How Bonita Springs got its Name

Took some time today to check out the Bonita Springs Historical Society website and plan to visit their location in the old Liles Hotel in the Riverside Park area of Bonita Springs.

I’ve always admired the buildings along Old 41 but never realized that I drive by at least 30 of these historical sites on my way to the Florida Home Realty office in Bonita Springs.  Those little storefronts have such an interesting history!   And oh, did I mention real estate transactions?  

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The first resident was a boat builder named Captain N. H. Danielson back in the 1800’s.   He lived along the Imperial River in an area that was thought to be an ancient Indian village.  In 1870, when the Army Corp of Engineers came to survey and map the area, they called it Surveyors Creek.  Later, the community became known as Survey.   

In 1888, Braxton Bragg Comer, originally from Alabama purchased 6000 acres at the suggestion of Archibald McLeod also from Alabama who became interested in Florida real estate.  He moved his family here and began a tropical fruit farm.   Comer moved back to Alabama eight years later, selling his land to W. C. Battey and Ambrose M. McGregor of Fort Myers.   

The first school house was built in 1897 and the first store opened in 1889.   The 1900 U.S. Census determined there were 41 residents of Survey.  According to the historical society, less than 12 buildings remain standing from this era.  

Fort Myers businessman Harvie Heitman purchased the parcel of land from Battey and in 1912 sold it to J.H. Ragsdale and Dan Farnsworth along with other investors.   They created the Bonita Land Company.   They renamed the town Bonita Springs after Ragsdale’s daughter Bonita and for the town’s natural spring.  Now you know!   

Visit the Bonita Springs Historical Society at 27300 Old US 41 in Bonita Springs.  They’re open Monday through Friday 9-5.    


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