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Record Group Number: 900000
Series/Collection Number: N2017-150
Title, Dates: Sawyer family papers, 1897-1914.
Amount: 3 cubic ft.
Medium Included:
Organization/Arrangement: Chronological
Terms Governing Use:
Biographical/Historical:     Albert P. Sawyer was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, around 1840. His father was Josiah Sawyer, a ship owner in the New England area. Albert P. Sawyer rose to prominence through his real estate and business ventures with George W. Piper. It was through these pursuits that Sawyer gained his wealth that allowed him to put support behind numerous enterprises throughout New England and the country at large.
    In 1891, Sawyer founded the Boston & Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company alongside Piper. Although located in Boston, Massachusetts, the company was focused on opening the east coast of Florida for settlement and transportation by dredging canals. The company was incorporated into Maine in 1901. Boston & Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company both worked and competed with Henry Flagler and his Florida East Coast Railroad during this time.

    During the 1890s, Sawyer also joined forces with George L. Bradley. Together they invested in the Florida Coast Line Canal & Transportation Company. This company was formed with the goal of expanding canals from St. Augustine to Miami. The project had originally been started by Dr. John Westcott in 1881, but the company had gone bankrupt. Bradley was a multi-millionaire who had gained extraordinary wealth from his investments in the Bell telephone and the linotype machine, and he took over the financial aspect of the company. Sawyer and Bradley were able to reorganize the company and continue the project using better engineering methods.

    Albert P. Sawyer died in Newburyport on November 21, 1903, after being sick for many years. He was survived by his wife, his sister, his son Albert Hayden Sawyer and two daughters.

    Albert Hayden Sawyer was the son of Albert P. Sawyer. He was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1871. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A.H. Sawyer became involved in the Atlantic Coast Line Canal Company starting in 1898. Following the death of his father, he became a major figure in the company. Like his father's partner George Bradley, A.H. Sawyer was involved in the Mergenthaler Linotype Company beginning in 1892. Years later, in 1906, he succeeded George Bradley as the director of the company. In 1898, A.H. Sawyer and his father Albert P. Sawyer became trustees of the third Bradley trust, called the Walker Land Trust. After the death of his father, A.H. Sawyer became the successor trustee of the Lake Worth Trust (in addition to the other trusts Albert P. Sawyer had been involved in with Bradley) and was given the title of President of the Boston & Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company. A.H. Sawyer also studied the hemp industry and started a plantation to cultivate it in what is now Volusia County. He was married to Sarah, and they had one son named Hayden Page Sawyer. A.H. Sawyer died in his home in Newburyport on April 19, 1941.

Summary:     This collection documents the business pursuits of Albert P. Sawyer and Albert Hayden Sawyer. Albert P. Sawyer and his son Albert H. Sawyer played a large part in the development of inland waterways throughout the east coast of Florida, as well as in the settlement of the state. The collection primarily consists of correspondence between the two Sawyers, as well as with members of the various canal companies they were a part of from 1891 to 1912. Although much of the correspondence relates to the Sawyers' involvement in canal matters, there are references to other investments and interests, such as pineapple plantations and steamboats. 

    The collection includes both originals and typed copies of correspondence detailing major activities of the company. Of particular note are the letters concerning colonizing, dredging and dealings with competing companies and figureheads, such as Henry Flagler. The Sawyers played a significant role in Flagler's southern expansion into the territory of Florida, and references to their business matters are included in the correspondence in this collection. A scrapbook of clippings and maps related to canal activities, compromises about land, land grants and protests made by people against federal land grants can also be found in this collection.

Finding Aids: Folder listing available.
Additional Physical Form:
Reproduction Note:
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Associated Materials:
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Ownership/Custodial History:
Publication Note:
General Note: Previously State Library of Florida Manuscripts Collection MS175.
Electronic Records Access:
Subject Access Fields: Flagler, Henry Morrison, 1830-1913
Florida East Coast Railway.
Canals Florida
Farms Florida
Steamboats Florida
Land grants Florida
Saint Augustine (Fla.)
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