The five men who started the Fivay
sawmill, Martin F. Amorous, Henry M.
Atkinson, Preston S. Arkwright, Charles F. Ayer, and Gordon Abbot were
all associated with previous and successful business ventures in
Atlanta. It was in 1883 that the citizens of Atlanta, GA. raised
$3,500 in stock offering and formed the Georgia Electric and Light
Company. By 1891 prominent Atlanta banker, Henry Atkinson, began
forming the foundation of what would become the Georgia Power Company.
Henry started purchasing stocks in the Georgia Electric and Light
Company and within one year he purchased enough stock to take control
of the operation. The early location of this power plant became
as Atkinson, GA., named after Henry Atkinson. It was then that
the company became known as the Georgia Power Company. Soon after
change Atkinson began raising funds that paid for the rebuilding of the
entire electric system, there were 800 arc lights, 2,000 incandescent
lights and a $600,000 steam generated plants installed to provide more
power. The output from the Georgia Power Company was equally
half ran the streetlights and the other half powered electric
streetcars. It was in 1902 that Atkinson hired a young Atlanta lawyer
by the name of Preston Arkwright. Arkwright became the president
of the company and then again re-named it, the new company was called
Georgia Railway and Electric Company, this was done
for reasons of consolidation. It was in 1904 that the Georgia
and Electric Company began to struggle and Atkinson purchased more
plants for output. In the later years the company would construct
power plant, which was named Arkwright, both the Atkinson and Arkwright
power plants were demolished in 2003.
The Fivay Community sprang up in the early 1900's around a sawmill
established under the same name. Land records show that the area
that became known as Fivay was a part of the Hamilton Disston
1881, Disston purchased 4,000,000 acres of swampy and low lying land
from the State of Florida at 25 cents per acre . In 1883 Disston
conveyed the Fivay property to associate and former Governor of Florida
A.P.K. Safford who was owner of the Florida Land Improvement Company.
Two years later in 1885 Safford conveys the property to the
Cooty Land and Improvement Company, who in turn conveys it to Bullard
and Sessoms in 1897. According to a deed dated 1898, B.F. Bullard
Sessoms were apart of the firm C.L. Johnson and Company located in
Pasco County. This was one of the earlier and more successful
and timber companies in the area. It is believed that there was
an earlier mill located on the Fivay site, which became
abandoned ca. 1898 after it was destroyed by a fire. According to a
Feb. 28, 1988 Tampa Tribune
article, which retraced the steps of the Fivay Community and sawmill,
"it was in ca. 1904 that five businessmen from Atlanta Georgia
purchased 280,000 acres of wooded land located in Pasco, Hillsborough
and Hernando counties." The site the Atlanta businessmen chose
for the location of their sawmill is believed to be the same location as the abandoned mill from previous
owners Bullard and Sessoms; this site was located near the present day
intersection of S.R. 52 and Little Road.
Laying the Foundation
Ca. 1904 was about the time when both Henry M. Atkinson and
Preston S. Arkwright teamed up with three other prominent
businessmen, Martin F. Amorous, Charles F. Ayer, and Gordon Abbott; it
is believed these men were also connected with the Georgia Power
Company. It was at this time the Aripeka Saw Mills, a corporation
organized under and by virtue of the laws of Georgia, was formed.
According to Ralph A. Gower, son of one time
superintendent of the Fivay sawmill W.A. Gower, "his father worked for
Martin Amorous at various lumber operations while they were living in
Georgia." Still today Martin F. Amorous is credited as being one
of the most prominent lumbermen from Georgia. In 1901 The Moultrie Observer
reported that "Mr. Amorous cut a pine tree so big that he
couldn't get it under his mill shed, and as a consequence it will be
shipped to the Buffalo Exposition as a sample of Georgia pine.
The pine was termed a “giant of the finest” in the
area. It measured 46 inches in diameter at the butt, 64 feet long
and 32 inches in diameter at the top." The mill the tree was
brought to was the Pinopolis Sawmill Co, owned by Amorous. In
July of 1905 the five Atlanta buisnessmen teamed up and entered into
agreement with two not so well known silent partners, until recently
these partners were not known about. According to the July 7,
1905 issue of the Atlanta Constitution
"Macon, Ga., July 6 — (Special) — Sidney J. and Bartow
Stubbs are the purchasers of large interests in the Aripeka Lumber
Company at Fivay, Fla. The purchase was made through a deal closed with
Atlanta attorneys and over half a million dollars is invested by the
new purchasers. They will take charge of the new business on August 1.
Both men are well-known Macon capitalists and are also experienced in
the lumber business.” Not only did these seven men have
previous buisness expireince but some them also had previous expirience
in the lumber industry.
The Gower Family came to Florida ca. 1905 after the Aripeka Sawmills made their large purchase of land. Immediately the
of establishing the mill began. The name chosen for the sawmill
stemmed from the last names of the five businessmen, all
beginning with the letter "A" the mill was original called Five-A's
sawmill, which eventually evolved into Fivay. Martin F. Amorous
moved from Georgia to the site of the sawmill, according to the 1910
federal census Amorous oversaw the sawmills operations as manager. In the early years Gower notes
that everyone involved with the sawmill, the workers, lived in
Brooksville and rode a
work train to Fivay every day. The Fivay Sawmill also played a
major role in the area's railroad industry. It was reported in
the Tampa Tribune
on May 26, 1904 that the Brooksville-Hudson railroad opened. According to West Pasco's Heritage,
by 1905 the sawmill laid miles of its own track connecting it to the
new Brookville-Hudson Railroad at Hudson where there was a depot for
passengers and commodities, this would have been the line that early
mill workers rode to work everyday.
to Brenda Knowles this is the Hudson Depot as it looked ca. 1905.
The Hudson Depot sat along the Brooksville-Hudson Railroad and
was also connected, with a spur-line, to the Town of Fivay.
The may be one of the trains from the Fivay Sawmills. (Photo courtesy of Brenda Knowles and may not be reproduced)
Now that workers had a way to and from the mill site the daunting task
of building the mill itself began. Its believed that the previous mill on the site
could not be used so the construction of a new mill was started from
scratch. The mill itself was situated on Bear Creek and one major
task was creating a mill pond deep enough to float the large logs that
were ready for the mill. A mill pond was used to store the
timbers until ready for the mill, at which time the timbers were
floated to an area where they could be wenched from the pond to the
mill, usually by mule. The Fivay mill pond was created by the
damming of Bear Creek, once damed the height of the water in the mill
pond could then be controlled; remains of the old red brick damn and
control gate, which also served as a bridge, can still be seen along
Bear Creek. Down stream Bear Creek flows into a very large sink
hole called Bear Sink, once the water flows into Bear Sink it travels
underground for several miles and boils up in Hudson Springs near
Hudson Beach. Residents that live near Hudson Springs today say
that occasionally during a bad thunderstorms wooden planks can be seen
floating out of Hudson Springs, these planks have been trapped
underground for nearly 100 years. There were also large red brick
boiler rooms constructed on the site. These boilers were powered
by wood and in turn generated steam, which powered the large saws at
the mill. According to The History of Pasco County, Florida
by J.A. Hendley, "The boilers of the mill were never cold, a day and
night shift kept the mill in constant operation." The mill itself
sat atop of large red brick foundation and was likely made of wood as
most sawmills of that time were. According to Ralph Gower, "There
were two large saw mills-- one to cut pine and the other to cut
cypress." The last of these large red brick foundations was torn
down in 2004 and was located behind the Plaza of the Oaks shopping
center on S.R. 52., remains can still be found in the swamps along Bear
Creek It is not known how long it took to construct the damn,
boiler rooms, and mills. It is not known where the large amounts
of red brick, used in the construction of the sawmill, came from. However,
it is believed that after Fivay was connected to the Brooksville-Hudson
railroad ca. 1905 the brick may have been brought in via the railroad.
Fivay had many wooden
bridges that were utilized by both residents and the Fivay Sawmills.
(Left): The only known photo showing one of Fivay's wooden
bridges. (Right): Remains of wooden bridge that crossed Bear
The Building of a Town
Once the mill was built crews laid tram roads into areas that had
timber. Once the timber was cut they were attached, by huge
hooks, to log carts that were pulled by mule. The logs were then
carried to the mill by rail, where they were stored in the mill pond
until wenched out of the pond to the large saws at the
mill. Once timber was acquired the Aripeka Sawmill Corporation began constructing company
housing for its workers, this was the beginning of the Town of Fivay.
The picture on the left was taken from Tarpon Springs Florida: the Early Years
by Gertrude K. Stoughton and shows some of the many trees logged at
Fivay, the people and date are unknown. According to The History of Pasco County, Florida
J.A. Hendley, "many houses were built for stores, dwellings and
drying rooms in which the green lumber was seasoned for the market."
Among one of the first homes likely constructed was that of
sawmill manager and first president Martin F. Amorous. According
to Ralph A. Gower, "Amorous' home sat on a hill overlooking the mill
site", Gower also notes "There were two other large homes up the hill
near the Amorous house, one was occupied by the company auditor, George
Broadhurst, the other was a large boarding house." It was in 1909
that Martin F. Amorous moved from Georgia to make his home at Fivay.
On October 28th 1909 the Atlanta Constitution
reported, "Martin F. Amorous Goes to Florida To Live- Well Known
Lumberman Capitalist and Councilman Will Bid Goodbye to Atlanta- Martin
F. Amorous well known lumberman will soon leave Atlanta to make his
home in Fivay, Florida where he will take charge of the sawmills of the
Aripeka Company. Mr. Amorous has acquired large interest in the
mills. Recently he resigned from council to take effect January
1." According to
the 1910 federal census, M.F. Amorous was a fifty-one year old
white male from Georgia who was widowed, also listed in the Amorous
home are J.W. Stokes, 40 a year old white female and L.V. Stokes, a
50 year old white male. The Stokes, husband and wife for
seventeen years, lived and worked for Amorous; J.W. is listed as the
housekeeper and L.V. is listed as servant. There are two other
servants listed although they are not listed as being boarders with
Amorous. The names of these servants were L. Townsend a 45 year
old mixed male who is listed as being married and Ernest (last name
illegible) a 25 year old mixed male who is listed as being single.
In the 1910 federal census listed near the Amorous' home is a
boarding house where there were thirty- six mill workers living, the
owners name of the boarding house is illegible.
With the building
of homes, more and more mill workers began to live near the site of the
Fivay Sawmill. On September 23, 1904 the Fivay post office began
its services for the community. It is not known who the first
postmaster was, however according to the 1910 federal census the Fivay
postmaster was Sallie Perkins, a forty-two year old single white male
from Georgia. Sallie is listed as boarding or living with Ransom
and Angus Williams; Ransom was a traveling salesmen for a
cash register company.
By 1907 the five Atlanta businessmen became involved in other business ventures throughout the area. According to Citrus, Sawmills, Critters, and Crackers
Elizabeth Reigler McManus and Susan McManus, "the five men built the
Tampa Northern Railroad from Tampa to Brooksville in 1907." This
railroad was located along present day U.S. 41. Soon after the
Tampa Northern Railroad was constructed the Fivay Sawmill laid tracks
to connect with the new railroad. The area where
the two met, near S.R. 52 and U.S. 41, became known as Fivay Junction
but was located ten miles east of the Town of Fivay. This new
spur line connected the Fivay Sawmill directly to Tampa where not only
products from the mill could be shipped out but dry goods and other
items could be shipped to the town. There was also a
passenger depot constructed at Fivay Junction, according to locals this
depot sat on the west side of Pierce Lake (sic) named for Pasco County
Surveyor Allen O. Pearce.
These photos taken in
1910 show Locomotive No. 1 as it sat in Brooksville. This train
was owned by the Tampa Northern Railroad Company and was likely the
train that serviced the Fivay Junction area. The cargo appears to be
railroad ties, which were largely produced at the Fivay Sawmills.
Note the passenger car. (Photos Courtesy of Florida State Archives)
This well casing was used by the Fivay waterworks to supply the Town of Fivay with fresh water.
By linking to the Tampa Northern Railroad activity and residents around
the Fivay Sawmill increased. Eventually a power/ ice plant, drug
store/ doctor's office, company office, wash house, hotel, school,
water tower, and
commissary were built. Hendley wrote, "Many whites and Negroes
were employed by this corporation" [Aripeka Sawmill Co.].
According to Citrus, Sawmills, Critters, and Crackers
Elizabeth Reigler McManus and Susan McManus, "In line with the
times, the houses were sectioned off so that black workers lived in one
area and whites in the another." According to a September 10, 1920 Dade City Banner
article, "The main street was planked. The social life was cared for by
a fine club house, tennis court, golf links and a park, and it is said
that guests came from as far as Jacksonville for week-end affairs."
There was a wide variety of jobs
created by the Fivay Sawmill and the 1910 federal census, which has
been cited several times, gives some wonderful insight into the
everyday duties carried out by the townspeople of Fivay; most of them
worked for the Aripeka Sawmill Company. The power plant was
operated by the young twenty-one year old Jonie P. Caswell whose
occupation is listed as Electric Engineer; Gower says "the power plant
was fueled by sawdust and slabs." Thirty year old Edward
O. Allen worked as the salesmen at the Fivay town commissary with help
from thirty-five year old Jay Bird whose job was laborer at the
commissary; Jay is listed as being African American. Fifty year
old Cook Lee had the duties of Ice Man for the town of Fivay and
William E. Hope the butcher, there was even a carpenter and brick
mason. Proprietor and owner of the hotel was thirty-eight year old
Susie M. Hughs, who in 1910 had twenty-one guests staying at her
hotel. With the town of Fivay being centered around the dangerous
sawmill industry, Levy W. Sheppard made his living by selling life
insurance. Forty-five year old Samuel Vaughn and nineteen year
old Ashely Pritchard served as blacksmiths for Fivay, Samuel is listed
as African American. Among the more unusual jobs listed were carried out by fourteen year old Wallie Cook
and thirteen year old Owen Johnson, both African Americans who worked
as "waterman" and "water carrier" for the Aripeka Sawmill Co., perhaps
these jobs were associated with the town wash house where residents would wash their clothes.
Aside from the town duties there were numerous job titles held at the
sawmill by both whites and African American. Many of the African
American workers are listed simply as laborers for the Aripeka Sawmill
Co., others had jobs such as loggers, wood cutters, mill hands, and
locomotive fireman Many of the white mill workers held easier
occupations at the mill such as lumber inspectors, locomotive engineers,
sawyers, and surveyors. Many of those individuals who worked for
the Aripeka Sawmill Co., at Fivay, where from Georgia just as the mill
Among the more notable achievements of the sawmill town of Fivay
was that of a doctor's office built ca. 1908. According to the
1910 federal census,
forty-one year old William H. Bryan, from Georgia, is listed as
for the Aripeka Sawmill Co. Even though Dr. Bryan was employed
by the sawmill he still met the medical needs of the town
residents. There is another historical document dated 1908 (see
below) that included the name J.T. Gardner M.D., Gardner is not listed
in census records for Fivay.
According to Gower, the town had "a 'primitive' drugstore with a
doctor's clinic upstairs". The Fivay clinic/drugstore has been
credited with being the first community hospital in Pasco County, it
wasn't until October of 1926 that Dade City reported having a twelve
bed hospital. The Fivay clinic was not of considerable size,
pictures from 1909 show the clinic had about six beds. There were
no private rooms at the Fivay clinic, all six beds were located in one
room; the Fivay clinic also had a birthing room for mothers to
be. Just to have a doctor present during child birth, let alone a
hospital to deliver in, was impressive during
(Left) The primitive
Fivay Doctor's office/ Hospital as it looked ca. 1909, note the two
nurses standing in front. The two story building housed a
primitive drug store on the first floor while the doctor's office and
hospital were located upstairs. (Right) The second floor also had
a delivery room for expecting mothers, note the primitive medical
These men, likely mill workers, had little to do while regaining health
and strength at the Fivay Hospital. These were probably the only
seven beds at the hospital, this was the first of its kind in Pasco
County. (Photos courtesy of USF Special Collections Library)
Incorporation of Fivay
On August 31, 1908 there was a notice posted at three conspicuous
locations of Fivay, these locations are not known but were likely
places such as the commissary, post office, or mill office. This
notice read, "We the undersigned citizens of the Town of Fivay, Pasco
County, Florida, desire to form a municipal corporation under the Laws
of Florida, for the government of the said Town of Fivay, do hereby
give notice that all persons who are registered voters residing in the
proposed corporate limits hereafter described, are required to assemble
at eight o'clock on September 30, A.D. 1908, at the office of the
Aripeka Saw Mills in said town to select officers and organize a
municipal government for the Town of Fivay whose corporate limits shall
be as follows:- the southwest quarter of section two, the southwest
quarter of section one, the northwest quarter of section eleven, the
northwest quarter of section twelve, all in township twenty-five south,
range sixteen east." The undersigned citizens were as
follows: T. H. Martin, T. J. Pearce, L. E. Thornton, E. C.
Baughman, C. H. Cook, W. C. James, W. C. Wills, J. T. Donaldson, W. P.
Taylor, W. G. Perkins, A. A. McCallum, C. A. Blatchfort, W. H. Hope, T.
A. Hughes, C. Deason, J. B. Kennedy, C. E. Marsh, J. L. Waite, H. S.
Harman, J. T. Gardner M. D., J. S. Spaws, Irb Sessions, T. H. Hovard,
A. B. Porter, D. B. Whittle, M. L. Wingate, W. C. Ray, W. A. Walden,
John L. McCreery, J. B. Perry, and Ernest Christian; most of who also
participated in the election of town officials.
Pursuant to the above notice, one month later on Wednesday, September
30, 1908, there were thirty qualified voters who assembled at the
Aripeka Sawmill office. At eight o'clock P.M. the election polls
were opened. J.S. Carlow, J.H. Smith, and A.A. McCallom were duly
empowered to act as managers and inspectors of the election.
Complying with the laws relative to incorporations the following
officers were elected to represent the Town of Fivay: Mayor, W. H.
Hope; Council members: Ernest Christian, Ed S. Haines, J. T. Donaldson,
C. A. Blatchford, M. E. Sperry, T. A. Hughes, T. H. Martin. Town
Marshall: Robert Nix. Treasurer: L. E. Thornton. Tax Assessor: T. J.
Pearce. Tax Collector: J. F. Gardner, M. D. Clerk: C. G. Puleston.
William H. Hope was sworn into office as Mayor of Fivay on
October 2, 1908. The following day William H. Hope executed his
duties as mayor by swearing in the other town officials.
The 1911-1912 R. L. Polk & Co.'s Florida Gazetteer and Business Directory lists
- Population 250. In Pasco
county, 33 miles west of Dade City, the county seat, 25 miles from
Brooksville, the nearest banking point and 3 from Hudson, its shipping
Aripeka Saw Mills Co., J S Stubbs genl mgr
Caraway E J, justice of the peace
Fivay Mercantile Co.
Greeg Alice, boarding house
Vincent Bros. general store
It has been told in numerous accounts
that the population of Fivay was between 1,500 and 2,000
residents. Newspaper articles indicate that there were
approximately 104 houses in the Town of Fivay. According to the
1910 federal census, best calculations show there
were approximately 600 residents in Fivay, including children.
It is possible that there were 1,500 to 2,000 workers "employed"
by the Aripeka Sawmill Co., however some of the workers likely lived in
other locations such as Brooksville or even Fivay Junction, ten miles
east of the Town of Fivay.
By 1910 the Town of Fivay had its own school. School board minutes
from April 29, 1910 show that John A. Brady, W. A. Hayes, and E. J.
Carraway were elected trustees for the Fivay District. It is
believed that the Fivay School was established before the April 29th
mention in the school board minutes. According to the 1910
federal census, which was recorded on April 25,1910, four days before
the school board minutes, Henry A. White was
the school teacher of Fivay; although the census lists him as working
the Aripeka Sawmill as though the school was owned by the sawmill..
The Fivay School lasted sometime after the sawmill closed and on
April 19, 1918 a deed transferred property in S6 T25 R17 from N. D.
Eiland and his wife to the school board; this property is located on
present day Hicks Road. Mention of the Fivay School appears in
school board minutes as late as 1936. Ca. 1912 there was a school
established, near Fivay Junction, called the Tucker School. It is
believed the Tucker School became the Fivay Junction School ca. 1914.
The Tale of Two Towns
Aside from the hard work put forth by the residents of Fivay there was
another side of the town that came out after the days work was done.
When it came to the residents of Fivay the town was notorious for
a ruthless and rough town. Before the times of prohibition, many
of Fivay's residents owned or operated their own moonshine stills.
Speaking on the topic Gower said, "There were stills in all those
woods." Evidence of this activity can be seen on an undated
historical plat map of the area drawn by Victor M. Clark. The map, left, shows a sinkhole north
of town along the Brooksville-Hudson Railroad, called "Still Sink", located in section 26.
This sinkhole was likely a source of water for the many stills in
that area or perhaps there were numerous stills located in the area
around the sinkhole. These stills supplied the town with an
endless supply of moonshine, which led to wild parties and drinking.
Gower noted that "Fivay was a hell-raising town on Saturday
nights. The woodsmen pitched wild parties with moonshine liquor on
their time off."
Then there were some who simply used Fivay to hide when things got to hot. On September 14, 1923 the New Port Richey Press
reported, " Fivay Man Arrested Charge Embezzlement-- 'Doc' Jordan, a
Ford roadster, a moonshine still, and some 'evidence' were brought back
from Fivay by Deputy Sheriff's Clyde Daso and L.H. Meeth, Thursday,
about noon, after an all night session Wednesday. 'Doc' Jordan
was wanted in Tampa by a sewing machine company on a charge of
embezzlement, and was arrested on a warrant sworn out by the company.
From statements of a representative of the company, by whom
Jordan had been employed, Jordan is said to have taken a Ford roadster
belonging to the company without completing the payments thereon, and
is also alleged to have signed contracts for the company and received
money on them. He was brought before Justice J.H. Sheldon
Thursday afternoon, who bound him over, and he was taken to Dade City
Thursday by Deputy Daso to be turned over to Sheriff Sturkie. The
moonshine still forms another story. Jordan has been living at
the home of Mr. Gable in Fivay, who had been a road inspector.
Deputy Daso also had a warrant to search the Gable premises,
which he did, assisted by Officer Meeth. They found two barrels
of mash, a still and worm and some shine in an outhouse on the back of
the premises. The still and the worm were brought in as evidence
and Gable arrested. Gable was allowed to remain on his own
recognizance to answer a later summons. The gear and still are
held by Deputy Meeth."
Being segregated the African Americans and whites did not hang out or
party together, the African Americans had their own places to party.
Hendley wrote, "It was here [Fivay] that this writer came in
contact with a jooke for the first time. I do not know how the name
originated. It sounds like voo doo and hoo doo, an echo from far off
Africa. Anyhow it was a place used for the entertainment of the Negro
society at large. A yellow Negro calling himself Forest Brazill
operated the jooke and on Saturday nights they had quite a high time;
with the money in their pockets, firearms up under the left arm, their
guts afire with bootleg liquor, gathered there for a frolic and to have
a good time. There was a dusky damsel called Sugar who seemed to be
very popular with the male sex and two of them tried to dance with Shug
at the same time. The multiebrity developed in the woman even if her
skin was black, so she made eyes at both of the enamored swains which
brought on trouble, and they reached for their firearms to settle the
matter according to their code. It was then that Forest Brazill
interfered to settle the trouble. One of them turned on to Forest and
he was obliged to kill in self defense, so he said." The one
thing that both the African Americans and whites had in common was that
these wild parties led to many moonshine influenced deaths in the Town
Ripped from the Headlines
Here are two notable and interesting murder stories that graced the
headlines of the newspapers in the early 1900's. On August 24,
1912 the front page of the Tampa Daily Times
reported "Lonnie Rewis killed at Fivay; girl said to be cause of
murder. School house yard is scene. At 9 o'clock last night
reports from a shotgun were heard by residents living near the school
house. Adolphus Rewis, brother of the murdered man, testified
today that he had heard the shots at the school house after his brother
had gone to meet the girl, Grace Pearce, and that he and his sister
in-law, Mrs. Dorcus Rewis, had gone to the school house and found the
body some twenty minutes after the shooting. It was outside the
school house some twenty feet away. The shot had wounded the man
in the head , stomach, leg, and arms." This murder actually
occurred at Fivay Junction, and it was reported that "Allen Pearce, Fred
Pearce, and Grace Pearce were arrested on complicity in the death of
Lonnie Rewis. They were released on motion of the state, because
there was no evidence to connect them with the killing of Rewis."
On March 31, 1916 the Dade City Star
carried the headline "Thomas Pearce is Victim of an Unknown Hand".
According to the article, "Pearce who was the son of Allen
Pearce, Pasco County Surveyor, and a deputy in his father's work, had
charge of the Aripeka Saw Mills lands for that firm, and it is current
opinion at the scene of the crime that the murder is an outgrowth of
the murder of Adolphus Lewis, at Fivay sometime ago. Lewis was
killed from ambush and Pearce was mentioned as one of the possible
slayers." Pearce was ambushed outside of his home, as he stepped
onto his porch someone fired the fatal shots. He fell and crawled
into the house and was assisted by his wife and died a short time later.
It is believed that these two killings were related. The Adolphus
Lewis mentioned in the second article is thought to actually be
Adolphus Rewis mentioned the first article.
These articles are just a small glimpse into the illicit activities that occurred in and around the Town of Fivay.
Lost Cemeteries of Fivay
Gower notes that "Casualties were so high in spontaneous
shootings that the community cemetery filled rapidly. They hauled
bodies out there every Saturday night." Some believe that the
Vereen Cemetery, on Hudson Ave., and the Greenfield/ Fivay Cemetery,
near S.R. 52 and U.S. 41, where the cemeteries used by the Town of
Fivay. Upon cross reference of the 1910 federal census, for the
Town of Fivay, and a list of burials in the Vereen and Greenfield/
Fivay Cemeteries there was only one name that matched in both documents
and that was the former Justice of the Peace E.J. Caraway, who is
buried in Vereen Cemetery. The Vereen and Greenfield/ Fivay
Cemeteries are not the cemeteries that were used by the Town of Fivay.
It must be understood that the Greenfield/ Fivay Cemetery was NOT
named after the Town of Fivay, as described in the legal description,
but was named for Fivay Junction. Fivay Junction and the Town of
Fivay were not the same, Fivay Junction was named for the junction in
the railroad tracks, which came from the Town of Fivay.
In 1941 the WPA compiled a "Register of Deceased Veterans" for Pasco
County. According to the WPA information the Town of Fivay had
its own cemetery and it was not the Greenfield/ Fivay Cemetery.
WPA register list the name of the cemetery as the Old 5-a Cemetery.
Although there were no veterans recorded as being buried in the
cemetery there were still directions given as to the location of the
cemetery. From New Port Richey the directions were as follows:
Old 5-A Cemetery
Section 01, Township 25, Range 16
From Railroad crossing on Main Street in the town of New Port Richey,
proceed north on State Road # 19 [now U.S. 19] for 6 and 3/10 miles to the
intersection of said State Road #19 with State Road # 210 [S.R. 52];
then east on the latter road for 2 miles, then north 1/10 mile, then
east along Woods Road 3/10 mile, then walk northwest through woods for
approximately 100 yards, (through brush and weeds, no road) cemetery
lies ahead an obscured by undergrowth.
is very difficult to determine the exact location of the
cemetery,today, since many of the roads traveled by the WPA no longer
exist, such as Woods Road. However, I have located numerous
aerial photos showing Woods Road. Pictured on the left is a 1957
aerial of the Town of Fivay, today this is the intersection of S.R. 52
and Little Road. The road just north of the intersection and
stretching northeast is Woods Road. Remains from the sawmill and
railroads can be seen in the aerial, in the lower left is the remains
from the mill pond. (click here
for a larger image of the aerial)
Upon trying to retrace the steps of the WPA surveyor portions of Woods
Road have been since discovered. Today the cemetery lies
somewhere northwest of the intersections of Canton Ave. and Cricket
St., which in its self is interesting. Pasco County School Board
plans to build a school on Canton Ave. using Cricket St. as the main
access. It is believed that the Old Fivay Cemetery may lie close
to this proposed access road and it has been brought to the attention
of both Pasco County and Pasco County School Board. Pasco County
recruited the help of their map drawer who used the computer to map and
retrace the steps of the WPA surveyor. However, the methods used
to retrace these steps use precise units of measurements and since the
original directions use approximations the exact location of the
cemetery CAN NOT be determined. In fact we do not know what units
of measurements were used by the WPA surveyor but I can assure it was
not a computer. County officials are trying to place this
cemetery as far away from their access road as they possible.
Pasco County claims they will use due diligence to find the
cemetery but if it lies on private property the county is leaving that
responsibility up the private property owner.
Since this was the
cemetery for the sawmill Town of Fivay it is likely that the graves
were marked with wooden markers made at the sawmill, which were
probably destroyed by fire. There hasn't been any documentation
found, by this web site, saying that the Old 5-A Cemetery was
relocated. It is likely that the cemetery now lies unmarked but
this can only be determined with cadaver dogs or ground penetrating
radar. There is still ongoing research by this website and there
are still documents that have not been discovered. With the
passing of time more and more documentation will be brought forth.
It has been reported by locals, who have lived in the area all their
lives, that the Town of Fivay also had an African American Cemetery.
The reported location of this cemetery lies under what is now
Griffin Park, off of Kiowa Street. Since the Town of Fivay was
segregated this would make sense. There hasn't been any
documentation found to confirm this report but there may not be any
documentation for this cemetery. Unfortunately the WPA did not
compile a "Register of Veterans" for every cemetery in Pasco County, if
this cemetery did exist it was not include in the WPA survey.
The Beginning of the End
As early as 1909 the Aripeka Sawmill Company began selling portions of
their lands. According to a 1925 article "C.M. Roser, the pioneer
real-estate dealer of St. Petersburg and founder of Rosser Park, a
beautiful residence section of St. Petersburg," purchased a large tract
of land at Fivay in 1909.
The Aripeka Sawmills Company and the Fivay Sawmill also paved the way
what would become the City of New Port Richey. The large
operation of Fivay cleared and cut the timber from many acres of land
throughout West Pasco, among these lands was today's downtown New Port
Richey. After these lands were cleared and void of timber it was
useless to the sawmill operations. According to The Genesis of New Port Richey
by Dr. Elroy M. Avery, "In 1911, the Aripeka Saw Mills sold a part of
their lands to P. L. Weeks; in August of that year. Mr. Weeks, his
brother (J. S. Weeks, jr.,) and W. E. Guilford formed the Port Richey
Company for the purpose of colonizing and developing the lands. P. L.
Weeks, the financial backer of the company, was a successful turpentine
operator of Brooksville, Florida; the actual management of the company
was entrusted to Mr. Guilford, who had formerly been connected with the
Gillett Safety Razor Co., of Boston. The actual beginning of the town
of New Port Richey dates from that time, October, 1911, when Mr.
Guilford, with characteristic New England foresight and Yankee
optimism, drew up a proposed plan for the future city, and had many of
the streets and avenues surveyed, but not named. This plan has been
followed with very little deviation since that date; therefore, due
credit must be given Mr. Guilford, for only a born pioneer could, at
that time have conceived the thriving little town of ten years later."
In my opinion due credit should also be given to the Fivay
Sawmills and the Aripeka Sawmill Company for paving the way for the
thriving City of New Port Richey. The earliest photos of New Port
Richey show large areas of land, void of trees that were logged by the
The sale of the New Port Richey property marked the beginning of the
end for the Fivay Sawmills. Gower says "the failure of this huge
enterprise was because the timber was neither as plentiful nor as large
as expected, and the proceeds failed to justify the expensive machinery
and large overhead." It is the belief of this writer that it was
perhaps other timber operations in the area, such as Centralia, that
lead to the failure of the Fivay Sawmill. In 1911 the company
Town of Fivay began selling off much of the equipement that operated
the large mill for so many years. Articles first appeared in
Georgia where the timber industry was still underway, on March 04, 1911
the Atlanta Constitution
advertised: "FOR SALE—Engines, boilers, complete band sawmill
outfit, steel (?) dry kiln trucks, log carts and eight-wheel log
wagons, pumps, locomotives, pulleys, shafting, trimmers, slashers, gang
edgers, lath and shingle machinery, all sizes pipes and feed water
heaters. Aripeka Saw Mills, Tampa, Fla."
According to Gower, "in
1912 the mills closed down for good, the machinery was junked, and the
timber rights were sold to the Gulf Pine Company, which established a
mill at Odessa." The mill at Odessa was owned by the Dowling
Lumber Co. and operated for many years after Fivay Sawmills closed.
By March of 1912 a very interesting thing occurred, the Aripeka Sawmill
Company advertised to sell the entire Town of Fivay. On March 02,
1912 the Tampa Daily Times
reported "Here's Ready-Made Town For Sale at a Bargain, Has Electric
Lights, Water Works, Hotel, Etc., Aripeka Sawmills Will Sell Town of
Fivay- Great Opening for Good Colony Scheme.- Town for sale!
Fully equipped with hand made electric lights, waterworks, 104
houses, hotels, stores, all you want in any 'regular' town.
That's the proposition Auditor J.W. Broaddus of the Aripeka
Sawmills is making the public. "It's rather unusual to be offering
a town for sale" said he yesterday "but its the proposition we are
making." The Town of Fivay, located in Pasco County, about thirty
miles from Tampa and but four miles from the Gulf of Mexico, with which
it is connected with a good hard road. "It is not a
'down-at-the-heel' sort of town either, for the company has kept it in
good shape. The houses are all in fair condition, some of them in
extremely good shape, and many pleasant little bungalow houses are in the
lot. There is a building suitable for a hotel or big clubhouse if
some association of sportsmen should buy the place. It has an
electric light plant and a waterworks big enough for a town of 2,000
people, and altogether would start out as a small city with the very
best of auspices." The Aripeka people own something like 200,000
acres of land north of Tampa in Hillsborough and Pasco Counties.
They are about to give up the extensive lumber operations they
have carried on, on their own account and will lease the balance of
their lumber lands to other concerns. Much of it they are selling
off direct. The Town of Fivay is one of the properties they wish
to dispose. It would form a fine nucleus for a colony and people
who are interested in the formation of colony schemes are advertised to
write to Mr. Broaddus. Much of the land is well adapted to
agriculture and there are a few farms on it at present, though little
in the way of agricultural development has been done. It is
diversified, rolling country, and bids fair to develop largely in
time." The article implies that the sawmills are still in
operation but would soon be "given up".
Advertisement from March 02, 1912 Tampa Daily Times. (Photo Courtesy of fivay.org)
Following the close of the Fivay Sawmills, on June 15, 1912 the
Fivay Post Office discontinued its services to the community.
Gower's father, superintendent at the time, had the job of
selling off the custom-made machinery for scrap. Junk dealers hauled
away most of it. Gower's mother filled in as Fivay's last
postmaster, after the mills shut down. The homes were also
treated with the same manner as the machinery, they were dismantled.
According to Avery, "A few years later, when the pine timber
began to play out the huge mill was dismantled, the railroad trams were
torn up. In
those days, one could buy a fairly good house in Fivay for $50."
Some homes were scrapped and others were sold and re-assembled
elsewhere. Gower said "the family home was torn down, every board
marked, and it was rebuilt in Tampa's Ballast Point", the Gower home
was among the homes to be sold and relocated.
Some of these homes were purchased by new arrivals in the blossoming
City of Port Richey. In March of 1914 August and Irene Wick
arrived in Port Richey from Africa. On November 23, 1961 Irene
Wick told her story to the New Port Richey Press
Mrs. Wick said "we went to Tampa by train where the Port Richey Land
Company car met us and brought us to Port Richey. Hearing that
many houses were being offered for sale at Fivay, where a big sawmill
operation was just being completed, August Wick went there with a
friend, August Olsen, to look over the houses, with a view of buying
and moving one to his property at Port Richey." It is believed
the Wicks purchased and relocated one of the Fivay homes.
On November 24, 1922 the New Port Richey Press
carried an interesting
story from J.D. Middy. Mr. Middy was one of the old timers of
Fivay and was called north for about three years. "Upon his
return to Fivay he says that he found all the settlers gone and the
doors and windows taken out of the houses, the pumps taken up, and the
pipes pulled from the wells. He says he returned in time to keep
them from taking up the holes." Anything that could be stripped
from the homes was likely resold and used elsewhere.
The New City of Fivay
On January 12, 1915 the Fivay Improvement Company was formed, by
William Sonntag, President; John H. Twaddell, Vice; and Martin L
Waggoner, Sec. and Treasurer, with the proposed purpose of improving the
Town of Fivay. The company outlined many purposes of its
incorporation such as, improving, developing, subdividing, and platting
lands, maintaining roads, laying pipes, mains, hold sources of water
supply, maintain and operate water systems and plants, supply water to
patrons, operate and maintain gas, electric, and power works and
systems, and to sell and supply same to patrons and the public.
According to the Fivay Improvement Company's articles of
incorporation its principal place of business was in the "City of Fivay".
On May 01, 1915 the Fivay City Post Office was established but was short lived and immediately rescinded.
In August of 1978 Wilfred T. Neill of the New Port Richey Press
of a booklet published ca. 1916 to promote the growth of Fivay City.
Neill writes, "the well-illustrated booklet was designed to
promote the growth of Fivay City, described as the Eden of America- a
place for peace, profit, pleasure, plenty." This was a far throw
from the rough and rugged sawmill Town of Fivay. Neill went on to
say "At the time the booklet was written Fivay City already had
Artesian water, wide streets and avenues, schools and churches,
subdivision, solid brick business buildings, a good clubhouse and
hotel, and a four-acre Jungle Park. The booklet also provided
photos of the Fivay Hotel, Fivay [Fivay Junction] on the Tampa
and Northern Railroad, the Fivay Bank, the Pine Knot Clubhouse
[Amourous' old home], Island's General Store, a packing house owned by
the Fivay Development [Improvement] Company, and a power plant [built
by Aripeka Sawmill Co.]." There has not been a copy of the
booklet located and it is not known what happened to Wilfred T. Neill's
collection of historic materials.
Neill goes on to say "Fivay City had been the headquarters of the
'famous Ayer Sasparilla Co.". Charles F. Ayer, formerly connected
with the Fivay Sawmills, was a descendant of James Cook Ayers.
James Cook Ayer began selling pills locally in Lowell, Mass.
where he owned a drugstore in 1843. He claimed to have first sold his
Cherry Pectoral in 1843 - it was actually about 1847 before it was
first sold in bottles. The original formula contained syrup of squills,
sweet spirits of nitre and spirits of bitter almonds. The pills were
sold in boxes and it is most likely that it was first bottled about
1865. The Ague Cure was first bottled in 1858. The Sarsaparilla was
first bottled in 1857, and the Hair Vigor first in 1867. James
Cook Ayer went on to establish the J.C. Ayer Company and then built a
laboratory in Lowell, Mass. After James Cook Ayer died, in 1878 at
the age of 60, his brother Frederick assumed control. Frederick
likely worked for his brother, James, prior. According to the
1860 federal census for Lowell, Mass. Frederick is listed as a
"medicine manufacturer". According to the 1870 federal census for
Lowell, Mass. Charles was the son of Frederick Ayer. Charles F.
Ayer was obvious successor of his father's and uncle's business.
It is not known if the Ayer Sasparilla Company was headquartered
at Fivay prior to the 1916 promotional publication. This is the
only connection between the Town of Fivay and the later Fivay City.
It is believed that the Fivay Improvement Company, after seeing its
venture fail, was responsible for the disassembly of the buildings and non-occupied homes that still remained at Fivay.
the attempts of the Fivay Improvement Company, to revive
Fivay, the town's population dwindled. The once thriving little
Town of Fivay became a ghost town as the remaining buildings were torn
down. According to Avery, "Fivay soon took on the appearance of a
deserted village." Hendley said, "It looked like a deserted
western mining town after the gold ore had been exhausted."
The Florida Land Boom and the Roaring 20's
Following the close of the sawmill there were several attempts
to start other sawmills at the site of the old Fivay Sawmills. On
September 10, 1920 the Dade City Banner
reported, "Mitchell to Saw Logs in Fivay Mill Pond- Revives Memories of
Once Golden Days of the Deserted Village-- Many who have come to Pasco
county in recent years do not know that within three miles of the Gulf
of Mexico and a mile or two farther south than Dade City, was the most
promising town in Pasco county some ten to fifteen years ago. It
was Fivay, an aristocrat among lumber camps. The company had some
rather large ideas. For instance they built the mill of brick and
connected it with the Tampa & Northern railway at Tucker, nine
miles east with a railroad and built railroad shops to care for the
rolling stock where as many as fifty men were employed. There was
a large hotel, a commissary, a hundred good residences and other
buildings that go to make up a town. The main street was planked.
The social life was cared for by a fine club house, tennis court,
golf links and a park, and it is said that guests came from as far as
Jacksonville for week-end affairs. Today there are a lot of
decaying buildings under the charge of a solitary care taker. The
company went broke about ten years ago. All of which is intended
as an introduction to the statement that J. M. Mitchell, the county
commissioner, is in a deal to buy the logs in the log pond at Fivay,
and saw them into lumber at his mill. It is estimated that there
are between 500,000 and 1,000,000 feet of timer in the pond, a large
portion of which is cypress, and it is supposed that the cypress at
least is in good milling condition. Mr. Mitchell has a saw mill
at Elfers and he has not decided yet whether to haul the logs to Elfers
or the mill to the log pond. " It is not known if Mitchell ever
carried these plans through since a few years later the same story was
On April 18, 1924 the New Port Richey Press
reported, "New Sawmill At Fivay-- Fivay, which at one time had one of
the largest saw mills in the state, is soon to have another saw mill in
operation. When the former mill closed down, there was left a
large amount of saw logs in the mill pond, among them a quantity of
cypress logs. The new mill which is being installed by L.S.
Sweat, of Clearwater, will saw these logs into lumber. A small
shingle and lath mill is also being installed and the logs unfit for
lumber will be made up in shingles and lath. The new mill is to
be equipped for turning out finished building lumber and it is expected
will be in operation next week. Aside from the old mill logs, Mr.
Sweat is also negotiating for standing timber in the vicinity.
The new mill was located through the efforts of J.D. Middy."
It is again not know if this venture was ever carried out.
In 1925 C.M. Rosser, a pioneer real estate dealer of St.
Petersburg, began to develop the property that he had purchased in 1909
from the Aripeka Sawmills. According an April 03, 1925 New Port Richey Press
"About 3 months ago [Rosser] had part of the section platted
and the first unit of lots was sold to C.E. Hame a prominent hotel man
in the north who had come to St. Petersburg to embark in the real
estate business. The large office of Mr. Rosser on the first
floor of the McAdoo Building, which he now owns, was given over to the
sale of Griffin Park and the new development advertised with such
prominence that the entire unit of 150 lots sold in three days.
Large lots of 60 X 160 were offered at $25 to $110 each.
The prices were so out of proportion to St. Petersburg and
Pinellas County real estate that people bought just to make a gambler's
chance if nothing more. Many drove to Fivay to see what they had
purchased and found it so much better then they had anticipated that
they returned and bought more lots. Two persons who bought entire
blocks are Senator Frisbie, the presiding officer of the New York state
senate and Dr. C.E. Brown a prominent New York physician. Then
second unit was placed on sale and has been practically all sold.
An office building was erected at Griffin Park but the lots have
been sold so rapidly in St. Petersburg that it has not been used.
There is no intention of making Griffin Park a commercial town.
Rather it is desired that it remain a winter resort for well to
do people. While the lots sold for a low price the buyers are
desirable for a restricted community. The one house standing as a
reminder of old Fivay is the home of J.D. Middy who has lived there for
thirteen years, confident that some day in the future he would see a
city or some development rise on the ruins of old Fivay. He is
now the local representative of Mr. Rosser and Mr. Hame, also the owner
of the first filling station in Griffin Park."
Built ca. 1925 this building served as the first filling station for Fivay/Griffin Park.
This early gas station was owned by J.D. Middy and now sits
abandoned. Middy also served as an associate for Rosser, the developer of Giffin Park.
On September 23, 1927 it was reported in the New Port Richey Press
the "Fivay Building Activities Have Again Started. J.D. Middy,
the sage of Fivay, alias Griffin Park, expects to see at least two
bungalows or lodges built in his city of magnificent distance and airy
spaces in the somewhat near future. First W.T. Sherman, of St.
Petersburg, distributor of U.S. tires in South Florida, expects to
build a bungalow on his lot and make it his country home. There
is also to be a small poultry plant, presumably for Mrs. Sherman to
manage will Mr. Sherman continues to sell tires. The other
expected builder is Dr. Charles Edson Brown [mentioned above], a
St. Petersburg pioneer and owner of considerable water frontage in the
Sunshine City. Dr. Brown is at his hunting lodge in Utica,
N.Y. but is contemplating building a hunting and fishing lodge on his
Fivay property soon after his return to St. Petersburg. The plat
of Griffin Park was sold out to St. Petersburg and northern people
about two years ago. There has been little development to date
but if Dr. Brown and Mr. Sherman build there this year it is reasonable
to expect that other lot owners will follow and another chapter will be
added to the history of Fivay."
Today that chapter in Fivay's history is still being written as Griffin Park still stands as a residential community in West
Pasco County. There has been little deviation from the original plat
of Griffin Park. Today many of the streets that appeared on Rosser's
plat of Griffin Park are still used and have the same names.
Last Surviving Structure of Fivay
The Town of Fivay had many building and structures that were
utilized by both residents and the Aripeka Sawmills, however very few
of those buildings endured or survived the many changes and face lifts
that the town underwent. Being constructed from pine and cypress
gives proof the building was built by the Fivay Sawmills. There
was only one structure, from the sawmills, that stood the test of
times. It is believed the large two-story cypress and pine
structure once served as the Fivay Community Hospital/ Doctor's Office.
The building stood two blocks from the Fivay Sawmills and along
the Tampa-Northern Railroad spur line to Fivay Junction, which served
the Town of Fivay. In 1912, after the sawmills closed, it is
believed the building became the home of J.D. Middy. According to a
1925 article "the one house standing as a reminder of old Fivay was the
home of J.D. Middy who has lived there for thirteen years." In
1964 the building was purchased by Marie and Robert Cannon, who moved
to the area from Clearwater. The Cannon's purchased the building
from a woman by the name of Mrs. Woods who had made the building her
home for many years, it is not known who Mrs. Woods bought the building
from. Ca. 1977 the Cannon's sold the building and it was turned
into a elite bar for businessmen called "Mabaline's Warehouse".
After "Mabaline's Warehouse" closed the building was used as a
western ware and tack shop for a short period of time. In the
late 1980's the building was turned into a bar again, this time called
"Pub 52". In February of 1993 the two-story last surviving
structure of Fivay was destroyed by fire. When the structure
burned in 1993 it was approximately 85 years old, if only its walls could talk!
(Left) The last
surviving structure of Fivay as it looked in 1964 when the Cannon
Family bought it. The road in the picture is State Road 52, then
it was a two lane road.
(Right) After the structure was destroyed by fire in 1993 an Advanced Discount Auto Parts store was built on the site. Toady State Road 52 is a six lane highway.
After the last surviving structure of Fivay was destroyed by
fire, there is very little remaining of the once thriving town.
There are a few red brick foundation pieces and the damn wall/
flood gate still standing along the old Bear Creek. Today one can
hardly tell that one of the states top producing sawmills once stood
along Bear Creek. The town of Fivay and its sawmills was
somewhat ahead of the times with its Community Hospital/ Doctor's
Office, waterworks and electric plant. During the time period
there were very few communities who had these accommodations.
Aside of being ahead of the times the Fivay Sawmills paved the way for
development on the West Coast of Pasco County. Much of the land
owned by the sawmills was cleared during timber operations. After
the sawmills closed and these cleared lands were sold many communities
began to take over the cleared areas, among these communities is New
Port Richey. Today many thriving communities and cities continue
to grow situated on land once owned by the Aripeka Sawmills.
Research by Jeff Cannon- Copyright © 2008-09. This page was last revised on June 03, 2007