San Antonio-St. Joseph Historical Trail
1....Print this file.
2....At its end, click on "rules" to see a copy of the trail rules, print it, and click where indicated at the end of the 3-page rules and patch order form to get back to the list of Florida trails.
3....If you want a hand-drawn map showing the locations of all of the sites, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Steve Rajtar, 1614 Bimini Dr., Orlando, FL 32806.
4....Hike the trail and order whatever patches you like (optional).
WARNING - This trail may pass through one or more neighborhoods which, although full of history, may now be unsafe for individuals on foot, or which may make you feel unsafe there. Hikers have been approached by individuals who have asked for handouts or who have inquired (not always in a friendly manner) why the hikers are in their neighborhood. Drugs and other inappropriate items have been found by hikers in some neighborhoods. It is suggested that you drive the hike routes first to see if you will feel comfortable walking them and, if you don't think it's a good place for you walk, you might want to consider (1) traveling with a large group, (2) doing the route on bicycles, or (3) choosing another hike route. The degree of comfort will vary with the individual and with the time and season of the hike, so you need to make the determination using your best judgment. If you hike the trail, you accept all risks involved.
From January of 1943 until December of 1945, near here were located barracks and personnel accommodations for 30 to 60 individuals working with radar equipment located near present Interstate 75. It was part of a network of radar controlled through Orlando.
It was installed to keep track of pilots who were being trained at local bases, who sometimes got lost, and to train members of the 661st Army Signal Corps who were learning how to use radar.
The area to the west of here, near the present location of Interstate 75, was the village of Saint Thomas, which existed in the late 1800s. Its post office was established on January 2, 1885, and was discontinued on December 31, 1907. The area was hit hard by the freezes of 1894 and 1895, and faded away not long after 1900.
The first church building, other than Jubilee Chapel, was built here in 1892 under the supervision of Father Benedict Roth. It was expanded in 1933 with a 12-foot addition in the front and a bell tower to accommodate a growing parish population. A front porch and baptismal font were added in 1938. That building was torn down and replaced by the present one in 1976.
This settlement of St. Joseph was established for German Catholics in 1883 by brothers Andrew, Bernard and Charles Barthle. They had come here from St. Joseph, Minnesota.
In 1888, the Jubilee Chapel was built near here on a five-acre tract. Prior to this time, St. Joseph residents who desired to attend church had to travel to San Antonio. The building was dedicated on October 1, 1888, for the parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was used as both a church and school. It was used as a church for only four years, until the new sanctuary was erected nearby.
Starting in September of 1889, the Benedictine Sisters of Holy Name Convent taught at the school, and continued to do so until 1917. The building was torn down in about 1918 and the lumber was salvaged for use in the construction of a home for Paul and Gertrude Neuhofer.
Jack Howell and Levi Eiland built a water-powered grist mill near here, completing it in 1875. It contained a community oven constructed of expensive fire bricks brought here from Tampa. The nearby 115-acre Mill Pond was dammed, raising the water 15 feet to provide a flow to run the underfed wheel. The building itself was made with a brick foundation and wooden sides.
Howell, who had moved to Florida with his parents from Georgia just after the Civil War, operated the mill until 1882. He then traded it and 40 acres of farmland and cash for 160 acres near where the Fort King Rd. crossed the Withlacoochee River.
For a number of years after that, subsequent owners operated the mill.
The legible tombstones in this cemetery date back to members of the Barthle family, buried during the 1880s.
Judge Edmund F. Dunne founded the San Antonio Catholic Colony on land which had been deeded to him in exchange for legal services he performed in negotiating the purchase of four million acres of Florida by Hamilton Disston. It is named after Saint Anthony of Padua. Dunne planned this to be a central city, surrounded by farm villages including Saint Thomas, San Felipe, Villa Maria and Carmel. The abbey and Saint Leo College now stand on the site of the Dunne home.
Michael Dooner operated a grocery store in San Antonio and a turpentine still around 1900, and lived in a three-story house here with a turret-shaped room on the third floor. That house burned down in 1908 and was replaced by this two-story Victorian Neo-Classic Revival style home. It has shiplap siding, Ionic columns, and a curved porch.
Later owners include Helen Browne, who lived here from 1938 to 1971, and Howard and Louise Lashley.
In 1912, St. Scholastica Hall was completed and named after the sister of Benedict of Nursia, who had founded the Benedictine Order. It had classrooms on the first floor, dormitory rooms on the second, and an auditorium on the third. It was used by Holy Name Academy until that institution closed in 1964. It was made out of the same type of concrete blocks as the Saint Leo Abbey.
Next door was a wooden convent-academy building that had been moved here from San Antonio in 1911 by an ox team and log rollers. During a hurricane which passed directly through here on October 24-25, 1921, students were bound together with ropes and led from the wooden building to the concrete block one, which served as a sufficient shelter. St. Scholastica Hall was torn down in 1978.
This statue was erected in about 1912 to symbolize protection from the devil. It has a native rock base and is made of concrete.
This church was built in 1936-48 in a Lombardic-Romanesque style with a crucifix plan. It is made of Florida white cement-lime brick and sandstone trim from Indiana. The tower is 24 feet square and 86 feet tall.
The Indiana sandstone was traded to Saint Leo from another Benedictine abbey, St. Meinrad, which received oranges and grapefruit in return. Red cedar trim was cut from the trees growing on the property.
The monks who established the church and college focused on education, and delayed the erection and completion of the church for 58 years. The first mass was said in it on December 25, 1942, and the following year the 42 stained glass windows were installed. The bell from the Confederate blockade-runner "Queen of Texas" was installed in the tower in 1944, and four years later was replaced by electronic chimes.
This building was constructed in 1904-20, and was first occupied in 1912. Saint Leo Abbey consists of the western 2/3 of the building, and the rest is Saint Leo Hall. The Hall has served as classrooms and a dormitory, and is now the faculty and administrative offices of Saint Leo College.
The building of the Abbey was directed by German-born Brother Anthony Poiger, Saint Leo's master builder. The Abbey portion is 132 x 52 feet, and is based on the plans drawn up by Bruno Riese. For his work, Riese was paid $2.00. The Abbey cost $40,000 to build. The north wing was added in 1958 to accommodate a growing population of monks.
Construction is of rusticated concrete blocks. It features a pierced parapet, decorative blocks over paired windows, and brackets supporting the cornice.
The Hall was added later at a cost of $12,000. It was begun in 1912 and completed in 1920.
Nearby is the St. Leo Abbey Cemetery, located on land donated by Dr. Joseph Corrigan to the Benedictines of Saint Leo, who laid out the cemetery in 1901. It replaced an earlier cemetery near the college building, and the six graves located there were moved by 1902. A red cedar border was planted on December 19, 1905.
The earliest grave is of 20-year-old Ambrose Andelfinger, a Benedictine monk who was sent here for his health. He died of tuberculosis on May 8, 1889.
Next to him is the grave of the first Saint Leo student to die, Conrad Metzner. He was accidentally shot while returning from a picnic at Slevin's Pond, when a rifle used for target practice discharged. He died on December 29, 1891.
In 1910, the monks' cemetery was also made available to the Benedictine Sisters of the Holy Name Priory. The wall around it was built by monastery mason Brother William Greene, who spent 73 years at Saint Leo. There are also about three dozen graves in addition to those of the monks and sisters.
Saint Leo was established as a college in 1890, and became a preparatory school in 1920. Five years later, enrollment increased 113, and the original $10,000 building dating from 1889 was outgrown. The Benedictine monks who founded it initially raised pork, beef, and poultry. They tried grapes and then shifted to citrus.
The present structure was built in 1926 by Fred C. Dillman of St. Petersburg, using the design of architect Gerald A. Barry. Edward Bradley donated $10,000 toward its cost, and the building was named after him. The cost of the building was $250,000. For collateral on the mortgage, 900 acres of land was pledged.
Shortly after the building opened, the Florida Boom collapsed and enrollment dropped drastically. The wooden classroom/dormitory building burned down in 1928. Despite the enrollment not reaching 100 again until the 1940s, the monks were able to survive financially and pay off the mortgage in 1947.
The central wing of the building was added in 1956, and three years later the college was reestablished, an outgrowth of a boys' summer camp which had been expanded into a public school. The preparatory school was phased out in 1964.
One of the mens' dormitories is named after actor Lee Marvin, who was a student here in the 1940s.
In the early 1920s, W.E. Currie built a golf course near here. He planned to develop the area and the course was popular until the coming of the Depression. The development was ended and the golf course returned to the native foliage. Only the water tower and perhaps some vestiges of fairways remained. The Saint Leo Abbey Golf Course across the road was built in 1963-65.
Father Lewis Feser drew up the design for this grotto, and construction began late in 1935. Frank Davis and Oliver Hoehn built it mainly of Florida coral, under the direction of Father Aloysius Dressmen. The garden scene was completed during the summer of 1938, with its stained glass skylights and belfry.
At the urging of Abbot Charles H. Mohr, this grotto was built in 1916-17 by Henry Moeller. He used stones gathered from a nearby dried-up creek bed. The first mass said here was on the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1916. Abbot Charles is buried at the foot of the grotto altar.
The first school in the community, then known as "The Catholic Colony of San Antonio", was begun in 1884 by Cecelia Morse. Classes began in April of that year in her kitchen, and within seven months a schoolhouse was built. Later, the administration of the school was taken over by the Benedictine Sisters.
In September of 1922, the present three-story red brick building was erected at a cost of $22,000.
In 1883-84, a small church was built of rough boards and was dedicated on the feast day of Saint Anthony. Rev. Emilius Stanzel was the first resident priest. Prior to the erection of that building, masses were held in private homes.
On March 21, 1911, this church was dedicated, and is the oldest Catholic church building in the county. The grotto and rock wall were built in 1935.
This town was founded in 1881-82 to be a cultural haven for Catholics by Judge Edmund F. Dunne. He had been forced to resign as the Chief Justice of the Arizona Territory because of his vocal defense of the Catholic Church's school system. Dunne performed the legal work for the purchase of 4,000,000 acres of Florida land by Hamilton Disston, thereby saving the state from bankruptcy.
Dunne acquired control of about 100,000 acres formerly owned by Hamilton Disston, a portion of which he used for establishment of his Catholic colony. He and his brother, Capt. Hugh Dunne, spent months on foot and horseback and eventually chose this location, some of the higher and drier land in the region.
He named the town Saint Anthony because once, while becoming lost while prospecting for silver in Arizona, he prayed to Saint Anthony of Padua for help. Soon after, he and his companion found their way out of the desert.
This area, now known as City Park, started out with grand plan to be known as Pio Nono Park, named after Pope Pius IX in the 1870s. Early on, there was a baseball field, and the playground equipment, bandstand, and other improvements were made over time. For decades, there were restrictions on the use of the land with the Catholic Church having the final say. These restrictions were removed when this became city property in 1967.
This is the oldest house in San Antonio, built in 1884. The land was sold that year by the Florida Land and Improvement Company to Thomas J. and Lucy Quigley, and they likely built the home.
Ceilings in the house are nine feet high, and there are nine main rooms with tongue-and-groove walls. The cypress roof shingles lasted until 1977, when they were replaced. Electricity was probably added well after the original construction, probably during the 1920s, and the wires ran outside of the walls.
The Quigleys sold it to John J. and Kate Dunne in 1888, and in 1897 it was sold to Eugene Dunne. He changed his name to O'Dunne, the family's ancestral name, and filed the plat for San Antonio in July of 1900.
Later owners included John Weber, who bought it in 1902, Elizabeth and James Rattigan in 1913, and Dr. John T. Bradshaw who paid $2,300 for it in 1919. After he died in 1949, the home was converted by Dr. W. Bradshaw into a boarding house with four apartments. Later, it became a store full of antiques and gifts.
This house was built in 1885, probably for a Mrs. Cooney who had a talking crow. This became the residence of John S. Flanagan, who for over 30 years was a real estate promoter and San Antonio booster. After he died in 1919, the house became the property of the Hill family. In 1940, it was purchased by the Knights of Columbus for a meeting hall.
The K of C remodeled the home, which originally had eight large rooms, to produce a wide area for meetings. It has Victorian Revival style details including a balustrade, decorative barge board, and brackets.
This cemetery replaced another on the grounds of Saint Anthony Church, located where the grotto now is. According to church records, the first individual buried here was Barbara Schisselbauer, who died on July 14, 1886. All of the graves were moved in about 1910 to allow for the erection of a new Saint Anthony Church the following year.
Charles Barthle was a member of the family which founded St. Joseph. He moved here and managed the Florida House Hotel at the corner of Jesse Jones Ave. and Curley St. beginning in 1900. In 1913, he built this two-story hotel and moved from the Florida House to run this as a family-style establishment.
After World War II, it was owned by Wilbur Strehle and his family, then by the Barthles again, and in 1970 it was acquired by Henry and Irene Pike. They converted it to a residential retirement center known as the "Share-A-Home, St. Charles". This was operated until 1989, when the Steve Miller family modified it to be a family restaurant. Later, it was operated as a bed and breakfast.
In 1888, the Orange Belt Railway narrow gauge tracks and service reached San Antonio. The first Orange Belt Depot was located several hundred yards to the west of here. In 1896, the railroad was purchased by Henry Plant and he switched the tracks to standard gauge. Under his ownership, the trains were operated under the names Florida Central & Peninsular Railroad and Sanford & St. Petersburg Railroad.
It was acquired in 1902 by the Atlantic Coast Line. A new depot building was constructed at this site, a little closer to Saint Leo, in 1927. That building was destroyed by fire and replaced with the present one in 1949. The Atlantic Coast Line merged in 1967 with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, and discontinued service here in 1972. The tracks were taken up in 1978.
A History of Hernando County, by Richard J. Stanaback (Daniels Publishers 1976)
East Pasco's Heritage, by Eleanor Dunson (First Baptist Church of Dade City 1976)
Florida Historical Markers & Sites, by Floyd E. Boone (Gulf Publishing Company 1988)
Guide to Florida's Historic Architecture, (University of Florida Press 1989)
The Historical Places of Pasco County, by James J. Horgan, Alice F. Hall and Edward J. Herrman (Ralard Printers, Inc. 1992)
The Illustrated Guide to the Florida West Coast, by M.C. Bob Leonard (Purple Islands Production 1992)
Yesterday's Florida, by Nixon Smiley (E.A. Seeman Publishing, Inc. 1974)
Click here for a copy of the trail rules.