John Hamilton Gillespie

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Colonel John Hamilton Gillespie (1852 – 7 September 1923) was a Scottish-American soldier, land developer, businessman and politician, who settled in Sarasota, Florida, becoming Sarasota's first mayor.[1][2]

Born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, he was educated at Oxford and served in the Royal Company of Archers; the Queen's Bodyguards and Midlothian Artillery Brigade. Upon his return from colonial service in Australia, his father, Sir John Gillespie, sent him to Sarasota, Florida in 1886 to work for the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company.[citation needed]

Gillespie found his father’s company in poor condition and began improving the community in Sarasota and soon business was booming. In May 1886 he laid out two golf holes on his property. This was the first golf course in Florida and the second in the United States. An avid golfer, Gillespie learned the game at St. Andrews. In 1905 he built a nine-hole course on property now which is now the site of the Sarasota County Courthouse, Florida. He went on to lay out courses for Henry Plant, Tampa, Winter Park and Havana, Cuba. He became Sarasota's first Mayor in 1905.[citation needed]

Gillespie was instrumental in founding the Episcopal Church in Sarasota. He was ordained as a Deacon in the Episcopal Church and is acknowledged as the founder of The Church of the Redeemer Sarasota.[3]


  1. ^ Profile,; accessed 26 April 2014.
  2. ^ Profile,; accessed 26 April 2014.
  3. ^ Profile,; accessed 26 April 2014.