his honor. The census of 1890 did not record New Port Richey; Pasco County had 4,249 inhabitants: 3,872 whites, 376 Negroes, and 1 Indian. New Port Richey incorporated in 1924, and Port Richey followed in 1925. 54 In May 1897, the Cooty Land and Improvement Company sold the land to Sessions and Bullard, turpentine and timber operators. In 1905, Sessions and Bullard sold the land to Aripeka Saw Mills, a Georgia corporation. Figure 10. Advertisement in Tampa Daily Times, 2 March 1912. 53 Elroy M. Avery, ed., The Genesis of New Port Richey (New Port Richey: West Pasco Historical Society, 1996), 16; Raymond Arsenault, St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream, 1888-1950 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996), 46. 54 Information taken from the Pasco County Centennial Calendar. Available at the West Pasco Historical 36 Society; Also, see Sixth Census of the State of Florida, 1935; For more information on Samuel Pasco, see Charles Arnade, The Civil War Diary of Samuel Pasco Tampa Bay History (Fall/Winter 1993), 72-75.
Aripeka Saw Mills began cutting the pine timber off the lands. Railroad trams ran in various directions, and a huge saw mill was built about five miles northeast of New Port Richey. A few years later, when the pine timber began to play out the huge mill was dismantled, the railroad trams were torn up, and one by one, the inhabitants drifted away to other mill towns. In 1912, the Aripeka Saw Mills ran an advertisement in the Tampa Daily Times offering the entire town of Fivay for sale but, there were no buyers; the town no longer exists. 55 In 1911, the Aripeka Saw Mills sold a part of their lands to P.L. Weeks and in August of that year, P.L. Weeks, his brother J.S. Weeks, Jr., and W.E. Guilford formed the Port Richey Company for the purpose of colonizing and developing the lands. The actual beginning of the town of New Port Richey dates from this time. 56 Figure 11. Main Street, New Port Richey, looking east. This photo was originally published in the New Port Richey Press, 4 March 1927, with the caption: "As this street view from the Sims Building shows, New Port Richey's automobiles per capita is very high. The picture was made on Wednesday, when downtown traffic is not inflated. 55 Avery, 16; Tampa Daily Times, 2 March 1912. 37 56 Avery, 17.
38 Turn of the Century New Port Richey at the turn of the twentieth century was a planned community for Americas middling classes. City planners aime d to attract tourists and then turn them into residents. Hotels were built and adve rtisements were posted as far north as New York. Fishing was one of the main attractions of the area. Developers built golf courses as well as theaters. Banks, drug st ores, and various sh ops opened along Main Street. In January 1915, P.L.Weeks sold his property to R.E. Filcher and George R. Sims. In the early part of 1916 George R. Sims ac quired R.E. Filchers interest, becoming the sole owner of the Port Richey Company. New Port Richey, like many cities between Jacksonville and Tampa, can thank Henry B. Plants 1885 railroad for its phenomenal growth. Also, the arrival of th e U.S. Post Office in 1915 confirmed this citys importance and put New Port Richey on the map; Gerben M. DeVries, (1880-1953) was commissioned as postmaster. U.S. Highway 19 became one of the first paved roads along Floridas west coast, making tr avel to New Port Richey easie r. City planners constructed a grid of streets running north and south named after pres idents, while streets running east and west were named after states. The c ity was incorporated in 1924. Since that date, the development of New Port Richey has been steady, substantial and rapid. Hotels, banks, and businesses sprang up in the downtown area to serve those who came in search of a better life. Local businesse s tried to catch the attenti on of people from everywhere. Theaters were built as silent movies and plays became part of the iden tity and culture of New Port Richey. Fishing on the Cotee River or on the Gulf of Mexico attracted many people as well as the construction of golf courses.
Figure 12. View of the enchanting Pithlachascotee River, circa 1922. Photo courtesy of the West Pasco Historical Society. Fishing on the Pithlachascotee River and in the Gulf of Mexico attracted countless visitors. Being difficult to pronounce, the river was commonly called the Cootee River, also spelled Cootie or Cooty in various local newspapers. 57 Local citizens were outraged when Arthur Guy Empey, an American author who traveled to England and enlisted in the British Army before American involvement in World War I, wrote about his experiences in the trenches and used the phrase cooties (army lice), referring to a minute animal life that makes life unbearable for men in the trenches. 58 The Tarpon Springs Leader stated, Empey has associated this wonderful stream with the horrors of trench life. We dont care a dang what you call it but the name Cootee doesnt quite come up to the scratch. 59 The name was changed to Cotee River sometime in the early 1920s. 57 The name Cootie referring to the river was used in The Tampa Daily Times, 5 May 1916, 1. 58 Arthur Guy Empey, Over the Top (NewYork.: Knickerbocker Press, 1917). 39 59 New Port Richey, Tarpon Springs Leader, 17 December 1917.
In the 1920s New Port Richey was a classic Florida boom-town. A moving picture theater opened and movie and stage people started to arrive. Some notable people in the early days of theater came to New Port Richey and bought land. In 1924, an exclusive sub-division of homes was built at Jasmine Point. Figure 13. Newspaper announces the arrival of celebrities, 1926. Courtesy of West Pasco Historical Society. In 1924, an advertisement placed in the New Port Richey Press by the Cotee Hardware Company ballyhooed, I cant help thinking that the Florida West Coast is much like the Garden of Eden. 60 In 1925, a New Port Richey booklet boasted, Its scenic beauty surpasses anything I have seen in Florida. The natural palm groves through which meanders the Cotee River should be forever preserved. The business community quickly recognized that this area had that special something to catch the attention and the hearts of people from all states north of Florida. 40 60 Avery, 6; Gerben M. DeVries, The Lord Will Provide, ed., Avery, 30; Adam J. Carozza, Images of America: New Port Richey (Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2004), 7-8.
41 Common Lifestyle Many people came to New Port Richey from the Northeast and Midwest for health and sun. Promoted as a place for fishing, hun ting, golfing, leisure and retirement, early advertisements claimed it was a place bursti ng with an abundance of fish, oysters, and game, a place boasting schools, churches, and a wholesome moral atmosphere. Moreover, the freedom, comfort, and pleasures of a sma ll town existed within easy access of big cities and fashionable resorts. That claim is still being made today. From New Port Richeys early beginnings, concentrations of people sharing a similar lifestyle formed an enclave. With Henry Plants established railway service in 1885 between Jacksonville and Tampa, growth came quickly to this area approximately 35 miles northwest of Tampa. U.S. Highway 19 was one of the first pa ved roads in Florida along the west coast, making travel easier to once remo0te outposts in Hernando and Pasco counties. City planners constructed a grid with streets r unning north and south named after presidents, while streets running east and west were name d after states. Hotels, banks and businesses graced the downtown area. Theaters were also built as silent movies and plays became part of the identity and cu lture of New Port Richey. A railway connection passed through the center of town. The arrival of the U. S. Post office put New Port Richey on the map, reinforcing its identity. Fish ing on the Cotee River or on th e Gulf of Mexico attracted many people as well as the construction of golf courses. Specialized stores and institutions were built in New Port Richey to provide support for the residents distinctive life-style. The area around the city saw rapi d growth and the businessmen knew they had something to catch the attenti on of people from everywhere.
Figure 14. Fishing, 1926. Courtesy of West Pasco Historical Society. Figure 15. Main Street, 1924. Courtesy of West Pasco Historical Society. 42
43 From 1920 to 1925, population increas ed from 550 to 912, a sixty-six percent gain. This town seemed destined for greatness unt il the Florida Bust in 1926. However, in 1927, the Dade City Banner estimated the population of New Port Richey at 1275. 61 These figures may have included the unincorporated areas or may have been hopeful speculation. Either way it was good publicity to show a town growing at the start of the Depression years. By 1930, population decreased seventeen percent. It would not be until 1940, when the population returned to its 1925 fi gures. Again, a large discrepancy exists in the population figures. In 1939, the St. Petersburg Times reported an estimated 2500 people while the Census of 1940, reported 920. 62 Reality or propaganda? Population lingered unchanged through World War II. The town slowly began to grow over the years but was no longer the same place. Tourists still came, but not the wealthy visitors and residents that once lived here. However, they did come for the same reasons that the earlier reside nts did. As the area grew most of the upper classes moved to the surrounding areas. Middle-class and worki ng-class people settle d New Port Richey, as upper-class people and busin esses moved away from the city, downtown nearly looked like a ghost town. 61 Dade City Banner 17 May 1927; U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, U.S.F. Library, Tampa, U.S. Federal Documents Collection. 62 Picturesque New Port Rich ey Hits Comeback Trail, St. Petersburg Times 19 February 1939.
44 Table 1. Population 1920-1945. 63 Year Population 1920 550 1925 912 *1930 758 1935 797 1940 920 1945 923 In a letter to the New Port Richey Press, published on 12 January 1922, Mrs. J. O. T. Brown of Jacksonville, a daught er of Aaron Richey, describe d the eight years spent living in the area: ...the most lonesome years of my life, for sometimes it was three m onths at a time that mother and I did not see a woman. Mrs. Malcolm Hill was the other woman in that section and she lived some di stance away. My father owned a schooner and was given the name of Captain Richey. He also owned the grove on the Dixie Highway, later owned by J. R. Ingram, and later still by Dignum & Rothera Co. The mail was carried on horseback from Brooksville to Anclote and then to Clearwater. There was no Tarpon Springs. Father got a post office established and gave it the name of Port Richey. He was the first postmaster and also had a small store on Richey Point. There was of course no town of New Port Richey but this localit y was known as Hickory Hammock. Elfers was called Sapling Woods or The Neck. The first train came into Tarpon Springs in 1888. In 1891 my father moved to Tarpon Springs as he had serious heart trouble, and wished to be near a physician. He and my mother ofte n drove out to Port Richey, crossing the Cotee River at Sand Hill, near the Tiederman property. Father always carried his gun and shot squirrel, quail or rabbits along the road which they cooked over their campfire on Richey Point. We think you have a fine littl e town here now and are glad to come back for a rest and vacation. 64 63 Florida, and Nathan Mayo, The Sixth Census of the State of Florida, 1935 (Winter Park, Fl.: Orange Press, 1936), http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/dl/CF00001570.jpg ; Florida, and Nathan Mayo, The Seventh Census of the State of Florida, 1945 (Tallahassee, 1946), http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/dl/CF00001571.jpg 64 New Port Richey Press 12 January 1922.
45 World War II Shortly after World War II began, Mr. John S. Burks, information chairman for the Pasco County Defense Council, introduced hi s Voice of Victory column, published in the New Port Richey Press, Dade City Banner and the Zephyrhills News. His plan was to keep in touch with the Pasco county men and women serving in the military and related services. All service personnel in terested were sent a free pape r of their home district. Newspapers were sent to New Guinea, Afri ca, England, the Aleutians and training camps in various states of the Union. 65 Rank Weachter of New Port Richey, told of his experiences Over There to the New Port Richey Press. For more than a year with the American fighting forces overseas, he wrote home as his unit approached Rome, Italy. Weachter was one of a number of local military personnel remembered at Christ mastime with a letter from Mr. and Mrs. Frank Parks. The letter was mailed late in November 1943, but was delayed and eventually caught up with the Pasco County soldier in Italy. A re ply dated 14 January 1944 received by the New Port Richey Press follows. 65 The Papers We Mail to Our Boys, New Port Richey Press 11 February 1944, 1.
46 Dear friends: I received the nice long letter and Christmas card from you today. How nice it is to know the folks back home think of us and are ki nd in writing to us over here. Thanks a million. We arrived here in Italy around the holidays and got a cool welcom e; cold as it could be, and plenty of ice most of the mountains were covered with snow, and this poor old Florida Cracker almost froze. It has wa rmed up now, though, today the sun was shining in all its splendor, and we are all about thawed out. Right now, we are on the side of a sort of mountain we call it Ackack terrace, and the boys who are camped just below us call their area Pom-pom circle. There is so much I could tell you, but right now, all that must wait for the duration. Yesterday, I was in one of the larger cities here, and from what I was able to see of it, I like it better than anything I saw in Afri ca and liked Casablanca in French Morocco better than any other city there. We spent qui te a lot of time there once, also in Oran and several other cities in diff erent parts of North Africa. I wonder how much we will get to see of Italy? It will take years to rebuild this country the military destru ction is terrible and complete. People here are friendly, though, and seem to be glad to have the American s here. Bizerte is not much of a place but plenty of fighting went on around there. I have a swell souvenir from there, German, and will show it to you one of these days. I see Charles Fowler often these day s. He and I enlisted together. I had a nice long letter from home today. Mother seems to keep busy, and dad is no doubt fishing in the Cotee; 66 guess he does a little hunting on the side It sounds like the opening day of the hunting season all the time over here. Tell everyone hello for me, and write again soon. I am o.k. and getting acquainted with some of the native Italians. 67 Local newspapers published bad news along with the good. War, and what it meant in terms of grief, pain and sudden death, was brought sharply to the consciousness of New Port Richey and Pasco County when the first war casualty from the community was announced in the New Port Richey Press The war has now been brought close to the heart of our community through receipt of th e news that Chester McKay, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.W. McKay of our city, was lost in the Atlantic on 18 February 1942, while engaged in defense of his country. Fe llow crewmember, Roscoe Edenfield of Lacoochee, was also aboard the ill-fated U.S. Navy supply ship U.S.S. Pollux 68 66 Reference is made to the Pithlachascotee River, which flows through New Port Richey. 67 New Port Richey Press 28 January 1944, 1-2. 68 Local Boy is Listed as Lost in the Atlantic, New Port Richey Press 27 February 1942, 1.
47 Every club and organization di d what they could for the war effort. The New Port Richey Press reported, A most noteworthy event wa s the dinner given last week by the Finnish people in this vicinity. In view of the unhappy circumstance, this finds Finland fighting against an ally of America, th ese loyal citizens wished to make some demonstration of their allegiance to the Unite d States. Officials sponsored a dinner, the proceeds to be given to the American Red Cross War Fund. A grand total of $101.00 dollars was turned over to the Port Richey branch of the Red Cross. 69 The regular meeting of the Elfers P.T.A. on the evening of 23 February 1942 included a special feature of the social hour at 10 oclock. Ev eryone in attendance gathered around the radio and listened to President Roosevelts fireside chat on progress of the war. The president said, Those Americ ans who believed that we could live under the illusion of isolationism wanted the American eagle to imitate the tactics of the ostrich. Now, many of those same people, afraid that we may be sticking our necks out, want our national bird to be turned into a turtle. But we prefer to retain the eagle as it is -flying high and striking hard. 70 The Civilian Defense Council aske d all men not subject to military service to volunteer for duty for the protection of municipa l properties and facilities of the city of New Port Richey on 5 January 1942. The New Port Richey Press stated, This phase of the national defense is important to the welf are and health of this community, and every available man is expected to do his part. 69 Benefit Staged by Finnish People Outstanding Event, New Port Richey Press 27 February 1942, 1. 70 Fireside chats of Franklin D. Roosevelt, see http://www.fdrlibrary.mar ist.edu/firesi90.html
48 There is a job in Civilian Defense for ever y man and there should a man for every job no one should shirk this responsibility and s hould show their patrio tism by volunteering their services. 100 men are needed now! 71 After Pearl Harbor, every community took the steps necessary to alert their citizens. At nine oclock on Friday night 2 January 1942, the New Port Richey fire alarm siren sounded three sharp, short blasts, followed by one long blast. It was part of a nine county air raid practice blackout. At nine-thirty, one long continuous siren blast signaled an allclear. The Third Interceptor Command, headqua rtered in Tampa, covered nine counties of west-central Florida, ha d ordered the air raid practi ce and blackout. Citizens were required to put out the lights in their home, or place of business. If driving, they were expected to pull over and stop at th e curb and put out their car lights. 72 On 23 February 1942, the Womans Club of New Port Richey held a fashion show of the latest spring models at the Hacienda Hotel. All proceeds went to the Womans Club for national defense. 73 On 16 March 1942, the club sponsored a food show in answer to the call of President Roosevelt: Food is the front line of defense. 74 An official of Pasco Countys l eading food distributor estimated that the 3,884 housewives in the county could feed 962 soldiers for a year with the food wasted annually. Food is a munition of war and everyone must fight waste of it now, said Harvey A. Baum, head of A&P Tea Companys produce-buying operations. 75 71 Registration on Monday for Local Defense, New Port Richey Press 2 January 1942, 1. 72 Air Raid Practice Blackout Called Tonight in Nine Counties This Area, New Port Richey Press 2 January 1942, 1. 73 Benefit Fashion Show, New Port Richey Press 20 February 1942, 1. 74 Womans Club Notes , New Port Richey Press 27 February 1942, 1. 75 Food Wasted in Homes of This County Would Supply Many Soldiers, New Port Richey Press 14 January 1944.
49 Chapter 3 After the War Growth Following World War II, the popul ation of New Port Richey slowly began to increase as a result of the movement and migration of Americans who became more mobile during and after the war and thanks to the G.I. Bill, returning World War II veterans were provided loans to buy homes and start businesses. Thousands of military personnel who came to Florida for training dur ing the war returned, and some chose New Port Richey as their destination for a better life. Within five years, a population of 923 grew to 1512 by 1950. Between 1950 and 1960, the population more than doubled to 3520. Figures released by the Florida Power Corporation revealed that the New Port Richey district registered the greatest growth percentage of any community in the thirtyone county section served by the corporat ion during the period December 31, 1955 to December 31, 1957. During this two-year span, residential customers in the New Port Richey area increased from 2174 to 2921, or over 34 percent, while commercial customers increased from 331 to 392, a gain of more than 18 percent. 76 Beginning in the late 1950s, the west coast of Florida began to attract large numbers of senior citizens. New Port Richey was advertised as a retirement center with inexpensive homes. 76 New Port Richey Tops in Growth, Tampa Tribune 4 May 1958.
50 In 1955, new twobedroom wood-frame home s in New Port Richey started at $3500 dollars. 77 For an additional $2500 dollars, a pers on could buy a two bedroom masonry home with citrus trees on an oversized lot near the river. 78 According to the New Port Richey Press Building here for last year  in New Port Richey has reached an al l-time high in value of permits issued and the number of homes constructed wasnt even matched in the boom days of th e 20s. A total of 198 building permits totaling $921,672 dollars, compar ed to $690,000 dollars at the height of the boom in 1926. 79 Table 2. Comparison in dollar value of permits issued. 80 Year Dollar value 1925 500,000 *1926 690,000 1949 253,675 1950 330,395 1951 336,065 1952 581,670 1953 632,930 1954 544,989 *1955 921,672 The 1960s witnessed even more substantial growth as ne w subdivisions sprang-up. The price of homes did not increase much since the 1950s. A new, twobedroom masonry home sold for $5,950 dollars, lot included. 81 New Port Richey became the home of a high percentage of out-of-s tate retirees. By 1970, median age of the citys residents stood at 62.2. 82 77 St. Petersburg Times 18 May 1955, 36. 78 New Port Richey Press 19 January 1956, 4. 79 One Short Year Can Become an Era in the Progress of a Florida City, New Port Richey Press 4 March 1927; Several Cities in Florida Top 1925 Building Record, Evening Independent 10 July 1926, 7. 80 Building Here for Last Year Just Short $ Million, New Port Richey Press 5 January 1956, 1. 81 St. Petersburg Times 2 January 1961, 11.
51 Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, join ing a club or organization seemed the popular thing to do among newly transplanted retirees Some clubs were political such as the Democratic and Republican clubs. Many were social and cultural clubs that provided recreational and civic activit ies. Larger subdivisions cr eated civic clubs for their residents. Numerous clubs formed for resident s to preserve the heri tage of their native states and countries. Members enjoyed danc ing, bingo, entertainment and buffet suppers at the Polish American, German American, a nd Italian American clubs. There seemed to be an organization for just about every resi dent. For example, if you migrated from New York, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Michigan, there wa s a club waiting in New Port Richey. 83 The 1960s was not just about re tirees, a new $60,000 dollar youth center, a project of the Chasco Womens Club, began and was partially financed by proceeds from the annual Chasco Fiesta. Youngsters age si x through high school had a place to go, sponsored by the New Port Richey Recr eation Department, for bowling, baseball, basketball, swimming and teen get together s. Roller skating part ies and teen dances with live music were also held at the center. 84 82 United States. General Population Characteristics: Florida 1970 census of population. Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off, 1971. 83 West Pascos Heritage West Pasco Historical Society, 1974. 84 St. Petersburg Times 15 October 1963, 8-f.
52 Organized Crime During the 1970s and 1980s, the New Port Ri chey area also attracted organized crime. Donnie Brasco is legend in southwest Pasco County. In the early 1980s, Brasco in reality, undercover FBI ag ent Joe Pistone and the Ki ng's Court bottle club brought Holiday, an area just south of the New Port Ri chey city limits on U.S. 19, into the public eye. More than 1,000 miles from New York C ity's Mulberry Street, Holiday, became the temporary home to members of the Bonanno crime family. Pistone came here to forge an allianc e with the Trafficante family of Tampa in hopes of partnering in an illegal gambling operati on. Members of three of the five New York mafia families had come to Florida in the 1970s to take over the garbage industry and to try to set up a dog track in Pasco. According to the New York Times, Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano and Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero, both members of the Bonanno family, became co-owners of the club, al ong with Pistone and fellow agent Edgar Robb, who worked under the name Tony Rossi. They fronted the money for the loan-sharking and gambling operations run out of King's C ourt. Brasco arranged sit-downs between Napolitano and Santo Trafficante Jr. 85 In August 1979, New Port Richey lawyer Richard Milbauer leased Robb the octagonal building that became King's Court. The social club blended inconspicuously with other businesses along U.S. 19. Peopl e driving up and down the highway would never have suspected the "ext ra benefits" it offered after hours. Anyone could join the private bottle club as long as th ey paid the membership fee. 85 New York Times 11 July 1982; 27 July 1982; 06 August 1982; 08 August 1982; 15 August 1982; 17 August 1982; 24 August 1982; 26 August 1982; 03 April 1983; 03 July 1983.
53 People had to bring their own alcohol and pay the club for set-ups. The real action happened in the back room. In his book, Pistone said he paid Pasco County sheriff's Capt. Joseph Donahue to keep the police away from the club's crap tables, roulette wheels and blackjack games. "His job was to keep a ll the cops under his command off our backs while we operated our illegal gambling and dr ug distribution out of King's Court Club," he wrote. Nevertheless, during a "Las Vegas night" on Jan. 17, 1981, deputies raided King's Court, arresting Napolitano and three und ercover FBI agents for running an illegal gambling operation. 86 The club reopened for a short time, but the FBI closed down its operation in July 1981, having collected the "considered necessary" information. Pistone disappeared that same month, resurfacing the following year to testify in court. Of the 12 people indicted through the undercover operation by a federal grand jury in Tampa, only Trafficante and Donahue escaped conviction. The case agains t Trafficante, whom agents never managed to tape, was dismissed by a federal judge in 1986 for lack of evidence. He died the following year during heart surgery. Donahue videotaped while taking payoffs was found shot to death in 1983, not long after his indictment. His death was ruled a suicide, as was Milbauer's death in 1981. Napolita no vanished after Pistone's identity was revealed. In August 1982, he turned up dead on Staten Island, with his hands chopped off a sign that he'd violated mob security, according to Pistone's book. 86 Joseph D. Pistone and Richard Woodley, Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia (New York: New American Library, 1988); Joseph D. Pistone and Charles Brandt, Donnie Brasco: Unfinished Business (Philadelphia, Pa.: Running Press, 2007).
54 Ruggiero was sentenced to 20 years in prison bu t died of cancer before finishing his term, Pistone said in an interview in 2006. 87 Pistone, who retired from the FBI in 1986, gathered evidence working undercover that led to more than a hundred arrests. Johnny Depp portrayed him in the 1997 movie "Donnie Brasco," based on his book, "Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Ma fia." A television seri es, "Falcone," also was based on Pistone's tales of working undercover. As for King's Court, a develope r bought the building in 1 988, donated it to a church and moved it to its present location on Darlin gton Road, about a half mile east of U.S. 19. Today, the building serves as a chapel during the week for New Covenant Christian School and as New Covenant Family Church's Sunday sanctuary. Church leaders say the building is still the "King's Court," but a different king presides there now. 88 Ancestry Table 3. Population 1950-2000. 89 Year Population 1950 1512 1960 3520 1970 6098 1980 11196 1990 14044 2000 16117 87 Christine S. Diehl, interview with Joseph D. Pistone, Magazine of William Patterson University vol. 7 no. 1 (Winter 2006): 16-19. 88 Adam J. Carozza, Club in Holid ay Became Focus of FBI Probe, Tampa Tribune 20 October 2007. 89 United States, General Population Ch aracteristics: Florida, 1970 Census of Population (Washington: U.S. Gov. Print. Off., 1971); also, see Census of Population 1960, 1980, 2000, available: U.S. Federal Documents Collection, U.S.F. Library, Tampa.
55 According to the U.S. Census 2000, based on a sample of 15,685 persons, (52 percent) of New Port Richey residents reported single ancestry, (28 percent) claimed multiple ancestry and (20 percent) were unclassified or not reported. German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish and French account ed for (69 percent) of the population. (12 percent) stated other ances tries and (9 percen t) described themselves as American. 90 Table 4. Ancestry 2000. 91 Ancestry Number Percent Total Population German 2817 18.0 Irish 2637 16.8 English 2084 13.3 Italian 1764 11.2 Polish 853 5.4 French 621 4.0 Swedish 274 1.7 Scottish 244 1.6 Scotch-Irish 204 1.3 French Canadian 193 1.2 Dutch 188 1.2 Norwegian 167 1.1 Welsh 151 1.0 Yugoslavian 164 1.0 Russian 134 0.9 Hungarian 113 0.7 Greek 100 0.6 Czech 94 0.6 West Indian 86 0.5 Portuguese 81 0.5 Ukrainian 70 0.4 Danish 69 0.4 Austrian 50 0.3 Finnish 35 0.2 African 15 0.1 U.S. or American 1433 9.1 Other 1871 11.9 90 U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000, http://factfinder.census.gov 91 Ibid.
Table 5. Color Ancestry Pie Chart, 2000. 92 Ancestry German, 18 Irish, 16.8 English, 13.3 Italian, 11.2 Polish, 5.4 French, 4 Swedish, 1.7 Scottish, 1.6 Scotch-Irish, 1.3 French Canadian, 1.2 Dutch, 1.2 Norwegian, 1.1 Welsh, 1 Yugoslavian, 1 Russian, 0.9 Hungarian, 0.7 Greek, 0.6 Czech, 0.6 West Indian, 0.5 Portuguese, 0.5 Ukrainian, 0.4 Danish, 0.4 Austrian, 0.3 Finnish, 0.2 African, 0.1 U.S. or American *, 9.1 Other *, 11.9 German Irish English Italian Polish French Swedish Scottish Scotch-Irish French Canadian Dutch Norwegian Welsh Yugoslavian Russian Hungarian Greek Czech West Indian Portuguese Ukrainian Danish Austrian Finnish African U.S. or American * Other In 1995, persons born in the Northeastern part of the United States (34 percent) comprised the largest group of transplants to New Port Richey. This citys residents are in a constant state of flux, after five years, only about (48 percent) of persons age five years and over lived in the same house in 2000. At this time about one in five Floridians were natives. 56 92 Information gathered from U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000, http://factfinder.census.gov
Table 6. Place of Birth in 1995. 93 Place of Birth Number Percent Total population 15685 100.0 Florida Born 3198 20.4 Northeast 5324 33.9 Midwest 3693 23.5 South 1554 9.9 West 271 1.7 Puerto Rico 105 0.7 Foreign Born 1454 9.3 Born abroad of American parents 86 0.5 Table 7. Place of birth pie chart, 2000. 94 Place of Birth Florida Born, 20.4Northeast, 33.9Midwest, 23.5South, 9.9West, 1.7Puerto Rico, 0.7Foreign Born, 9.3Born abroad of American parents, 0.5 Florida Born Northeast Midwest South West Puerto Rico Foreign Born Born abroad of American parents 93 U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000, http://factfinder.census.gov 57 94 U.S. Census 2000, http://factfinder.census.gov
58 New Port Richey lacks racial di versity with a sizeable white population of (94.1 percent). Pasco Countys averag e is significant at (93.7 percen t), while Floridas average stands at (78.0 percent) and the United States average at (75.1 percent). Black or African Americans account for (1.0 percent) of New Port Ri cheys population who are underrepresented compared to Pasco County wi th (2.1 percent), Florida (14.6 percent), and the United States with (12.3 percent) of the population. Hispanic or Latino of any race comprised (5.2 percent), Pasco at (5.7 pe rcent), Florida at (16.7 percent), and the United States at (12.5 percent). Most of th e white population consists of descendants from northern and southern Europe. The larg est percentage of people are of German heritage (18 percent), followed by Irish ( 16.8 percent), English ( 13.3 percent), Italian (11.2 percent), Polish (5.4 pe rcent), and French (4 percen t). Most migrated from the northern United States with (9.3 percent) bei ng foreign born compared to (7 percent) for Pasco County, (16.7 percent) for Florida, a nd (11.1 percent) for the United States. 95 New Port Richey attracted sizable numbers of re tired persons over the age of 65 with (28.4 percent), compared to Pasco C ounty with (26.8 percent), Florida with (17.6 percent), and the United States with (12.4 percent). Persons aged seventy-five to seventynine form one of the largest groups at (6.7 percent) of the population. New Port Richey also leads in percent of indi viduals below poverty levels (16. 6 percent). According to the U. S. Census 2000, Pasco County showed ( 10.7 percent), Florida (12.5 percent), and (12.4 percent) for the United States. 95 U. S. Census Bureau, Census 2000, see http://factfinder.census.gov
59 With median housing values at ($61,300) fo r New Port Richey and ($119,600) for the United States, and median household income in 1999 dollars at ($25, 881) compared to ($41,994) for the United States, evidence point s to a large gap betw een the haves and have-nots. 96 Of the residents not classified as retirees, most must travel about 28 minutes to work. Agriculture (citrus and cattle), forestry, mining, fishing and hunting no longer exist in the New Port Richey vicinity. Of thos e who choose to travel, construction workers account for (13.6 percent) of New Port Rich eys working residents and educational, health and social services occupations account for (21.1 percent). Sales and service occupations, such as the mall, fast-food establishments and insurance companies constitute the largest work force (51.5 percent). No major industry exists in New Port Richey. 97 New Port Richey Today Present day New Port Richey has an estimated population of 17,385, and population density at 3,854 people per square mile. 98 Friday night football at the local high schools remains a main attraction for residents. Downtown is active and growing. Over 100,000 people live within a few miles of the New Po rt Richey city borders in communities such as Elfers, Holiday, Trinity and New Port Ri chey East. Many of the communities that sprang up on the periphery of the city in the unincorporated areas ha ve New Port Richey mailing addresses. 96 Ibid. 97 Ibid. 98 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 Population Estimates, Census 2000, 1990 Census, http://factfinder.census.gov
60 The city as well as the edge communities ha s much the same problems: traffic, pollution, transportation, water shortages, and depletion of environmenta l and natural resources. It will not be long before the urban sprawl of Tampa meets the urban sprawl of New Port Richey. 99 Today, many of the older buildings and ho mes still stand but are in need of repair. New life is coming to New Port Richey with the city redevelopment department. Businesses along Main Street are eligible fo r faade grants to encourage improvement and beautification. Property owners also have a new grant program for painting and fixing their homes to increase pride of ownership. In addition, a residential redevelopment incentive program to reconstruct existing properties exists within the city that improves the value of the property. In the meantime, as the city redevelops, the surrounding areas of New Port Richey are expa nding with the new sub-divisions getting larger and more expensive. Even larger gated communities are being built. The gap in the income level of the city residents an d the new suburbs grows further apart. One of the major problems facing Ne w Port Richey today is water shortages. Plans for a desalination plant are in the works. Al so, adult businesses as well as sign pollution along U.S. 19 and pedestrian safety on major roadways concern citizens. Land space for parks and recreation are disappearing. Community Improvement The future holds promise for New Port Richey. The approval for new neighborhood parks appeals to many residents. Each new subdivision with twenty-five lots or more will have to set aside at least one acre of green space. For developments of 100 homes or more, additional space must be set aside for parks. 99 See census designated places such as, Elfers, Holiday Trinity, and New Port Ri chey East, U.S. Census 2000, http://factfinder.census.gov
61 New Port Richey is no longer the playground of the w ealthy. The average new residents are white, middle age, and middle class. The upper classes have fled to the gated communities behind gates on the outer rim of the city. But the city is striving to revitalize. They have implemented a modest public transportation service. These buses provide service from residen tial areas to major shopping plaz as and the mall. Service is also provided for students tr aveling approximately eight miles from downtown to the community college just outside the city. 100 New parks are being built. Riverside Park, located downtown along the river, was completed in 2003. At a cost of $560,000 dollars the park has an observation deck, landscaping, and additional parking. No national chain st ores exist in downtown New Port Richey, but all types of family-owned businesses are arriving downtown such as restaurants, gift shops and a farmers market. Residential and commercial redevelopment grants and incentives are available to residents. Parades, fiestas, and concerts in the park are bringing ba ck that old, small-town America spirit. Although the middle class repl aced the upper class, the people of this community still share a simila r lifestyle. They are here for the sun, recreation, golf, and retirement, but without the gate s. U.S. Census figures showed (28 percent) of residents are over the age of sixty-five. However, the median age of (62.2) in 1970 dropped significantly to (44.2) in 2000. 101 100 For bus schedules visit website: http://portal.pascocountyfl.net/portal/server.p t/community/public_transportation/253/home/1820 101 U.S. Census 2000, http://factfinder.census.gov
Figure 16. Sims Park 2000, with view of river. Courtesy of West Pasco Historical Society. Water shortages threaten the communitys future. Important to note, water shortages are of grave concern to the entire Tampa Bay area. Gil Klein contends that the South is wasting water through unchecked urban growth, while environmentalists blame sprawl for worsening water shortages during droughts. 102 In the Tampa Bay area, nearly 200,000 acres were developed between 1982 and 1997. That development, with roads, parking lots, driveways and roofs, blocks between 7.3 million and 17 million gallons of rain water a year from seeping into the aquifer. What affects the Tampa Bay area has an effect on New Port Richey and vice-versa. Decisions for the desalination plant wont be made until sometime in the future. Filtering salt water into drinking water is an expensive venture. Disposal of the salt leftover from filtering creates additional problems. Lakes in the area are drying up as talks continue. 103 102 Gil Klein, "Sprawling South Top U.S. Water Waster," Media General News Service, 2002. 62 103 For information on Floridas freshwater-supply crisis, see Cynthia Barnett, Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007).
63 Recently, two hundred callers phoned the offices of the county commission about the controversial issue of a dult entertainment establishments along U.S. Highway 19 in New Port Richey and surrounding communities. Community involvement is getting stronger and people are taking action to make th is area a better place to live. This will be a long hard fight. Forcing clubs to move or restrict the wording on their signs will bring about lawsuits. Another step in the right directi on is the reduction of advertising signs along major roadways. Commissioners and site builders are currently battling it out. The area does not wish to lose the attraction of new shopping malls and othe r businesses. The businesses on the other hand want the biggest signs they can erect. The city and county are making compromises in the hopes of keeping some of the newer planned shopping centers. They have agreed to ground signs but not the signs that are held up by large towering poles. Everyones favorite topic for improvement is traffic jams. The nationally infamous Highway U.S. 19 that runs through New Port Ri chey has severe traffic congestion. A task force for U.S. 19 will soon address issues affecting New Port Richey. The Pasco Metropolitan Planning Organization will target the U.S. 19 and Ridge Road intersection. Newer traffic signals and an overpass ar e some of the long-range options being mentioned. The organization has set this issu e as a number one prio rity and wants shortrange not long-range options. The greatest offenders of these traffic problems are the large shopping centers and the tw o new Wal-Mart super centers built as part of the urban sprawl that New Port Richey is experien cing. In 2006, a third WalMart was proposed for the corner of S.R. 54 and Grand Boulevard.
64 Local residents of the Colonial Hills subdi vision claimed that Wa l-Mart would bring more than just traffic congestion to th eir neighborhood. Letters of complaint to the St. Petersburg Times listed crime, light and noise po llution as well as more bugs and mosquitoes due to water retention ponds. In addition, Wal-Mart would destroy the environment which includes endangered tortoises. 104 Wal-Marts plan failed before the county commission in June 2007, because WalMart and county officials incorrectly measured the distance between a proposed traffic signal on Grand Boulevard and the closest existing one on S.R. 54. They were short twenty feet. 105 Large subdivisions built in these al ready congested areas add traffic onto roadways like U.S. 19. Environmentalist Jennifer Seney states, The County has for decades not realized the ramifications of ha phazard and unplanned growth. The Tampa Tribune describes U.S. 19 as the worst of what decad es of a development f ree-for-all can lead to: an unattractive and congested highwa y that is a danger to pedestrians. 106 The Main Street Four-Step Process While maintaining the integrity of the Main Street approach, Greater New Port Richey Main Street, Inc. will venture outside the confines of the traditional downtown and reach out to the businesses and communitie s that support the overall goal to enhance and charm, continue revitalizing and im proving economic development of New Port Richey as a whole. 104 Wal-Mart Will Bring Crime, More Traffic Problems, St. Petersburg Times 5 September 2006, Pasco Times, 2. 105 Wal-Mart Brought to a Halt by Mismeasured Traffic Light, St. Petersburg Times 19 June 2007, Pasco Times 3. 106 Restraining Development, Tampa Tribune 6 July 2006, 1.
65 The nationwide trend of returning to downtown for shopping, entertainment and a host of other activities is alive and well in our city today. We see this trend continuing and look forward to your support in making New Port Richey the best it can be. Organization: Work with the public and private sector community leaders to develop consensus and coordinate res ources to revitalize downtown. Promotion: Create and market a positive image of downtown through special events, retail sales, effective advertising and public relations campaigns. Design: Encourage quality buildi ng rehabilitation, signage, public improvements and window displays to improve the appearance of downtown. Economic Restructuring : Improve the economic base of downtown by strengthening existing businesses, recruiting new businesses, filling vacancies and maximizing second floor locations. 107 107 This information was obtained from Greater New Port Richey Main Street, available: http://www.nprmainstreet.com
Figure 17. Tax Collectors Office, 2003. Courtesy of West Pasco Historical Society. Building renovated from what was formerly Franks Nursery. Located at 4920 U.S. Highway 19, New Port Richey. This modern building is worth a visit; many people go just to browse the lobby. The walls are completely covered with photos of early pioneers and places of West Pascos past. Neighborhood Conversations The first person I talked to in the neighborhood was a young lady about twenty-four years old who was born and raised in New Port Richey. She told me what many people have confessed before, that she has no idea of where the city boundaries are in New Port Richey. Traveling along the infamous U. S. Highway 19 through much of western Pasco County, it is difficult to figure out where one town ends and another begins. About 17,000 people live within the city boundaries but approximately 100,000 live in the Greater New Port Richey area making it the most congested area in Pasco County. She seemed surprised. When I asked her about communities and neighborhoods, she had no idea about what I meant. She said that New Port Richey just [is] and had no feelings of attachment to this geographic place. There was no pride in her voice talking about the place that she was born in. 66
67 My second conversation was with a retired couple of Italia n descent. They have been residents of the area for about twenty-f ive years. Older people come to Florida by the millions; I thought that they would be excelle nt candidates to talk to. They were more interested in talking about their neighborhood in New York. I asked them why they had moved to this area of Florida. I got anothe r we wanted to leave the cold weather upnorth. Also, New Port Richey seemed just as good as any other place. Besides, some of their friends and relatives had already moved here. This is one of the few things shared today by people in this area, a community of retired folks looking for a warm climate. Italian Americans, make-up (11.2 percen t) of New Port Richeys population. 108 This couple belongs to the Pasco It alian American Civic Club whic h is actually located in Hudson just north of New Port Richey, where they keep in touch with people of their own ethnicity and also enjoy some of the fl avors of Italy at the clubs dining facility. Their biggest complaint about the area was not having enough smaller family type grocery businesses offering specialty items su ch as Sicilian salami like they had upnorth. 109 The couple was concerned about th e traffic congestion at the corner of U. S. Highway 19 and Ridge Road just north of th e New Port Richey city limits where WalMart is located. They are worried about getti ng too old to drive and they would have to get around this town without a car. Just like the young lady I talked with earlier, the couple had no idea where the city begins and ends. 108 This data has been compiled from multiple government and commercial sources, see http://www.city-data.com 109 For more information about the Italian American population in Florida, see Gary R. Mormino, Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005.
68 They did not think that New Port Richey qualified as a community, its just a place to live. The one thing that they did agree on wa s that New Port Richey is a place that has many like-minded retirees. Some random casual surveys in th e neighborhood revealed th at three out of eight local residents (aged 41-55) agreed that th ere was a strong sense of community but did not care to elaborate on it. When asked if they had any desire to st ay in this community, four of the eight said yes. One resident had a desire to leave and three did not care whether they stayed or not. 110 Crime Statistics Population is not the only thing increasing, crime is on the rise. In 2006, the average crime index was (653.6) crimes per 100,000 i nhabitants, more than double the United States average of (320.9). Theft in New Port Ri chey tops the list with (3,491.5) thefts per 100,000 compared to the U.S. average of (2206.8). Burglaries in New Port Richey account for (1893.9) per 100,000, and the U.S. av erage at (729.4). Rapes were well above the national average of (30.9) at (116.2) and th e ratio of number of residents in New Port Richey to the number of sex offenders is an alarming 125 to one. 111 110 Random sampling of neighborhood by author, 11 January 2009. 111 New Port Richey, see http://www.city-data.com ; also, see U.S. crime rates 1960-2007, http://www.disastercenter. com/crime/uscrime.htm
69 Table 8. Crime in New Port Richey and U.S. per 100,000 inhabitants, 2006. 112 Type New Port Richey United States Rapes 116.2 30.9 Robberies 244.0 149.4 Assaults 906.3 287.5 Burglaries 1893.9 729.4 Thefts 3491.5 2206.8 Auto Thefts 424.1 398.4 Table 9. Crime in New Port Richey by year. 113 Type 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Murders 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 Per 100,000 0.0 6.2 6.0 0.0 0.0 5.9 5.9 0.0 Rapes 6 4 9 14 13 15 8 20 Per 100,000 39.4 24.7 54.4 83.1 77.5 87.8 46.9 116.2 Robberies 25 16 27 40 34 30 27 42 Per 100,000 164.2 98.8 163.3 237.3 202.8 175.6 158.3 244.0 Assaults 101 133 128 124 107 117 126 156 Per 100,000 663.6 821.6 774.1 735.7 638.2 684.9 739.0 906.3 Burglaries 278 255 249 248 250 318 283 326 Per 100,000 1826.4 1575.3 1505.9 1471.5 1491.1 1861.6 1659.7 1893.9 Thefts 640 737 660 638 650 684 534 601 Per 100,000 4204.7 4553.0 3991.5 3785.5 3876.9 4004.2 3131.8 3491.5 Auto thefts 34 35 58 45 74 53 62 73 Per 100,000 223.4 216.2 350.8 267.0 441.4 310.3 363.6 424.1 Arson 5 1 3 6 8 2 2 1 Per 100,000 32.8 6.2 18.1 35.6 47.7 11.7 11.7 5.8 Crime index 527.4 535.8 552.6 560.6 545.3 586.9 515.1 653.6 112 Information gathered from http://www.city-data.com also, see http://www.disastercenter. com/crime/uscrime.htm 113 Ibid.
70 Chapter 4 Historical Evolution of the J.B Starkey Wilderness Preserve the fundamental principles of ecology govern our lives wherever we live, and we must wake up to this fact or be lost. 114 Early Inhabitants of the Land The Native Indians that lived ne ar todays Starkey Wilderness Park were the Tocobaga (Safety Harbor Culture). They inha bited the Florida Gulf Coast from 900 A.D. through the early eighteenth cen tury. Safety Harbor sites are found along the Gulf Coast from Charlotte Harbor north to the Withl acoochee River in Citrus County. Tocobaga arrowheads have been unearthed on the Star key property. Approximately thirty-three prehistoric archaeological sites have been identified as temporary campsites for hunting within the Starkey Wilderness Park. By the eighteenth century, the remaining Tocobaga possibly joined the Creek Indians from farther north as they [Creek Indians] moved south seeking refuge from persecution by the new settlers. Some scholars believe that the Tocobaga may have perished into extinction. 115 114 Karin Sheldon, U.S. lawyer specializing in environmental protection, quoted in Ms. Magazine (September 1973), 28; also see, The Columbia Worl d of Quotations, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996, online, http://www.bartleby.com/66 115 Steven F. Lawson, Robert P. Ingalls and Cathy Bayless, Preserving for the Future: A History of the J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park, (Tampa: University of South Florida, 1981); J.T. Milanich, Archaeology of Precolumbian Florida (Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 1994); for more information about the aborigines, see Charles W. Arnade, The Tampa Bay Area from Aborigines to the Spanish, Tampa Bay History 1 (Spring/Summer, 1979); Michael Gannon, ed, The New History of Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996).
71 The first legal records pertaining to the ownership of the Starkey Wilderness Park date from 1856, when much of the property turned over to the Internal Improvement Board as swamped overflow land. In 1883, Hamilton Disstons Florida Land and Improvement Company bought all of the Starkey Wilderness Park property except portions where settlers live d. In 1891, the Florida Land a nd Improvement Company sold the land to the Pasco Land Company. After th e demise of the Pasco Land Company due to difficult financial times, Em ily Lyon bought the property in 1895. 116 The land provided turpentine for extraction, wild game h unting, and the harvesting of Spanish moss. The area contains two historical remains of old turpentine camps. In 1910, Lyon Lumber Company received the land from Emily Lyon. The Lyon and Dowling Lumber Companies harvested cypre ss and pine from the land, shipping timbers from a narrow gauge railroad. In 1929, the land re verted to the State of Florida for unpaid taxes, before the Phoenix Tax Title Corpor ation paid the back taxes and acquired the property. 117 In 1937, Jay B. Starkey and Earnest, Dave, and Howard Cunningham bought approximately 16,000 acres for $1.40 per acre and assumption of back taxes. Both families used the ranch to raise cattle. Starkey often sold land to developers, as land values went up and cattle yields decreased. Ja y B. Starkey, Sr. outlived his partners and sold the cattle and equipment to his son Jay B. Starkey, Jr. The senior Starkey worked the land with his son for cattle ranching, and even converted a smaller por tion of land into an orange grove. Over the years, items such as timber, pine stumps, and resin were sold to provide extra income. 116 Lawson, Preserving for the Future. 117 Ibid.
72 In 1975, as the population increased in Pasco County, Starkey, Sr. decided to preserve the land from development by selling sections to the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD). 118 History of the land The year 1845 promised prosperity for Florida and the citizens of Benton County, named after U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Be nton of Missouri. The vanquished Seminole Indians appeared to be under control, while new residents arrived in the area daily, under the Armed Occupation Act of 1842, a nd the territory gained statehood. 119 Pioneers who fled the area during the Second Seminole War returned. Cattlemen became active, especially in the south end around the site of Starkey W ilderness Park. During certain periods of the year, usually the spring, pioneer s corralled their cattle. The cattle cleared tracts of palmetto and scrub pine and fer tilized the land. When planting season arrived, settlers released their stock to forage on thei r own. The settlers planted crops in the newly cleared and fertilized plots of land. Wolves predominated as the wildlife of the area in the 1840s and 1850s. Cattle herders poisoned many of them so that by 1880, the wolf was extinct in Florida. Bear, panther, wildcat, deer wild turkey, duck a nd squirrel also existed in such large numbers that farmers felt it nece ssary to destroy them to protect their crops and stock. 120 118 Ibid. 119 James Covington, The Armed Occupation Act of 1842, Florida Historical Quarterly vol. 40, iss. 1 (July 1961): 41-53. 120 J.A. Hendley, History of Pasco County (Dade City, Fl.: n.p, n.d.), 5; Jay Starkey, Things I Remember (Brooksville, Fl.: Southwest Florida Water Management District, 1980).
73 In 1847 and 1848, two surveyors from the state of Florida visited the site now known as Starkey Wilderness Park and labele d it Sections 1-12, Township 26S, Range 17E. George Watson, Deputy Surveyor, arri ved on the property in January 1847, and spent two months surveying the twelve sections and the surrounding area. Watson described the land as open pine, palmetto and prairie country and rated small quantities of long leaf yellow pine suit able for lumber purposes. Watson encountered saw grass, lake s, and cypress swamp, as well as an area where maple, bay, sweet gum, water oak and magno lia trees grew in abundance. Nineteen months later, John Jackson followed Watson a nd drew a map of the surveyed lands that looked almost identical to a present day map of the area. Jackson also identified the areas potential for timber, though he classi fied the section as third-rate pineland. 121 A few years after the survey, at least one family lived about two miles from the Starkey property. The James Stephenson family moved to an area on the Anclote River. Stephenson named this site, Seven Springs, af ter seven underwater springs he discovered in the Anclote River. Soon other families joined the Stephensons on the Anclote. 122 In 1850, by an act of the United St ates Congress, states could receive swamp and overflowed lands for the purposes of drainage and reclamation. In 1851, the state General Assembly established the Inte rnal Improvement Board for the management of this land and 500,000 acres of additional land given to Florida by the federal government when it entered the Union. 121 U.S. Government, Surveyors Field Notes for Sections 1-12, Township 26S, Range 17E, JanuaryFebruary, 1847. In possession of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, Brooksville, Florida. 122 Steven F. Lawson, Robert P. Ingalls and Cathy Bayless, Preserving for the Future: A History of the J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park, (Tampa: University of South Florida, 1981), 11; Pauline Stevenson Ash, Florida Cracker Days in West Pasco County (New Port Richey: n.p., 1985).
74 In 1855, the state established the Internal Improvement Fund through the Internal Improvement Act of 1855. The Internal Impr ovement Board supervised this fund and used state lands to develop internal improveme nts. Land not yet sold by the state could be sold and the revenue used for improvements for development of transportation routes. 123 On 9 August 1856, the United States donated to Florida under the 1850 Congressional Act concerning swamps and overf low land, a large parcel that included the area of the Starkey Wilderness Park and know n as Sections 1-12, Township 26S, Range 17E. This patent, signed by President Franklin Pierce, came under cont rol of the Internal Improvement Board. Most of this land remained unsold until the 1880s. 124 Buried within the palmettos, scrub pine and oaks of Starke y Wilderness Park lay the remains of a genuine nineteenth century Florida cracker homestead (Florida State Historical Site #PA1385). In 1882, James McNe ill purchased 61 acres in section 6 from the Florida Internal Improvement Fund. Archaeological evidence indicates McNeill farmed this property and raised a family of three children. He and his wife Martha settled on this land led what was probably a typical frontier farmers life and sold it in 1905. The property has remnants of a log cabin, an old brick-lined well, animal pens, and an early twentieth century automobile. 125 123 Frederick T. Davis, The Disston Land Purchase, The Florida Historical Quarterly 17 (Spring 1938): 200-210; Rembert W. Patr ick and Allen Morris, Florida Under Five Flags (Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida Press, 1967), 44. 124 Information gathered from the parks Education Center at the Pioneer Florida Exhibit and Library. 125 Information on the McNeill Homestead available online at the historical marker database, http://www.hmdb.org/ma rker.asp?marker=4665
Figure 18. Florida Cracker Homestead, Starkey Wilderness Park. Photo by author. More intriguing is the human grave surrounded by rocks on the property. Four highly trained dogs and their handlers of the K-9 Forensic Recovery Unit have confirmed its existence. Early stories refer to a 15-year-old girl, buried here, a victim of smallpox. However, the size of the plot indicates more than one individual may be interred at the site. The McNeill family could have settled here earlier or someone else came before them. Archaeological and research studies are continuing to unravel the story of the McNeill homestead. 126 75 126 Information gathered from the parks Education Center at the Pioneer Florida exhibit and library; Robert T. Grange, Jr., and Raymond Williams, Archaeological Survey of the J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park (Pasco County, Fl., July 1981).
76 Survey of the Land The Starkey tract is located betw een the Pithlchascotee River on the north and the Anclote River on the south. A portion of the Pithlachascotee flows through the excluded northwest corner of section 6 while a small tributary of the Anclote flows north south through the western half of the tract in sections 2 and 11. Th e western portion of the tract includes several sinkhole ponds and lakes. The en tire area lies within the Gulf coastal lowlands, a low-lying strip that parallels th e Gulf of Mexico from the panhandle area of Florida to Charlotte Harbor. 127 The Anclote River is 27.5 miles long and the Pithlachascotee River is 41 miles long. These rivers drain an area of approximately 300 square m iles. This area consists of depressions and sinkholes caused by cavities in the underlying limestone, particularly on the north side of the Pithlach ascotee. The aquifer housed in the underlying limestone and dolomite is the main source of water for th e Anclote and Pithlachascotee since many of the streams, and small tributaries, which feed the two rivers, are dry much of the year. The rainfall collected in the sinkholes replenishes the aquifer. 128 The Anclote River, approximately 65 feet above mean sea leve l at its source drops an average rate of 2.4 feet per mile as it mea nders to the coast. Th e Pithlachascotee, 120 feet above mean sea level at its so urce drops an average of 2.9 feet. 127 Roger T. Grange, Jr., and J. Raymond Williams, Arc haeological Survey of the J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park (Pasco County, Fl orida, July 1981). 128 For more information on the two rivers, see R.W. Coble, The Anclote and Pithlachascotee Rivers as Water Sources (map), U.S. Geological Survey and the Southwest Fl orida Water Management District, Bureau of Geology, Florida Department of Natural Resources, Tallahassee, 1973; Gayle Russell, The Anclote and Pithlachascotee Rivers, Western Pasco County: An Archaeological Review and Research Design, Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida, Tampa, 1978.
77 The subtropical climate averages daytime highs in the summer around 90 F. and in the winter around 53 F. Most of the rain occurs in the summer months and the intense rain in the summer often causes flooding in low-lying areas. Eleven biological communities ha ve been delineated for the Starkey Wilderness Park west of the power line (Florida Power electrical transmission line) running northeast southeast through Sections 3, 4 and 9. East of the power line, contains mainly pine flatlands, cypress and turkey oak, live oak and pine communities. The eleven communities west of the power line: 129 Pine flatwoods Turkey oak, live oak, pine Sand pine Pasture Bay Hammock Hardwood swamp Mesic hardwood Lakes and ponds Marsh Cypress 129 Theodore F. Rochow, Biological assessment of the Ja y B. Starkey Wilderness Park: 1982 update Brooksville, Fla: Southwest Florida Water Management District, 1982.
78 Starkey Wilderness Preserve The Starkey Wilderness Preserve is one of the largest unde veloped tracts in Pasco County (approximately 19,000 acres) and protec ts sensitive environm ental areas in the fast growing western portion of Pasc o County, east of New Port Richey. The preserve is comprised of three tracts: J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park Serenova Tract Ancote River Tract (Starkey Ranch) The preserve is the culmination of foresight and cooperative spirit of indi viduals and governmental agencies working to carry fort h one mans dream. Jay B. Starkey, Sr., purchased the land in 1937 and then devel oped a cattle ranch and timber operation. In 1975, Mr. Starkey donated several hundred ac res to the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWM D), initiating the concept of permanently protecting the land and its resources for future generations. 130 The J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park is a regional park owned by SWFWMD and managed by Pasco County that features a pa ved trail that connects to the 42-mile Suncoast Paved Trail, picn ic shelters, hiking and equestrian trails, a primitive campground and camping cabins. The park has a bird watching trail and boasts 177 species of birds including the threatened Florida scrub jay. In addition, the park has planted shrubs and plants nativ e to Florida such as the coon tie (zamia pumila), an older name for this species (zamia Floridana). 130 Recreation Guide to Southwest Florida Water Ma nagement District Lands, (September 2005), Brooksville, Florida, online version: http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us
Florida's indigenous peoples and later European settlers processed the coontie's large storage root to extract an edible starch. For this reason, the coontie was often commonly called Seminole bread during the late 1800s. 131 Figure 19. Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park. Courtesy of Southwest Florida Water Management District. 79 131 For more on Florida plants and shrubs, visit http:www.floridata.com
80 The Serenova and Anclote River Ranch tracts managed by SWFWMD for passive nature-based outdoor recreation activities These tracts have limited amenities and provide visitors a more rustic outdoor e xperience. The Serenova Tract, a favorite for horseback riding with trails that wind through all the majo r natural communities on the Preserve; primitive equestrian and backcountry camping is also available in the park. The Anclote River Ranch Tract can be accessed from the hiking trails in J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park and provide visitors the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the Preserve with little sign of human presence. No trails are marked on the Anclote River Ranch Tract, but visitors can hike on the unimproved trails. 132 Serenova Tract With the possible exception of light, nothing is so vital to the existence of life on earth as pure, liquid water. 133 Managed by SWFWMD for nature -based recreational opportunities, Serenovas prominent natural communities (6,533 acres ) include pine flatwoods, cypress domes, freshwater marshes, stream and lake sw amps, sandhill and scrub. Wetland communities in Serenova (2,300 acres) combine with the wetla nds in Starkey Wilderness Park to form a connected 6,000-acre wetland ecosystem spr ead throughout approximately 19,000 acres of conservation lands. Due to the public ac quisition of these lands, this large wetland system continues to function as an intact ecosystem. 132 Recreation guide online SWFWMD, 2005. 133 Joe Hutto, River of Dreams, in The Wild Heart of Florida (Gainesville, Fl.: University Press of Florida, 1999), 105.
81 This vast network of scattered wetlands b ecome interconnected during periods of high water levels and serve as vital life cycle linkages for many wetland-dependent species. 134 Like many SWFWMD properties, this tract serves as a natural buffer for one of the regions primary freshwater resources, the Pithlachascotee (Cotee) River. The lands protect water quality by serving as a recharge area for a regional well field and act as a natural filter of surf ace water as it flows across the lands cape into the Cotee River. Another less visible benefit of these lands is the vital link they play in assuring that the Gulf of Mexico receives th e clean fresh water needed to maintain the long-term health of the coastal estuaries. Without a source of clean fresh water, the estuaries could not serve as the vital link in the li fe cycle of numerous species of birds, aquatic plants (such as seagrass), and popular fish species (s uch as redfish, sea trout and mullet). 135 New Port Richey and Port Richey especially rely on the we ll fields (many already dehydrated) in Starkey Wilderness Park. If SWFWMD cannot increase the well field supply, the wetlands will provide 40 percent le ss water by 2007. A joint project of Tampa Bay Water, a wholesale distributor that supplies Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties, and SWFWMDs Pi nellas-Anclote River Basin Board spent $385,000 for consultants to conduct tests on four of St arkeys wetlands and river supply. The plan would take water from two ri vers (Cotee and Anclote) and inject it into 42 acres of dehydrated wetland areas of Starkey Wilderness Park. 136 134 Recreation guide online SWFWMD, 2005. 135 Ibid. 136 Mary Spicuzza, Plan Aims to Return Wet to Wetlands, St. Petersburg Times 5 July 2002; Geraghty and Miller, inc., Water Management Alternatives, Southwest Florida Water Management District, 1979.
82 This is the first time wed be us ing rivers for restoring wetlands on such a large scale, said SWFWMD geologist Ron Bass o. Preliminary tests done for SWFWMDs Regional Water Supply Plan showed the possi bility of nearly 3 million gallons of water per day diverted from the Anclot e River during the rainy season. However, several environmentalists said the project is a huge mistake. Were going to destroy an environment to fix an environm ent that weve already destroyed, said Clay Colson, Nature Coast issue chairperson of the state chapter of the Sierra Club. In addition, he said the plan w ould hurt estuaries along the river without solving Pasco Countys true water problem, over pumping. 137 David Guest, the managing attorney for Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental and public interest law firm in Tallahassee, agreed that Pasc o County is a problem water district. The reason they need to do this is Pasco has been dishing out water withdrawal permits like a drunken sailor on Saturday night, Guest said. He said it is too late to restore some of Starkeys damaged wetlands and called the project a cover-up for not enough conservation. The answer is less pum ping and a greater commitment to conservation. Nevertheless, Tampa Bay Wate r and SWFWMD believe they can restore the ecological health of the wetla nds while benefiting water supply. 138 In addition to draining the Cotee and An clote Rivers, Pasco County plans to build a road extension cutting through the Serenova Preserve. The road would link New Port Richey, the Suncoast Parkway and Land O Lakes (U.S. 41). SWFWMDs official position is in favor of the road, but agency land manager Kevin Love said that cutting a swath through the Serenova would se riously compromise the ecosystem. 137 Spicuzza, St. Petersburg Times 5 July 2002. 138 Ibid.
83 In an area like Central Flor ida and a place like Pasco County where growth seems to be rampant, every acre of really high-qualit y habitat like Starkey and Serenova becomes priceless, Love said. 139 He added: The problem with the road, strictly from a conservation and land management standpoint, is that it basically bi sects that patch of habitat into two patches of habitat with a hard barrier in betwee n. That barrier makes it difficult to manage and difficult for wildlife. The Suncoast is enough of a barrier Building the Ridge Road extension would hinder efforts to restore scr ub jay habitat throug h logging and burning overgrown areas, processes that allow small sc rub oaks and sand pines to re-establish themselves. The districts official position as a regulatory agency has permitted the road. My position is that any preserve would be better without a major road going through it. 140 Pasco County leaders disagree. They have paid engineers and lawyers more than $3 million to design, modify and defend plans for the road extension (to be used as an additional hurricane evacuation route). Count y administrator John Ga llagher noted that the extension has been on transportation maps for more than two decades and that before the Serenova became a preserve it was slated for development. He also argued that extending Ridge Road would be less expensive than expanding east west routes such as state roads 52 and 54 (major arteries in Pasco). 141 139 Julia Ferrante, Proposed Connector Called Road to Ruin, Tampa Tribune 6 July 2005. 140 Ibid. 141 Ibid.
84 Without a voice of their own, th e endangered scrub jays and wood storks are no match for fast-growing Pasco County. 142 According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service breeding population reports, the wood stork is as an endangered species. Wood storks use a variety of freshwater and estuarine wetlands for nesting, feeding and roosting. Freshwater colony sites must remain inunda ted throughout the nesting cycle to protect against predation and abandonm ent. Foraging sites occur in shallow, open water where prey concentrations are high enough to ensu re successful feeding (Serenova). Limiting factors include loss of feedi ng habitat, water level manipul ations affecting drainage, predation and/or nest tree re generation, and human disturbance. 143 The Florida scrub jay (only bird species unique to Florida), cu rrently designated as threatened due to loss of habitat, has declined in population by 90 percent. More will disappear as land development continues. Scrub jays are non-migratory, extremely sedentary, and have very specific habitat requ irements. They reside only in oak scrub consisting of sand live oak, myrtle oak, i nopine oak, along with saw palmetto, scrub palmetto, scattered sand pine and rosemar y. The Serenova Tract makes a perfect home for the scrub jay. 144 Nevertheless, in 2006, a Tampa environmen tal consultant studied four potential alternatives to compensate for wetlands [des troyed] if the Ridge Road extension becomes a reality. The following are th e projects under consideration and comments from a Biological Research Associates report completed in January. 142 The Florida scrub Jay (the only bird species unique to Florida) listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, a petition submitted 25 January 2006 for reclassification to endangered species; the wood stork classified as endangered The Environmental conservation online system provides access to information related to endangered species, fisheries and habitat conservation programs, http://ecos.fws.gov 143 Recovery Plan for the U.S. Breeding Population of the Wood Stork, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia, 9 September 1986. 144 Recovery Plan for the Florida Scru b Jay, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servi ce, Atlanta, Georgia, 9 May 1990.
85 Pithlachascotee River Corridor: Preservation of a riverfront area from State Road 52 to Crews Lake. The county already is considering buying the property through its Environmental Lands Acquisition Program (ELA MP). If that happens, officials could reimburse the preservation program with Ca pitol Improvement Program funds and use it as mitigation for the road project. The tr ansaction would amount to a donation to the ELAMP program, officials say. Estimated credit s, subject to state and federal approval: 9.53 to 12.71 acres. 4G Ranch Corridor: About 804 acres, incl uding pasture, crop land, shrubs, brush, reservoirs and fresh water marshes. The propert y is part of a critical linkage that would connect the Conner Reserve owned by SWFWMD with Al Bar and Cross Bar Ranches, owned by Pinellas County. The owners have indicated they are willing to negotiate. Estimated credits for preservation: 139.8 to 148.94 acres. Po ssible credits for enhancement: 31.25 to 47.8 acres. 5-Mile Creek Corridor: An area west of U.S. 41 and east of the CSX railroad. Mitigation credits could be earned through enha ncement of the property, which already is preserved. The former owner retains mining ri ghts over a major portion of the corridor, however, and there is potential that additional mining rights exist. Estimated credits: 6.49 to 21.2 acres. Serenova Preserve Enhancement: The tract was set aside as partial compensation for wetlands destroyed in the construction of the Suncoast Parkway. An agreement between the county and SWFWMD which owns the property, says Pasco may enhance the Serenova by creating wetlands or other means, as part of its mitigation for the Ridge Road extension. Potential credits: 44.44 to 85.21 acres. SWFWMD staff has, however, to ld Pasco officials that enhancement of the Serenova and other existing preserves is not as high a priority as gaining more preservation lands, said Mich ele Baker, Pascos program coordinator for engineering services. Fritz Musselmann, dire ctor of SWFWMDs land res ources department, said he was not sure why SWFWMD staff would discourage re storation of the Serenova. 145 145 Julia Ferrante, Study Names Possible Preservation Sites, Tampa Tribune 12 March 2006.
86 The project has been stalled because of difficulty securing mitigation land to compensate for wetlands that would be dest royed by the roads construction. SWFWMD, which owns the Serenova, approved a permit for the road in 2003, but the approval was based on informal deals to buy and set aside la nd now slated for development or held by unwilling sellers. SWFWMD and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is reviewing a separate permit, would have to approve any changes to the plans. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service also must determine whethe r construction of the road extension would hurt threatened and endangered species. 146 The owner of the 4G Ranch (one of four mitigation sites previously mentioned) in central Pasco appears willing to dedicate a portion of his ra nch to preservation to push forward the Ridge Road extension project, County Administrator John Gallagher said. Not without something in return, William T ed Phillips, the ranch owner, has told county officials he intends to seek approva l for a conservation subdivision on the ranch property to allow for a combination of hous es, commercial businesses and open space. Phillips has said he would set aside 804.3 acres west of th e development as a critical linkage corridor, which Galla gher said could compensate for wetlands destroyed by the road extension. 147 146 Julia Ferrante, Plan Could Help Road Extension, Tampa Tribune 23 April 2006. 147 Ibid.
87 Anclote River Tract (Starkey Ranch) The vast majority of the orig inal ranch, about 13,000 acre s, exists in nature preserves, mainly the Starkey Wilderness Pa rk. Longleaf and other small developments take up about 500 acres. That leaves the remaining 2,500 acres for development. The family wishes to build as many as 4,600 homes on the land, keeping about half the acreage in conservation for the enjoyment of future homeowners. 148 I knew growth would hit here, said J.B. Starkey Jr., who became the family patriarch when his father died at 94 in 1989. But I didn t know it would be so fast and furious when it hit. With the last sale of land to the state in 1995, pa rtly to pay the $9 milli on estate tax bill when the elder Starkey died, the ranch could no l onger sustain enough cattle to make it viable. The development value of the land dwarfs its agricultural value. J.B. Starkey Jr., wants to make sure the land will be availa ble for his children and grandchildren. 149 We need to liquidate a pretty static a sset, said Starkeys youngest son, Frank. The lands been a fantastic asset over the past 70 years, but its not something we can take to the grocery store. Cattle sti ll rule the land, but the family sold the herd in 2003 to a rancher who leases the pastur e. J.B. Starkey devotes his time to running J.B. Starkeys Flatwoods Adventures, the family ecotourism venture. 150 In the 1990s, the Starkeys built Longl eaf on the western ed ge of the ranch, a neighborhood with homes and front porches, r ear alleys, village gr een, on-street parking and picket fences. 148 James Thorner, What Will Starkey Legacy Be? St. Petersburg Times 24 July 2005. 149 Ibid. 150 Ibid.
88 The next phase of development, which would finish off the ranch over the next 15 years, calls for a town center north of Gunn Highw ay and State Road 54 and five distinct neighborhoods of homes in the Longleaf mold. A norther n swath of the 2,500 acres nearest the Anclote River will stay largel y natural, according to the Starkeys plans. 151 Twenty-first Century Desperate for land to build a regi onal park to serve the Tr inity area, Pasco County officials are entertaining a ra dical solution, acquiring a pie ce of the Starkey Wilderness Park, a nature preserve that is supposed to be off-limits to development. The county has been trying to line up more than 100 acres for a super-sized park to in clude sports fields, trails, a swimming pool and acres of parking. Pa rk planners have faced two problems, the price of land has been exorbitant, and sufficien tly large parcels hard to find in the quickly suburbanizing region. 152 Pasco County Administrator John Galla gher announced he is feeling the pressure to build ball fields to serve thousands of ne w families pouring into southwest Pasco. Each new homebuyer indirectly pa ys an impact fee of nearly $1,000, money the county is supposed to invest in parks. While the wild erness park already operates recreation trails, picnic shelters and a campground, a regiona l park seems too intense for a nature preserve, SWFWMD spokesperson Michael Molligan said. 151 James Thorner, What Will Starkey Legacy Be? St. Petersburg Times 24 July 2005. 152 James Thorner, Pasco Looks to Preserve to Provide Land for Park Series: Play by Play , St. Petersburg Times, 27 March 2005.
89 The water district took charge of the property to shield its environmentally sensitive terrain from development. Two rivers, the Anclote and the Pithlachascotee, water the property. When the Starkey family began dona ting and selling land to the state in the 1970s, the family stipulated that the land was for water management and recreation. 153 After nearly seventy years of ranching thousands of acres, the Starkey family steers a course set by other Pasco Count y ranchers and orange grower s, converting their land to homes, stores and offices. The familys on ce vast 16,000 acre spread between Odessa and New Port Richey has shrunk to 2,500 acres. Most of the land has become nature preserve, mainly the Starkey Wilderness Park. A sma ller portion (500 acres ) developed as the Longleaf neighborhood. 154 In space and time we have choice. 155 Frank Starkey (Starkeys grandson), grew up on the family ranch before training to be an architect, wants the familys new devel opment to be the first of its kind in Pasco County. It would consume almost all of the familys remaining 2,500 acres. The project would begin with a 40 to 80 acre town center on land north of Gunn Highway and State Road 54, best known as the site of the Odessa rodeo. Among the first tenants would be a grocery store. Starting in the center and fa nning out from there would be 4,600 homes, a mixture of houses, townhouses, villas a nd apartments. Proposed amenities include a library, 16-screen movie theater, church and elementary school. 156 153 James Thorner, Starkey Family Still Has Outsized Dreams, St. Petersburg Times 21 July 2005. 154 Ibid. 155 Quote by Jared Diamond, author of Collapse traces the fates of societies to their treatment of the environment. 156 Thorner, 21 July 2005.
90 With an eye toward reducing th e need for long shopping trips and commutes, The Starkeys have proposed integrating 510,000 squa re feet of retail, 355,000 square feet of offices and 120,000 square feet of light industry. The Starkeys propose a loose construction schedule running to 2022. We want to see a 24-hour place, with people living, working and shopping all t ogether, Frank Starkey said. 157 Frank Starkey probably could never have predicted that he would be the one about to consume his grandfathers last 2,500 acres for construction of homes, movie theaters and shopping centers. At the age of twelve, in an interview done by the University of South Florida, remarked, I would like [peopl e] to respect and take care of whatever natural land they . have . and to real ize that its Gods crea tion and . theres no more nature once its all developed. I woul d just like them to take care of it. 158 157 Thorner, St. Petersburg Times 21 July 2005. 158 Lawson, Preserving for the Future.
91 Conclusion Empty spaces replace palmetto groves that once beautified the banks of the Pithlachascotee River; it stil l meanders through downtown making its way to the Gulf of Mexico. The annual Chasco Fiesta, special to New Port Richey, lives on as one of the largest attractions in the sout heast. The median age of re sidents grows younger, but New Port Richey remains a well-liked destination for retirement with slightly more than 28 percent of its residents ov er the age of sixty-five. Subdivisions triumph where orange groves and cattle ranches were once abundant in West Pasco. Absent in the air, the sweet and pungent fragrance of orange blossoms. Cattle ranches and green space now exist as shopping centers and Wal-Marts. Not exclusive to New Port Richey, downtowns railway connection has been paved over. People no longer go downtown to the Meighan Theater for movies. Few residents know of New Port Richeys past hopes of being the Hollywood of the South. The coming together of individual communiti es such as Holiday, Elfers, Trinity, Port Richey and New Port Ri chey East, make it difficult to distinguish one town from another. New Port Richey, at the heart of this entire area is still known as The Gateway to Tropical Florida, but due to uncontrolle d growth and development, little evidence remains of the natural beauty that previously existed.
92 Lack of major i ndustry, increased traffic and crim e has stripped the heart of New Port Richey from being an admired destina tion. Few residents feel strong attachment to this place.
93 List of References Archives and Collections New Port Richey Public Librar y, New Port Richey, Florida. University of South Florida, Special Collections, Tampa, Florida. University of South Florida, U.S. Fede ral Documents Collection, Tampa, Florida. West Pasco Historical Society Museum and Library, New Port Richey, Florida. Interviews Terry Kline, 3 November 2004 Newspapers Clearwater Sun Elfers West Pasco Record Evening Independent New Port Richey Press New York Times Pasco Times Pasco Tribune St. Petersburg Times Suncoast News Tampa Daily Times
94 Government Documents Seventh Census of the State of Florida, 1945. Tallahassee: Department of Agriculture, 1946. Sixth Census of the State of Florida, 1935 Winter Park: Orange Press, 1936. United States. U.S. Censuses of Population and Hous ing: 1960. Census County Division Boundary Descriptions. Florida Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962. _____. General Population Characteristics: Florida 1970 Census of Population. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1971. _____. 1980 Census of Population. Volume 1. C hapter B. Part 11. Characteristics of the Population. General Population Characteristics. Florida Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1982. _____. 1990 Census of Population. General P opulation Characteristics. Florida Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census, 1992. Books and Articles A City Where Everyone Knew Your Name Series: Pasco 1887-1987. St. Petersburg Times, 20 June 1987. A Celebration of Legendary Proportions. St. Petersburg Times Special Advertising Section (pamphlet), 17 March 2004. A Storm with No Name. St. Petersburg Times, website: http://www2.sptimes.com/weather/sw.3.html All Set for Chasco Fiesta Opening at New Port Richey. Elfers West Pasco Record, 2 March 1922. Arnade, Charles. The Tampa Bay Area fr om the Aborigines to the Spanish. Tampa Bay History vol.1 n.1 (Spring/Summer, 1979): 5-16. Arsenault, Raymond. St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream, 1888-1950. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996. Ash, Pauline Stevenson. Florida Cracker Days in West Pasco County 18301982. New Port Richey: n.p., 1985.
95 Avery, Elroy M. ed. The Genesis of New Port Richey. New Port Richey: n.p., 1924. Ballingrud, David. It Could Happen Here Seri es: Hurricane Andrew 10 Years Later. St.Petersburg Times, 24 August 2002. Barnett, Cynthia. Mirage: Florida and the Vanish ing Water of the Eastern U.S. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. Bellwood, Ralph. Tales of West Pasco New Port Richey, n.p., 1962. Carozza, Adam. Images of America: New Port Richey. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2004. Chance Discovery May Have Led to Legend of Chasco. Pasco Times, March 1986. Chasco Fiesta Gala Event is on Today. New Port Richey Press, 14 February 1947. Congressman Peterson is a Visitor at Chasco Fiesta. New Port Richey Press, 21 February 1947. Covington, James W. Tampa Bay s Native American Religions. A Religious History of Tampa Bay. Tampa: National Conference of Christians and Jews, 1992. _____.The Armed Occupation Act of 1842. Florida Historical Quarterly vol. 40, iss. 1 (July 1961): 41-53. dAns, Andre-Marcel. The Legend of Gasparilla: Myth and History on Floridas West Coast. Translat ed by Marie-Joele Ingalls. Tampa Bay History 2/2 (Fall/Winter 1980): 5-29. Davis, Frederick T. The Disston Land Purchase. Florida Historical Quarterly 17 (Spring 1938): 200-210. deChant, Dell. The Sacred Santa: Religious Dimensions of Consumer Culture Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2002. DeVries, Gerben M. Chasco, Queen of the Calusas. New Port Richey: New Port Richey Press, 1922. _____. The Lord Will Provide, in The Genesis of New Port Richey compiled and edited by Elroy M. Avery. New Port Richey: by the editor, 1924, 26-31. Diamond, Jared M. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed New York: Penguin, 2006.
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97 Lawson, Steven F., Robert P. Ingalls and Cathy Bayless. Preserving the Future: A History of the J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park [Tampa, Florida]: University of South Florida, 1981. Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Paul Reve res Ride, in Readers Digest. American Folklore and Legend. Pleasantville: Readers Digest, 1978, 92-93. MacMahon, Darcie A. and William H. Marquardt. The Calusa and Their Legacy: South Florida People and Their Environments. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2004. Mallet, Bob. Salt Springs Resour ces Part of Areas History. Clearwater Sun 21 August 1983. Matter, Robert Allen. Pre-Seminole Florida: Spanish Soldiers, Friars, and Indian Missions, 1513-1763. New York: Garland Publishing, 1990. Mayor Brookman Speaks. New Port Richey Press, 21 February 1947. Milanich, Jerald T. Florida Indians and the Invasion from Europe. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995. _____. Floridas Indians from Anci ent Times to the Present Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998. _____. Archaeology of Precolumbian Florida Gainesville, Fl.: University Press of Florida, 1994. Milanich, Jerald T. and Charles Hudson. Hernando DeSoto and the Indians of Florida Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993. Mormino, Gary R. Land of Sunshine,State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida. Gainesville, Fl.: Universi ty Press of Florida, 2005. New Port Richey: Our Assets. New Port Richey Press 17 September 1920. Obenreder, Julie J. New Port Rich eys First Chasco Celebration, in West Pascos Heritage comp., West Pasco Histor ical Society. New Port Richey: Lisa Printing, 1974, 55. Orth, Carl. Chasco Fiesta Could Draw some 250,000 Visitors March 18-28. The Suncoast News, 27 February 1999. ______. Chasco Fiesta to be immortalized at Library of Congress. Pasco Times, 18 December 1999.
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