Punta Gorda 1921 William Whitten and the Bridge over Charlotte Harbor
A VERY IMPORTANT YEAR
WILLIAM M. WHITTEN
BUILDING THE CHARLOTTE HARBOR
Punta Gorda ~ 1921
William M. Whitten South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana
Born 1843, to St. Joseph county pioneer
President Whitten a prominent blacksmith &
carriage builder who sold out to Studebaker
In Civil War, served in 21st Light Artillery brigade
holding the ranks of Sergeant, Master Sergeant,
1st Sergeant, 2nd Lieutenant. While not injured,
his hearing was affected by the noise.
Post War in South Bend
24 years as South Bend city engineer
Submitted plan to council assigning numbers to houses and store
buildings to facilitate free mail delivery
State engineer for the Kankakee River improvement district
Drainage commissioner for St. Joseph County
William M. Whitten arrived in Punta Gorda in 1899, 57 years old and seriously ill.
William M. Whitten restored to health Whitten returned to South Bend, 1901
William Whitten returns to Punta Gorda with his Family, 1902
William Whitten’s Cedar Oaks at Pineapple Center
Work on the bridge began in 1916
But was halted mid-span due to soaring costs and scarcity of materials
brought on by World War I
The Charlotte Harbor Bridge
Located at the foot of Nesbitt Street in Punta Gorda
Spanning the harbor to Sand Point in Charlotte Harbor
No state or federal money. The bridge was financed with $200,000 in
bonds through a DeSoto County special road and bridge taxing district
comprised of Punta Gorda and the town of Charlotte Harbor.
Bridge Under Construction
1.25 miles long; two Model T’s wide
15 mph speed limit
Mid-harbor hand cranked swing span
The June 9th Punta Gorda
Herald carried a front-page
account of the bridge’s
impending completion and an
“Invitation to South Florida” to
attend a free fish fry at the
dedication on July 4, 1921.
In recognition of their leadership
and involvement, William
Whitten and John Hagan Sr
were passengers in the first car
to cross the bridge on July 4th.
The Completion of the Charlotte Harbor Bridge in July was another
big event of 1921.
William Whitten’s long career of public service ended October 28, 1927.
The Charlotte County
commission adopted a
Flags were flown at half-
After a Methodist funeral at Cedar Oaks,
Whitten’s body was shipped to South Bend for
internment beside his loved ones in
accordance to his wishes.
Whitten succumbed to
several months of chronic
heart trouble at the age of
William Whitten was inducted into the
Punta Gorda History Center Hall of Honor in