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Biographies

BURLEIGH, Edward Stark





Transcribed from:  The History of Florida:  Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol. 
II, page 287, 1923.

BURLEIGH, EDWARD STARK. It would be almost impossible to speak too highly of the value to
his community of the efforts of EDWARD STARK BURLEIGH of Tavares, for his has been a constructive
force back of practically every public movement since Lake County was organized, and he has
been actively interested in the leading commercial, industrial and financial concerns of the
city. While he has achieved a most remarkable material success, his wealth is not all he
has accumulated. Today he stands firmly entrenched in the confidence of his fellow citizens,
all of whom regard him with respectful esteem because of what he has accomplished and the
example he sets for the rising generation.

Mr. BURLEIGH was born in Strafford County, New Hampshire, September 2, 1855, a son of MICHAIAH
C. and MARY FRANCES (RUSSELL) BURLEIGH, natives of South Berwick, Maine, and Wakefield, New
Hampshire, respectively, both of whom are deceased. For thirty years of his life the father
was a deep-sea sailor, and traveled all over the world. A well-educated man, with a splendid
memory, he observed and remembered much of interest in his travels and was a very entertaining
conversationalist. When he retired from the sea he was rated as a mate, and settling on shore,
embarked in a manufacturing business at Somersworth, New Hampshire, operating under the name
of the Somersworth Machine Company, and producing stoves, ranges and furnaces. Very prominent
in the local republican party, he served in the New Hampshire State Senate. Both as a Baptist
and Mason he lived up to the highest ideals of Christian manhood. During the war between the
two sections of the country he served as captain of the Home Guards. From the time he left
the sea until his death Somersworth continued to be his home. Ten children were born to him
and his wife, and of them EDWARD STARK BURLEIGH was the sixth in order of birth.

Reared by careful parents, EDWARD STARK BURLEIGH was given excellent educational advantages
and was sent to the public schools, Exeter Academy and Dartmouth College, and was graduated
from the latter in 1878, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and as a member of a Greek letter
college fraternity. Too close application to his books, however, had impaired his health,
and it was deemed better for him not to enter at once after his graduation into a confining
business, so he traveled for four years in western states to reestablish his health. In 1881
he bought lands near Orlando in Orange County. The railroad had just been built. Orlando
was a small town, the county was poorly developed, but Mr. BURLEIGH had the foresight to see
the possibilities of the region, and decided to go into the citrus industry, of which he became
a pioneer in this part of Florida. In 1885 he branched out, and, coming to Tavares, established
a machine shop under the name of Burleigh & Gardner, and did a general business in that line,
somewhat specializing in sawmill work. When Lake County was formed from Orange County Mr.
BURLEIGH established the Lake Abstract Company, with himself as president, and continued to
manage its affairs until 1920, when he retired from active participation in it, although he
continues its president.

His business ability and organizing powers being by this time fully recognized, Mr. BURLEIGH's
assistance was sought by many of his associates in different projects, and he was one of the
organizers of the Citizens Bank of Eustis, and also of its two branches, the Bank of Tavares
and the Bank of Mount Dora, and he is a director and vice president of the first named
institution. Mr. BURLEIGH has never relinquished his citrus holdings, which now are very
extensive, and he was one of the organizers of the Florida Citrus Exchange, and also of
the Tavares Citrus Growers' Association, and is a director of the Lake Region Packing
Association and treasurer of the Tavares Development Company, an association organized for
the purpose of developing groves in Lake County. For some years Mr. BURLEIGH was active
in republican politics in his city and county, and has served as mayor of Tavares and as
a member of its City Council. He is a member of the Tavares Board of Trade and the Lake
County Chamber of Commerce, and he is keenly interested in the further expansion of the
various interests of this region. He was father of the beautiful idea of preserving for
posterity the natural loveliness of different spots of the county, and is a director of
the Lake County Park Commission, which was organized to carry out this idea. For a number
of years he has been an enthusiast with relation to good roads and similar improvements,
and has worked hard to secure them. Mr. BURLEIGH was one of the original stockholders of
the Tavares, Atlantic & Gulf Railroad, the forerunner of the present Tavares & Gulf Railroad.
In educational matters he is very modern in his ideas, and seeks to give the children of
the county the best possible advantages. Rollins College has made him one of its Board
of Trustees. The really remarkable success which has attended Mr. BURLEIGH is all of his
own earning, for he came here a young man broken in health and with but very small capital,
but he knew how to grasp the opportunities as they were presented, and at the same time
never lost sight of the public welfare. A Congregationalist, Mr. BURLEIGH helped to organize
the church of his faith at Tavares, has long been one of its deacons, and for twenty-six
years, has been superintendent of its Sunday School. During the late war he belonged to
the Lake County Council of Defense, and was effectively active in Red Cross work.

On July 6, 1882 Mr. BURLEIGH married at South Berwick, Maine, Miss ANNIE A. BURLEIGH, who was
born and reared at that place. She is a daughter of Capt. JOHN H. BURLEIGH, a sea captain
during his early years, but later on in life, after he had settled on shore, he was the organizer
of the Newichawanick Company of South Berwick, Maine, manufacturers of woolen blankets, and
he served as president of the company until his death. Mrs. BURLEIGH is a prominent member
of the Woman's Club, which she has served as president, and she has been active in all of
the civic, social and church movements since coming to Tavares, and has been particularly
zealous in behalf of all uplift work. Mr. and Mrs. BURLEIGH have had the following children
born to them: ELIZABETH DAVIDSON BURLEIGH, who graduated from Simmons College, Boston,
Massachusetts, was for a time a teacher of domestic science at Rollins College, but is now
living with her parents; MARGARET L., who graduated from Rollins College, has been county
demonstration agent for Bradford and Lee counties; FRANCES B., who is the wife of GEORGE H.
FERNALD, of West Newton, Massachusetts, is a graduate of Wellesley College; and EDWARD I.,
who is engaged in the real estate business at Tavares under the firm name of Huntley & Burleigh,
graduated from the Worcester, Massachusetts, Polytechnic Institute, volunteered in April, 1917,
served during the World war as a sergeant of the Signal Corps, and as such was sent overseas
with the American Expeditionary Forces; and AUSTIN HOLMES, the youngest, is now attending
the Montverde School.



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