By 1915 the Palmer empire in Florida had become complex and very active. Thousands of acres had been cleared, graded, irrigated, and drained. Roads had been constructed and new towns formed at Bee Ridge and Bayonne. Palmer corporate agricultural operations at Bee Ridge and at Bertha’s Osprey Point estate filled hundreds of railroad cars headed to Northern markets. Her Meadowsweet Pastures ranch yielded profits and served as a model of modern cattle ranching.”

Bertha Honore Palmer, Her Family, and the Rise of Sarasota, 1910-1982

In the early 20th century, Bertha Palmer was one of the best-known and wealthiest women in America. She was an art collector, women’s rights advocate, businesswoman, owner of Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel, and had elegant homes in Chicago, Paris, and London. In 1910 she traveled to the small and rough settlement called Sarasota on the west coast of Florida. For some reason, she decided to spend much of each year for the rest of her life on one of America’s last frontiers, investing in cattle and farming, creating communities out of marshlands, pine forests, and tropical jungles. The society queen and social reform advocate excelled as a frontier entrepreneur, just as she had in every other endeavor in her life. She managed to make a good deal of money and to change Sarasota forever. Purchase your copy today at