fivay.htm July 7, 2005
The following two articles are taken from the History of Pasco County pages at: http://fivay.org/trilby.html Accuracy is assumed, but not guaranteed.
Founded by Henry B. Plant, the millionaire railroader, who is President of the Plant system of railways, steamship lines, and hotels, and holding its site at the crossing point of two of the railroads of this system, the little Florida village is fast growing into the proportions of a pretentious town; and, strangely enough, its prosperity dates back no further than when it was given the name of Trilby. The railroad station near this point was formerly known as Macon, Fla. There was nothing of a town so long as it went by the name of Macon.
President Plant was just at the time deeply interested in a second reading of Du Maurier's book the popularity of which at that time amounted to a craze with the American people. The character as drawn by the author and given to the little waif about the streets of Paris had touched the railroad magnate with all its weird and gruesome phases, and when one of his officials came to him and asked what the new station should be named Mr. Plant looked up with his accustomed bright twinkle about the eye, which seems to bespeak a nature full of merriment as well as shrewdness, and said: "We will name it Trilby" -- and Trilby it is to-day.
That was enough. Trilby began at once to grow. A place which had never been heard of so long as it was called macon became known in a jiffy to all the world as Trilby. Ever-alert real estate agents took hold, Winter tourists on the west coast of Florida craned their necks out of Pullman car windows to see Trilby, and went home to talk about it among their fellow-capitalists of the North; newspaper writers wrote about it; the map of Florida held it out the most conspicuous of all names of towns and cities. Under such environment the little town of Trilby bids fair to become an important point some day. The streets have been named after the characters of the famed book; there is a Svengali Square, with the network of railroad tracks in the centre, presenting the fanciful spider web which was the emblem of the book; there is a Little Billee Street, a Taffy Street, and a Laird Lane. The avenues are named for the women of the book.
Practically the entire business section of Trilby, comprising a row of frame buildings occupied by stores, postoffice and express office, were destroyed by fire Friday afternoon, causing a loss of approximately $40,000, with insurance of not more than $5,000. The fire was caused from a spark from a chimney, or a defective flue, in a two-story building owned by Mrs. Henry Bradham and occupied by Lonnie Wiggins as a store and residence.
The fire was discovered shortly after noon and an alarm immediately turned in. A brisk wind was blowing and as the town had neither waterworks or fire-fighting apparatus, the flames soon spread until the entire row of buildings was ablaze. Calls for help were sent to Dade City, Plant City and Lakeland and the fire truck from Dade City responded, but was unable to do anything, as it is not equipped with a pump and so could not pump water from the lake close by. Plant City and Lakeland sent word that they could not send their apparatus so far away.
When the fire was first discovered J. S. Matthews, formerly chief of the Tampa fire department, happened to be in Lacoochee. He saw the smoke and hurried to the scene, where he voluntarily took charge of such fighting as was possible and had locomotives pump water and steam on the Coast Line station, which was close by, and which caught fire in several places. By this means this building was saved without any damage of any consequence. Complete information as to the amount of the loss has been impossible to obtain, as the buildings destroyed were old and their value apparently not known. Only three of the owners of the buildings and businesses they housed carried any insurance, the total of which was not more than $5,000. The losses, as far as it has been able to estimate them, were as follows: Mrs. Bradham, building, $1,000, no insurance; Louis Whidden, who occupied it with a store and residence, lost approximately $1,200 in stock, fixtures and household goods, with no insurance; J. W. Stephens, building and general merchandise stock, $10,000, insurance $2,000; F. Bankston, building occupied by the postoffice, $1,500, no insurance; W. H. Edwards, building and general merchandise stock, $10,000, with no insurance; R. H. Wade, meat market, $250, no insurance; J. E. Wade, Trilby Drug Store, building and stock, $6,000, insurance $1,000; Abbott building, vacant, $800, no insurance; a man named Ward, who had a restaurant in the building, lost his equipment valued at $500, with no insurance; Burt building, $1,000, no insurance; the American Railway Express Company office, located in this building, lost their records and books, but little of value; Hilliard building, $750, no insurance; and Mr. Mullins, who operated a barber shop here, lost his fixtures valued at $200; Bauknight building, $1,000, no insurance; A. H. Bankston, building and grocery stock, $5,000, no insurance; T. J. Blitch, building and confectionery store, $2,500, no insurance; two buildings occupied by negroes as a pressing club and boarding house were burned with a loss of $1,500, and the residence of Mrs. Amy Reynolds was destroyed, adding $2,000 to the total, with no insurance.