FL-GenWeb Digital Library and Archives
Flagler Co. Biographies
BOSTROM, John Andrew
Transcribed from: The History of Florida: Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.
II, page 26, 1923.
BOSTROM, JOHN ANDREW, of Ormond Beach, is probably the oldest settler still living on the
coast of Florida. In a brief biography it is not possible to recount and in fact little more
than suggest his great range of experiences extending back to Civil war times in Florida.
From early youth he was familiar with the sea and the sea was practically the only approach
to Florida until within comparatively recent years. He was born on the Island of Gottland
in the Baltic Sea, a Swedish subject, October 9, 1836, son of LARS and ANNA JOHANNA (VEDIN)
BOSTROM. His father was a farmer and supervisor of religious affairs on the Island of Gottland.
The VEDIN family were sea faring people. JOHN ANDREW was the fifth in a family of twelve
children, nine of whom reached mature years, and he and his brother CHARLES have for many
year been closely associated and live on adjoining places in Florida, and they have a sister
living at De Land.
JOHN A. BOSTROM attended school in his home community until he was fourteen, and has been a
student of books and experience ever since. He was employed as clerk in a country store
until he was twenty, when, to satisfy a longing for foreign lands, he embarked as a sailor,
his first voyage carrying him to the British Isles and the Mediterranean Sea. Later he went
to China, and in 1859 sailed from China to New York. For two years he was on vessels engaged
in the coasting trade along the Eastern States. After a brief visit to his old home in Sweden
he again returned to America. The first trip that brought him to Jacksonville was in 1860.
Then, in 1861, he was at the Barbados and other West India Islands. Strongly opposed to
slavery, he entered the Union service in the navy as quartermaster on a transport, with
headquarters at Hilton Head in South Carolina. Soon afterward he was shipwrecked on St.
Johns Bar near Jacksonville. That was the third shipwreck in his experience. The first
occurred in the China Sea and the second in the Gulf Stream. The third adventure decided
him to live on land. During the closing months of the Civil war he was a merchant at Hilton
Mr. BOSTROM had seen oranges ripen in February on the Coast of Florida, and he determined
to come to this land of sunshine and semi-tropical climate. At Hilton Head he bought a
Government launch, using army tents for sails, and in this boat came down the coast to St.
Augustine. He left his boat there and then proceeded down the coast to Mosquito Inlet, and
with the help of a colored man, ISRAEL McKINNEY, carried a small boat overland to the bank
of Halifax River. He went down this stream exploring and the only sign of white settlements
on the way were at Fort Orange and New Smyrna. He then went back to St. Augustine, where
there was one little hotel, secured his own boat and sailed down the coast and up the Halifax
River. He named the boat Anna in honor of his mother. It was in 1866 that Mr. BOSTROM
first settled on land now included in the City of Daytona. In 1868 he homesteaded a ninety
acre strip of land extending from the river to the ocean, and on this land he still has his
home. His brother CHARLES homesteaded adjoining land on the north. It is on a portion of
this tract that the Ormond Hotel was afterwards built, and also the winter homes of Judge
Shiras and of John D. Rockefeller.
The first home of Mr. BOSTROM was built of palmettos. Later a sawmill was established by
Doctor Hawkes, who had come from New Hampshire and organized the Florida Land and Lumber
Company. This mill was built near Mosquito Inlet. In 1868 Mr. BOSTROM secured lumber from
this mill to erect a two story frame residence. To the original building Mr. BOSTROM added
in 1902, and now has a home in keeping with those of the community, and has his grounds
adorned with fruits and flowers, and for many years has grown oranges and grape fruit.
Mr. BOSTROM in 1875 married Miss MARY BAKER, who was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1838.
She died in 1903. There were two children, LARS EDWARD and HELEN ESTHER. The daughter
married JAMES P. STANTON, and is now deceased, leaving a daughter, EDITH MAY, wife of J.F.
PAFFE, representing one of the old Spanish families of Florida.
As one of the original settlers Mr. BOSTROM has witnessed every phase of development in
and around Ormond, and when the town was built and organized he became a member of the
council and for fifteen years or more served as mayor. For two years by appointment he
was county commissioner and also school supervisor. He organized The Bridge Company and
became its manager, and also assisted in organizing the company that built the Coquino
Hotel, now known as Bretton Inn at Ormond Beach. Mr. BOSTROM was either president or
secretary of the hotel company until recently. All the older settlers sought out Mr.
BOSTROM for advice when they came here, and he has been an intimate friend of many of the
prominent people in this section of Florida.
His son LARS has always had a strong liking for machinery. The father and son some years
ago established a feed store at Ormond Station, and late they built an ice plant and to
that subsequently added a light and power plant. Mr. BOSTROM is a Unitarian in religious
Transcribed by Nancy Rayburn
©2016 Fran Smith
This page presented August 19, 2010