Hernando County

Our History Follows Us Into The New Year

written and submitted by: Roger Landers

this article appeared in the Hernando Times Edition of the St. Petersburg Times Monday, December 31, 2007.

At the end of the year, one tends to reflect on what is past and then glimpse to the future. This series of local history articles has covered a range of subjects, from Hernando's first historian, to interesting people from the past, to a nostalgic walk about town.

If you are a student of Seminole history in Florida, you might think of a Dec. 30 newspaper headline (if we would have had a newspaper then) that read: "December 28th Ambush of U.S. Troops; All Feared Lost."

Of course, that was 172 years ago when Seminoles under the leadership of Jumper and Micanopy surprised Maj. Frances Dade and his command near the northeast corner of old Hernando County. Actually, three men did survive.

This is a great story, one that is re-enacted each year on the last weekend of December at the Dade Battlefield near Bushnell. It's a family friendly event with an accurate portrayal of the event and well worth your time. If you missed this year's re-enactment, mark your calendar for next year. You can also visit the Dade Battlefield Society or the Seminole Wars Foundation pages on the Web for more information.

In these columns, I have tried to be as correct and accurate as possible. I attempt to use primary sources whenever available, but sometimes I rely on information from others' histories. When a mistake is made, I try to acknowledge the error and fix it, lest the mistake become history.

Two mistakes this year involve the Sept. 12, 1842, Seminole attack on the McDonnell party near Chocachatti, killing Charlotte (Mrs. Richard) Crum. I incorrectly reported name of the party as MacDaniel.

Second, I gave the wrong date for the burning of the Bayport Hotel. A 1960s article recorded the date as November 1944. The actual date, reported at the time in the Brooksville Journal, was Sunday, Oct. 17, 1943.

As an aside, in the same edition of the Journal (Oct. 21, 1943), the editor noted:

"Mr. J.M. Rogers of the Rogers Department Store left Sunday night for St. Louis, where he goes to stock up on Christmas goods. He says he will have a large selection during the holidays and can assure his customers of the very nicest articles to be found."

Suggest a topic

To suggest topics or if you think I have made a mistake, please contact me at roger58@gate.net.

Should these articles spark some interest in local history, I am pleased. There are several opportunities around to explore old Hernando.

The first and best known is the Heritage Museum at 601 Museum Court, with hours from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The collection held in the May-Stringer house is extensive.

The second is the Russell Street Train Station at Russell Street and Brooksville Avenue. Hours of operation are from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Inside the old depot, you will find genealogy records, documents and files with myriad local history and lore.

We are lucky to have other organizations that provide varied approaches as we look at history.

The Genealogy Society of Hernando County meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Yontz Road in Brooksville. While the group does not focus solely on local history, many of its members are local and enjoy helping others as they explore their family history.

The Old Hernando History Roundtable is a group of individuals who share a common bond - the history of the "old county" (Hernando, Citrus and Pasco). The meetings are quarterly (February, May, August and November) on the third Thursday of the month. The informal group meets for lunch at 11:30 a.m. at John's Corner Family Restaurant in Brooksville. The meetings are open to all and do not require reservations. Archaeologist Gary Ellis of Crystal River will give the program on Feb. 21.

The Hernando County Historical Advisory Commission is charged, among other things, with promoting public interest in and preservation of local history. The commission meets monthly at Brooksville City Hall at 3 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month. The public is welcome. The Historical Commission has a Web site, www.hchac.com.

(This commission has been disbanded and the website is no longer in existance)

The Hernando Preservation Foundation's sole mission is to finance preservation efforts in Hernando County. Membership is open to anyone, and all contributions support local preservation projects.

Hernando County has a rich and varied history. Why not read and study it. Make a New Year's resolution to join and support the efforts to prevent the loss of a valuable and vanishing resource.

Roger Landers is retired from the Hernando County School District, where for nearly 33 years he was a teacher, principal and district administrator. He is the historian for the county's Heritage Museum, historical adviser to the new Hernando County Historical Advisory Commission and a member of the Florida Historical Society. He can be reached at roger58@gate.net.