FLGenWeb Digital Library and Archives
Transcribed from: The History of Florida: Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol.
III, page 178, 1923.
BILLMAN, D. E. It is universally admitted that no man can make a success as a salesman
until he has first sold himself; that he must be so firmly convinced of the absolute truth
of his assertions that his sincerity will impress his prospects with his own convictions of
the desirability of the goods he is handling. Possibly the underlying reason for the remarkable
achievements of the realtors of Florida lies in the fact that they one and all are so
enthusiastically sold with reference to Florida land no matter where it is located, and so
impressed with the countless advantages accruing to the possessors of any of this property
that their real earnestness cannot help but make ready sales. Whatever the reason, the fact
is that in few lines is advancement so sure and rapid as that of real estate, and this branch
of business has attracted to it some of the ablest men of the country. One of them who not
only has achieved a reputation for fair dealing and reliable investments, but has also
accumulated a fair share of this world's goods and won a high position in his community
is D.E. BILLMAN, of Saint Petersburg, whose office is at 2 Fourth Street, South, and whose
attractive residence is at 350 Seventh Street, North.
Mr. BILLMAN was born at Dayton, Ohio, March 24, 1873, a son of SILAS and SUSAN (STAUFFER)
BILLMAN. SILAS BILLMAN was born on a farm near Dayton, in Montgomery County, Ohio, where
he lived for sixty-five years. He still survives, although now ninety years of age, and
lives on the east coast of Florida. His father, JACOB BILLMAN, was born and reared in
Bucks County, Pennsylvania, but became an early settler in Ohio. The Billmans came to
America from Holland at an early date. The name was derived from an agricultural implement
called a "bill". The mother of D.E. BILLMAN was born in Montgomery County, daughter of
REUBEN STAUFFER, a native of Pennsylvania, of Pennsylvania-Dutch origin. She lived to
be sixty-six years of age. The parents had five children, all of whom reached maturity,
and four are still living, and D.E. BILLMAN was the youngest of the family.
Growing up amid rural surroundings, D.E. BILLMAN was early taught to make himself useful
to his parents. When he was nineteen years old, seeking to improve himself and prepare
for a commercial life, he took a business course and graduated therefrom. Following
that he embarked in an ice and coal business at Dayton, Ohio, and for three years was
vice president of what was known as the Riverdale Ice & Coal Company. Owing to excessive
competition this business was crowded out, and Mr. BILLMAN went to Miami County, Ohio,
and for a time was engaged in farming and in conducting on a small scale a dairy and
bottling plant. During the winter months he began going to Saint Petersburg, his firsts
trip to Florida being down the east coast to Wabasso and thence to Saint Petersburg,
where he found conditions so ideal that he began to lay plans to locate here permanently.
This he was able to do in 1908, and he then organized the Billman Agency and began handling
real estate and rentals. Some idea of the courage required to make this change may be
gathered from the fact that when he and his wife reached Saint Petersburg they had $20
and a round trip ticket to Ohio. The Saint Petersburg of 1908 was far different from
the city of today. There was but one automobile in the city, and only six blocks had
been paved. The Billman Agency was the first business of its kind in the city. From
his small beginnings, which grew out of a suggestion of his wife's, has grown a business
which is one of the largest and most prosperous in this part of the state. His home
comprises four houses, corner of Seventh Street and Fourth Avenue, North, all completely
On April 1, 1895, Mr. BILLMAN married VANNAS C. FRANTZ, who was born and reared near
Troy, Miami County, Ohio. She was educated at Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
Mr. And Mrs. BILLMAN have three children, namely: RUTH N., who was born in Miami County,
Ohio, is the wife of M.L. ALLEN, now of Schenectady, New York; FRANTZ M., who was born
in Miami County, Ohio; and D. EDWARD, Junior, who was also born in Miami County, Ohio.
Mr. BILLMAN belongs to the Saint Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and the Real Estate
Association. He and his family belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and he is connected
with that body in an official capacity.
Presented by Nancy Rayburn
This page created October 15, 2010
© 2010 Fran Smith