Why do they call it that? Aripeka, a tiny town named for a big-time guy

9:23 AM, Aug 10, 2011   |    comments
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The historic post office in Aripeka that dates from the 1950's.

It's a super-small town named for one big, courageous man. The story of this place will take you across Florida as you run for your life!

Why do they call it Aripeka?

The town's post office from the 1950's still stands, and has all the space of a good-sized walk-in closet.

The new one next door isn't a whole lot larger.

That's not a big problem, 'cause this is not a big town.

"We have the one church, we have one little store, and the post office. That's the businesses in the community," Louise Geiger said with a laugh.

"So there can't be a whole lot going on, when you don't have more than that."

Geiger is one of around 200 people who live in Aripeka, right along the Gulf of Mexico at the Pasco-Hernando County line.

"To me, it's typical Florida. It's just a quiet, nice place," Geiger said.

Her grandfather built and ran the first post office on this site.

It served a tiny town with the name of a big-time Seminole Indian leader.

Aripeka -- Ar-pi-uck-i -- Abiaka?

There were at least a dozen ways to say and spell his name. But the American government didn't want to bother with any of 'em, so they called him Sam Jones.

U.S. Army soldiers chased and hunted Sam Jones, his family, and a band of supporters.

Their crime? Wanting to live here.

Congress had decided only Europeans were allowed in Florida. So Sam Jones and every other Seminole had to be shipped across the country or killed.

But surprise -- Sam Jones lived!

His group hid in the Everglades, and many of their descendants make up the vibrant Seminole Indian nation that survives today.

This town, and so much of its original character, also survive today -- hiding, protected, in a wilderness of its own.

"When you can walk down the street and see people and speak to them and they speak and are friendly, that makes it nice," Geiger said.

"It's just home."

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

We feature new "Why do they call it that?" stories each Wednesday on 10 News at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Check out previous editions of the Emmy-nominated series at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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