Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

Zolfo Springs, Florida

By Spessard Stone


Zolfo came into existence in 1886 when the Florida Southern Railroad opened a depot. A postoffice was established on May 26, 1886. On September 13, 1909 the name was changed to Zolfo Springs. The name was derived from the sulphur springs, which formerly flowed into a swimming pool, which for many years was a community recreation site. In 2000, Zolfo Springs has 1,300 citizens, but no springs.

Two early articles follow:



Zolfo Of 1889

The following article was edited by Spessard Stone from The Florida Times-Union of September 20, 1889:


Zolfo, Fla., September 19-

Vegetables

Farmers are preparing to plant vegetables extensively for shipping. They have had very wet weather for some time, but it is now drying off a little.

Phosphate Mining

The DeSoto Phosphate Mining company has extensive works just across Peace river. There are two large buildings, with fine machinery for drying and storing the phosphate. The company has a small steamer for towing its barges between the phosphate beds and the works. The hull is now built for a much larger and more powerful one, and the engine and machinery are daily expected. The company had a fine flowing artesian well on its grounds.

Orange Growing

Orange growing is the principal business here, and large quantities are shipped from this station every year. The crop is not as heavy as usual. The growers all hope that the marketing will be more successful than formerly.



Zolfo Gateway To Prosperity

The following article was edited by Spessard Stone from The Tampa Morning Tribune of December 13, 1914:


        Praises Unsung

Only a short time ago the town of Zolfo was one of those squalid little villages that are frequently seen lying here in a comatose state, the possibilities of the surrounding country un- known, its praises unsung.

The town itself presented a squalid appearance with its old wooden business houses, unpainted and unattractive, and the majority of the dwelling houses in the same condition.

       Gateway to Prosperity

Now all this has changed. Zolfo is now on the map and there to stay. Go anywhere you may in Florida and you will find but few people who have not heard of Zolfo, the "Gateway to Prosperity," as it was named by the editor of the Zolfo Springs Truth.

Those who viewed Zolfo a year ago and noted its dilapidated appearance of the town will now find a village of more than ordinary pretensions.

        Improvements

Brick business blocks have been erected and attractive residences built. Water works, electric lights and sewers have been installed, electric lights, cement sidewalks built and additions to the town opened up and improved.

The town has awakened from its lethargic sleep to a state of unusual activity. This transformation has been brought about by a few men of means and faith in the future development of the surrounding country.

        Skipper Bros.

The first brick building was erected in Zolfo by the Skipper Bros. in 1911, at which time there were only three general stores carrying small stocks of goods.

        State Bank

The building was erected as quarters for the State Bank of Zolfo, which then carried about $10,000 in deposits. Since then the deposits have steadily increased until now the bank boasts of deposits amounting to $125,000, after $50,000 has been withdrawn to pay for the building material and improvements to properties.

        Water Works

Early in 1913 the citizens of the town decided that water works were needed and believed the supply of water could be obtained from an artesian well. They therefore made up a purse and sank a four-inch well 465 feet deep, at which depth they struck a flow of water that spouted twelve feet above the ground, the well costing $987.

Messrs. J. I. and S. E. Roberts, D. L. and C. A. Skipper and Capt. T. J. Henderson then loaned the town the necessary funds with which to install a water works system. The town then had a population of about 250 people--probably the smallest town in the United States owning its own water works.

        Sewer System

With the installation of the water system came the desire for a sewer system and the same men who furnished the money for the water works came to the front and put up the necessary funds for a sewer system, which was completed in July, 1913.

        Electric Light Plant

Probably the most recent event in the town of Zolfo was the installation of an electric light plant by the Zolfo Electric Company. This plant, though small, is equipped with the most modern machinery and has a capacity of more than a thousand lights. It has been in operation but about three weeks and is giving splendid service in lighting the streets, business houses and dwellings.

        Zolfo Mercantile Company

A few months ago the Zolfo Mercantile Company determined to erect a modern brick block. It was rapidly pushed to completion and is now occupied by this firm with as complete a department store as can be found in any small city south of Jacksonville.

The store is two stories in height, 75x75 feet in dimensions, the first floor being occupied by the owner. The second floor is devoted to office rooms and the Masonic Hall. This building is constructed of the finest quality of brick and was erected at a cost of $25,000.

        Collier Block

Another of Zolfo's new brick buildings is the Collier Block, completed a short time after the Zolfo Mercantile Company finished their brick structure. This building, although but one story, is modern in every respect and contains seven store rooms, all of which were rented before the building was completed.

These rooms are occupied by the Zolfo Drug Company, the Cash Grocery Company, M. A. Gardner, hardware and furniture; an up-to- date barber shop and bath room, the postoffice, and operating room of Dr. J. B. G. Smith, and the millinery emporium of Mrs. J. B. Marvin.

        J. A. Hutson Bldg.

Near the Collier Building J. A. Hutson has erected a neat brick structure occupied by a meat market and green grocery store.

        Residences

The residence portion has not kept pace with the business section of the town. Within the last year probably thirty-five new residences have been built within the incorporate limits and fully as many more within a mile or two of the town.

Most notably of the residences recently build in the town are those of J. I. Roberts costing $7,000; E. B. Lanford, costing $3,000; R. C. Peterson, $3,000. (Also) Mrs. S. M. High, F. B. Cason, Henry Slade, M. J. Boyce, the Methodist Episcopal parsonage, tenant house erected by D. L. Skipper, four new and modern houses just completed by Capt. John Collier, with another in course of construction; M. L. Sullivan, J. J. Beam, L. P. Mercer, H. O. Beers, and numerous others less pretentious, but comfortable.

        Subdivisions

Two new subdivisions have been platted and placed on the market within the last year.

The Roberts & Skipper addition, comprising eighty acres, lying in the eastern edge of the town, has only been on the market two months, yet six modern houses have been built in this addition and the material is on the ground for two more.

The Fred Kincaid subdivision of eighty acres, lying just north of the Roberts & Skipper subdivision, was platted into one and five-acre lots about a year ago. All of these lots have been sold and nearly all of them improved, the land cleared, fences put up and houses built.

        Surroundings

While the town of Zolfo has been growing at a phenomenal rate, the surrounding country has kept pace. Not less than 500 acres of new land have been cleared, most of it in ten and twenty-acre farms. These small farms are the property of newcomers, who have cleared and fenced their land and built homes.

        The Truth

In July, 1913, a weekly newspaper was established here, the Zolfo Springs Truth, a small plant being installed at a cost of about $1,500. The paper started out regulation size--an eight- page, six-column, all home-print paper.

During the intervening period the equipment has been increased until it now invoices nearly $5,000, owning its own lot and building, which has been remodeled and fitted expressly for a printing office. It employs four men regularly and during the last few weeks its job department has been forced to run day and night.

        Other Enterprises

Among other new business enterprises established here during the last year is an up-to-date lumber yard, a saw and planing mill, a millinery store, a hardware and furniture store, a model grocery store, a cement block works, and a large garage and automobile sales room, from which nearly 100 new automobiles have been sold.

        Conclusion

The reason for this rapid growth is easily explained. It lies in the fact that nowhere in Florida can be found land better adapted to the raising of citrus fruits, general farm crops and vegetables. All section of South Florida offers opportunities for the homeseeker, but none that surpass this section of matchless, marvelous DeSoto.


January 15, 2001