History

History

Masaryktown- A bit of Paradise

Special to Hernando Sun, Elaine Tokos Hogue

I want to share my experience of living in Masaryktown, Florida located 40 miles north of Tampa and 10 miles south of Brooksville on the western coast of Florida. Masaryktown was a small poultry- egg producing farming community, comprised of approximately 300 Slovaks and some Czechs. I say “was” because although the town is the same today, the population and structure are now totally different.

The Founding of Spring Hill

ROCCO MAGLIO

The community of Spring Hill was founded in 1967 by the Mackle Brothers’ Deltona Development Corporation. The Mackle Brothers had already successfully started developments in a number of areas: Key Biscayne, Marco Island, Deltona, and many others. The main entrance to the original development was at the Spring Hill waterfall located at Spring Hill Drive and US 19 (Commercial Way). The original master plan only included 15,000 acres. The plan included seven school sites, 23 church sites, 500 acres of commercial property, and 2 golf courses.

The City of Weeki Wachee

Hernando Sun Staff

There are two cities in Hernando County Brooksville and Weeki Wachee. Weeki Wachee is known as the "City of the Mermaids". It consists of the 12,000-acre Weeki Wachee Preserve, the Weeki Wachee Springs park and a few homes.

In 1947, Newt Perry started Weeki Wachee attraction. Girls performed by eating, drinking, and accomplishing other regular tasks under water. In 1966, someone had the bright idea of incorporating the City of Weeki Wachee, so it would appear on road signs and maps. Thus, the city of Weeki Wachee was born to provide free advertising for the park.

William Sherman Jennings, Brooksvillian who became Governor of Florida

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William Sherman Jennings was born near Walnut Hill, Illinois. After graduating from Union College of Law (now Northwestern University School of Law) in Chicago he moved to Brooksville, Florida. He served as lawyer and judge in Hernando County. William met his future wife May Mann at her father's house near Brooksville. Austin Mann, May's father had just won election to the state house of representatives. Austin was a former Florida Senator.

The Conversion of a Church and Restoration of a Cemetery

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Howell Family Cemetery on Olive Street

Jack and Jeanne Lovelace live in the former St. Anthony the Abbott Catholic Church on Olive Street in Brooksville. Behind their home is an old cemetery that was forgotten and neglected for decades. The cemetery was never a part of the church, but a family plot, part of the 160 acre Howell Plantation. In 1907, Robert J. Mickler sold a small piece of property from the Howell Estate, which he inherited from his late wife Mary Howell, to establish a much needed Catholic Church.

An Oddity from the Past: Governor Sidney Johnston Catts

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Sidney Johnston Catts was a pastor turned insurance salesman.  He seemed an unlikely choice for governor with bright red hair and one eye. He struck a cord with his slogan that "Florida Crackers have only three friends in this world: God Almighty, Sears Roebuck and Sidney Johnston Catts." In 1916, he entered the Democratic primary for governor of Florida. He led after the vote, but lost the nomination in a recount. Many felt that backroom dealings had robbed him of the nomination. Harnessing these sympathies he then changed parties and ran as the Prohibition Party candidate for Governor.

The Lykes Brothers and the Original Spring Hill

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Rocco Maglio

More than 100 years ago, Dr. Howell Tyson Lykes moved to Brooksville to get into the cattle and citrus business. He had seven sons and they each joined the family business which was incorporated in 1910 as the Lykes Brothers. The main operations were moved to Tampa and they shipped cattle to Cuba aboard a three-masted wooden schooner.

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History Mystery

Who is this Man at the Foot of a Giant Cypress?

In the early part of the 20th century, logging was a big industry in Hernando County. Giant Cypress such as the one pictured here was in high demand for shipbuilding and to support rapidly increasing population growth. Entire mills often relocated to a new area after they had cut down all the lumber in their vicinity and had to shut down as is the case for the Central Cypress Lumber Company which founded the Centralia lumber mill. So much information has been lost in the past century. Can you help to solve this history mystery and identify the man above or have any related details?

Know Hernando!

What is this in Tom Varn Park?

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by Julie Maglio

This structure stands in the middle of Tom Varn Park which was once the Brooksville Quarry. According to historian Frasier Mountain, a railroad track once ran to this spot to bring coal from Alabama for the steam boiler that powered a pump used to recycle water from the slush pond. The ponds in Tom Varn Park adjacent to the structure were once the deepest points of the slush pond (15’-20’ deep).