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Gleason Family Papers

Identifier: MS 042

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.


  • Creation: 1861-1946
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1885-1946



The collection is open for research.

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.


5.2 Linear feet (11 boxes, 10 volumes, and 1 flat folder)

Language of Materials



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.


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

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

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.

A Guide to the Gleason Family Papers
Finding aid created by Carl Van Ness
March 2011
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