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Know thy county is historian's goal for us

He fears that local history is being forgotten, so he hopes to form a historical committee.

By ASJYLYN LODER
Published May 20, 2006


It really bugs Roger Landers when people can't tell him who planted the first orange tree in Hernando County and when.

(Joshua Stafford, 1843.)

To bolster dwindling interest in local history, Landers wants to create a county historical committee. He asked the County Commission to approve it Tuesday, but the board decided to hold off in case such a committee came with unforeseen costs.

Landers said volunteers would staff the committee, which would just need an office to work from and "access to some stationery."

It could be a committee appointed by the County Commission, or a private commission or foundation that relies on grants. Landers and fellow historian W. Paul Sullivan Jr. plan to look into it and report back to the board which option is cheapest for the county.

There are a few efforts around the county to preserve local history. There's the May-Stringer Hernando Heritage Museum on Museum Court where Landers is a historian. There's Bob Martinez's publication Old Brooksville in Photos & Stories.

But it's not enough, and Landers worries that all the newcomers have overwritten the county's history and that local heritage is in danger of being lost.

A historical commission could do research and put on presentations. For example, he'd like to put up some free-standing bulletin boards, maybe in the courthouse, posting county facts that he thinks ought to be more widely known.

He rattles off a few examples: "Did Hernando County have plantations before the Civil War?" and "How many plantations and what did they grow?" and "Did we grow pineapples?"

(Yes, 20 to 25, and mostly sugar cane. And yes.)

"Anderson Mayo planted pineapples in '56," Landers said.

1956 or 1856?

"Any time I give you a date it's in the 1800s," he said, "because that's where I live."

Q&A : HERNANDO COUNTY

Here are some Hernando County facts provided by historian Roger Landers:

What year was Hernando County divided into what is now Citrus, Pasco and Hernando counties?

1887

Who planted the county's first orange grove and when?

David Yulee, 1855

What was the county's white population in 1860?

1,200

What was the county's slave population that year?

900

What was the taxable value of land that year?

$480,000

What was the taxable value of slaves that year?

$560,000

[Last modified May 20, 2006, 01:57:05]


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