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The forgotten town of Sicily

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There have been a number of towns that have come and gone in Hernando County, among them are Augusta, Pemberton Ferry/Croom, Oriole and Sicily. The town of Sicily was briefly mentioned around 1900.

The Hernando County Superintendent’s Report for 1900 mentions that there are 24 schools. It lists the locations of the eighteen white schools: “Hammock Hills, Lake Lindsey, Istachatta, Rock Hill, Providence, Oriole, Ayers, Irwin Lakes, Cedar Tree, Sicily, Rural, New Harmony (Garden Grove), Spring Lake, Bay City, Riverland, Kayton, Withlacoochee and Brooksville.” There were also six Black Schools: “Brooksville, Mundon Hill, Hannibal, Bay Springs, Blue Sink, and Wiscon.”

The town of Sicily is also shown in ‘A Map of Hernando County, Florida.’ The map says it was Approved by the County Commissioners at their Meeting in May 1901. It was produced by the Brooksville Star, which was published by J. C. Burwell. Local Banker and Citrus Grower Alfred A. McKethan used the map inside the front cover of his history book Hernando County Our Story.

To provide a little background on the time period, between 1880s and 1920s, around four million Italians immigrated to the United States. The majority of these Italian immigrants came from poor rural areas in Southern Italy and Sicily. A popular destination for these Italian immigrants was Ybor City in Tampa. The immigrants started arriving shortly after Ybor City’s founding in 1885. 

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Ybor saw a further influx of Italian immigrants following the mass lynching of eleven Italian Americans in New Orleans on March 14, 1891. They were accused of involvement in the murder of police chief David Hennessy, some of the lynched had been acquitted at trial. Following the lynching many Italian immigrants relocated to Ybor City.

Many of these Italian immigrants were farmers in Italy and looked for opportunities to ply their trade. It is not unexpected that some would have moved to the fertile Hernando County area.

The information on the town of Sicily is scant. Aside from the brief mention in the Superintendent’s Report for 1900 and the map, it is almost as if it never existed.

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