James Louis Colee (1834-1912)


Original incorporator and director of the Florida canal company, James Colee (pronounced, ‘Coolee’) served as an engineer in the dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway until his death in 1912. Colee also served as state representative and county commissioner for St. Johns County and was a stockholder in the First National Bank of St. Augustine. In Fort Lauderdale, a bend in the New River is known as Colee Hammock and Colee is pronounced there as ‘Ko-lee’ Hammock. Colee is a French Huguenot name and pronounced throughout St. Johns County (St. Augustine) as ‘Coolee’. There is much confusion in Fort Lauderdale between William Cooley, justice of the peace in the New River area and whose family was massacred by the Seminoles in 1836 and James Colee who camped in the hammock there during his survey work for the waterway in 1893. Perhaps the difference in pronunciation led to the confusion between the two names. Courtesy, Donn R. Colee (an eighth generation native Floridian).

Boston & Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company

Boston & Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company stock certificate issued in 1924
Boston & Florida Atlantic Coast Land Company stock certificate issued in 1924

In 1892, to raise additional cash to finance canal dredging, Bradley enlisted the assistance of Albert P. Sawyer, a wealthy Newburyport, Mass. investor to organize a new company to raise $100,000. Sawyer selected the State of Maine as the venue for the new enterprise because Sawyer believed that Maine assessed the least amount of incorporation taxes. The purchase of one share of preferred stock would entitle the investor to cumulative dividends with preference over common stock. In other words, the preferred shareholder would be entitled to dividends and the liquidation of stock before the payment of dividends on common stock and the liquidation of common stock. Within a few years, Sir Sandford Fleming, formerly chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway, would become one of the largest investors in the new land company. Courtesy, Collection of the author.