Selected Dates From Hernando History
Submitted by: Roger Landers

Feb 21  The first settlers, numbering 101 whites and 59 slaves, enter the central part of the Seminole territory that will become Hernando County.

Sept 12  The Seminoles attack the McDaniel party near Chocachatti killing Charlotte (Mrs. Richard) Crum.
Feb 24  Hernando County created by the Territorial Legislature from Alachua and Hillsborough County. It is a large area bordered on the north and east by the Withlacoochee River, on the west by the Gulf of Mexico and on the south by the Hillsborough River.
Mar 6  The name changed from Hernando County to Benton, in honor of Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, proponent of Indian removal and the Armed Occupation Act.
There are four post offices in the county, Chocachatti,, Homosassa, Augusta, and Ft. Dade.

March 3  , Florida admitted to the Union with a population of 57,921 and a state budget of $140,000.
March  County Commission urged to select a permanent site for the county Courthouse
United States Census records in Benton County, 926 white and 314 slaves

Dec. 24, the name of the county changed back to Hernando
Bay Port becomes a prosperous center of commerce with a US Customs house and Steamship terminal.
June  The coastal community of Bay Port chosen as county seat
January  The bid sought to build courthouse at Bay Port, stirs emotions that led to the change of location of court to Pierceville until a suitable location is chosen.

May-July  On May 14, Seminoles attack the Bradley home in southern Hernando County. Two of the Bradley children killed. This is the last Indian attack on a settlers homestead east of the Mississippi. The Indian scare lasted through July.

July  In early July a sever storm washes away roads and leaves cultivated lands under 12to 15 inches of sand. Mail from Tampa and Ocala is suspended indefinitely.

Oct  On Oct. 15 John May and Joseph Hale agree to sell 15 acres each on a hilltop for a courthouse. The town named Brooksville in honor of Representative Preston Brooks of SC. in recognizing of his stand on "States Rights".
In the spring, the new town of Brooksville surveyed by Joseph M. Taylor [a local attorney] and divided into lots and blocks. The First Monday of July, city lots offered for sale by County Commission.

June  Bids for construction of the Court house are let for a two story structure, 50 x 35 foot, that is expected be completed by the 1st of September 1858.
The school known as the Brooksville Academy that was located in the Union Baptist Church, has permanent home in a two room 30 x 60 structure built by James M. Breaker
Population estimated at 1200 because the census records for county are lost. Dr. Benjamin W. Saxon selected to represent Hernando County in the Secession Convention.
January 22  Dr. Saxon died of diphtheria after voting for secession in Tallahassee and replaced by Joseph M. Taylor a Brooksville attorney.

MarchThe 20th Regiment of the Florida State Militia met in Brooksville and members warned to be ready for imminent attack. In May Walter Terry Saxon organized a volunteer company that will become Co. C of the Third Florida Infantry.
General Joseph M. Taylor (from Brooksville) of the Florida State Troops takes command of Ft. Brook [Tampa]
April  US Blockade Ships visit Bay Port
July  Federal Troops land at Anclote and Bay Port for raid on Brooksville

Yulee sugar plantation destroyed by Federal raiders
April 9  Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House, VA

May 10  War ends in Florida with the surrender in Tallahassee of confederate forces in the state. Martial Law declared in the state and William Marvin of Key West appointed provisional governor.

June  The citizens of Brooksville learn of the surrender and Confederate soldiers north of Tampa surrender at Bay Port.
The Reconstruction period begins through out the south. Hernando County, the southern tip of the plantation belt, will suffer great difficulty. Confusion over laws, old feuds and new relationships between the races breed contempt. Former Probate Judge Perry G. Wall is as Agent for the Freedman's Bureau in Hernando Co.
The new Florida constitution gives broad powers the Governor. He will appoint all county level officials except legislators and constables. July 4the Florida readmitted to the Union. The first republican governor is elected to office, Harrison Reed (1868-1871)
The population of Hernando County is 2938. The commander of the Florida State Militia appoints Arthur St.Claire, Captain and Joe Mills 1st Lieutenant in the third Brigade.
Brooksville Colored School is the only public school operating in the central part of the County. On Jan 1, the post office at Pierceville is officially renamed Brooksville with Henry Roundtree as postmaster. During this period numerous whippings, murders, lynching and burnings occur. In two separate incidents Federal Tax agent Marcus Brant is murdered and "persons unknown" seriously wound County Judge Henry Roundtree. The Klan is active in Hernando.
A Sawmill constructed at the mouth of Withlacoochee River to cut cedar timber for pencil mills in the North.
The eleven years of Reconstruction era ends in Florida with a compromise in the 1876 election of Rutherford B. Hayes to the Presidency. With the election of Gov. George F. Drew [1877-1881], the period of "Redemption" the taking back of control from the Republicans begins. A new era of lawlessness begins.

July  Arthur St.Clair, prominent black minister and candidate for the legislature killed near Spring Lake. During the night of Sept. 29, the Hernando County Courthouse burns to the ground with all records lost. The cause of the fire thought to be arson. The October term of the Circuit Court is suspended. The perpetrators of the murder of St.Clair not brought to trial.
June  The County commission received three bids to construct a new courthouse. R.E. Quinn of Brooksville for will build the two-story facility at a cost of $3000.
Hernando County's first newspaper began The Crescent, by Fred L. Robertson.

A second attempt made to destroy county records. This one foiled by the townspeople when fire discovered in the rented offices of the sheriff's.
October 11  The City of Brooksville is incorporated and officials elected. The city limits are set a 1/2 mile square around the courthouse. The population of Hernando County is 4248. The population living in and around Brooksville is 1200 divided about equal between White and Black. In the same year, the new Court House is occupied
July  A shoot out occurs in the courthouse at the Brooksville Mayor's Court.

The city limits of Brooksville expanded to one mile square.
Fred L. Robertson appointed Aide-de-Camp to Gov. Bloxham [1881-1885] and Hernando County organizes as a detached company of the volunteers in the State Militia. The armory is located on the north side of the square near present day Sun Trust Bank.
Hernando County at last connected to the outside world with the arrival of the telegraph. The Hernando Real Estate Agency opens and great growth expected in the "Hill City" of South Florida
The Brooksville Telegraph Company chartered by the state.

The City of Brooksville received the insurance underwriting map from the Sanborn Map Company. The report also indicates no fire equipment in the city and a poor water supply.

For the 1885-86 school term, there are 74 public schools operating in Hernando County serving 2381 pupils.

The Bailey Syndicate offers "A Rare Chance...For a profitable investment in Hernando Land", and the Land Boom begins.

The railroad finally comes to Brooksville through the untiring efforts of John J. Hale and others. While a rail connection through Brooksville hoped for as early as 1857, the county had been unsuccessful in its efforts. The development of the county is hampered by the lack of a rail connection. The new connection, while only a spur line welcomed with enthusiasm. In 1907, the Florida Southern line a component of the Plant system began regular passenger connections daily.
Hernando County divided into three (Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco) counties.

Hill City Guards organized at Brooksville as a volunteer company of Florida State Troops. At this time all state troops reorganize into all-voluntary units.

In August, the County Commission reneges on an agreement to dig an artesian well in the city. It will be forty years and the issue of bonds that complete and up to date water works and sewer system is finally in place for the city.

At night the city streets in and around the town square are lit with Kerosene lamps. Gaslights replaced kerosene by 1905. In 1908, J.C. Burwell of Brooksville Ice and Storage Company furnishes the city with twenty electric lights. In 1925, Florida Power and Light Company charted and began buying small local utility companies. The Evans Company, at the time furnishing electric power to the city, was one of those whose assets purchased.
The first phosphate shipped from Florida and news of the richness of Florida hard rock spread through out the country. Soon a new industry reached Hernando County. From its meager beginnings, the industry soon becomes a major employer in the county. Mining communities came and went with the national economy. Names like Shands and Baker, Camp, McDonald, Florida Rock will long be remembers by locals. Today rock mining is still a major player in the overall economy of Hernando
In February Hernando High School begins operating for a four-month term for grades 1-12.

The big blow made particularly obnoxious at Brooksville. It wrecked the Methodist church entirely, badly damaged the Baptist church, lifted the unfinished Presbyterian Church from its blocks and dropped it upon the ground and downed trees in every direction.
Hernando County gets a bank with the organization of the Brooksville State Bank. Problems arose and in 1897, the bank closed. The Brooksville Banking Company organized and sold its assets to The First National Bank in 1910. Another new bank organized in 1905, Hernando State Bank, located at the corner of Jefferson and Howell still operates today as Sun Trust Bank
Free school books furnished for all pupils of the county beginning in Dr. J. R Temple was superintendent. The driving force behind the new policy was the board chair Mr. M.R. Burnes. Hernando County for many years was the only county in the state to have such a policy
On the night of Dec. 29, a great freeze decimated the citrus crop of Hernando County. The local citrus industry began in 1852 with the first planting of orange trees by Joshua Stafford. A second freeze six weeks later, Feb 9, 1895 killed the remaining trees to their roots. The citrus growers would come back with improved rootstock and farming methods. Other problems hurt the industry but in 1944-45 seasons, Hernando produced 300,000 boxes of fruit, the best season. Growing Oranges, tangerines and mandarins and grapefruit the growers did well until the freeze of 1994-95 when many of the groves were not re planted.
Dr. H.T. Lykes of old Spring Hill relocates his operation to Tampa. His impact on the cattle industry will prove far-reaching. Cattle had been a part of the Hernando landscape from the Seminole days. During Civil war period, some of the large herds shipped to support the Confederate cause. Local herds of cattle grew larger during the 1880's and roamed free in southern Hernando. The Lykes family introduced the Brahman cattle into Florida and pioneered many innovations in animal husbandry.
A concern for the lack of fire protection and unsafe conditions is brought before the city commission. Many homes have no brick or stone chimneys and pose a severer hazard. New requirements put into place. In 1899, a large fire destroys nine city blocks on both sides of north Main Street. A 1910 fire destroys Hernando High School. In 1914, another fire destroys the block south of the courthouse. The fire of 1917 destroys the Varnada Hotel and with the fear of a great catastrophe, assistance requested from Tampa. The Tampa mayor sends two fire engines by rail to Brooksville. These fires accidental or not leave Brooksville with a reputation as a "hot". One older attorney is said to have remarked to an acquaintance after being told that his store was about to be repossessed by the bank, "you have fire insurance, don't you".

On August 28th, William Hope, the last of the original settlers died and is buried in the Hope family cemetery
William Shernman Jennings, Brooksville attorney and state legislator, elected the 18th Governor of the State of Florida (1901-1905). Brooksville Population is 641 inhabitants and the county population is 3638. The streets of Brooksville remain unpaved and without sidewalks
Hernando business hampered with out a bank for several years, was bolstered when the Hernando State Bank was chartered.

Hernando County is assigned a voluntary company of State Troops and designated as Co. M of the 2nd Regiment with W.C. Croom, Captain and F.L. Stringer 1st Lieutenant. The county population is 4,010.

In the same year the Varn Turpentine and Lumber Company begins operation in Hernando. The turpentine industry, very labor intensive, will continue well into the 1940's. The lumber industry found Hernando County very welcome. A number mills and lumber related communities developed shortly. The largest Centralia began operation in 1911. The mill itself had a capacity of producing 100,000 board feet per day. The operation was very large and had a mill town with 1,500 inhabitants. When the mills closed at Centralia and Enville and moved to other parts of the state around 1920 the county population dropped significantly
Company M of Brooksville National Guard reorganized into a platoon of Company B of Orlando. The platoon called to service to assist the Sheriff of Citrus County with civil unrest in June and served two days. They arrive too late to prevent the lynching of the prisoner.
The Hernando population set at 4997
The commission selects the firm of Chambers & Co of Birmingham, AL and Fort Worth, TX. as the architect to develop plans for a new courthouse.

The plans submitted in June rejected as "unsuitable" and the firm of William A. Edwards selected in September. By December 23, J.F. Jenkins & Co. selected to build the new courthouse for a cost of $42,150
The first auto dealership opens in Brooksville. It is a Ford.

Mr. AMC Russell, of Brooksville, a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction with free textbooks as part of his campaign platform died May 4 before the election.
New Courthouse is dedicated and the Armory of the local National Guard unit is located on the block across from the current Brooksville Library on Howell Avenue.
July 7th the county commission rescinded its earlier plan to pave 10 miles of roadway with bricks. They chose instead to continue the practice of using a combination of sand and oil to pave 100 mile of road. The roads of Hernando County little more than graded sand with some clay mixed in and had served the county well over the years. The automobile brought on the need for better roads. By 1925, a $1million dollar bond issue passed to provide needed improvements. One such improvement was the construction of a causeway from the Bayport road to Pine Island.
The county population is 6291
Brooksville drills well for municipal use
Florida Land Boom began only to collapse in 1925
Hernando Population is 4548 reflecting the closing of the lumber mill at Centralia. Women get the right to vote at age 30 with passage of the 19th Amendment to US Constitution. Prohibition began and many in Hernando go into the moonshine business
In late December, the shareholders of the Hernando Plantation Co. finalized their plans to develop large citrus groves in southern Hernando. Naming the community Masarytown, the new immigrants set to work. The freeze in the winter of 1927 brought ruin to the community. However, reshaping itself into a chicken farming and egg operation, A.G. Mazourek organized Hernando Egg Producers, Inc. and soon became the largest egg producer in the state
City charter changed to mayor-council form of government.

Depression began in Florida with the collapse of land values
City tax assessment issue leads to another change in the form of city government to three-member commission elected for three years and the mayor chosen for the elected commission.
Voting age of women changed from 30 to age 21
Nationwide depression begins with the collapse of the stock market
Hernando population 4948
A fence is constructed and cattle guards installed around the city to prevent livestock from wondering the city street ending a problem that had plagued the town from its beginnings.

Hernando remains a "dry" county with the end of Prohibition nationally.

July 4th, five convicts escape from a road construction camp at Tooke Lake. The sheriff of Hernando County asks for assistance from the National Guard in Tampa to help restore order at the road camp.
Hernando population 5641
Brooks Field, Army Air Corps training base for B-17's and alternate field for McDill Field is in operation. Located south of Brooksville, on US`41 is a hub of activity during the war years. The first impression of Brooksville by many young flyers is one of Police Chief W.D. Cobb, with his large pistol at his side, standing next to his patrol car at the corner of Broad and Main St.
In July, the City Commissioners complete negotiations with War Assets Administration for the lease of the old air base as a flight school and general airport for the county. The surplus property, electrical, mechanical, and structures sold locally.
Post war Vets run for office and elect Monroe Treiman County Judge and Joseph E. Johnston, Jr. (Hernando County's first full time lawyer) to the Florida State Senate.
Open range for cattle prohibited in Florida. County Commissioners are elected based on county wide vote but must still reside in individual district
Hurricane "Easy" rolls through Brooksville and deposits 32" of rain in a day and 1/2. Population of county 6693
Annexation brought change in the size of the city with the addition of the area along south US Hwy. 41. In 1955, another annexation failed. The city would have doubled population from 2000 to 4000.
County votes to remain "dry" by a vote of 1437 to 1334.The total population is 11,205
The voters change their collective minds and approve the sale of alcohol and liqueur by the drink
Deltona Corporation (Mackle Brothers) began sale of homes in Spring Hill for $250 down and $2 per day for principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

Claude Kirk is elected the first republican governor since Reconstruction.
In March a statewide teacher strike attempt to paralyze the schools of the state. Eighteen teachers in Hernando leave the classroom. The local school board refuses to rehire these teachers after the strike is over. The board further refuses to hire any teacher that had participated in the strike until 1976.

The last graduating class leaves R.E. Morton School. In August Hernando High School is intergrated.
All public schools in Hernando County are integrated.
The population of Hernando County is 17,004

The county began a period of phenomenal growth. Retirement communities boost the need for service-oriented businesses. Along with the growth in retirement communities, young families enter the county and schools become crowded.

In October, the black students of Hernando High School state a "walk out" in protest over racial insensitivity.
The city annexes Cloverleaf Farms
Hernando County adds a new high school in Spring Hill named Frank W. Springstead High School
Margaret Willard, long time City Clerk becomes the first City Manager.

Population of County is 44,469
Jim Cummings becomes city manager. The financial stability is a major issue during this time. Several of the City utilities are operating with a deficit.
Central High School the third high school in the county opens in Spring Hill.
Population of county reaches 101,116
In June, the City employs Jim Malcolm as interim manager. Three months later, his position is permanent. The council embarks on a new business strategy to plan. During the next twelve months, several development projects began, a sewer upgrade in south Brooksville, refurbishing the old brick streets and redevelopment of downtown Brooksville.

Unfortunate events mar the forward momentum. The death of Russell Coat spurs a period of racial unrest and a recall of two of three council members deflect the energy of the city. Mayor John Tucker survives the recall only to loose his bid for reelection.
The new sewer plant is operational on Cobb Rood upgrading the infrastructure of Brooksville
The population of the county is in excess of 130 thousand
The Suncoast Parkway opens and connects Hillsborough with Pasco and Hernando County. Resurgence in land development follows.
Nature Coast High School, the county's 4th high school opens.
The city limits expand to ten square miles. One year later the city limits add another section to bring the total to eleven square miles.