a teacher to the section of Dade County rather vaguely described
as the Biscayne Bay region. The teacher traveled from place to
place teaching the children in their homes, and was paid $40 a month.
The first organized school established in the Biscayne Bay region
started with 10 pupils at Coconut Grove in 1886. Mrs. Henrietta
Trapp was the teacher. The first term was held in a one-room log
cabin, the property of Samuel Rhodes. Pupils were later transferred
to a small frame building which is still in existence.
In 1887 or 1888 a school taught by Harlan Trapp was opened
in Lemon City, now a part of Miami.
Miami proper established its first public school sometime during
the winter of 1895-96 at the corner of Northeast First Avenue and
Third Street with an enrollment of about twenty pupils. Prof. R. E.
McDonald was the principal.
The Biscayne school, a short distance north of Lemon City, was
opened during the same year. Mr. F. Page Wilson, the first super-
visor of this school said, "The district was organized but it would
scarcely do, in an official report, to describe the exact methods by
which an eager community met the legal requirements for a new
The determination of early citizens to provide educational facili-
ties for their children is illustrated in the story of Captain C. J. Rose
who came from Ohio in 1891 to take up a homestead in the territory
west of Miami, where a little community sprang into being. Their re-
quest for a school was granted when the required ten children were en-
rolled, but as there was some delay, the captain and his neighbors se-
cured driftwood from the beach and built their own school house.
At that time the country about Miami was wild and undeveloped.
One Miami teacher in Coconut Grove "toted" a pistol because of the
prevalence of panthers in Brickell Hammock through which she
passed each morning on her way to the schoolhouse.
In addition to a few simple books, the standard equipment in
those early schools included a leather strap, a shotgun, a bottle of am-
monia, and a jug of whiskey. The whiskey was used for emergency
treatment of snake bites; the shotgun to scare off inquisitive tramps
or prowling Indians. Ammonia is a long-standing remedy for the re-
lief of scorpion stings while the leather strap, probably because it made
more noise, was thought more effective than the well-known "hickory
stick" for enforcing discipline.
The establishment of these first schools marked the beginning of
a long series of difficulties brought about by the rapidly increasing
population. Hurriedly constructed buildings were overcrowded from
the date of their opening, particularly during the boom. Twenty-six
schools for white children and six for colored, were erected between
1923 and 1926. In addition, the school board provided 150 one-room
portable schools at various locations to take care of the 1925 increases.
Attendance during that period rose from 11,733 m Z 9 2 3 to 3 I >77 m
The county began the year 1939 with an estimated enrollment
of 46,000 pupils, 1,345 teachers and 89 schools including, for white
children, 45 elementary schools, 16 junior high schools and seven
senior high schools; for negro children, 14 elementary schools, six
junior high schools, and one senior high.
Cafeterias operate in 53 public schools under the auspices of the
local Parent-Teacher Association units. Heavy duty equipment is
furnished by the school board while the P.T.A. supplies utensils and
tableware and is required to operate on a nonprofit basis and without
expense to the school tax funds.
One of the difficulties facing the city schools is that of providing
facilities for children of tourists. In midwinter months of each
school year approximately four thousand additional pupils must be
enrolled and assigned to proper grades. In Miami Beach during 1935-
36, the opening enrollment was 1,185 and the closing, 1,322, but at
one time 2,184 students attended school. Nonresident pupils in the
county are required to pay a tuition fee to provide funds for the hire
of substitute teachers.
Schools operate on the six-three-three plan. Elementary schools
care for children of the first six grades. Pupils remain in one room
throughout the day and receive instruction from one teacher. Junior
high schools are departmental. The day is divided into six periods and
the students pass from one classroom to another for instruction in
their various subjects. In the seventh and eighth grades pupils follow
a definite course of required studies but in the ninth grade certain
courses are elective.
Ninth grade credits are transferred to the senior high school and
included in requirements for graduation. High scholastic standards
are rigidly maintained and student graduates are accepted by prac-
tically all standard universities in the United States.
Specialization is a marked feature of every high school. Miami
72 MIAMI AND D A D E COUNTY
Edison High School has a successful radio department, a boatbuilding
department, and an agricultural department with a nursery which
supplies a great number of plants and shrubs used for beautifying
school grounds throughout the country.
Miami Senior High School, one of the largest in Florida, is the
only local school having a printing department. Its newspaper, the
Miami High Times, has for eight consecutive years won first place in a
national contest sponsored by Columbia University.
Besides these public schools in Dade County, there are four
parochial schools with an enrollment of more than two thousand pupils
and about 35 other private schools offering instruction in art, beauty
culture, business subjects, dancing, dramatics, music, as well as ele-
mentary subjects and college preparatory courses.
The latter guarantee the tourist pupil a minimum loss of time
arising from transfers from home schools. This is made possible by
personal supervision, home textbooks, home tests arranged by the in-
structors and returned to home schools for grading and recording.
Many of these schools feature out-of-door classes when weather con-
ditions are favorable. Students pursue their regular studies gathered
in small groups about tables protected from the sun by large, bright
The University of Miami, a co-educational institution chartered
in March, 1925, opened in October, 1926, with a boom-time endow-
ment of $8,500,000. Much of this endowment was lost in the de-
pression years that followed and, when one creditor entered suit to col-
lect his debt, the university was saved from extinction by the appoint-
ment of a Federal receiver. Later, the university purchased its assets
when they were sold by the receiver.
During those precarious years the university established a sound
position for itself in the community and its enrollment steadily in-
creased until, with a student body of over thirteen hundred members,
it has become the third largest college in the State. It consists of a
college of liberal arts and four schools, granting degrees in education,
business administration, law, and music.
Most of the work is conducted in the University Administration
Building, a large three-story, triangular building originally designed
for a hotel, which contains the offices, class-rooms, laboratories,
studios, an auditorium, a theatre workshop and other facilities for
students. The university also owns a number of near-by buildings
used as dormitories, and a loo-acre tract of land, acquired for future
Features, noteworthy in a college of its size, are a law library con-
taining more than twelve thousand volumes, and a smaller library on
Pan-American affairs and relationships widely used by the student
International Relations Club, sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace.
The university maintains a keen interest in promoting closer
business and cultural relations with Central and South American Re-
publics and has arrangements with several of their universities where-
by an interchange of students is effected. In the school of business
administration, the department of Latin-American Relations provides
intensive training for those students who plan to establish future con-
nections in these countries.
Among the courses offered in this department are: South Amer-
ican History, Latin American History, Latin American Heroes, Span-
ish-American Colonial History, Latin American Relations, Latin
American Culture, Survey of Spanish Literature, History of Caribbean
Countries, Latin American Comparative Constitutional Government
and Institutions, International Law, Latin American Literature, Eco-
nomic Geography of South America, Latin American Diplomatic Re-
lations, Economic Legislation of South America, Latin American
Political institutions, Spanish Civil Government, and others.
In addition to special courses supplementing the regular courses
in the Spanish language, the university has, on its resident faculty
staff, several outstanding educators and statesmen from various Latin
Further efforts to promote good will and understanding between
the people of our two continents is evident in the success of a Pan
American Forum, or Institute, conducted at the university for several
weeks each winter.
AGRICULTURE IN BADE COUNTY
WITH the exception of the metropolitan area, Dade County is
essentially agricultural. The jungle of the early days ham-
mock and glade matted with tough trailing vines, mangrove
swamp and forest has given way to long plowed furrows; fields of
green foodstuffs; citrus groves, and acres of tomatoes.
Not only can south Florida produce almost anything that can be
grown, but it produces much that is grown in other sections at a time
when most fields are bare. Because of its latitude Dade County is
protected against sudden temperature changes by the Atlantic Ocean
and the Gulf of Mexico, and becomes an all-year growing section.
This enables the grower to produce marketable crops with but little
competition, and to realize more than a normal income from this off-
Of the 1,412,480 acres in the county, 64,254 are farm lands with
approximately 44, 259 acres under actual cultivation. Soil types may
be roughly divided into four classifications: pine lands, marl prairie,
the black muck of the Everglades, and hammock.
The county's scattered pineland soils are responsive, and with
ample rains, a little skill and some fertilizer, the grower may expect
to obtain the soil qualities he desires. In the Redlands District, in south
Dade County, the pineland soil, of firm, iron content, red-clay con-
sistency, is admirably adapted to all kinds of finer citrus growing,
tropical fruits, and general farm products. All of this section is
underlaid by limestone rock, difficult to blast and clear, but yielding
a soil which resists acidity and conserves both moisture and fertilizer.
The prairie acres, so long considered worthless, now embrace thou-
sands of acres of finest tomato-growing soil, which is composed of
marl, sand, loam, and these in various stages of combination. Man-
ganese, added to the fertilizer on some of these lands, acts as a sort of
catalyzing agent, releasing fertility otherwise held dormant.
Perhaps no land has been so misunderstood as the muck of the
Everglades, the prevailing peat soil over approximately five million
acres in the 'Glades. This soil is the result of the decay, through
thousands of years, of sawgrass and other aquatic vegetation, plus a
small quantity of fish and other animals. Today, under a system of
drainage and water control, 64,259 of these acres have been put under
cultivation, principally in sugarcane, winter vegetables, and straw-
AGRICULTURE IN DADE COUNTY 75
berries. Under proper conditions the soil is surprisingly productive,
much of it replanted year after year without much fertilizing.
Hammock is the Florida name for a jungle of hardwood trees and
the enriched land built up from their foliage decay. This soil has been
found to be richer than most of the upland soil, most available tracts
probably being on the keys. Some of the finest hammock land in the
State along the shore of Biscayne Bay has been cut up for building
As suggested by the wide range of these soils, from the thin
sandy pineland to the moist prairie and rich organic muck, a great
variety of crops are grown. The number will be increased with fuller
control of water conditions on the low lands and with more extended
knowledge. This is still a new country; its agriculture presents diffi-
culties and problems quite unknown elsewhere, and there has been as
yet no time for the standardization of aims and methods attained in
Dade County has been aptly called the Land of the Tomato
Kings. Approximately 20,861 acres are given over to this crop, with
an estimated net value of $2,509,800. The average cost of raising to-
matoes is put by the large growers at about $125 per acre. Average
yields may be stated at two hundred crates per acre, and the profits
range from one hundred dollars to three or four times that amount.
The crop movement of a tomato district will average one hundred
cars per day during the season's peak.
Beans rank next to tomatoes in importance. It is a quick crop,
coming to maturity in six to eight weeks. While hampers have brought
$1.50 and more, an average all-season price may be quoted at $i and
the yield 125 hampers per acre, with growers using good brands of
fertilizer doing considerably better. Like most other crops, beans need
spraying as a protection against disease and pests, and on large fields
this is sometimes accomplished by airplane.
Not so many years ago it was popularly supposed that the or-
dinary Irish potato would not grow in Dade County. Now, in one
marl prairie section in the south end of the country there are 8,640
acres averaging a yield of 192 bushels, grading 80 to 85 per cent No.
i's and coming in two or three weeks ahead of the north Florida crop.
Peppers, a good crop under favorable conditions, are harvested from
early December until late May. Cabbage, cucumbers, egg plants,
chayotes (a tropical perennial form of climbing squash) and prac-
tically all the other usual vegetables are grown both for home con-
sumption and shipment.
Long ago, Dade County won its fame in grapefruit production
and continues to carry the honors. The season is about three weeks
76 MIAMI AND D A D E COUNTY
ahead of other localities with no disastrous freeze ever recorded. In
the Redlands Section where the water is close to the surface, it is not
uncommon to gather the last of the passing crop a few weeks before
the new crop is ready to be picked.
Some of Florida's finest grapefruit, along with other citrus fruits,
many of which are scarcely known to the outside market, are grown
in the Redlands region.
In one experimental grove, a fine seedless grapefruit is being de-
veloped with seven distinct varieties of orange, the choicest being the
Valencia. With larger and richer Persian limes, and Perrine lemons,
many other cross-fruits are being developed.
Notable among the various crosses are the King of Siam orange,
the tangerine, the pineapple orange, Temple orange, Lue Gim Gong
orange, the kumquat, Thompson and Foster grapefruit, and many
others. On a six-in-one grafted tree may be found six highly cul-
tivated varieties of orange and grapefruit.
Orange groves are scattered through most parts of Dade County,
the fruit noted for its thin skin, superior flavor, and extreme juiciness.
Marketing may begin as early as September, with about five per cent
of the crop moving in October, and the remainder going to market
from November to February. It is usually shipped in carload lots or
entire train shipments. With improved refrigeration on steamships,
there has been a steady increase in water shipments. Dade County
is concentrating on the production of limes and lemons. These fruits
are susceptible to the slightest cold and grow best in a subtropical
Strawberries are an example of northern fruit which is grown
successfully in south Florida with a simple shift of season. It proves
a most profitable cultivation from December to June. The soil on
which strawberries are grown in this area is a firm marl or muck. Some
phenomenal yields have recorded 10,000 quarts to the acre, but a fair
average is around 2,500 quarts. An interesting feature of strawberry
growing in the Miami area is a "skyscraper" arrangement whereby
the berries grow out of holes, tier on tier, in barrels or concrete con-
tainers that not only conserve space but produce clean, luscious fruit
free from sand or other impurities.
The Florida banana is undergoing scientific treatment in some
groves in the county, especially with a view to lessening its starch
content, but it is not grown commercially.
Many of the tropical fruits of the region have been introduced
from the Orient, where for ages they have been staples. South Florida
has many groves of the avocado, or alligator pear, a well-balanced,
nutritious, easily digested food. Several of the finest varieties orig-
AGRICULTURE IN DADE COUNTY 77
inated in Dade County, now the site of the largest groves and most
persistent development. By careful selection of successive varieties,
it is possible to enjoy the fruit practically every month in the year.
The aristocratic mango is largely confined to Dade County, and
local demand so far exceeds the supply that little of this fruit finds
its way to outside markets. The choicest and most delicious variety
is the Haden, which originated in this area.
The rapid-growing papaya, superficially described as "a melon
that grows on a tree," is one of the most luscious of all tropical fruits.
Both leaves and fruit contain a high percentage of vegetable pepsin of
remarkable digestive and medicinal properties. The life span of a
tree is two or three years, but it is not uncommon for a single tree to
yield 150 to 300 pounds of fruit during its first year.
From the sapodilla tree comes chicle of commerce, the basic
principle of chewing gum. This russet-skinned, sweet-flavored fruit,
spinning from a long, thread-like stem, is popular on local fruit stands.
The guava, Carissa, Surinam (bright- wrinkled) cherry, and rose
apple, equally delectable to eye and taste, are among the fruits grown
on a small scale, chiefly for preserves and jelly.
There are dozens of other similar fruits in the Miami area, some
of which have been cultivated with encouraging results. The region is
the site of two important institutions; the United States Plant Intro-
duction Gardens at Chapman Field, which tests new plants and trees,
and the State Tropical Experimental Station in the Redlands, which
demonstrates the best grove methods for those now in cultivation.
A large number of rapid-growing fibers thrive in south Florida.
Ramie, from which the Egyptians made mummy wrappings four
thousand years ago, is eight times stronger than cotton and can be
spun much finer. Its cost of production is less than that of any
fiber known. Flax and sisal also can be grown here.
Dairymen in the Miami area face a problem in the production of
forage crops to replace beet pulp and other imported bulk feeds. This
situation is being overcome as experiments continue with grasses,
which have grown for ages in other tropical countries, and thrive here.
They include Para, Napier, Merker, Sudan, Bermuda, Johnson, Natal,
and Japanese cane. These crops need little care and some attain a
height of 10 to 12 feet. Soilage crops include cane, corn, and beets
with a few attempts at ensilage. Beets range from 20 to 30 tons per
acre, cane from 25 to 30, and corn from 10 to 20 tons per acre.
Summer crops include Higiri, corn, millet, cow peas, soy beans, and
About sixty dairies, some of them with large purebred herds,
supply the cities of Dade County with high-grade milk. A difficult
78 MIAMI AND D A D E COUNTY
problem is presented by the wide margin between normal consumption
and the peak of the winter season. Another is the fact that so
much of the feed has to be imported.
The entire region is tick free, and cattle raising and fattening
in the 'Glades promises to assume large proportions. The low shelter
cost, all-year-out-door conditions, and ample water are factors not to
Poultry products are brought into this territory in enormous
quantities despite increased local production. Local producers have
the advantage of an even climate and green feed all year around.
Against this must be counted the cost of grain, since practically all
of it must be imported.
A network of good hard roads, two railroads, ample refrigerator
car service, two large deep-water harbors, precooling plants and
steamship lines, to which may be added airplane facilities for the rapid
shipment of flowers and baby chickens, provide the growers of this
area with modern transportation.
Co-operative packing plants in the principal shipping districts
dispose of crops in many markets of the country, either on consign-
ment or by f. o. b. sale at or near the farm. The usual channels,
including growers' markets, are provided for the local retail trade.
ON THE Jefferson Davis Military Map published by the War
Department in 1856, that part of Dade County lying along the
coast was designated as "Coontie and Hunting Grounds."
Until recent years, coontie roots were extensively used for food
by the Seminole Indians. White men discovered that coontie would
yield a good grade of starch, and this became Dade County's first
industry. Thomas and George Furguson built a mill on the Miami
River in 1845. Another pioneer, Adam C. Richardson, engaged in
the industry for twelve years. At one time C. Eskilson used coontie
roots to prepare a product known as "Florida Food" which was sold
in Northern markets.
In the manufacture of coontie starch, the roots are washed,
peeled, ground, and soaked in water. The starch settles to the bottom
and the impurities float on the water, later to be drawn or screened
out. Several washings are required to produce a good grade of starch,
which is then dried in the sun and broken up for packing in barrels.
By these crude methods two men could produce in about two weeks
two 24o-pound barrels which netted them $15.
In the early i88o's Ralph Middleton Munroe and others in
Coconut Grove established a factory for canning pineapple, fish,
and jellies but due to lack of transportation facilities, the venture
did not succeed.
Later a factory, devoted to the manufacture of cushions and
mattresses from prepared Spanish moss, was located on the south
bank of the Miami River west of the Miami Avenue bridge. It
ceased operations when the supply of moss became limited.
As far back as 1908 Miamians began to make special efforts
to attract industries to the city. In that year the Brickell family
"conveyed two hundred building lots and a square block of land in
the center to the Board of Trade" with the understanding that funds
realized by sale of the lots were to be used to secure the establishment
of cigar factories. The plan to make Miami the center of a cigar
manufacturing industry never materialized though there are now
10 factories in the city, one of which has 50 employees.
In addition to the numerous sawmills that sprang up to supply
lumber to the first railroad and remained to furnish building material
to the first settlers in Miami, there was one unusual industry that
80 MIAMI AND D A D E COUNTY
has been discontinued since tractors have been adapted for general
agricultural purposes. J. A. Dann, Miami pioneer, invented a "muck-
shoe," a large, flat iron disk, turned up in front; and provided with
bands for fastening to mules* hoofs. This "snow shoe," as it was
sometimes called, enabled planters to get crops started in low ground
from three to four weeks before the normal season.
J. A. Dann was engaged in general blacksmithing, carriage, and
wagon work according to an advertisement appearing in the Miami
Metropolis,, July n, 1902. In the same issue there appeared the
advertisements of one cigar manufacturer, one Chinese laundry, one
boatbuilder, and five building contractors. Now, 38 years later,
building construction continues as the most important industry
engaging the services of more than 180 general and specializing
Beginning with the arrival of the Florida East Coast Railway
in 1896, and later, when travel by automobile became more extensive,
thousands of tourists poured into Miami. Many of them became