Born in Hartford County, Maryland on February 23, 1864, William Burroughs Makinson was one of Osceola County’s early pioneers honored in 2011 by the Osceola County Historical Society at their annual Dine with the Departed event. He spent the early years of his life on a farm near Baltimore with his three siblings and parents William T. and Mary L. Makinson. In 1883, W.B. traveled by boat to Jacksonville, then by train to Sanford, Florida, finally arriving in Kissimmee on the first train to make the run from Sanford.
He was affiliated with the Katz Brothers grocery business for several years but later opened his own business. The W.B. Makinson Hardware Company is Kissimmee’s oldest business still in operation and continues to be run by Makinson family members. Trading hides of possum, lynx, wildcat, panther, raccoon, otter, deer and alligator with the Seminole Indians, W. B. sent the hides to New York City markets. He aided farmers and citrus growers, as well as fisherman by finding markets in the Midwest for their goods. Expanding into the cattle industry, he loaned money to local businessmen who brought Brahman cattle to Kissimmee to improve the herds.
The first wedding held in the First Presbyterian Church of Kissimmee was that of Miss Maude Murphy and W.B. Makinson on September 18, 1889. Maude was the only daughter of Judge T.M. Murphy. They would be blessed with fourteen children, losing two in infancy and their oldest son, William T. “Billy” in World War I. Billy was the first soldier from Kissimmee to die in the war, losing his life on October 18, 1918, at St. Michel.
In 1900, the same year W.B. built the structure which still houses the business, he also erected a two-story home at the end of Lake Street. Still standing, the home can be seen as you drive on Lawrence Silas Boulevard. Also purchasing the old Disston sugar mill, he put cattle to pasture on the land, later selling it to the Seminole Land Company, who developed the town of St. Cloud on the property.
From 1905-1906, W. B. served as Tax Collector for Osceola County; Kissimmee City Commissioner from 1910-1912. Upon his death on September 29, 1924, he was remembered as a helpful friend, ideal husband and devoted parent. Support, financial and otherwise was given to those he encountered in need; his table and hearth was scarcely without one or more guests.
The horse may no longer be out front, but he still looks out the window at approaching customers and once traveled to various parades to promote the Silver Spurs Rodeo.
Sources: Osceola County Centennial Book 1987; “Kissimmee Valley Gazette” September 25, 1924; “Kissimmee Gazette” April 25, 1958 and February 16, 1951; “St. Cloud Tribune” August 17, 1939