FLGenWeb Digital Library and Archives
Alachua Co. Biographies
BURNETT, James Fletcher
Transcribed from: The History of Florida: Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.
III, page 22, 1923.
BURNETT, JAMES FLETCHER. How much the general public in a community is indebted to the
really active citizen with his spirit of enterprise and his practical methods can not be
definitely decided, but the fact remains that in those towns and villages where little
public spirit or individual enterprise is shown the wheels of progress are stalled. Every
traveler recognizes those communities and feels sorry for those whose inertia causes them
to lose so much that is worth while in life. One of the leading men of Gainesville is J.
FLETCHER BURNETT, who is not only a prominent business man but is active in every movement
that promises to be of substantial benefit to this city and section.
Mr. BURNETT was born at Gainesville, Florida, July 27, 1880, and is a member of one of
the old pioneer families of Alachua County. His parents were SAMUEL J. and IDA V. (CANNON)
BURNETT, the former of whom was a son of S. W. and RUTH (CLOSH) BURNETT, of Alachua County.
He was born in this county October 30, 1848, and died in 1912. Few men of his day were
better known or more highly esteemed at Gainesville. After the close of the war between
the states, during which he had served in the Home Guards, he engaged in the real estate
business and erected some of the first brick business blocks in the place. He was chairman
of the building committee and superintendent in charge in the construction of the imposing
Presbyterian Church and many other substantial buildings. Like his father, who had been
sheriff of Alachua County, he was prominent in democratic politics. In 1873 he was elected
mayor of Gainesville and was re-elected for thirteen consecutive terms, a record unequalled
in the history of the city. He belonged to the Masonic fraternity and to the Knights of
Pythias. The mother of Mr. BURNETT, who belongs to an old family of Orangeburg, South
Carolina, still survives.
JAMES FLETCHER BURNETT attended the public schools of his native city, and then entered
the East Florida Seminary, from which he was graduated in 1898, with the degree of A. B.,
having been a prominent member of the Students' Battalion, with rank of sergeant, lieutenant,
captain and finally major. For eighteen months after leaving college Mr. BURNETT was
connected with the railway express service, after which he entered the employ of several
large clothing houses at Gainesville, and during this interval gained a thorough knowledge
of this line of business. In 1913 he embarked in business for himself, and now has one of
the finest establishments in the line of men's furnishings in the city. He carries a
complete stock of fine clothing and furnishings, reliable in quality and up to date in
every particular, his well known trademark being "Burnett THE Clothier". "Nuf sed." Mr.
BURNETT has additional business interests and is a stockholder in the Florida Bank & Trust
At Daytona, Florida, on February 10, 1909, Mr. BURNETT married Miss ALMA VIDA SULLIVAN,
who was born near Waldo, Florida, and is a daughter of L. and SADIE M. SULLIVAN. The former
was a farmer in Alachua County. Mrs. BURNETT is well known in the city's pleasant social
life, and is a member of the Twentieth Century Club and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
While not active in the political field, Mr. BURNETT has always been foremost in advancing
the city's business and social prestige, and as a member of the Chamber of Commerce and along
other lines has been notably useful and influential. He is a member of the Merchants'
Association, vice president of the Retail merchants' Association, a member of the Advertising
Club and in 1921-22 a member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Clothiers' Association.
He was one of the organizers and is a charter member of the Rotary Club and its president
in 1921 and 1922, and was president of the Palm Point Country Club, which in 1921 merged
into the Gainesville Golf and Country Club. He believes in outdoor recreation needed by
every business man, and enjoys golf, tennis, motoring and fishing, and assisted in organizing
the Fishing Club at Inglis. During the World war he organized a company of Home Guards,
and as captain trained them ready for public service, and in every other way was active in
patriotic work. He is member of the Presbyterian Church, and in his religious creed practical
benevolence means something.
Transcribed by Nancy Rayburn
©2010 Fran Smith
This page presented March 11, 2010