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A Guide to the Gleason Family Papers

Finding aid created by Carl Van Ness

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
March 2011


Descriptive Summary

Creator: Gleason family
Title: Gleason Family Papers
Dates: 1861-1946
Bulk dates: 1885-1946
Abstract: Papers of the Gleason Family, who played a significant role in the development of Florida's agricultural, commercial, and residential lands in the post-Civil War period. The collection consists primarily of the papers of William H. H. Gleason, the records of Gleason Brothers, and the papers of William Henry Gleason, George G. Gleason, and W. Lansing Gleason.
Extent: 5.2 Linear feet. 11 boxes and 10 volumes.
Identification: MS 42
Language(s): English
Online Content Items from this collection have been digitized and are available online in the UF Digital Collections. For more information please see the note below.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Gleason Family came to Florida from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, following the Civil War. The family played a significant role in the development of Florida's agricultural, commercial, and residential lands in the post-Civil War period.

William Henry Gleason (1829-1902) and his wife, Sara G. Gleason (?- 1912), arrived in Florida in 1866. He was trained as an engineer and as a lawyer. His principal business activities involved real estate development and a law practice, W. H. Gleason and Co., which specialized in land cases. Gleason is perhaps best remembered, though, for his political activities during Reconstruction. He served as Lt. Governor from 1868-1870 and in the state legislature from 1871-1874.

Gleason's sons, William H. H. Gleason and George G. Gleason, continued in their father's business and political footsteps. They operated a land development company, Gleason Brothers (incorporated 1899), and William took up his father's law practice. The Gleason brothers were also involved in intracoastal shipping and operated steamships (both were licensed pilots) and dry dock facilities. W. Lansing (William Lansing) Gleason was the son of William H. H. Gleason. Like his father and grandfather, he pursued a career in real estate law and continued to develop the family's land holdings. All of the Gleason generations were active in Florida's Republican Party. W. Lansing Gleason was also involved in Eau Gallie's local politics serving as the town's mayor in the 1930s.

Much of the family's land dealings were in present day Brevard, Broward, and Dade counties. The family owned approximately one third of the old Delespine Grant and founded the town of Eau Gallie, now part of the City of Melbourne. The Gleason's donated the original site for Florida's land grant college in Eau Gallie, but the college never opened. The land was sold back to the Gleasons in 1884. The single campus building constructed was later used as the Hotel Granada which the Gleason Family owned and operated. George Gleason was the hotel's manager.


Scope and Content

The collection consists primarily of the papers of William H. H. Gleason and records of Gleason Brothers. The collection also contains papers of William Henry Gleason, George G. Gleason, and W. Lansing Gleason. The papers of William Henry Gleason are contained in the earlier correspondence files and in the financial and legal documents. Both deal primarily with his law practice and his business interests, most notably the Southern Inland Navigation and Improvement Company. This company was created in 1869 for the purposes of dredging existing waterways and building canals along the St. Johns River and Florida's east coast and developing lands granted to the company by the State of Florida. Gleason's political activities are rarely mentioned.

William H. H. Gleason makes his appearance in the correspondence files around 1885. His letters, and those of his brother, reflect the family's growing interest in residential and commercial properties, particularly in Dade County, as well as the family's continued interest in the development of Eau Gallie. In addition to the correspondence files, the career of William H. H. Gleason is also documented in a subject file, covering the years 1885-1940, and six letter books for the years 1896-1901. The papers of W. Lansing Gleason are contained in a subject file for 1925-1946 and reflect, among other things, his involvement in local and state politics. Of special interest, in this regard, are the letters and publications of the Florida Taxpayers' Association as well as his files on local elections.

Included with the letter books is a volume containing letters of A. W. Buie, Superintendent of the Indian River Steamship Company, for the year 1898. The relationship of the Indian River Steamship Company, which operated steamers on Florida's east coast, to the Gleason family is unclear. There is also a letter book containing George Gleason's correspondence of 1893-1894 and a very brief letter book from the Hotel Granada. Also attached to the collection is a volume containing newspaper clippings for recipes, home remedies, and gardening and cleaning tips. The clippings, from the 1880s, are pasted into the account book of William Henry Gleason when he was a sutler for the 43rd New York State Volunteer Regiment in 1861.


Arrangement

The collection is divided into four series: Correspondence files, Financial and legal documents, Subject files, and Letter books.


Access or Use Restrictions

Access

The collection is open for research.


Administrative Information

Alternate Form of Material

Digital reproductions of items in this collection are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Gleason Family Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.


Contents List

Correspondence


Box
1 William Henry Gleason and William H. H. Gleason correspondence. 1870-1886
2 William Henry Gleason and William H. H. Gleason correspondence. 1887-June 1892
3 William Henry Gleason and William H. H. Gleason correspondence. July 1892-September 1894
4 William Henry Gleason and William H. H. Gleason correspondence. October 1894-1899 and undated
4 William H. H. Gleason correspondence: A-Z. 1896-1898
4 William H. H. Gleason correspondence: A-F. 1903
5 William H. H. Gleason correspondence: G-Z. 1903
5 William H. H. Gleason correspondence: A-Z. 1916
6 William H. H. Gleason (personal correspondence only). 1938
6 William H. H. Gleason (letter to Julian Yonge). 1947


Financial and Legal Documents


Box
6 [Cross Florida shipping canal] Untitled article by William Henry Gleason. Not dated
6 Florida Agricultural College, deed to Sara Gleason. 1884
6 William H. Gleason vs. J.V. Harris (disputed lands in Miami). 1866-1876
6 Republican State Committee. 1875
6 Southern Inland Navigation and Improvement Co.-- Documents (2 folders).


Subject Files - William H. H. Gleason


Box
7 Southern Inland Navigation and Improvement Co. --stock certificates
7 Agreements, legal papers, and other documents. 1869-92
7 Agreements, legal papers, and other documents, William H. H. Gleason and George G. Gleason (includes documents related to steamships operated by the Gleasons). 1890-1895
7 Attorney opinions
7 Banana River Inlet. 1903-1907
7 Bankruptcy proceedings. 1900-?
7 Boats and canal traffic. 1910
7 Brevard County—Superintendent of Schools election. 1920
7 Brickell claim (Miami). 1895
7 Council of Defense/Selective Service Legal Advisory Board. 1918-1919
7 Daily journals (William H.H. Gleason). 1887 and 1891
7 Drainage districts. 1913-1928
7 East Coast Lumber and Supply Co. 1911-1912
8 East Coast Marine and Railway Co. 1889-1905
8 East Coast Realty Co. --Stock certificates
8 Eau Gallie - Boundary change. 1915
8 Eau Gallie - Certificates of indebtedness. 1940-1944
8 Eau Gallie - Deed to city by Gleason Land Corp. 1937
8 Eau Gallie - Elections. 1890s
8 Eau Gallie - School trustees. 1912-1916
8 Eau Gallie - State Bank -- Gaulden suit. 1894-1896
8 Eau Gallie - Voter lists and poll tax receipts. 1893-1895
8 Florida East Coast Railway. 1904-1908
8 Gleason, George. 1904-1908
8 Gleason, George, estate papers
8 Gleason, Sarah. 1904-1908
8 Gleason, Sarah, Estate of
8 Gleason vs. Bergin. 1885-1888
8 Gleason, William H., Agreements with State of Florida
9 Gleason, William H., Letters. 1887-1888
9 Hawkins, Walter. 1909
9 Lazarus lands (part of Delespine grant). 1897
9 Miami Beach Improvement Co. 1921-1924
9 Miscellaneous
9 Nelson, Thomas. 1910
9 Pent case (Miami). 1892-1931
9 [Politics]
9 Republican Party. 1896-1927
9 State Comptroller. 1899-1904
9 Turpentine lease. 1904


Subject Files - W. Lansing Gleason


Box
10 Baseball file. 1937
10 Dixie Highway. 1932
10 East Coast Marine Railway Co. -- Bonds. 1929-1931
10 Eau Gallie.
10 Election. 1926
10 Election. 1928
10 Election. 1941
10 Election. 1943
10 Florida Power and Light.
10 Harbor. 1933
10 Harbor project. 1946
10 Inlet channel. 1936
10 Kissimmee Highway.
10 Primary election. 1938
10 Special road and bridge #10.
10 State Bank receivers certificates.
10 Florida League of Municipalities. 1932-1935
10 Florida Municipal Bonds.
10 Harbor City Hotel Company.
10 Hillsborough County Bonds. 1932-1935
10 Investment and bonds.
10 Republican Party.
10 Ridge Mortgage Investment Co. vs. Gleason Bros. 1938-1941
10 [Florida] Taxpayers' Association (publications of state organization and other local chapters)
10 [Brevard County] Taxpayers' League (local chapter of the Florida Taxpayers' Association)


Letter Books


Volume
1 Letter book: George G. Gleason. 1893-1894
1a Letter book: William H. H. Gleason and George Gleason. 1895
2 Letter book: William Henry Gleason (1895) and William H. H. Gleason, Gleason Brothers (1899-1902). 1895-1902
3 Letter book: William H.H. Gleason (Gleason Brothers). 1896-1897
4 Letter book: William H. H. Gleason (Gleason Brothers). 1897-1898
5 Letter book: William H.H. Gleason (Gleason Brothers). 1898-1899
6 Letter book: William H.H. Gleason (Gleason Brothers). 1899-1900
7 Letter book: William H.H. Gleason (Gleason Brothers). 1900-1901
8 Letter book: A.W. Buie, Superintendent of the Indian River Steamship Company. 1898
9 Letter book: Hotel Granada (30 pages only). 1900-1901
10 Account book of William Henry Gleason, sutler, 43rd NYSV, 1861, with clippings from 1880s. 1861-1880s


Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Eau Gallie (Fla.)
Florida -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950
Florida Taxpayers Association
Gleason Brothers
Gleason, William Henry -- 1829-1902
Melbourne (Fla.)
Reconstruction -- Florida
W. H. Gleason & Co.



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