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John Anderson Papers Relating to Ormond Beach

Identifier: MS 270

Scope and Content

The John Anderson Papers focus on the development of the Ormond Hotel, the agriculture boom during the late 19th century, and the early development of Ormond Beach, Florida. The documents span from 1869 to 1910 and include correspondence, poetry, newspaper clippings, designs of the Ormond Hotel layout, and brochures and pamphlets. The materials are organized by creator, and are in chronological order. Some of the oversized materials have been divided into separate folders for preservation purposes.

The collection includes personal correspondence between Anderson and his father, General Samuel Jameson Anderson (1824-1905), discussing his plans to open the Ormond Hotel and the development of the Santa Lucia Plantation. A large portion of the material relates to family issues and touches on the landscape and agriculture of early Ormond Beach.

The largest group of letters is from William C. Fagen, who was the superintendent of the Santa Lucia Plantation owned by Anderson. The letters include important information on the operations of the Ormond Hotel. While Anderson returned north for the summer months, Fagen would report on how the business was developing. Fagen's correspondence is important because it includes information on the hotel business as well as the construction of transportation such as the development of the St. Johns and Halifax Railroad. In addition, Fagen's letters reveal attitudes about relations between African Americans and white citizens.

J.A Bostrom (1836-1927) was the hotel operator and a pioneer of Ormond Beach. His correspondence is of high interest because it reveals Bostrom's strong urgency for Anderson to purchase the Coquina Hotel, which he did in 1903. It also expresses his concern for the competition between Anderson and hotel tycoon, Henry Flagler, who later purchased and expanded the Ormond Hotel in 1903.

In addition to the correspondence, the collection has a variety of papers such as financial papers, newspaper clippings, and brochures and pamphlets. The financial papers include multiple receipts for the operation of the hotel such as food purchases, wages, and the costs of house-keeping. Also, the newspaper clippings focus on the mining and agriculture industry. Furthermore, there are a few brochures and pamphlets that relate to the Ormond Beach region.


  • Creation: 1869-1910



The collection is open for research. The correspondence should be handled with care because of its fragile condition.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Anderson (1853-1911) was born in Portland, Maine, on August 6, 1853. He was the only son born to Samuel J. Anderson and Jane Wade Dow Anderson. Anderson graduated from Portland High School in 1872. After a short course in commercial college, Anderson took a position in the foreign exchange department of Jay Cooke and Company. He also held positions with the Agency of London and the First National Bank of New York. It was during this same period that Anderson received a letter from his cousin Samuel Dow describing the bountiful prospects in New Britain, Florida, which would later be renamed Ormond Beach. Dow described the city saying, "I have found God's country."

On February 26, 1876, Anderson arrived in Florida with friend Charles Fox. Anderson met future business partner, Joseph D. Price, while looking for land in 1876. Anderson and Dow purchased 80 acres that would later become the Santa Lucia Plantation. Anderson focused on developing agriculture which included oranges, lemons, and grapefruit.

With the development of new transportation routes, such as the St. Johns and Halifax Railroad Company in 1886, Anderson and Price realized they could draw visitors to the eastern coast of Florida. On January 1, 1888, the partners opened the Ormond Hotel on the Santa Lucia Plantation land. For nearly a century, the 75-room hotel would be a social and business center for the town. It was the opening of the Ormond Hotel that catapulted Ormond's visibility as a vacation spot. Anderson took a lead role in building the tourism industry in the region. He and Price sold the hotel in 1891 to Henry Flagler, who renovated it to attract clientele such as the Rockefellers and Astors. Anderson and Price remained in the hotel business as operating managers of the Ormond Hotel and later purchased the Coquina Hotel in 1903.

Between 1876-1878 and 1881-1882 Anderson was Volusia County's tax assessor. He also was involved in endeavors such as the creation of the first golf course in Volusia County and organizing the first automobile racing event on the beach in 1902. Anderson died in 1911 and was buried in Portland, Maine.

Source: Strickland, Alice. Ormond on the Halifax: A Centennial History of Ormond Beach, Florida. Holly Hill, Fl: Southeast Printing and Publishing Company, 1980. 59-82. Strickland, Alice. The Valiant Pioneers. Miami, Fl: Center Printing Company, 1963. 53-57, 65-69.


1 Linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Personal papers and correspondence on John Anderson and others (such as William Fagen, J.A Bostrom, and Samuel Anderson) associated with Ormond Beach and Volusia County, Florida.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Alternate Form of Material

Digital reproductions of items in the Anderson 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.

Related Material

For additional information you may want to read Alice Strickland's books, Ormond on the Halifax: A Centennial History of Ormond Beach, Florida and The Valiant Pioneers.

A Guide to the John Anderson Papers Relating to Ormond Beach
Finding aid created by Patricia Murray
April 2010
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America