| The original founder of Florida Hardware, George F. Drew was born in Alton, New Hampshire on August 6, 1827. In 1847 G.F. Drew opened a machine shop in Columbus, Georgia and sometime around then he became involved in lumbering in the State of Georgia. After relocating to Florida, he built what was reputed to be the largest sawmill in Florida. That was in 1865 around Ellaville, Florida on the Suwannee River. In 1875 he founded the Florida Hardware Company. |
G.F. Drew was elected as the 12th Governor of Florida. He held office from January 1877 until January 1881. G. F. Drew's election to the governorship of Florida occurred at the end of what was known as the "Reconstruction Era" in Florida. He is credited with significantly cutting taxes and expenditures, as another economic move, he established a convict lease system.
After his term in office, he returned to private enterprise and resumed his activities in lumbering and hardware business. At one time he had eleven mills in opertation. He served as the first president of the city's board of trade in Jacksonville. In 1885 he divested himself of Florida Hardware Company. He died in Jacksonville on September 26, 1900.
In 1885, Jonathan Yerkes purchased Florida Hardware from Governor Drew. Jonathan Yerkes was the founder and principal in Yerkes & Plumb Tool Company of Pennsylvania (today know as "Plumb Tool"). The Yerkes family owned and operated Florida Hardware Company for 100 years. The many generations of Yerkes grew Florida Hardware to a leader in Florida. The Yerkes helped start many independent hardware dealers in business and they also helped many dealers survive the great depression.
In 1985, Ralph J. Thieman Jr. of Quincy, Illinois purchased Florida Hardware Company from the Yerkes Family. Ralph Thieman was the third generation owner of the Quincy Hardware & Leather Company in Quincy, Illinois. Upon the purchase of Florida Hardware Company, he moved to Jacksonville, Florida. Also in 1985 he divested himself of the Quincy Hardware & Leather Company. The Thieman family continues to own and operate Florida Hardware Company today.