In the 1870s a handful of pioneering souls – many Confederate soldiers recovering from the Civil War – came by oxcart or sailboat to what was then called Florida’s Last Frontier. This area, which would become Naples, was then a watery, sub-tropical tangle that daunted even veteran surveyors, who spoke of “dense swamps” and “ponds full of monstrous alligators.”
Barron Gift Collier, an advertising magnate from Memphis, first visited the area in 1911. He fell in love with Southwest Florida and soon bought Useppa Island, just north of Sanibel and Captiva. Collier’s enthusiasm for yachting and fishing inspired him to found the Izaak Walton Fishing Club in honor of the 17th century author of The Compleat Angler.
In the next dozen years, Collier acquired more than a million acres in Southwest Florida. The state’s largest landowner, he gained a reputation not only for bold land purchases but for careful development.
Collier’s commitment to the future of our region can be traced through his many contributions, among them railroads, mail service, utilities, and even completion of the Tamiami Trail linking Lee and Dade counties. For his influence and investment in the state's future, the state named Collier County in his honor on May 8, 1923.
Half a century later, in 1976, Barron Gift Collier’s grandson, Miles C. Collier, founded a new investment and land development company, Collier Enterprises. Today, this private firm continues very much in the Collier tradition of responsible land stewardship.