The Village of Ozona, Florida
The Official Website of Ozona Village Improvement Society (OVIS)
A brief rundown of Ozona's history...
8,000 BC Native people live in small kin-based groups near water sources.
1000 AD The culture of these first people evolves into a complex society, skilled in tool making, governed by hierarchical chieftains.
1500 “Tocobaga” Indians thrive here. Shellfish, fish, game and fresh water are abundant. These first people succumb to the ravages of disease and the brutality of European invasion, which begins with the Spanish in 1528 and 1539.
1700 Creek Indians move southward into Florida , Cuban fisherman set up fish camps, fugitive African-Americans slaves take refuge in Pinellas, many work in the Cuban fish camps.
1819 The U.S. buys the Florida territory from Spain , the fish camps are raided and destroyed, and African-Americans are captured and returned to slavery.
1834 Hillsborough County is formed. What is now Pinellas is West Hillsborough .
1842 European-Americans establish homesteads. The Armed Occupation Act provides that 160 acres will be given to any “head of family or single man over eighteen” who will bear arms, build a home, live on the land for five years, and farm the land.
1845 Florida is granted statehood. Early settlement practices cause extensive environmental change as homesteaders harvest vast stands of virgin pine, cypress and hardwoods. Native eco-systems replaced by groves, pastures and farm fields.
1848 September and October brings two terrific hurricanes which flood Pinellas peninsula and cause extensive damage.
1860-1870 Original settlers live in Ozona area. Overland travel is extremely difficult. A trail exists from the coastal area we now call Ozona east to settlement now called Tampa . It takes two days to travel there, one way.
1882 “Yellow Bluff” plated by J.B. Walton, including Bay, Orange , and Banana.
1886 James C. Craver is appointed the first postmaster. W.V. Futrell and Mr. Eavey open a post office and general store. This year brings a devastating freeze.
1887 The Orange Belt Railroad opens, pioneer era ends. Prior to arrival of the railroad, all passengers and supplies were dependent on boat from Cedar Keys, Tampa and Key West .
1888 Name change to “Ozona” as epidemics of yellow fever give “Yellow Bluff” an unfortunate connotation. Citrus farming and commercial fishing are two primary ways of making a living. With reasonably reliable travel (RR), tourists and northern visitors begin to arrive each winter season.
1891 Another crippling freeze.
1895 The Ozona Ladies Improvement Society is organized, Dr. Susan K. Whitford, of Elgin , Illinois , serves as founding president.
1900 The ladies raise funds and build the “town hall.”
1906-1919 Original minutes of the Ozona Ladies Improvement Society exist from this period and document the many efforts at fund raising, educational and recreational pursuits. On 12/8/1909, these minutes document the arrival of the1908 Bailey piano at the hall.
1906 Hillsborough County constructs a graded shell road from Ozona to Tampa .
1911 State legislature passes a bill creating Pinellas Co., made official 1/1/1912.
1912 The first Pinellas County Sheriff is Marvel Whitehurst, a resident of Ozona.
1914-1917 Town of Ozona becomes incorporated. Three years later residents decide to become unincorporated. (WWI and flu epidemic)
1916 Red brick schoolhouse constructed to replace earlier frame schoolhouse.
1917 Tampa Road is paved with brick, 9 foot wide.
1918 Three children of Al and Estelle Garrison are drowned in Sept.18 hurricane.
1921 Severe hurricane causes significant destruction. Hall washed or blown off of piers, obviously it was reseated. Hurricane Pass was created
1921 Severe hurricane causes significant destruction. Hall washed or blown off of piers, obviously it was reseated. Hurricane Pass was created.
1921-1925 Known as the “boom” time, Florida real estate is bought and sold like crazy, changing ownership sometimes in a day’s time due to speculators.
1929 National “Crash” and Depression years follow.
1933 The Ozona Methodist Church, parsonage, and three homes, all on Bay Street , are burned during a summer night fire. This fire could be seen all the way north to Tarpon Springs and east to Oldsmar and people from those communities came to assist in fighting it. This fire called attention to the need for a fire department, which led to the establishment of the Ozona-Palm Harbor-Crystal Beach Volunteer Fire Department.
1934 The hall is used for church services, weekly dances, and as a library.
1935 Founding of Ozona Recreation Club.
1941 US enters WW II, young men from Ozona join the service and the home folks participate in rationing and support for the war effort, fishing industry was very important at this time.
1945 Era of accelerated growth begins. Civic Club and Junior Recreation Club are formed.
1949 Ozona Shores developed by A.W.Baylis. Frank Kramer starts subdivision east of Orange .
1970 Citrus groves start to disappear in Pinellas County .
1976 First trial issue of Ozona News published by Harold Potter of the Ozona Civic Association.
1981 OVIS founded.
1982 Ozona centennial celebration held at the Hall.
1984 Passenger train service discontinued in Pinellas County .
1985 Molly Goodhead’s arrives in Ozona. Molly puts Ozona “on the map” to many new visitors.
1990 Pinellas Trail built and dedicated on old RR right of way.
1993 March “No-Name” storm floods many homes in Ozona. Surprise!
1997 Ozona Wildlife Preserve approved as a native plant and wildlife sanctuary.
2003 Last commercial fisherman leaves Ozona.
2004 Charley , Frances , Ivan, and Jean!
2004 Ozona receives designation as a golf cart community.
2006 OVIS gets on the World Wide Web.
2013 Last commercial fishermen leave Ozona. Speckled Trout Marina had 7 commercial fishermen from 2001 up until the Mike Kemp of Stone Crab/fish left in January 2013.
2013 Countryside High School students included multiple Palm Harbor locations in a video that will be used to teach 4th graders about North Pinellas county history