Kankakee Biographies

Frank Dan Waterman


One of the finest hotels in central Florida, and a credit to Lake County and the State as a whole, the Fountain Inn of Eustis is a testimonial of the faith Frank Dan Waterman has in Florida, and in Lake County in particular.
    He was born in Altorf, Illinois, July 20, 1869, son of Elisha Silas Waterman and Delia Robinson Waterman.  His father was born in Decatur, New York, May 13, 1814, and his mother at Rockville, Illinois, May 18,1844.  The record of the Waterman family shows them to have been hard-working, honest, straightforward, level-headed Yankees, who were filled with patriotic love for their country.  Some member of the Waterman family has served in every war in which the United States has been involved since they came to America.
    Frank Dan Waterman has gained his present national and international recognition through his own endeavors.  He attended the grade schools of Illinois, and at the death of his father was obliged to go to work at the age of fourteen.  He followed various lines until 1893 when his uncle, L. E. Waterman, sent for him to come to New York and help him in his new business of manufacturing fountain pens.  This international concern had a very modest beginning in a single room with a force of four, and grew slowly until the death of Mr. L. E. Waterman, when the business was left to Frank Waterman as administrator.  He immediately started an extensive advertising campaign which was so successful that the Ideal Fountain Pen is now known throughout the world.
   When the business was established to his satisfaction, Mr. Waterman turned his attention to a winter home in Florida, and came to Eustis in 1901.  He first had his home and very fine grove at Blue Lake, which home place he still maintains, and in 1922 at the earnest solicitation of the prominent citizens of the town, and with a desire to help Eustis take its place with other tourist towns in the State, Mr. Waterman decided to build the Fountain Inn Hotel.  This hotel would be a credit to a city many times the size of Eustis, and has done probably more than any one other thing to make Eustis popular as a winter resort, the hotel being open from “Christmas to Easter.”  Many people of national importance have stopped at the Fountain Inn, and all its guests have been decidedly pleased with its exceptional service.  One of the finest features is the high grade fruit Mr. Waterman supplies his guests from his own grove at Blue Lake.  Another example of Mr. Waterman’s desire to do all he can to make his guests enjoy their stay at the Fountain Inn, is his success in bringing well-known artists to his hotel for concerts.  Mr. Waterman has always very generously invited the townspeople to be his guests at these concerts.
    Although his interests are so varied, and his time so occupied by his business and welfare activities, Mr. Waterman manages to spend considerable time in the enjoyment of his family.  He is a member of the Episcopal Church, a member of the Masons, and numerous other clubs and societies.  He was married February 16, 1898, at Englewood, New Jersey, to Helen Louise Huson, and has
       two sons, Elisha Huson Waterman, and Frank D. Waterman, Jr.    Pictured are Frank Dan and Helen Louise Waterman.
from: History of Lake County Florida, Wm. T. Kennedy, Editor-in-chief,  History of Lake County Florida Part II, Biographical.  Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of Lake County, Florida  p304-305.

.*NOTE:   In 1906 he encouraged his recently widowed sister moved to Eustis with her young son.
  As with so many others, the depression forced the closing of the hotel. He wanted to leave the building to Dr. Tyre for a hospital.  Dr. Tyre feeling it was too large an undertaking for one man  suggested giving it to the Lake Co. Medical Assn.  The papers were signed on his death bed in New York City.  He died 6 May 1938.

      He was honored by the town of Kankakee ,Illinois who named a park for him on the Kankakee River. 

Submitted by Fran Smith

©2010 Fran Smith