Entrepreneur, Deceased Person
1873 – 1939
Who was Barron Collier?
Barron Gift Collier was an American advertising entrepreneur who became the largest landowner and developer in the U.S. state of Florida, as well as the owner of a chain of hotels, bus lines, several banks, and newspapers. He also owned a telephone company and a steamship line.
Collier was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He quit school at age sixteen to work for the Illinois Central Railroad. Within four years, he started his own business, the Consolidated Street Railway Advertising Company of New York City. By age twenty-six, he was already worth a million dollars.
Collier married in 1907 to Juliet Gordon Carnes, also a native of Memphis. In 1911, the Colliers visited Fort Myers, Florida, on vacation, and fell in love with the area. They bought nearby Useppa Island for the sum of $100,000.
Collier was an avid fisherman and established the Izaak Walton Club at their Useppa Island resort. Named for the seventeenth century author of The Compleat Angler, it became one of the most exclusive sporting clubs in the world. Collier next developed golf courses and improved a hunting club, the Rod and Gun Club, in Everglades City, Florida, that also attracted wealthy tourists. Over the next decade, the Colliers went on to acquire more than a million acres of land in Southwest Florida, making them the largest private land owners in the state. He invested millions of dollars to transform and develop the wilderness, including drainage of the Everglades and construction of the Tamiami Trail. For his influence and investment in the state's future, the Florida legislature named the newly created Collier County in his honor on May 8, 1923.
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