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 Henry M. Flagler in Florida Timeline

1830 Henry Morrison Flagler is born in Hopewell, New York.

1844 At age 14, Flagler leaves home.


Henry Flagler, first wife Mary, and

Isabell Harkness, 1850s. Courtesy

Florida State Archives.

1853 Flagler marries Mary Harkness; their children are Jennie Louise (1855-1889), Carrie (1858-1861), and Henry (Harry) Harkness (1870-1952).

1862 In Saginaw, Michigan, Flagler founds the Flagler and York Salt Company; it closes in 1865 after the demand for salt declines.

1870 John D. Rockefeller and Henry M. Flagler form a partnership that would become Standard Oil.

1878 Henry and Mary Harkness Flagler visit Jacksonville, Florida, for the first time.

1881 Mary Harkness Flagler dies of illness.

1883 Flagler marries Ida Alice Shourds; they honeymoon is St. Augustine.

1885 Flagler buys the Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Halifax railroads; becomes basis
for his Florida East Coast Railway (FEC).

1888 Flagler opens his first hotel in St. Augustine, the 450 room Hotel Ponce de Leon; he also buys the Hotel Casa Monica and re-names it Hotel Cordova.


The Hotel Alcazar. Courtesy Florida State


1889 The Hotel Alcazar opens, Flagler’s third hotel in St. Augustine. 

1890 In Ormond Beach, Flagler opens the Hotel Ormond

1893 Flagler visits Lake Worth for the first time and likes what he sees as a “veritable Paradise;” his agents begin buying land setting off a small land boom.

1893 Flagler has what becomes West Palm Beach platted.


The Hotel Royal Poinciana.

1894 Henry Morrison Flagler extended his Florida East Coast Railway to what was later incorporated as West Palm Beach. Six weeks earlier, the Hotel Royal Poinciana opened. The hotel became the world’s largest resort and included a dining room that could seat 1,600 guests. Hotel Royal Poinciana was also touted as the world’s largest wooden structure. © Flagler Museum 2009.

1896 Flagler’s second Palm Beach Hotel, Palm Beach Inn, opens on the beach front; it is re-named The Breakers in 1901.

1896 Flagler extends the FEC to Miami.

1897 In Miami, Flagler opens the Hotel Royal Palm.

1898 Henry Flagler’s Model Land Company owned more than 2 million acres of land
from Jacksonville to Key West. The Palm Beach County History Museum and
1916 Courthouse, the Norton Museum of Art, Morikami Museum and Japanese
Gardens, and Woodlawn Cemetery all rest on land made available by Henry
Flagler’s Model Land Company. © Flagler Museum 2009.

1901 Another Flagler hotel, the Hotel Continental, is completed in Jacksonville.


Henry Flagler and his third

wife, Mary Lily Kenan. 

1901 Henry Flagler marries Mary Lily Kenan after the Florida Legislature passes a bill that made incurable insanity grounds for divorce; His second wife, Ida Alice Shourds, has been institutionalized since 1895.

1902 The New York Herald Tribune described Henry Flagler’s newly completed Palm Beach residence, Whitehall as, “more wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world…” Henry Flagler and his wife, Mary Lily Kenan, spent winters at Whitehall from 1902 until the time of Henry Flagler’s death in 1913. © Flagler Museum 2009.

1903 The Breakers is destroyed by fire; it is re-built and opens for the next winter


Flagler eixts the first train to

Key West, January 22, 1912.

Courtesy Florida State Archives. 

1905 Construction of the Over-sea Railroad begins to Key West.

1912 Flagler rides the first train over the Over-sea Railroad to Key West.

1913 Henry M. Flagler dies in Palm Beach and is buried in St. Augustine.

1925 The Breakers burns for a second time and is re-built for a second time and opens the following year.


The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum,

Palm Beach.

1959 Jean Flagler Matthews, Henry Flagler’s granddaughter, established the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum as a nonprofit corporation. The Museum’s extensive collection of art,
furniture, and historic objects related to the life of Henry Flagler and America’s Gilded Age are on display. The Flagler Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums and designated a National Historic Landmark. © Flagler Museum 2009.

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