Saturday, February 03, 2007

Business Dealings of Our Cast

Reconstruction era Florida provided a free-for-all business environment in which members of the state legislature eagerly participated. Lists of incorporators of various transportation and related land improvement companies reveal complex, constantly shifting personal alliances. In 1868, Senator Osborn and his associate, M.H. Alberger, appear as stockholders of the Southern Inland Navigation and Improvement Co. Alberger also appears as a shareholder with Florida's other senator, Gilbert, on the stockholder list of the St. Johns and Halifax Navigations and Improvement Co. Gilbert, however, joined Emanuel Fortune and Purman in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine Railroad Co.
The infamous (at least to readers of this blog) Great Southern Railroad Company brought together such disperate figures as Reed, Carse, T.W. and A.C. Osborn, Stearns, Jenkins, Charles Hamilton, Purman, Josiah Walls and Pearce. Purman and U.S. Marshall Wentworth held shares in the Pensacola and Barrancas Railroad Co. Robert Meacham was an owner of the Monticello and Georgia Railroad Co. Charles Hamilton appears together with Purman, Wentworth, J.Q. Dickinson, Jackson Co. Sheriff Thomas W. West and Charles E. Dyke Jr. (!) as shareholders of the West Florida Railroad Co. to stretch from St. Andrews Bay (modern Panama City) to Marianna). Walls and Meacham joined in the Suwanee and Inland Railroad Co. and Purman, Wentworth and Malachi Martin (!) were among the owners of the Florida Telegraph Co. Hamilton and Purman appear on one last time together on the shareholder list of the Aquatic and Tropical Plant Propagating Co. (to cut a canal to Lake Okeechobee to be consolidated with the efforts of Osborn's South Inland Navigation and Improvement Co.). All these companies were created in 1868, immediately upon readmission of the state and meeting of its legislature. Is it doubtful that Hamilton ever saw a cent from these ventures. Purman continued to have business interests for years in the state.