His family has been around Hudson for five generations, since before Pasco was created out of Hernando County.
"The local history is my family's history, too," said Cannon, author of "Images of America: Hudson," which traces his family's heritage through text and about 200 photographs.
Cannon recently organized the Pasco County Historical Preservation Society, Inc., a nonprofit organization that will endeavor to preserve historical sites and old cemeteries. He hopes to work with existing historical societies around the county to identify areas that need to be cleaned, preserved or restored.
He said the group has about 15 volunteers and that he is in the process of gaining tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. He has already done restoration work at cemeteries in Elfers, Hudson and Trilby.
"I got started in cemetery preservation while looking for my great-great-grandfather's (grave), but you can't find where he's buried," Cannon said. "The property where he lived has now been developed, and we believe he may be buried on the homestead. Through grass-roots efforts, maybe we can save some of these burial sites from the same fate."
He said the historical society endeavors to help any people, private organizations, businesses, or governmental agencies restore, preserve and document Pasco's history and historic sites.
Cannon said he wants to take over work once done by the county's own historical preservation committee, which was essentially disbanded due to budget cuts.
"I'm trying to fill a gap," he said. "Historical preservation should continue regardless of funding. These sites are in the community and belong to the community. We'll aggressively pursue grants that we can apply to historic preservation."
Cannon said he is sending letters to other historical societies around the county in an attempt to join forces.
Bob Hubach, president of the West Pasco Historical Society, said another group could only enhance preservation efforts in the county.
"I don't think there's anything competitive at all," Hubach said. Cannon "is a member of our society and has come in three or four times to give presentations. We even sent some volunteers to him to do some work at the Hudson cemetery."
Cannon said he is completing an "online cemetery database" that has more than 27,000 identified burials in Pasco cemeteries. When it's completed the database will be searchable by name and cemetery.
"I'm just trying to get the word out for when we coordinate clean-up projects and need volunteers," Cannon said. "I'm trying to involve the community. Anything people want to
donate - money or materials - goes into the work."
For information about the Pasco County Historical Preservation Society, visit www .pascocemeteries.org or e-mail info@pasco cemeteries.org.
It really isn't too surprising that Jeff Cannon would have a deep passion for the history of Pasco County, and of Hudson in particular. While most people around here are from somewhere else, Cannon's roots run deep.
He isn't just a native son − he's a native great-great-grandson.
"I'm fifth generation from Hudson. My family's been here since the late 1870s," Cannon said. "Through marriage, I'm related to the Hudson family."
A few years ago, Cannon began devoting himself more fully to his interest in local history as a member of the West Pasco Historical Society, in New Port Richey, and the Pioneer Florida Museum Association, in Dade City; as president of the West Elfers Cemetery Preservation Association and operator of the Pasco Cemeteries website, and as a historical researcher and writer.
It is in that last capacity that The Sea Pine Civic Association, 7817 Gulf Way, will welcome Cannon for a "meet the author" night 7 p.m. this Wednesday, April 21.
Cannon is the author of "Hudson," an entry in Arcadia Publishing's popular "Images of America" series. These table-top books tell the stories of individual communities' beginnings through the use of hundreds of historical photographs and carefully researched captions.
Since its debut in 1993, the format, with its familiar sepia-toned cover, has presented the histories of thousands of communities.
Cannon said he contacted Arcadia and submitted a proposal to do a book on Hudson after he saw the local reception for Adam Carozza's 2004 release of "Images of America: New Port Richey." It was easy to convince the publishers that the Hudson area also had a story to tell and that he was the right man to tell it.
Once Arcadia gave him the green light, it would take him about a year to compile the book, but that was based on years of previous professional and personal background research.
"A lot of that's connected to family research − It all kind of merges together," Cannon said. "The history of the town is kind of my family's history, too."
On Monday, Cannon stood at the Hudson Cemetery. Because it is on a small lot at the busy intersection of U.S. 19 and Hudson Avenue, the cemetery often goes unnoticed by drivers zipping past.
It's hard amid the midday traffic to imagine the cemetery used to be nestled in secluded woods.
"Up through the 1950s, U.S. 19 wasn't here," Cannon said. Even then, at first it was only a two-lane road.
While Hudson was first settled around 1872, the community's namesakes, the family of Isaac Washington Hudson Sr., did not permanently move here until 1878. That same year, the cemetery got its first resident, Hudson's 16-year-old daughter, Ida Melissa. Cannon pointed out her headstone. Many of his own ancestors are buried here, too.
The cemetery is one of the few remaining physical remnants of those early years, Cannon said.
Most have given way to progress, though he is happy to note that Isaac Hudson's original house still stands, near the intersection of Pine Road and Harbor Drive.
"It's kind of had modern siding put on it, but the historic value of that structure is still the same," he said.
What do remain in greater quantity are photographs and documents, and Cannon uses them to great effect in his "Hudson" book. Along with his own collection, Cannon contacted the descendents of many of Hudson's founding families and found artifacts that help provide a portrait of the area's early decades.
One of his favorite finds is the book's cover photo, which he determined shows a survey crew at Hudson Spring. It is known the town was platted in 1883, which would make this one of the earliest photos of Hudson known to exist.
He has also found, much to his pleasure, that the public holds a great deal of curiosity about the area's history. Debuting in November in time for the holidays, "Images of America: Hudson" sold about 750 copies in its first two months − not bad for a locally themed book, Cannon said.
He's also found people have no end of questions at events like the upcoming book signing.
For those who cannot attend, "Images of America: Hudson" retails for $21.95, and can be found at area bookstores, independent retailers and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at 888-313-2665 or its website.