“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sarasota in Sarasota County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)

John Hamilton Gillespie

John Hamilton Gillespie Marker (side 1) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, February 26, 2020
1. John Hamilton Gillespie Marker (side 1)
(side 1)
“The Father of Sarasota,” John Hamilton Gillespie, was born in 1852 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He arrived here in 1886 to assist the failing Florida Mortgage and Investment Company, a development company partially owned by his father in Edinburgh. The company had enticed a group of Scottish colonists to Sarasota in 1885 to help settle its 50,000-acre holdings, which included most of the land constituting the present City of Sarasota. The settlers arrived to find most of the company’s promises unfulfilled. Gillespie was dispatched to improve the situation. Many disillusioned colonist left, however, and the company entered liquidation proceedings. Gillespie remained in Sarasota after the court appointed him to manage the assets of the company there. He organized the clearing of three miles of Main Street, the building of a substantial wharf on the waterfront, and the beginning of a 40-acre experimental farm. In 1902, he was elected the first mayor of Sarasota when the town was incorporated and held this office for six terms. He also served his community as Justice of Peace for years and Notary Public ten years.
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He was affectionately known as “Colonel” in this community.
(Continued on other side)

(side 2)
(Continued from other side)
University educated, Gillespie was admitted to the highest legal body in Scotland. Having become a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1896, he joined the American and Florida Bar Associations. He served as president of the local Bar Association. He was influential in building an Episcopal church in Sarasota. He served as chaplain to Sarasota Bay Post #30 of the American Legion. As a Mason, he reached the Order of Knight Templar, was affiliated with the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows and became a charter member of the Kiwanis Club.

Gillespie volunteered in World War I for duty in Scotland. Because of this service to Scotland, he lost his United States citizenship. An act of Congress restored it after the war.

Gillespie is credited with introducing Florida to the game of golf. In 1904 he built a nine-hole golf course east of the present Links Avenue. Over the years, he was commissioned to design and build six other Florida courses and one in Havana, Cuba. He was one of Florida's championship golfers and an authority on the sport.

"Colonel " Gillespie died on the golf course near his home September 7, 1923. He is buried in Rosemary Cemetery.
John Hamilton Gillespie Marker Side 2 image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tim Fillmon, July 24, 2018
2. John Hamilton Gillespie Marker Side 2
1995 by Sarasota County Historical Commission.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Settlements & Settlers.
Location. 27° 20.131′ N, 82° 31.827′ W. Marker is in Sarasota, Florida, in Sarasota County. Marker is on Ringling Boulevard west of South Washington Blvd (U.S. 301), on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Sarasota FL 34237, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Sarasota Terrace Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker); Sarasota County Courthouse (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Charles Ringling Building (about 600 feet away); Payne Park (about 600 feet away); World Trade Center Memorial (about 700 feet away); Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Station (approx. ¼ mile away); Mable Ringling Memorial Fountain / Luke Wood Park (approx. half a mile away); Smally, Donald J. P.E. (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sarasota.
John Hamilton Gillespie Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, February 26, 2020
3. John Hamilton Gillespie Marker
Credits. This page was last revised on March 10, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 3, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 186 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on March 3, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida.   2. submitted on March 7, 2020, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida.   3. submitted on March 3, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 2, 2024