Palm Harbor was originally called Sutherland after permission for their first post office was granted in 1888 under that name. The town boasted two beautiful hotels, the larger becoming Southern College in 1902 and continuing until it burned down in 1921. A small nearby community now known as Ozona, for “pure air,” provided an additional attraction for tourists.
The Great Freeze hit the Tampa Bay area in the 1894-95 winter and stands as one of the worst disasters in Florida’s early history. Carolyn May’s History of Florida tells the story: “The freeze of 1894 and the storm of 1895 will be remembered as the coldest days ever known in Florida. The orange crops were destroyed and many groves were killed. Many growers and gardeners lost their entire income.”
Nancy Meador of the McMullen clan tells of the effects on Pinellas which was blessed on three sides by warm Gulf breezes: “Uncle Birt McMullen had a grove back at Badwater (near St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport) back then. This property was beautiful with huge oak trees and a creek running through it. During the freeze of 1894-95 much of the local citrus froze; his didn’t freeze at all. Ordinarily, citrus brought $1.50 a crate; after the freeze he got $15 a crate.” The after-effects of the Great Freeze were reported in the Tampa Morning Tribune in 1897: “Before proceeding any further we will say right here that the cold wave of 1895 did but little damage to the old seedlings on the West Coast nor were the budded trees hurt as badly by the frost as those farther inland. In fact many of the old budded groves have almost entirely recovered, so much so, that none but an expert could tell that there was any damage at all.”