History of Hardee County

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History of Hardee County

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History of Hardee County
Plowden, Jean
Place of Publication:
Wauchula, Fla
Florida Advocate
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83 p. : ;


Subjects / Keywords:
History -- Hardee County (Fla.) ( lcsh )
letter ( marcgt )

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University of South Florida Library
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University of South Florida
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The University of South Florida Libraries believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries.
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C54-00014 ( USFLDC DOI )
c54.14 ( USFLDC Handle )

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History of Hardee County.
Wauchula, Fla. :
b Florida Advocate,
c 1929.
83 p.
Hardee County (Fla.)
x History.
t City, County, and Regional Histories Collection
4 856
u http://digital.lib.usf.edu/?c54.14




Copyright, 1929 By JEAN PLOWDEN


INTROD UCT IO N In presentin g this brief history to the public we d o so with the on e thought of having tried to render a service to the county and its citizens, the pioneers, those who reside here now, and those who may live here in the future. In the fi.rst place, i t was a difficult undertaking. Only the most meager record s were to be found anywhere, at any cost of time and effort. It has required many, many hours of constant and untiring effort to collect what information is here given. Many trips had ..to be made to various parts 'of this and adjoining counties in search of facts; scores of letter were written, numerous personal calls made, and a tremendous amount .of time and effort expended in digging up information about the past. Because of the fact that there was no written r ecord of the county itself and few records of early development, we had the task o f finding out what facts we could regarding the early history of this section. In this we have been 'splendidly assisted by many old settlers, othe r s who came to the councy only recently, and by those ou tside the county who happened to know some of the history. We have sec ured a large part of the informatio n here given from newspaper files, which were f ound to be more useful than individua l s because of dates and other details which time erase from memory. These files furnished a valuable sou r ce with which to c heck stories given us from memory. . Government maps i n possession of the county engineer were another source of accurate information, as were war department records regarding old forts in the county. The state supr eme court library furnished us a copy of the treaty signed "dth the Indians in 1839. Peace river got its name from this treaty. We trust that in reading this little volume you will bear in mind the of preparing i t and not be to e generous with your criticism. There are faults, we admit, but our best effort s have gone .into pre paring it. We kept constantly in mind the idea of accuracy rather than legend, fact rather than fiction we trust that it may be widely r ead, especially in our schools, fo r we have found that ou r school child ren know very little if anything about the county i n which they live. The information herein contained


INTRODUCTION should serve to give them some idea of the struggles the pioneer settlers had and provide accurate knowledge of the county's growth and development from the earliest days to the present. It is our sincerest hope that this history may prove interesting to you and may be instructive and inspiring both to those no\V living within the county and those WhO in the future may make it their. home. JEAN PLOWDEN Wauchula, Florida. October 15, 1929.


CHAPTER I FLORIDA, while one of the oldest state's in the Union, is still one of the youngest. Known as America's last frontier, it has more recently be come America's playground. While it is one of the oldest states in point of years since it was founded, it has been only recently that Florida's opportuni ties have become known to the rest of the world. A hundred years ago, before steam locomotives pulled railroad cars over the nation, before steamboats puffed along up the Hud son and Mississippi rivers, before automobiles were dreamed of or the telephone had come, the Indians camped along the banks of Hardee county's streams and built their tepees in the fertil e valleys where now citrus groves and vege table patches flourish. They doubtless lived their slow and easy-going lives in their characteristic manne r, trapping and fishing, eating, sleeping, then passing on to the "hap PY hunting grounds" to be succeeded by other generations that f ollo wed the s ame course of evenh. Indian names abound in all Florida, and daily we hear such names as Tallahassee, Withla coochee, Caloosa hatchee Kissimmee and many others. Almost everyone is familiar with the history of Florida, so only a brief review of that will be given here. The area now known as the state of Florida reaches from the Perdido river on the west to the Atlantic ocean on the east, and from the southern boundaries of Alabama and Georgia on the north to the Florida Straits and Gulf of Mexico on the south. Florida stretches about 450 miles north and south and contains approximately 68,000 square miles. It attains its highest altitude in the Ridge section and in the hills of West Florida, being about 300 feet above sea level in those sections. Florida has thousands of fresh water lakes ranging in size from an acre or more to Lake Okeechobee, which covers more than a thousand square miles. Many o! these lakes have no visible outlet, yet the water in them is clear and fresh and they are characterized by sand bottom s and af ford exce llent boating, bathing and fishing. The state has good drainage which is afforded by the rivers which empty into the Atlantic ocean, the Gulf of Mex ico and Lake Okeechobee. Lake Okeechobee, which is situated i n the northern part of the Everglades, is connected with the ocean by canals; which help to keep the water from overflowing the low bank s in normal times. The Everglades is a vast, marshy region which nearly covers the lower part of the Flo rida peninsular.


2 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY Recently, much of this land has been reclaimed aM! put into cultivation; the principal crops being sugar cane, beans and other early vegetables. Much of the Everglades region is cov ered with a growth of sawgrass and flags. This region affords excellent hunting grounds and sportsmen flock to it every winter in quest of deer, turkeys, and other wild game. Originally the state of Florida extended west to the Mississippi river and north for an indefinite distance. The Spaniards called all the territory Florida, after it was discovered by Ponce De Leon, who landed near Saint Augustine on Easter Sunday, March 27, 1513. Florida was transferred to England 1783 was transferred to Spain. On February 22, 1819, the state was purchased from Spain by the United States for the sum of five million dollars, and three years later, on March 3, 1822, civil government was established in Florida. The first session of the legislative council was held at Pensacola in the same year. The site of Tallahassee was selected as the state capital in 1823 and the following year, on December 21st, was held the first meeting of the council. Florida was originally divided into two counties: Escambia and St. Johns, or East and West Florida. Hardee county lay in what was called East Florida, this territoryincluding ap proximately all that is now known as Florida. Dade county was formed on Febru ary 4, 1836, and on January 9, 1855, this section became Manatee county. The county seat was established at Pine Level. It remained here until on May 19, 1887, DeSoto county was formed from part of Manatee. The county seat of Manatee was removed to Braidentown (now Bradenton) and the county seat of DeSoto was put at Arcadia. Hardee county was formed on April 23, 1921, and the county seat established at Wauchula. There was considerable restlessness and anxiety among the Indians prior to that time, but the Seminole Indian war did not actually begin until about October, 1835. Three years before this, in 1832, there had been a treaty made with a number of chiefs by which it was agreed that certain of the chiefs would go to examine the western lands and if they were satis fied, would return and all the Indians would remove there. The chiefs said they were satisfied, but when they re turned to their people, they found the Indians unwilling to go. The Semi noles were runaways from the Creeks and were not willing to go to the western reservations where they would be forced to live among the Creeks. Another reason they gave was that the climate was colder and they would be unable to get lightwood there. They did not wish to remove to a colder climate. Even the chiefs, who had said they were satisfied to be moved to the western lands, did not advise their people to go. A number of those whose names brighten the pages of American his tory were sent to subdue the Semi noles in Florida. Among them, Gen eral Winfield Scott, General Zacharay Taylor, General Macomb, and others. General Taylor was in command of the Indians in 1837 and in December of that year he was ordered to find the Indians wherever he could. He met a large force of Seminoles in a dense swamp !!ear Okeechobee and had a hard three hours' fight with


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 3 them, after which the Seminoles were driven from the field. This was the last real battle with the Seminoles. General Macomb agreed that the In dians should be allowed to remain be low Peace river and Lake Okeechobee, and the war was declared ended. How ever, the war did not end then, and there was some trouble with the In dians as late as 1855. General Taylor asked to be relieved of command in Florida and General Armistead took command. He cap tured 450 Indians during the year be was in charge, then asked to be re lieved. General Worth took charge. Genera l Worth and his men succeed ed in deporting several hundred In dians to Arkansas, and in 1842 Gen eral Worth reported to the govern ment that only about three hundred Indians remained in the territory of Florida. He advised that these should be allowed to live below Peace river. After the end of the Indian war, many people came to live in Florida. People began to think this should be a state, where a governor and other officials should be elected; they wanted to have part in electing a president, and to enjoy many other privileges a territory did not have. The state was admitted into the Union in 1845, President Tyler signing the bill on March 3rd of that year. Few people came to this section of Florida in the early days following the Indian war. They perhaps did not know of the fertile soil here, nor of the abundance of game and fish. Most of the settlers who came to Florida in those days decided to stop and make their homes much farthe r up the state than where the boundaries of Hardee county extend. As late as 1850, less than a dozen families lived in what is now Hardee county, as shown by government maps in the possession of the county sur veyor. These maps were made by dep uty surveyors of the United States government and have been found to be very accurate as to distances, land marks, etc. Much valuabl e informa tion has been secured from them, and on numerous occasions we used the maps in tracing up stories of the early days, and verifying reports that we gathered at random. The first survey of this section was made in 1848 (two years before Flor ida became a state) by Henry Wash ington, a deputy surveyor and a rela tive of General George Washington, our nation's first president. Henry Washington the west bound ary of what is now Hardee county. Sam Reid surveyed part of the county in the same year (1843), and !'rom his field notes we get some idea of the appearance of this section at that time. Under date of November 30, 1843, Sam Reid entered the following nota tion in his handbook: "It was impossible to chain correctly, from the nature of the ground; thick, broken han:mocks, full of deep ponds, and in the pine woods, high grass, ponds and deep water." Mr. Reid's daughter-in-law still lives at Parrish, in Manatee county, at the time this is written. The north and west boundaries of the county were surveyed in 1854 by John Jackson, another deputy survey o r, who laid out the townsite of Tampa, the leading city on the Flort da West Coast. The south boundary of the county was surveyed in 1855 by G. H. Bunker, deputy surveyor, after whom the set-


4 'HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY L egend has it t hat the Indians at tlement of Bunker-Lansing was named. tacked Mr. Bunker and hi s party a t this spot. On the old map s are s h ow n many of the Indian mound s and the old forts. The names of several settlers appear thereon, and it is saf e to assume that the few names appearing on the maps constituted the entire population by families of Hardee co unty at that time. George Tice lived in the Horse Cree k secti on, and maps show a road leading from George Tice's to I. Dees', not far distant. W. Cath eso n liv e d jus t west of :where George B. W inter's place now is, in township 35 south, range 23 east, section 13, which is southeast of the town of O n a Two Platt f amilies lived near wher e the town of Lily now is, about a quar ter of a mile n orth of the present set tlement. The Green and Alderman families lived near where the t own of Fort Green Spring s n ow is, Green livin g just west of the present townsite and Alderman just northeast of where the Parrish road intersects the C. H & N. r ailroad. A man named Pelham lived in the section now known as College Hill, west of Bowling Green. Underhills also liv e d in this section, about where the Zazzall i grove now is. W Whitten lived abou t where Ira Rigdon's farm is locat ed, a t the spot near where Heard bridge crosses P eace river northeast of Wauchula. A man named Thompson lived near Peace rive r south and west o f where t h e Popash settlement n ow is. This was the only family living east of P eace river, as shown by these maps. T o these surveyors who braved the hardships of the new country to ac curately chart every section of land, we owe much praise. They did their work well, and it is because of their labo r s that we are able accurately to trace this coun t y from its b eginning, there bein g no written r ecords other than those maps and field notes, except, of course, some data on the forts establis hed in this sec t ion by the gov ernment, which will be given present ly.


CHAPTER II Just here it may be said that the name Peace River was given to the stream which flows through Hardee county because a treaty was made with the Seminoles that the Indians should have all the land east and south of the river and Lake Okeechobee. The first record of a name for the stream, so far as we have been able to find, is contained on maps made in 1856 by one William Moseley, a dep uty surveyor. Moseley refers to the stream as Peas Creek, though he gives no reason for such a name. The In dians called it "Tallak-Chopko-Hatchie," we learn from Mr. Moseley's field notes. In 1860, when J. D Galbraith surveyed this section, he referred to the s tream as Peas Creek. The legend that the stream was named Peas Creek because of the wild peas which are supposed to have grown along its course, is erroneous. General Macomb who was sent from Washington to take charge of the In dian outbreaks in Florida in 1839, met some of the Indian chiefs and agreed that they should have all the land ly ing south and east of Peace river and Lake Okeechobee However, the trou ble with the Indians did not end then. The following interesting record of General Macomb's activities regard ing peace with the Seminoles, was fur nished us by Honorable James B 5 Whitfield, of the state supreme court, Tallahas see, and is from the superior court library. It is taken from Sprague's history, "The Florida War." "MajorGeneral Macomb, command ing the army of the United States, ar rived at Fort King on the 20th of May 1839. He came empowered by the president of the United States 'to make an arrangement with the Semi noles.' Through a friendly Indian ne gro, communication was had with Hal leck -Tustenuggee and Thlock loTuste nuggee, or Tigertail, who, on the third day, came to the fort with forty-six warriors Arpeika, or Sam Jones, sent ChittoTustenuggee as his representa tive. He arrived at Fort King accom panied by Lieutenant-Colonel Harney, Second Dragoons, U. S. A A great council was convened, and Halleck Tustenuggee was appointed lawyer or speaker upon the occasion. He ex pressed his regret that the older chiefs were ei ther dead or gone from the country, which obliged him to talk on so important an occasion. He felt there was a great responsibility in being the organ of so many people He wished peace and was prepared t o enter into terms that did not require him to move to Arkansas. An arrange ment was finally made assigning them a portion of land, temporarily, far south, as traced upon the map, \vithin


6 l:HSTORY Of HARDEE COUNTY which they were to assemble their families before the expiration of sixty days. The utmost good feeling and apparent sincerity prevailed. Pro visions and clothing were issued, and after indulging in drink for three days, they left, giving the assurance of a prompt discharge of their obligations. General Macomb returned to Wash ington, when affairs were again in the hands of General Taylor, who had no confidence in these arrangements, but considered them as a prelude to more treachery and bloodshed. General Ma comb on the 20th of May issued the following order: 'Headquarters of the Army of the U S., Fort King, Florida, May 18, 1839. 'General Orders 'The major-general commanding in chief has the satisfaction of announc ing to the army in Florida, to the authorities of the territory, and to the citizens generally, that he has this day terminated the war with the Seminole Indians, by an agreement entered into with ChittoTustenugge, principal chief of the Seminoles, and successor to Arpeika, commonly called Sam Jones, brought to this post by Lieu tenant-Colone l Harney, Second Dra goons, from the southern part of the peninsula. The terms of the agree ment are, that hostilities immediately cease between the parties; that the troops of the United States, and the Seminole and Mickasukie chiefs and warriors now at a distance be made acquainted, as soon as possible, with the fact that peace exists, and that all hostilities are forthwith to cease on both sides; the Seminoles and Micka sukies agreeing to retire into a dis trict of country in Florida, below Pease Creek, the boundaries of which are as follows, viz .: Beginning at the most southern point of land betwee n Charlotte Harbor and the Sanybel or Coloosahatchee river, opposite to San ybel Island; thence into Charlotte Harbor, by the southern pass between Pine Island and that point, along the eastern shore of said harbor to Taalk Chopko or Pease Creek; thence up said river to Hatchee-Thloko, or Big Creek; thence up said creek to its source; thence easterly to the north ern point of Lake Istokpoga; thence along the eastern outlet of said lake, called Istokpoga Creek, to the Kis simmee river; thence southerly down the Kissimmee to Lake Okee-Chobee; thence south through said lake to .Ec ahlahatohee or Shark river; thence down said river westwardly to its mouth; along the sea shore northwardly to the place of beginning; that sixty days be allowed the Indians north and east of that boundary to re move their families and effects into eaid district, where they are to remain until further arrangements are made, under the protection of the troops of the United States, who are to see that they are not molested by intruders, citizens or foreigners, and that the said Indians do not pass the limits as signed them, except to visit the posts which will be hereafter indicated to them. All persons are therefore for bidden to enter the district assigned to said Indians, without written per mission of some commanding officer of a military post. 'ALEXANDER MACOMB 'Major-General Commanding In Chief. 'By Command of the General. "'EDMUND SCHRIVER, 'Captain and A. A. General.' "In a letter sent on May 22, 1839, to Hon. J R. Poinsett, Secretary of War, Major-General Macomb said:


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 7 "'Under existing circumstanc es, I did not think it necessary to enter into a f ormal written treaty, such a n in strument with Indians having but little binding effect. Nor did I think it politic, at this time, to say anything about their emigration, leaving that subject open to such future arrange ments as the may think proper to make with them. No re striction upon the pleasure of the gov ernment in this respect has been im posed, nor has any encouragement been given to the Indians, that they would be permitted permanently to remain in Florida. There is every reason to believe that when the In dians remaining in Florida shall learn the prosperous condition of their brethren in Arkansas, they will, at no distant period, ask to be permitted to join them.'" For t Chocon icla, Chokonicla, or Chokkonikla, was located on the side of Peace River. I t was about ten miles south of Fort Meade and about forty miles east of the southern end of Tampa Bay. Fort Choconic}a was establish ed October 26, 1849, and abandoned July 18, 1850. It was gar risoned April 30, 1850, by the Head quarters and Companies E and M, Fourth U. S. Artillery. The fort was on t op of a high blutf ove rlooking the river swamp and a good view may be had from the spo t where a few years ago the last rotting logs of the fort disappeared. The spot is now covered with pine and oak trees and it is difficult to l ocate unless one has a map and knows just where to loo k for it. Now nothing r emains but a few scrubby oaks to shelter the level spot o n the hilltop where in 1860 soldiers encam ped. Fort Choconicla was just north of where Payne's creek empties into Peace river, about a mile south of Bowling Green. Just across Payne's creek fro m Fort Choconicla, maps show a blockhouse. This was directly south from Fort Choconicla and was near where a road led to the spot where Payne's creek was forde d The last trace of this blockhouse was erased several years ago by forest fires and the few rotting logs which were there we:re quickly consumed by the flame s. The block bouse was on a high bluff overlooking the river to the east and Payne's creek to the north. It afforded an excellent view of the country to the south and west and from this point one could detect a man approaching for some distance. In the northwest part of the county, just west of the present town of Fort Green Springs, old Fort Green was lo cated. This was a log fort established by Jim Green, after whom it was named. It was about thirty miles east of the south end of Tampa Bay and five miles west of Peace river, and five or six miles southwest of Fort Choconicla. M:r. Green bad an orange grove there and he built the fort of logs to protect his family and his neighbors, wh o would rush to it at the first sign of trouble with the Indians Old settlers in this section recall how they took refuge in the fort when the In dians attacked. The fort was estab lished about 1854 to 1856, and is shown on maps dated 1856. About nine miles west and south of the present town of Ona, an Indian rr.ound is located. This mound was shown on maps dated as early as 1850 and its identity is lost with the pass ing of time and no one seems able to


8 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY explain why the mound is there or who is responsible for it. Aside from Forts Choeonicla, Green and Hartsuff, together with a list of settlers in the county at that time, maps dated 1843 to 1856 have nothing else to show, except ponds and marsh es, as the surveyors related in their field notes. There were no roads or bridges and travel was slow, especially during the rainy season. The early settlers, of which there were few in this section at the time, bad simply to move onto a piece of land, erect a log house, and set about clearing and p lanting. Corn, potatoes, squash and pumpkins were the main crops. Game was plentiful and it was an easy matter to step out of the house, bag a deer o r turkey, and en, joy a fine meal.


CHAPTER III In order to properly trace events which took place in this section, it is necessary to digress a little. Following news of the Dade massa cre, which occurred on December 28, 1835, the whole country was shocked and several companies of troops were organized when General Clinch, who was in command of the United States troops, issued a call for volunteers. Then followed the battle of With lacoochee, after which General Win field Scott was placed in command. After the battle in the Big Wahoo swamp, Osceola came to the camp near St. Augustine, under a flag of truce. He was taken prisoner when General Hernandez gave a signal to the troops to clos e in upon the In dians. Osceola was taken to St. Augustine, then to Fort .Moultrie, near Charleston, where he died soon after ward. Coacoochee and Talmus Hadjo were taken prisoners at the same time as Osceola. They were imprisoned in the old Fort at St. Augustine, from which they made a dramatic and rather re lll9rkable escape. In December, 183-7, General Taylor set out in the direction of Sam Jones' camp, and rr.et a large force of Semi noles in a dense hammoc k near Okee chobee. After a three hours' battle, the Indians were driven from the field. 9 This was o ne of the last standing battles of the Indian War in Florida. However, there was still some trou ble with the Indians, who attacked the white settlers, stole their cattle and crops and kept the early settlers in constant danger of being attacked and killed. Captain George S. Payne and D. Whiddon were killed by Indians at a trading post on Peace river, just op posite where Fort Choconicla was later established. Captain Payne and .Mr. Whiddon were killed on the eve ning of July 17, 1849, as related by a monument which stands on the spot. Captain Payne was a visitor at the post and. probably was spending the night there when he was killed. The post was entered by the Indians (who probably had some previous trouble with Whiddon, who opera ted it, be cause the Indians were never known to start a fight or an argument. They were peaceful until wronged by the whites or until they believed them selves to have been treated wrongly.) Both Captain Payne and Mr. Whid don were killed and Whiddon's wife scalped and shot. She feigned death and after the Indians left Payne and Whiddon dead and the post in ashes, JI.Irs. Whiddon walked and crawled off to a pond where she hid until some tirr.e later, when soldiers found and


10 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY rescued her. She finally recovered and lived some years. It was very seldom that a person who had been scalp ed survived. The courage and calmness this woman showed in the face of almost certain death illustrates the bravery those pioneer souls of the early days pos sessed. She kept her bead and managed to conceal her suffering until the Indians left the spot. Then she wrapped her head in a towel and sought aid, which was not long in coming, once the news reached the fort that Whiddon and Payne had been killed. Just why the argument started and the men were killed is not known, but it is likely that the Indians believed they had been mistreated and sought revenge. Rev. E. C. Starr, formerly pastor of the First Christian Church of Cornwall, Connecticut, sends us the follovo.ing information regarding Cap tain Payne: "George S. Payne was a sailor. son of Rufus and Mary (Calhoun) Payne, was born in Cornwall, Con n. He was at a meal at the trading post when some Indians fired upon the trader without warning and he was killed by their firing. Both his sisters Jived in Cornwall until past eighty years old, one of them dying recently. One of George Payne's brothers (he had two brothers) was a lieutenant in the Civil War and his grandfather or great grandfather was in the Revolutionary War. His sisters did not believe the Indians intended to kill him, but the trader." The monument which marks the spot where Payne and Whiddon met their deaths is south of Payne's creek, west of Peace river, near where the two streams join. The trading post was just east of where the stream was forded, on the -road between Fort Choconicla and Fort Hartsutl', or Fort Meade and Fort Ogden. The monument, now weather-worn and frail, bears the following inscrip tion: To the Memory of CAPTAIN GEORGE S. PAYNE Aged 32 years A Native of Co rnwall, Conn. Also of D. WHIDDON Both Were Killed By a Party of Seminole Indians On the Evening of The 17th Day of July, 1849. How are the mighty fallen. The monument is a thin slab, put there many years ago by the Masonic order. It is scarred and broken now, and there is a movement on foot to have it restored and a suitable marker placed on the spot. Other plans call for a fence to be erected about the plot where Payne and Whidden lie, so that it may be preserved and protect ed. The monument is near where Payne's creek empties into Peace river, about four miles north of Wauchu la and two miles south of Bowling Green, on the south bank of Payne's creek and west of the river. It is reached by a narrow, winding road which leads from the Dixie Highway at Torrey and winds througJl thP. pines and palrr.ettoes to end rilptly at the spot. The road is littlE> U 3c1 and few people know the exact locntion of the monumer,t or have .-ver visited it. Fnrt Hartsuff was one of the few Important temporary forts established in th;s county during the early days,


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 11 and its establishment followed that of Fort Meade and Fort Choconicla, far ther up the river. I n Rerick's Memoir s o f Florida, page 22'7, we find this accoun t of Lieu t enant Ge orge L. Hartsutf, after whom the fort was named: "Trouble began with the Indians with the woundin g of Lieutenant George L. Hartsutf and his son b y Billy Bowlegs on December 24, 1855 Hartsutf was in charge of the surveys near the bo rder of Big Cypress, in Fort Simon Drum Prairie. Some of the fertile islands of the swamp were utilized by the Indians for their homes nnd plantations. The luxuriant pump kin and bean vine s clim bed the oak trees nnd fruited in the branches and the banana trees grew in magnificent fashion. B owlegs' banana garden was r avaged by some of Hartsuff's men and when the chie f complained and asked for reparation he could obtain neither apr.logy nor compensati on. He imme diatel y called hi s braves together and early next morning Hartsutf and his party were fired on, the lieutenant ba

CHAPTER IV An early settler, Willoughby Tillis, lived on a creek a short distance south of Fort Meade. He refused to go into the fort as the others had done and preferred to take his chances against the Seminoles. On the morning of June 14, 1856, it is related, the Indians slipped out of the swamp and attacked the Tillis family. The news spread quickly and Lieutenant Alderman Carlton and six others, Robert Prine, George Howell, John Henry Hollingsworth, Daniel Carlton, Lott Whidden and Robert Parker, from the two companies of soldiers then at Fort Meade, went to the scene of battle. As the soldiers approached the place, the Indians fled to the swamp on the opposite side of the house. The soldiers followed suit and a fight en sued, during which Lieutenant Carlton and three other soldiers were killed and Daniel Carlton wounded. Lieu tenant Carlton, a grandfather of the present governor of Florida, Doyle E. Carlton, was killed by one of the last shots fired in the battle. He started to take the body of another man upon his horse when a bullet struck him and he called to his comrades who were putting the body upon his horse, "It's too late. They've got me." The Indians, however, were driven back and the soldiers returned to camp, taking their dead with them and 12 burying them on a bluff overlooking Peace river, just to the edge of the settlement. Here they lie in unmarked graves to this day. A move started in the spring of 1929 proposes to have these graves suitably marked and a park established on the site of the old fort at Fort Meade. Two days after the battle of the Willoughby Tillis place the soldiers, who had given chase to the Indians, overtook the band of Seminoles about four miles south of Wauchula, as the Indians were crossing the river. The Indians were carrying their dead with them and could not travel fast. When the soldiers rode up_, they saw some of the Indians swimming the stream while others were on the op posite bank. Opening fire on the In dians they saw, they killed several -of them. Then suddenly shots began com ing up from beneath the soldiers' feet. They looked down and saw that many Indians were hidden under the bank where the water had washed out caves along the river's edge. Turning their guns upon the Indians at their feet, the soldiers wiped them out quickly, then returned to camp. This was on June 16, 1856. In this battle Robert Prine was killed and his body was taken back to Fort Meade for burial by the side of his comrades who had fallen two days previous.


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 13 Years afterward, an old Indian who was trading at Fort Ogden told of the fight and of the number of Indians in the battle. He said there was about forty Indians. This Indian was among them and he receiv ed a wound in the heel, he said. He recognized John Hen ry Hollingsworth as having been in the fight and the two talked o f the battle, each showing the other his wounds. After these two battles, the Semi noles withdrew to the east side of Peace river and remained there. They had beeri unwilling to give up their fertile lands we s t of the river, tlieir homes and gardens, their banana patches and their grazing lands, with out a struggle, but they found the whit e men too strong for them, too daring and too anxiou s to settle up this new country and to share the fish and game, the fertile soil which so abundantly produced corn, potatoes, peas, bananas, squash, and many other vegetables and fruits that en abled bo t h Indian s and whites to live without much effort and yet very com fortably. The Indians loved their bananas and their watermelons, and do so to this day, but when they saw the white man coming, they unwillingly withdrew to the silent, unbroken forests east of the river, where sluggish streams gave them fish, where the forests gave them meat and shelter, and where the white m a n, as yet, had not penetrated. It might be said, in fairness to the Semino le Indians, that they were mis t r eated a number of times, their lands taken away and their rights disregard ed However, the Indians fought des perately on several occasions, and the white settlers knew that they were in danger of being attacked at any time. Lands that once belonged to the In dians were taken by the white settlers and the redskins were forced to move over into new territory. After the Seminoles came to Florida (this being a branch of the Creek tribe of Geor gia) and set themselve s up as an in dependent nation, they were contin ually in troubl e with the white man. The Indians did not wish to be re moved to the reservations in the In dian Territory west of the Mississippi. They preferred to stay in Florida, where the climate was mild and agree able, where lands were plentiful and fertile, where game and fish could be had without much effort, arid where they would be free to roam the forests at will. After treaties were made with them at Payne's Landing, Fort King and Fort Meade, the. Indians continued to be driven back. They had been given all the land east of Peace river under the t erms of a treaty made by Gen eral Alexander Macomb in 1839, bu t just eleven years later (1850) we find that white settlers had pushed across that boundary line and established homes east of the river. (Maps dated 1850 show a family of Thompsons living in the Popash section). An example of how the Indians were treated is shown by the capture of Os ceola, which took place near St. Aug ustine i n October, 1837. Osceola, noted chie f of the Seminoles, was born in Georgia, the son of an Englishman named Powell, and a chief's daughter. He was brought to Florida in h i s in fancy and was reared in this state. His .early training was devoted chi efly to the art of warfare and he soon be came influential with the Seminoles Osceola married the daughter of a fugitive slave and h i s wife was taken


.HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY from him in 1835. He threatened revenge upon those implicated and was taken prisoner by General Thompson. H e was im prisoned at Fort King, near Ocala, where six months later he killed the general and four others and escaped to the Everglades. This brought on the Seminole Indian War. Osceola knew the Everglades, and here he headed a band of several hundred Indians and fugitive slaves and succeeded in battling successfully against supe,rior numbers for nearly two years. In October, 1837, Osceola was .taken prisoner by General Jessup. Osceola was under a flag of truce and was discussing terms of a treaty when General Jessup's men took him prisoner. This is one of the few times in history where a flag of truce was violat ed. The capture occurred near St. Augustine and Osceolli was afterwards removed to Fort Moultrie, near Charleston, South Carolina, where he soon pined away and died. His body rests there now, and a simple shaft marks his grave. Two other Indians, Coacooche e and Talmus Hadjo, were taken and were imprisoned in the old fort at St. Aug ustine. Here they made a most re markable escape from a dungeon in which they were held prisoners. They were a long time in making prepara tions and managed to get certain roots by pretending they needed them for medicine. They ate these roots and thus made themselves thin enough to climb through the small window, having studied the surroundings while gathering the r oots. They made ropes of the forage bags given them to sleep on and with these ropes managed to climb up to the small window, squeeze d themselves through, and climbed down into the open. Then the two made their way to the headwaters of the Tomoka river, near the Atlantic coast. When the Indians heard how Coacoochee and Talmus Hadjo were treated, they determined to fight it out rather than trust the white man's promises again. In 1841, when General Worth took command of the army in Florida, he sent for Coacoochee to come and have a talk with him. Coacoochee came and had several talks, but always made the plea that he could not get his band together. Finally, the whites did not believe Coacoochee and they took him prisoner and the few who were with him and deported them to Arkansas. Another Indian chief whom the whites mistreated was Billy Bowlegs, who was perhaps the best known of all the Indians in this particular section. Billy Bowlegs was a son of Secotfee, the Creek Indian who in 1750 had led the band of runaway Creeks into Florida. These Creeks afterward became known as the Seminoles. Bowlegs conti nued as chief of his tribe for many years. He was contin ually being driven southward from the Alachua district, where the Seminoles first settled after they came to Florida. As the whites came in, Bowlegs and his braves attacked them and the Indians were driven back. As late as 1856 we find Bowlegs living on Peace river, in what is now Hardee co unty. Here he had a banana patch and it was here that Captain George L. Hart sutf and his men were attacked after Hartsuff's men had eaten Billy Bowlegs' bananas and the Indian chief had asked for compensation for hi s property and this had been refused. Bowlegs and his men were driven back again and this time the old In-


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 15 dian chief moved east of Peace river, where some years later he was taken prisoner. Legend here has it that Billy Bow legs was taken prisoner on the Charlie Apopka creek, in the eastern part of this county, though the exact spot is not known It is related that Bowlegs came to the soldiers under a flag of truce and was taken prisoner, in much the same manner as was Osceola. The Indians called this creek Chotlo-Popka Bowlegs afterwards was released and spent the rest of his life with his tribe. The white settlers kept pushing southward, clearing lands building roads, bridges, homes, communities. The Indians reluctantly withdrew to the Everglades, where some of them ren:ain to this day. Some are congre gated on reservations set apart by the government, while others live outside the reservations, where they eke out a miserable existence in the fastness es of the Everglades. Many of them act as guides for hunting parties and their livelihood comes from the few dollars they pick up in this manner, from the alligator skins and animal furs they sell, and the fish and game they catch. Sewing machines, phonographs, automobiles, and other twentieth century inventions have penetrated the Everglades and the Indians have taken kindly to them and not infrequently tourists :find them camped along the main traveled highways, the men fishing in the drainage ditches and listening to the phonographs, while the women are busy making articles of clothing on the sewing machines. In the big, deep, silent Everglades they stay, fishing, hunting, making beads and moving slowly among the palmettoes and the sawgrass, content ed, but still with a trace of bitterness in their hearts again$t the palefaces, who took their lands and forced them to live on what was left. Today, the Indians in the reserva tions are looked after by the govern ment, but those who roam the Ever glades have nothing to look forward to but the coming and going of another hunting season, when the white man will bring them a few dollars and some "fire-water," of which they are par ticularly fond.


CHAPTER V After the battle s at Fort Meade and on Peace river between where Wauchula and Zolfo Springs are now located, as referred to above, the Semi noles withdrew to the east side of the river and gave no further trouble. During the years immediately fol lowing, or from 1856 to 1 865, few settlers came into. the territory now known as Hardee county. section had become Manatee county in 1855, this. being a n original county, but most of the settlers went into the section around .Pine Level and the Manatee river. Writing about this section as it appeared along about 1860, W. D. Payne, who in 1907 published a book on the life o f John W. Hend r y, a well known Baptist preacher of the early days who died in 1907, had the following to say: "The territory now known as Manatee and DeSoto counties [this was before Hardee county was formed from part of DeSoto] was little more than a vas t, dreary solitude, stretching out in every direction, inhabited chiefly by wild beasts and reptiles. Panthers, bears, wolves wildcats, and alligators were abundant everywhere, esp ecially alligators, these being found in great numbers in every stream or Jake affording sufficient depth of water. The prevailing weather during the summer season was of a different type to that usuaJly observed here at the pres-ent time. The country being new, the stock had not beaten many paths from one pond to another, thus providing outlets from one surface depression to another and the excess of water could escape o nly by seepage and evaporation, hence in the rainy season the streams were continually out of their banks and the flatwoods a sea of water. "Thi s condition, producing as it did a corresponding of atmosphere, the prevailing weather was of that murky, nasty type so disagreeable in tropical countries. "The rains did not come as they do now in local downpours, followed by clearing weather, but were chiefly long drawn out drizzles, t he sun not shining for many days at a time. This may read like fiction to many of the present generation, but many of the oldest inhabitants viill easily remember that such was the case. B earing these facts in mind, it will be understood that as the people rushed southward they fol lowed the course of the streams such as Peace creek, Manatee river, and their larger tributaries, thus causing the population to consist of a number of widely separated settlements. Daniel Carlton, who was mentioned as one of those taking part in the battle at Fort Meade on June 14, 1856, was one of the early settlers in Hardee county. He came to this s ection 16


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 17 soon after the battle at Fort Meade and settled on what is now called Troublesome creek, on the highway be tween Wauchula and Ona, where the Ceylon Bostick place now is. At that settlement there was estab lished the first school in this county. This was in a log house and was up stairs. It was opened especially for Mr. Carlton's children and a teacher was employed by him, but the neigh bors, few that they were, were invited to send their children in to this school. If they could pay, very well and good; if not, then they might send the chil dren anyway. This was the only school south of the settlement at Fort Meade, sixteen miles to the north. The religious and spiritual side of life was looked after as well as the educational side, we learn from rec ords of the early days from old timers who had a part in this development of a commonwealth out of a vast area of woods and streams, sickly ponds and silent plains. Maple Branch, which later became New Zi on church, was the first church organized south of the south prong of the Alalia river. R ev. John W. Hen dry was one of the charter members of this church and retained his mem bership in this church for more than fort y years. Thi s church was organ ized in 1867 and has often been called the mother church of the Manatee, now the Peace Rive r A soc iation. Rev. Hendry t r aveled all over this section in those days, covering all the territory from the south prong of the Alalia river to Fort Ogden and from Peace river to Sarasota bay, organiz ing churches at Fort Ogden, Joshua Creek, Pine Level, New Hope, Fort Hartsutf, Midway, Pine Grive, Bee Ridge and' Benevol ence. Nearly all of them, some under a different name, continue until this day. It was during those years that R ev. W. P McEwen, a minister of the }feth odist faith, came to this part of Flor ida. He worked v:ith Rev. Hendry and these two saintly gentl emen went side by side, through the pine w oods and swamps, preaching the gospel and or ganizing churches. Today there are hundreds of descendants of these two pioneers scattered throughout south west Florida, and the names of Hen dry and McEwen, along with those &f Altman, Southerland, Sparkman, Carl ton, Smith, Whiddon and others, have long been linked with the development and growth of this section. Descend ants of those pioneers are legion. In 1872 Maple Branch, or what was then called Fort Green church, decided to change the location of the church to a place nearer Rev. Hendry's home. The change was made and the name changed to New Zion. About this time a ftood tide of im migrants began coming in and the pop ulation showed a substantial increase. Churches were strengthened and con gregations were increased. There were seven and po ssibl y eight churches in Manatee county at that time, with memberships ranging from twenty to fifty each. There was only one Baptist A ssociation in all South Florida, and this was known as the South Florida Baptist Assoc ia tion Rev. McEwen was a local preacher, full of faith and the Holy Ghost, and he preached the gospel of M ethodism with great power throughout all this section The relationship between Revs. Hen dry and McEwen was like that of Da vid and Jonathan. They made a strong team and side by side they rode


18 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY on horseback through the sparsely set tled country to r each their widely scat tered appointments, preaching the gos pel from the same pulpits, sharing the same hardships and joys. The preaching place nearest where Wauchula now stands was northwest of where the town now is, about where Moore's mill is located. It was a little log but in the forest and was built many years before the railroad came through this section in 1885. The churches were too poor to support regular pastors and salaries were simply out of tho question. The preachers usually kept some livestock and with the game ana fish that could easil y be had and the pumpkins, corn, potatoes, etc ., which the land yielded abundantly, they managed to live as well as those whom they served Revs. Hendry and M c Ewen rode on ponies, carrying saddle-bags, blanket, Bible and hymnbook. The settlers would come for many miles around to enjoy the services. Often they camped for days at a time at the meeting place. Some drove horses, other s mules, while still others drove oxen and many came on horseback. To cross the swollen streams, the preachers often had to swim their ponies and they had many narrow es capes crossing Peace river, Payne's creek and the other streams whose raging waters threatened to preven! their filling an appointment. Schools were few and far between, with terms of only a few months during the year. The buildings were of logs, poorly lighted and poorly equipped. Many of the m were private schools, while others were community affairs, with teachers being employed by the patrons. Teachers were paid only meager salaries and twenty-five dollars a m onth was considered a fair-ly good teaching wage during those early days. Later, the salaries were inc r eased until in 1896 we find some teachers were being paid as high as fifty dollars a month. However, the education was thor ough, the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic being drilled into the pupils until they became p r o ficient. None of the finely equipped buildings of today were dreamed of then, but the pioneer children were given the fundamentals which enabled them to r ead and write and to carry on business efficiently. So that when the pioneer fathers and mothers passed on, their children were competent to take up the duties of managing the estates. marketing the cattle, constructin g churches and schools and bridges and roads and in general building a coun ty and state out of a wilderness. Mail came to Punta Gorda and other towns by boat, while it was also brough t to Fort Meade from Tampa. Mail was carried from Fort Meade to Fort Ogden by foot and a man name d Bill Johnson, whom all the settlers knew as "Acre-Foot," carried the mail. This was a distance of some fifty miles, and Johnson carried the mail on foot, making a round trip twice a week. Often his brother, Jim Johnson, took his place and made the round trip the same as his brother did. The Johnsons were big, double-joint ed men and were very strong men and fast walkers. It is said that on one occasion "Acre-Foot" Johnson bagged a large buck on the edge o f Fort M eade, threw the namil across his sho ulder, and took it into the settle ment. Old timers chucle and wink mis chievously as they relate that J oh nson finally gave up his job of carrying the


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 19 mail because the government wouldn't allow him to carry passengers. Cattle and oranges were hauled to Punta Gorda and Fort Myers in the early days, where many of them were sold to the Spaniards and paid for in Spanish gold, or doubloons, which were .then valued at $16.00 Others hauled thei r oranges to Tampa, where they marketed them for one cent apiece tri p from this section to Tampa required seven days. Within three days after leaving this vicinity with teams of oxen hauling the carts of oranges, the settlers would arrive at S i x Mile Cre ek, near Tampa, where they would spend the night. The following morning they would drive into town, dispose of their or anges, and return to the camping place that night The. next day they would continue the journey homeward, arriving in this section at the end of the third day, seven days after they left for Tampa. Many times several carts went to-gethe r in a sort of caravan and all camped together. The oxen would be turned loos e to graze at night, while some of those in the party were designated to watch them. On several oc casions the beasts would get on the road and head for home, maintaining a steady gait until they would be overtaken and returned to the camp grounds. A bell would be put on one of the oxen to help keep track of where they were grazing. As settlers came, they fo. und the climate mild and the soil fertile, so they would write their friends, telling of the wonderful land they had found and urging their friends to join them here. Thus it is natural that Floridans boost the section where they 1i ve. It appears that those early settlers were really the forerunners of the present Florida realtors. Thus new settlers came, and new communities sprang up, but progress and development was very slow indeed until about the year 1885.


CHAPTER VI During the administration of Gov ernor William D. Bloxham, who be came governor of Florida in 1881, a deal was made with Hamilton Disston and his associates, of Philadelphia whereby Disston and his associates secured four million acres of land in Florida for the sum of one million dollars. Most of this land was classed as "swamp and overflowed" land. Diss ton and his associates sold most of th e land to settlers for $1.25 an acre. The Disston sale was made after Florida's Internal I mprovement Fund seemed hopelessly involved in litiga t ion. The fund, consisting o f some thirteen million acres of land mostly designated as swamp and overflowed land, was granted by the legislature to encourage the building of railroads, canals, and other means of transpor tation. Prior to the War Between the States it had been pledged to guaran tee the seven per cent. interest on $ 3,597,000 worth of bonds i ssued for the building of railroads and canals. The war rendered it impossible for the railroads to pay the inte rest due and they were seized and sold, not bringing enough to pay the debt. Thus there was a large and increasing in terest account against the Internal Improvement Fund. The mismanage ment of this fund immediate ly after the war added to the embarrassment 20 and the creditors, during Governor Reed's ad.ministration (1869-1873) ap pealed to the United States court. The fund was so hopelessly involved in litigation that the management of the fund was taken from the state and controlled by the United States court. Florida was practically at a stand still. For many years the taxable property had been a ssesse d at about $ 31,000,000. The con stitution forbade the issuing of b onds or paying the debt. While the legislature granted lands for the building of railroad s and other improvements, the judgment which stood in United States cou .rt prevented a good title bein g giveri and c apitalists wouldn't invest. T he state could not develop without transporta tion facilities and growth then seemed at an end. It was then that the sale of 4,000,000 acres of and overfiowed" land was so ld to Disston and his associates. This released the debt from the control of the United States court and placed it again under the n:anagement of the state officials. It was then that growth begnn anew. Large sums of money were in vested within the state and taxable resources showed a growth o f more than one hundred per cent. in four years. For several years after the Disston sale, more miles of tailroads


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 21 were built in Florida, according to the population and wealth, 'than in any other state. The population in those years in creased faster than at any period in the history of Florida, and the increase was greater than in any other state. Railroads were built, orange groves were set out and vegetable culture became o ne of the principal industries. Attention was given t o education and there was considerable progress made along that line. Establish ment of the Agricultural College at Lake City, which later was moved to Gain esvill e and became the University of Florida, was. one of those things taking place soon after the Disston land sale. Even as late as 1880, this section was yet to see a railroad, a bridge, a highway, or any o f the modern im provements we now enjoy. Eli English and D. Whitten were the proud possessors of top buggies along about 1885. These were the only top buggies known in thi s section. Travel was mostly by ox t eam or on horseback, and it was little traveling that the pioneers did. Streams were forded and roads were mere trails through the pine woods. Fort Green and Crewsville were the only post offices in the county and there was nothing at either of these p l aces but a trading post and a hatful of goods. Bowlin g Green, Wauchula, Zolfo Springs and other thriving com munities which now go to make up the county, were undreamed of as late as 1880. Captain K. B. H arvey, an engineer and surveyor whose work kept him in this section for many months from 1878 to 1882, writing to a friend in Punta Gorda not many years ago, had the following to say regarding this section: "During the time from 1878 to 1 882," he writes, ''while Tampa was yet a village and South Florida a wilderness, without railroad transportation south of Jacksonville, I was connected at various times with the Florida Railway and Navigation Com pany (now the Seaboard Air Line), the Florida Southern Railway (now the Atlantic Coast Line), the Disston Land C ompany, and various other projects in the capacity of engineer and sur veyor, which gave me an exceptional knowl edge of the lands and geography of F l orid a and an a cquaintance with the officials more or less id entifie d with the plans of development that have made Florida what it is today." "Wipe all the buildings off the map south of Bartow," Captain Harvey continues, "and try to think of a Span ish salt fish palmetto shack at Cap tiva and one at Ga sparilla, post offices at Fort Myers Punta Rassa, Charlotte Harbor, Pine Level, Fort Ogden, J oshua C r eek, Fort Gre en, Crewsv ille, and Fort Meade, and a store at each place with a hatful of g oods, wit h mail two or three times a month, and bacon, coffee and brogan shoes coming in once a month on Captain Tom Hodgson's little tub of a sailing schooner Mallory, about the size of a box car, taking back 'gator hides and a few oranges; a sea tte ring settlement and a log cabin here and there through the woods. Y ou will get an ide a of pio nee r life, sand trails and conditions where now are young cities with thousands of homes and the world's great est orange groves and where y ou now burn the wind in highpowered auto mobiles on magnific ent highways, lux u rious parlor cars and i n constant


22 HISTORY OF HAiRDEE COUNTY touch with the outside world, with daily newspaper s and a network of telegraph and telephone wires and broadcasted radio. No! You can't imagin e it. I t i s a memory dear to the few old timers (I can count the living almost on my ten fingers) who l ived through it all. I r ealize now the size of the job, the hardships and how wild and woolly much of it was, and I take my hat oft' to the boys of the early days who thought n othin g of i t at the time and regarded it j ust a s a part of the day's doings. "I examined prospec ted and ex plored over what now comprises Pol k, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlan ds, Glades Okeecho bee, Lee, Hendry and Collie r counties a l on e for months banqueting on grits, bacon and sugarless coffee, sleeping the sweetest of d reams with my fee t to a fire and my saddle f o r a pillow two r ed rain-proof wool blankets and mother earth for a coach, the d own pouring rain or the stany sky for a roof, lulled to sle ep by the murmuring breeze, the soughing pines the chat ter of birds, the racke t of wild animal life, and guarded over by my faithful Florida pony. "I tramped over the great phospha t e deposits w orth untold millions today, not knowing their value. I could have bought them for tw enty-five cents an acre. They seemed to me just a carious rock formation. I sent samples to the Smithsonian Institution in Washing ton at the t ime. The Florida Southern Railroad had acquired the old railroad charter and land grant o f the Gainesville, Ocala and Charlotte Harbor railroad, which would expire on March 5, 1885, and to hold this charte r and secure these lands imm ediate railroad construction was necessary. Construct ion was ordered south from Bartow, destination unknown; possibly the prairie r oute, to Punta Rassa, but preferably the north side wh ere the town of Charlo tte H arbor now stand s. As constru ctio n from Bartow pro gressed, it was decided to build a hotel and a townsite attraction. Thus the hotel, pleasure pier, ground s etc., at. Punta Gorda were cons tructed. The late Governor Albert W Gilchrist was r esident engineer i n charge of this w ork. When the railroad was built through what is now Hardee county, many new settlers came. Man y of the most prominent families now in the county fir s t came he r e between '1885 and 1895 and a goodly number of them found employment with the railroad. Others taught school while still others opened stores o r made a livelihoo d raisin g cattle a nd farming. In 1887 the county o! Manatee was divided and DeSoto county created. The county seat of Manatee, which had been at Pine Level, was moved to Braidento wn (now Bradenton) and that of D eSoto to Arcadia. Hard ee county was not dreamed of at that time and it was not un til 19 06, n ea .rly twenty years later that county division was talked of here. In the early nineties a great tide of immigration began flowin g into the county, building up the towns along the Atlantic Coast Lin e railroad and pushing out in every d irection. H omes, s chools and churches were built, land clea r ed, roads opened through the forests and bridge s built over the rivers and creeks. The towns of B owling Green, Wau chula, Z olfo Springs and others in this section spran g into being after the railroad came through. Some of them


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY were settlements prior to that time, but after the railroad was built they began to grow and prosper. More about them will be given later. There were few schools in what is now Hardee county as late as 1895. In that year we find, by reference to records now in the office of the super intendent of public instruction of DeSoto county, that a number of new schools were establi she d by order of the school board. An entry in the re cords dated J une 4, 1895, shows the f ollowing new schools established: Brushy Creek, l ocated in section 15, township 34, range 24. W. P. Ritch was named supervisor. Popash, with W. J. Jackson as superviso r. Wauchula, with D. M. Cason as supervisor. Florence, on Payne's Creek, with J B. Sauls as supervisor. The board ordered that school s may begin any time agreed upon by the pa trons after July lst. T. J. Sparkman, long prominent as a school official and minister, was superintendent of instruction at that time. A new school was es.tablished at the northeast quarter of section 7, town ship 83, range 24. John Bostick was supervisor This was known as the Enterprise school. On August 6, 1895, the following resolution was introduced into the minutes of the school board: "Resolved, that i t is the policy and purpose of the boa .rd t o aid as far as possible in the building and furnish ing of good school hou ses in the coun ty. The board will help those most in need of help first and others from time to time as the finances will permit till all are helped who need it. "For this purpose the f ollowing appropriations are made: "Oak Grove school building, $100. "Enterprise, $ 30.00. "Spring Hill, $30.00. On November 5, 1895 permiSSIOn was granted to move Harmony schoo l for the present year to the south side of Charlie Apopka creek. C. J. Carlton was teacher of the school at that time, and his salary was 50.00 a month. He had an as sistant who was paid the salary of $25.00 per month. The name of this assistant is not mentioned in the minutes. He perhaps had not been select ed at that tirr.e. The following other well-known citizens taught at schools as f ollows: S. W. Conroy at Scott's school; Henry Smith at Lemon Grov e; J. H. Brown at Enterprise; J J. Parrish at Spring Hill; Joe Crews at Oak Grove; R. D. Moore as principal and Helen Carlton as assistant at Wauchula. The board met on September 2, 1895, and selected the following grading committee for September examina tions: R. D. Moore, C. J. Carlton and George W. Harp. The board appro priated $100 to the Wauchula school on the following day, September 3, 1895. On October 8, 1895, N. M. Bryan was appointed supervisor at Bowling Green. On January 2, 1896, Lemon Grove school was moved to its present loca tion, being moved a mile and a quar ter east. Under date of August 3, 1897, M. S. Stephens and Alice Heard were listed


24 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY as teachers at Wauchula scho ol. The school closed on December 29, 1897. On June 7, 1 898, a petition from t he Zolfo Springs district was presented asking for an election to be held to establish a sub-school district in thi s district to be known as Sub-district No. Four. The petiti on was granted and an election held on July 6, 1898. The election carried and S. L. Griffin, J. L. Skipper and Cornelius Crews were named as trustees for the district.


CHAPTER VII Along about the year 1901, this sec tion of DeSoto county started into the vegetable and citrus growing business on an extensive scale. In that year more than 8,000 crates of beans were shipped from Wauchula. Of course, the growing of citrus fruits had been going on for many years, as has been related before, and considerable money was made from the sale of oranges and grapefruit. Vegetable production had been going on on a small scale before 1901, but in this year the first shipments in any quantity were made and settlers in this section realized the opportunities which this industry offered. The county enjoyed a good substantial growth during the period from 1895 to 1905, and on March 15, 1904, the first banking institution in what is now Hardee county was opened for business. The bank opened in the store oper ated by Carlton and Carlton and lo cated at the southwest corner of Main street and Fifth avenue, was known as Carlton and Carlton, bankers. The institution was not incorporated when it was first established and we find in advertisements of the bank that the following officers were con nected with the bank: Albert Carlton, president; Charlie J. Carlton, cashier; Chas. A. Roe, as sistant cashier. 25 This section grew. so rapidly and new settlers located )lere in so great numbers that in 1902 the town of Wauchula was incorporated. In 1905 a book containing the census report of Florida WM Issued and con tained some valuable information on this part of the state. DeSoto county had a population of 12,446 in 1905. The population of the county had increased 46.7 per cent. in the years from 1901 to 1905. That of the state of Florida increased 17.2 per cent. In 1900 the following was the pop ulation of each precinct in the county: Fort Green, 314; Wauchula, 499; Lily, 480; Pine Level 230; Charlotte Har bor, 266; Grove City, 74; Punta Gor da, 1,047; town of Punta Gorda, 860; Fort Ogden, 495; Arcadia, 1,449; town of Arcadia, 799; Crews ville, 411; Zolfo, 489; Venus, 281; Fort Bassinger, 165; Avon Park, 225; Bowling Green, 440; Brownville, 283; Noca tee, 277; Owens, 233; C l evelan d, 141; Bunker, 248. Total, 8,04 7. In 1905 the population was: Fort Green, 300; Wauchula precinct, 1,404; Wauchula town, 800; Lily, 400; Pine Level, 168; Charlotte Harbor, 254; Grove City, 92; Punta Gorda precinct, 1,333; Punta Gorda town, 1,177; Fort Ogden precinct, 7 46; Fort Ogden town, 380; Arcadia precinct, 2,418; Arcadia town, 1,557; Crewsville, 400; Zolfo,


26 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 760; Venus, 234; Fort Bassinger, 70; Avon Park, 534; B owlin g Green pre cinct, 8 10 ; B owling Green town, 300; Brownville, 685; Nocatee, 616; Owens 275 Cleveland, 98; Bunker, 356; Precin;t No 21 (not named-Arcadia post office), 93; Castalia, _100; Ona, 30 0. The population in 1905 was divided as follows: White s 10,817; negroes 1,629 The value of farm products of De Soto county at that time was $3 430,572.00, or abou t one-tent h of the total value of farm crops in the entire state. In 1906 this part of DeSoto county became engaged in an effort for coun ty division The history of this fight and its final success In 1921, fifte en years later, is most interesting and has a direct bearing on the growth and developm ent of what we know as H a r dee county. On Monday April 2, 1 906, a dele gation compos ed of four men went to Punta Gorda to ascertain the senti ment of the lower end of the county in the matter of county division It must be borne in mind that what was then DeSoto county comprise d all the territor y now i ncluded in the counties of H ighlands, Hardee, D eSoto, Char lotte a nd Glades counties. The delega tion was composed of Messrs. J. D. Southerland, Charlie J. Carlton, Elam B. Carlton and George M Goolsby. A telegram had been sent to Editor Adrian P. J ordan, editor of the Punta Gorda Herald on Sunday a f ternoon before the committee arrived Monday. The following interesting account is taken from the Florida Advocate of Friday, April 6, 1906 : "The Wauchula d e legation expected t o meet a few of the P unta Gorda cit izen s and talk the matter ove r They were therefore greatly and happily surprised to find about o ne hundred of Punta G orda's leading citizens as sembled, and enthusiastic and unan imous sentiment of the p eo ple for county division. "On motion, Hon Geo. W. McLane was electe d chairman and Geo. M. Goolsby secretary. "Editor A. P. Jordan expla in ed why the meeting had been called and also that Judge J P. Cochran was present by request of friends present, who wished to hear and know what was done with a view to hi s possible ap proval of the action taken, that the meeting might endorse hi s candidacy. "On request of the chair, Mr. E!am B. Carlton then spoke at length, set ting forth the advantages of dividing the county into t hree parts, as nearly equal as possible in territory and re sources. He argued that now is the mo s t opportune time that w e will have for ten years to come, as the next legi slature will have to make a n ew apportionment of senators and repre sentatives, after which no new coun t ies will be created for ten yea r s. He presented convincing reasons showing that the creation of new co u nties will not add to the burden of the tax pay ers anything except the cost of build ing a courtho use and jail. Most of the county officers are paid fees and com missions, not salaries, and they wou ld be the o nl y ones affected to disadvlm tage. The expenses of the circuit court are paid almost wholly by the civi l litigants a .nd the convicted offenders. Bu t were it not so, the reduction in m ileage paid jurors, witnesses and court officers would more than make up any differen ce. This to say nothing of


HISTORY OF HAR DEE COUNT Y 27 the immense convenience resulting from the people having their court house ve r y near their homes. Mr. Carl ton further argued that DeSoto coun ty has ample territory and resource s for three counties and the formation of two new counties would give u s three representatives instead of one in the legislature. His remarks and arguments were loudly applauded. "Col. Isaac H Trabue followed with a strong argument for division. J udge J. B. Cochran, responding to a request from the chair, made a manly speech in which he explained that he was opposed t o county division and could not conscien tious ly favor the proposed scheme. "The discussion continu ed w ith Messrs. C. J. Carlton and Elam B. Carlton, of Wauchul a and several Punta Gorda gentlemen participating, when a motion was made to test the sentiment of the meeting, that the proposed division of the county be en dorsed. The motion was .Put and car ried unanimously and with great en thusiasm. "At this point it was stated and seemed to be accepted that the di vision contemplated would be by lines running east and west, the fi rst pass ing at or near Calvinia and the sec ond at or near Fort Ogden; that is, the northern county would extend rom the P olk county line to Calvinia, DeSoto county would be left between Calvinia and Fort Ogden while the southern coun t y would reach from Fort Ogde n to the Lee county line. "In compliance with a motion adopt ed, the chair appointed :Messrs. I. H. Trabue, Chas. G. Davis, Jos. H. Con cannon, K. B. Harvey and A. P. Jor dan a committee to recom)"ilend to the meeting a candidate to run for the legi s lature in the primaries on a plat form favoring the p r oposed division. The committee retired to a side room where they stayed quite a l ong time urging one of their members, A. P. Jordan, t o all ow his name to be pre sented as a candidate. He finally agreed that, if acceptab le to Wau chula, he would yield. The Wauc hula delegation was called in and cordially endorsed Mr. J ordan. "Thereupon, on request of the com mittee, ll:lr E. B. Carlton, in a neat speech, presented to the meeting the name of the gentleman agreed upon, which was received with great ap plause. "In response to calls, the nominee made a few remarks evincing grati tude for the honor conferred, saying he realize d the responsibility of the position in which he was placed and promising to do his best to win in the primaries and, if finally elected, to use his best effort to carry out the wishes of the people. "On motion, the foll owing campaign committee was appointed: For Wau chula, A. G. Smith, C. J. Carlton, Geo. :M. Goolsby; for Punta Gorda, J. H. Concannon, C. G. Davis, B. M. Wade "The meeting then adjourned sub jec t to the call of the chairman." In the primary, which was h eld on Tuesday, May 15, 1906 the three can didates received votes as follows: J. B. Cochran, 541; W. H. Hooker, 649; A. P. Jordan, 770 J ordan and Hooker we r e candidates in the run-off The vote stood, H ooker, I 1,000; J ordan, 966. The north and south ends of the county gave 496 for division, the vote being 915 for division and 419 against it. County divisi on again came t o the


28 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUN'I'Y front in 1907. In that year, on March 13th, a mass meeting was held at the opera house in Wauchula for the pur pose of "pushing the matter before the coming legislature." Judge D. M. Cason was chairman of the meeting and Col. B. D. Hiers, sec A number of short talks were made and everyone seemed heartily in favor of vigorously pushing the matter before the legislature . A committee composed of Messrs. Albex:t Carl ton, A G. Smith, Dr. E Wright, Col. B. D. Hiers, Charlie J. Carlton, H. C. Sparkman and Geo. M. Goolsby was appointed to -''look after the matter and get it in shape to bring, before the legislature." A. G Smith was elected chairman of the committee and B. D. Hiers secretary. The committee collected data, etc on the county and presented this to the legislature. The county commissioners at that time were: B. L Holzendorf, chairman; D. J. Farabee, D. S. Williams and C Keen.


CHAPTER VIII On Tuesday, September lOth, 1907, a meeting of county divisionists was held in the opera house in Wauchula. The gathering was well attended and the following resol ution passed: "Resolved that we are unalterably oppose d to any further expenditure by the county commis sio ners of the county funds in the erection of any new county building s until the matter of county division is settled." E. L. Richardson, of Avon Park, was chairman of the meeting and Francis K. Adams of Punta Gorda, secretary. On March 21st, 1908, a mass meet ing was held in Wauchula for the pur pose of nominating a candidate for representative in the state legislature on the county divi sion pia tform. At ten-thirty in the morni ng the crowd assembled in the hall of the Peace River Hotel building and heard a talk by Hon. Duncan U. F l etcher, who was il'ltroduced by Mayor Elam B. Carlton. In the afternoon the county di visionists held a meeting and a com mittee drew up resolu tions endorsing the candid acy of Col. I. E. Barwick as a candidat e for the state senate from Manatee county Col. Barwi ck was in favor of county division. W. W. Batema n was elected by the assembly as a candidat e for the legis-29 lature as representative. Col. F. A. Whitney, of Punta Gorda, was chairman of the meeting and R ev. J H. Crosby, of Wauchu la, sec retary. It was proposed to divide DeSoto county into three parts, as has been stated, includin g the W auchula, Ar cadia and Punta Gorda sections. Ar cadia was to remain the county seat of DeSoto county and the county 'in which Wauchula was to be the county seat it was proposed to call Seminole county. At this time ther e was no Semino le county in Florida. The sec tion of which Punta Gorda is the cen ter it wa s proposed to call Eden coun ty. It must be remembered that travel was s low in those days, and one of the arguments advanced in favor of countY division was that it required from one to three days for residents of the county to reach Arcadia, depending on the distance they lived f r om the coun ty seat. Another argument the divisionists advanced was that the county tax was then eighteen mills and if the county were divided as proposed the tax would not increase. They claimed they w ere not being given a square deal in the matter o f benefit s from taxati on. T here were twenty-seven schoo l s in the proposed Seminole county, includ ing schools at Avon Park, Popash,


30 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY Wauchula, Bowling Green, Fort Green, Zolfo Springs and other communities. One of the chief arguments of the anti-divisionists was that taxes would be higher if the county were divided. They contended that while the millage was high, the valuation was low. Real estate assessment for the coun ty was at that time $2,580,110 and the assessed valuation of personal prop erty was $706,110. The population as of December 31, 1906, was 12,446 The per capita tax of the county was given as $4. 75. J. H. Brown, who then lived at Zolfo Springs, was a candidate for repre sentative on the anti-division plat form. It was pointed out by some of the candidates that prohibition was an issue, but the county had had prohibi. tion since 189 5, and that was not the issue. Of course, anyone could have whiskey shipped from any of the dis tilleries, but at that time it was "im possible to get good whiskey in the county for medical purposes, let alone for anything else," as one writer put it. The campaign was a bitter one, and on Tuesday, May 19th, 1908, the elec tion was held. The vote was: for sen ator: I. E. Barwick, 821; Joseph H. Humphries, 1214. For representative: W. W. Bateman, 1023; Joseph H. Brown, 1227. And so county division was defeated again. The candidates who ran on the county division platfo r m lost out in Arcadia, Lily, Pine Level, Crews ville, Avon Park, Oak Hill, O'vens, Nocatee and other voting precincts in t he central part of the county. Bowl ing Green and Zolfo Springs likewise gave majorities against county di vision. The advocat e s for division imme diately began to lay plans for the next campaign. However, they did not make a vecy active fight the next year, and the issue was lost again. This time the divisionists apparently lost no ground but gained little. The vote stood: For representative: for county division, W. C. Braddock, 503; against county division, Joseph H. Brown, 661. In 1911 the county commissioners ordered an election, which was held on Tuesday, November 14th of that year. The election was called for the purpose of determining where .the county seat should be located. The Ar cadia and Zolfo Springs districts wanted t he courthouse, and the vote was 1027 to 796 in favor of the county seat remaining a t Arcadia. The cornerstone for the new court house was laid at Arcadia on Friday, May 17th, 1912. The courthouse cost in the neighborhood of $120,000. On Tuesday May 28th, 1912, F. M. Cooper recei ved 1019 votes for the state senate against 885 for J. H. Humphries. 'While the matter of county division was not a main issue in that campai gn, it was generally known that Cooper favored division, and after election the exponents of county division took renewed cou;-ag e. In the primary of June 2nd, 1914, W. C. Langford, candidate for repre sentative on the anti-division platform, won by a majority of about 200 over E. C. Thornhill, who favored county division. Mr. Langford was again successful in 1916, when he defeated S. F. J. Tra bue. The election was held on Tues day, June 13th, and the vote stood: Will C. Langford, 1771. S. F. J. Tra bue, 1054. For state senator, A. M.


HISTORY OF HARDE E COUNTY 31 Wils on received 1693 votes as against 1117 for C. P. Parrish. In 1918 the county division issue was up of course, but this time It was again defeated by a small mar gin. Wilbur W. "Wbitehurst was candidate for the house of representatives on the county division platform and John B. Cochran was his opponent. The county division candidate was defeated by something like 100 majority. Two years later, in 1920, the county divisionists mad e a strong fight and were v ictorious. The election, held on Tuesday, June 8th, 1 920, r esulted in F rank M. Cooper being elected to the senate and E. J. Etheredge to the housl'. Both were county divisi o n candidates. Just here it must be recalled that all during the fourteen years the county division fight had been going on, the county was becoming more prosperous all the time. Settlers came in great n umbers and new communities came into being. Moore Haven, down in the Everglades section of the county, on the southwestern rim of Lake Okeechobee, was thriving; A von Park and Sebring, ove r on the r idge section, were getting their share of newcomers and growing accordingly: Orange grove s were being set out by the hundreds of acres there. Punta Gorda was enjoying its fishing industry and some cattle raising was going on there, too; the W auchula section was growing veg etables and citrus fruits and things were booming gen-erally throughout the county. It wa s deemed best to divide the county into five instead of three parts, as Moore Haven, Avon Park and Sebring would be too far away from the county seats if the three-county plan were carried out. Likewise, the county divisionists wanted the sup p o r t of these communities and they realized this was a plan that appealed to them as being most equitable. Many smaller communities had come into being throughout all this vast section and the populat io n had increased until in 1920 mor e than 3,500 vot ed in the primary election. Thu s it was believed that by dividing the county into four o r five parts instead of three every section would be served to the best advantage.


CHAPTER IX The following were some of the reasons advanced in favor of county division: First, it is the history of all sec tions of this and other states that small counties develop more rapidly than large ones. Second, DeSoto county is amply large enough to divide into five pros perous counties, bringing the affairs of each community closer home and af fording the opportunity to develop the varied industries-agricultural, horti cultural, stock raising and manufac turing-more rapidly in the various sections adaptable for each branch of industry. Third, the entire taxable property will be assessed in small counties where it is impossible for the tax as sesor to get it all in a county cover ing such a vast amount of territory liS DeSoto. Fourth, it is claimed by the anti divisionists that the smaller counties would increase taxation. But we con tend that taxes would not be higher as more assessible property would be placed on the tax books, which would lower the millage. Fifth, if you wish to interview the tax collector you will find that he is so overworked that it is impossible for him to attend to the duties of the office in a satisfactory manner or 32 close his tax books on tinie. This i s a condition that has obtained for a number of years and is not a reftection on the ability of the tax collector. Sixth, the opportunities in small counties for one man or set of men to dictate would be lessened Seventh, the creation of four new counties would give south Florida greater representation in the legisla ture, thus enhancing the opportunity for legislation favorable to this rap idly growing section of the state. Eighth, you will hear the argument that we will have too many officers to pay and that the expense of building court houses and jails would be so great that these small counties could not stand it. But let us see as regards that statement. In the first place, there is but one salaried officer in the county. That is the superintendent. The other officers are working under the fee system, which is making fat jobs for them that they naturally dis like to relinquish. Not many years ago on an assess e d valuati9n of $4,-500,000 Arcadians said they could built and equip a courthouse costing $125,000 and "never feel it." The as sessed valuation of the county in 1919 was $10,352,000. Ninth, take the proposed Highlands county, for instance. The interests are entirely different from those of other


HISTORY OF HARDE E COUNTY 33 sections of the present county. We have thousands and thousands of acres of citrus groves coming into bearing, which will make this one of the richest sections of the state in taxable v alue s Moore Haven has its trucking and general farming indus tries and can easily support a c9unty. Wauchula has its trucking, citrus fruit and genera l farming industries creating taxable values sufficien t to maintain its own county, Punta Gor da has its fishing industries, trucking, stock raising, etc. which will care for that county. Arcadia, we know, is able to care for herself. She admits it. Tenth, It is a well-known fact that those opposing county division are the cattlemen, the abstractors and the politicians. They have waxed rich out of the pickings of this vast county. But should we allow the welfare of the many to be hampered in order to cater to and enrich the few? If it is not a personal matter with the men mention ed, then why are they so bit terly opposed to county division? Why did the anti-divi sionists secretly endeavor to enter into a pact to divide the county east and west near Gard ner and allow Moore Haven a little s.hirt-tail full of and get rid of her? The cattlemen, abstrac tors and politicians wanted to hold the r emainder of this vast territory f o r their own personal gain. The arguments put forth by those opposed to county division likewise were many. They contended that taxes would be increased as the expense of maintaining county officers and erec tion of county buildings would be great. Another p oint was that it would re duce the revenue hotels and boarding hou ses in Arcadia receiv ed during court terms and on other occasions when people in the outlying districts were compelled to visit the county seat. They contended that the county was a great cattl e raising section and that if the county were divi ded the cattle man would be deprived of his rights and that it would c onflict with his in terests. The revenue of county officers would be cut down, they decla r ed, a n d the lawyers and abstract companies would lose business if the county were di vided. They contende d that there would be county line fences and the cattle could not graze except in the confines of the county where they belon ged. The campaign that spring was a hot one, with the lines clearly drawn and the county division to the forefront. County divisio n candidates for the sen ate and house of representatives were: Frank M Cooper, for the senate, and Dr. E. J. Etheredge for the house of representatives. Those against county division brought out John A. Graham for the senate and J. L. Sauls for representative. Those communities voting in favor of the county division candidates in cluded: Avon Park, Charlotte Harbor, Lake Branch, Moore Haven, Punta Gorda, Sebring and Wauchula. Those voting a majority in favor of candidates who were opposed to coun ty division were: Lily, Limestone, Brownville Bowling Green, Zolfo Springs, Gardner, Fort Ogden, Noca t ee, Crewsville, Fort Green, Ona and Arcad ia The vote was close in many pre-


34 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY einets, while in many others one side or the other won in a walk. County d i vision won by a good ma jority, however, Cooper defeating Gra ham by a majority of 779 votes and Etheredge winning over Sauls by 484: The total vote in each precinct was: Avon Park, 209; Lily, 47; Limestone, 48 ; Charlotte Harbor, 53; Brownville, 51; Lake Branch, 53; Bowling Green, 191; Zolfo Springs, 156; Gardner, 83; Fort Ogden, 98; 112; Crews ville, 35; Fort Green, 80; Ona, 107; Moore Haven, 259; Punta 278; Sebring, 172; North Labelle, 52; Ar cadia, 696; and Wauchula, 749. It is interesting to note that Wau chula polled more votes than any other precinct in the county. In Wau chula the vote was:" Cooper, 566; Gra ham, 56; Etheredge, 647; Sauls, 87. A. L. Durrance was re-elected county clerk; Joe L Hampton won the sheriff's race; J. Irvin Walden won for county judge; C A. Crews, tax as sessor; C. P. Hull, tax collector; P. G shaver, county superintendent; S. T. Langford, registration officer; W. R. Gramling, C. H. Mitchell and H. A. Ware won as members of the school board; and J Ed Raulerson, J. G Johnson, James Carlton, Ira Thomp son and J. L. Townsend were e lected county commissioners. Duncan U. Fletcher was elected sen ator; Herbert J. Drane to Congress; and Cary A Hardee governor Immediately after the results of the election became known the citizens of Wauchula began to plan for a mon ster celebration to be called the "vic tory celebration," to be held on July 3rd, the day being Saturday. How ever, about the same time the Com mercial Club of Arcadia was busy making plans to entertain the division-ists at a big picnic a t Arcadia, and so the celebration in Wauchula was called off. On Wednesday, April 20th, at one clock in the afternoon, the news was flashed over the wires from Tallahassee thus: "Allies have captured cen tral powers s e venty-one to nothi ng," which meant that the house had voted 71 to 0 for the division of DeSoto coun ty into five parts, forming the coun-ties of Hardee DeSoto, Charlotte, Highlands and Glades. The news was received with an out burst of acclaim throughout Wau chula and this section generally Church and school bells rang, whistles blew and auto horns blasted out their noisy welcome .to the new counties It is interesting to note here that this county was named in honor of Governor Cary A. Hardee. The di visionists had at first proposed to call this county Seminole but this idea was abandoned when the name Semi nole was given to that section just north of Orlando, which was formed into Seminole county in April, 1913. Sanford was chosen as the county seat. Later it was suggested that this coun ty be called Che r okee Other suggested names were Goolsby county, Wau chula county, etc. but when the act finally was introduced, it was decided that it should be named in honor of the governor. Thus the section around Wauchula became Hardee county. In the division of DeSoto . c otinty, old DeSoto was left the same size as the new county of Hardee, each being five townships in length from east to west and three and one-half town ships from north to south, and each containing 630 square miles. The assessed valuation of property in Hardee county at that time was


HISTORY O F HARDEE COUN T Y 35 $ 2 ,615,141, and that of DeSoto county $2, 851,847. Cha r lotte county had an area o f 778 s q uare miles and an a s sessed value of $ 1,646,777. G lades county contained 736 square mile s a n d had an assessed valua t ion of $ 1 449,906. Highlands county co ntained 1,0 1 6 square miles and had a n asse ssed val uation of $2, 0 56,027 The population of the five count ies was e stimated a s follows : Hardee, 8,755; DeSoto 9,180; Charlotte 5 54 1 ; Highl a nds, 6,210 ; G la d es, 5,541. Hardee c ounty was quite a lusty y o u n g s ter. There we r e t h irtee n c o un t ies in the state with a smaller area and ten with appro x i mately the same area. There were twe lv e c ounties with less assessed valuat i on a nd two with a bou t the same Harde e county was l a r g e r than any o f the f ollowing counties : Baker Bradf ord, Citrus, Clay, Gadsd en, Ham ilton Hernando, Holmes, J e ffe rso n Pinellas, S e min ole, Sumte r and Wa u kulla. It was app r oximatel y the sam e s i z e as t h e followin g coun t ies: Bay, B ro ward Escambi a Franklin, L eon Liberty, Madi son, Nassau, Suwan nee and Washington Hardee county included the truck ing center of old DeSoto and was one of the mo s t p r osperous and rapi dly dev elo p ing c o u n t ies i n the state. The count y contained litt l e swamp l and and no prairie land, with most o f the land pine timbe r land s uitab le for de v e l op ing into o range and grapefruit groves truck farms and stockraisi n g c o m munities. The towns i n cluded in the county were: Wauchula, B owling G ree n, Z ol f o Springs, M o ffitt Buchanan, Gard n e r Fort Green Fort Gree n Spri ngs, Vand o lah, Ona, Brid g es, Limestone, Lily, Castalia, C r ew sville and S weet water. Wauchula was n a med a s t h e temporary county seat of Hardee county, Sebring the t e mporary coont y s eat of H ig hlands, Moor e Have n of Glad e s a n d Punta Gorda of Cha rlo tte county. The board o f c o unty comm iss ioner s of the newly f o rmed Hardee county h eld t h e first meeting on M o n day, May 16th, 1 921, in the office of the Peace River Land Company, with Dr. Y E . Wright acting a s chairman. Littl e business was trans acte d e xcept ap p roving bonds of the d ifferent county officers. The next meeti n g was h e l d on Mon day, M a y 23rd, and the m os t impor t a n t busi ness transacted then was the leasing of the sec ond floor of the Bank of Wau chula Building to be used a s county offices. This was used as county headquarters until the ne w courthouse was o ccu pied i n 1927 A t thi s meeting there w as presen t Com m iss i o ners Y E. Wright, S. F. D u .rrance, William Cli ett, and D. L H all. All these men were appoin ted as county com missi o n e r s w hen the n e w county w a s formed. Lee M H a mme l was cou nty j u d g e G. M. Hardee cle r k, J ohn P oucher sheriff, all o f Wauc h u la; S. A. Carl t on, of B o wling Green, tax coll e ctor; H enry G Murp h y of Zolfo Springs, tax asses sor; W: R. Gram lin g o f Fort G reen superintendent o f public In struction; J L. T o wn send, o f W a u chula, superviso r of registration; and W. R. M inor, B owling Green, S. B Ho gan, Wauchula, and H K. Still, Crews ville, members o f .the coun t y school boar d. I t i s in t eresting to note that C hester


86 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY S. Dishong, of Wauchula, was named sheriff of Highlands county. However, he was not kindly received by the people in that county b ecause he did n'ot live in that county, and not wishing to force himself upon the people of Highlands county, he resigned and re turned to Wauchula. There were many efforts put forth to have the county seat established at Bowling Green, Wauchula and Z olfo Springs, each wanting to be selected for the count ysite. An election was called f o r D ecem b e r 23, 1921,, but an injun ction was filed against havin g the election and it was postponed one week to hear the injunction argued. The election was held on December 30, 1921. I t was a rather one:a i ded af fair, with Wauchula getting 1,030 votes and Zolfo Springs 69. For some reason, the pol ls did not ope n at Lime stone, Lily, Gardner, a nd Sweetwater, but the vote there was not sufficiently large to alter the r esults. Thus Wauchula became the county seat of the new c ounty. It was not until some years later that a new courthouse and jail was e r ected in the town and road bond issu es were put through resulting in many miles of hard-surface d roads bein g built into all sections of the county


CHAPTER X When Hardee county was formed in 1921 it was vastly different from w:pat it was twenty years prior to that. This development, steady and substantial, reads like an empire builders' dreamand empire were just what some of those early settlers were. They briilded well, invested wisely, boosted untiringly. And out of the thinly settled country where pine and oak and cypress trees grew and pal mettoes bordered the ponds and creeks, came a county of wealth and prosperity, and a people happy and contented. Let us trace briefly the development step by step, during those twenty years prior to the forming of Hardee county. Then we shall be more able to understand the growth of the county after it was cut off from DeSoto . In the fall of 1903 a seedless orange was found in Albert Carlton's grove west of Wauchula which later became quite well-known as Carlton's seedless orange. The tree which bore the fruit was a seedling and of more than fifty oranges examined the first year, only two of them contained a seed, and they had only one seed each. The fruit was of medium size, almost perfectly round, with a thin velvety skin. The pulp was of a deep yellow color and the fruit was sweet and of exquisite flavor. The discovery was first made in October, 1908, and immediately after that the fame of this orange began to spread. The fruit was classed as "Fancy Golden Bright," commercially, and the tree from which it came was a enty-five year old tree in a grove of 950 others. The tree yielded fifteen box.es of fruit in 1903. Some years later the orange was sent to the Bu reau of Plant Industry of the U. S. Government and was declared to be a "very fine orange and one of excel lent flavor and quality." The orange was widely distributed by a nursery and became quite well known. One of the biggest industries ever to come to Hardee county was that of the Wauchula Manufacturing com pany, which was later taken over by the Wauchula Development company. Perhaps no single industry ever re sulted in bringing in as many settlers as this did, and much of the early de velopment of the county is owed to this concern, as we shall see by a 37 brief review of its activities. On Monday, April 22, 1904, a meet ing was held in Wauchula and at that . time Messrs. Eugene Holtsinger, R. J. Hodgson, A. G. Smith, A. B. Town send, E. F. Bostick, Harry Stansfield, Dr. J. M. Beeson, and I. C. Smith met and perfected plans for putting in a crate factory here. The following officers were elected: A. B. Town-


88 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY send, president ; Eugene Holtsinger, vice-president; A G. Smith, treas urer; 1.. C. Smith, secretary, and R. J; Hodgson, manager. The mill was erecte d about one mile south of the town o f Wauchula and operation began in September, 1904. On March 22, 1907, a company was formed to take over the plant of the Wauchula Manufacturin g Company and the land owned by Eugene Holt singe r and his asso ciates, amounting to something like 27,000 acres. The company put in an ice plant at once, the first ice manufactured in Wauchula being turned out early in November, 1907. Some interesting data on the pub lic sch ools of this section is g iven in the bienn ial r eport of the state super i ntendent of public instruction for the years ending June SO, 1910. There were at that tim e three senior high schools in the county, a t Wau chula, Arcadia and Punta Gorda. These were open eight months of the year to any pupil who could enter the seventh grade. W au chul a bad the largest enrollment There were junior high schools at Nocatee and Bowling Green. All schools in the county were open five months, and the senior hi g h schools eight months. A number of schools h ad six and seven months through special tax funds. On August 5, 1912, the Wauchula Manufacturing and Timber company was granted a franchise to furnish electric lights for Wauchula, this b eing the first electric light plant in the town of Wauchula and incidentally the forerunner of the modern mu nicipal light and power plant of to day. The Wauchula Manufacturing and Timber company mill was operated by J. L. Clos e as manager. It manufac tured box es, crates, etc. and operated extensively for som e years, the firm having some 64,000 acres of l a nd and timber under CQntrol. After Mr Close's death the mill was operated by J. A. Caldwell and Geo. S. Wil liams. Later, the Wauchula Development company was organized with the prin cipal stockholder s of the Wauchula Manufacturing and Timber company, with the addition of W. 0. Gandy, or ganizer. This was in 1911. The com pany began preparations, surveys and experim ent s at once and immediately thereafter put on an exten sive adver tising campaign. Land sales began the latter part of 1912 and the com pany sold some 20,000 acres of land in 1912, 19 13 and 191 4. The company spen t thousands of dollars in advertising and in 1913 an d 1914 started the town of V andolah, severa l miles directly west of Wau chula, on the Charlotte Harbor and Northern R a i I road, which came thr ough that section in 1 9 1 2. The rail road was built through the western part of the county, touching Fort Green, Fort G reen Sp r ings, Vandolah, Ona, Limestone, then into Arcadia, where i t connected with the Atlantic Coast Line rail road. 'l'he road extend ed to Bradley Junctio n and from there into Plant City, serving the phosphate region betw ee n Fort Green and Plant City This road is in operation today and is a valuable asset to Harde e county. It is a bran c h of the Seaboard Air Line railway. The Wauchula Manufacturin g and Timber company had several short railroads extending both east and west


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 39 from Wauchula which were used to haul timber to the mill. Later these were abandoned. On February 6, 19 17 the Wauchula De velopment company took over the Wauchula Manufacturing and Timber company and immediately after this the mill and all other properties of the Wauchula Manufacturing and Tim ber companies were operated by the Wauchula Development company until the mill was destroyed by fire on Sep tember 18, 1924. The mill had pre viously been destroyed by fire, in 1914, but was rebuilt on a larger scale. From February 6, 19. 17 the com pany was under the control of J. W. Wright, of Dallas, Texas, who died early in 1929. In addition to manu facturing crates, boxes, baskets, etc. the company also manufactured lum ber and shipped millions of feet to the government during the war to be used in the construction of camps, etc. The company also shipped crossties. The plant was greatly enlarged and at one time the volume of business amounted to $1,200,000 a year. It is estimated that 1,000settlers were brought to this county by this concern alone, through it's extensive advertis ing campaign. Sales extended to South America, Central America, South Af rica, Europe, and throughout the Unit ed States. The company is now inactive and non -operative though it still controls some 25,000 acres of land in the coun ty. H. B. Rainey has been vice-presi dent and general manager since 1915. Getting back to the development of roads and bridges in this part of the county, we find that between Novem ber 1915 and March 1916, twenty-five new concrete bridges were erected in the Wauchula district of the county, which comprised commissioner dis trict number one. These bridges were erected at a cost of approximately $26,000, out of a bond issue of $30,000 voted for that purpose. This district included Bowling Green, Fort Green, Ona, Wauchula, and several other communities and bridges were built as follows: Bridges number 18 and 19 were built east of Wauchula on the road leading to Peace River. Two bridges on the Ona road just west of Wauchula, (the one just west of town having been replaced by a larger bridge son:e years ago). Bridge number 0 crosses Trouble some Creek halfway between Wau chula and Ona. About half a miie west of Ona bridge number 11 crosses Ona creek. Bridge number 18 crosses Horse creek on the Bradenton road west of On a. Bridge number 15 is at Payne's creek and has a sixty foot span and a grand arch. Little Payne's creek is spanned by the longest of the bridges, being 107 feet long. This is bridge number 13. On a spur road running west from the Wauchula and Bowling Green highway two bridges were built, these being numbers 20 and 21. Hog branch bridge is number 12 while on the Dixie Highway between Wauchula aud Zolfo Springs there are three bridges, numbers 4, 5 and 6. On the road running south from the convict camp west of Wauchula are two other bridges, these being num bers 8 and 9. Many of these bridges stand today and one will find upon them a bronze tablet bearing the names of the coun-


40 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY ty commissioners, the bridge construetion company, and those connected with the work. The arched spans per mit a large volume of water to under the bridge and in the many years since the bridges were built they have proven very useful as well as substantial. Many roads have more recently been built in the sections these bridges serve, but in many instances the bridges r emain as they were, still as good as the day they were opened to traffic. In some cases the bridges have been replaced by larger and wider structures, but on lesser traveled roads the bridges built in 1916 are still wide enough to ac commodate traffic. L. W. Whitehurst was county com missioner in this district at the time these bridges were built.


CHAPTER XI A history of Hardee county would not be complete without at least a brief sketch of the activities, not only of those able to bear arms, but also of the men and women who gave so free ly of their time and money duril'\g the trouble with Mexico in 1916 and es. pecially in the stirring days of 1917 and 1918, when practically the entire world was engaged in confiict. When the first call for troops to go to the Mexican border was sent out in the spring of 1916, the young men of this s ection responded nobly. Even before the World War began on August 4, 1914, a company was or ganized in Wauchula. Of course, no one foresees the events of the next few years, but they saw the need of preparedness. Acco.rdingly, on Monday night, July 6, 1914, the Wauchula Military com pany of the National Guards of Florida was mustered in. Captain V. B. Callians, of Plant City, now adjutant of Florida, and Captain A. E. Free man, of Fort Green, were the officers in charge. The following is the muster roll: Captain, J. F. Stewart, First Lieu tenant M. B. Deeson, Second Lieuten ant W. L. Pace, A. Bainbridge, R. D. Boston, H. L. Bracey, J. 0. Bethea, W. A. Bateman, J. B. Bird, J. M. Butler, F. Chambless, G. C hambless, H. P. Chancey, E. J. Chadwick, E. B. Ches-41 ney, D. A. Campbell, B. Collier, C. S. Dishong, W. L. Draughon, J. H. Dunn, H. Driggers, H. Edwards, H. L. Quar teman, C. L. Gibbs, S. H. Giesy, S. M. Grainger, R. Ham, W. H. Harlan, C. M. Hendry, R. W. Hartman, R. F. Hous ton, J. C. Hollis, W. C. Hogan, C. 0. Aspinwall, W. 0. Edmondson, W. D. Sinquefield, P. M. Jenkins, R. Lang ston, D. J. Long, H. C. Maddox, C. Morris, C. A. Mercer, L. E. McLeod, P. C. Niergarth; C. C. Poole, C. A. Ross, H. W. Shaver, H. W. Schaefer, J. M. Siminons, J. S. Simmons, R. L. Shaw, H. L. Smith, C. C. Smith, J. B. Thom as, C. M. Turman, s : T. Turton, j, Walsh, M. Webb, J. K. Williams, C. Webb, L. L. Warren, G. B. Langford, W. D. Bragdon, W. M. Altman, A. D. Nedine, F. Southerland, J. F. Hurst. Fifteen men from Zolfo Springs joined the company, this making the sixty-three, the number necessary to make a full company. The company later became known as the Wauchula Rifles, and on Wed nesday evening, June 21, 1916, the company left for Black Point, near Jackson vil le. From there it was trans ferred to Laredo, Texas, on account of trouble with Mexico. The call for state troops was re ceived on Monday, June 19, 1916 and Wauchula being the home of Col. A. H. Blanding, colonel of the Second Regiment, Wauchula was made head-


42 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY quarters for the mobilization of the regiment. On the first call for troops, Col. Blanding, Dr. H. E Cline, who went as assistant surgeon and held the rank of First Lieutenant, and sixty-eight men volunteered The complete roster of the company leaving Wauchula on Wednesday, June 21, is as follows: Captain C. S. Dishong; First Lieu tenant Samuel H. Giesy; Second Lieu tenant W. M Altman; First Sergeant W. L. Draughon; Quartermaster Ser geant J S. Simmons; Sergeants J B Bird, R. F. Houston, E. A. Chandler; Corporals D. J. Long, H. W Shaver, M. C. Bryan, S. M Grainger, J. W. Farr, Frank Chambless; Artisan E. E. t.ewis. Privates, John Ansley, John Barker, Joe Chambless, N. B. Connor, James Driggers, B. M. Farr, William H Harlan, Sam Hines, Joe Keene S. B. Mc Call, C S Morris Jock O'Bryant, Har"iy Pillan, C. Thomas, Earl Sams, A S. l'iladdox, E. V. Sherman, E. B. Frazier, R. A Clark, A J. Randall, R. W Simms, C. W. Quigley, T L Boat, wright, John Buchanan, J 0. Bethea, T. Collier, W. D. Collins, Jack Dunn, L. Futral, J. R. Hines, J E Hay, Jess Lambert, L. E. McLeod, C. L. Nettles, W. P. Flyler, Jim Simmons, Lex L. Warren, C. Whidden, S. P. Cox, E. M. D M. Ayres, K. R. Harries, L. D. Lawhon, J. R Orr, C. W. Caldwell, Dewey Montgomery, M C Whitehurst, R. V. Hightower, and Ralph Blood worth. The following men joined the com pany enroute to Jacksonville : Ser geant C A Barker, Jess E lmore, Lat imer C. Farr, Roy Evers, S. B Turton, and T. Hoyt Carlton. Musicians were: E. Southerland and P. Cassi dy. Cooks were A. ',('. Parks and J. E. Cox. The company left Laredo, Texas on Friday morning Ma r ch 9, 1917, and came back to Black Point. The men arrived in Wauchula on Sunday morning, March 18, 1917, and in less than three weeks the United States de clared war with Germany, on April 6, 1917. Company "F" was Federalized on Sunday, August 5, 1917 and became a part of the U S. Army. It was Com pany "F" of the 124th Infantry of the 31st Division, known as the Dixie Di vi s ion and made up of troops from Florida, Georgia and Alabama This company was encamped at Camp Wheeler, near Macon, Ga. Here the privates were transferred to France while the officers remained in Camp Wheeler to train others. Later they were given a third detachment of men to train and with this body were sent to France. On Wednesday, September 19, 1917, forty-seven DeSoto county boys left Wauchula for Camp Jackson, Colum bia, S. C., where they entered the serv ice. Those leaving on that, date were: from Wauchula: W E. Bratcher, Ru pert L Carlton, Murray C. White hurst, J. G. Hill, Arthur T. Mathis; from Zolfo Springs, Samuel D. Carl ton Thad C Taylor, T. J. Scarbor ough, Lonnie W. Henderson; from Bowling Green, Wayman H. Howard, Wayne Ragan, James R. Hick s George F. Hays, J Albert Hays; from Ona, Clovis Mathiew, Joseph B. Clark; Liiy, Delos Albritton; B r ownville, Thomas A Rowell; Fort Green, Reuben Chan cey; Gardner, John Thomas Williams. Too much praise cannot be given those brave boys who so gallantly


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 43 fought on the battlefields of France, in the Argonne Forest, in Bellau Woods, and at Chateau-Thierry. When the Florida soldiers reached France they were widely scattered and saw action at many places along the front. Several of them lost their lives in action, while others died of wounds or disease. Through the Herger Williams Post No. 2 of the American Legion, we are able to give a nearly complete roster of those from this section who saw service. Perhaps there have been one or two names overlooked, but this is as near an accurate record as can had. Those who saw service in the World War either in France, American training camps, or in schools, include: from Wauchula; Paul Boree, F. W. Brown, Ralph Bloodworth, Ceylon R. Bostick, John B. Bird, C A. Barker, Finis Crews, Horace Crews, W. E. Coch rane, A. F Close, F. A. Chambless, T. Hoyt Carlton, W. P. Davis, James A. Ensley, Jerald W. Farr, Latimer C. Farr, B. M. Farr, Charles D. Frazier, Rupert Carlton, W. W. Gillette, Dr. J. E. Garner, George Gillette, Don Had sell, W. I. Hampton, Max Hardee, Carl Hanna, W. H. Harlan, Dr. M. C. Kayton, Jess Lambert, DuPont Long, Roy W. Lamb, Gordon B. Langford, Howard A. McRae, F. M. Morris, H. C. Mathis, Berkley J. Norris, W. E. Pierce, W. H. Ratliff, John B. Rooney, Grady H. Revell, J. M. Richardson, Frank H. Simrr.ons, Leon F. Singletary, AI. G. Smith, Scott G. Smith, W. J. See, W. A. Spivey, H. A. Yetter, E. K Walker, Jr., Fred Whidden, Herger Williams, Lester Williams, Leslie Wadsworth, C. M. Hendry, Bishop M. Sauls, J. M. Simmons, C. S. Dishong, Joe Williams, W. M. Griffin, W. D. Wilson, Earl D. Farr, M. R. Haister, W. A. Bateman, Ord Hall, Dale Hall, C. C. Skipper, Murray Green, H. C. Maddox, J. M. McRae, M. L. Benton, Guy Cha mbl ess, R. C. Boney, George Duncan, Tom Col lier, Clarence Carlton, T. F.i. Williams, Lillington Tew, H. J. Bennett, Sam Hines, Sam F. Bernard, M. C. Whitehurst, Gilbert McGeehee, Herman C. Schenck, R. W. Redding, Mal Altman, W. M. Moore, O'Dell McGuire, Hiram McCrory, Grady Burch, Willie Mitch ell, D. L. Southerland, Houston Hogan and Joe Herring. From Bowling Green: Lynn Boatwright, Frank H. Bryant, Jame s K. Cox, Mitchell Durrance, Wayman H. Howard, Robert M. Keene, Joe Keene, E. F. Moseley, George Rosin, Ollie Roberts, Clyde T. Ratliff, J. D. Jackson, George P. Daurelle, Clifford Blackburn, Alfred Maddox Bryan and J. R. Orr. From Zolfo Springs: L. A. Barwick, George R. Barwick, W. J. Flowers. Fred Gilbert, of Fort Green Springs; and Joseph P. Clark, of Gardner. Several of the above named los t their lives in the service. Herger Williams and J. L. Orr were killed at Cha teau-Thierry in September, 1917; Alfred Maddox Bryan died in France; Joe Herring was killed in battle; Grady Burch died and was buried at sea; and Willie Mitchell died at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and was buried at Wau chula. The body of Herger Williams was returned home and buried at Oak G rove, while Alfred Maddox Bryan was buried at Orlando, Florida. I n addition to offering their sons and brothers into the service of their country, the people of this section gave


44 HISTORY oF HARDEE COUNTY liberally to the nation's cause by buy ing Liberty Bonds and in other ways. In one drive in which this county's quota was five thousand dollars, more than six thousand was raised. In other drives ci! this kind they did equally as well. The people of Wauchula subscribed more than two hundred per cent of their quota When the war ended on November 11, 1918, dozens of boys from this im mediate vicinity were doing their bit in France, while others were in training camps awaiting orders to go. Most of them did not reach their homes until the spring of 1919, several months after the war ended. One of those who received perhaps more honors than any soldier from South Florida was George P. Daurelle, of Bowling Green . Mr Daure lle was awarded three medals, the presentation being made on Friday, August 8, 1919, when a special ceremony was held at Bowling Green. One medal was the French Croix de Guerre, con ferred by the French government for bravery on the fields of France. Another was a medal for distin guished service in Mexico in 1916, and the third was a good conduct medal from tlie United &tates. He also received a citation from the French government for great heroism. Before the presentation, wh ich was made by Captain Colocre sses, and Sergeants Wheeler and Long, Mr. Daurelle already had four decorations, a M exican campaign bar, a Haitian campaign bar, a Haitian medal and a sharpshooter's badge.


CHAPTER XII After the World War, development of this section was resumed on a big ger and steadier scale than ever. be fore. Roads were built, new settlers came, land was cleared, homes erect ed, and things generally became more prosperous. The more than one hundred service men who returned to their homes from the war in 1919 furnished an added impetus and for the next five or six years the county was destined to en joy a most remarkable growth. In the spring of 1919 the Wauchula truckers marketed the biggest crop of vegetables they had yet sent to market. From twelve to twenty-seven carloads of vegetables were shipped daily duririg the rush of the season and approximately one million dollars was returned to growers as a result of the vegetable crop alone. In addition to this, Wauchula shipped out over 125,000 boxes of oranges and grapefruit, which was es timated to have brought growers $2.50 net on the trees, making more than $300,000 realized from citrus fruits. Over three hundred carloads of vegetables were shipped out that year, and from $1.50 to $6.50 a crate was paid growers for cucumbers, this being one of the main crops. Toma toes, watermelons and other 45 were shipped and each brought good prices. It was by far the most successful season the Wauchula section had ever experienced ant;!, while most of the crop in this section was marketed at Wauchula, some shipments were also. made from Bowling Green, Zolfo Springs, and other points. In addition to the citrus and vege tables marketed, that season saw a large number of cattle sold, as the county still had free range and con tained some of the largest herds of cattle in Florida. The breeding of fine cattle had not been undertaken, yet the range cattle brought in a neat sum each year. Hog raising was also indulged in by many and the income from this meant a great deal to the community and this part of the county. Other industries included turpen tine and lumber manufacturing. In July, 1919, the State Road De partment appropriated the sum of $125,000 for the construction of State Road No. 2 between Wauchula and Bowling Green. This was part of the Dixie Highway and was and still is one of the important links in the high way which stretches from Fort :My ers north to the Georgia line, where it then leads to Macon and Atlanta. Not only did this road serve to bring


46 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY the towns of Wauchula and Bowling Green closer together, but it was an important artery of travel. The r o a d was first built of brick, and it was nine feet wide. After s ome use, it became very rough in spots and travel over it wa s disagreeable until some years later when it was widened and rebuilt into the fine highway it i s today. After county division on April 21, 1921, when this part of DeSoto county became Hardee, more settlers came and growth of this section seemed to begin anew. Road s were built, homes, churches and schools were built, clubs and societi es organized, and the county progressed. The Wauchula section had become quite well known throughout the state through a constant stream of publicity. The larger papers throughout the state frequentl y carried news stories about this section and what i t was doing in the way of producing winter vegetables, citrus fruit, and about its growth and prosperity. Newspapers in the county, at Wauchula and Zolfo Springs, did much to h elp spread the gospel of Hardee county and it was through the efforts of those whose business it was to operate these papers that the newly-formed county had already been quite well known. Representatives of some of the larger papers in the state visited the county and sent stories abou t it to their papers. These stories were glowing accounts of how farmers here were reaping rich harvests in the Peace River Valley secti o n, whe r e a "com bination soil" enabled them to pro duce citrus fruits and winter vege tables on the same land. This publicity, both by local papers and other papers and magazines, bad a great deal to do with making this section become one of the best known in Florida and throughout the country.-The Wauchula Manufacturing and Timber Company, the Wauchula Development Company, and other large and small companies doing business in this section also sent out much publicity matter, while local citizens told relatives and friends in other states of the splendid section they had found town in South Florida. One o f the biggest events immeaiately after. county division the meeting of the Florida State Swine Growers Association, held in Wauchula on Wednesday and Thursday, July 20 and 21, 1921. Thousands of visitors from all over the state attended, including Governor Cary A. Hardee, after whom the new county had been named. Governor Hardee spoke at the meeting on Thursday. Other events included fish fry. barbecue dinner, speaking and a big hog sale which attracted many buyers and saw some fin e stock change hands. The first election of county officers was held on Novembe r 7, 1922, at the time of the general election and the following officers were elected to suc ceed those appointed when the county was formed in 1921: Senator, E. J. Etheredge; representative, S. D Williams; county judge, Frank E. Connor; sheriff, Ches ter S. Dishong; clerk, circuit court, S. W. Conroy; county superintendent o f public instruction, J. B. Rooney; tax assessor, John C. McEwen; tax col lector, Lloyd J. Carlton; registration officer, Mrs. E. L. Registe r. The county commissioner s were:


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 47 William Cliett, district 1; W B. Bee son, district 2 ; J. Ed Raulerson, dis trict 3; D. L. Hall ,district 4, and S. F. Durrance, district 5. Members of the school board were: W. R. Minor, in district 1; S B. Ho gan, in district 2, and H. K Still i n district 3. The newly elected officers took office on Monday, November 27, 1922. After repeated delays, the board of county commissioners held a good roads bond election on Tuesday, De cember 19, 1922. The election was for one million dollars' worth of bonds t o construct approximately ninety-five miles of roads throughout the county. The election lo s t by approximately two to one, the vote being: for bonds, 611; against bonds, 1,049. One year after the f\rst bond elec tion for a county-wide system of hard roads was held, a second election took place. This was held on Tuesday, De cember 18, 1923, and 1 esulted in the issue carrying by about two to one. The vote was 435 for bonds and 229 against. The b onds voted amounted to $850,-000 and this, with the amount spent about t h e same time by the State Road Department on State Road No. 2, to taled well over one million dollars, nearer a million and a quarter. At the time the electio n was held the State Road Department was re bu ilding the Dixie Highway (No. 2) from Bowling Green on t he north to the county line on the south. In the fourteen voting precincts of the county, nine of them gave a ma jority for the bonds, four of them gave a majority against bonds, and one gave a tie vote. Bowling Green, Fort Green, Sweetwater and Gardner gave a majority against the bonds, while the four precincts in Wauchula and those at Popash, Zolfo Springs, Ona, Limestone and Lily gave ma jorities in favor of the bonds. A t Lake Branch, five votes were cast for bonds and five against them. The vote was much smaller than had been expected, because only freehold ers were allowed to vote, many had not paid their poll"taxes, some had not paid their real estate taxes, and oth ers took no interest in the matter. The roads included in this bond issue are outlined below, in the ext:erp t s taken from the resolution unde r which the bond issue was submitted to the public : J:toad number 1, running from Ona, easterly through .wauchula. and to the Highlands county line, to be built nine feet wide to road leading to W J. Williams, J. G Durrance and J. L. Sauls; fifteen feet wide from there to a point eleven miles ea.st of Peace riv er, and nine feet wide from there to the Highlands county lin e, to cost $330,000. Road number 2, from Oak street in the city of Wauchula, northerly and easterly for a distance of two miles; costing $18,000. Road number 3, from a point two miles east of Bowling Green, through Bowling Green and in a westerly direction to Fort Green, costing $99,-000. Road number 4, from Ab W Carlton' s corner running in a westerly di rection for a distance of two miles; costing $18,000 Road number 5, from intersection of W. J Williams, J. G. Durrance and J. L. Sauls corner with Wauchula-Ona road in a southerly direction for a dis tance of two miles; costing $18,000 Road number 6, from Ona station


48 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY on the C. H. & N. railway to Lily by way of Limestone a distance of twelve and three-fourths miles; costing $110,500. R oad number 7, from Zolfo Springs, easterly towards Crewsville; c osting $73,000. Road number 8, beginning at the Dixie Highway a t Moffit t and running easterly toward Friendship; costing $9,000. Road number 9, from the Dixie Highway at Buchanan and running easterly to the Sweetwa ter settlement, appr oximately four miles; costing. $36,000. Road number 10, fro m the Dixie Highway at Gardner and running easterly a d istance of three miles; c .osting $27,000. : Road number 1 2, from the top of the hill jus t east of Peace river on .the Wauchula-Avon Park road and running in a southeasterly direction to the Zolfo SpringsAvon Park road near the Popash school; costing $22,-5UO. Road number 13, beginning one fourth mile north of brick pavement on road between Wauchula and Hog Branch and running westerly one mile and then northerly o.ne mile; costing $18,000. Road number 14, beginning at Peace river bridge on Dixie Highway be tween Wauchula and Zolfo Springs a n d running westerly on the Zol fo Springs-Ona road two miles; costing $ 1 7,000 . Road number 15, beginning at Fort Green Springs and running easterly toward Wauchula a distance of three miles; costing $27,000. Road number 16, beginning at Ona and running westerly to Manatee coun ty line; costing $27,000. The bond issue meant a great deal to the county, as it included roads ex tending into all sections of the county and serving aU commun i ties. Most of the roads outlined above were built of asphalt, with lime rock base. Road number 16 and o ne or two others were of sand-clay construction.


CHAPTER XIII The $860,000 bond issue voted for good roads in Hardee county was sold on Monday, February 11, 1924 Breed-Elliott & Harrison, J. C. Mayer & Company, and Blanchet Thornberg and Vandersal! at a premium. The price paid was $103.65 or $880,175 for the total issue. There were seven bids received. Work on the ninety-five miles of good roads began on Thursday, April 10, 1924 when W. B. Beeson, chairman of the board of county commis sioners, threw the first shovelful of dirt on the Wauchula-Avon Park road just west of Peace river. This road was widened from a nine-foot brick road to an eightee n-foot road. The contract was awarded to the William P. McDonald Construction Company, of Lakeland. The work of building Hardee county's road system was not completed until 1928, after a supplementary bond iss ue of $120,000 was put through on May 1, 1925. A bond issue of $225,000 in Road and Bridge District No. 2 was passed on June 1, 1925, to build the WauchulaParrish highway, one of the most important roads in the splendid hig hway system. On November 2, 1925, two supplemental issues were put through, con sisting of $40,000, and on May 1, 1927, a final road bond issue of $50,000 was put through. The various road bond issues were supplemented by issues in the several districts and when the highway system was finally completed in 1927, Hardee county contained than one hundred and fifty miles of hardsurfaced roads and over three hundred miles of graded roads serving every section of the county Two important road projects not mentioned in the above building pro gran: in clude the county line highway beginning just north of Bowling Green and extending in an easterly di rection along the Hardee-Polk county line. This road is four miles long and serves a rich agricultural section. The highway extending east from Zolfo Springs was another. It is about teen in length and reaches to the Highlands county line on the east, just beyond Charley Apopka creek. This is also a splendid hard-surfaced highway and serves a rich farming area. The State Road Department, in 1927, completed work of building the Dixie Highway between Zolfo Springs and Gardner. This road runs along the west side of the Atlantic Coast Line railroad instead of along the east side, as the old road did. The road was also improved between 4!)


50 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY Zolfo Springs and Bowling Green, and numerous bridges were put in along the route through Hardee county, so that this became one of the best roads in the county. Innumerable roads are to be found in all parts of the county, and every community is served either by a splendid paved highway or a good graded road. The county has a force of convicts, and these are kept at work on the roads of the county, thus insuring safe and convenient passage at all times. At the election held on Tuesday, June 8, 1924 the following officers were chosen in Hardee county: For state senator, E. J. Etheredge; for representative, Joseph Crews. For county judge, Frank E. Connor; for sheriff, C S Dishong; for county s uperintendent, John B. Rooney; for tax ass essor, John C McEwen; for tax collector, Lloyd J. Carlton. l'vlr. Con nor declined to serve as judge and H D Garrison was named for that office. For county commissioners: William Cliett, district one; W. B. Beeson, di s trict two; J . Ed Raulerson, distr ict three; D L Hall, district four; S. F. Durrance, district five Members of the school board were S. B. Hogan, Wm Timmerman, and E. R. Shackleford. On the n ight of Wednesday, Sep tember 17, 1924, fire completely de str oyed the Wauchula crate mill, one of the largest and most important con cerns in the county. The fire started shortly after eight o'clock and spread so rapidly that in a few minutes it covered the more than four hundred and fifty fee t of build ings and every effort to check the flames was unavailing. That part destroyed consisted of the crate mill, saw mill and lumber yard, covering buildings four hundred and fifty feet long by eighty feet wide. The ice plant, ware rooms, machine shop, supply house, office, employees' houses and commissary were saved. More than a million feet of lumber was destroyed by the flames The mill was in operation about twelve years, replacing a smaller mill built along about 1904 The plant was one of the largest in the South and possibly the larg_est in Florida. It em ployed f rom three to four hundred people during the rush season and the payroll amounted to approximately ten thousand dollars every two weeks It was one of the g reatest industries thus far established in the county and the loss was keenly felt. The plant was owned by the Wau chula Development Company. The late J W. Wright, of Dallas, Texas, was president, and Homa B. Rainey, of Wauchula, general manager. J. A. Mc Innis, of Wauchula, was active plant n:anager. There was some talk of rebuilding the mill, but thi s was never done On October 3, 1924, the county com missioners let the -contract for con struction of the county jail to W C Robertson, of Bartow, for the sum of $36,510. The jail, designed by H G. Little, Wauchula architect, was erected on the east side of the Jot for which the sum of $50,000 in bonds was voted on July 2, 1928, to purchase the Jot and build the jail. The new jail, two stories and of re inforc e d concrete c on s t r u c t ion throughout, blended with the new courthouse which was to be erected later. The jail measures 37 by 52 feet


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 51 and has a capacity for forty prisoners. It is trimmed with brick and stone and is roomy, convenient and substantial. It is said to be one of the most mod ern and complete jails in the South. 1\ieanwhile, the county was enjoying its share of the real estate boom. New subdivisions were being put on the market almost weekly and hundreds of people were coming to make their homes here. Cities and towns enjoyed unprecedented growth and property changed hands rapidly. The beginning or" the real estate boom as far as Hardee county is con cerned, may be traced to the summer of 1924, when Harry E. Prettyman, developer, located here. It must be said in fairness to Mr. Prettyman that, had the people followed his ad vice, they would have enjoyed a great er prosperity from the boom. He urged that the price of real estate and other property be kept within reason and that all offered for sale be at a nominal figure. But the general public could not see things that way. When a man bought a piece o f property, he immediately offered it for sale at a good profit, a larger profit, in fact, than he should have expected. If the property finally was sold at the high price asked, often it reverted back to the original owner. In case it didn't, the buyer was not entirely satisfied. If a man bought property for ten thousand, the first time he offered it for sale, the price would be at least fifteen thousand, perhaps twenty. Lots that in Wauchula twenty years previous had sold for four and five dollars each, brought as high as one thousand dollars a front foot during the boom days of 1924 and 1925. .Mr. Prettyman was followed by Har-ry Leaberry, and other realtors and land agents who otrered anything they could list at prices far above what anyone should have been expected to pay. However, the land boom continued until well along in 1927, when the real estate men, of whom had come in from the north only a few JllOnths before, silently closed their offices and stole away, leaving their land unsold and perhaps the taxes unpaid. The several realtors who had locat ed here many years before, including the Wauchula Development . Company, R. 0 Evans, F. A. Tanner, J. G. An de rson, and others, continued in busi ness as usual, and today finds them still offering good land for sale at reasonable prices. Just what the boom cost Hardee county and all Florida will never be known. Thousands who came here ex pecting to get rich quick soon found their dreams shattered. Others who came expecting to invest, soon discov ered that there were more doing the same thing, and plenty of people on the. ground to offer them investments at figures far beyond reason. .. It must be said, however, th"iit'"the native Floridan even the man who had located here before the boom and some who came during the boom, dealt fair ly and squarely with the buying pub lic Most of the quick-trading .was done by those who drifted in during 1924 and 1925, looking for someone to make a living on. And they found them. Many who came during the boom remained to make their hom e and to work and help build a greater and more prosperous Florida. The real estate boom did not affect Hardee county to the extent it did


52 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY some others because this is primarily a farming section, where fruit and v egetable growing has been carried on for more than twenty-five years. T4ough some quit farming during the boom, expecting to make a living easier by other means, the agricultural side was perhaps looked after better then than at any tirie befote or since. An agricultural agent was employed to assist farmers, and his work was beneficial and farreaching. J. A. Shea ly was the county agent. The first Hardee county fair was hel d on January 12th to 16th, 1925, opening on Tuesday and closing Satur day night. A H Wale was manager, and the exhibits would have done cred it to a county many times the size of Hardee. The second fair, on a more elabo rate scale than the first, opened on Tues day, January 19, 1926, and closed Sat urday night, January 23rd W B. Bee son, chairman of the board of county commissioners with J. A. Shealy, county agent, managed this fair. The third fair open e d on Tuesday, January 4, 1927 and ran until Saturday night, January 8th. William Cliett, county commissioner in the Bowling Green district, managed this fair, as s isted by J. A. Shealy, county agent, and J. Harold Saxon, who was secre -tary of the Hardee county chamber of commerce On Tuesday June 8 1926, the Demo cratic primary election was held in the county, resulting in the election of the following county officials. State senator, E. J. Etheredge; rep resentative, Joseph Crews. County commissioners: William Cli ett, W B. Beeson R. J. Davis, D. L. HaU and S. F. Durrance. Members of the school board: Wm. Timmerman, S. B Hogan and C. D. Ivey. On Tuesday morning, April27, 1926, the new high school in Wau chula, which later became the county high school was occupied for the first time. This building, erected at the cor ner of Bay street and the Dixie High way, occupied the front half of a block and was an imposing structure of f aced brick, trimmed \vith stone. It was a two-story, practically fire-proof building, and when designed by H. G. Little, Wauchula architect, and built by Paber Construction Company, of Avon Park, was ampl y large to care for the more than three hundred chil dren enrolled in the Wau c hula high school. Later, when it was decided to make this the county high school, the building became crowded, more than four hundred children being taught there.


CHAPTER XIV The new Hardee county courthouse for which contract was let on Tuesday, April 6, 1926, to the Robertson Con struction Company, of Bartow, was designed by H. G. Little and William Bradford, Wauchula architects. The building, erected on the lot be tween Ninth and Tenth avenues and Main and Orange streets, cost $132,400 and is one of remarkable sim plicity and architectural beauty. The courthouse was completed in the spring of 1927 and was first occu pied on June 1st of that year, when the county offices were moved from the temporary quarters on Main street to the new courthouse The massive stone steps lead direct ly to the second or main floor. Heavy bronze doors, each weighing one thou sand pounds, lead into the building, On the left is a directory which bears the names of all county officials and the number of their rooms. On the right of the lobby is the office of Tax Coll ecto r This consists of a large public room, a privz.te office and a vault and storage closzt. The Tax Assessor's office is next to that of Tax Collector. This also has a public room and a private office, with a vault and storage closet also Entering from the main hall are the county c ommissioners' rooms, having both private and public space. These 53 are connected with the county clerk's redemption department in charge of a deputy clerk. The county clerk's office occupies the entire east half of the second floor and has ample public space. It contains a vault 16 by 32 feet for the safety of public records. Each office on the main floor is equipped with a lavatory. On the main floor or basement is a large room on the northwest corner set aside for a museum, Though this has never been used except as a store room, it is anticipated that at some future date it will be used for a coun ty mu;;eum and articles of historic value will be stored therein. Offices for a county agent, county engineer and county registration off icer adjoin the museum room. The county judge's office is on the right of the east entrance to the building on the ground floor 0 ri: --has ample public and private space as well as a detention room for prisoners. Barred windows provide for the safe keeping of prisoners while being de tained here. A vault and storage room is also provided. The sheriff's office is opposite that of the county judge, and occupies the southwest corner of the building. This office has public space and a private office, as well as vault and storage closet. A steel stairway leads from


54 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY the sheriff's office on the ground fioor directly to the courtroom on the third fioor and is absolutely saf e as regards carrying a prison!)r fro m the sheriff' s office to the courtroo m Public toilets for b .oth sexes, a la dies' rest room, a janitor's room a!ld a storage closet are located on this floor. Going up the main stairway from the main floor to the top floor, one comes first to the circuit court r oom, on the right of the stairway. This ro om has a seating capacity of 226 be s ides the judge's bench and jury boxes. The judge's bench was carved out of native cypress by Mr. Grant Mum ford and has been pronounced very artistic. Back of the courtroom are two jury rooms, each with toilets and lavatories. The courtroom bas d oors leading into every other room in the court suite. Among the other rooms are three detention room s and a <;onfer ence room for prisoners and their at torneys. Private offices for the circuit judge and his clerk, with toilets and closets, are also included. The grand jury room seats eighte en and has a large vault, a toilet and lavatory. Quarters for the County B oard of Public Instruction, include two large rooms on this floor. A vault and ample closet space is provided. Toilets for both sexes are on this floor. In front of the building, on the spa cious grounds which have been im macu lately kept, is a fountain surmounted by a large eagle whose out stretched wings measure forty-eight inches. The fountain is of caen stone and the base of green tile. On the east side of the fountain a flagpole rises sixty-six feet into the air, while a bandstand is on the west side, and on a lin e just back of the courthouse proper. The bandstand Is approxi mately opposite the county jail, with the courthous e between the two. On the northeast corner of the building is a bronze tablet, bearing the names of the county commissioners, the architect and the contractor. The names appearing on this tablet are: Commissioners, W. B. B eeson, chairman; William Cliett, S. F. Durrance, Daniel L. Hall, J. Ed Rauler son; Architect, H. G. Little; William Bradford, associate; Contractor, Rob ertson Construction Company. Grass, flowers and shrubbery have been planted on the lawn and the spacious grounds are always well-kept. The building and grounds i s a beautiful and lasting structure, one that is the pride of the entire county. On Tuesday, May 17, 1927, the county commissioners passed a $55,000 bond issue to complete the new courthouse and the Wauchula-Parrish highway. One of the hottest political cam paigns the county ever went through took place on Tuesday June 6, 19 28. In that election, Doyle E Carlton, a native of this county, was elected to the high office of Govern or o! Florida He defeated his nearest opponent by about ten thousand votes. There were five in the race. In the county election, the races for county judge, sheriff and county superintendent of public instruction were particularly close. W. J. Barker, of Sebring, was reelected circuit judge, and L. Grady Burton, of Wauchula, was elected prosecuting attorney.


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 55 W. D. Bell, of Arcadia, was elected senator for this district and V. W. Surrency, of Bowling Green, named tepresentative. !<'. G. Janes, Jr., won in a field of four for county judge; C. S. Dishong was re-elec ted sheriff; John C. Me McEwen, tax assessor; Lloyd J. Carl ton, tax collector; S. W. Conroy, clerk of the circuit court; .John B. Rooney county superintendent of pub lic and Mrs. E. L. Rogers, county registration officer. The following commissioners were elected: E. C. Stenstrom, Qf Wau chula, chairman; G. N. Albritton, of Bowling Green; S. F. Durrance, of Popash; R. J. Davis, of Limestone, and W. C. King, of Zolfo Springs. Members of the school board' were named as follows: R. B. Downing, chairman, of Wauchula; I. G. Royall, of Bowling Green, and Edward Doug las, of Gardner.


CHAPTER XV On Sunday, September 16, 1928, a hurricane which had just struck Por to Rico and left several hundred dead in its wake, crossed into Florida, striking the east coast at Lake Worth, Palm Beach, Delray and Fort Lauderdale. It then crossed into the vi cinity of Lake Okeechobee, wrecking death and destruction along the lowlands east of the lake. Then it tu. rned northward, striking Okeechobee City, and followed the Ridge section, passing out

HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 57 had so much scurrilous literature been circulated and read. There was much political effort put forth, even before the presidential can didates were chosen. Numerous speeches were delivered for and against them and literature was being distributed tending to distort the publicmind and sway the voters one way or the other. The Republicans quickly took advan tage of the anti-Catholic sentiment and organized every precinct in the county. By so doing, they were able to wage a campaign that had a telling effect when the votes were counted. On the other hand, the Democratic followers put forth practically no ef fort to corral the votes. They were unorganized and inactive. The result of this inactivity on their part is too well known to need recording here. Anyway, the Democrats lost prac tically every precinct in the county, most of them by large majorities, and their defeats ranged from constable to president. The voters of Florida elected Doyle E. Carlton governor by a majority of 50,000 and on Tuesday, January 8th, he took the oath of office as chief ex ecutive of the state. A monster pa rade representing every section of the state took part in the inaugural pa rade and thousands of people attended. It was the most elaborate inauguration in the history of Florida. The 1929 sessions of the Florida legislature will go down in history as having accomplished much in the way of setting Florida in order. Two ses sions were held, the regular sessio n closing the first of June after a sixty day term and a spec ia l session being held immediately afterwards, closing on Friday, June 21st. Commendation should be given :the legislation and the governor for the enactment of the Evergl!ides fiood con trol measures, for agricultural legis lation and for desirable changes in the election laws of Florida and the tax collection laws. Notable in the election law changes is the abolition of the second choice votes and the permission to use voting machines. The Bryan primary law was repealed. Thinking men generally approve Governor Carlton's financial program since upon it depends the salvation of Florida as regards retirement of bonds and payment of interest, con. tinuation of the. highway program and providing more revenue for the opera tion of public schools and higher in stitutions. The recommenda t ions of the educa tional survey were not acted upon, but these probably were lost in the fight waged against the administration by a few filibusterers who apparently be lieved they were sent to Tallahassee to fight every constructive measure that came up instead of working for th good of the entire state. The filibusterers were hopelessly beaten from early in the regular ses sion, but they held doggedly on, giving up only after they became convinced that Governor Carlton and friends of the administration were determined to see that some worth while legislation was put through. Governor Carlton's plan of distrib uting the gasoline tax was one of the most important measures put through in some time. It provides that of the five cent tax, two cents were to go to the state road department, two cents to the county bond pool fund, one cent of which went to the payment of dis


68 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY trict road and bridge bonds and one cent to payment of county bonds, and the fifth cent went back to the coun ties equally, two -thirds of this going into the school fund and one -third to the lateral road fund. The sixth cent gas tax, which was added, went back to the counties for school purposes and to the Institutions of higher learning. Many other changes in the state laws notably the game and fish laws, green fruit Jaws and tax collection laws, were made. Application of the new legislative measures will result in lifting the bur den of worry and debt from many counties groaning under a load that it was indeed hard to bear. It is be lieved that the Jaws will result in straightening out many financial problems and setting Florida's house in better order than it has been for many years.


CHAPTER XVI As Hardee county grew in popula tion, it expanded in every other way. As new settlers came, new communities sprang into being, with churches, schools, roads, etc. to serve them. Tel ephone lines were stretched into the outlying districts, railroads were built, highways paved, power lines spanned the forests and penetrated eve.ry section of the county, serving patrons in practically every community today. It would be practically impossible to describe the growth of these industries in this brief space Suffice it to say that within the last score of years almost all this growth took place. The industrial growth of the county has been in keeping with the increase in p opulation and the development of the county agriculturally. The Florida Public Service Com pany now has power lines covering a large part of the county and these are constantly being expanded. In Wau chula, power is furnished by a modern and efficient plant that is owned and operated municipally. The Inter-County Telephone and Telegraph Company has telephone exchanges at Wauchula and Bowling Green, Zolfo Springs, Fort Green, Fort Green Springs, and Ona. Travel to any part of the county is easy, especially with the splendid system of hard-surfaced highways, and 59 the train and bus lines. Rural free delivery routes serve patrons in the rural districts, while Wauchula has city delivery service. It is a far cry from the days of thirty years ago when some eight thousand hampers of beans constituted the principal shipment of vegetables from this county. Since that time, the winter vegetable industry has constantly expanded until in the winter of 19281929 more than 1,300,000 crates of produce were shipped out of the county. More than 2,790 carloads of fruit and vegetables were sent out during the last s e ason, including 2,608,700 quarts of strawberries, thousands of hampers of beans, tomatoes, pepper, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, turnips, cabbage, celery, okra, and other similar vegetables. It is estimated that the 1928-'29 crop of vegetables brought the growers of Hardee county more than $1,500,000 base-d on average prices. Most of this produce was sold for cash at the loading platforms, where a corps of buyers representing northem firms paid cash daily for fresh vegetables. The Wauchula Truck Growers Asso ciation, which later became the Hardee County Growers, Inc., has marketed produce co-operatively for about fifteen years. It owns and operates one


60 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY of the largest vegetable packing houses i n the state, the plant having a capacity of six cars daily. Tomatoes and cucumbers are carefully graded and packed at this house. The produce put up by this organization has been of high quality and always commands a premium on the northern markets because of the uniformity of grade and pack. Strawberries have come to the fr

HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 61 joying a steady and substantial growth. All ow your mind to picture the first school in this county in 1867 when Daniel Carlton built a small log house and employed a teacher for his chil dren and invited the neighbors to send their children to school in the one room schoo l that was poorly lighted and meagerly equipp ed and then think of the many splendid sc hool buildings which dot the county now and you will realize the rapid strides the county hils made along educational lines. Gradually, as more settlers came, n ew schools were established and more teachers employed, so that today no less than twentytwo schools em p loy ing more than one hundred teachers and giving instruction to about 3,000 children form the educational system of this county. In those early days, no modern equipment or methods of instruction were available, neither was there a county superintendent to give assist ance and advice to the teachers. Then the schools became county schools and were under the supervi s ion of a coun ty superintendent, but travel was slow and buildings and equipment were far from the best. Today there are seventeen schools for white children and five for colored children in the county, including the county high school at Wauchula. The schools are t ending toward con solidation m ore as the years go by and trn vel becomes easier and less ex pensive. Recently, the schools in Lem o n Grove, Maud, Parnell and Prospect sections were consolidated and a splen did brick building e r ected at Lemon Grove. This building, first occupied November 9, 1927, was erected at a cost of approximately $45,000. It is one-story, of brick construction, hav ing six classrooms and an aud ito rium seating about 250. It has closets, rest rooms, and all modern conveniences. Children are transported to it by bus from the surrounding districts. In July, 1929, schools at Vandolah and Ona were consolidated with Oak Grove, childr e n from these districts being taught in the modern brick building there. The county high school is l ocated at Wauchula, and approximately 400 children received instruction there. The high schools at Bowling Green and Zolfo Springs were discontinued and children sent to Wauchula for instruc tion, while the grammar schools and junior high schools at the former places were continued. The schools in Hardee county in 1 929 may be listed as follows: White schools: High school, Wau chula; Wauchula grade school, Bowl ing Green, Zolfo Springs, Lemon Grove, Popash, Pine Dale, Lake Branch, Torrey, College Hill, Center Hill, Fort Green, Gardner, Tura, Cas talia, Limestone, Oak Grove. Colored schools: Zolfo Springs, Wauchula, Bowling Green, Dean's Still, and Lime---.. stone. The growth of the schools and churches, as one will see, has kept step with that of the entire county as a whole and every district in the county is expending the full ten mill s tax al lowed by the state for school purposes. Better trained teachers are being employed now and modern equipment is at their disposal. They are given every co-operation from the county school board and superintendent of public instruction, so that when a child comp letes his schooling in the county he is ready to enter college.


62 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY Perhaps as large if not larger per centage of Harde e county children enter college than those of any othe.r county in the state. Certainl y, with the training and en vironment aff o r ded by our modem and efficient schools and willing and pa tient teachers, our splendid churches and able pastors, with our fine roads, motor cars, power lines, radios, telephone s, telegraph, railroads and bus lines, with our fertile soil and delight ful climate and with those innumer able o pp ortuniti es which God himself can give and which H e ha s so abun dantly bestowed upon us, there is no reason why Hardee county should not continue to grow and develop and prosper in the future as it has in the pa s t.


HISTORY OF WAUCHULA The early history of Wauchula is very similar to that of a good many other South Florida towns, in that there was little or nothing doing until after the railroad was built through the town in 1886. Fifty years before this, in 1836, the United States government built a road from Fort Hamer, a point on the Man atee river eight mile s above the pres ent town of Manate e. This road ran i n a northwest direction, crossing Peace River four miles abovf! Wau chula at what was called the Choki nicla ford, and extending to Fort Cap ron on the Indian river on the Florida East Coast. This road was largely used by the early settlers in their trips to the trading centers and remained in use some seventy-five years or more. There were, however no settlers in the Wauchula section until a good many years after that. On maps dated 1850 we find that a family of Whit tens lived northeast of Wauchula, about where Heard bridge road crosses Peace river. This was the only family in the Wauchula section at that time. The treaty signed with the Seminole Indians in 1839 and already given in the History of Hardee County, had little or no immediate effect upon this section, but gradually new settlers came and by 1850 we find that about 63 a dozen families lived in what is now Hardee county. What later became known as the Wauchula section was first known as the Fort Hartsuff section. Fort Hartsuff, named after Captain George L. Hartsuff, was located about two miles southwest of the present townsite, and was established, according to War De partment records, by Captain George L. Hartsuff, who was in charge of government operations in this section. The fort was oecupied about August 8, 1851, and again April 23, 1856. Fort Hartsuff was the western terminus of a road leading from Fort Hamer on the Manatee river. This continued to be known as the Fort Hartsutr sec tion until about 1874, when Eli English settled about one mile south of the present townsite and opened a store. The place then be came known as English. There was no other store or business house south of Fort :Meade. Mr. English hauled his goods by ox team from Tampa, seventy-five miles away, and it re quired about a week to make the round trip . At that time there were only about seven families living in this immediate neighborhood. They were: W. Whit ten, Eli English, Albert Carlton, W .. P. McEwen, Lewis Carl ton W. A. Mc Ewen and D. M. Cason. The entire


64 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY population of the county (it was Manatee county until 1885) was about three or four hundred. The settlers were so bad ly scattered that one could travel for days without coming to a habitation, unless he kept on the 'main road, along which a few pioneers had settled. The agricultural products of the community at that t i me consisted of sweet potatoes, sugar cane and Indian corn, along with a few scattering orange trees which were planted by a set of early settlers who came to this sectio n a f ew years before the Indian war of 1856. Among these earlie r settlers were Demps ey Whiddon, William McCollough and Captain George S. Payne, the latter a sailor and adventurer. Payne and Whiddon were killed July 17, 1849, at a poin t just west of where Payne's creek enters Peace river about four miles north of Wauchula and a thin granite slab was placed over the graves. Just here it may be mentioned that this slab was sent here by Payne's sister, who lived in Cornwall, Conn. This marker was restored and set in a concrete block, which was dedicated on July 16, 1929 just eighty years after Payne and Whiddon were massacred by the India ns. It was chiefly through the efforts of the Wauchula Kiwanis Club that this granite slab was restored and preserved permanently. The agricultural products grown here in the early days were sold in Tampa and Manat ee, and the following is taken from the DeSoto county editio n of the Tampa Tribune of January 10, 1909: "These products were sold at Tampa and Manatee town, and together with cattle that were raised on the plains constituted the entire source of in for the community. In those days the.re were no great markets from which to secure a juicy steak or baker shops from which to secure a loaf of bread for breakfast. If these very essential items had not been supplied considerably in advance of the meal hour they were eliminated and palmetto cabbage and yams resorted to. The woods were full of game at that time, the old scouts could take their longbarreled rifles and take to the woods which came right up to their very doors, and secure sufficient fresh meat in a few hours to last as long as they could keepit, for it must be remem"' bered 'that ice .factories were scarce and far between at that time. In 1874 there was but one 40 acres of land pre-em 'pted and properly registered in the land o ffice, then located at Fort Green, i t having been taken up by Albert Hendry. It was the custom in those days for a settler to stride his .. horse and ride around over the country until he found a location suitable to his needs; he then built a log cabin on it and called all the land he cared to claim his own. No surveys were made and very few persons were acquainted with the tax assessor or col lect o r. "When the great influx of immigrants occurred along about 1888 to 1887, there was a great scramble made to get to the land office and have claims and surveys recorded, so that the improvements made on these hom esteaded places could not be secured by later settler s. A survey was gradually made, claims were adj usted diffe r ences were settled, and finally the records were placed in such shape that a settler could tell exactly what


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 65 the title and claim s were that existed against any certain parcel of land. "The early pi oneers left a stabilita tion behind them upon which has been erected an ineradicable degree of il lustriousness, fraught with character, benevolence and d ependab leness which p ermeates the W auchula vicinity to day. They instructe d their children that it is npt 'all of life to life nor all of death to die,' they taught them that an hororable person, e ven though he were not gilded with riches which will eventually fade away, was of more importance to the community, society state and nation than a dis reputable scoundr e l who through his acute chicanery had be e n enabled to absorb the material vitality of his com munity like a monstrous, thought less, selfish parasite whose only am bition w a s to prey upon those who in adve rtently all owed themselves t o drift within his grasp." In 1886 the railrqad was built through Wauchula. A t that time the settlement was still called English and an effort was mad e to locate the rail road station about e mile south of the present site. This was uns uccessful, however, and the railroad company built the railroad where i t n ow stands. The town they named Wauchula. Just who gave the town its name, which by the way, is the only one of its name n the United States according to post. al guides, is not known. There are other towns with n a me s nearly lik e Wauchula, one of them being Wau kulla, Florida, but so far a s can be ascertained, there is not another post office o r incorporated town i n t his cou ntry named Wauchula. The name Wauchula comes from the Miccosoukee Indian word meaning "the call of the sandhill cran e." The name has bee n corrupted by the white man from the Indian word, Wa-tu-la-ha k ee, which bas the above meaning. (This information has been secured from the Indians themse lves by Stan ley Hanson, Indian agent, at F ort My ers.) There are many who say the word means "Bird on the Nest" and others claim it means "Buzzard's Roost,'' but the Miccosoukee India ns say not. To E. L. Hockersmith, an experi e n ced woodsma n and a man who has spent conside rable time in this secti on and in the country south of here, we are indebted for a description of a sandhill crane and a glimpse .at the bird's habits. Mr. Hockersmith says he has wit nessed two sand hill crane dances, which are held at mating time, in the spring. The cranes gather in a large circle one male bird is in the cen ter of t h e ring. This bird goes around the ring with a swinging m otio n sim ilar to dancing and finally c ho ose s his mate. The two leave the scen e and others carry through the same proce d ure until all have mated. The birds have a peculiar call some what simila r to that o f o ther cranes and resemble the c ommon c rane very much. The sandhill cranes have practically disappea red from this section now and all w e have to remind u s of them is the Indian word, Wauchula, which however, n o w means a thriving town, the county seat of Hardee cou nty, and one of the best known and most pros perous towns in the state. Back in 1 886, though it w a s just beginning and at that time was nothing but a r ailroad viHage in the pin e w oo ds.


66 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNT Y The Florida Southern Railway was built thr ough Wauchula in the spring of 1886, and. immediately thereafter the tide o f new settlers became swoll en. An interesting account of the town in its infancy is given in a Tampa paper dated September 19, 1888. The clipping reads as J:ollows: "This village is a regular station on the Florida Southern Railway in DeSoto cQunty, at a point 61 miles north of Punta Gorda and 25 miles south of Bartow. It has five general merchan dise stores, one drug store a post off ice, and one excellent shoemaker, with shop in operation. It has a most ad mirably managed hotel, a first-class physician, a depot under the control of an agent who keeps freight, passen ger and telegraphic departments in excellent order. "The Missionary Baptists and Methodists have organized churches. The Sunday schools have about 100 regular scholar s enrolled, and meet every Sunday. "The public school numbers 120 scholars, under Rev. T. J. Sparkman, principal, and Miss Mary A. Payne, assistant, each of whom is h ighly es teemed here. There i s also a prosper ous Masonic l odge here. "Rich land s are in great abundance on the east and west of town, inter spersed with orange groves so numer ous and well-develop e d as to consti tute the chief basis for wealth, present and prospective. "Wauchula furnishes a vast amount of railway timbers, such as crossties and pilings. The only water power grist mill in South Florida Is located nearby and is a success. There is a large sawmill which has been doing business here several years, and liD other near at hand. "The Scott Phosphate Works, now in successful operation, gives employ ment to many hands, distributes thou sands of dollars, and will long con tinue so to do. "Nathan Cochran, merchant recent ly displayed a bunch of sugar cane from one planted stalk, having thirtysi:x: stalks, averaging seven feet each in height, and matured." The telegraph and freight agent spoken of above was Mr. A. G. Smith, who came here in the fall of 1886 as freight and express agent and tele graph operator. The ,water mill spoken of was about two miles south of the present town site, on the creek near the Scott grove. It was operated by Mr. Will Bostick. Nathan Cochran spoken of above, was the father of the first merchant in Wauchula. M r J. N. Cochran, son of Nathan A. Cochran, came here to. sell goods for his father in the spring of 1886. The senior Mr. Cochran was then postmaster at Medulla, near Lakeland. The g oods were kept in a small shack located about where Pal metto street and Fifth avenue intersect. The elder Mr. Cochran joined his son here in the fall of 1886. The first church established in this section was located at Fort Hartsufl', southwest of the present townsite. It was a log structure and was used by bnth Baptists and Methodists. Rev. Sam Carson, on the Methodist circuit, was the first pastor. Rev. Sellers was the senior pastor. Rev. T. J. Sparklllan was the first Baptist preacher to oc cupy the pulpit in Wauchula. Rev. T. J. Sparkman, preacher, teacher and educator, taught the first


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 67 schoo l in Wauchula, along about 1884 or 1885. The building was of Jogs and was west of the present townsi te. Wauchula' s first postmaster was Mr. U. 0. McConn e ll, who kept the office in a little building at the northeast cor ner of Main street and Fifth avenue, or where the main r oad cross ed the railroad at that tim e. The first hotel to b e operated here was the Bel-Air hotel, opened in 1891 by Mr. A. C. Clav e I, and it was located nearly opposi te and a little northwest o f the depot. In September, 189 5, the firs t black smith shop in Wauchula was opened. It was loca ted at the corner of what is now Main street and Sixth avenue, where the R oyal Theater now stands. The s h op w a s opened by E. C. Sten strom, who with R. C. Clarke, one time mayor organiz ed the Wauchula Telephon e Company h ere on February 5, 1 905. Hundreds of people came to Wa u chula between the years 1 886 and 1 90 6. The new country was jus t then being open e d up, land was chea p and produc t i v e, opportunities were unlimited Among those wno came here dur ing that dec ade are so me of the mo s t substantial citizens o f the count y to day. They had a most active part in build in g the community and county and their names brighten the pages of Hardee county's history like g low ing candles on a dark night. They worke d hard, made little but saved some of that, and were ever ready to put forth their bes t e fforts toward building a bette r town and communi t y They were energetic, progressive, likeable. It is chiefly through the efforts of those early pioneer s and the accom plishments which must be credited to them that w e are able to enjoy to such an extent the country they helped build. Early in March, 1901 Wauchula's first newspaper was established, the first issue being printed March 15, 1 901. This paper was The Florida Ad vocate, with Ge o rge M Goolsby a s editor and publisher. For twenty-four years Mr. Goolsby was o n the job day and night f o r Wau. chula and this sec tion. A con stant booster, energetic, r esourceful, original, u nique, he l eft a record in Har dee county's history that time can only make brighter. Until his death in May, 19 25 George !'vi. Go olsb y was continually on the fir ing line, working for what he believed to be the best interests of Wauch ula a nd this c ommunity and section Never was a m ovement started that was just and worthy but what he threw his in to it and helped put it a cross. A lways on the alert for anything that w ould bene fit the community, lie was none the le s s constantly on guard against what was hurtful, degrading. His death was cause for universal sorrow in the community and thr ough out South Florida, and so great was his inftuenc e that it was suggested the county be named after h im, but he modestly declined that honor and sug gested that it be called something else. The newspaper which be f ound ed has become an institution, mainly through his efforts and those of h is wife, who bas managed the bu siness since h is death. The foll owing noti ce of incorpora t ion was printed in the fall o f 1902: NOTICE O F INCORPORAT IO N By authority ve ste d in a committee at a mass meeting held a t the depot in Wauchula, Florida, Tuesday, August


68 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 19, 1902, an election is hereby called to take place at Carlton & Carlton's store in Wauchula, Ftorida, on M on day, September 29, 1902, at 7:30 p. m., for the purpose of incorporating the Town of Wauchula and electing officers for the same. The incorporated limits of said town to include the southwest quarter of Section Three and southeast qua.rter of Section Four, Township Thirty-four South, Range Twenty-five East, all in DeSoto county, Florida. All legal voters residing in the ter ritory described above will be entitled to vote at this election. C. J. CARLTON, A. L. TURNEI!, GEO. M. GOOLSBY, Committee. The result of the above election was that twenty-seven votes were cast in favor of incorporating and none against. The following officers were elected: Thos. G. Wilkison, mayor; A. G. Smith, W. A. Southerland, A. B Town send, F. B. Rainey, J. M. Beeson and C. J. Carlton, alderm en; Geo. M. Gools by, clerk, and A. L. Turner, marshal. Oath of office was administered to the mayor by D. M. Cason, justice of the peace in and for DeSoto county, Florida. The mayor afterwards ad ministered the oath of office to the ald ermen, clerk and marshal. One of the first acts of the new government was to appropriate the sum of $ 1.50 for the purchase of a night stick for the marshal. On Tuesday, August 4, 1903, the Wauchula school became a county h igh school. At that time it had four teachers, with Professor Joseph Wil son as principal. The year before that it had two teachers. In 1904 Wauchula's first bank eame into being. It was opened under the name of Carlton and Carlton, Bank ers. Albert Carlton was president and C. J. Carlton, cashier. The banking house was at the corner of Main street and Fifth avenue, in a store operated by the Carltons at that time. Later it was housed in a separate building and in 1916 became the Carlton National Bank and occupied a handsome build ing on the spot where the institution was opened. It is interesting to note that in 1905 the population of Wauchula was 796 whites and four negroes. In 1907 Wauchula acquired her sec ond banking institution when the Bank of Wauchula opened for busin ess in February of that year. The offlcers were: A. G. Smith, president; W. E. Jl.fitchell, vice-president; G. C. Me. Whirter, ass istant cashier Later D. 0. Ratliff became vice-president and J. C. McEwen cashier, these two holding their respective positions with the bank for many years. In those days Wauchula was a str ag gling but rapidly grow ing village, with n" paved streets or sidewalks There were no automobiles, electri c lights, or other modern conveniences such as we enjoy today. Wauchula's first fire department was organized on June 4, 1906, with Wil liam Ault, who was town marshal, as chief, and I. C. Smith, Harry Stans field and A. C. Clave! as assistants. On June 18, 1906, work started on the new buildin g for the First Baptist Church, but the building was not final ly completed until three years later, being dedicated on September 19, 1909. The building was 50 by 70 feet and cost approximately $7,000. Since that time it has been enlarged, but the


HISTORY OF HARDE E COUNTY 69 b uilding erected in 1 909 is still in use. it stands on Sixth aven ue, betwee n Main and Palmetto streets. The ori g inal Missionary Baptist church was a site near where Moore'1 mill was located, in the northwest sec tion of town : Later i t was moved to the present s ite, and then the new <"burch buildi n g was erected. Wauchula's firs t ice plant wa s ed in 1907 and in November of that year the first ice was manufactured here. J. L. Close was manager of the plant The Carlton National Bank building was erected in 1 909 and was first oc cupied in February of that year. It was two stories in height and extend ed from Fifth avenue to the alley about halfway between Fifth and Sixth aven ues on Main street. I n 1909 the first unit of the gram mar s choo l was built on the lot be tween Seventh and Eighth avenues and between Oak and McEwen streets. The scho ol originall y was a two room affair and was located near wh ere Bay street and Eighth aven ues intersect. The building ther e h ouse d the schoo l on the g r ound floor and the Masoni c Hall abo ve. After the first unit of the school building was e rected, the west building was put up and later the two buildings joined by another building. The three buildings comprise the grammar schoo l now and are used by more than one thousand children, who see k education there each schoo l term. For se veral years this was both the grammar school and high school, but late r the new high school building was e rected and the old building used e x clusively for the l ower grades. The high schoo l was started in 1925 and complet ed early in 1 926. "It occupie d the north half of the lot bounded on the north by Ba y street, on the. east by Eleventh avenue and on the we s t by the Dixie Highway, sometimes calle d Florida a venue. It i s a han dsome brick building con taining sixteen clas s r ooms, a large auditorium, office r ooms, a li brary, l ab oratories, a clinic, and all other veni ences. The building cost approx imately $60,000 and was first occupied in the spring o f 1926. On February 7, 1908 a disastrous fire swept the section of town on Fifth aven ue between Main and Palmetto streets, destroying all the buildings in that bl ock excep t the Peace River Ho tel building ;which was just being erec ted at time. The flames burned the window casings out of the hotel b uilding, but these were re placed with small loss, as the building was not complet ed when the fire curred. Several were de stroyed a nd the loss was estimated at betw een $25,000 and $30,000. In Aug ust, 1908, E. C. Stenstrom purchased the first automobile in W auchula. A silnple notice to that effect app('ared in the paper. It read: "Mr. E. C. Stenstrom has put'chased an automo bile from Mr Sheppard, of Torrey and is now overh auling it. He will it to look after the country lines of the Wauchula Telephone Company ... Little d id anyone dream then that the automobile would play suc h an import ant part in the life of the com munit y as well as the whole nation. It is a far cry from the day when Mr. Stenstrorr.'s two cylinder Cadillac chugged into town over rough sand y roads t o attract a crowd of curious spectators who laughed at the funny looking machin e and watche d for op-


70 IDSTO RY OF HARDEE COUNT Y port unities to say, when it refused to go, "Get a horse!" Today automobile s are shipped into town by the carl o ad and go purring down Main street a s noisele ssly as a cat, attracting no at t ention whatever. The first contract for sid ewalk s WllS let on January 7, 1911, fo r two and one-half miles of co n crete s i dewalks. Prior t o this there were no s idewalks in the town Today there are m o r e than six miles of concrete sidewalks. The first rural free mail delivery route in D eSoto coun t y was established fr om the Wauchula post office and the firs t mail went out on March 1, 1912. J. N. H e ndry was mail carrier on this route. The mail left Wauchula at t en thirty and the route was as foll ows: North to J. T. Burnett's, northwest to west of R. C. Maddox's place, north and west to E. Albritton's south and southeast to J. C. Harp's, south to the Wauchula and Bradenton road, west a nd sout hwest to T. N. Carlton's, south to J. G. Durrance's, east and northeast to W E. Norris', northeast to John Conroy's, east to T J Joh ns', nort h and northeast to W. A. M c Ew en's, and north to Wauchula retur ning there about six o'clock in t he Wau chula exper ienced considerabl e trouble getting electri c lights installed but finally, on Augu s t 5, 1912, the city coun cil granted a franchise to the Wauchula Manufacturing and Timber C ompany to furnish lights for the t own. Work started at once and lights wer e soon turned on in town w ith cur rent from t he mill. I t was a gala night when they were first turned on, and the populace were impressed with their brilliancy and efficiency as com pared with the o ld oil and gas lamps. The Bank of Wauchula b uilding was erected in 1913 at the corner of street and Sixth avenue Later it was extend ed to the alle y between Sixth avenue and Fifth avenue, on Main street. The bank and s t ore room s oc cupied the ground floor while office rooms and the Semin o l e Theater w e r e upstairs. Perhaps the greatest growth record ed in W auchul a in an y single year took place in 1914 In that year, on F ebruary 17 th, t he peopl e voted to put in sewers, waterworks, and street pav ing. T he vote was ninety for a nd fif teen against, and the election ealled for $22,000 for waterworks, $15,000 for sewers, and $ 3,000 for paved streets ./ On 'June 19, 1914 the corner ston e of the new M ethodist church was laid at two-thirty in the aftel'\loon The church was organized in 1888 in t h e Baptist Chur ch log me eting house near Moore' s Mill. There were nine or iginal member s of the Wauchula Methodist Episcopal Church, South. They we.re: Mr. and Mrs. Joseph L Bostick, Mr. and Mrs. Thom as G. Wilkison, Mr. and Mrs. C. G. West, Mrs. M. A. Madd ox, Mrs Effie Spiv ey, and llir. Wiley Hill T he church was later move d to the corner of Oa k street and Fifth a venue, about where C hase and Compa n y's packin g house was later bu ilt. In Sep tember 1903, a hurricane destroyed this frame building and t h e church was moved to the corner of Seventh avenue and Main street, where the new building was erected in 1914. The new buil ding was of brick and was a hands ome s tructure. In 1!)14 a number of other building s were erected in Wau chula, and mor e than one hundred and fifty homes went up during tha t year. Among the im portant building s erected that year


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 71 were: the Wauchula House, where the Hotel Sirr.mons now stands, on Fifth avenue; the Beeson Brothers building at Seventh avenue and Main street; the railroad depot, and others. In 1915 the building adjoining the Peace River Hotel building and known as the Orange Pharmacy building was erected by Harry Stansfield, while the Stenstrom building, at Sixth avenue and Main street, opposite the Bank of Wauchula, was built in 191 5. This building included the Royal Theater and several stores. In May, 1910, the Rev. Mr. T. J. Al lison, supply pastor of the Presby terian chu rch at Arcadia, visited Wau chula and arranged to preach for 4he Presbyterian people here once each month. Both the Baptist and Meth odist churches were used in conducting these services, and on Wednesday, No vember 16, 1910, the Presbyterian Church of Wauchula was organized. The following members were en r olled: Mrs. Hattie Revell, 11Irs. An nie E. Martin, Mrs. Mary McLeod, Mrs. George Carlton, Mr. T. K. Mc Rae, Mr. J. B. Kirby, Mr. John Calvin McRae, Mr. A. G. Smith, Mrs. Minnie Smith Stansfiel d, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. S. Williams, Prof. D. B. Shaver, Mr. and Mr s. D. S. Ashburn, Mr. and Mrs. E. P. Rust and Miss Ivaloo Rust. Mr. A. G. Smith was elected elder and Mr. T. K. McRae and Mr. Geo. S. Williams deacons. Church meetings were held for a time in the Adventist church and later in the Seminole Theater. The new church building was first occupied in September, 1 916. The Adventist church was on South Seventh avenue and for more than twenty years was a thriving church. Then it gradually broke up and in 1922 was reorganized. The church building was abandoned and w orship bas 'been held at Bow ling Green since that time. The Prirr.itive Baptist Church was one of the oldest in the town, being organized in the school house two miles west of the present townsite. Am ong those who organized the chu rch were: Mr. and Mrs. B. T. Alt man, Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Altman, Mr. and Mrs. William Clavill, and a few others. Shortly after the church was or ganized, a church building was erect ed and about 1906 the place of worship was moved into Wauchula, where Ninth avenue and Mc Ewen street in tersect. Here a frame building was erecte d and this continued in use until 1928, when it was sold and moved off the lot and a concrete b l ock structure erected in its place. The first pastor of the Primitive Baptist Church was Rev. E. Z. Hull. The First Christian Church was or ganized here about 1914 and servi ces were held in a little church on South Seventh avenue. B. E. Melindy was one of the first pastors. About 1919 the church buildin g was erected on the corner of Eighth ave nue and Orange sheet. In 1927 this was enlarged to its present capacity and its appearance and seating ar rangement and capacity greatly im proved. Major Paul Crank is the pru cnt pastor and has been for the past three years. St. Michael's Catholic Church was organized here about 1924 and the present building on North Sixth ave nue erected at that time. Prior to that, there were a number of this faith who went to Arcadia to wor ship. Occa s i ona lly the priest would come to


72 HISTORY OF HAR DEE COUNTY Wauchula and hold services in the h omes. Rev Fr. Latiolus was priest here for many years, b efore he was transferred in the summer of 1929. The Christian Science faith has sev eral me mbers who u se the Woman's Club house on Seventh avenue as a place of worship The St. Paul Lutheran Church had an organization here for some time, but is at present inactive It held services in the old opera house for several years. There are two Pentecost churches, one on South Seventh avenue and on e on South Eighth avenu e Services are held in them regularly. After the buildin g boo m of 1914, things moved alon g gradually until after the World War. I n 1918 what was known a s the Wauchula House, located just back of the Carlton National Bank building on Fifth a ve nue, was taken over by the Wauchula Bank Building Association and Captain and Mrs Frank H Simmons became managers of this place The name was chan ged to the Simmons Hotel. In 1925 the hotel building was e rected as it stand s to day, and was formally opened on March 12, 1 926 This is a handsome brick building having one hundred hotel r ooms, many with private baths. A dining room seats 200 people and a large l obby is ample to care for the crowd s and provides a splendid dance floor on special occa s i ons The h otel i s three stories in height and i s widely known among commercial men. It is frequently the meeting place for clubs and other l!'atherings. During 1924 and 192 5 the city again t ook on a buildin g boom and many building s were erect ed during those years, among them being the Kilgore building, Main street an? Seventh avenue; the Anderson building, remodeled; the new Glorius building on Eighth avenue, and many others. October 6, 1925, a bond e l ectio n for the purpose o f erecting the new city hall In Wauchula was held, and this carried by a vote of 103 to 95. The building was erected at the intersec tion of Fourth avenue and East Main street at a cost of approximately $80, 000. It contains a large auditorium seating about nine hundred, and houses all the city office s, fire department, etc. A projection booth for t h e showing of motion pictures and a large stage i s includ ed in the auditori um. Offices of the c;:hamber of comm erce, the co uncil m eeting r oo m, the mayors office, and others also are located in, this build ing, which was formally dedicated on April 1 2, 1927. The building was designed by Leo ?.:!. Elliott, of Tampa, and built by Paul H. Smith. On March 23, 1926, a paving con truct wa s let to the William P. McDonald Construction C o mpany for eight and three-fourths mile s of paved streets, at a cost of $40 8,000. I n addi tion, a contract was let to the E. M. ScheRow Company for $78,000 for stor m sewers. Other contracts for water mains and other improvements were let the s ame year, and when the program was finally completed in 1927 th e city had ove r fifteen miles of paved streets and over six miles of side walks. Engineer W N. Tonkin had charg e of the work. On Tuesday, February 23, 1926, ten block s of white way lights were turned on f o r the first time, giving the city a white way extending from First ave nue to the Dixie Highwa y. When work on the new courthouse was completed


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 73 three more blocks of white way lights were put in. In September, 1926, work on the new $50,000 Brown Arcade building on West Mai n street was completed. This building, designed by H. G. Little, of Wauchula, and built by L. W. Bostick, also of Wauchula, is one of the finest buildings of its kind in this section, containing space for seven stores downstairs and thirteen apartments upstairs. A month later, in. October, 1926, the Smith building on East Main street was finished at a cost of approximately $30,000. This building contains space for several offices and a large store, with seven apartments upstairs. It is of brick was designed by H. G. Little and built by local labor. In 1 92 7 the City of Wauchula, co operatin g with the State Road Depart ment, rebuilt the Dixie Highway through the town, at a cost of approxi mately $98,000. This road was made thirty feet wide in order to accom modate the city traffic as well as through traffic between Lakeland and Fort Myers and intervening points. The completion of the court house and other public and private buildings in 1926 and 1927 practically completed the building program, and it is be liev e d the town is amply able to care for its growth for some time, having hotels, public buildings and residences sufficient to care for a substantial number of visitors and those who wish to make it their home. The Florida Hotel was opened in the Kilgore building in 1925 and pro vides several rooms and other facil ities for travelers and tourists. In 1926 the Wauchula House was re modeled and opened for busin ess at the corner of Sixth. avenue and Orange street. This likewise contains many rooms and is patronized by both trav elers and local people as a rooming and boarding house. The Peace River Hotel, the second largest in the city, was remodeled and renovated in 1927 and enjoys a good business as a rooming and boarding place. It also provides a convenient mee ting place for clubs and soc ial gatherings. This history would not be complete without a mention of the clubs, so .cieties and lodges that have had so much to do with building the town and community We shall strive to give as much de tail regarding these as our limited space and time will permit. Wauchula's first lodge, the Masonic Order, was organized in 1888 and the charter was issued on January 18th of that year. The following were the officers: Peter Brown, Worshipful Master; H. E. Carlton, Senior Warden; E. F. Durrance, Junior Warde n The lodge was known as Wauchula Lodge, No. 99. After some year s, the charter was turned in and in 1899 was re-issued. The following were officers at that time: Marion G. Carlton, Worshipful Master; J.. D. Southerland, Senior Warden ; J. L. Bostick, Junior Warden; J. W. Farr, treasurer; W A. Souther land, secretary; .John W. Hendry, chap lain; R. D. Moore, senior deacon; James A Carlton, junior deacon; C. G. West, t y l e r The members were: Joseph L. Bos tick, E F. Bostick, 1\!1. G Carlton, James A. Carlton, J. W. Farr, John W. Hendry, R. D. Moore, J. D South erland, W. A. Southerland, Samuel K. Revell, Robert Roberts, William Whid-


74 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY den, C. G. West and W. G. Whitfield. The first Masonic Hall was about where Eighth avenue and Bay street intersect. This was also :the first school building in the present townsite of Wauchula. The school occupied the ground floor and the Masonic Lodge met upstairs. Later, the Masonic meeting place was moved to Palmetto street east of the railroad and finally, in 1902, the Masonic Hall on West Main street between Sixth and Sev enth a venues was erected. The Wauchula chapter, Order of Eastern Star, came into being in 1911; the charter being dated May 11, 1911. Officers were: Mrs. Lillian B. McCall, Worthy Matron; A. C. McCall, Worthy Patron; Miss Vickie Stenstrom, Asso ciate Matron. Members of the Eastern Star order when it was formed included the fol lowing: Mrs. Lillian B. McCall, Miss Vickie Stenstrom, Mrs. Mary M. John ston, Mrs. Ella D. Southerland, Mrs. Mary 0. Folsom, Mrs. Laura H. Gools by, Miss Annie Stenstrom, Mrs. Ethel Stenstrom, llirs. Anna I. Hammel, Miss Willie Green, Miss Caddibell Farr, Mrs. Grace C. Shelton, and Mrs. Sallie Teachy. Brothers were: A. C. McCall, A. S. Johnson, A. Y. Teachy, A. J. Stenstrom, J. N. Butler, J. A. Lewis, W. E. Folsom, Geo. M. Goolsby and Dr. F. Y. Hanna. The charter for the Knights of Pythias lodge in Wauchula was issued June 27, 1904, by l\1. W. Stewart, Grand Chancellor, and W. H. Latimer, Keeper of Records and Seals. Char ter members were: J. W. Farr, J. L. Sauls, S. J. Broe r F. R. Miller, R. C. Clarke, Geo. K. Smith, A. L. Turner, George L. Cason, Jesse C. McEwe n, E. C. Stenstrom, L. W. Whitehurst, A. B. Townsend, L. N. Townsend, W. W. Green, Sam Shelton, J. L. Clarke, J. M. Beeson, D. E. Gillette, L. F, Ste phens, W. J. Raulerson, and H. C. Hoiland. The Woodmen of the World charter was granted September 6, 1905, and the following were charter members: P. G. Shaver, J. Wilson, H. F. Ceiley, E. P. Rust, R. E. Cochran, C. G. Whit ley, T. J. Johns, B. G. Wood, B. M. Edwards. The charter for the Woodman Circle was granted September 17, 1906, and charter members were: Ethel Steph-. ens, Zelma 0. Vaughn, Joseph Wil son, Robert E. Cochran, Victoria Sten strom, Effie Rainey, Laura A. Bow man, Theodora Hiers, Albert BragCion, Josiah Boston and Donnie A. Hendry. Wauchula's youngest lodge; the Odd Fellows, was organized in the spring of 1927, the charter being granted on April 20th of .that year. M. H. Platt was Noble Grand and Bryant L. Coker, secretary . The charter members were: J. H. Stewart, Lee 0. Daniels, John A Walker, W. L. Sams, 1\>I. H. Platt, and Bryant L. Coker. The Rebekahs Lodge was organized here at the. same time, the charter bearing the same date, April 20, 1927. Charter members were: Mrs. Hazel Hahn, 1\Irs. W. L. Sams, Mrs. Jennie French, Mrs. J. H. Wetherington, Mrs. Cora Ammans, Mrs. Ioane Stickle, Mrs. Ruth Car !ton, Miss Gladys Hough, ;Ray J. Hahn, George Ammans, J. A. Stickle, H. 0. Carlton and Bry ant L. Coker. Since the earliest days, Wauchula has been well supplied with good newspapers. The first paper to be es tablished here was The Florida Advocate, which made its appearance in 1901, with Geo. M. Goolsby as editor


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 75 and publisher and Mrs. Laura H. Goolsby, busines s manager. Shortly after that, a Baptist paper appeared unde r the management of P. W. Corr. It was ealled Florida Tidings and was the official organ of the State W. C. T. U Mrs. P. W. Corr was editor, and it continued for a coup le of years being first published in the A G. Smith p acking bouse just east of the railroad. About the year 1908 a paper called the Wauchula Telegram was started under the management of Hugh Sparkman. I t was printed in a small building on the site where the Bank of Wauchula building now stands. This paper lasted for a couple of years and wa s then absorbed by The Florida Advoca te. Another paper called "Land and The Law," gotten out by A. Yancy Teachy and Elam B. Ca r lton was printed here for some time, but died after a short existence. It was issued month ly. In 19 21, soon after the county was divided and Harde e county was formed, the Zolfo Truth, owned by t h e Skipper Roberts interests, was moved to Wau chula a nd the name changed to the Hardee County Herald. It was under the management and editorship of Stewart Hancock, who continues to publish it as a weekly n ewspaper. The Wauch ula Magnet, a monthly pub lication containing photographs and interesting data about this sec tion, was published by George M Goolsby for some time. Hot Shots, a small weekly publica tion, appeared during the "boom and was edited by Henry Smitter. It was short-live d. The influence of good newspapers has been keenly felt in Wauchula, and the vast amount of valuable publicity given the town and coqnty through this means has d one more perhaps than anything else to help build the county and inform the outside world of the county's possibilities and of happenings here. The Wauchula Chamber of Com merce, which succeeded the old Board of Trade, has likewise been active i n securing publicity and working for the establishment of new industries will benefit the farmers and townspeople alike. The Board of Trade was perhaps the most active organiza tion of its kind in Florida at that time and its influe nce was felt long after it had bee n succeeded by the C hamber of Commerce, which, somehow, has never been able to get the whole hearted enthusia sm and cooperation the Board of Trade enjoye

76 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY group of women assembled in Stevens Hall and there organized the Village Improvement Associat ion. Officers of that organization were: Mrs. George M. Goolsby, president; Mrs. H. C. Burke, first vice-president; Mrs. L. M. Hammel, second vice-presi dent; Mrs. T. F. Williams, secretary; Mrs. H. B. Hadsell, treasurer, and an executive committee composed of Mrs. A. C. Clave!, Mrs. D. M. Edwards and Mrs. M. A. The Village Improvement Associa tion had twelve members, and one of the first acts was to have several bar rels painted and placed on the streets for the reception of waste instead of allowing this to be scattered on the streets. If was instrumental in having several ordinances passed, which pro hibited hogs and cows from roaming the streets, and improved the town generally. In 1912 the Village Im provement Association built the band stand on West Main street, adjoining the Masonic Hall, which stand re mained in use until the new bandstand on the courthouse grounds was opened in 1927. In 1918 the Village Improvement As sociation changed its name to that of the Civic League of Wauchula. In September, 1923, a charter was secured and the Civic League was in corporated for $10,000.00 The name was afterwards changed to the Worn an's Club of Wauchula. In 1924 Woman's Club e rected its present club house at the corner of Seventh avenue and Palmetto street at a cost of ap proximately $8,000. Of the original organizers and members of the Village Improvement Association, five remained members il\ 1927, when their names were placed on the honor roll with all the full privileges of membership but without dues or responsibilities except voluntary. They were: Mrs. A. G. Smith, Mra : : Geo. M. Goolsby, Mrs. H. B. Hadseil, Mrs. A C. Clave! and l-lrs. T. F. Wil liams. The Music Club was organized on Thursday,. October 29, 1914. It held the first meeting at the home of Mrs. J. E. Garner and was c alled the La dies' Musical Club. About fifteen la die s were present at the first meeting and the following officers were elect ed: Mrs. J. E. Garner, president; Mrs. C. L. Richardson, Jr., vice-president; Mrs. Effie M. Baxter, secretary. The organization meeting was held on Friday, November 13, 1914, at the home of Mrs. Effie M. Baxter. The constitution and by-laws, having been prepared previously, were adopted at this meeting and the name chosen was the "Ladies' Friday Musicale." It bas since been changed to the "Wednesday l\f usicale." The following is the first member ship roll : Mesdames H. M. Alexander, J. H. Boyer, Effie M. Baxter, L. W. Bostick, W. B. Beeson, W. W. Carter, Harold Crews, Mrs. Chambers, J. L : Close, C. P. Durrance, Earnest Ed wards, J. E. Garner, G. M. Goolsby, E. R. Harman, John C. McEwen, W. D. Mcinnis, A. G. Smith, I. C. Smith, A. T. Smith, J. Wiley Smith, E. C. Stenstrom, A. Y. Teachy, C. L. Rich ardson, Misses Ella Beeson, :Miss Chandler, Jama Duncan, Jessie Had sell and Maude Wilkison. The club work consists of programs, biographies of composers, current events, musical history, etc Meetings are held twice a month. In April, 1926, the Wauchula Ki wanis Club came into being. A big charter night celebration was held on


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 77 April 20, 1926 attended by many of the citizens of the town. Hon. Doyle F.. Carlton, then candidate for governor and later governor of the state, was the principal speaker. Others were on the program and a banquet dinner was ser ved a t the Simmons Hotel. Charter members of the club were: W. B. Bees on, C. R. Bostick, Ralph Bloodworth, L. Grady Burton, L. M. Carlton, F. A. Chambless, E. S. Cla ve!, J. W. Ear nest, Paul C. Erler, R. 0. Evans, J. E. Garner, E. R. Harman, M. C. K ayton, J. A. Mcin nis, W. D. Mcinnis, Frank Palmer, A. A. Pouch er, J. Roy Powell, C. A. Reif, Ira Rig don, I. Silverman, AI G. Smith. L. Grady Burton was elected president, R. 0. E vans vice-president AI G. Smith secretary. The club put on a "home beautiful" contest in 1927-'28 and awarded prizes totaling $500 for the most beautiful hom es in the city. It also sponsored other movement s for the benefit of the town and in 1929 co operated with the Wauchula Lions Club in restoring Payne's Monument, a short dis t ance north of the city. Membership in the Kiwani s Club has grown to thirty-six and m eet ings are held every Tuesday at 12 :15 p. m. at the Woman's C lub. In July, 1927, the Lions Club was organized in Wauchula. The charter was presented in October of the same year and the following wer e charter members: W. C. Buchanan, L. J. Carlton, T. Hoyt Carlton, Staten H. Chance, Bryant L. Coker, L. J. Detrick, M. A. Farmer, B. T. Garrett, W. W. Gillet te, D. H. Greer, George W. Glaab, Stewart Hancock, R. H. Herr, Post Hallowes, J. A. Lane, Gordon B. Langford, G. I. R. Lentz, M. B. Miller, A. Z. Olliff, L. N. Pipkin, W. T. Pol and, Irvin Rhyan, S. F. Schwinn, Frank H. Simmons, J. F. Stewart, D. H. Swann and Marion Thompson Officer s of the club were T. Hoyt Carlton, pre. sident; D H. Greere, sec retar y, and Marion Thompson, treasurer. The Lions Club sponsored the Spring Festival held here in February and March, 1928, and h as taken an active part in other matters of a civic nature, particularly the schools and city sanitation. Weekly meeting s are held every Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. at the Peace River Hotel. The B us i n e s s and ;profess ional Woman's Club was organized on November 1, 1927, with the following charter members: Leita M. Miller Montine Powel l, Maude W ilkison, Ruth Conroy, Mary A. Patrick, Evelyn Smith, Cha rlene Smith, Mildred Ro mans, Laura Goolsby, Anna 1.\Iae Taylor, Alma Gillis Lucy Ma e Sowe ll, An nabel Mathis, Carrie Altman, Fannie Alexander and Oddie Barker. The first officers were: Mrs. Leita M. Miller, pres ident; Mrs. Montine Pow ell, vice-president; Miss Maude Wilki son, recor d ing secretary; Miss Ruth Conroy, correspondi ng secretary; Miss Mary A. Patrick, treasurer. The club has made rapid strides since it was organiz ed and has gained an enviable reputation amon g service clubs of the city. The club meets the second and fourth Monday night of each month at Miss Maude Wilkison's home. The club's major objective this year is the awarding of a scholarship in the form of a loan to girls who are unable to attend school without finan cial aid.


78 HISTORY OF HAR DEE COUNTY The club ha s a six-piece orchestra, which i s much enjoyed by the club and other local organizati ons and is well received wherever it appears. In the fall of 1926 the present mu nicipal band was organized un d e r the directio n of Professor Frank Sturchio. Prior to this time, the city has had bands for several years. One o f the first was the Wauchula Cornet Band organize d about 189 7 with the follow i ng members: A. Yancy Teachy, drum; J. C. McEwen, snare drum; L. W. Bostick, bass; E C .Stenstrom, cornet; J oe McEw en, baritone; W. A. Southerland, cornet; Jim South e rland tenor; H. C. So utherland, solo cornet, and W. K. Southerland, alto. Osca r C. R oss directed a band here for ten o r a dozen years, and finally in 1926 the present band was organ ized. Members of other bands were in strumental in forming the latest one and have given willingly of their time and energy in its behalf. The band contains about thirty pieces and gives weekl y concerts every Friday night during the summer and on Sunday aft ernoon during the winter months. The band has gained quite a reputation throughout the state, ood has appeared at s everal conventions here and in other towns A high school orchestra is also part of the musical r ealm in Wauchula, this being directed by Professor Stur c hio and compo sed of members of the local high school. It plays for high school entertainments, commencement, etc. On May 23, 19 1 9, World War vet erans met in Wauchula and organized the Wauchula Am erican Legion Post with the following officers: C. D. Frazier, post commander; F. A. Cham bless, post vice-commander; J. T. H an cock, post adjutant; W. W Giilette, post finance officer; J M. Simmons, post sergeant at arms. Some fast work o n the part of Post Commander Frazier put the organiza tion papers before the state officers and at the first department convention in J acksonvill e June loth and 11th of that year and the Wauchula post was officially chartered as the Herger Wil liams Post, No. 2, Ameri can Leg ion, Department of Florida. The name was chosen becaus e Herger W illiams was the first Wauchula boy to give hi s life in France. Herger Williams was born in Wau chula, August 8, 1897. He was edu cated at the Oak Grove grammar sc ho o l and at Wauchula high school. He enlisted in the army on Septembe r 16, 1917, and was trained at Camp Whe eler, leavin g the r e June 12, 1918, and arriving in France July 1st. He was at onc e sent to the Argonne and was wounded in action July 18th and died from his wounds on July 81, 1918 He was buried at Lemogne Heights on the Marne river i n France and in the spr ing o f 1921 the r emains were brought back to Wauchula and buried with full military hon ors in Oak Grove cemetery The local Legion post has been particularly ac tive durin g time s of dis tress and has given aid in storm stricken of the state during 1926 and 1928, for which national citations were received. it has also been of real service to veterans in solving their postwar problems.


HISTORY OF BOWLING GREEN The town of Bowling Green was un known prior to about the year 1885. Where paved streets and sidewalks, business houses and residences are now, was nothing but a wilderness forty-five or fifty years ago. Wild game abounded and the foot of civili zation had tread but lightly upon this section at that time. Maps made by United States government surveyors between 1843 and 1855 show only two families living anywhere near the presen t townsite of Bowling Green. A family of Pelhams lived in the College Hill section and a family of Underhills lived about where the Zazelli grove is now. There was not another family living within three miles of the present town. There was, however, a fort near there. This was called Fort Choconic la, or Chokkonikla, established October 26, 1849, and abandoned July 18, 1850. It was garrisoned April 30, 1850, by the Headquarters and Companies E and M, Fourth U. S. Artillery. The fort was on a high bluff over looking Peace river and the surrounding country. All traces of it have practicaUy disappeared now. When the Florida Southern railroad was being constructed south from Bartow toward Punta Gorda, Bowling Green became a reality. Just prior to that time, several fam-79 ilies had settled in that vicinity. The first to homestead where the present townsite is were A. M. Chester and N. M. Bryan. In 1885, a year before the railroad came through, a post office was estab lished. It was caUed Utica and A. M. Chester was the first postmaster. The first man to build a store in the town was J. T. Bryan, who was succeeded by Cyrus Jones and I. A. Mason, who sold general merchandise for some fifteen years. In 1886 a number of Bowling Green, Kentucky, people came to the town then caUed Utica and made large pur chases of land. They changed the name of the place from Utica to Bowling Green, in honor of Bowling Green, Kentucky. The first train came through the town early in 1886 and a year later the railroad was completed south as far as Punta Gorda. C. M. Keck, who now resides in Iowa, was the first freight agent and t e legraph operator. The first school i n Bowling Green was a little frame building containing one room, and was on West Main street; about opposite where the base bl!ll park now is. Louis Chastain was the first teacher. The Peeple's Hotel was the first es tablishment of its kind in the town.


80 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY It opened when the town first started and was operated by R. H. Peeples. Soon afterward, the Bryant Hotel, operated by A. A. Bryant, was opened. Mr. Bryant also built the first blacksmith shop and operated this also. Early settlers included the follow ing: Travis Bryan, N. M. Bryan, J. T. Bryan, A. B. Bryan, A. M. Chester, Dudley Buck, I. A. Mason, W. R. Mi nor, Harry Stansfield, S. B. Hogan, A. Sauls, A. W. Vogler, H. M. Rudisill, G: H. Gill, C. A. Bryant, A. A. Bryant, R. H. Peeples, V. W. Surrency, Bas com Carlton, and others. The first Methodist church built in the town was erected in 1889 just east o i where the present church is located. Later it was removed to the present site. Rev. D. A. Cole was the first pas tor and D. H. Barnett was presiding elder for the district. The first Baptist church was built in 19Q9. The first preacher called was Rev. Charles Martin. Both the Methodist and Baptist churches were added to about the year 1927 and both have large congrega tions. There is also an Adventist church, which serves both Bowling Green and Wauchula. The Bowling Green Masonic Lodge, No. 121, was established in the year 1904. Rev. Peter Brown was the first Worshipful Master. The Eastern Star lodge, known as Ella Padgett chapter, was organized in 1908. Mrs. Emily F Surrency was the first Worthy Matron and Rev. Armistead was Worthy Patron. In the Bowling Green territory there was at one time four turpentine dis tilling camps, one each on the north, south, east and west sides. These have long since been forgotten and now only traces of them remain, one being in the northern part of town, along the railroad r:ight-of-way. A large sawmill is now the only manu facturing industry in the town. There was a steady and substantial growth in the community, and in 1915 a new brick school building was erect ed. This is the present school building, which takes care of the educational needs of the town and community. The town of Bowling Green was in corporated in 1906, and J. R. Vaughn was the first mayor. About the same year, 1905, in the rear of T. R. Starke & Co. store, the first bank was organized. It wa& known as W. R. Minor & Co., bankers, and was a private institution On April 22, 1908, the bank was or ganized as the State Bank of Bowling Green. G. H. Gill was president and W. R. Minor cashier. These officers continued to guide the destinies of the institution for twenty years, until their deaths in 1928. The bank was closed for about a month during the summer of 1929, due to a financial cri sis in the state, but reopened on August 20, 1929 J. H. Durrance is president; W. A. Hendry vice-presi dent; T H. Jones, cashier, and Miss Marcia H. Minor, assistant cashier. The bank serves the entire town and con:munity and has many d epositors scattered throughout the county. Between the years 1910 and 1920, Bowling Green was 'videly known as a watermelon shipping center, sending out several hundred carloads of mel ons each spring. This industry has declined somewhat during the last few years, but in the spring of 1929 sixty four cars of this commodity were shipped.


HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 81 However, the decline in watermelon growing was followed by a remarkable increase in strawberry production the town now being widely known as a strawberry center. The soil and cli mate seem admirably adapted to this industry, and Bowling Green straw berries have enabled Hardee county to win numerous first prizes at the South Florida Fair for the last seve r al years. Last spring the town sent out 161 carloads o f strawberries, in addi tion to many carloads of cucumbers, cabbage, beans, tomatoes, turnips, cit rus fruits and mixed vegetables. Cattle-raising was at one time an important industry, but .this has died out now. 'rhe first paving in the town was of brick and was laid at a cost of approx imately $8,000. It consisted of four blocks. I n 1 926 about two miles of paving were put in at a cos t of about $200,000, which included the sum spent f o r impro vem ents. Several blocks of white way lights were also installed. The Hotel Green Terrace was erect ed as a municipal project in 1926 and is still owned and operated by the city. It cost more than $50,000 and is quite an attraction to the town, being of charming style and well planned. It fronts on the Dixie Highway which runs through the town, .and is fre quently called upon to entertain trav eling men and tourists. There is also the Bowling Green Hotel, opposit e the depot, which has operated for many years. It is a pri vate institution. There is also a board ing house. The town now has four dry good s stores, five grocery stores, two seed stores, two hardware stores, two drug stores, two barber shops, two blacksmith shops, one shoe repair shop, two hotels, one boarding house, one sawmill, one grist mill, several ga rages, a motion picture theater, a telephone exchange, two physicians, a telegraph office, a large vegetable shipping shed, and other industries and facilities. The population is estimated at about 1,200 and the town is well laid out, having wide streets and beautiful shade trees. These trees were planted by committees of women from the churches. Bowling Green boasted of a news paper before any other town in the county could claim one. Back in 1898 there was a paper at Bowling Green, called the Bowling Gre en Champion. It was published by Mrs. Neva C. Child, who ran it for a couple of years before moving to Arcadia. After that time there was no news paper in the town until 1925, when the Bowling Green Exponent was started by Stewart Hancock. In 1 926 the Bowling Green N ews was started by the Shaeffer -Brokin g Company, of Sebring. H. Allen Smith was editor of this paper and it continued to be op erated only about six months. Then it was purchased by E. S. Holman, who continues to publish the paper as the Bowling Green Exponent and News. Bowling Green has a mayor-com missioner form of government. C. T. Ratliff is mayor and the following, with the mayor, are commissioners: W. H. Fortson, C. L Taylor, \V. J. Case, and William Cliett. E. C. Keck is city manage r and clerk, and E. E. Fussell is chief of po lice. The city offices are upstairs in the State Bank of Bowling Green building.


82 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY The Business Men's Club, sponsored by the Wauchula Lions Club and or ganized in the early summer of 1929, has a large membership among the local business m e n and meets every Wednesday at 12:15 at the Green Ter race Hotel. C T. Ratliff is president and E S Holman secretary. Bowling Green offers many advan tages t9 the man who is looking for a place to live. The soil is fertile, the climate agreeable, and good roads, schools and churches are available The people are progressive and pros perous, and the community, like others of the county, is sound.


HISTORY O F ZOLFO SPRIN G S The first settler in the Zolfo Springs section was David D. Mahan, who homesteaded where the present town is located about the year 1878. Mr. Mahan had a log house in which he and his family lived. Later, he sold some land to a Dr. Arnold, from Fort Mea d e The first store in the town was built about 1 886, after the railroad came through, by J. P. Childs. He was also the first postmaster. Along in the 1890s the Metho!list church was organized there, in a little frame building whe .re the present church is located. Rev. Sam Carson was one of the first preachers. He also conducted services at Scott's. phosphate mine at that time. Later, a Baptist church was organized and these two churches serve the commu nity today. The town grew rapidly in the early days and between the years 1895 and 1900 considerable business was carried on there. A scho o l was established there in 1898, t h e el ection being hel d in July of that year. Prior to that time, there were schools at Popash, Lemon G r ove, Scotts, Bowling Green, Wauchula and elsewhere in the county. In 1918 the Zolfo Truth Publishing Company was organized and a paper started there. George W. Adams was 83 the first editor of this paper. Later, Stewart Hancock became editor and in 1921 the paper was moved to Wau chula and the name changed to the Hardee County Herald. The town was without a paper then until about 1 925, when the Zolfo Sun w.as started b y E M. Miller. I t was shortlived and passed out of existence late that year. A bank was organized at Zolfo Springs along about 1910 by Skipper & Skipper, Bankers. Later, it became the State Bank of Zolfo and occupied the brick building opened at a Fourth of July celebration about 1910 or 1911. In 1922 the bank moved to Wauchula and the name was changed to the Hardee County Trus t Company It contin ued to operate until in February, 1929, when it closed. The Citizens Bank of Z olfo was organized in 1.922 and opene d }lay 1st of that year. I t operated until February, 1929. A consolidated school is located at Zolfo Springs, and two fine brick build ings are there. One was built some years ago wh il e the other was com pleted in 1926 They are ample to care for the needs of the town for so::veral years to come. The town was incorp orated in 1911 1>nd revised in 1 913. The following are the officers: G C. Bryan, mayor; B. H. G. Kistner, president of council; r


84 HISTORY OF HARDEE COUNTY S. Hall, D. Flowers, H. A. Licht, coun cilmen; Bergie Kight, clerk and tax collector; D. N. Hall, treasurer and tax assesso r. The town of Zolfo Springs contains two hotels, two packing houses, a tel egraph office, two churches, two splen did brick school buildings, completely equipped a seed store, two garages, two general stores, a community house, paved streets, electric lights, and other conveniences. Z olfo Springs got its name from sul phur springs l ocated there. The idea that this is an Indian name is er roneous, according to old settlers, who say it is simply a short way of saying and spelling sulphur. The springs, strongly sulphur, contain medicinal properties and a large fiow of this pure, cold water fiows into a swim ming pool, which is the delight of hun dred s every year. The springs are easily reached and are but a couple of hundred yards from the Dixie High way. The place is used as a picnicking ground by groups from this and ad joining counti e s. OTHER SETTLEMENTS There are two other incorporated towns in Hardee county, besides those already mentioned. They are Ona and Limestone. The town of Ona, one of the oldest settlements in the county, was first located at the Reason Cowart corner on the road to the present town. John Parker and his two sons, William Hooker and Reason Cowart, were ear ly settlers at Ona. There was a post office there and mail was carried out from Wauchula. When the C. H. and N. railroad was built through the western end of the county, the town of Ona was moved to the present site, on the railroad. There is a post office, depot, several stores and garages, a nd a packing house at Ona. Limestone grew up when the rail road was built in 1913. It was prin cipally a lumber n:anufacturing town. The Germain Lumber Company oper ated a large mill there for several years. The town is incorporated, as is Ona. Other towns along the C. H. and N. railroad include Fort Green, original ly started by Jim Green, who built a fort to keep out the Indians; Fort Green Springs, which came into being when the railroad came through; Van dolah, built principall y by the Wau chula Development Company as a set tlement of Russians and Polacks. The town of Gardn e r was first know n as Calvina and was across Charlie Apopka creek. T. E. Fielder cought considerable land where the town now is and it was chiefly through hi s efforts that Gardner was estab li shed. He is really the pioneer of the t ow n. The town of Buchanan wa s named after John Buchanan, r oadmaster of the A. C. L. It was a turpentine manu facturing settlement and the Norman Huber company operated the r e. Torrey was also started by John Buchanan, the roa dmaster, for his father. John !'llofllt started the town of Mof fit after the railroad was built through the county. A large lumber mill was once located there. Two of the oldest settlements in the county are Lily and Crewsviile. John Platt was one of the first settlers of Lily and governn:ent map s of 1855 show families of Platts living in the


H I STORY OF HARDEE COUNTY 85 Lily section. Crewsville was started by Demps Crews and John Collier, who owned cattle in that section. They built a store there and before the A. C. L. railroad came through the coun ty in 1886 Crewsville was quite a set tlement. Popash was another old communi ty. A family of Thompsons lived there about 1855 and in 1859 a fan:ily of Smiths moved to that section. Dave J W. B oney was one of the early set tlers, g oing there about 1870. He had a store and grove there. The school there was started about 1898 and S. B. Hogan was one of the first teach e rs. The Friendship community was an other old settlement, s tarted before the Confederate war. Calvin Hare wa s one of the first settlers, as was David J. W. Boney. Mr. Boney later sold out his holdings there, returned with Con federate money to Carolina, and when this money turned out to be worthless, returned and settled at Popash. There was at one time quite a settle ment at Sweetwater, when the Lockleys, Ed Wade, Eli Whidden, Frank Richards, and others settled there. Thus we see that the settleme tlts away from the r a ilroad nnd highways, though they were star ted earlier than the others, amounted to little as t ow ns because of their location. The towns like Wauchula, Bowling Green and Z o lfo Springs grew up later but main tained a steady and substantial growth because of their central locations, on highways and railr oads. Most of the. old settleme!lts, as ... ;n be noticed, were started by cattlen:en and pio neers who came into the new country, cleared land and went to work. Grad ually, they let their friends know of the opportun itie s and new settlers came in. It was by hard work and perseverance tha t the communiti es and the county came into being. It will take more of the same stuff to keep them going; but with tj:le proper spirit of co-operation and by taking advantage of our opportunitie s we shall be able to see bigger and better communities and a better and m o r e prosperous county. THE END


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