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Famous Founder of the Florida Henry Flagler

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    The founder of the Florida East Coast Railway, Henry Flagler was born on January 2, 1830 in Hopewell, New York. At the age of 14, Henry left school during his 8th grade year to work in Ohio for the Harkness Family, who were the family of Henry’s mother’s second husband. On November 9, 1853, Flagler married Mary Harkness with whom he had three children. After working in the salt and grain industry for many years, Flagler partnered with John D. Rockefeller to form a partnership that later became Standard Oil Corporation, an oil refinery business that expanded to many states. May 18, 1881, Henry’s wife Mary died in New York and two years later he married one of his deceased wife’s nurses, Alice Shourds. Since Henry was busy with the refinery business, the couple was not able to honeymoon until the winter time, at which time they visited St. Augustine, Florida. Henry Flagler found the city charming, but the hotel facilities and transportation systems not right. Flagler began construction of the 540 room Ponce De Leon Hotel by himself, but spent several times his original estimate of $200,000. In order to create a transportation system for his hotel, Flagler purchased short line railroads in what later became known as the Florida East Coast Railway. The Ponce de Leon Hotel opened on January 10, 1888 and was an instant success. He also built a railroad bridge across the Saint Johns River to gain access to the southern half of the state and purchased the hotel Ormond just north of Daytona. His personal dedication to the State of Florida was demonstrated when he began construction on his private residence, Kirk Side in St. Augustine. By 1896, Flagler’s railroad, the Florida East Coast Railway reached Biscayne Bay. In 1913, Flagler fell down a flight of marble stairs at White Hall. On May 20th, at the age of 83 Henry Flagler died in Palm Beach due to not having recovered from the injuries sustained during the fall. The founder of the Florida East Coast…

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