History of Salt Springs Area and the Confederate Salt Works

Section 20 - Township 25 - Range 16

View along Salt Springs Run 2007
View looking towards Salt Springs along Salt Springs run, where the water from the spring flows along a tidal creek to the Gulf of Mexico.  (Photo 2007)


Located along the West Coast of Pasco County, obscured in an area of tidal marshes just north of the Pithlachascotee River, is a natural spring known as Salt Springs.  Today this tidal marsh containing Salt Springs is surrounded by the ever growing population around it.  The Salt Spring is located behind the Gulf View Square Mall along a dirt road named Salt Springs Road.

This spring has a deep rich history and has been the scene of activity for several hundred years.  To get a better understanding of the History of Salt Springs we have took look back to the early 1800's when the Seminole Indians where living throughout our area and Florida, these Indians were drawn to areas such as Salt Springs.  Throughout the area known as Salt Springs was the existence and presence of Indians.  These Indians traveled along networks of trails that stretched along the coast of Pasco and Hernando Counties.  Through the History of Florida there were three Seminole Indian Wars fought, the first dated 1817-1818 and the second 1835-1842.  The Second Seminole Indian War was the most active war of the three.  By 1855 the Third Seminole Indian War was underway and lasted until 1858 at which time, for the most part, the Seminole Indians had been driven out and removed from area completely.  

Seminole Indian Wars
During the Seminole Indian Wars the U.S. Military was steady at work building a network of roads connecting the numerous military forts and posts that were also being established throughout Florida.  Many times these early military roads followed along the network of trails established previously by the Indians.  The forts were garrisoned with supplies and ammunition to offer support for those serving with the U.S. Army, allowing them to travel across the state.  Other military forts or posts offered a place of refuge for the few settlers that were in the area during the time.  The intricate network of military roads eventually assisted in the migration of settlers to the south.  These early settlers braved the hostilities of the Indians who didn't like the white man, during the times of outrage women and children would seek refuge in the nearby settler forts while the men would go out to defend their family against the savage Indians.  During the Second Seminole Indian War, the area around Salt Springs was the location of military activity as the military began to establish roads along the coast.

Among the earliest military roads to be established along the west coast of the Pasco and Hernando County areas, was built in 1838 by Col. William Davenport.  William Davenport was a decorated military man, according to the Appleton's Encyclopedia of American Biography, NY 1887, Davenport was "born in North Carolina and died in Philadelphia April 12, 1858.  He was made Brevet Colonel "for meritorious service in Florida July 7, 1838, then advanced to full Colonel while once again posted to the 6th Infantry [Regiment], June 14, 1842; later he was transferred back to the 1st Infantry in July, 1843 where he served in prior. Davenport resigned his commission and left the service on 31 January 1850."  According to a report from Col. Z. Taylor dated January 4, 1838, "the 1st Infantry, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Davenport was 197 strong."  Davenport and his detachment conducted numerous scouting expeditions throughout Florida, including the Pasco  and Hernando County area, during the Second Seminole Indian War.  During these expeditions, Davenport's detachment engaged in numerous skirmishes with the Indians, which resulted in the capturing of several.  Col. Z. Taylor goes on to write, "To Lieutenant Colonel Davenport and the officers of the first infantry, I feel under many obligations, for the manner in which they have, on all occasions, discharged their duty.  Their eagerness to engage, and the promptness and good order in which they entered the hammock, when the order was given for them to do so."  Col. Davenport and his men were eager to fulfill their duties in service and were spoken of highly.  

Among Col. William Davenport's accomplishments, during his service, was in the years of 1838-39 when there were numerous military roads ordered opened, among these was a road opened by Davenport and his detachment.  This road followed along the west coast of the area that would become Pasco and Hernando Counties and is among the first roads established in these areas.  During this time the Pasco and Hernando County areas were supported by two military forts, which were named Fort Dade and Fort Cross, these forts were garrisoned.  There was another fort to the south, near the Hillsborough and Pasco County line named Fort Foster, which was situated along the Hillsborough River, also garrisoned.  To the north near Floral City was the location of Fort Cooper, these four forts formed a cross pattern for the Pasco and Hernando County area.  An intricate network of military roads connected these forts to larger forts located to the north and south.  The 1837 map below shows that prior to 1838 and Davenport's road being built, there were no roads beyond the road leading from Fort Cross [northwest of Brooksville] to Fort Brooke [Tampa], which is known today as U.S. 41.

1837 made by Major-General Macomb for use by troops during Second Seminole War
This military map dated 1837 was made by Major-General Alex Macomb for use by troops during the years of 1836, 1837, and 1838 of the Second Seminole Indian Wars.  Fort Foster on this map is now the location of the Hillsborough River State Park.  (click here for larger image) (Map courtesy of U.S.F. Special Collections)

From Fort Cross located at the southern tip of the Annutteligua Hammock, which was situated northwest of present Brooksville, Davenport and his detachment proceeded to follow their orders to build a road.  Departing from the road leading from Fort Cross to Fort Brooke [Tampa], the detachment pushed and chopped their way through the thick jungles of Florida likely engaging in skirmishes along the way.  According to detailed military reports, "The country through which this operation was conducted was mostly swamps and hammocks; some pine-barren, interspersed with numerous ponds.  The Annutteligua (the laying-down spot) hammock is fifteen miles long and seven broad.  The Chococharte hammock (Red House) is thirteen miles and eight broad.  The soil in these hammocks is said to be the richest in Florida.  The timber is large and of great variety.  The magnolia grande flora grows to a large size; many trees are eighteen inches to two feet in diameter.  At the proper season the forest is fragrant with the order of its blossoms.  The undergrowth is impenetrable, consisting of scrub oak, palmetto, and grape-vines; so thick that a passage can only be made with assistance of an axe, cutting a foot-path as through a wall.  At the distance of ten feet an individual is totally obscured.  The wet hammocks are more formidable but less frequented.  In most of them the water stand the year round, from four to six inches deep, with a thick undergrowth, intermixed with cypress stumps and trees.  The cypress-swamps are generally filled with water, from one to three feet deep.  The trees are covered with a heavy dark-green moss, festooned from tree to tree like drapery, totally obscuring the sun, almost the light of the day.  A green scum floats upon the surface, and when disturbed by footmen, the atmosphere become impregnated with a noxious effluvium.  Communicating with the wet and dry hammocks, are portions of land called scrubs, consisting of a stunted growth of oak and pine, from two to ten feet in height, with an undergrowth of brushes and vines."

Eventually Davenport's men reached an area near to the head of the spring-fed Chasahowiska River, where the likely camped for several days.  From here they built their road south with several small roads branching towards the coast and the mouth of the river.  Along the Chasahowiska River were several Indian trails leading to a small village site situated at the mouth of the river where it meets the Gulf of Mexico.  After exploring the woods south of the Chasahowiska River, Davenport and his detachment proceeded south where the crossed the spring-fed Weeki Wachee River, this time downstream from the head spring.  Again Davenport and his men likely camped in this area  as they built a small road that branched toward the mouth of the Weeki Wachee River, these were the first roads built in the area of Bayport in Hernando County.  After exploring the woods along the Weeki Wachee River, Davenport and his men again proceeded south.  

As the detachment proceeded to travel south they passed through the area known today as Hudson, here the detachment circled Hudson Springs.  After travel about 20 miles to the south Davenport's detachment arrived to another area of small tidal ponds.  While traveling through this area Davenport's men circled the ponds searching the woods for the enemy along the way.  One of the tidal ponds had a small creeks running from the pond to the gulf, here Davenport not only circled the pond but also crossed the creek.  The small pond and creek proved to be Salt Springs and its run.

After traveling another mile or so, the detachment came to another river, this was the Pithlachascotee River in New Port Richey.  Again its likely that Davenport and his men camped in the area as they proceeded to build a small road branching towards the mouth of the river toward the gulf.  After exploring the area at the mouth of the river, the detachment, pushing and chopping their way farther south arrived at the Anclote or Etshashotee River.  Here the detachment likely camped again as they built another small road that branched from the main road, toward the mouth of the river.  After exploring the woods along the Anclote River, Davenport and his men traveled back in-land [east] towards the main road, leading from Fort Cross to Fort Brooke [Tampa], where they had departed some 30 miles to the north at Fort Cross.  When completed, Davenport's road became the only road along the coastal areas, for this Davenport deserves a place of recognition in Pasco and Hernando County History.  This newly opened road allowed the U.S. Military access to areas where there was no access prior, allowing them to explore new, unexplored, Indian territory.  From these roads should be the military could proceed, by horse back, to the coastal areas engaging  in skirmishes and capturing Indians along the way.  In most cases orders were typically given to establish military posts once the new roads were completed.

These new roads allowed the military detachments access to places where they could construct new forts and establish new settlements.  In most cases the military created maps from reconnaissance and road building expeditions such as Davenport's, maps were compiled with the help of these field officers and their reports.  Today, portions of the roads built by Col. Davenport, in 1838, are still in use known as the Old Dixie Highway, Old Post Road and parts of U.S. 19.

1839 map showing road opened by Col. Davenport in 1838
This 1839 map compiled by order of Brig. General Z. Taylor was compiled from the surveys and reconnaissances of the Officers of the U.S. Army.  Note the location of Col. Davenport's road along the coast, which came with-in close proximity of Salt Springs.  The road located in the middle of the map leading from Fort Cross to Fort Brooke is known as U.S. 41 today.  (click here for wider and larger image) (Map courtesy of U.S.F. Special Collections)


The building of Davenport's road was not the only service that would bring him and his men to the Pasco and Hernando County area.  By the end of 1838 Brig. General Z. Taylor decided it was necessary to visit the troops that were under his command in Florida.  On July 20, 1839, Taylor filed a detailed report, from Tampa, telling of his visit to Florida.  According to the report, "Brevet Colonel Davenport, with five companies 1st Infantry and one company 2d Dragons, was directed to search for the enemy between the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee rivers, especially through the swamps and hammocks bordering the Gulf of Mexico, in the Wahoo Swamp [Sumpter County], and the cove of the Withlacoochee.  I [Taylor] remained at Tampa collecting small parties of Indians, and opening communication with Col. Davenport, until about the 27th of November [1838].  Col. Davenport having reported that he had completed his examination of the hammocks and swamps between the Suwannee to within a short distance of Tampa, through the cove of the Withlacoochee and Wahoo, as far south as the Fort King Road, meeting a few Indians in one instance, and with the few signs there having been, he was ordered to join Major Wilcox, then engaged in opening the road, from Tampa to Fort Mellon [Seminole County], and aid in the completing the same.  Major Wilcox had been placed on duty by Col. Cummings, then commanding at Tampa.  At that time Col. Davenport was directed to look for the enemy at the head-waters of the Withlacoochee and Hilsboro, and around Tohopkiliga [an Indian Village].  Davenport and his detachment covered an area stretching from the Hillsborough and Pasco County line, all the way north to the Suwannee River.  During this expedition Davenport and his men also searched the areas along the coast of Pasco and Hernando Counties where they had previously built their road, here the benefits of the Davenport road can be realized.

As the Second Seminole Indian War campaign closed in 1842, Florida was opened to settlement under the Armed Occupation Act of 1842.  While there had already been two Indian Wars prior, Florida was still inhabited by Indians in 1842.  Prior to the Armed Occupation Act of 1842, most settlers in Florida were considered squatters as they lived on land they did not own.  On August 4, 1842, "An Act to provide for the armed occupation and settlement of part of the peninsula of East Florida", was passed.  This act was passed for the purpose of promoting settlement of Florida by white settlers.  The act further states that it was opened to "any person, being the head of a family, or single man over eighteen years of age, able to bear arms, who has made, or shall, within one year from and after the passage of this act, make an actual settlement in Florida".  Since Florida was still inhabited by Indians the act essentially encouraged able bodied men who could bear arms to settle, these men would become support for the U.S. Military troops during the Third Seminole Indian War.  It was further enacted, no land "shall be acquired under this act within two miles of any permanent military post of the United States, established and garrisoned at the time such settlement and residence was commenced."  This meant that all settlement under the Armed Occupation Act had to occur at least two miles from any "permanent and garrisoned" military post, this encouraged the white man to settle in areas still inhabited by the Indians.

Shortly after the Territory of Florida was opened to settlement, it was accepted into the Union and became an official part of the United States of America.  On March 3, 1845, Florida became the twenty-seventh state in the United States.  William D. Moseley was elected the new state’s first governor, and David Levy Yulee, one of Florida’s leading proponents for statehood, became a U.S. Senator representing the newly formed state.  The citizens of Tallahassee presented the new incoming Governor, William D. Moseley, with a flag that flew at his inauguration.  However, because of a controversy surrounding its motto, it never became an official state flag. (click here to see first Florida flag)

Following Florida's admission into the Union in 1845, a survey of the entire state was ordered.  Surveyors, like early settlers, braved the hostilities of Indians and the disease ridden swamps of Florida to conduct this survey of the state.  It took these surveyors years to conduct their surveys, after which their information was compiled into maps.  In some areas of the state surveys had to be stopped and postponed to later dates due to the number of Indians and hostilities throughout the area, including the area of Zephyrhills, which wasn't surveyed until 1880.  During the months of August and September of 1848, the area known as Salt Springs was surveyed by Deputy Surveyor John Jackson and chain-men John F. Baker and John F. Davis.  Included in the survey of the Salt Springs area was the road built by Col. Davenport ten years prior in 1838.  We learn from the original survey that Davenport and his detachment actually circled Salt Spring while passing through that area.  Davenport's road can be seen located on several different sections of the original survey as it stretched from the north to Salt Springs.  Davenport's road through the area of Aripeka, to the north, reveals that his detachment encountered what is noted in original survey notes as an "Indian Old Field".  These fields are where the Indians grew their food supply of rice, corn or pumpkins; these fields normally indicated that there was a village site in the area.  

Original Survey by General Suveyor John Jackson, 1848
This section of the original survey of T25-R16, dated 1848, shows the area of Salt Springs.  The dotted looking line running from the top to the bottom of the map is Davenport's road built in 1838.  The circles along the road are where Davenport and his detachment circled bodies of water, the small circle on the line between section 17 and 20 is Salt Springs.  (click here for larger view)  (Survey courtesy of Bureau of Land Management)


With the territory being opened to settlement in 1842, the population growth exploded.  By 1850 the population had grown to 87,445, including about 39,000 African American slaves and 1,000 free blacks.  Settlement throughout both Pasco and Hernando Counties also increased and there were numerous new settlements forming.  In most cases these settlers would settle within close proximity of the garrisoned fort or as close as they could under the Armed Occupation Act.  In the areas that were some distance from the garrisoned forts, these settlers would build a block house to be used during retreat of hostilities from the Indians.  Along with the new settlers came the establishment of new roads, not only built by the settlers but the military also continued to improve and build their roads.  

Under Statehood and with the threat of the Indians diminishing, Florida turned its focus to internal improvements, including transportation.  This focus was supported and assisted by the United States Congress, as there were several acts passed granting land to the State of Florida.  Each State had an Internal Improvement Board appointed or selected to serve this need.  Among the internal improvement acts passed was on September 28, 1850 when Congress passed the Swamp Land Act.  The terms of this act gave to every State in the Union title to "swamp and overflown lands" that laid within its borders.  So that there was no mistake as to what lands should be claimed under this act, it was clearly specified, "clearly and unequivocally grants to the several States, those lands which, from being swampy or subject to overflow, are unfit for cultivation.  In this class is included also, all lands which, though dry for part of the year, are subject to inundation at the planting, growing, or harvesting season, so as to destroy the crops, and are therefore unfit for cultivation."  It was also at this point that the State of Florida was given legal right to open all regular public land to sale through the land offices, property could now be purchased by settlers in addition to being homesteaded.

Among the others acts granted, to benefit internal improvements, was on May 17, 1856, as Congress passed an acted titled, "An Act granting public lands, in alternate sections, to the State of Florida, to aid in the construction of railroads in said state."  This provided the State of Florida with large amounts of land to begin the establishment of railroads throughout.  The Act further describes, "That there be and is hereby granted to the State of Florida, for the purpose of aiding in the construction of railroads from the St. John's River, at Jacksonville, to the waters of Escambia Bay, at or near Pensacola; and from Amelia Island, on the Atlantic, to the water of Tampa Bay, with branch to Cedar Key, on the Gulf of Mexico; every alternate section of land designated by odd numbers, for six sections width on each side of each said roads and branch."  This act promoted the growth of Florida by the building of railroad.  The purpose of this act was to connect the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico by reason of railroads.  This act created the first railroad empire of Florida as the Florida Railroad Company was formed with former Florida U.S. Senator David Yulee representing the company as President.  Yulee started and built the first railroad under this act and company, stretching from Fernandina Beach, Jacksonville to Cedar Key.  By 1857 there were talks and discussion regarding the extension of this new railroad through the Hernando and current Pasco County areas, to Tampa.  It was during this time that Senator David Yulee was also appointed serve on the Board of Internal Improvements, deciding the distribution of funds and lands for the railroad.

On January 11, 1851, approximately one mile south of Salt Springs the fist property in the area was purchased from the State of Florida made possible by the previously passed acts.  This property, located along Davenport's road and situated in the hammocks running south of Salt Springs and north of the Pithlachascotee River was comprised of 200 acres and had been purchased by John Parson in partnership with Nannie C. Yulee, wife of Florida Senator and railroad king David Yulee.  This 200 aces is described as being situated in S32 T25 R16, approximately one mile south of Salt Springs.  The Yulee/ Parsons partnership purchased several large tracts of property located along the coast and along Davenport's road, including properties in Anclote, Aripeka, Hudson and Bayport; where Parsons lived for some time.  These lands were not randomly selected but were instead strategically selected by this partnership as all of the properties were selected and located along rivers where ports or wharfs could easily be built for the purpose of shipping goods.  In addition all of these properties were selected along Davenport's road, the only road through the coastal area.  

John Parsons was no stranger to the area either.  Parsons had been born in Rye, New Hampshire on January 4, 1816 to parents Dr. John W. Parsons and Abigail Garland Parsons.  Coming from a decorated military family, Parsons, at age 20, enlisted into the military under General Harney for service in the Florida Seminole Indian Wars.  Parsons also served on the staff of General Reed during his war service, at which time he was promoted to the ranks of Major.  Major John Parsons' service in the Seminole Indian Wars brought him to the coastal areas of Florida and to the areas of Hernando and current Pasco County.  On August 8, 1855 the Rev. F.L. Hawkins married Major John Parsons and Susan Decatur while they were living in New Hampshire, John and Susan latter settled in Hernando County.  Soon after marriage, John and Susan would have two children, John Decatur born June 5, 1862 and died Sept. 29, 1884 and Susan Ten Eyck born Sept. 3, 1863 and died Dec. 12, 1876.  Parsons' father, Dr. John W., in addition to being a doctor and military officer, was appointed to serve the New Hampshire Legislature as State Senator.  It was this appointment to the senate that the Parsons family came into contact with Florida Senator David Yulee.

Yulee's participation and insight with the internal improvements underway in Florida, coupled with Major John Parsons' knowledge of the Florida coast from his services in the Seminole Indian Wars, created one of the most successful business partnership in Florida's History.  Yulee had already acquired large amounts of property in Fernandina and Cedar Key where he was building Florida's first railroad under the direction of the Florida Railroad Company, which he led.  This new railroad was to create and connect shipping areas along the Atlantic to shipping points along the Gulf of Mexico, for the purpose of the export of Florida's crops and allowing new settlers the ability to travel the state.  Knowing that it was the intentions of the state to have the railroad extended to Tampa from the Fernandina/ Cedar Key main-line, Parsons and Yulee became business partners purchasing large tracts of land at the mouth of nearly every major river.  The Yulee/Parsons partnership purchased these lands with the intentions of building ports and wharfs, which would be located along the extension of the railroad to Tampa, running through Hernando and current Pasco County.  By 1857 Yulee would have control of the railroad industry in Florida, allow no one else to build along the routes established by Congress.  In addition the Yulee/ Parsons partnership would control and owned several large tracts of property strategically placed for the purpose of future ventures following the railroad through Florida.  As progress of the railroad was slow, Hernando County residents became impatient with the Yulee railroad monopoly as it seemed to be only for the best interest of David Yulee instead of serving the interest of the people.

It was sometime between 1851-1856 when a new road was established and built to the area north of the Pithlachascotee River and south of Salt Springs, to the vicinity of the Yulee/ Parsons 200 acres.  This new road, like Davenport's road, stretched from the Fort Cross area or Annutteligua Hammock and from an area near current Brooksville.  This new road was built running in a south-westerly direction, from the area of the current Brooksville, for about 25 miles ending in an area north of the Pithlachascotee River and south of Salt Springs.  It is believed that this new road was built as a shorter route to the coastal area and to the Yulee/ Parsons 200 acres.  While Davenport's road was the first road built to the coast and through Salt Springs serving its purpose, it wasn't the most direct route to travel when coming from the Fort Cross area, the Annutteligua Hammock or Pierceville [Brooksville].  Davenport's road from the Fort Cross area to Salt Springs was approximately 42 miles in distance while the new road constructed in 1856 was only 25 miles, a little more then half the distance.  This road may have also been built with the intentions of extension of the future railroad from Brooksville.

This new road first appears on maps in 1856, as a Jacksonville bookseller by the name of Columbus Drew compiled a map of the State of Florida.  Columbus Drew titled his map, "Map of The State Of Florida, Showing the Progress of the Surveys from the Annual Report of the Surveyor General for 1856"; the area in yellow indicated original Spanish Land Grants.  Columbus Drew's 1856 map is the first to show the new road leading to the coastal area, this road does not appear on maps prior to 1856 including the original survey of 1848.  Drew's map has been further described as, "Township map showing drainage, cities and towns, roads, trails, and location of two railroad lines in the northern part of the state.  Stated scale reads: 12 miles to an inch, it is corrected in ink to read 18 miles."

1856 map by Columbus Drew from the annual report of the Surveyor General
This map dated 1856 was composed by Jacksonville bookseller, Columbus Drew from the annual report for the Surveyor General's Office.  Here the new road leading to the coast is clearly shown.  It must be noted that this map is not exactly accurate with the placement of location and rivers and towns, perhaps due to the errors in scale.


The Third Seminole Indian War was short lived and only lasted three years starting in 1856 and ending in 1858.  There were some events that led up to the third war but many of these stories weren't as important as the progress of Florida's internal improvements, as the last of the Indians was captured and sent to reservation in the mid-west.  With the ending of the military campaign against the Indians and the hostilities ceased, people were able to return to their normal lives and back to tending to their farms.  Since the area was free from Indian hostilities more people began to move to Florida and the development was underway.  Soon after the establishment of the new road in 1856, was the establishment of a small settlement.  This settlement was located, again, in an area of the swamps and hammocks to the south of Salt Springs and to north of the Pithlachascotee River.  The name of this new settlement was Pittitochoscolee, a slight variation from the name of the nearby Pithlachascotee River, an Indian name meaning canoe building river.  Just as there is very little information on the road built leading to Pittitochoscolee, there is very little known about the settlement itself.  Both homestead records and state land records show that no one owned any property in the area of the settlement of Pittitochoscolee other then the Yulee/ Parsons partnership.  If anyone did live here they would have been considered squatters as they did not own the land under law.

While the road to this area can be clearly seen on maps dating from 1856, the name and location of this small settlement was not identified, named and marked on a maps until 1859.  Unlike the previous map from 1856, the 1859 map showing the Pittitochoscolee settlement was not compiled by a private map maker but was instead compiled by the U.S. Government.  The 1859 map was created to accompany the annual report of the Surveyor General and has been further described as a "township map showing drainage, cities and towns, railroads, location of the land grant railroads and indicates the 6- and 15-mile limits of grants."

1859 map by U.S.G.L.A. from the annual report of the Surveyor General
This 1859 map compiled by U.S.G.L.A. from the annual report of the Surveyor General, is the first map to show the settlement of Pittitochoscolee located approximately one mile south of Salt Springs.


While the previous land and railroad acts passed were to benefit the resident of the state, corruption would soon follow robbing residents and settlers of land that would otherwise be available under the Armed Occupation Act of 1842.  The swamps and overflow land that had been obtained by Florida were used to pledge a bond of more than $3,000,000 for use toward the building railroads and canals.  While the original lands claimed under the Swamp Land Acts were honest, eventually the demand exceeded the supply and more land were certified and declared swamp, however many of these land were high and dry lands.  More then 10,000,000 acres of high and dry land were fraudulently claimed between State and United States agents, combined with Florida real swamps and overflow lands amounting to the state being more then half swamps.  The Internal Improvement Board parceled out the good lands to railroads, canal companies and other transportation and improvement companies under the guise of aiding transportation as these companies would receive property in trade for so many miles of completed railroad track or canals.  Much of this property could have easily been claimed under the Armed Occupation Act of 1842.

Civil War Salt Works
With increased population, production of goods and the improving of transportation throughout the state prospered with plenty of slave labor for the next eleven years.  With Florida on the verge of possible collapse and the state's deficit increasing, the clamor among the people was being diverted to the discussions and concern of war yet again.  Just before the beginning of the Civil War, the first extension of the Florida Railroad was completed with a main-line running from Fernandina to Cedar Key with stops in between; this railroad would soon become instrumental during the Civil War.  As Florida seceded from the Union on January 10, 1861, at the start of the Civil War, many of those men who had served the United States Military during the Seminole Indian Wars, joined the ranks of the Confederate States Army to protect the interests that they had gained.

As the focus of Florida was turned to war again, many residents readily gave their allegiance to the south and the Confederate States Army.  Residents of Hernando County and current Pasco came together at the direction of the Rev. Leroy G. Lesley and formed a company of men.  In 1861 Rev. Lesley had moved  from Hillsborough County to the Ellis Plantation located at the southern end of the Annutteligua Hammock near Brooksville, here he settled and latter bought 200 acres of property from Theophilus and Elizabeth Higginbotham for $1,000.  Leroy Leslie settled in a neighborhood of seasoned veterans who participated in the Seminole Indian Wars of Florida.  Lesley's neighbor's included County Judge Perry G. Wall, Capt. Frederick Lykes, William Hope, David Hope, Major Issac Garrison, Dr. Anderson Mayo, John Knight and the Higgenbotham's and Thomas E. Ellis Families from whom he purchased his property.

In 1863, just as he had done during the Seminole Indian Wars, Lesley enlisted the men in his neighborhood to come together and form a company of soldiers to fight in the Civil War.  Like Lesley, many of these men had previously fought for the United States Military in the Seminole Indian Wars, but were now coming together to fight against the United States as a company in the Confederate State Army.  Lesley entered into services at the rank of Captain, and formed his company of men who served under Col. C. J. Munnerlyn's Battalion.  Numbering 112 men Capt. Lesley's Company was based at Brooksville in Hernando County and included officers William W. Wall, John Parsons, Dr. Anderson Mayo, David Hope, and John Knight; this company also served as a local home-guard unit.  All of these named men of this home-guard had property located in the Annattuligua Hammock near Brooksville and had interest in plantations and slaves that they fought to protect by assisting in picket work, guard duty of their towns and surrounding areas, gathering and driving beef cattle north to supply the Confederate Army and patrol of the coastal areas for Federal Troops.  In addition home-guard units, such as Lesley's, also provided staples to the troops such as salt, beef, fish, cotton, and corn.  Capt. Lesley and his company had also been ordered, by Gen. Finegan, to arrest all deserters and send them to their respective commands and assist confiscatory and conscript officers in carrying out their orders.  It was also the responsibility of Lesley's company to engage in skirmishes with Federal Troops that they encountered during their routine patrols of the area.

During the Civil War, Florida had numerous salt-works scattered from Choctawhatchee Bay to Tampa Bay.  Between 1862-63 Capt. Leroy Lesley, David Hope and Aaron W. Ryals were engrossed in the production of salt.  The Lesley, Hope, Ryals salt-works was located 25 miles southwest of Brooksville along the road leading to the Pittitochoscolee settlement and situated along Davenport's road through the hammocks surrounding Salt Springs.  With slave labor, the Lesley, Hope, Ryals salt-works  produced between ten and fifteen bushels of salt per day, which required  men cutting and gathering firewood and teams of wagons hauling in wood.   Others would tend fires and take buckets of salt water from the springs to the furnace or kettles typically set in clay or brick.  The neighborhood where Lesley, Hope and Ryals lived, comprised for the most part of the Brooksville home-guard, owned approximately 100 slaves.  In addition to the 21 slaves of Lesley and Hope, it is believed that the Brooksville home-guard and neighbors of Lesley and Hope also provided their slaves for the production of salt.  Under the threat of Federal Troops along the Gulf, the home-guard likely offered protection to this salt-works owned by their commanding officer.  The salt-works of Lesley Hope and Ryals would grow and increase its production over time and in mid 1863 newspapers throughout the state advertised the sale of their salt-work's production.  While many papers had ceased operation during the Civil War, some newspapers were able to continue their distribution.  Between December and March of 1863 Lesley, Hope and Ryals advertised their salt in the Cotton States, a weekly Gainesville newspaper and one of the few state-wide newspapers still in publication during the Civil War.  The success of the Lesley, Hope and Ryals salt-works can be measured through the advertisements of their product.


Leroy G. Lesley 1807-1887     David Hope 1819-1879
(Left) Leroy G. Lesley 1807-1887  (Right) David Hope 1819-1879
March 19, 1864 Cotton States masthead

March 19, 1864 Cotton States advertisement for Lesley, Hope and Ryals salt-works



The salt being produced by the Lesley, Hope, and Ryals salt-works was being sold and traded for the top-dollar price of ten dollars per bushel, providing additional support to the families of their neighborhood during a time when resources, cash, transportation and labor were scarce.  In addition to meeting the needs of the local residents their salt was likely used by the Confederate States Army and for the preservation of beef, pork and fish for the troops.  During the Civil War, salt became such a needed commodity that it could be traded for anything and the prices increased.  The article states that when trading salt for corn, the corn was to be delivered to the residence of David Hope or Leroy Leslie, both whom live near the road leading to their salt-works.  Both David Hope and Leroy Leslie lived in township 23 range 20, along side the men that served under them, on the road leading from the Brooksville area to the Pittitochoscolee settlement, built in 1856.  It would be this road that Lesley and Hope followed to build their salt-works as it was the only road from their homes to the area where they established their salt-works.  This Confederate owned salt-works was situated along the banks of Salt Springs along Davenport's road built in 1838.  Remember that Davenport's road circled Salt Springs as shown in the 1848 original survey and had already established a network of roads that could be easily used by workers during the daily operations of the salt-works.

Between Leroy Lesley and David Hope, the two men owned 21 slaves in 1863, while other members of the home-guard owned similar numbers.  It is believed the Salt Springs operation followed the intricate process of curing sea water into salt with slave labor.  As noted by State Historian, Dr. Joe Knetsch, in Salt and the Civil War in Florida, the operation of a salt-works was a complicated business.  The salt produced in Florida was by a more traditional and less expensive method of boiling.

"The average small salt plant consisted merely of a large kettle holding from sixty to one hundred gallons of water set in a brick or clay furnace..... They were not built directly on the shore because of the high tides and wind, but were usually located inland.  Very near this furnace and kettle was a plentiful supply of salty water.  Sometimes shallow holes were dug along the shores, and falling tides would leave them full of water, which was dipped up and carried in buckets to the furnace.  The salt water after being poured into the kettle, was boiled in the same way as the brine secured from the smoke house.  When there was only a thick brine left in the kettle it was dipped up, for further cooking would only burn the salt near the bottom of the kettle and render it unfit for use.  The brine was usually placed on clean boards for the drying and bleaching process.  Sometimes brine was poured into barrels, and after settled the water was dipped off the top.  This was done particularly if the salt was not for table consumption but merely for the use of packing meat.  This method did have some drawbacks, in particular the brine was often boiled but not well dried.  This meant that the glauber produced what is called "Epsom salts" and contained a high amount of lime and magnesium, which made the salt too bitter for use and turned meat green in a very short time.  The most recommended solution to the problem was to let the brine boil, then cool under a steady, but low fire, where the crystals would fall to the bottom after forming, then pour off the remaining briny water to prevent the impurities from forming and spoiling the product.  This method also had a more significant drawback, it produced a great deal of smoke and, at night, provided lights by which the Union blockaders could pin-point the manufacturer's location."

It is believed that the Lesley, Hope and Ryals salt-works used saltwater from nearby Salt Springs and the numerous tidal springs that are located throughout the area.  Using Davenport's road, salt water was likely gathered from the numerous holes located along the road including Salt Springs.  It is believed that actual curing and boiling process occurred inland a short distance from the salt springs, protected from the Union blockaders along the coast.

After 1863, increased activities of Union raiders caused concern among the salt-works throughout the state and put to question the possible loss of the slave labor that many times operated the plantations of the salt-works owners, including Lesley and Hope.  These Federal raids put severe limitation on the production of salt and prevented and restrained the preservation of meats and other foods for the Confederates and the front-lines.  In addition,  new taxes and conscript laws were being imposed every day by the Congress of the Confederate States, on such items as salt, salt pork, beef and other necessary items, to assist in their war efforts.

By 1864, the Salt Springs salt-works would be placed on the market for sale by Lesley and Hope.  The exact reasoning for the sale of the Salt Springs salt-works and other items, by Lesley and Hope is unknown, but are likely due to the conscription laws, taxes, and the looming danger of raids by Union forces.  Following their advertisement in the Cotton States newspapers for their salt product, Lesley and Hope would soon place an advertisement announcing the sale of their entire salt-works.  In 1864 for the price of $8,000, one could become the owner of a Hernando County salt-works that was capable of producing between 10 and 15 bushels of salt per day, with the convenience of wood and water and having been owned by Leroy G. Lesley and David Hope.


April 16, 1964 Cotton States masthead

April 16, 1864 Cotton States advertisement for the sale of the Lesley and Hope salt-works



Not only did Lesley and Hope advertise to sell their salt-works but they also advertised to sell their joint stock of cattle, all terms were cash.  While Lesley and Hope had advertised their salt-works for sale between January and March of 1864, it is believed they continued the operation for a period of time after the advertisement was published.  Interestingly enough there are no land records indicating that neither Hope or Lesley every owned property in the area of Salt Springs or their salt-works, it is believed they sold the items used for the production of their salt and not the actual land.  For the most part it is believed these items were advertised by Hope and Leslie due to the deteriorating conditions of Hernando County at the beginning of 1864.  Throughout Hernando County and Florida, Conscription Officers were heavily engaged in confiscating cattle, corn, cotton, pork or any other items that could be used to support the war efforts.  Foregoing the risk of having their items confiscated, Hope and Leslie tried to sell their possessions before confiscation.  As the constraints of the Federal Troops tightened on the area, food was becoming scarce and many families were loosing what little bit they had to the military, a Union raid on the area was inevitable.  In January of 1864, Hernando County Probate Judge Perry G. Wall outlined the deplorable condition of the county in a letter to Florida Governor John Milton.

January 12, 1864

Sir: At a meeting of the [Hernando] Board of County Commissioners of this county on the 9th instant, for the purpose of considering the necessities and means of supplying the indigent families of soldiers in this county, it was ascertained that the supply of corn within the limits of the county is nearly exhausted, and that there can be very little or no corn purchased anywhere between here and Gainesville; whether from actual scarcity or an indisposition to sell I don’t know, but it is generally supposed it is from the latter cause. On the suggestion of General J. M. Taylor, who said that he had heard Your Excellency say that corn would be sent down to Archer from Middle Florida for soldiers’ families if it became necessary for the support of those families, I was verbally instructed by the Board of Commissioners to communicate their necessities to Your Excellency, and ask if 1,000 bushels of corn could be had in that way, in the event that we cannot procure it otherwise.  

Their situation will be deplorable in the extreme if corn cannot be had beyond the limits of the county, as in consequence of a bad crop season the past year there was not more than one-third of an average crop raised in the county.  Another matter which I would direct the attention of Your Excellency to is the fact that the cattle drivers under the orders of Captain McKay, commissary of this department, have stripped the county of every beef steer that they can find, from two years old and upward, and are now taking the cows, many of which have been known to have calves, in less than fifteen miles’drive. This is cutting off the only supply of meat we had for soldiers’ families, as the supply of pork from various causes - mainly for want of corn to fatten it - is unusually short - so much so that the most fortunate of us will be on less than half allowance. Whatever the exigencies of the case may be, I consider it an outrage upon a community having in their midst as many suffering families as we have to take the cows, the only dependence for milk and beef for the future. In many cases the cows of poor families of soldiers in the Army are taken, as I have been informed. Does the order to those commissaries authorize them to take the milch cows from the people against their will or consent?  If so, the country is certainly ruined and a general famine will be the result. Already the soldiers’ families are becoming clamorous for meat and are killing people’s cows wherever they can get hold of them. It does seem to me that this wholesale taking the beef-cattle and milch cows of the country should be stopped, for by taking the cows it certainly cuts off the means of any future supply of beef, saying nothing of cutting off the supply of milk. If we have arrived at that point where it has become actually necessary to impress all the cows in the country, which are so necessary to the support of any country, then I say, God help us, for starvation must be inevitable.  

Will your Excellency do us the favor to write me in answer to these several points?  With great respect I have the honor to be,

Your Excellency’s obedient servant,

PG. Wall, Judge of Probate


On July 7, 1864, Union Troops would land at Anclote Island and eventually take control of the area.  Arriving at 8 p.m. on July 7, 1864, Union Schooners Seabird and Ariel, along with the sloop Rosalie, landed at Anclote where they cast anchor until the next morning.  After disembarking the soldiers, the next morning, of  the Seabird, Ariel and Rosalie proceeded to Bayport, and anchored offshore awaiting the arrival of Union Troops that had disembarked from Anclote.  On July 8, the 2nd Florida Calvary and the 2nd U.S. Colored Troops consisting of 240 men, met their consorts who would take them to the mainland at the mouth of the Anclote River.  While aboard these much smaller vessels bound for the mainland, conditions were cramped and the men had to lie across and pile atop of each other the entire trip from Anclote Island.  Taking most of the day, these smaller vessels reached the mainland at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon.  Under the command of Capt. J.W. Childs the Union Troops had been given their orders and they began marching at once to overtake the Confederate controlled Brooksville.  Marching until 8 o'clock, the Union Troops eventually stopped and set camp for the night approximately 3 miles north of the Anclote River and camping in area that is now Pasco County; these troops were likely marching along Davenport's road built in 1838. 

On the morning of July 8, 1863, these troops would awake at their encampment, approximately 3 miles north of the Anclote River, to discover the smoke from fires in front of them.  It is believed that the smoke discovered by Union Troops on the morning of July 8, was rising from the area near to Salt Springs and the former salt-works of Hope and Lesley.  The salt-works, no longer in operation, was likely being used as an encampment for the Confederate home-guards who were on daily patrol duty throughout the area.  An Advance Guard of 10 Union men was assigned to go ahead of the Union company and advance upon the encampment of Confederate soldiers.  Upon approaching and charging the Confederate camp an immediate skirmish ensued.  The Confederates, totaling about 18, fell back resulting in the imprisonment of 4  men, 8 horses, several small arms, breakfast and numerous other items not noted.  Among the Confederates captured during the skirmish was Christopher Freibles and Edward Clarke, both son-in-laws to Hernando County Probate Judge Perry G. Wall and neighbors to David Hope and Leroy Leslie.  After taking their prisoners, the Federal Troops resumed their march towards Brooksville.

Located in the area of Salt Springs and the former salt-works, this company of Federal Troops would soon begin their march along the road leading from the salt-works on the coast straight into interior Brooksville and the homes of the residents.  It was soon discovered that the Mounted Rebels [Confederates] were ahead of them, this encounter would result in a two day skirmish between the two sides.  With the skirmishes continuing, on July 9th, after breakfast the Federal Troops took up their line of march toward Brooksville, however they didn't get far before receiving a series of shots from the Confederates.  With the Federal Commander placing his best marksmen at the front, the Confederates soon pulled back but continued to skirmish throughout the day while the troops advanced on Brooksville.  To the surprise of everyone, towards that evening of July 9th, the Federal Troops would encounter a meeting with the Confederates that they had been skirmishing with since landing at Anclote days prior.  Under a white flag of truce Capt of the Rebels, Capt. Leroy Lesley, daringly approached the Federal encampment that was located near the present Pasco/ Hernando County line along the road to the salt-works.  During this meeting Capt. Leroy Lesley tried to convince officers Capt. Green and Capt. McCullough to desert the Union cause and move back to the side of Dixie.  Captains Green and McCullough told Lesley that they would not listen to anything of that kind and immediately broke the conference dismissing Lesley under his flag of truce.  This was Lesley's and the home-guards' last attempt in keeping the Federal Troops from raiding their plantations and destroying Brooksville.  Upon dismissing Lesley, the Federal Troops immediately took up their line of march toward Brooksville.  By the nightfall on July 9th Federal Troops had reached the plantation of David Hope situated along the southern end of the Annutteligua Hammock, some 30 miles from where they landed at Anclote.  Here, at the plantation of David Hope, the Union soldiers raided the plantation taking chickens, ducks, geese, a quantity of yams, mutton corn, a barrel of bacon and a cache of syrup; these soldiers spared nothing in their raid.  Once finished with their pillaging the Union Soldiers proceeded to burn the fence, crops, wagons, wagon houses, and corn cribs completely destroying Hope's plantation for being a known Rebel guerrilla.  From Hope's plantation the Union Troops took up their line of march for Brooksville finding the home and plantation of Capt. Lesley's and short distance from Hope's plantation.  Lesley's wife had met them with a flag of truce begging that their home be spared, at direction of Capt. Bartholf thought it was best to spare the home but allowed the colored troops to pillage taking anything they wanted from the home.  Upon approaching Lesley's home, where his family was still residing, the Union Troops were met with brush fire from the Confederates before their main body of troops joined them.  The Union troops commenced sacking the corn cribs and corn wagons taking all that could be used for their efforts.  When done they set fire to Lesley's wagon houses and corn cribs sparing his home for the family that they left with it.  After leaving Lesley's plantation the Union troops proceeded towards Brooksville destroying the plantations of Frierson, Ellis, Youngblood and any others they encountered along the way.

About 1 mile before reaching Brooksville the Union Troops received orders to turn their march towards Bayport and many of the men were upset having prepared to burn the town of Brooksville.  They stopped their march about 2 miles outside Bayport and encamped for the night.  Over the next couple of days the Union Troops would advance on Bayport where they would meet the Schooners Seabird and Ariel along with the sloop Rosalie, the same boats that had dropped them at Anclote a week or so prior.  The road leading from Brooksville to Salt Springs would play a crucial role in the Brooksville Raid, allowing the Union troops access to the interior.

After the Civil War
The years following the Civil War many families, around Brooksville, began to rebuild their plantations, now occupied by paid labor being their freed slaves.  As Florida was bailed out of their deficits and began to rebuild, the private railroad industry took off in Florida and the state began to prosper.  While Salt Springs had played a local role in the Civil War history of Hernando County, it is believed it would never be used for the production of salt again.  As Hernando County continued to grow, many resident were finding themselves traveling along military roads including the old road leading from Brooksville to Salt Springs.  Many of the families living around Brooksville began to branch out sometimes building a second home along the coast in small settlements such as Pittitochoscolee.

Among the first persons to purchase property near Pittitochoscolee after the Civil War was a very young James B. Howse.  James B. Howse was of the prominent Howse Family of Ocala.  James was the son of Edmund D. Howse, who was a decorated military officer from the Seminole Indian Wars, prominent Ocala Hotel owner and Sheriff of Marion County.  On April 28, 1867, 18 year-old James Howse purchased 40 acres of property from the State of Florida, this property was located in or near Pittitochoscolee.  It is believed James Howse built a small, second, home here in addition to living in Ocala.  By 1870 James Howse was appointed and served as the post master for the Silver Springs Post Office in Ocala.  James Howse continued to live in Ocala while still owning property in or near Pittitochoscolee, however James' brother, Hill W. Howse, eventually moved to Brooksville and by 1883 had purchased his own property located near to his brothers property.  Hill W. Howse became a pioneer resident of Pasco County where he built his home near Hudson.

Many of the road throughout the State of Florida, including Hernando and present Pasco County, were still in use after the Civil War by residents and if again needed would be used for military purposes.  However many of these former military roads were now being used to carry the U.S. Mail to those choosing to settle the new lands.  On December 1, 1873 in the First Session of the Forty-Third Congress, revised statues relating to post-roads throughout the United States.  Further, the post roads of each state in the Union were outlined and included in the revision publication.  The document further states that all roads published were "established post-roads".  Among the hundreds of post-roads listed for the State of Florida is a series of roads leading from Monticello, near Tallahassee to Fort Harrison in Clearwater.  This route is further outlined and described, “From Monticello, by Beaseley, Fort Andrew, Fort Hulburt, Fort Frank Brooke, Clay Landing, Wakasassa, Wekevia, Fort Clinch, Homasassa, Augusta, Spring Hill, Pittitochoscolee, to Fort Harrison.”  Along this series of roads one would travel through the settlement of Pittitochoscolee situated just south of Salt Springs, along the road once leading to the Confederate salt-works of Lesley and Hope.  As it had for years, this now established post-road had carried travelers and military from the interior lands to the coastal areas and vice versa.  With an established postal route from Brooksville to Clearwater, a small population began to settle in and around Pittitochoscolee.

By 1876, Philadelphia publisher J.P. Lippencott and Company had published a book written by Sidney Lanier and titled, Florida: Its Scenery, Climate, and History.  Not only did this publication provide detailed information about Florida but it also included a gazetteer of towns and their locations throughout Florida, giving brief descriptions for each place.  This publication goes on to list the small settlement of Pittitochoscolee located just south of Salt Springs, the book lists: “PITTITOCHOSCOLEE—Settlement in Hernando County, on the Gulf Coast, a short distance above Anclote River.”  It is believed that at this time, this location was no more than one or two fishing shacks along the established postal route.  If Pittitochoscolee had consisted of more, at the time, it would have been listed in Lanier's publication as other towns and settlements were described with schools, churches and the main staples or industry for the communities; there are none of these listed for Pittitochoscolee.

Along with post roads and publications came more settlers.  Shortly after Sidney Lanier's 1876 publication of settlements in Florida, the area near and around Pittitochoscolee would become the attraction of more settlers.  In ca. 1875 another of Brooksville's residents, James Washington Clark, migrated his way along the old road leading to the Salt Springs area.  While others purchased property upon their arrival to the area, James W. Clark  lived as a squatter and did not purchase property until later, see below.  With no established post offices or stops along the postal route between Brooksville and Clearwater, the few citizens living and squatting south in and around Pittitochoscolee, petitioned the Postmaster Generals Office for the establishment of their own post office.  Prior to their petition for a post office these settlers would travel along the roads from the old salt-works to Brooksville, some 25-30 miles to the northwest, to retrieve their mail.  By 1878 the few property owners and squatters consisting of the small settlement of Pittitochoscolee was granted their post office, however the name of the community was changed.

James Wasington Clark 1838-1913 On October 15, 1878 James W. Clark, pictured left, received a communication from Assistant Postmaster General, James W. Marshall, in Washington D.C., in response to an inquiry into establishing a new post office.  This communication outlines the procedures and questions needing answered before the Postmaster General "decides upon the application."  Along with this application is a page provided for a sketch of the proposed location of the new post office, while Clark provided this sketch he did not yet own the property he proposed for the new post office.  As James Clark answers the questions on the application, he further describes the location as "Hopeville in Hernando", as the proposed location of the new post office, which was to be called "Hopeville" Post Office.  It is explained that this new post office will be located directly on the post route from "Brooksville via Anclote to Clear Water Harbor", this is the same post-road named as passing through Pittitochoscolee.  The post office was to be located 2 miles north of the Pithlachascotee River and 1/2 mile south of Dead Cypress Creek, in section 33, township 35, range 16, which was located near to the Parson/ Yulee property purchased in 1851 as mentioned above.  According to Clark's application, the nearest established post office, to the proposed location, was the Brooksville Post Office 25 miles to the north-east.  Clark goes on to name James O. Brown as the contractor designated to build the new post office, if the application was granted.   James Brown had settled farther to the south at the Baillie Settlement near present Holiday and was not living in Pittitochoscolee at the time.  On December 4, 1878 the Hopeville Post Office was granted by the Postmaster General naming James Washington Clark as the postmaster, Clark would serve as the only "designated" postmaster.  The Hopeville Post Office served the community for only a few years and was closed on November 22, 1881.  (click here to read 1878 application and sketched map for Hopeville Post Office)  As the Hopeville Post Office was granted, the portion of Davenport's road between Salt Springs and Hopeville would become known as Post Road named for the route that the mail was carried.

While Clark named Hopeville in Hernando as the location of his proposed post office, Hopeville as a named community did not become established until after Clark's application.  It is believed Clark named the community after David Hope, who had been in the area, years prior, operating the old salt-works with partner Leroy Lesley.  In addition, a few years prior in 1872, James W. Clark had married to David Hope's daughter Frances Louise Hope.  Once Clark's Hopeville Post Office was established, map companies began publishing maps with Hopeville as a named community on their maps.  In 1880 Chicago printers William Rand and Andrew McNally under their company Rand McNally, published their map of the State of Florida, which showed the location of Hopeville for the first time.  According to the Rand McNally Map, Hopeville was north of the Pithlachascotee River about 1 mile, near to the location of Salt Springs where the old salt-works was once located.

1880 Rand McNally map showing the location of Hopeville
This 1880 Rand McNally map shows the location of the newly named Hopeville about one mile north of the Pithlaschascootee River. in the are of Salt Springs.


Depending on the map that one looks at depends on the location of Hopeville, some maps place it south of the Pithlachascotee River while other place it north of the river.  While Clark had built a home in the newly named Hopeville, he and his family continued to maintain their home in Brooksville traveling back and forth between the two locations.  According to family information, the Clark Family would travel and stay in Brooksville when Frances Clark was due to give birth; James Clark also maintained a meat market in Brooksville.  When the Clark Family was out of the town and in Brooksville, it is believed that Jacob Worley operated the post office for Clark.  Jacob Worley had settled some distance inland, near present day Moon Lake, in ca. 1870.  According to state land records, on January 17, 1883, James W. Clark finally purchased the property where he had built his home and Hopeville Post Office, this was a year and a half after the Hopeville Post Office had closed.  This property is described as being the north half of the northwest quarter of section 33, township 25, range 16, containing 80 acres of property.  By 1889 James Clark would permanently move his family to Hopeville.  In December of 1883, Aaron McLaughlin Richey purchased property near the mouth of the Pithlachascotee River, soon following his arrival the name Hopeville would be changed to Port Richey named for Aaron Richey.

Images of Salt Springs Today
It is uncertain as to what might have happened with the development of the West Coast of Pasco County, if Davenport had not built his road in 1838 or if Lesley and Hope had not established their salt-works at Salt Springs.  Both Davenport's road and the Lesley and Hope salt-works assisted in the progress and development of the coastal area of Pasco County.  Today portions of Davenport's road built in 1838 are still used and in some place have become major highways, some of these roads are: U.S. 19, Old Post Road, Old Dixie Hwy and S.R. 54.  In March of 2001 the area along the coast where Salt Springs is located was added to the list of Florida State Parks, now known as the Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park portions of the property are open to the public.

Over the last 47 years Salt Springs has been studied by the Florida State Bureau of Geology.  Between November of 1960 and December of 1972, these geologists studied the salt and mineral levels in the water being discharged from Salt Springs.  The temperature, color, pH balance, iron and salt levels were all measured during these times.  In addition the geologist also measured the amount of water flowing from Salt Springs.  A description of Salt Springs published in a Florida Geological Survey bulletin reads, "Salt Springs is about 1.6 miles north of Port Richey.  Salt Springs is in the area of tidal marsh along the gulf coast.  The spring forms an irregular opening in the side of a vertical rock wall below water surface.  Discharge is west about 100 feet to where the water passes under a 3-foot natural limestone bridge.  The water surfaces and flows 75 feet to a second bridge that is about 10-foot long, under which the water flows and discharges in vigorous boils through three holes into Salt Springs Run.  The water is clear.  The run is limestone.  Flow measured in the spring run includes water from other sources.  The 1961 flow was measured in the spring run and at the point of spring discharge.  At high tide the flow reverses and salt water enters into the spring at about the same rate as discharge."  The rate of discharge from the spring was measure in three cubic feet measurements, in 1960 the rate of discharge from the spring was 9.0 ft 3/s and in the spring run it was recorded at 14.0 ft 3/s.  The spring and run discharge have maintained the same rate of discharge between 1960 and 1972, there are no measurements recorded beyond 1972.  It must be noted that Salt Springs is not just a spring but it is a tidal spring that at high tide water flows into the hole instead of flowing out.  At high tide none of the natural land bridge features can be seen due to them being underwater.  As the tide goes out Salt Springs and its run are transformed, both natural bridges become exposed, the water clears and its appearance is completely different then at high tide.  It was the constant flow and discharge of water that attracted Lesley and Hope to establish their salt-works here, in addition to the numerous other holes throughout the area.  As the wooded areas surrounding Salt Springs was no longer occupied and the roads shifted to the east, the wildlife began to take the area back.  Today the area surrounding Salt Springs is one of the only wooded area in West Pasco.

Over the last few years, scuba divers have been conducting exploration dives in the old Salt Springs.  It must be noted that the Salt Springs dive is extremely dangerous and considered to be an extremely advanced cave dive.  Once passing through a small crack in the lime rock, just below the water surface, the area opens into an extremely large underwater cave.  Salt Springs consist of two under water caves known as the Big Room and the Teeth Room.  The Big Room is exactly as it is named as the cave opens into on of the largest underwater caves in Pasco County.  The Teeth Room as it has been named, received its name from the numerous lime rock formations that protrude from the ceiling and floor of this large underwater cave, giving the appearance of a large mouth with a number of teeth.  These two rooms are located at depths of about 300 feet, where the underwater caves opening at about 200 feet.  According to one diver's account of the dive, "There’s nothing like falling 200 feet down a clear shaft to enter a room."  These divers have strung a series of underwater lines throughout the cave system, these lines are the life lines of the divers as these are the lines followed in and out of the cave system.  Without these lines one can become disoriented, getting lost in the extensive underwater cave system with no way out.  There are several lines running off of the main line leading to the main circuit of lines running throughout the rooms.  The Salt Springs underwater cave system is full of cracks in the lime rock leading off of the main rooms and the walls covered with snot like algae creating decreased visibility during a dive.  While the divers have offered some wonderful insight into the underwater cave system of Salt Springs, the cave system has not been explored entirely.  Salt Springs, once explored entirely, may carry the title of the largest underwater cave system in Pasco County.  This is a private dive and permission must be granted to anyone wishing to dive this site.

January 1941 aerial of Salt Springs and surrounding area
This January 1941 aerial of Salt Springs and the surrounding area shows that there was very little in the area.  Salt Springs is located in the center of the photo, the smaller whole to the right of the large body of water in the center.  Note the numerous roads throughout the area, the road in the bottom right is U.S. 19.  (Photo from author collection)


2007 aerial of Salt Springs and surrounding area
2007 aerial of Salt Springs and surrounding area shows significant population growth since 1941.  The large building in the top right of the photo is Gulf View Square Mall, Salt Springs is located behind the mall.  (click here for larger images of both aerial photos)  (Image courtesy of Google Earth)


Portion of William Davenport's road built in 1838
Section of Davenport's original road built in 1838.  This section of the original road stretches south of Salt Springs running towards Port Richey.  (Photo 2007)


1907-08 Photo of Salt Springs from U.S.G.S.
“Salt Spring in Vicksburg limestone, near Port Richey, Pasco County, Florida. Circa 1907 to 1908.”  The people pictured are unknown.  (Photo courtesy of the U.S.G.S.)


2007 photo of Salt Springs
Current view of Salt Springs taken from same perspective as 1907-08 U.S.G.S. photo.  The area has grown and water levels have changed significantly over time.  (Photo 2007)


Looking southeasterly along Salt Springs run
Looking southeastern along Salt Springs run, the run is lined with numerous cedar trees as to mark the area.   (Photo 2007)


Land bridge #1 located about 100 feet from Salt Springs    Land bridge #1 located about 100 feet from Salt Springs
(Left) View of natural land bridge #1 located about 100 feet from Salt Springs.  (Right) Looking east at land bridge #1.  At low tide this land bridge is completely exposed causing the water to flow underneath, note the ledge along the side of this natural bridge.  (Photos 2007)


View of land bridge #1 looking west along Salt Springs run.
Looking west along Salt Springs run at land bridge #1.  (Photo 2007)


Looking from land bridge #1 west along Salt Springs run
Looking from land bridge #1 west along Salt Spring run, from here the water flows from under the natural bridge into a deep whole in the creek.  (Photo 2007)


Land bridge #2 along Salt Springs run
Looking west along Salt Springs run at front edge of natural land bridge #2 located about 175 feet from the spring.  The water again flows under the natural bridge completely exposed.  (Photo 2007)


Section of land bridge #2
Section of land bridge #2 showing that the natural bridge is completely exposed at low tide.  The water flows under this section and boils up on the other side of the bridge where it flows to the gulf.   (Photo 2007)


Looking east at natural bridge #2 where water boils up
View looking east along Salt Springs run at natural land bridge #2, this is where the water boils up after flowing under this natural bridge.  (Photo 2007)


Looking west along Salt Springs run after land bridge #2.
Looking west along Salt Springs run where water boils from underneath land bridge #2 from a series of holes, one of which is shown in the photo.  (Photo 2007)


Area where Salt Springs run empties to along the coast.
This large tidal pond along the coast is the area where Salt Springs run empties, flowing further to the gulf.  (Photo 2007)



This page was last revised on September 20, 2007


Research References
1.  Second Seminole Indian War field reports 1835-1842
2.  The Cotton States newspaper 1863 & 1864
3.  Rev. Leroy G. Lesley by Spessard Stone
4.  My National Troubles, The Civil War Papers of William McCullough
5.  To Faithfully Discharge My Duty: The Life and Career of Perry G. Wall by Kyle VanLandingham
6.  Congressional Acts
7.  History of the Town of Rye, New Hampshire by Langdon B. Parson, 1905
8.  tampadiving.com
9.  Naval History of the Civil War 1863
10.  Florida Bureau of Geology
11.  United States Bureau of Geology
12.  Florida Old and New by Frederick W. Dau, 1934