“Pasco County Line”
Pasco County Genealogical Society
Vol. 1, No. 1
All rights reserved
The first residents of Pasco County were Indians. Authorities agree that the peaceful Timucuans may have lived here in the 1200's. Indian mounds and traces of artifacts near fresh water springs seem to bear out this theory.
Around the year 1750, fragments of tribes from the Southwest migrated to Florida and became known as the Seminoles. The French settlers at Fort Caroline on the east coast of Florida generally enjoyed good relations with the Indians, but the Spanish were not so lucky. By the time the Spanish sold Florida to the U.S. in 1819, adventurers, run-away slaves, and renegade Indians sparsely populated the territory.
The Indians were aggressive during this period, and Andrew Jackson led soldiers into Florida to subdue them. As a result, a series of forts were established to protect and settle the area in Tampa, the north Pasco-Sumter area, and Ocala.
In 1835 the Seminoles massacred General Dade and his troops and the Seminole war began in earnest. It lasted seven years and hundreds of settlers and Seminoles were killed. In 1837 General Jessup may have had as many as 2,000 soldiers and dependents living in the vicinity of Fort Dade, north of the present site of Dade City.
Florida became a state in 1845, and activities at the fort began winding down. In about 1849 a dozen families were living on plantations in the area that later became Dade City. Florida had been admitted as a slave state to the Union. But in Pasco, ownership of two or three slaves qualified a farm as a "plantation".
Pioneer life in Pasco was a struggle. The climate, mosquitoes, and yellow fever were enemies. But the farmers persevered, cleared land, and managed to provide for themselves and their families. In 1855 a stagecoach line operated between Tampa and Palatka along the old Army trails.
The Civil War began in 1861. Although Florida as a Confederate state, Pasco County was too far away to be much affected. Men from Pasco served on both sides. Bayport, in Hernando County, was shelled during the war and a skirmish with the militia was fought. After the war the population began to increase in all directions.
In 1887 Pasco County became a county carved from the larger Hernando Territory. It was named in honor of Samuel Pasco, a U.S. Senator. About 1890 several things happened to change the economic future of Pasco County.
The Spaniards had brought citrus to Florida in the 1500's. Indians were fond of the sour orange and cultivated them in a limited way. Because of the casual manner of cultivation, the fruit grew in groves. Citrus was enjoyed locally but limited transportation facilities and the lack of refrigeration made the citrus industry unprofitable. When the railroad came to Pasco County all that changed.
While Dade City was a thriving community at the turn of the century, life on the west coast had not come so far. The earliest settlers we know of lived in the Seven Springs area from around 1830. These brave people struggled through many hard times including the Seminole War years.
In 1878 the first families settled in the Hudson vicinity and a community in Sampling Woods (Elfers) began to thrive. In 1883 Captain Richey and his family resided at the south of the Pithlachascotee River. He ran a mail boat to Tarpon Springs and freight service from Anclote to Cedar Key, an important port on the west coast. In the first census of 1890, 3,872 whites, 376 blacks and one Indian resided in Pasco County.