Faces & Places
"The Tampa Trubune (Pasco) Jan 23, 2002"
Barthles spread Word About St. Joe
---It may be the tiny Kumquat that puts this little community on the map these days. But officially, St. Joseph has been on the map for more than 100 years
And even with the attention brought by Saturday's Dade City Kumquat Festival, St. Joe most likely well return to its low-key profile in the days that follow. That's the way it's been, and that's the way folks in this rural "kumquat capital of the world" want it to stay.
Indeed, the notheast Pasco community has been know for its kumquats since 1926. But St. Joe's history dates to the 1880's, when Andrew Barthle came from Minnesota seeking the sun-drenched Florida countryside.
Barthle stayed three months before returning to tell family and friends in St. Joseph, Minn., about Florida's virtues. Soon, his older brother, Bernared, moved down with his wife and eight children.
In June 1883 they set up the first permanent home, on what is now County road 578, west of Scharber Road.
Andrew Barthle returned with his family in 1885 and settled 40 acres opposite his brother's home. The youngest Barthle brother, Charles, came a shout time later and acquired 40 achres east of Andrew' land.
Andrew Barthle Sr., father of the three brouthers, also settled in the area. First known as Barthle Settlement and Barthle Crossing, by 1888 it was called St. Joseph after the Barthles' Minnesota hometown.
Making Themselves At Home
The Barthles were German Catholic immigrants whe settled in Ohio in the mid-19th century. They later moved to Minnesota, but found their permanent home in Florida.
Other families, many from Minnesota, also came to Florida's St. Joseph. By 1888, the area had enough familes to warrant a church and school closer than those located about four miles south in the Catholic Colony of San Antonio.
That July, Father Gerard Pilz, the Benedictine pastor of St. Anthony of Padua parish in San Autonio, Approved a new venture at St. hoseph. The pioneers built their own German Catholic school and church on five acres acquired from the Plant Investment Co.
On Oct. 1, Pilz dedicated the small frame Jubilee Chapel and celebrated the first Mass, naming the parish for the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Almost from that day, Juvilee Chapel was used as a schoolhouse, with Bernard Barthle as the first teacher.
Nums Were In, Out, In Again
By September 1889, the Benedictine Sisters of Holy Name Convent, who had come to provide educational services for San Antonio earlier that year, had taken over teaching St. Joseph school's 35 students.
The school originally was organized as part of the parish. But around the turn of the century, a freeze left people without money to support the school, so the county asssumed financial responsibility.
Nuns continued teaching there until anti-Catholic governor Sidney Catts was elected in 1917 and made good his threat to remove them from the public school payroll. At the time, sisters from Holy Name Priory were teaching at St. Joseph and St. Anthony church's pastor, it became public.
St. Anthony School had been opened to serve the San Antonio Catholic collony in 1883. In 1891, at the request of St. Anthony church's pastor, it became public.
Nuns returned to teach at St. Joseph public school in 1921 when Catts was ineligible to run again for governor.
In the 1960s, the sisters were joined be lay teachers. And in 1981, the school closed when the public San Antonio Elementary opened nearby.
They Built it, They Came
Almost from its start in 1888, Jubilee Chapel overflowed with worshipers as well as strdents. Within four years, work had begun on a new church for about 100 people.
The frame building with its steep gable roof was built west of Jubelee Chapel and dedicated as Sacred Heart church.
Construction was derected by Father Benedict Roth of Saint Leo Abbey, Who was the missionary pastor to the Catholics of St. Joseph.
In 1933, while Abbot Francis Sadlier of the abbot was pastor, a 12-foot additon to the front of the building included as impressive bell tower.
The church was replaced by the current Sacred Heart church in 1976.
Comings and Goings
A post office opened in St. Joseph in May 1893 and closed in November 1918, in favor of service from Dade City.
Two of the original Barthle brothers stayed in St. Joseph, with Andrew relocating to land west of Sacred Heart church. His brother, Bernard, died in 1900 and his youngest son, John B., inherited his land and maintanied the original family homesteard until his death.
Charles Barthle moved to San Antonio and opened the St. Charles Hotel in 1913. Ted and Anne Stephens bought the place in 1995 and restored it as a bed and breakfast, the St. Charles Inn.
Other descendents of pioneer families are still in the area, and many still work their forefathers'land.
According to a San Antonio newspaper column published between 1896 and 1900, St. Joseph's main industry was growing strawberries, citrus and begetables, along with raising hogs and chickens.
Not surprisingly, then, the concerns of early growers were much the same as today: whether it would rain enough or too much, and whether it would freeze in the winter.
Farmers also were concerned with building roads to get their crops to town. And in 1898, they fretted about decreasing prices. Strawberries selling for 35 to 40 sents a quart dropped to 20 and 25 cernts. Farmers had to make 18 cents a quart to break even.
Life Was Simpler Back Then
Gertrude Gude, granddaughter of Bernard Barthle, then 91, said in a 1983 interview that "visiting" was the primary entertainument in St. Joseph when whe was young.
"I really miss that. It seems people today are working all the time. And we had a lot of fun playing with broken dishes and sticks and strings than kids do today with all those expensive toys." said Gude, who lived most of her life on 40 acres belonging to her father, Joe Nathe.
The Nathe family raised all its food and sold the excess to obtain other needed items.
"We'd drive a horse to Dade City and always take something you grew in there to trade for whatever you needed." Gude said.
"It'd take several hours -- most of the day -- to go to town because we hod to go on sand foads through the woods."
Gude's other grandfather came from Minnesota to settle in St. Joseph in 1887. Casper Joseph "J.C." Nathe worked several Jobs, including at a nursery near Jessamine. There, he became acquainted with the kumquat, considered an ornamental plant back then.
Nathe set out an acre of kumquat trees in 1912, a year after buying 340 acres of mostly uncleared land. Nather also planted 50 acres of citrus, plus tried growing bananas, avocados, guavas, pineappples and vegetables for his family and neighbors to share.
Within a few years Nathe's kumquat trees bore enough fruit for preserves. Before long, orders started coming in and he set out more acres of tress. By 1926, Florda Grower magazine crowned Nathe "the world's kumquat king."
Other growers followed, and soon Pasco County became the worlds leader in producing and shipping the fruit.
So it remains today. Annual production of kumquats in St. Joseph is 250 acres of 10,000 bushels or 500,000 pounds.
The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce took that fact to build its successful Kumquat Festival five year ago. Although the kumquat remains the focus, many other activities are scheduled for the one-day event downtown.