Title: Pasco heritage in good hands
Author: Geoff Fox
Publisher: Tampa Bay Online
Pasco County's history is in Jeff Cannon's blood.
His family has been around Hudson for five generations, since before Pasco was created out of Hernando County.
"The local history is my family's history, too," said Cannon, author of "Images of America: Hudson," which traces his family's heritage through text and about 200 photographs.
Cannon recently organized the Pasco County Historical Preservation Society, Inc., a nonprofit organization that will endeavor to preserve historical sites and old cemeteries. He hopes to work with existing historical societies around the county to identify areas that need to be cleaned, preserved or restored.
He said the group has about 15 volunteers and that he is in the process of gaining tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. He has already done restoration work at cemeteries in Elfers, Hudson and Trilby.
"I got started in cemetery preservation while looking for my great-great-grandfather's (grave), but you can't find where he's buried," Cannon said. "The property where he lived has now been developed, and we believe he may be buried on the homestead. Through grass-roots efforts, maybe we can save some of these burial sites from the same fate."
He said the historical society endeavors to help any people, private organizations, businesses, or governmental agencies restore, preserve and document Pasco's history and historic sites.
Cannon said he wants to take over work once done by the county's own historical preservation committee, which was essentially disbanded due to budget cuts.
"I'm trying to fill a gap," he said. "Historical preservation should continue regardless of funding. These sites are in the community and belong to the community. We'll aggressively pursue grants that we can apply to historic preservation."
Cannon said he is sending letters to other historical societies around the county in an attempt to join forces.
Bob Hubach, president of the West Pasco Historical Society, said another group could only enhance preservation efforts in the county.
"I don't think there's anything competitive at all," Hubach said. Cannon "is a member of our society and has come in three or four times to give presentations. We even sent some volunteers to him to do some work at the Hudson cemetery."
Cannon said he is completing an "online cemetery database" that has more than 27,000 identified burials in Pasco cemeteries. When it's completed the database will be searchable by name and cemetery.
"I'm just trying to get the word out for when we coordinate clean-up projects and need volunteers," Cannon said. "I'm trying to involve the community. Anything people want to
donate - money or materials - goes into the work."
For information about the Pasco County Historical Preservation Society, visit www .pascocemeteries.org or e-mail info@pasco cemeteries.org.