Inverness Founder's Day

Early pioneers of Inverness will come to life on Saturday, Sept. 14, in the Courtroom of the Old Citrus County Courthouse (est. 1912) and around Courthouse Square as Inverness celebrates its 100th anniversary of being an incorporated city. 

Members of the Citrus County Historical Society, Inc. and its Floral City and Hernando Heritage Councils will help the city celebrate by staging reenactments from Inverness’ history.

Going back to a colorful incident in its history when Inverness was voted the location for the permanent county seat of Citrus, visitors can witness “The Stealing of the County Courthouse” at 10:30 a.m. Kandice Bellamy McPherson, a founder of the Hernando Heritage Council, is planning the staging of this significant event that occurred in 1891. The act will be complete with citizens on horseback. A horse-drawn wagon will bring the reluctant Clerk of Citrus County to the new county seat of Inverness from Mannfield. The present day County Clerk, Angela Vick, will play the role of 1891 County Clerk Captain W.C. Zimmerman. From the Courthouse steps, the spirited story will be relayed by Tom Ritchie, charter member of the Floral City Heritage Council and author of “The Citrus County Courthouse, a short history of Citrus County, Florida and its Seat of Government.”

At 11 a.m. (and again at 1 p.m.) on the second floor in the old courtroom, the public is invited to witness 21 characters from Inverness’ past dressed for an activity they would have performed during a normal day. The program is titled, “A Day in the Life of Inverness 1890-1919.” Marcia Beasley, a past president, life member of the Historical Society and founder of the Floral City Heritage Council, has adapted a program for the early days of Inverness. It will be narrated by Dennis Miller, Manager of WKYE TV.

A Victorian Home Magazine from the period implies, “Clothing may convey a more personal sense of the past than other forms of decorative arts like a tea cup or a chair.” “Fashion resonates so strongly of the people who lived in the past; it is almost like an outer skin that is left behind.”

The program includes characters from Inverness’ first 20 years after the County Courthouse was “stolen.” One will see early businessman and a city founder Frances Dampier; Phosphate mine owner Howard B. Tuttle; and school marm Mrs. Mary Bigelow. Judge E.C. Mays’ wife and Mrs. Robert Hicks, Mrs. James Kelley and Mrs. Viola Tooke will be in the line up. The Baxter Morrison’s, and Judge and Mrs. George Scofield, will appear along with a number of other notable names from the history of Inverness.

The occupations of the early settlers and the activities of their daily lives will portray a picture of what Inverness was like during those founding years. There was ranching and farming, phosphate mining and timber milling, quilting bees, millinery and dressmaking, along with the newspaper business, and running one of the hotels or boarding houses of the day. The day might include other social activities such as cycling, croquet playing, picnicking, afternoon tea and attending a gala at the newly opened Masonic Lodge to name a few.

These historic characters will be portrayed by members of the Floral City Heritage Council, staff from the Inverness City Hall and staff of the Inverness Visitors Center and their family members. Costumes are furnished by the Floral City Heritage Council from their costume closet in the Floral City Heritage Museum at 8394 E. Orange Ave., open every Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., free of charge.

The public is invited to attend this easy-to-swallow cup of history while viewing the “outer skin of long ago.”

For additional information, call the Inverness Visitors Center 352-726-2611.

Marcia Beasley submits publicity for the Floral City Heritage Council.

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