In May 1894, Anna Maria Island's first modern-day pioneer — George Emerson Bean — took up a homestead, signed by President Wm. McKinley, that embraced the island's entire north point. Other daring settlers, such as Samuel C. Cobb and John R. Jones, came shortly after, clearing the island's dense jungle to build homes. In 1913, George W. Bean, son of Anna Maria's first pioneer, founded the Anna Maria Development Company. This opened the island to its expansion as a uniquely appealing summer and winter resort for visitors as well as year round home for an increasing number of residents form almost every state of the union.
Earliest known dwellers of Anna Maria Island were Indians of the Timucuan Tribe, whose burial mounds, filled with tribal artifacts, were found years later. According to tradition, Ponce de Leon in 1513 visited this key (then joined to what is now Longboat Key) and in honor of his sponsor King Charles II, gave the island his queen's name. In 1539, Hernando DeSoto is said to have made his first new world landing near here. Replenishing his ships' water casks, the explorer then passed around Anna Maria's north point and sailed to the Manatee River, launching his historic expedition to the Mississippi River.