Who were the McKethans?

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Who were the McKethans?

Tue, 01/05/2021 - 18:57
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There are a number of parks, roads, and features named for the McKethans. In Hernando there is McKethan Lake, Alfred McKethan / Pine Island Park, Bud McKethan Park, and Alfred A. McKethan Library at PHSC North Campus.

At the University of Florida, the home of the baseball team is Alfred A. McKethan Stadium. McKethan Stadium is located on the university's Gainesville, Florida campus.

Who were the McKethans and why are so many things named after them? To understand the McKethan importance to the area, you could trace some of their prominent ancestors.

Alfred A McKethan and John Walter "Bud" McKethan's father William McKethan moved to the area from North Carolina and married Mary Alice Hale. Her grandfather was Joseph Hale. Joseph Hale and John May each donated fifteen acres for the county seat. This was the land where the county courthouse in Brooksville was built. 

Alice was the daughter of John J. Hale and Dorothy Ederington. Dorothy Ederington was the daughter of Colonel Francis H. Ederington. Francis moved to the area from South Carolina and purchased the property at Chinsegut Hill. 

Another way to explore the McKethan influence on the county is to examine the history of Hernando State Bank. In 1905, a group of prominent residents established Hernando State Bank, the first bank in the county. One of these individuals was William Sherman Jennings who was governor of Florida from 1901 to 1905. James A. Jennings was the bank's first president. William McKethan joined the bank in 1907. In 1924, William became the President of the bank until his passing in 1936. 

After William McKethan passed away Mary Alice Hale McKethan served for many years on the Board of Directors of Hernando State Bank. She was one of the first woman to serve in such a position.

Alfred McKethan followed his parents in Hernando State Bank. He started working at the bank as a high schooler in 1923. After finishing college in 1931, Alfred returned and became an officer of the bank. At the age of 38, Alfred became the youngest president of the Florida Bankers Association.

Bud and Alfred founded Brooksville Rock Co. and purchased the E. S. MacKenzie Company. The name of the company was later changed to Florida Mining & Materials. This company supplied crushed stone and road base material from their quarry in Brooksville which is now the Bud McKethan park.

Alfred, besides being a prominent banker, was also appointed by Florida Governor Fuller Warren to be the chairman of the State Road Board, now Florida Department of Transportation, where he served from 1949 to 1953. He also served as the first chairman of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Alfred was also a citrus grower. He served as the director and then chairman of the Brooksville Citrus Growers Association.  In addition, he was a director of the Florida Citrus Exchange. 

From citrus, to roads, banking and mining, the McKethans are an integral part of Hernando County's history. 
 

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