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1841 - 1910




1841 Fort Armstead, U.S. military post during Seminole War located between present day 10th St. and ML King Blvd. in Sarasota, is abandoned due to high incidence of fevers and dysentery. (May 5) Edgar Allen Poe publishes his first mystery story in Graham's Magazine.
1842 Cuban fisherman are living at north end of Palm Island, now Longboat Key.   The keys are covered with dense cedar forests.

Spanish fisherman, Indian translator, and guide, Phillippi Bermudez is living on a Sarasota Bay rancho in what is now Cherokee Park. His claim to his land under the Armed Occupation Act is later denied. Phillippi Creek is named after him.

Seminole Indians are forced to move to Indian Territory in eastern Oklahoma.

Congress passes the Armed Occupation Act to encourage homesteading in Florida. This  land of 160 acre parcles  is "free" to anyone 18 years old who can  bear arms, clear 5 acres, build a house, and stay for 5 years (and properly file a claim).

1843 William A. Whitaker, first recorded Sarasota settler, settles at Yellow Bluffs on Sarasota Bay at a time when the Armed Occupation Act opened land for settlement south of Tampa Bay. Famine in Ireland, mass emigration

Queen Victoria has been on the throne for six years.

Morse is working to perfect telegraph.

1845 H.V. Snell plants first Florida guavas from Cuban stock on Longboat Key while visiting his half-brother, William Whitaker. Florida becomes 27th State as a slave state. Population is 66,000.
1846 Hurricane hits area.


Tampa Bay is blown "dry" by a hurricane, Stories are that a horeseman rode across bottom of Manatee River.

Ft. Brooke is destroyed by a fifteen foot tide.

Mexican-American War (1846-1848)

1847 U.S. Government Land Office surveyors chart township lines throughout this area, providing a starting point for all future surveys.

William Whitaker buys his first stock of cattle northeast of Ft. Brooke and begins using his brand "47."

August Rungeling, father of the Ringling brothers, migrates from Canada to the U.S.

Discovery of gold in California leads to first gold rush.

British Factory Act  restricts the working day for women and childen between 13 and 18 to 10 hours

1848 Hurricane splits Palm Island into Longboat and Lido Keys, creating New Pass. According to Whitaker family tradition, William named the new pass "New Pass."  

Signing of peace treaty with Mexico.

Chopin has his last musical performances in England and in Scotland.

1851 William Whitaker and Mary Jane Wyatt celebrate first recorded marriage in the area.(June 10) William and Mary made their home at Yellow Bluffs in the house that William had already built. Melville's Moby Dick published.

Sir George Paxton builds the Crystal Palace, London, of iron and glass.

1852 Nancy Catherine Stuart Whitaker born to William and Mary Jane Wyatt Whitaker, in their home on Yellow Bluffs. This is the first pioneer child born in what is now Sarasota County. (April 19) Louis Napoleon takes title of Emperor of France.

Expedition headed by Commadore Perry sails for Japan.

1855 Formation of Manatee County (which broke from Hillsborough County) that extends from Tampa Bay to south of Charlotte Harbor and from the Gulf to Lake Okeechobee. Walt Whitman publishes Leaves of Grass

Whistler goes to Paris to study painting.

1856 Furmen C. Whitaker born, while his parents are taking refuge from Billy Bowlegs during 3rd Seminole War in Branch Fort, on the Manatee River. Son of William and Mary Jane Whitaker. (March 4) Patent for condensed milk issued to Gail Borden.

President James Buchanan starts term.

1857 Read the story of Jeffrey Bolding - first slave in Sarasota County. National economic recession begins.

Dred Scott decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

1858 nd Billy Bowlegs, with 139 Seminole men and women, leave Egmont Key on their way to exile in the West. (May 15)

First transatlantic cable laid.

1860 nd Abraham Lincoln is elected President.

The Republican political platform has been, "Vote yourself a farm." It results in the Homestead Act of 1862.

1861 nd Florida withdraws from the Union.

American Civil War (1861-1865).

1863 Mary Jane Whitaker confronts Union soldier who threatens to burn their house. Read the story. Emancipation Proclamation
1865 Judah P. Benjamin, Confederate cabinet member, has dinner with William Whitaker and local residents help him sail to the Bahamas through a Union blockade. (June 23) Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia.

Abraham Lincoln assassinated at Ford's Theatre.

Andrew Johnson succeeds to presidency.

1867 Spanish Point is settled by John and Eliza Webb, who built a 50 ft. long by 12 ft. high, house made of leaves and a shell floor, large enough for 10 people. They claimed their land under the Homestead Act of 1862 (September 10) Alaska sold to the U.S. by Russia for $7.2 million. (March 30)

Canada is granted dominion status.

1868 The Knight family moves from Tampa to the present Nokomis and Venice area then called Horse and Chaise by early settlers. Acquittal of President Johnson at impeachment trial before U.S. Senate
1869 Webbs add a sugar mill to their homestead. Transcontinental railroad is completed with driving of golden spike at Promentory Point, Utah. (May 10)

Suez Canal opens.

1870 Webb family adds guest rooms to their home and advertises in Northern publications for guests. Tourists begin to arrive by the dozens shortly thereafter.

Peter Crowley family moves to Miakka.

First settlers arrive and settle area between Hudson Bayou and Phillippi Creek.

John D. Rockefeller founds Standard Oil Company.

Tchaikovshy writes his fantasy overture Romeo and Juliet in Moscow.

1871 nd Great Chicago Fire (October 8-11)
1872 nd Congress founds first national park, Yellowstone, in Wyoming.
1874 Isaac Redd, former herdsman for Bill Whitaker, founds Bee Ridge   community. It is named for honey, plentiful in the area. Tennis is introduced to the U.S.
1875 First church. Isaac Redd founds "Friendship Baptist Church."

First bridge in the area is over Hudson Bayou, one plank wide.

Height of European colonization.
1876 Charles E. Abbe buys 359 acres along the bay at a cost of $1.00 per acre which includes what is now McClellan Park, Southside School, and the Memorial Hospital area.

Charles Reeves is first settler at Fruitville.

Col. George A. Custer and 264 cavalry soldiers are killed by Sioux warriors, Battle of the Little Big Horn, Montana. (June 25)

Bell patents telephone.

Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer published.

Bell invents telephone.

1878 First school: Caroline Abbe (daughter of Charles and Charlotte) opens school in abandoned fishing shack south of Hudson Bayou with about a dozen students the first term.

"Sara Sota" post office opens in the area's only store, run by Charles E. Abbe. Abbe is named as first postmaster.

St. Augustine, Fl. entertains about 12,000 winter visitors.
1879 First Post office opens in Miacca with A.M. Wilson as postmaster. nd
1880 Jesse Tucker arrives in Fruitville.

Early 1880s: John Mays (A.B. Edwards numbers him the fourth African American to come to Sarasota) arrives as a young man and becomes a house builder. He becomes one of the largest depositors in the first bank opening in 1905.

1881 Read about going hunting and fishing with the Webbs - "Four Days on the Myakka River"

"Words of Advice to Tourists" - from book Hunting in the West. Check out this photo of a campsite on the Myakka River

President James A. Garfield is shot (July 2) by an assassin and dies a few weeks later (September 19).

Hamilton Disston buys four million acres of Everglades at twenty-five cents an acre to free the Internal Improvement Fund of debt and open way for development of much of peninsular Florida.

Phosphate mineral is discovered in Peace River Valley.

1882 Alfred & Mary Bidwell built their house at what is now Wood St. and U.S 41. It is now known as the Luke Wood House and has been moved next to the old Crocker Church on Florida Ave. nd
1884 Sarasota Vigilante Committee formed as "Political and Social Club." (April 1) Alfred Bidwell was a member.

Sarasota Vigilante Committee plots the murder of Charles Abbe. Abbe is shot and killed (December 27). See telegram from his daughter Nellie concerning his death.

Ringling Brothers Circus formed. Original name: Yankee Robinson and Ringling Brothers Great Double Shows, Circus and Caravan. (May 19)
1885 The Ormiston Colony of Scotland, arrives by boat on Dec. 28 to settle land they have purchased from Florida Mortgage and Investment Company in Scotland.

Louis Colson, an African American, decides to stay in Sarasota after surveying for the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company.(This is thought to be a photo of him and his wife taken by Pinard.)

John Fox introduces the game of golf to America, following a visit to Scotland. (Foxburg, PA)

Alex Browning describes his family's reasons for leaving Scotland

First internal combustion engine for gasoline.

1886 Scottish Colonists complete dock at the end of Main Street, working during snow flurries. (January 23)

John Hamilton Gillespie arrives in the Spring. He becomes the manager for Florida Mortgage and Investment's interests in Sarasota.

First golf game in Florida played in Spring of this year, on two-hole course laid out by Colonel John Gillespie.

By mid-year, Scottish Colonists leave due to primitive conditions.

American Federation of Labor is founded.

Rodin begins his large marble sculpture of "The Kiss".

1887 Eastern portion of Manatee County breaks away leaving the present area of Sarasota and Manatee counties.

DeSoto Hotel opens. Colonel Gillespie hosts Grand Ball. (Hotel later becomes Belle Haven Inn) (February 25)

1888 Venice post office is established in the area now known as Nokomis. nd
1889 Yellow Fever epidemic. Many area families suffer losses. Prompts creation of State Board of Health. Johnstown Flood; 2200 lives lost. (May 31)
1890 Gillespie starts having narrow gauge railroad tracks laid from Sarasota to Bradenton.

J.H. Lord pays $1000. for 1394 acres in Venice.

Ellis Island imigration depot opens. (December 31)


Carrie Spencer Abbe is appointed Postmistress of Sarasota. (Served for 31 years.)
1892 Gillespie Railroad--"Slow and Wobbly"--begins running. (Lasts only three years.)
1893 Read Alex Browning's story of the first Railroad in Sarasota

First simple telephone on the Florida West Coast is devised by Furman Whitaker so his mother and wife can communicate .

The Chicago Columbian Exhibition celebrating 400 years since Columbus' arrival.

Bertha Palmer is Chairman of the Board of Lady Managers at the Women's Pavilion. Nichols brothers see display of Lemon Bay there.

1894 Sarasota's first convention held. Baptist gathering at the Inn, present site of Sarasota News formerly Charlie's News Stand. (May 16)

Worst freeze in Florida history with 17 degrees on December 17  is followed by a warm spell.

Disastrous damage to citrus over most of  Florida.
1895 Severe freeze on January 8 ruins crops.

Steamboat "Mistletoe," owned by John Savarese, comes through the recently dredged Palma Sola Pass. Regular travel (3 times/week) between Sarasota and Tampa is offered. (October 7)

Englewood post office is established.

Fruitville post office is established in the home of Charles Reaves.

Roentgen discovers X rays

Marconi invents wireless telegraph

1896 Englewood, named after their Chicago suburb, is founded by the three Nichols brothers (Herbert, Howard and Ira). They file the plat for Englewood, to be developed by their Lemon Bay Company. Edison invents motion picture.
1898 A.B. Edwards leaves Sarasota to fight in Spanish American War. He was not accepted in the regular army because of poor eyesight, but becomes part of the army's Red Cross Service in Havana.

Sarasota cattle supply beef for troops at Tampa, a main shipping point in Spanish-American war.

U.S. Battleship "Maine" explodes in Havana Harbor, starting Spanish-American War.

The Curies discover radium.

1899 CVS Wilson begins publishing the first newspaper, The Sarasota Times. (June 1) Read what was happening in July 1899.

County population (present area) is 600.

Harry Lee Higel records the first out of town telephone call in Sarasota County. The Gulf Coast Telephone Co., a subsidiary of the Tampa and Manatee River Telegram and Telephone Co., installs the system using pine trees for telephone poles. (November 9)

Bethlehem Baptist Church at Central and 13th traces its origins to 1876.

U.S. gains Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, annexes Hawaii.

Boer War starts in South Africa.

1900 Read the story of Furman Chairs Whitaker - turn of the century physician in Manatee County

George F. Chapline visits Sarasota and pens The Legend of Sara De Sota


U.S. Forces help relieve Peking during Boxer Rebellion.
1901 Leonard Reid, an African-American, arrives in Sarasota and becomes a lifelong employee of John Hamilton Gillespie. He was the founding member of Payne Chapel AME Church. President William Mckinley shot (Sept. 6). Dies (Sept. 14)

Theodore Roosevelt assumes Presidency.

1902 Town of Sarasota incorporated, Col. John Gillespie is first mayor. Boer War ends.

Britain and Japan sign alliance.

Singer Caruso's first recording.

1903 First burial plot sold in Sarasota to L.H. Cunliff at Rosemary Cemetary for $15.00. (May 22)


Florida West Shore Railway initiates local train service.

The Laurel post office was established.

John Ringling North is born in Baraboo, Wisconsin.(August 14) Nephew of John Ringling. President and director of circus from 1937 to 1943.

Panama Canal Treaty signed. (November 18)

First heavier-than-air flight by mechanically propelled plane by Wright Brothers; Kitty Hawk, NC (December 17)

1904 Sarasota's first telephone exchange opens with 48 subscribers - is located in the Sarasota Post Office and managed by Postmaster Carrie Abbe. Architect Louis Sullivan's Carson Pirie Scott and Company skyscraper is completed in Chicago.

American composer Charles Ives writes Symphony No.3 which later earned a Pulitzer prize in music.

1905 Bank of Sarasota, the first bank in Sarasota, is established at Five Points.

John Hamilton Gillespie builds the town's first 9-hole golf course and club house, which extends eastward from Links Ave.

Einstein's Theory of Relativity

Sarasota's first library opens in a room donated by Col. Gillespie using 300 of his books. It is operated by the women from the Town Improvement Society.(December 7)

Harry Higel opens subdivision on Sarasota Key. He names it "Siesta on Sarasota Key." Later the whole key becomes known as Siesta Key.

The first real estate taxes are levied at 5 mils.


Picasso completes the painting "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon".
1908 Newlyweds Marie and William Selby visit Sarasota for the first time and stay at the old Belle Haven Hotel. They enjoy hunting and fishing in Sarasota. NAACP formed in New York.

Dr. Jack Halton establishes 22 bed Halton Sanatorium on Gulf Stream Ave.

First local automobile owner, Dr. Cullon B. Wilson (20 horsepower Reo Roadster).

Main St. between Gulfstream and Orange Ave. is paved for the first time.

Crocker post office is established.


Admiral Robert E. Peary reaches North Pole, accompanied by Matthew Henson, an African American. (April 6)

Ford begins assembly-line automobile production.

Frank Lloyd Wright designs Robie house in the prairie style.

1910 Mrs. Potter Palmer, Chicago socialite, her son, father, and two brothers arrive here for the first time. Comes to inspect some land advertised in a Chicago newspaper, she loves the area and settles upon the Oaks site for her home. (February 22)

Passage of Sarasota's first curfew law requiring all youths under 16 years of age to be home by 8 p.m. (April 5)

Street widening project on Main St. yields Indian bones, beads, pottery, and five skulls. (May 28)

Scotsman Charlie Rennie Mackintosh completes the Glascow School of Art building

Boy Scouts of America founded. (February 8)