On 6 March 2006, the Poynter Library acquired by purchase a single bound volume containing directories of many congregations served by the circuit riding Methodist ministers who traveled along the Pinellas Peninsula from the late 1870s through the 1890s. This volume is one of the earliest existing sources of written records from the lower Pinellas Peninsula. The book includes records of members, baptisms, and other information about pioneer families since 1873, a time when the sparsely populated Pinellas Peninsula fell under the administration of Hillsborough County. A handful of isolated farming communities and small settlements dotted the rural peninsula often known as “Western Hillsborough.” Found within this book are membership lists from small Methodist and Methodist Episcopal churches at Clear Water Harbor (present-day Clearwater), Indian Pass (Anona and Largo areas), Sylvan Abbey (near present-day Safety Harbor and Clearwater), and Bay View (an early settlement near the northern end of the Bayside Bridge). These congregations, served by itinerant ministers who “rode the circuit” to serve the spiritual needs of those along the peninsula, flourished at a time when only a few residents lived in southern Pinellas and the city of St. Petersburg did not even exist. Indeed, most of the Pinellas Peninsula remained isolated until the arrival of the Orange Belt Railway in 1888.
Nelson Poynter Memorial Library. Special Collections and University Archives. and Schnur, James Anthony, "“The Complete Register, Clear Water Circuit, Tampa District, Florida Conference, for the Methodist Episcopal Church, South” : A Collection Guide" (2006). Special Collections and University Archives Finding Aids: All Items. 28.
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