Everglades Biographies

Daniel A. McDougal

Daniel A. McDougal was born on January 14, 1865 in Wayland Springs, Tennessee. McDougal spent a year at Vanderbilt University and then studied law under the tutelage of his brother-in-law. He set up a law practice in Purdy, Tennessee and became active in politics. McDougal became interested in land development and the quest for oil in the western territories. He relocated his family to the town of Sapulpa, Oklahoma where he profited greatly from the oil industry. He entered local politics, becoming mayor of Sapulpa, and later a state legislator. McDougal crusaded for prohibition and supported women's suffrage in Oklahoma. During the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, McDougal assisted the legal advisor for the U. S. State Department. During the land boom of the early 1920s, McDougal came to Florida with his daughter, Mary McDougal Axelson. Here he team up with her future husband, Ivar Axelson, and began amassing land and oil rights in the Everglades. McDougal made his final permanent home in Coral Gables and spent his last years fighting the expansion of the Everglades National Park and the retention of his oil rights. Daniel A. McDougal died in Coral Gables in 1955.

Biography prepared by Ruthanne Vogel, University of Miami

Excerpt of letter from Daniel McDougal to Charles Walker, October 19, 1925. From Axelson Papers, University of Miami.

"While I have done well and made big profits on my investments in Florida, all that I have is in land and paper. I have never received one cent out of the profits of the sale of the lands from our big tract. We have sold about three and one-half million dollars' worth of land out of the big tract, but most of it was sold for 25% cash payment and some of it was for much less cash, and out of the cash payment, we paid a commission of 5% and had nearly a million dollars' of obligations in the way of road building expenses, floating indebtedness and bonded indebtedness...

We still have about five million dollars of unsold land in the big tract. I never had more property nor less cash nor more pressing obligations than I have right now."

Photograph of Daniel McDougal

Photograph of Judge McDougal wearing mosquito netting, 1919.

Photo courtesy of University of Miami Libraries, University Archives

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