near Cape Florida," and then, when this location became overworked,
the Spanish King varied his custom. The next grant was made to
James Eagan, son of John Eagan, settled on his 640 acre section,
"north of the Miami River, near Cape Florida."
Rebecca Eagan obtained 640 acres, again "south of the Miami
River, near Cape Florida," and the Lewises stepped in again as Jona-
than Lewis took up another 640 acres in what later became known
as the "Punch Bowl District," an area in the vicinity of Coconut
Grove. More specifically located was the grant of Richard Tice who
obtained a section of 640 acres near Cape Florida and the Miami
River and "opposite Key Biscayne."
A fourth name apparently enters this early history as a James
Hagan and Mrs. Hagan are each credited with 64O-acre grants along
the Bay, one on each side of the Miami River. These names evidently
clouded title to this land for 80 years for in 1892, by virtue of a
court order, the name "Hagan" on these patents was changed to
Two larger grants appear in this period as Joseph Delespine
obtained 92,160 acres and Archibald Clark was donated 80,000 acres.
Both these grants were located "near Cape Florida," and were made
in the year 1813. Succession of title was broken and later records
do not reveal the disposition of these lands which afterward became
public domain. Another large grant of 12,000 acres, made to
Eusebio Maria Gomez, was "on the river and island known by the
name of Jupiter and Saint Lucia."
Along the Gulf of Mexico, the strip of land called West Florida
became the refuge of pirates, outlaws, runaway slaves, and Indians.
Marauding bands hampered the development of adjoining territory
and lawless men preyed on shipping from Gulf ports. These condi-
tions and the desire of the United States government for a clear path
to the sea for the Mississippi River Valley agricultural products led
to a bold move.
President Madison, in 1810, ordered Governor Claiborne of New
Orleans to take possession of West Florida. By a secret act early in
1 8 1 1 Congress authorized the President to occupy East Florida. Great
Britain protested this bare-faced occupation of Spanish territory so
violently that Madison withdrew the troops in 1813.
Border trouble persisted, however, and Spain in trouble with its
revolting South American Territories, was in no position to keep
order in Florida. Monroe, in 1817, took the opportunity to send
Jackson on an "Indian hunt" in Spanish territory. General Jackson
swept across Florida in five months and in 1818 returned to the
United States, leaving Florida a conquered province. Spain decided
to abandon the territory, which by treaty became a possession of the
United States on February 22, 1819.
Eleven years later, in 1830, the holdings of the Lewis and Eagan
families became the property of R. R. Fitzpatrick, of Columbia, S. C.,
who later became collector of customs at Key West.
Fitzpatrick was a man of industry and resource. Bringing a
large number of slaves, he began an ambitious agricultural program,
clearing the jungle growth along the shore for three miles south of
the Miami River and one mile north of it. On this rich hammock
land he began a plantation of lime trees and cotton.
The increasing intrusion of white men into territory held by the
Indians brought on the same difficulties in Florida as it did in other
parts of the country. In 1835, the beginning of the Seminole War
in north Florida, the Indians in the southern end of the peninsula
became unruly and began desultory raiding. Fitzpatrick grew alarmed
and moved to Key West. During the same year Major Francis L.
Dade, with all but two of his men, was massacred by the Indians in
The United States initiated a determined campaign to put down
the Indians by removing themj from the state to reservations in the
West. The Indians, in turn, clung stubbornly to the land which
was swiftly becoming as foreign to their wants and needs as any.
They were driven from their homes and forced to seek refuge in the
swamps and morasses. Driven continually southward, they never-
theless seemed to have a never ceasing source of supplies that enabled
them to resist successfully the Federal troops.
It was suspected that these supplies were coming from sympa-
thizers in Cuba. The coastal regions were lined with forts and
military roads and the bays and inlets swarmed with patrol boats and
still the wily Seminole chieftains outwitted their would-be captors.
During 1836, the year Dade County was created by an act of
the Territorial Legislative Council, the Seminole committed a crime
that stands out in the history of the area chiefly because it is marked
by an historic landmark and therefore easy to point out. On the
afternoon of July 23, the Indians began an attack on the Cape Florida
44 MIAMI AND D A D E COUNTY
Lighthouse which, at the time, housed John W. B. Thompson, keeper,
and his Negro servant.
The Indians burned the lighthouse. Thompson and the Negro
were wounded, the latter so seriously that he died. Thompson cut
away the stairs and found safety on a narrow platform around the
light, high above the ground, where - he nearly roasted before the
flames subsided. He was rescued the next day by members of the crew
of the United States schooner Motto.
Marie Coppick, in an undated clipping from the Miami Daily
News, drawing for material on a diary said to be owned by Mrs.
Harry B. Boyer, whose husband is connected with the United
States Meteorological Station at Key West, gives a slightly different
account of the incident. Mrs. Boyer is the daughter of Mrs. Cortland
Williams, whose maiden name was Druscilla Duke. In 1831 Mrs.
Williams, then a child, came with her parents and younger brother
to live on the banks of the Miami River. They were warned of an
uprising by a friendly Indian and, with several of their neighbors,
sought safety in the lighthouse, thinking the Indians would not be
bold enough to attack government property. A boat came and several
of the refugees embarked on it for Key West but the Dukes elected
"There were a number of others who preferred to take their
chances against the Indians in the lighthouse to the hazards of a sail-
boat. Among these were my father and mother. We remained at
Cape Florida Light."
So reads the diary. After describing the burning of the light-
house Mrs. Williams tells of their return home. "We were taken to
Key West where we remained for a few days and when all was quiet
on the Miami River we returned to our home. We found that the
Indians had not touched anything belonging to us. Our watch dog
was in the front of the house when we arrived and greeted us with
his friendly bark.
"Afterwards some old Indian told my father that the reason
our home was spared was because we had always been kind to Chief
Alabama and his family."
The great problem that confronted the United States during the
Seminole conflict was their unfamiliarity with the territory which
the Indians knew so well. In addition the soldiers were unused to
the climate and encountered many difficulties in establishing suitable
bases and arranging for transportation of supplies.
The troops began scouting the Everglades to locate and destroy
Indian camps, depots, and supply trails. It was in this connection
that Fort Dallas was first established as a naval post in 1834 when
Lieut. L. M. Powell, U.S.N. landed at the mouth of the Miami River
and built a stockade. For two years the patrol of Biscayne Bay and
the scouting of adjacent territory were maintained. The United
States Army then took over the fort.
Some thought the Indians had Spanish allies in Cuba. At any
rate they were more alert than the soldiers anticipated. The Seminoles
avoided the bay and planted water lettuce and other water weeds in
the Miami River to give it an unusual appearance. After several
months Fort Dallas was virtually abandoned. Fort Bankhead (later
Fort Russell) was continued as a naval base and the Bay of Biscayne
guarded from blockade runners. Meanwhile, the south fork of the
Miami River was alive with contraband boats moving from Cape
Sable and Taylor River northward to the waterways near Fort Pierce.
The "Davis Military Map," a compilation of information gath-
ered by officers who had served in the Seminole War up to that time,
1856, shows that during the period from 1834 the Everglades were
thoroughly explored and many forts, subsidiary to Fort Dallas, were
erected at what were considered strategic points.
The sites of many of these forts have been lost. In 1848, Fort
Dallas was a stockade of tree trunks and heavy timbers, its wooden
buildings thatched with palmettos which, in turn, were thickly
plastered with mud as a protection against fire-arrows. The perma-
nent garrison maintained at Fort Russell (Bankhead) on Biscayne
Key came over from time to time, did some work on the fort, but
there is no record of decisive battles with the Indians.
It was not until Captain Bennett C. Hill, with a company of
artillery and a few engineers arrived in 1849 that a permanent fort
was built. William English, who had finally acquired the Eagan-
Lewis grants, had begun the construction of the stone structures
that are generally spoken of as Fort Dallas. Captain Hill's men com-
pleted the buildings. His constructions were to "make the fort
substantial and open a road to Lake Okeechobee and maintain it."
His scouts were also to "discover where and how the contraband
came in so voluminously."
At this time, records show that Hill found a two-story building
42 x 29 feet, which we know was the officers' headquarters, later the
residence of Mrs. Julia D. Tuttle, and the first courthouse in Dade
County. There was also a long one-story building, 95 x 15 feet,
which was given a second story of planks, and a "piazza in front on
both floors for coolness." This fort was abandoned on June 10, 1858,
after the soldiers found and cut off the Seminoles' last avenue for
This supply route, known today as Chi's Cut, was an artificial
46 MIAMI AND D A D E COUNTY
waterway constructed by a subchief named Chachi who seemed to
be a sort of quartermaster general. Originally it was a barely per-
ceptible indentation on the shore line, a natural outlet draining the
low prairies southeast of Homestead and emptying into Biscayne
Bay. This obscure waterway ending in coastal mud flats was naviga-
ble for shallow Indian boats during periods of high waters.
Chachi deepened this sluggish stream until it would accommodate
his boats and transplanted water plants to conceal it from the soldiers.
It served until the soldiers captured a Negro who had been an Indian
slave. Making him drunk, they learned from him the secret of Chi's
Cut and also the blind entrance to Taylor River which connected
with practically all known canoe lanes, the Miami, Harney, Shark,
and New Rivers and their tributaries. With this knowledge the
troops were soon able to bottle the Seminole in the Everglades. With-
out military supplies they could not carry on war. They gradually
accepted the situation and while they were more or less troublesome
for another generation, no serious incidents occurred.
While the Indians were developing their ingenious system of
inland waterways, the soldiers were likewise busy constructing a road
down the east coast to facilitate the transportation of heavy ordi-
nance. This first rough roadway known as the Capron Trail was used
for many years by settlers as they carried civilization southward and
today is followed approximately by the railroad and highway that
run down the eastern edge of the peninsula.
The route of the Capron Trail where it is not destroyed or
hidden by modern trails, is covered by trees and vines that have grown
over it in the past three quarters of a century. Only a part of the
actual route of this old military trail has been definitely established.
During the war with the Seminole the army erected a head-
quarters at Fort Pierce. Eight miles to the north, opposite the "Old
Inlet" of Indian River was the nearest satisfactory point for ships to
land supplies. Here the soldiers built a pier protected by a heavy
stockade. This trail, between the landing shown on the map as
Ft. Capron, and Ft. Pierce, became known as the Capron Trail. As
the war progressed the troops pursued the Indians southward. Fort
Jupiter was built in January 1842 and Worth's Stockade soon after-
ward. The road followed the movement of supplies to Fort Lauder-
dale and to Fort Dallas.
In Miami the Capron Trail left the fort at a point now covered
by the northwest corner of the Dallas Park Hotel, progressed in a
northwesterly direction to Miami Avenue to the old City Cemetery.
Where this avenue crosses the tracks of the Florida East Coast Railway,
a narrow street branches off diagonally to the right. This little street,
unnamed on city maps, marks the course of the trail as it bent east-
ward. At Northeast Second Avenue it again turned north and
crossed Little River by means of a ford about 20 feet east of the
Parts of the Trail are still visible on the "Old Back Road" to
Arch Creek. The Old Dixie Highway covers the Trail until it joins
the new Federal Highway. The route from that point northward is
uncertain. It is believed to have passed through Dania, known as
"Five Mile Hammock," and then turned eastward and northward to
New River to Colee's Hammock where there was once a ferry, site
of the Colee Massacre.
It touched Indian Hammock, continued along the broken land
between the coastal plains and the Everglades, and continued into
Palm Beach County where several miles of this trail, now called the
"Military Road," are still in existence.
During the early part of the war, before this military road was
completed, the Indians, far to the southward, wiped out a pioneer
settlement, killing a man whose memory is still perpetuated in the
name of Perrine, a little town southwest of Miami. Dr. Henry
Perrine was a botanist who had served the Federal government
as consul at Campeachy, Mexico, for 12 years. In recognition of
the doctor's services and to permit him to engage in experiments in
tropical agriculture, Congress, on July 2, 1838, granted Dr. Perrine,
a township of land, on the mainland, along Biscayne Bay in unsur-
Dr. Perrine, while waiting for the Indians to subside, brought
his family to live in a little settlement on Indian Key where there
was some promise of security. About a mile to the north, on Tea
Table Key, were a naval station and a small detachment of soldiers.
The doctor's home was a substantial three-story structure, part of it
extending over the water. From it projected a walled-in passage
which extended under the house to form a bathing pool reached by
a trap door from a dressing room above.
When drunken Indians attacked the settlement early on the
morning of August 7, 1840, Dr. Perrine roused his family and urged
them through the trap door into the bathing pool. The Indians broke
into the house and set fire to it after killing the doctor. The family,
suffering from burns and smoke, lay concealed beneath the wharf
until most of the Indians had departed when they found a small boat
and were rescued by a passing vessel.
While the war was in progress the politicians were busy at state-
craft. New counties were formed with startling rapidity. The
territorial form of government did not meet the approval of men
48 MIAMI AND D A D E COUNTY
who jealously viewed the increasing power and wealth of adjoining
states. Florida had no voice or power in Washington.
Men of the newly formed Dade County were as dissatisfied as
the rest. December 3, 1838, found Richard Fitzpatrick, representa-
tive from Dade, at the constitutional convention called at St. Joseph,
seat of Calhoun County.
During these years things went from bad to worse in Dade
County. Agriculture became impossible and family after family
drifted to safer localities. In 1850 the English plantations were deserted.
After 1858, when the soldiers withdrew, the old buildings became
the headquarters for blackguards and outlaws and so remained for
nearly twenty years.
One of the interesting court records dating from the period of
Florida's territorial existence, is the copy of the first marriage license
and certificate issued in Dade County and which reads as follows:
"Marriage License Temple Pent Junior
Clerk's Office Indian Key, July 11, 1840
Territory of Florida
To any ordained minister of the Gospel or Justice of the peace
within said County, Greeting :
Temple Pent Junior having applied for License to be united in
marriage to Eliza Bulward of this county.
You are hereby authorized to join together the said parties in holy
wedlock and for so doing this will be your sufficient warrant.
Witness my hand and the seal of the county Court of Dade County
this Fourth Day of July, A.D. 1840.
W. CATHCART MALONEY, Clk. D.C.
These are to certify to all whom it may concern that Temple Pent
Junior of the County of Dade, South Florida, Bachelor and Eliza Bul-
ward within the said County, widow was after the exhibition of the
certificate of regular license married at the house of William Pent,
Key Vaccas, on the fifth day of July one thousand eight hundred and
forty by me.
ROBERT DYCE, Minister
This marriage was solemnized in the presence of
TEMPLE PENT SENR."
Allen Morris, in an article appearing in the Miami Herald of
May 29, 1938, describes a letter penned by this same W. C. Maloney,
Clerk of Dade County, to his excellency the governor. Maloney was
disgusted. Condensed, the story in the letter is as follows:
After the destruction of Indian Key (1840) Maloney deserted
the County Clerk's office. He ordered elections in 1841 and again
in 1842 to fill his office but no candidate appeared. Maloney con-
tinued, therefore, to "act** as clerk to accommodate his neighbors.
After the key was destroyed he had nothing left but the county seal.
He had to dig in his own pockets for the price of a record book and
such papers as were necessary for his office.
In 1843 a general election was held on the sixth day of No-
vember. Maloney could not canvass the vote and get the returns to
the legislative council within the time prescribed by law. Because
they could not be regarded as legal returns he sent them to the
Said Maloney: the county seat has been wiped out; it is no
longer safe to reside in the county; it was impossible to canvass the
vote within the specified time; he didn't want the job, and, appar-
ently, neither did anyone else.
The boundaries of Dade County were changed with surprising
regularity after its creation in 1836. In 1870 it extended from above
Jupiter, 150 miles southward, to a point north of Key Largo and its
western boundary lay near the center of the peninsula. In this vast
area, almost as large as the State of Massachusetts, less than 100 people
made their homes.
Into this desolate country, in 1870, came William B. Brickell,
who settled on a point of land on the south bank of the Miami River
where it empties into the bay. Here he established an Indian trading
post and became mildly interested in public affairs when he was
appointed by the governor to act as County Commissioner along with
Andrew Barr, John A. Addison, and a Mr. Charltes, all of Lake Worth.
Other county officials at the time were: T. W. Faulkner, county
judge; Dr. R. B. Potter, county clerk; A. C. Richards, tax assessor
and collector; and William Metaur, sheriff.
About the time of Brickell's arrival a settlement was under
way at Coconut Grove. A store was built there in 1870 and a post
office established in 1873. Brickell seems to have enjoyed a hermit's
solitude as other thriving settlements sprang up at Buena Vista and
Lemon City. He began buying land south of the river from Harriet
English who had inherited the holdings of her brother, Richard
Property on the north side of the river likewise began to change
hands. It is said that William F. English who owned much of this
land, was a nephew of Richard R. Fitzpatrick. In 1851, they pur-
chased the S. S. Commodore Stockton and began a boat line to
California. They lost their vessel after it was seized on some tech-
nicality when a storm forced it into a Mexican port. Harriet English
acquired the land which was sold to Dr. J. V. Harris who experi-
mented, unsuccessfully, with tropical plants.
The Biscayne Bay Company, organized at the time, secured title
50 MIAMI AND D A D E COUNTY
to the property through George M. Thew. Frank G. Ford is later
listed as a title holder and, still later, transfers were made to J. C.
Bailey, W. S. Wheeles, Joseph H. Day, and George M. Thew. Mrs.
Julia Tuttle began buying the interests of these men and finally
secured all but 20 acres which Day reserved.
In 1891 Mrs. Tuttle came to reside upon her property and, with
the Brickells on the south bank, the stage was now set for the future
Miami and one of the craziest and most spectacular real estate booms
in all history. Mrs. Tuttle was no stranger to the area. Born in
Cleveland, Ohio, she was the daughter of Ephraim T. Sturtevant who
came to Dade County about 1871 and settled on the south bank of
the Miami River. He later took up a homestead along the bay about
eight miles to the north. Julia Sturtevant was married to Frederick
Leonard Tuttle in Cleveland on January 22, 1867. She came to visit
her father in Dade County in 1880 and made a second visit two
years later. Her father died in Cleveland in 1886, but Mrs. Tuttle
returned to Florida again in 1890. Her first purchase consisted of
640 acres covering a square mile at the juncture of the river and the
bay. She eventually acquired much more land but it was this first
tract that now bears most of Miami's large hotels, stores, and office
Mrs. Tuttle, according to one report, met James E. Ingraham at
a dinner party in Cleveland sometime prior to 1893. Ingraham was
then an associate of Henry Plant who was rapidly building up an
empire of railroads, hotels, and lands. Mrs. Tuttle immediately
thereafter opened her campaign for extension of Flagler's line to
Miami, offering half her holdings to Flagler as an inducement to build.
Flagler and Henry Plant, west coast railroad man, had already
made an Everglades survey in 1892. A wide variety of crops were
being produced in great abundance on some of the lands drained near
Lake Okeechobee under the Disston contract. Two thousand acres
were in sugarcane, more than 5,000 in rice, and a still larger area was
devoted to general truck crops. Plans for draining the vast swamps
south of the lake were taking definite shape. The Hon. Frederick S.
Morse, later agent for the Model Land Company, a subsidiary of the
Flagler System, was, even then, a Miami resident.
Here and there settlers were beginning to occupy choice ham-
mock lands. The population of the county increased from 85 in
1870 to 861 in 1890. These pioneers won their lands from the jungle
by hard manual labor, their main implement being the vicious but
efficient machete. In those days the back country teemed with game
and a man's most frequent visitor was an Indian or an unwelcome
Lumber for building in the Miami area was obtained chiefly from
the driftwood that piled up on the beaches. A pioneer's house might
not have much of a foundation and it rarely had a chimney or fire-
place. In winter when a north wind made things unpleasant, a fire
was built out of doors, around which the family huddled for comfort.
Food was plentiful. Sea foods could be had in unlimited quantity
with but little effort. Venison and other game were plentiful.
Epicurean as this fare was, it grew monotonous and, at times, salt
pork, potatoes, cheese and flour became luxuries.
The pioneer's isolation was nearly complete. He traveled by
boat or not at all. If he became ill, he was nursed by family or
friends or boarded a boat to Key West, an important port since the
days of the Mexican War. Early settlers shipped live green turtles
by boat to the North and nearly every family had a mill for the
manufacture of starch from coontie, a wild tuber that thrived in
Such was Dade County when during the winter of 1894-95
there came the "great freeze," that ruined citrus groves in the north-
ern part of the State. Thousands of grove owners were broke and
many thought it spelled the end of the industry: