Jay B. Starkey, Jr. Talks About Starkey Family’s Early Days in Pinellas County
(l-r ) Rotarian Gil McArthur, Jay B. Starkey, Jr., Doug Hilkert, President Rotary Club of Clearwater
Rotarian Gil McArthur introduced Pinellas County pioneer Jay B. Starkey, Jr., at the weekly Wednesday noon meeting of the Rotary Club of Clearwater, held at the Belleair Country Club.
Starkey entertained with stories of the Starkey family’s early days in Pinellas County. The family has played important roles in Pinellas and Pasco Counties since they migrated here from Minnesota in 1899. The family became known for cattle ranching and rodeos, and for its advocacy for conservation. The family has placed large portions of it’s property into protected wilderness and park lands, including Pinellas Pioneer Park. Their Pasco ranch land, 16,000 acres of pasture acquired by Jay B. Starkey Sr. in 1937, is now the 8400-acre Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, and 3400-acre housing community known as Longleaf. Conserving the land and planning for future generations of Floridians has long been a part of the family’s purpose.
Starkey’s dad returned from WW1 with a passion to be a cowboy. Florida was open range until 1949. This meant that cattle ran free, including sleeping on the roads or wandering into yards. If you found cattle without a brand you could put your brand on it. Cattle and horses were not native to Florida. Cattle and horses were descendants of animals originally brought into Florida by the Spanish.
In 1922 J.B. Starkey, Sr. bought 20 acres of land on Starkey Rd. Over the next 30 years he accumulated 665 acres on both sides of the road. Pinellas began to seem “crowded”, so in the late 30’s, J.B. Sr. went north to Pasco county to buy acreage owned by a logging company at $2.40 an acre, including taxes. This was a joint purchase with the Cunningham family.
A purebred Brahma cattle ranch was gradually developed. Calves were shipped to northern markets.
Due to the land boom of the 1950’s, the Ranch was renamed the Anclote River Ranch. Gradually most of the land was sold: as a wilderness preserve, land for Southwest Florida Water Management, acres for the Suncoast Expressway, and some was established as a self contained community that included schools, shopping and parks.
J. B. Starkey, Jr. described the life of a man, his dad, who came back from WW1 without money, but had a driving passion to live life as a cowboy. He succeeded.
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