Anson P.K. Safford and Mary Jane Safford, the siblings of a modest farming family of Crete, Illinois that made Tarpon Springs, Florida what it is today. Largely a self educated man he attended 5 quarters and 6 months of school, while the death of his parents secured his Mary Jane Safford’s education at an academy in Bakersfield, VT.
After the death of their parents, Anson P.K. Safford moved away from the family farm to follow the California gold rush of 1850, while Mary Jane Safford went on traveling the world as a nurses aid and performing the first ovariotomy ever done by a woman. Soon after the wealth Anson P.K.Safford had achieved from the Milling and Mining industry, he soon got into the political arena of Tombstone, Arizona.
After 2 terms of becoming Governor of Tombstone, he also was dubbed the “Father of the Arizona Public Schools.” Anson had a long political life in Arizona, even making robbery a capital offense and becoming a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1880. AT this same time Mary Jane Safford was paving her own way caring for troops succumbing to camp diseases and the large numbers of wounded from the Battles of Belmont and Fort Donelson.
In the early 1880s, Safford sold his business interests for roughly US$140,000 spending two years in Philadelphia and New York, he soon after had moved to a small town in Florida, named Tarpon Springs. Now retired Governor Safford starts to see that the small town of tarpon Springs has the possibilities of being a fruitful investment for him and the community. He starts by bringing the Orange Belt Railway into town, the first Bank of Tarpon, building the first of many public schools and bringing wealthy investors to the community to live and also reap the benefits of this now “booming” town.
A very over-worked, but well educated and now Dr. Mary Jane Safford is beckoned by her brother to come a stay with him in his home and see what this new Tarpon Springs town is about. As she arrives, she can see that this town is in need of medical care and becomes the first practicing female Physician in the State of Florida. With the Safford siblings living in Tarpon Springs now, Anson married to a young Hispanic lady by the name of Soledad Bonillas-Safford they are now the most influential people in Tarpon Springs, as well as a respected and loved family.
On December 15, 1891 Anson P.K. Safford passes away from an unexpected Heart problem and Mary Jane Safford dies a week later from a fever of unknown cause. They are both buried side by side with Vermont Granite headstones buried at Cycadia Cemetery in the heart of Tarpon Springs, Florida.
The house that the Safford family has built was deemed for demolition only to be saved by the Tarpon Heritage Society and has since been preserved to the original style, Anson’s original desk he used and even the original staircase. It is now a Museum recognized by the National Registry and is open to the public on Wednesday’s and Friday’s with two tours a day by Docent’s that do the family justice and the fee is a mere $3.00 per person and children are free.