By LUKE WILSON Columnist, The Daily Sun

I was sitting around cogitating on what might make for a decent column the other day, and mused that since I enjoy all aspects of local stuff, why not turn my Grits & Pieces into some bits and pieces about this, that, and the other?

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I’m always hoping to generate a little interest in local history and other goings-on here in DeSoto County, so I figured, why not?

You may know some of this stuff already — let’s find out.

There is no “s” in the name of the community we know as Brownville. The one with the “s” is way out in Texas. I even know folks who were raised here who pronounce it like they live in Texas, and that’s their choice.

While we’re on it, that community was originally called Haymanville, after some folks named Hayman began settling the area.

And, while we’re in that neck of the woods, the correct pronunciation for the Cubitis community very near there is “Cue-BEAT-us.” It drives me crazy when I hear some called it “Cue-BITE-us.”

And now you’re probably reminded about that “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” song about pronouncing tomato, potato, and other words. Anyhow, now you know.

Speaking of pronunciation, there’s a small body of water near Horse Creek that many call “Iron Lake.” It is actually Aurin Lake, and was named for Dr. C.E. Aurin, and his home was located on that lake. He was involved with Florida’s citrus industry and even served as a commissioner for DeSoto County. Words tend to morph over the years sometimes, and I believe this was an example of that.

Take a closer look at a map of downtown Arcadia, or ride around and read the street signs. When it dawns on you that the roads running east and west were named for trees, and those running north and south for Florida counties, you’ll discover the size of the original plat for when our little county seat was being laid out in the 1800s.

Ever wonder why DeSoto County’s school mascot is the bulldog? During the Civil War, “cow cavalries” were charged in moving cattle as a food supply for soldiers, and the South Florida Bulldogs was one such group that did so. I’m guessing the tenacity of this particular canine had a lot to do with it as well.

The Great Depression was devastating to Americans and quite detrimental to rattlesnakes as well, especially here in our county. In 1931, a rattlesnake cannery opened out on Highway 70 East, where clothing, meat, rattles, and everything else imaginable was harvested and sold. This lasted until 1937 before the company relocated to Tampa. It is said that “they sold everything but the hiss.”

DeSoto County was once gargantuan, having been created in 1887 and boasting 3,750 square miles. It reached as far as Lake Okeechobee, and was whittled down to just 650 square miles in 1921, giving birth to a litter of four new counties — Highlands, Glades, Charlotte and Hardee. If you’re reading this from one of those, greetings from the mother county!

It’s pretty common knowledge that our county was home to two airfields during both World Wars, where pilots learned the basics of operating airplanes. What some may not know is that during the Great War — what the first one was known as until we found ourselves in the middle of another one in 1941 — a song titled “Arcadia, The Aviation City” was written and published about Carlstrom and Dorr Fields.

If you ever want to see a snippet of Arcadia’s image on the big screen, find a copy of the 1998 movie “Palmetto,” starring Woody Harrelson and Elisabeth Shue. Look for an outside shot of our beautiful 1912 courthouse, plus an indoor scene that features cameo appearances by locals Doug “Dutch” Mann and Kayo Keen.

There’s no end to curious tidbits about our community or any other community you can think of, and I hope you enjoyed this brief sample. It’s a good thing to be curious about your local history and heritage, plus it gives you some good stuff to interject during conversations.

If you’d like to check out The DeSoto County Historical Society, find the website and learn more about where we live, and possibly get involved at our monthly meetings and other activities.

Oh yeah, and then there’s that time when rocker Jon Bon Jovi showed up in Nocatee at the Stop & Shop. Wait; never mind — I’m out of space for this week, so that will have to wait for another time.

Source: The Daily Sun