The Porter Family originally came to the Pasco County area in 1937, settling on the land occupied today by the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport. At the start of World War II, this hunting and fishing retreat was condemned in order to create an Army Air Force Training Station. The revenue allowed them to purchase about 14,000 acres from the Rockefeller Land Trust, what is now known as Wiregrass Ranch. James H. Porter moved with his loving wife, Martha M. Porter, to the ranch in 1946. Their homestead, an old moonshiner home, sat directly across from the entrance of what is now Heritage Ford on SR54.
James and Martha raised their three sons, Don, Tom, and Bill, here. For the first two years on the ranch, they had no electricity. Martha would sit on her front porch and wave to the four or five cars that drove by each day. The closest store was over thirteen miles away; clothes were made (often from old flour sacks) and food was produced by the land and harvested.
In 1950, the “Wiregrass” name stuck. Ed Madill, a Buick dealer, went on vacation to Mexico City and sent a postcard to his good friend James H. Porter. Ed had no address and, knowing the distinct grass that grew on the ranch, simply addressed it to: Wiregrass Porter, Gatorville, FL USA. The post card made it to its destination, and the title’s legacy name was in place.
As time marched on, cattle were added as a revenue source in 1941. They planted citrus trees in 1950 as an additional source of income. Both the citrus trees and cattle herd continue to exist on the ranch today.
In 1972, Wiregrass Ranch had its first substantial land sale to Saddlebrook Golf and Tennis Center. James H. “Wiregrass” Porter had a new vision for the area to create a community centered on family. The next year, the land for what was to become one of the top selling communities in Tampa, Meadow Pointe, was sold. The small community of Williamsburg began that year as well on what was Wiregrass Ranch property. Today, the ranch is just over 5,000 acres. Located in the heart of Wesley Chapel, Wiregrass Ranch is primed for new growth.
Committed guardians for decades, the Porter Family has deep generational roots in this land. Their lifelong commitment to sound land stewardship will continue to shape the Wiregrass Ranch community to the benefit of future generations to come.