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.
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