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The following article appeared in the Ocala Star Banner on 21 October 1998

Founding Families still live in Pedro


Chances are if your family has lived near the comer of County Roads 42 and 475 for a long stretch of years, you had some Proctors or Perrys among your ancestors.

Those two families settled Pedro, a loosely defined community west of Summerfield, more than a century ago.  They raised cattle, hogs and watermelon, and it wasn't at all  uncommon for a Proctor gal t o marry a Perry feller, or vice-versa.

"There's an old saying that if you see some guy on the street, you can say, 'Hello, Mr. Perry,' and if he doesn't answer you can come back and say, 'Hello, Mr. Proctor' and get an answer," said Ralph Hackett, 67.

Hackett, who lives across the street from his [great]father's farmhouse where he was born, is a direct descendant of Peter Boyer Perry, who gave Pedro its name.  His great-great-grandfather passed through the area in 1847 on his way to fight in the Mexican-American War.

Perry helped win the war, planting a flag inside Mexico City.  He stayed there for two more years, friends with many of the Mexicans who used to be his enemies.

"He was called Pedro, which is Spanish for Peter," Hackett said.

As he prepared to return to the States, Perry's mind recalled the quiet open lands in Florida he had passed through, and thought it would be a great place to raise cattle.  He became one of the first white men to settle the area, and gave it his Spanish name.

In 1849, when most people were going out West for the Gold Rush, he came to Florida," Hackett said.  Don't make the mistake of pronouncing the name as "pay-dro," though it's "pee-dro!'

It would remain a spread-out farming community.  In the early days the Perrys let their cattle roam free, rounding them up when auction time came.  Occasionally the men would fight off roving raiding bands of Seminole indians.

Nearby Dank's Corner and Monroe's Corner took their names from the families who lived at those crossroads.  The Dankses ran a popular grocery at the corner of what is now CR 475 and CR 475A, reputedly with a moonshine still out back.

Eventually the Seminole Wars ended and slowed down which is the way Pedro residents like it.  Since 1980, however, things have picked up again.  Some city-slickers have moved into the area, many of them tired of congestion in the large cities.  They'll buy a 20-acre mini-farm, build a large air-conditioned house and raise a few animals

It's also a growing area for Latinos, who saw the sign for Pedro and mistook it for an old Spanish settlement.

"We have gone from a strictly agricultural region to many, many people from the metropolitan areas in south Florida," said Arthur White, who owns White's Furniture and is something of a local historian.  "It's become more of a residential area than a farming area.

Still, compared to the booming retirement communities to the north and east, Pedro isn't exactly exploding.  It's still a secluded area of mild rolling hills and cattle, not terribly different from when Peter Boyer Perry first passed through on his way to war.

Some residents like Hackett are Pedro natives who moved away and came back He grew up in Orlando, and raised his own family there.  After inheriting some of his grandfathers land, he left his insurance firm in 1979 to return to his birthplace and run a small farm.


Hackett stands by the sign for the town named after his great-great-grandfather.

Ralph Hackett, right, of Summerfield, visits the Pedro Grocery Store, located on CR 475 near CR 42.  Hackett is the great-great-grandson of Peter Boyd Perry, founder of Pedro.  Grocery store owner Florence Heinze, of Summerfield, also has a few hours saddles for sale, along with grocery items.
Poll workers Willard Cliett, left, and Ralph Hackett wait for voters Thursday at the 59th precinct at the corner of CR 42 and CR 475 in Pedro.  Only about 7 percent of eligible voters went to the polls statewide.

Last Updated: 3 November 1998
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