Historic Hernando County: Masaryktown

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To learn the history of Masaryktown, one needs first to learn about a Czechoslovakian community in New York City. Namely, one needs to look at a Czechoslovakian newspaper named The New Yorsky Dennik. In 1924, the paper’s editor, Joseph Joscak, devoted several articles to extolling the virtues of life in Florida. For many in the New York Czech community, Joscak’s articles were describing paradise. An extended, rewarding farming season was a much easier life than the coal mines, steel mills and factories that many within the community were used to.

Joscak’s close friend Klement Ihrisky worked with him in gathering information about starting a farming community in Florida. On September 15, 1924, a meeting was held in New York City where the two of them assembled like-minded individuals to discuss purchasing land to start a community. They originally wanted to purchase a parcel of land out by Orlando, but they found the land too swampy. They decided instead on a tract ten miles south of Brooksville in Hernando County. This land is what would eventually become Masaryktown. They group founded a corporation through which to handle the transaction. The company came to be known as the Hernando Plantation Company.

When the original shareholders first set foot on their new land, they found that they would have a hard time clearing it for farming. There was no place for them to stay initially, so they went north into Brooksville and were taken in by some gracious residents. As they began to build their new community, they named it Masaryktown after the first president of Czechoslovakia, Thomas Garrigue Masaryk. They named the north and south-running streets after American presidents and the east and west-running streets after famous Czech figures in history in culture.

As the town began to take shape, orange groves were planted. This did not end well for the new inhabitants however, as the groves died off within two winters. Many residents abandoned the town at that point. Those who insisted on continuing to remain farmers instead of finding new professions struggled in finding a sustainable, marketable crop. This changed when poultry farmer, Stephen Otruba moved into the area from Aripeka. The farming sector of the community quickly shifted gears and thrived with their new enterprise. The poultry farmers formed the Hernando Egg Producers, Inc., in order to better organize and oversee production. The new company would eventually become the largest egg producer in the state. The community has stayed true to these roots all these years later. Their industrious spirit and work ethic have become one of the pillars of Hernando County.

Source: http://www.fivay.org/masaryktown.html

Historic Hernando County: Hernando De Soto and the Utina Tribe

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In May of 1539, Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto landed in what is now known as Tampa Bay. His expedition headed north into what is now Hernando County. On July 23, 1539, De Soto passed though the village of Vicela. They slept just beyond the village outskirts before heading further north into Citrus County the following day. Vicela was located near what is now Istachatta in the northeastern portion of Hernando County.

We know plenty of Hernando De Soto and his accomplishments, but what of the village of Vicela? Most of the village’s history is lost to us, but we know some about its inhabitants. The village of Vicela was inhabited by a tribe of Native Americans known as the Utina, or in some instances, the Timucua, from which the Utina branched off. The tribe had settlements stretching from the Suwannee River to the Tampa Bay Area out to the St. Johns River.

Some sources indicate that the Utina had over forty towns under their chief’s rule, however other sources dispute that claim, citing many of them as independent. Vicela was one of the towns thought to be firmly under Utina control. It was one of several such settlements in the Tampa Bay region at the time, and De Soto passed through several of then on his expedition north.

A missionary letter from 1602 estimates the Utina population at around 1,500 people. This is though to be a low estimate. Most of the knowledge we have of the Utina and their parent tribe, the Timucua, comes from records from missionaries stationed in these settlements at the time. Through them, records of their language and grammar came to be collected.

It is believed that the Utina and the Timucua were driven to more consolidated dwellings as tribal warfare, disease and Spanish conquest ravaged their numbers. It is said they first converged near St. Augustine and later relocated to somewhere in Volusia County before fading from record. Speculation suggests that the remaining members of the tribe were assimilated into the Seminole Nation. Thus, another tragic chapter in the rich and vibrant history of Hernando County closes.


Utina or Timucua Indian Tribe Location
Markers to give De Soto his due

Historic Hernando County: The Mining Town of Oriole

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Oriole was a mining town in Hernando County, Florida during the 1800s. Today, a ranch sits on part of the land that once was a thriving mining community. Not much is known about the history of the town, but here are a few things that we have been able to find.

– Oriole was 1 ¼ miles away from the Withlacoochee River.

– Oriole was near Oriole Lake.

– Oriole was settled in 1884 by J.A. Clarkson Jr.

– Oriole’s population was approximately one hundred people.

– A cemetery was built adjacent to the town by the Giddens family in 1890.

– The mine was run by the Oriole Mining Company.

– The town of Oriole once had its own post office. It closed in 1898.

– While the Giddens family founded the Oriole Cemetery, many people mis-identify the location as Giddens Cemetery. The actual Giddens Cemetery is located in the Ridge Manor area of Hernando County.

– The Oriole Cemetery is the third oldest in Hernando County.

– The Oriole Mining Company received a permit to mine phosphate at a rate of fifty tons a day in 1912.

While most records indicate that the town of Oriole died out in the late 1800’s, this appears to be contradictory to the last fact of the Oriole Mining Company still have a noticeable presence in the area as late as 1912. It is difficult to find a definitive source for information on the town, making confirming information a very daunting task. The information provided is the most comprehensive information available online, pulled from multiple sources. Many professional databases have come up with less information about Oriole than is provided here. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge.


Oriole Cemetery Hernando County

Oriole Cemetery

Lake Oriole Ranch

Historic Hernando County: The Centralia Logging Community

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In a previous post, we looked at a historic site in Hernando County, the Oriole Cemetery that once served the now defunct town of Oriole. This article looks at the history of another such ghost town, Centralia.

In what is now one of the more sparsely populated areas in Hernando County once stood a thriving hub of industry. In the early 1900s, the town of Centralia was one of the larger logging communities in Florida. The town boasted a population between fifteen hundred to two thousand people at the town’s peak. By comparison, the city of Brooksville was only to home about five hundred people at the time. What is now one of the largest cities in the county was once dwarfed by this short-lived logging community.

The town was founded sometime in 1910, by most accounts and only endured for twelve short years before fading into history in 1922. During the boom period, Centralia boasted one of the most robust economies in the state. Stores there were better stocked than those in Tampa or Jacksonville. The mill was the model of efficiency for its time. A post office sprang up and a thriving community built up around the mill.

The town faded into obscurity as the forest was bled dry by the demand for lumber. As the supply ran out, so did residents’ patience. People moved on in search of greener pastures and better opportunities, leaving Centralia a footnote in history. While valiant efforts have been undertaken to restore the forest to its former glory though re-planting, the community that once numbered triple to quadruple the size of Brooksville is now among the least densely developed areas in the county.

Hernando County has a rich history settlements that have faded from existence. This slice of history serves as both an amusing anecdote and a cautionary tale about economic development and humanity’s impact on the environment. We would do well to know our history and learn from it, seeing to both the survival of our own communities and natural landscape around them.

Source: http://www.fivay.org/centralia.html

Swimming With the Manatees

In a previous post, we showed a tour of Pine Island, one of Hernando County’s most well known beaches. Here is a family of manatees at that beach. The baby manatees are nursing on their mother for all the beach to see. Those looking for fun in the sun got a show on that day.

(Note: This video was created by Fred Bellet. The Bonnie Barbieri Team makes no claim of ownership to this video. We posted it here as an informative tool to showcase one of the area’s top attractions.)

The Hernando County Coastline By Air

This video by John White shows a rather breathtaking view of the Hernando County coastline as seen from the air. It really is a sight to behold. If you are a nature lover, you are missing out by not visiting Hernando County and taking in everything there is to see.

(Note: This video is property of John White and is posted here as an informational tool to highlight the area’s appeal to nature enthusiasts. The Bonnie Barbieri Team makes no claim of ownership of this footage.)

When You Need Your Hernando County Home SOLD!

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When you need your home sold in Hernando County, from Spring Hill to Weeki Wachee to Brooksville, the only team you need is The Bonnie Barbieri team at Re/Max Marketing Specialists. Check out our ad and see why we are the best choice in local real estate. When you have seen what we have to offer, come see us at 3377 Mariner Blvd. in Spring Hill.

Historic Hernando County: Oriole Cemetery in Withlacoochee State Forest

Hernando County has a rich history, and thanks to intrepid souls such as YouTube’s FLtrailblazer, we get to see sights that many would never have even known about. The Oriole Cemetery was adjacent to an old mining town named Oriole in the late 1800’s. Oriole was a built around a phosphate mine, that at its peak, produced 50 tons a day. The cemetery is cited as the third oldest in the county. It now lies nearly forgotten, deep within Withlacoochee State Forest.

(Note: This video is property of FLtrailblazer and is posted here as an informational tool to highlight the area’s rich history. The Bonnie Barbieri Team makes no claim of ownership of this footage.)

Giving Back at the Office

The Bonnie Barbieri Team at Re/Max Marketing Specialists held a special luncheon to give thanks for the support from title company, Homes & Land Title, her broker Jim Highberger, staff members Fred Moutran and Nancy Alexsuk, along with owners Alan, Karen and Ross Hardy. The office’s support team, Pat Simser, Heather LaMondra and Sarah Dunham, also received recognition for their outstanding contributions. Asked about the event, Bonnie Barbieri said, “The support from these folks gives all of us here the opportunity to be more successful. We have a very supportive environment. It’s fun to come to work everyday!”


Seated from Left to Right – Pat Simser, Karen Hardy
Standing Left to Right – James Highberger, Ross Hardy, Bonnie Barbieri, Alan Hardy, Paula Dispensa, Nichole Poliakon, and Diana Foster.