Drew Harrington


Logging operations began in Taylor County in 1913 when three men— S. J. Carpenter, W. L. Burton, and E. G. Swartz— formed the Burton-Swartz Cypress Company of Florida. Carpenter, president of Carpenter-O’Brien Lumber Company, a large Jacksonville operation, owned thousands of acres in Dixie, Taylor, and Lafayette counties. He planned a southwestward expansion, but his interest was in the pine timber of the area. Because saws which cut pine cannot be used to harvest cypress, Carpenter needed someone to “checkerboard” with him by cutting the virgin cypress on his holdings. Perhaps it was at the Yellow Pine Manufacturers Association’s Convention in February 1913, that he learned of the land deal between W. L. Burton and E. G. Swartz of the Burton-Swartz Cypress Company of Burton, Louisiana, and the J. C. Turner Lumber Company of New York City, whereby Burton and Swartz had acquired an interest in the 94,000 acres of land that the northern company owned in Lee County, Florida. Captain Burton, as he was known, had acquired large holdings in Lee, Collier, and Hendry counties— amounting at one time to 600,000 acres— at $1.00 per acre. About 150,000 acres were located in the Florida Everglades.4 It was Carpenter who first contacted Burton and Swartz about joint operations in Taylor County.