The Founter





The true founder of the town, its benefactor
and for nine years its leading citizen, was
Anson Peaseley Killen Safford, notable among
Florida pioneers in that he had been shaped and form-
ed by the far west.

It is said that the name Tarpon Springs was given to the area because of the large number of fish called Tarpon which were seenjumping in local waters at that time and, the exclamation of someone, "See How The Tarpon Springs." The first settlers of Tarpon Springs were A. W. Ormond and daughter, Mary, who had come to Florida in 1876. The next year Mary Ormond marrķed J. C. Boyer, who came from Key West in a sailing vessel, and the frst family was started. Tarpon Springs was founded in-1882 by Anson P..K. Safford He was the first territorial Governor of Arizona. Safford came as land agent for the Disston syndicate of Philadelphia who bought four miilion acres of central west coast Florida from Governor W. D. Bloxom for 25c an acre. In 1887 Tarpon Springs was incorporated with a populationof 52 residents.
Born in Vermont in 1830 and growing up on the prai ries of Illinois, he had joined the rush for California gold in 1850 and after a few years in the northern hard rock mines he served two terms in the legislature. There followed a brief business venture in San Francis co and a return to gold mining, this time in Nevada. During the Civil War the government called on the west for gold rather than for manpower. Safford did not fight, but he apparently worked to the point of exhaustion; to recuperate he spent two years of eisurely travel in Europe. Returning refreshed in 1867, he was made surveyor general of Nevada, and witnessed the first fantastic silver outpouring of the Comstock Lode - made possible by lavish investment of capital and kept under tight company control. he true founder of the town, its benefactor and for nine years its leading citizen, was Anson Peaseley Killen Safford, notable among Florida pioneers in that he had been shaped and formed by the far west.For Safford there was still the challenge of the unexplored frontier. In 1869 President Grant appointed him governor of the Territory of Arizona and he served two terms during its most turbulent years. He was an Indian fighter of the old fierce school, and a promoter of mines, ranches and railroads. Small in stature, he was known affectionately but respectfully as "The Little Governor" and he governed vigorously bringing the territory to a state of solvency and imposing comparative law and order.

He is remembered today as the founder of the Arizona public school system. A self-educated man who read widely and deeply, he campaigned for schools in hundreds of desert hamlets and lonely ranches, speaking both English and Spanish, and often riding alone even at the height of the Apache wars. Probably no other white man would have come out alive. Safford emerged from office with nothing but a buck board and a pair of mules, but he kept his wits about him and he had good connections. When Ed Schief felin madehis fantastic silver strike near Tombstone,Safford remembered the lessons of the Comstock Lode, went east and brought in the necessary capital to develop the mines. His share in the bonanza amounted to about $140,000 - but his days as a rugged frontiersman were over. Forced by ill health to lead a quieter life, Saffor first went into banking in Tucson and then came east to Philadelphia. He invested in the Disston enterprises,The Safford Family and as a result became president of the Lake Butler Villa Company and acquired title to its lands for the sum of one dollar. For the rest of his life he lived in Tarpon Springs, promoting it and enjoying it, and introducing a note of breezy western informality.
Safford was married three times. His first wife was Jennie L. Tracy, and the marriage took place in the governor's mansion in Prescott, Arizona in 1871. It was disolved in 1873 by the territorial legislature, there being at that time no divorce law on the books. ln'1877 Safford married Margarita Grijalva of Tuscon, who died in 1880 giving birth to a daughter. Shortly before coming to Florida the Governor married the young, beautiful and spirited Soledad Bonillas,
born in Sonora, Mexico, and a resident of Tucson, Arizona. Her brother Ignacio Bonillas, had been a youthful aid to Safford during his governorship, and was later to become the Mexican Ambassador to the United States.
Safford Home In Tarpon Springs
Also in the family was the Governor's sister, Dr. Mary jane Safford. This remarkable woman had been a battlefield nurse in the west during the early days of the Civil War and had improvised hospital care for the wounded in her home town of Cairo, Illinois. The soldiers called her "the Cario angel". She later studied medicine in New York and Vienna, had a wide private practice and taught at the Boston University College of Medicine. Long before women had the vote, she was elected to the Boston School Committee.
Like her brother she had frail health and more than) once worked herself into a breakdown. This caused her tb come to Florida, where she became the first practicing woman physician. She was a small, tidy, dainty person; but whereas the Governor was forceful and peppery and convivial, Dr. Mary was a charming but unflinching gentlewoman. In her will, which enjoined numerous kindnesses for relatives and friends, she left her medical books and skeletons to the Boston University Medical School The Safford Family and her microscope and her great grandmother's wedding dress to her niece. The Governor's family included his daughter Margarita, an adopted daughter Gladys, and an adopted son Leandro; and there was the New England governess, Elizabeth Sage -- "Auntie Sage" with the white side curls, who taught kindergarten in Tarpon Springs for many years. Governor Safford and Dr.Mary died
within a week of each other in December, 1891. They were not orthodox Christians, but they were deeply
religious and found spiritual peace in the Universalist Church, which they attended and supported. The funerals were held at the Universalist Church of the Good Shepherd, where a deeply moved crowd of mourners, rich and poor, black and white, testified to the love and affection of their fellow townsmen

Their graves in Cycadia cemetary are marked by two huge blocks of Vermont granite, and a pergola has

been erected nearby in their honor.No members of the family are known to be living today. It is difficult to over-estimate the role played by Anson P. K. Safford -- always called Governor Safford in the early years of Tarpon Springs. Widely travelled in Europe as well as in the United States, he was public spirited and well informed. He was at ease with presidents, governors,and people as diverse as the Duke of Sutherland, the scholarly Merrick Whitcomb, the crusty old salt, John Topliff, and miners and desert rats. His administrative experience was more than adequate, and he toiled conscientiously at the chores of city building. Characteristically, he built the first small school, and gave land to several churches. He was a hearty, generous, humorous man, with some very human failings. What he brought to Tarpon Springs was a sense of the great world beyond provincal boundaries, and a respect for culture ability, and kindness - and he attracted to the city people with the same view of life. to live in Tarpon Springs, which must thin two years over two hundred people had we have seemed like a metropolis to its first fam ily. There was a large new hotel, The Tarpon, with a cupola and veranda; a lumber mill, school, post of-
fice, several stores and a scattering of frame houses with white picket fences and windmills, shade trees and flowers. There was a newspaper, the Gulf Coast Herald; the editor was drowned in Spring Bayou, touching off a bitter controversy as to who was to blame. A mule drawn wagon made regular trips to Tampa, b and the six-ton schooner Linnie May handled the Cedar Key trade, Captain John Topliff on board with his family. Edward Blum and the Vinson brothers built their own schooners to supply their stores.
Soon a handsome side-wheel steamer, the Governor Safford was built in Wilmington, Delaware, to sweep grandly down from Cedar Key at twelve miles per when Tarpon Springs was a port. Governor Safford.
Department of Transportation The steam boat print supplied by Edward A. Mueller, Florida hour, carrying freight and up to 150 passengers. Unable to negotiate the winding channel and shallow mbayous of the Anclote River, she docked at a covered pier near the river's mouth, and here she was met by the shallowdraft, woodburning steamer Mary Disston, designed by Captain Topliff and built in Cincinnati.The Governor Safford steamed on down the coast to "Clear Water," Disston (now Gulfport), and eventually to Tampa.
In town during the winter season there were sailing regattas and fishing trips, picnics,and parties and dances that were always called "hops" .and sometimes the Key West sponge men brought their accordions and serenaded the Tarpon Springs girls. There were Christmas parties and New Year's parties, and soon there was a new newspaper, the Tarpon edited by young George Truax.Village in the wildernessLaura Dier and Mary johnston (later Mrs. James Fow ler) taught children of assorted ages and backgrounds in the tiny school house provided by Governor Safford. A larger one was built almost at once -- it was paid for largely by plays and parties given in the second floor auditorium by the town's women. The sharp-tongued widow of the first editor said that
the whole place was a failure and a disgrace, and a young business man said that the most noticeable
features were "the deepest sand streets ever, known to a human being;" but the lady remarried and came back to stay, and the business man prospered and lived here for the rest of his life.A visitor at one of the hotels -- "the one with the stove" -- wrote that the climate was not only delicious, but had also cured his asthma. The hotel gave hi-
weekly concerts, he reported, at one of which the music from Martha was played by "a daft Englishman
on the piano and a Boston lady on the violin. Another wrote about smoked mullet that it "com bined the flavor of the finest fresh salmon with a taste of the jerked beef of the up-country." Still another described the bone-wracking ride from · Tampa, the blessed relief of good food and a good bed, and the mysterious, almost tropical glory of the An-
clote River under a full moon. For most people the journey to Tarpon Springs was la borious, as they travelled slowly by train, schooner, ox-cart or mule-wagon -- but Captain Samuel Kendall
probably enjoyed every minute of it. He came from Lake George, New York, by canoe.The year 1887 was one of the most eventful that Tarpon Springs would ever know it became officially a city, acquired a railroad and a lighthouse, and became the residence of one of the highest peers of the British realm. In January it was still a cluster of houses and stores with a local name but no official boundaries or civic identity. This was beginning to seem ridiculous, and
was particularly inconvenient in getting mail.
On Saturday, February 12, a meeting of registered voters took place in the new school house, which is still standing. Thirty-three of the forty-six registered voters came, and under the chairmanship of Edward Newton Knapp, they voted to.incorporate Tarpon Springs as a city of Florida in Hillsborough County. They then elected a city government, which included some of the original pioneers and some of the sub stantial property owners who were beginning to come in. The first mayor was Wilber F. De Golier, and the fivealdermen were Edward A. Blum, Joshua Boyer, Anson P' K. Safford, W. E. D. Scott, and Charles Dir Webster. G. H. Platt was elected marshall, and 12, 1887, to incorporate the city. promptly became the busiest man in town. The clerk was young Harvard graduate Merrick Whitcomb, who was to spend many
years as head of the history department and dean of the University of Cincinnati and write stories based on his life in Tarpon Springs. The new city government met in March and pro ceeded to govern.very small city The first ordinances dealt with such essentials as set ting up boundaries, confirming the names of streets, and providing for law and order - there was to be no shooting in the city limits. Citizens were told to keep their larger livestock off the streets, and to pre serve the shade trees which were even then seen as an important asset to the city. The next ordinance dealt with decorum - decreeing that all bathing suits should cover "the person" from the shoulder to the knees. Matters like taxes, the bud get and the water supply would come later.
In the little city hall on Court Street the mayor acted as justice of the peace. At the back was a small jail for the convenience of the marshall, who was law officer, health officer and general trouble-shooter. One of his duties was to enforce the law that each man should keep the plank walk in front of his house in good re pair. Delinquents could be sentenced to work on the streets -- a task that every able bodied man was sup posed to share anyway - under supervision, of course, of the marshall. After the first forty-two ordinances were passed, some one claimed that they were not written in the correct legal language; the aldermen sighed, rephrased them, and passed them all again.

The mouth of the Anclote River offers one of CHAPTER

The best natural harbors on the Florida Gulf coast, protected by three low mangrove- covered keys that look like much of the rest of the low mangrove-covered coast -- especially in the dark. For a long time it was not easy to find Tarpon Springs at night from the sea. During the 1880's, the federal government was de fining and protecting its mainlana snores by a chain of lighthouses, and in 1887 a lighthouse was built on An clote Key by executive order of President Grover Cleveland at a cost of $35,000. Based on a square concrete foundation, it is a pyra midal skeleton tower of iron-work, built around a hollow cylinder which encloses a spiral stairway. The revolving turret, 101 feet above ground, was turned by weights which had to be wound every day, like those in a grandfather clock. Fueled by kerosene, the great black lantern flashed its beam every thirty seconds and could be seen from sixteen miles at sea.
In the early twenties kerosene vapor replaced kero sene oil as fuel. Iwo llgnhouse keepers and their families lived on the island, which became the scene of innumerable pleas ure trips -- picnics by day and romantic sails by moonlight. Important visitors, including Creek Pre mier Venizelos, American Ex-President.Calvin Cool idge and Vice President Spiro Agnew, were always taken out to the lighthouse in sponge boats or launches with bands playing and flags flying. Sight seers from many states climbed the tower for the view.

The Orange Belt Railroad
ailroading was in the air of America during the 1880's. The four transcontinental lines had been laid down, making unheard-of fortunes; and smaller lines were galloping off in all directions. The one that reached Tarpon Springs late in 1887 was called the Orange Belt, and it enabled passengers to
come directly from New York City to Tarpon Springs in only thirty-six hours, changing from the Atlantic Coast Line at Sanford. The Orange Belt was the creation of a Russian noble man named Peter A. Demens (Piotr Alexand rovich D mentieff) who had found Czarist tyranny uncongenial; he emigrated to Florida and built a small sawmill near Sanford. Running out of lumber and having salvaged a bit of rickety rolling stock, he planned to build a rail road through the heartland of Pinellas Peninsula and out to Mullet Key.Demens began bravely with his two old wood-burning engines, his three yellow cars and his worn-out narrow guage trackage. He was beset by all the production mishaps which could plague an amateur gentleman railroader, and he arranged for some fantastic financing
which left him in debt to a group of Philadelphia cap italists.

At one time his creditors chained his locomotives to the tracks, and at another his unpaid track-laying Demens began bravely with his two old wood-burning engines, his three yellow cars and his worn-out narrow-
guage trackage. He was beset by all the production mishaps which could plague an amateur gentleman
railroader, and he arranged for some fantastic financing which left him in debt to a group of Philadelphia cap-
At one time his creditors chained his locomotives to the tracks, and at another his unpaid track-laying hoto from Pinellas County Historical Museum. Crew stormed after him on a hand car, intent on lynching. He finally got his trains all the way to St. Petersburg, which was named for his birthplace and became the end of the line. john C. William's new town had the railroad station, the railroad pier, the Detroit Hotel (named for his birthplace) and little
else; but it started out at once to become a resort town and in a few years surpassed Tarpon Springs In
There was not enough freight and passenger traffic to keep the railroad going during the first few years,
however, and in 1891 Demens went broke. Before long the Road was taken over by the Plant System,
which put in standard guage trackage but otherwise neglected it. In 1902 it became part of the Atlantic
Coast Line, which would bring in fast luxury Pullmans during the Florida boom. Passenger service was dis-
continued in 1970.

Demens went to California, made money in citrus and other business, and wrote about Russian politics for
the Los Angeles Times and other periodicals. The shock of the Bolshevik revolution is said to have
hastened his death. One result of the Orange Belt's arrival in Tarpon Springs was that the two steamboats were no longer needed. The Governor Safford was sold and was used for several years as a ferry and excursion boat, first in
New York harbor and then in Georgetown, South Carolina. In 1908 it sank off the coast of North Car-
olina. The railroad comprny bought the Mary Disston and ran it ahead of the tracks until the trains reached St.
Petersbur. It was then put to utility chores in Tampa Bay.and on the Manatee. At the end the trim little
ship carried produce and was called the "Dirty Mary" it finally broke up near Key West.CHAPTER XVIII
ide from this sort of thing, however, Tarpon Springs was a polite and decorous little town, although editor' George Truax did cluck-cluck over the wealthy wild young men. The shadow of the Civil War was still perceptible
during the early years of the town, which was the home of veterans from both sides of the conflict.
Most of the early settlers were southerners who gave the place its basic character, and who felt a certain re-
serve toward the richer, more worldly and more aggres sive developers from the north and their colony of win-
ter visitors. Perhaps the northerners took southern hospitality too much for granted, and were not always
sensitive to southern pride.
As the years passed, however, this coolness began to moderate. Various social and business affairs brought
both sections of the community together, and friend ships formed between townspeople of all origins, and
between Tarponites and their winter visitors and pay ing guests.

Universalists Church
Churches appeared early. The Universalists and Presbyterians organized in 1886, when the Universalists built the first chapel, which they shared with other denominations. Baptist and Methodist and Episcopal churches followed shortly. Mrs. Safford was a Roman Catholic, and the governor gave land to her'denomination as to his own Universalists, and to the African Methodist Church and the Masonic Lodge of St. Safford.The Universalists, not numerous in the south, were originally a New England group which spread into the middle west. They had no set creed--although they worshiped God they did not believe in the Trinity nor in the divine nature of Jesus Christ; they revered Him as the world's greatest teacher and sought to live a life
of human brotherhood.
The social climate of the town was influenced by the fact that the Evangelical churches frowned on drinking,
dancing, card playing and games of chance. They en joyed fiery preaching, and hymn singing, and held fre-
quent revivals with salvation as the theme.Among thellniversalists there was a certain hearty tone. The Reverend Henry De Lafayette Webster, co founder and first pastor of the church, was a close per sonal friend of Governor Safford, and was incidentally a physician, musician, and composer of the popular Civil War love song, Lorena. Mr. Webster preached well, appeared with top hat and gold headed cane on the proper occasions, and had no scruples against a gooh horserace on Sunday afternoons.
His son, Horace Webster, identified fully with Tarpon Springs. He ran the telephone company and was mayor for seventeen years.
The most famous of the winter colony members was (Geroge Inness, Jr., son of the strange, powerful genius
whose paintings hang in the great galleries of the world. The elder Inness came to Tarpon Springs
during the nineties, and painted the white herons on a misty morning beside the Anclote River.Inness paintings which may be seen today at the Uni versalist Church. Inness, whose principal northern home was at Crags-
moor, New York, was born in France and studied in that country when the brilliant Barbizon school was
influencing modern art He received national honors in both France and the United States, and his work
was exhibited in many galleries. In Tarpon Springs, his studio was at his home on Orange Street, and he had a rustic hide-away called Camp Comfort on the upper Anclote River. His out door scenes, painted in a mood of quiet naturalism, were infused with his religious faith. He was a gentle, dapper, sociable man with a neat wit -- a favorite
among the winter colony crowd. He wrote a few es says and an understanding life of his tempestuous
father. The city of Tarpon Springs planned an am bitious memorial for him, but the collapse of the Florida boom and the subsequent depression made this impossible. Inness had been congenial to Tarpon Springs -- no
Bohemian and no heaven-scaler, but rather a kindly, well-bred, conventional painter -- in short, a gentle-


Copyright (c) 2000 My Company. All rights reserved.