W. Luther Koon (1873-1956) was a “pony-express” rider and cowman, who became one of the area’s largest cattleman, President of the Punta Gorda State Bank and one of Punta Gorda’s most prominent citizens.
Koon was born in Manatee County in 1873. While still in his teens, he rode 80 miles a day in Florida’s version of the Pony Express and began acquiring cattle with all the money he could spare to invest. In about 1895, he and his new bride, Serena Victoria, moved to Punta Gorda, where he became a merchant furnishing supplies to the phosphate and turpentine camps.
At about the turn of the century, he built a large house on Sullivan at Charlotte Avenue (1) and brought his widowed sister and her children (including Sallie Jones) to Punta Gorda from Barstow. Meanwhile, he continued to build his holdings, and by 1909, Koon owned many residential lots in Punta Gorda, 1000 acres of land and 600 head of cattle.
A hardworking and shrewd businessman, he recognized the opportunity in ranching and meat processing, and in 1910 he incorporated “the Big Cattle Company.” Then in 1917 when the Punta Gorda Bank needed recapitalization, Koon made an investment entirely in Spanish gold coin (the payment received from Cuban ship captains when buying cattle at the cattle dock). He became president of the Punta Gorda State Bank.
His first wife passed away in 1919 and he later married Elsa Sophia Holtz. They continued to make their home in Punta Gorda, which Koon wanted to see become one of the outstanding cities on the southwest coast. Koon worked tirelessly for the successful development of the City and the County. In addition to his role with the DeSoto Cattle Wharf Association, the bank, and his several enterprises, he served many years on Punta Gorda’s City Council.
(1) His original house in Punta Gorda was located at Sullivan and Charlotte. It was moved in 1999 to 360 West McKenzie. Photo Below: