It was to be expected of such a man that he should fulfil his destiny by working out some great problems at a time when most men want to retire to a comfortable life of ease. This would not appeal to my old friend. He undertook, single handed, the task of building up the East Coast of Florida. He was not satisfied to plan a railroad from St. Augustine to Key West—a distance of more than six hundred miles, which would have been regarded as an undertaking large enough for almost any one man—but in addition he has built a chain of superb hotels to induce tourists to go to this newly developed country. Further than this, he has had them conducted with great skill and success.
This one man, by his own energy and capital, has opened up a vast stretch of country, so that the old inhabitants and the new settlers may have a market for their products. He has given work to thousands of these people; and, to crown all, he has undertaken and nearly completed a remarkable engineering feat in carrying his road on the Florida Keys into the Atlantic Ocean to Key West, the point set out for years ago.
Practically all this has been done after what most men would have considered a full business life, and a man of any other nationality situated as he was would have retired to enjoy the fruits of his labour.
I first knew Mr. Flagler as a young man who consigned produce to Clark & Rockefeller. He was a bright and active young fellow full of vim and push. About the time we went into the oil business Mr. Flagler established himself as a commission merchant in the same building with Mr. Clark, who took over and succeeded the firm of Clark & Rockefeller. A little later he bought out Mr. Clark and combined his trade with his own.
Naturally, I came to see more of him. The business relations which began with the handling of produce he consigned to our old firm grew into a business friendship, because people who lived in a comparatively small place, as Cleveland was then, were thrown together much more often than in such a place as New York. When the oil business was developing and we needed more help, I at once thought of Mr. Flagler as a possible partner, and made him an offer to come with us and give up his commission business. This offer he accepted, and so began that life-long friendship which has never had a moment’s interruption. It was a friendship founded on business, which Mr. Flagler used to say was a good deal better than a business founded on friendship, and my experience leads me to agree with him.
For years and years this early partner and I worked shoulder to shoulder; our desks were in the same room. We both lived on Euclid Avenue, a few rods apart. We met and walked to the office together, walked home to luncheon, back again after luncheon, and home again at night. On these walks, when we were away from the office interruptions, we did our thinking, talking, and planning together. Mr. Flagler drew practically