THE JOURNAL OF THE HISTORICAL
ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA
Editor: Charlton W. Tebeau
Jacob Housman of Indian Key
Thomas Elmer Will, Twentieth Century Pioneer
I. E. Dovell
The Lower East Coast, 1870-1890
W. T. Cash
Miami: A Study in Urban Geography
Millicent Todd Bingham
Discovery of the Bahama Channel
Robert S. Chamberlain
COPYRIGHTED 1949 BY THE HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA
is published annually by the Historical Association of Southern Florida
S CSa and the University of Miami as a bulletin of the University. Subscrip-
tion $2.00. Communications should be addressed to the Corresponding Secretary of the
Society, Post Office Box 537, Miami 4, Florida. Neither the Association nor the Uni-
versity assumes responsibility for statements of fact or of opinion made by the contributors.
This Page Blank in Original
Jacob Housman of Indian Hey
By DOROTHY DODD
In the early 1820's a young captain appeared on the Florida reef whose
name was to become notorious in those parts. During some fifteen years in
South Florida, Jacob Housman was known far and near as an enterprising,
adventurous, and unscrupulous man-as a bold wrecker and the autocratic
proprietor of Indian Key. The manner of his coming to Florida waters, if
we may accept the account given by Ned Buntline,' was perfectly consonant
with his later career.
Housman, so the story runs, "was entrusted with the command of a small
schooner at an early age, by his father, who owned the vessel. She was em-
ployed in the coasting and packet business along the shores of Staten and
Long Islands, also up North River. The young Captain, however, was too
much of a sailor to keep fresh water, and one day took it into his head to
make a 'West Indie' trip without asking his father's permission, making said
experiment in his father's vessel. The young Captain never reached his des-
tination, for running off his course he struck the Florida reef. This injured
his little craft so much that he was obliged to put into Key West for repairs,
during which time he got such an insight into the 'wrecking' business that he
concluded to become a wrecker himself. His father having insisted upon
considering Jacob's elopement in the light of a theft, the Captain could not
return to New York with safety, therefore this was the very business for him
to take up."2
Ned Buntline apparently concurred with those who thought Florida
wreckers to be little better than pirates or thieves. It is not too much to say
that Housman, more than any other man, was responsible for the ill-repute
in which the wrecking business was held. Arriving on the reef in the days
before there was any effective regulation of wrecking, he continued to operate
in a high-handed and oftentimes illegal manner even after the business was
placed under the supervision of the Superior Court at Key West in 1828.3
The first notices we find of Housman's activities as a wrecker appear in
the fall of 1825, in connection with the French brig Revenge, although he
had previously "been much engaged in the wrecking business."' The Revenge,
bound from Campeachy to France with cochineal and logwood, early in Sep-
tember went on the reef about three miles from Caesar's Creek. Housman
boarded her after she had bilged and been abandoned by her crew. On Sep-
tember 7 he took off in his schooner William Henry "eight Ceroons of coch-
ineal, two boxes of Sugar, and a quantity of Logwood unknown, but sup-
posed to be twelve tons, and a parcel of sails and rigging."'
Whether he decided to appropriate the salvaged goods without benefit
of legal proceedings or clashed with the authorities at Key West over the
adjudication of salvage is not clear. But on September 25, Fielding A.
Browne, of Key West, charged him with "a most villainous act," namely with
robbing the Revenge. It was the intention of Housman, who had "defied both
the civil and military authorities of this place," Browne said, "to proceed to
Charleston to dispose of his cargo." Browne therefore requested Captain
Brown of the U. S. revenue cutter Florida, to pursue Housman and recover
the French property.6
Whatever his intentions might have been, on September 27 Housman
brought the salvaged goods into St. Augustine. A week later he libeled the
property under the territorial law of July 4, 1823, which provided for ad-
judication of salvage by a five-man jury. The St. Augustine jury allowed
Housman 95 per cent. Considering the award excessive, the French consul
at Charleston, who happened to be in St. Augustine, took the case into the
Superior Court, where Judge Joseph L. Smith found the territorial law in-
valid. He did, however, award two-thirds salvage to Housman.7
In the meantime, Fielding A. Browne's letter charging Housman with
theft had been widely published. Pointing to the Superior Court's decree as
a vindication of his conduct, Housman branded the charge as libel. Then,
as was to be his custom, he hit back at his opponent. He would, he said, "take
another occasion to lay before the public, a history of the impartial and dis-
interested conduct of the gentlemen of many avocations at Key West, in their
disposal of property falling under their control, and it will then be fairly
understood whether there was more wisdom or folly in my giving preference
to a decision at St. Augustine over one at Key West.", From that day on, a
dogged enmity underlay relations between Housman and the Key Westers.
Three years later Housman was again in the news as the result of a col-
lusive agreement with the captain of the French brig Vigilant. The Vigilant,
which was carrying $32,000 in specie in addition to a regular cargo, went on
shore near Key Vacas. She afterwards floated herself, but was surrounded
by shoal water and accepted the services of two wreckers to pilot her into
Key Vacas. After she was safely at anchor in a good harbor, Housman ar-
DOROTHY DODD 5
rived in the wrecking sloop Sarah Isabella and agreed to pilot her to Key
West for 75 percent on the vessel, cargo, and specie, "with an understanding
that Housman would return part of the money to the Captain, for Himself."
Vessel and cargo were sold at Key West and the 75 percent duly paid to
Housman. One of the real salvors of the Vigilant sued the Captain for $6,000
salvage. The latter deposited that amount with an agent and sailed for
Charleston with Housman.9
It was undoubtedly his wrecking profits that enabled Housman to develop
Indian Key. This island, only eleven or twelve acres in area, not only pos-
sessed a good harbor for wreckers but was admirably situated for a wrecking
rendezvous, lying as it does halfway between Key West and Cape Florida.
Housman acquired it in 1825 from two squatters named Fletcher and Prince.
who had settled there a year or two before.'0 All accounts agree that he spent
lavishly on the improvement of the key, transforming it, as one observer
wrote, from a barren rock into "a miniature Eden." "It is, upon the whole,"
remarked another, "a delightful residence, reminding me forcibly of the
lines of Moore-
'Oh had we some bright little isle of our own,
In a blue summer ocean far off and alone.' "-
Housman neatly laid off the island into streets and squares. He built
himself "a large and elegant mansion," erected another large building for
use as a hotel, and constructed a number of smaller houses for the families
of his crews. He extended three substantial wharves out to the channels on
the north and south of the key. He had several cisterns cut in solid rock to
store rain water, and laboriously brought top soil from a distance to make
gardens in which subtropical fruits and flowers flourished.'3 By 1834 he was
said to have spent nearly $40,000 on such improvements.'4
In December, 1832, the Government stationed a customs inspector at
Indian Key, Charles Howe being appointed to the post.'5 The harbor must
have been quite a busy little port, for Howe reported 637 arrivals in 1834
and 703 in 1835.1f On the other hand, the charge of Key Westers was prob-
ably true that "every little fishing boat, turtler, or wrecking vessel that stops
there is noted as an arrival" in order to magnify the commerce of the place.'7
In the spring of 1834 a post office was established with regular monthly
mails from Charleston and New York. In an advertisement dated May 15,
1834, Henry S. Waterhouse, postmaster, stated, "All letters and papers for
persons residing on this island, at Cape Florida, Kayo-Biscayno, New River,
Key Vacas, on board the lightship Florida, or on board any of the wrecking
vessels, excepting the Pizarro, will reach their intended destination most
readily if mailed for this Office."18
As this advertisement indicates, many wreckers used Indian Key as a
headquarters where they procured provisions and ships stores and were in
an advantageous position to hurry to wrecks occurring to the eastward. Hous-
man held a tight rein over his little island and exploited its advantages to
the utmost. As his fortunes increased, he acquired three more wrecking ves-
sels. His was the hotel which provided accommodations for transients and
amusement for wreckers ashore in the form of billiards and nine pins. His,
also, was the sole mercantile establishment, which grossed $30,000 a year
from its trades with wreckers, settlers to the eastward, and Indians of the
"There are many poor persons, and some of them not noted for honesty,
settled on the Florida Keys," wrote a visitor in 1833, "who are compelled to
deal with this man. He, by allowing them credit and indulgence in his store,
gains an ascendency which he turns to some account. These people are his
agents, or spies . when occasion requires they are brought in as disin-
terested witnesses to prove a meritorious claim for salvage."19
One such case, for which ample documentation exists, was that of the
North Carolina, Captain George McIntyre, which left Apalachicola for
Charleston March 9, 1833, laden with 336 bales of cotton. On the night of
March 14 she went ashore at low tide on Pickles Reef. The Hyder Alley,
Joshua B. Smith, master, came up at daybreak to relieve her. Although
neither took any part in the relief of the North Carolina, the Sarah Isabella,
Housman, master, and the Brilliant, Austin Packer, master, were consorted
with the Hyder Alley and would, according to the custom of the reef, auto-
matically share in any salvage awarded the latter. The Hyder Alley took off
115 bales of the deck load to lighten the schooner. The North Carolina then
floated off the reef and accompanied the Hyder Alley into Indian Key.
Housman, neglecting to inform McIntyre of his own financial interest in
the salvage, persuaded the Captain to consign schooner and cargo to him
as agent and to submit the salvage to arbitration instead of going to Key
West. Lemuel Otis and Charles M. Johnson, both residents of Indian Key,
were named arbitrators. They appraised schooner and cargo at $8,940, valu-
ing the cotton at $20 a bale although it had actually cost $36 in Apalachicola,
and awarded 35 percent salvage. McIntyre paid the salvage of $3,129 with
122 bales of cotton, $100 in cash, and a $600 draft on the owner of the
cargo. In addition to his share of this salvage, Housman received the cus-
tomary agent's commission of 5 percent, or $156.45, on the salvage.
Housman apparently expected to reap additional profit by purchasing
the other two salvors' share of the cotton at the low appraised price. When
Oliver O'Hara, as agent of the consignees, on May 18 libeled the cotton taken
from the North Carolina, Housman appeared as claimant. At that time he
had only 72 bales in his warehouse, having sold 50 bales in Charleston at
$50. Judge James Webb of the Superior Court at Key West decreed restitu-
tion of the 72 bales to the consignees on the grounds of a fraudulent agree-
ment between Housman and McIntyre. Pending an appeal, Housman was
permitted to keep the cotton at an agreed price of $33 a bale. In 1838 the
Territorial Court of Appeals upheld Judge Webb's decision, whereupon
Housman carried the case to the United States Supreme Court. Before that
tribunal finally decided against him at the January term, 1841, his little
kingdom had collapsed in ruins.20
In 1836 Housman was found guilty of embezzling goods taken from the
Ajax, the penalty being forfeiture of his share of the salvage.21 In the fall
of 1838, soon after the Court of Appeals had ruled against him .in the cases
of the Ajax and North Carolina, Judge Webb revoked his license as a wrecker.
The immediate occasion for this drastic penalty, according to Charles Nord-
hoff who was in Key West at the time, was the wreck on Carysfort Reef, "of
a large merchantman-large according to the standard of the times-with a
full cargo of assorted merchandise." "It was charged," said Nordhoff, "that
a certain wrecker had received from the wreck goods which he failed to deliver
at Key West. Further, this wrecker had on his way stopped at his home at
I. Key. The main fact having been proved, the wrecker was denied all salvage
for his four vessels employed, and deprived also of his wrecking license."2'
In the meantime, the outbreak of the Indian war had greatly alarmed in-
habitants of the south Florida coast. With characteristic energy, Housman
prepared for the defense of his island, which was expected to be attacked
because of the large quantities of provisions and munitions in his store. On
January 1, 1836, he procured the assent of all the able-bodied males, both
white and slave, then at Indian Key to a "convention" which, declaring it to
be "the duty of every man who enjoys the protection of Society to be prepared
and willing to defend it," did "ordain determine and declare to raise such
number of good Sober faithful men who are willing to enlist and Conform
to the rules and regulations of the officers under whose Command they may
be placed." "It is therefore understood," the document concluded, "that those
who Sign their names to this paper are insisted and willing to obey the officers
placed over them."23
A week later, 24 men, including at least six slaves, enlisted for 40 days
in Company B, 10th Florida Militia. Housman was elected captain and Wil-
liam H. Fletcher lieutenant. Others were later recruited, the greatest effective
force of the company being 39 early in May. Housman advanced pay and
subsistence at the regular army per diem of 30 cents for wages and 50 cents
for rations. He also provided arms and powder for the recruits.
By the end of January, embankments had been erected and a half dozen
six- and twelve-pound cannon had been mounted at strategic points.24 As a
place of refuge for women and children, in the event of a successful attack,
"a vessel, belonging to Housman, was prepared with portholes, a bulwark
around the decks, and an armament, & moved a short distance from the
For the next eight months the inhabitants of Indian Key lived in daily
terror of an attack, and with good cause. The little Island was crowded with
refugees who had been driven from their homes at Cape Florida and on the
eastern reef. Frequent reports were received of concentrations of Indians-
now at New River, now at Cape Florida or Cape Sable.25 "The Indians were
all around them-on the maine, on the neighboring Islands-ready with
blanket sail canoes, to cross at any moment." There was scarcely a night but
their fires could be seen from the island.
But the only incident that occurred was on March 16, when a canoe with
a lone Spaniard26 in it, came to Indian Key, under the pretense of trading.
Suspecting that he was a spy, the islanders "obliged him to tell that two
Indians came with him, and that he left them on an island about one mile
distant. A boat was immediately dispatched with a number of men in search
of them, and after some difficulty, they were found and brought to the
island."27 The three "spies" were imprisoned at Indian Key until July, when
they were turned over to the revenue cutter Dexter, from which they succeeded
In spite of the Indian war, Housman continued to develop and promote
Indian Key. In 1837 and 1838 he employed James Dutcher, a marble cutter
of New York City, to cut a large cistern out of solid rock at a cost of about
$4,000. This and the smaller cisterns previously built, according to Dutcher,
"furnished the only supplies of water for the inhabitants and the navy in the
vicinity."2B In 1836 and 1837 Samuel A. Spencer assumed management of
the hotel and advertised Key West as "A Resort for Invalids" where there
was "just sufficient business done . to amuse and not annoy invalids."''
One person, at least, was attracted to the key as a health resort early in
1837. Thomas Jefferson Smith is of interest primarily because his is the only
favorable estimate of Housman that has been found. Housman, Smith wrote
in 1846, "combined skill, bravery, coolness & discretion, with great personal
strength to a pre-eminent degree." He was, moreover, "a man strictly of his
word, correct in his deportment and honest in his dealings." The reader
should be informed, however, that Smith was undoubtedly Housman's "man,"
having been for several years his "confidential and legal adviser and at-
torney."3o And like his master, he was not noted for honesty.31
More important than the continued physical development of the island
were Housman's efforts to make Indian Key independent of any control
from Key West. A step that promised much in this direction was the establish-
ment of Dade County on February 4, 1836, with Indian Key as the temporary
county seat.32 Housman probably was the leading spirit in this matter.
Certainly his name headed the following petition, which resulted in the cre-
ation of the new county.
"To the Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida
"The memorial of the undersigned citizens of the County of Monroe in
said Territory respectfully represents, that your memorialists reside in the
northern section of said County, some of them Two hundred and thirty miles
from the Court house, and none less than seventy five miles from it the whole
of which distance they are obliged to travel by water in open boats in tem-
pestuous weather during the fall and winter months. Your memorialists are
not generally detained by public duty more than 6 days and some times not
so much; but in bad weather they are frequently unable to reach their homes
in less than three or four weeks, their Jury fees will not pay their board in
Key West, and the whole of their expenses of boat hire and provisions are a
dead loss to them, besides having to leave their families and domestic con-
cerns at the times they are most required to be at home-your memorialists
believe that no people in the U: States have ever been in a similar situation,
and a cursory view of the map will be sufficient to convince your Honl body
of the necessity of granting them relief. They therefore pray that the County
be divided as follows. A line running from West end Bay Honda Key, to
Cape Sable and from thence to Lake Macaco, and thence to the head of what
is known now as Hillsboro River, (the north branch) and down said River
to the Atlantic Ocean-Your memorialists would further represent that so
long as Monroe County remains in the present state, that the public interest
must of necessity be neglected and the ends of Justice be defeated, this has
frequently been the case of late, and the reason is Witnesses and Jurors can-
not find the means to transport themselves by Water to Key West to the Court
House. Your petitioners will ever be found willing to perform all the public
duties incumbent upon them as good citizens, but some of them are in circum-
stances which precludes the possibility of their attendance at Key West as
witnesses or Jurors."33
Within the boundaries of the new county, which were those specified in
the petition, the principal settlements were at Indian Key, Cape Florida, and
Key Vacas. The possible claims of the latter two were tacitly recognized by
leaving open the location of the permanent county seat. Until that should
be effected, the judge of the Southern District was to hold one term of the
Superior Court each year at Indian Key and the judge of the county court
was to hold a term each at Cape Florida and Indian Key. The clerks of both
courts were to keep their offices and records at Indian Key. The provision
for holding a term of the Superior Court there was annulled by an act of
Congress of July 2, 1836.34 The next Legislative Council, however, calmly
reestablished a Superior Court in Dade County.35
Partly because of unsettled conditions incident to the Indian war, Dade
County soon became, for all practical purposes, Indian Key-the one being
as much under Housman's domination as the other. He took the most effective
means of keeping the county seat at Indian Key by building a courthouse
there "out of his own private funds."36 Most of the principal county officers
were also his employees. Thomas Jefferson Smith was the first county judge.37
George W. Somarindyck, Housman's chief clerk for eight years, was the first
clerk of the county court.38 He was succeeded in that position in 1840 by
Walter C. Maloney, also a clerk to Housman, who had previously served as
clerk of the Superior Court. From 1840 to 1842 Maloney was clerk of the
county court, a justice of the peace, and an auctioneer. James Dutcher, the
New York marble cutter, was a justice of the peace during his stay on the
island. And Lemuel Otis, one of the arbitrators who decided the salvage in
the case of the North Carolina, was a justice of the peace from 1836 to 1842
and was elected sheriff in 1840.35
After three years of Housman's autocratic rule, inhabitants of Key Vacas,
supported by residents of Monroe County, appealed to the Legislative Council
to repeal the law establishing Dade County, or at least to repeal the laws es-
tablishing Superior and County Courts there. The petition was referred to a
Select Committee of the Senate, under the chairmanship of William Marvin,
then U. S. district attorney and soon to be judge of the Southern District.
The chief plaint of the petitioners, as stated in the report of the Select
Committee, was that before the division of Monroe County, "it was with
great difficulty that offenses could be punished on account of the paucity of
jurors, and that since such division, Monroe county is in as bad a condition as
before, and that in the county of Dade it is utterly impossible to obtain a legal
grand and petit jury. The administration of justice ... is therefore rendered
impossible in the county of Dade, and very much embarrassed in the county
of Monroe." The petitioners further averred "that on account of the want of
jurors in Dade county, and of the consequent perfect irresponsibility of its
officers, and on account of the superior power which wealth and position
always gives, all power both Executive and Judicial is exercised by one man,
the proprietor of Indian Key."
In support of the latter statement, the petitioners presented affidavits by
William H. Eldridge and John Sicher. Eldridge testified "that while at Indian
Key, in the month of August last [i. e. 1838], he saw in the warehouses of
Jacob Housman two white men, of the sloop Brilliant, confined in stocks, by
order of Capt. Housman, and that in the month of October, he also saw two
other white men, belonging to the schooner Sylph, in like manner, and by
the orders of the said Housman, confined in stocks, and that it is a general
report that such practices are common with the said Housman at that place."
To which Sicher added the details that the men from the Brilliant "had been
in that situation three days and were only allowed biscuit and water and no
bedding, or musquito bars, and were obliged to sleep in that situation."
The Committee gave full credence to the allegations of petitioners and
affiants. "Dade county has, according to the best information in possession
of your committee," said the report, "about sixteen legal jurors, Monroe has
about forty, the whole put together will hardly enable the court to punish
offences where the whole extent of peremptory challenge is allowed, but are
sufficient to secure the punishment of offences where the whole extent of
these peremptory challenges are not allowed."A0 As to conditions at Indian
Key, the report said: "Mr Housman holds no office.'4 It is vain for these
men to appeal to the laws for redress. The suit must be tried in the county
of Dade, and there, there is no jury ... It is certainly unjust that that portion
of the citizens of South Florida, who are endeavoring to support the laws and
to lead a quiet and an honest life, should be made to suffer in their character
and reputations by the wanton outrages of others."
The Committee concluded, therefore, that the petitioners were entitled to
relief. Since the existence of Dade County had been recently recognized by
Congress,42 it did not deem it advisable to abolish the county. But realizing
that the existence of courts in Dade County, with their clerks and other officers
to issue and execute process by which a man's property or person might be
seized without any possibility of bringing the matter to a trial, might be used
"to the very great oppression and injury of the petitioners," the Committee
recommended that the jurisdictions of the County and Superior Courts of
Dade County be transferred to the similar courts in Monroe County.43 A bill
was reported for that purpose, which passed the Senate but was defeated in
Late in 1839, Maloney resigned as clerk of the Superior Court. The office
was in the appointment of the judge, and Marvin, though it must have been
a bitter pill, was constrained to ask Housman to recommend a successor, or
to accept the position himself, as he knew of no one to appoint. On Nov.
ember 21 Housman curtly replied:
"I have received your letter of 11 inst and have made application to four
Respectable and Competent Gentlemen Who have Refused to hold any office
in your Gift
"For myself, You should have known that any gift of yours would be
When the Superior Court met at Indian Key in December, with Judge
Marvin presiding, a grand jury was empaneled which inquired into the im-
prisonment of the two seamen from the Sylph. Lemuel Otis testified that in
his capacity as a justice of the peace he had committed the men on the sworn
complaint of Samuel Sanderson, master of the schooner, who had charged
them with mutinous conduct. The grand jury completely exonerated Housman
and branded the evidence before the Senate Committee as "false and ma-
licious." The imprisonment of the seamen from the Brilliant was discreetly
Housman enclosed copies of his correspondence with Marvin and the
grand jury presentment in a memorial which he addressed to the 1840 Senate.
The report of the previous year, he said, with its "very Serious slanders,"
was "evidently malicious"-the work of Marvin, who "has long been my most
bitter and powerful enemy."'5 The committee to whom the memorial was
referred brushed it aside with the comment that its main object appeared to
be the eradication of the supposedd injurious impressions" created by Marvin's
Another way in which Housman sought to enhance the importance of
Indian Key was by having it made a port of entry. Other hands than his
signed the memorials to Congress requesting this in 1838 and 1839, but the
voice was undoubtedly that of Jacob. His object was to cut into Key West's
monopoly of the salvage business, a monopoly due to the law that all prop-
erty salvaged within the jurisdiction of the United States must be taken into
an American port of entry.47 In this he had the cooperation of Northern in-
surance underwriters and merchants, who believed that competition would
prevent "many gross frauds committed upon underwriters" at Key West."4
Opposing the project were Key West merchants and masters of wrecking
vessels at Key West and Key Vacas.4= So many and so conflicting were the
statements, that Congress dropped the whole matter.
Among those who were active in behalf of a port of entry at Indian Key
was Dr. Henry Perrine.so Perrine had been agitating the introduction of
tropical plants into Florida and seeking a grant of land for the purpose since
1831.-' He had first interested Captain John DuBose, keeper of the Cape
Florida lighthouse, who had made experimental plantings as early as 1833.
In 1836 Charles Howe set out some plants at Indian Key. In the summer of
1837 Perrine visited Indian Key and, with Howe's assistance, began a nurs-
ery "where upwards of 200 species and varieties [were] planted in boxes for
removal to the main land, when the Seminole war [should] cease."52 Finally,
in the summer of 1838, Congress granted to Perrine and his associates,
Charles Howe and James Webb, a township of land to be located on the main-
land.53 As the selection could not be made while the Indian war continued,
Perrine decided to bring his family to Indian Key, where he could supervise
The Perrines occupied a large, new house belonging to Charles Howe,
located near Howe's own residence somewhat apart from the rest of the set-
tlement. Although Housman was married, Perrine's wife and daughters did
not associate with Mrs. Housman. "We were shut out from all social life,"
wrote Hester Perrine Walker many years later, "with the exception of the
family of Mr. Howe."34 Her statement lends credibility to Ned'Buntline's
story that though, "after building and settling up his island," Housman "made
a voyage to Charleston, and returned with a beautiful bride," the law re-
pudiated her after his death "in consequence of neither license, record, or
matrimonial proof of any kind being get-at-able."'5
When Perrine landed at Indian Key on Christmas day, 1838, he found
conditions somewhat different from those in the summer of 1837. Then the
inhabitants of the island had still been under arms, although after August,
1836, Housman's militia company consisted of only 20 to 22 men, half of
whom were Negroes. The company was disbanded in March, 1838, when
the revenue cutter Dexter was based on Indian Key. After the withdrawal
of the Dexter a few months later, vessels of the Florida Squadron made In-
dian Key their unofficial headquarters. At the time of Perrine's arrival, the
island was being used as a supply depot by Lieutenant John T. McLaughlin
of the U. S. schooner Wave.
In August, 1839, Commander Isaac Mayo, then commanding the Squad-
ron, visited Indian Key in the U. S. Steamer Poinsett. "Considering the post
of great importance, for should the Indians capture it, they would be abun-
dantly supplied with ammunition and arms, also a large supply of pro-
visions," Commander Mayo stationed there a gun barge and thirteen men
under the command of a passed midshipman. Lieutenant McLaughlin suc-
ceeded Mayo as commander of the Squadron in December, 1839. He con-
tinued to use Indian Key as a depot until the spring of 1840, when he with-
drew the garrison and established his depot at Tea Table Key, about a half
With the drilling of sailors and marines, and the coming and going of
naval vessels, Indian Key must have appeared a busy place. But Housman
was not prospering. As a merchant he did a small business with the Squad-
ron,5r but not nearly enough to compensate for the loss of his former trade
with the Indians and reef settlers. He must have sorely missed, too, the in-
come from wrecking cut off when his license was revoked in 1838. And his
claim against the government for $14,418 for the maintenance of the mi-
litia company, although he had pressed it since 1836, was unpaid.57 The
upshot was that he mortgaged all his property on the island to John Lawton
and S. Murray, of Charleston, for $16,000.56 "It was thought before the in-
vasion," Howe wrote in November, 1840, "that he could not stand it more
than a year or two longer."'9
The embarrassed state of his finances may have prompted Housman to
address two remarkable documents to Congress in 1840. The first was "a
proposition . to the Governor and Legislative Council of Florida, and to
the President and national Congress of the United States, to catch or kill all
the Indians of South Florida, for two hundred dollars each."60 The second
was a request for authorization to form a settlement on the south coast of
Florida and for a grant of land "to said settlers with the rights to the people
of said settlement of self-government within the circle of three miles radius
from the centre thereof, with an exemption from all control of all officers
and all laws of the revenue, naval, and military department of the Govern-
ment of the United States."6'
Any chance Housman may have had of rehabilitating his fortunes van-
ished overnight. Between two and three o'clock on the morning of August 7,
1840, Indian Key was attacked and laid waste by a large band of Indians
who paddled the 30 miles from the mainland in canoes. It was thought that
they were guided by the two Indians imprisoned on the key in 1836, for
though they approached from the north, they rounded the island to land at
a most unlikely spot on the southeast side. As they were stealthily deploying
their forces, James Glass, a carpenter in Housman's employ who chanced to
be wakeful, saw their canoes drawn up on the beach. The discovery by the
Indians of Glass and his neighbor, George F. Beiglet, hastening across the
island to warn Housman, gave the signal for attack.
The main objectives were Housman's residence and store on the north
side of the key. A number of Indians rushed upon the former with "such
fury that they soon burst open the doors and windows. Capt. H., the moment
he awoke sprung for his guns, which were placed behind a door, but was met
by them. He then rushed into another room, and jumped out of the window
with his wife, and happened not to be discovered by the Indians, who were
then all over the house. They ran across his garden, jumped fences, and
plunged into the water at the south end of the island. He then took his wife
and swam around to his Boat Pond, and got out one of his boats without
being discovered, and pulled over to Tea Table Key."62
The garrison at Tea Table Key had been reduced the day before to a
score of men, all but five of whom were on the sick list, by the departure of
the Wave on an exploring expedition into the Everglades. After some delay,
Midshipman Francis K. Murray, in temporary command, succeeded in man-
ning two barges, each of which was armed with a four-pound swivel gun.
He set off for Indian Key about 7 o'clock with the intention of landing. The
little task force was met by heavy fire, the Indians putting to good use one
of the six-pounders Housman had mounted for the defense of the island.
The barges returned the fire, but at the third discharge the swivels rebounded
overboard and Murray was forced to return to Tea Table Key. Left in undis-
puted control of the island, the Indians loaded their own canoes and some
of the small boats in the place with supplies of every kind from Housman's
store, set fire to the buildings and wharves, and finally withdrew in the early
afternoon. According to Lieutenant McLaughlin, they left in 34 boats, in-
cluding those taken from the key. "In some of the boats, six, seven and eight
people were counted; in none, less than four; so that the number could not
have been short of one hundred and thirty-four persons."'3
At the time of the attack there were 35 white persons and 10 or 12
Negroes on the island. Six whites and a Negro child lost their lives. The
white victims were Dr. Perrine, John Motte, master of the wrecking sloop
Key West, his wife and two children, and James Sturdy, a boy who was
scalded to death when the building over the cistern in which he was hiding
burned. The others escaped by reaching boats or hiding in the cisterns and
under wharves. Lemuel Otis, who was sleeping in Housman's store, was
wounded but managed to reach the south beach and float off in one of the
The destruction of property was almost complete. Only Charles Howe's
residence escaped the conflagration. "The number of buildings consumed,"
said the account in the Charleston Courier, "was 38, consisting of dwelling
houses and kitchens, ware-houses, stores, shops &c., all of which belonging
to the enterprising proprietor, Capt. Jacob Housman, with the exceptions of
Mr. Howe's [new house], and one dwelling house and kitchen, belonging to
Win. F. English, Esqr."
"Capt. Housman's loss can hardly be estimated,"e4 the writer commented.
"What must have been his feelings on his first coming to the island to behold
the total ruin of his indefatigable labors of twelve years-not a house left
to shelter himself and wife-his splendidly furnished dwelling laid in ashes-
his large warehouses and store, with every description of goods, all shared
the general consummation-his charming garden, containing some of the
most valuable vegetables and fruits of tropical countries, all burnt to the
Housman and his wife presumably sought shelter at Key West, but in
September he returned to Indian Key.-6 Henry Goodyear, a former clerk,
urged him to open another store, but he decided against it. Toward the end
of October, according to Charles Howe, he "cleared out for good-took every-
thing he had left, to Key West . to sell at Auction-his Negroes-Boats-
vessels & I think I see his object, he is as usual very schemy, he is a good
deal in debt . ."6
After selling the few belongings that remained to him, Housman seems
to have obtained employment on a wrecking vessel. He was killed on May 1,
1841, "while attempting to go on board a wrecked vessel in a heavy sea-way;
being crushed between his boat and the side of the vessel." Thus, moralized
Ned Buntline, having lost his ill-gotten property, he lost his own life, "leav-
ing behind nothing of value, not even a good name."6f
Housman's widow soon found consolation for her bereavement in re-
marriage. 69 Before that happy event, however, she ordered a fine marble
tombstone from the north. It was erected on the east side of the island where,
presumably, Housman was buried. Though the stone is now shattered, the
following inscription can still be deciphered:
"Here lieth the body of Capt. Jacob Housman, formerly of
Staten Island, State of New York, Proprietor of this island, who
died by accident May 1st, 1841, aged 41 years 11 months.
To his friends he was sincere, to his enemies he was kind, to
all men faithful.
This monument is erected by his most disconsolate though affec-
tionate wife, Elizabeth Ann Housman.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi."70
I Ned Buntline was the pen name of E. Z. C. Judson, who in 1840 was an acting lieu-
tenant on the U. S. schooner Otsego of the Florida Squadron commanded by Lieutenant
John T. McLaughlin, which was based on Tea Table Key, (Fred E. Pond, Life and
Adventures of "Ned Buntline" [New York, 1919], p. 24). He thus had opportunity
to learn, if not the true story of Housman's youth, at least the version current on
2 E. Z. C. Judson, "Sketches of the Florida War-Indian Key-Its rise, progress and
destruction," copied from Western Literary Journal and Monthly Review in Pensacola
Gazette, March 29, 1845. I am indebted to Dr. A. J. Hanna for this reference.
a For a general discussion of the subject, see Dorothy Dodd, "The Wrecking Business
on the Florida Reef, 1822-1860," Florida Historical Quarterly, XXII (April 1944),
Pensacola Gazette, December 3, 1825.
i East Florida Herald, October 4, 1825.
Ibid., November 8, 1825.
a Pensacola Gazette, August 12, 1828.
to H. Rep. 798, 30th Cong., 1st sess. , pp. 2, 6.
I1 Judson, loc. cit.
-s T. Frederick Davis, "Pioneer Florida: Indian Key and Wrecking, 1833," Florida His-
torical Quarterly, XXII (October 1943), 58, quoting a contemporary account in the
'a Ibid.; Judson, loc. cit.; John Lee Williams, The Territory of Florida (New York,
1837), p. 36; Pensacola Gazette, September 8, 1838; H. Rep. 798, 30th Cong., 1st
sess. , p. 1.
14 Floridian, June 24, 1834.
is H. Rep. 638, 27th Cong., 2nd sess. [4091.
ie S. Doe. 71, 25th Cong., 3rd sess. , pp. 8, 10.
i7 S. Doc. 140, 25th Cong., 3rd sees. , p. 15.
'a Pensacola Gazette, June 14, 1834. Charles Howe became postmaster about 1836. He
held the position until March 31, 1842, being followed by I. W. Marshall and Luther
A. Hopkins. The office was discontinued May 29, 1843. (Official Register of the
United States, 1843, App., p. 340.)
'1 Davis, loc. cit., pp. 58-59.
za O'Hara v. Schooner North Carolina & Housman, Florida Supreme Court file no. 0793;
Housman v. Cargo of Schooner North Carolina, Florida Supreme Court file no. 0794;
Housmas v The Cargo of the Schooner North Carolina, 15 Peters 40.
21 See Dodd, loc. cit., pp. 191-193.
22 "Wrecking on the Florida Keys," Harper's Magazine, XVIII (1859), 583, 585.
23 Petition of Abraham P. Housman, administrator of Jacob Housman, deceased, praying
the reimbursement of advances made for the public service during the Florida war,
presented April 20, 1846, and related documents, U. S. Senate Files, 29th Cong., 1st
sess., in National Archives. Cited hereafter as Petition of Abraham P. Housman.
Unless otherwise noted, all data regarding the defense of Indian Key is from
24 Niles Register, XLIX (January 30, 1836), 370
=s Ibid., XLIX (January 30, 1836), 370; L (April 9, 1836), 98, and (August 6, 1836),383.
as For a brief account of the Spanish fishermen, who were suspected of cooperating with
the Indians, see Dorothy Dodd, "Captain Bunce's Tampa Bay Fisheries, 1835-1840,"
Florida Historical Quarterly XXV (January 1947), 246-256.
27 Niles' Register, L (April 9, 1836), 98.
2a Petition of Abraham P. Housman.
29 Floridian, January 16, 1836, February 18, 1837.
so Petition of Abraham P. Housman.
a, William A. Whitehead said that Smith's character, -where best known, was such as
not to entitle him to the notice of gentlemen (S. Doc. 140, 25th Cong., 3d sess.
, p. 1).
32 Fla. (Ter.), Acts, 1836, p. 19.
3a MS. in Secretary of State's office, Tallahassee.
34 U. S. Stat. 70.
as Fla. (Ter.), Acts, 1837, p. 6.
as Petition of Abraham P. Housman.
a7 Ibid. Charles Howard (Howe?) was first appointed, but apparently refused to serve
(F. M. Hudson, "Beginnings in Dade County," Tequesta, July 1943, p. 18.)
as Fla. (Ter.), Acts, 1838, p. 47.
as See Petition of Abraham P. Housman; A List of Officers of the Territory of Florida
(Tallahassee, 1842), p. 5, in Fla. (Ter.) House of Representatives, Joaurnal, 1842;
Fla. (Ter.) House of Representatives, Journal, 1843, App., p. 18.
40 The general law concerning jurors called for 23 grand jurors and 24 petit jurors, all
of whom were required to be householders. The Legislative Council, by act of Feb-
ruary 11, 1837, took cognizance of the situation in the Southern District by reducing
the number of grand jurors in Dade and Monroe Counties to 16 men who were not
required to be householders. An act of February 11, 1838, however, while continuing
the grand jury of 16 in the Southern District, again specified that jurors should be
householders. (John P. Duval, Compilation of the Public Acts of the Legislative
Council of the Territory of Florida, Passed Prior to 1840 [Tallahassee, 18401, pp.
194-197.) An act of March 2, 1840 required legal jurors in either county to serve in
the Superior Court of the other (Fla. [Ter.], Acts, 1840, p. 39).
41 The only office Housman appears ever to have held was that of auctioneer for Monroe
County in 1832 (Fla. [Ter.] Legislative Council, Journal, 1832, p. 117).
42 In the act of July 7, 1838, creating a bicameral Legislative Council (5 U. S. Stat. 263).
4a The full report of the Committee is in Fla. (Ter.) Senate, Journal, 1839, App., pp. 4-6.
44 Fla. (Ter.) House of Representatives, Journal, 1839, p. 16.
45 MSS. in Secretary of State's office, Tallahassee.
46 Fla. (Ter.) Senate, Journal, 1840, p. 61.
47 4 V. S. Stat., 132, 133.
40 S. Doc. 55, 25th Cong., 3d sess. . See also S. Does. 54 and 71, 25th Cong., 3d
49 See S. Doc. 15, 25th Cong., 3d sess. [3381; S. Does. 26 and 140, 25th Cong., 3d sess.
; and S. Doc. 255, 25th Cong., 3d sess. 1341].
o50 Although he did not sign it, he undoubtedly circulated a memorial at Princeton, N. J.,
as there is a manuscript addition, in his handwriting, to the printed document. The
memorial averred that a port of entry at Indian Key would be beneficial "to the
thousands of emigrating agriculturists, whose greatest anxiety is to engage in the
culture of tropical plants." (Memorial of a number of citizens of New Jersey, praying
the establishment of a port of entry at Indian Key, presented December 21, 1838,
U. S. Senate Files, 26th Cong., 1st sess., in National Archives.)
is Hudson, loc. cit., pp. 9-11.
oz H. Rep. 564, Cong., 2d sess. , pp. 36, 60.
sa 5 U. S. Stat. 302.
sa "Massacre at Indian Key, August 7, 1840, and the Death of Dr. Henry Perrine,"
Florida Historical Quarterly, V (July 1926), 20.
s5 Judson, loc. cit. More explicit confirmation is found in the revocation by the Monroe
County Superior Court, on May 10, 1842, of letters testamentary granted to Elizabeth
Ann Housman as executrix of the estate of Jacob Housman (Housman's Executrix v
Cussans, Florida Supreme Court file no. 0860).
DOROTHY DODD 19
5a See H. Rep. 798, 30th Cong., 1st sess. , p. 5.
5T Petition of Abraham P. Housman. The claim was never paid, due to lack of proof
that the company was legally mustered into the service of the United States.
5s H. Rep. 798, 30th Cong., 1st sess. , p. 8; Charles Howe, "A Letter from Indian
Key," Florida Historical Quarterly, XX (October 1941), 198. When the mortgage
was foreclosed on January 15, 1844, the property was bought for the mortgagees for
$355 (News [St. Augustine], January 27, 1844).
6s Loc. cit., p. 197.
so U. S. House of Representatives, Journal, 26th Cong., 1st sess. , p. 612. When
the proposal was presented to the Legislative Council the House voted to recommend
it to the favorable consideration of the President, but the Senate refused to concur
(Fla. [Ter.] House of Representatives, Journal, 1840, pp. 117, 133, 166).
at H. Rep. 593, 26th Cong., 1st sess. (373].
G2 Apalachicola Gazette, September 12, 1840, quoting Charleston Courier, August 29, 1840.
63 H. Rep. 798, 30th Cong., 1st sess. , p. 10.
64 The administrator of his estate claimed it amounted to $144,000 ibidd., p. 1).
Gs Apalachicola Gazette, September 12, 1840. This account, the reports of Murray and
McLaughlin in H. Rep. 798, 30th Cong., 1st sess. , pp. 9.11, and two accounts in
Niles' Register, LVIII (August 29, 1840), 406, and LIX (September 5, 1840), 3, have
been used in telling the story of the massacre.
US News (St. Augustine), September 25, 1840.
67 Loc. cit., p. 197.
a8 Judson, loc. cit.
69 Ibid.; Housman's Executrix v. Cussans, Florida Supreme Court file no. 0860.
70 1 am indebted to Mr. Oliver Griswold, of Coconut Grove, for the transcription and
other data concerning the tombstone.
This Page Blank in Original
Thomas Elmer Will,
Twentieth Century Pioneer
By J. E. DOVELL
One of the major drainage problems of the United States concerns the
Everglades watershed of the peninsula of Florida. This watershed extends
one hundred miles southward from Lake Okeechobee in a shallow valley,
thirty-five miles wide, to the Gulf of Mexico. The area of the Everglades,
about four thousand square miles of land and water, is approximately the
same size as the state of Connecticut. Within the present century a con-
siderable part of the Everglades has been drained of surplus waters and
brought into agricultural and commercial production.'
The drainage and reclamation of the Florida Everglades has proven to
be an enormous undertaking fraught with many difficulties. This transition,
from a primeval morass, dominated by saw grass marshes that are almost
level and which are flooded or nearly wet to their surface most of the year,
has consumed many years of tedious effort. In addition to the problem of
drainage has been that of handling the peat soils of organic origin, products
of the growth and slow decay of vegetation in a region of low elevation en-
joying a warm climate and a heavy rainfall.2
Random references to the Everglades are found in the records of the ex-
plorers of Florida, but little was known of them until the Seminole Indian
wars in the 1830-1840's. The creation of an Internal Improvement Fund by
Florida in 1851 marked the beginning of attempts to reclaim the Everglades.
Efforts of the Trustees of that fund to encourage reclamation through grants
and sales involved the area in a confusion of ownership and interests. This
situation resulted in the establishment of the Everglades Drainage District, in
1907, with the authority to raise funds for drainage operations by levying a
drainage tax on the overflowed lands. Prior to 1907, Governor Napoleon
Bonaparte Broward and other members of the joint boards of Internal Im-
provement Trustees-Everglades Drainage District Commissioners had sought
such funds through the sale of state lands.
Broward and his board had assembled a dredge in July, 1906, which be-
gan digging a canal from the north fork of the New River at Ft. Lauderdale
toward Lake Okeechobee sixty miles northwestward.3 Another dredge,
launched in April, 1907, was at work in the south fork of the same river. By
1909 the original dredges had cut their way fourteen miles into the Ever-
glades and two new dredges were added. To finance these operations the
trustee-commissioners sold large blocks of land in the Everglades to real
estate operators. These sales amounted to $35,000 in 1907 and $123,000 in
1908.4 One purchaser, Richard J. Bolles, bought 500,000 acres in 1908 at
two dollars an acre to be paid over a six-year period. The Bolles land sales
companies in turn divided the purchase and resold it in five-acre and ten-acre
plots at prices varying from $20 to $24 an acre.5 Perhaps the most specta-
cular Bolles promotion involved the Florida Fruitlands Company. Through
this corporation Bolles sold 16,000 contracts for small tracts of Everglades
land for which he received $4,000,000 in a "scheme of financing that would
have done credit to a Wall Street promoter."G
In the summer and fall of 1910 the trustee-commissioner's advertised
Everglades lands in Florida and midwestern newspapers.7 In addition to the
paid advertising by the state officials and the various companies, the Ever-
glades received a great deal of publicity in the accounts of travelers and gen-
eral writers. D. A. Simmons wrote in The World Today that: "When Okee-
chobee's surface has been lowered five or six feet, it will draw in the water
from the surface of the Everglades, and the work of reclamation will be com-
plete."a By 1911 the rapid growth of Everglades land sales were approach-
ing "boom" proportions. Among the many thousands of purchasers it was
estimated that forty per cent of them were made to prospective settlers, and
the remainder to small speculators who hoped to get an increase later on
"when they come out from under the water."D
One of the largest syndicates interested in Everglades promotion at this
period was the Everglades Land Sales Company with general offices in Kansas
City, Missouri. Interesting in the light of subsequent events is a form letter
issued by this company in 1910 and 1911 from its Washington, D. C., office
which informed the prospect that "the work of reclaiming the Everglades is
advancing by leaps and bounds."to The letter pointed out that six state
dredges were at work on the Florida project on a twenty-four hour schedule
with several more scheduled to begin work. The communication declared
that 224,000 acres of lands had been disposed of under the company's
auspices and that land at fifty dollars an acre is "now almost gone." The
letter further offered the facilities of its Washington office, with its displays
of Everglades products, and "lantern lectures" three nights each week and
expressed a desire "to present THE opportunity of a life time" to those who
have not bought lands."
Among the productions of the advertising campaign of the Everglades
Land Sales Company were two books: John Clayton Gifford's The Everglades
I. E. DOVELL
and Other Esays Relating to Southern Florida, and Walter Waldin's Truck
Farming in the Everglades. Gifford's book comprised a group of articles,
some of them reprints from various periodicals, on a number of topics per-
taining to south Florida in general. In the first article Gifford drew certain
parallels between the Florida reclamation project and those of the Landes of
France and the Heathland of Denmark. He estimated that it would cost a
dollar an acre to drain the Everglades.'2 Gifford declared:
There are agents at work selling this land in every state in the Union
. the money from the sales is doing the work, and the further it
progresses the more the land will bring and the more eager people will
be to get hold of it. The Board of Internal Improvement is wisely hold-
ing back much of the land from sale. . In many cases the state has
sold only the alternate sections.
By the application of lime, the cultivation of legumes, etc., this soil
can be kept at a maximum state of fertility, so that five acres would be
ample for the support of an ordinary family.'3
The Gifford essay comparing the Florida Everglades with the French
Landes and the Danish Heathland had been submitted to Conservation, journal
of the American Forestry Association with headquarters in Washington, Dis-
trict of Columbia. The article attracted the attention of Thomas Elmer Will,
editor and secretary of the Association, resulting in its publication in the
August, 1909, issue of the periodical." Gifford's description of the Florida
area and its possibilities so intrigued Will that he procured all the printed
matter available on the Everglades for further information. In order to de-
termine the possibilities of this unknown land, Will left Washington in Jan-
uary, 1910, and
. made his first visit to the Everglades, going to Fort Myers, by boat
to Lake Okeechobee, and back to Fort Myers; thence to New Smyrna,
Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Thence to Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Jack-
sonville and Washington; all in the interest of Everglades reclamation
While in Florida Will met and talked with former governors N. B.
Broward and W. S. Jennings and with R. J. BoIles and others interested in
the promotion of the Everglades project. Upon his return to Washington Will
decided to actively participate in the Florida proposition and resigned his
position with the forestry group to become a free lance writer and lecturer
on the Everglades.'- For the next twenty-seven years the development of the
Everglades became the motivating force of Will's life, a force which at times
seemed to be an obsession. At the time of his death in 1937, the Everglades
News reported that the region had "lost not only one of its oldest settlers
and pioneer developers, but an ardent champion for all worth while improve-
ments, and a recognized authority on Everglades affairs".'7
Thomas E. Will was, by background and training, an able opponent for
any man in the struggle to uphold what he considered the decent way of life.
He was essentially a crusader and
. had something of a reformer in him. He usually took the part of
the small fellow, the 'underdog' against 'vested interests.' And as with
most reformers, the small man would often turn against him, and bite
the hand that was aiding him.-T
Born in a log cabin, in keeping with American tradition for self-made
men, on November 11, 1861, Will spent his early years on his father's farm.
His education up to his twenty-first year had been in country and
village schools; he had worked on the farm, and attended school some
three or four months during the mid-winter. . He suffered a severe
setback at seventeen, in a failure of the eyes that threatened total blind-
ness . Nevertheless, he was able, by the age of nineteen, to meet the
county superintendent's test and entered upon the work of teaching. ...
After two years' service in a country school he had saved up enough
money to enable him to take a course of treatment by an oculist. . .
The September of 1882 found him at the State Normal School at Nor-
mal, Ill., from which he graduated in 1885.'9
After three years as teacher and principal of public schools in Illinois,
he attended the University of Michigan as a special student. In the fall of
1889 he entered Harvard College as a senior, where he graduated in 1890.20
At the end of this year he was appointed to a fellowship in political economy
and continued his education in the Harvard Graduate School receiving a
Master of Arts degree in 1891. 21 "Throughout his university work he special-
ized in education, history, economics, and sociology."22
There is reason to believe that Will had contemplated further academic
study in German universities. But in July, 1891, he married Marie Van
Velsor Rogers of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and during the summer ac-
cepted the chair of history and political science in Lawrence University at
Appleton, Wisconsin.-3 "Here he continued for two years, after which he
returned to Boston for one year, where he helped in organizing the Union
for Practical Progress, delivered courses of lectures on economics, and wrote
a series of sociological articles for the Arena."24
In the summer of 1894 Will returned to the academic world as a pro-
fessor of history and political science in the Kansas State Agricultural Col-
lege at Manhattan, Kansas, a position he held for three years. In 1897 he
1. E. DOVELL
was elected president of this institution. One of the historians of Kansas
State Agricultural College wrote, in 1909, that:
The executive office became his without an effort, but it gave him
meager opportunities to test his abilities as the head of a higher insti-
tution of learning. The State was the center of a political upheaval in
which he became a prominent figure. He was too warm-blooded and too
young to play hedgerr." He took sides and two years later his side lost.
He was probably not a full blood Populist at any time, but he advo-
cated bimetallism and state ownership of public utilities, and spoke and
wrote boldly in favor of his doctrines. . The free silver combination
lost and President Will, together with a number of his collaborators in
the faculty were "resigned."
The Kansas State Agricultural College is deeply indebted to Ex-
President Will for many new things and new ideas. ... He will be given
credit for greatly increasing the attendance, for diversifying the work
by the organization of different courses, for habituating the legislature
to the idea of appropriating liberally to the College, and for stimulating
original work and research in the Experiment Station and in the many
fields of abstract science.25
Following the close of his work at Kansas State, Will was engaged in lec-
turing and writing on the principles he had taught and fought for in Man-
hattan. In 1900 he returned to the educational field as Dean of Ruskin Col-
lege at Trenton, Missouri, and continued there until 1903. The next two
years were spent in Wichita, Kansas, where he was again occupied in cre-
ative writing and speaking. Accepting a position in the federal census bu-
reau in 1905, the Wills moved to Washington. A short time later Will
received an appointment in the United States Forest Service, where under
the direction of Gifford Pinchot, he toured the eastern half of the country
and lectured from Chautauqua platforms in the interest of forest preserva-
tion. It was during this period that the forest service was agitating the estab-
lishment of forest reserves in the Appalachian and White Mountain areas.26
At the conclusion of the forest service appointment he became secretary of
the American Forestry Association and editor of Conservation.27
When Will resigned his office as secretary of the American Forestry As-
sociation in late January, 1910, he severed a connection he had made in Sep-
tember, 1906.28 He had been editor of the association's journal for most of
those years and had written most of the editorials and a goodly number of
articles that were published during the period.20 In a short, farewell article
Will summarized his activities as an official of the organization and noted
that although his official duties in the organization were completed he would
continue to work for the conservation of the natural resources of his na-
tive land. 30
In 1910, when Will gave up his forestry affiliation he was in his forty-
eighth year. In the prime of life he directed his efforts toward the Everglades
drainage scheme with the same vigor and enthusiasm he had displayed
throughout his earlier years. His son recalled that:
Physically, he was of an active, nervous disposition, full of driving
energy. He was capable of extreme exertion, both physical or mental,
and apparently never tired. He never did anything the easy way, even
though it might have been just as good.
He was of medium height and build, and carried himself erectly. In
order to counteract the effects of long hours bending over a desk, he
regularly took exercises to keep him from being stooped and to keep in
physical trim. He was always in excellent health almost to the time of
his death at the age of 75. Early in his career he took lessons in elocu-
tion and since his speechmaking was before the days of public address
systems, he developed a remarkably clear diction and a powerful voice.31
In the leaflet, "Where Nature Smiles," used by the Everglades Land Sales
Company to advertise Will's Everglades lectures in Washington, mention was
made of the careful investigation the lecturer had made of the possibilities
of the soils found there. The advertising added that he had gone "thoroughly
into the questions of production, transportation, and the marketing of
products" and declared his belief that the Everglades offered the best "poor
man's proposition" then before the public.32 "The Great West of Horace
Greely's day no longer exists. . Were Greely alive today he would now
say, 'Go South, Young Man, Go South!' "3
The injunction to go South was not followed by Will on a permanent
basis until the end of the year 1914. During the years 1910-1914 he spent
most of his time in Washington agitating the sale and settlement of Ever-
glades lands.34 Early in 1910, Will was associated with E. C. Howe, General
Agent in Washington for the Everglades Land Sales Company. Howe was
also a former government employee, having been on the staff of the Interstate
Commerce Commission. Under the auspices of Howe and Will a number of
purchasers of Everglades land organized to promote their interests in the
Florida peat soils. Any buyer of land in the area was eligible for member-
ship upon payment of initiation fee and regular dues.
I. E. DOVELL
The organization boasted a constitution with by-laws and was named the
Florida Everglades Homebuilders Association. Article II of the constitution
The object of this association shall be to enlarge the knowledge, in-
crease the effectiveness, and otherwise further the material interests of
buyers of lands and builders of homes in the Everglades of Florida, and
to assist them in establishing, in that territory, a community based upon
the principles of justice, brotherhood and cooperation.35
The homebuilders association had purchased a tract of land on the South New
River Canal which was to be farmed by a manager to furnish the members
information on how to "learn and earn" and "what can be done in the muck
lands behind Miami."36
The 1910-1912 boom in the development and sale of the Everglades and
contiguous lands of South Florida was received with very decided differences
of opinion in Florida and in the United States at large. As with any project
in which there is a question of success, doubt as to the ultimate reclamation
of the Everglades was expressed from the first attempt. The Everglades
drainage operations gave rise to land selling by high pressure salesmanship
with a considerable amount of speculation. The whole program was sub-
jected to a vast amount of criticism: the methods employed in dredging, the
accuracy of the surveys, the estimates of the engineers, the practicability and
feasibility of drainage, and the resulting value of the soil. All of these became
questions without immediate answers. In these years the enterprise became
a subject of national recognition.37
A series of letters and subsequent conferences between Governor N. B.
Broward and his Florida officials and representatives of the United States
Department of Agriculture in the spring and summer of 1906 had been cli-
maxed by examinations by the Department's drainage division engineers
of the Everglades area, beginning in January, 1907.3 There was no official
report of the federal drainage engineer's investigations until an abstract ap-
peared in 1909. This abstract was part of a larger report made by a joint
committee of the Florida Legislature of 1909 which had been appointed to
inform the legislators on the progress of the work that was then being done
by the Florida officials in the Everglades drainage program.39
Data included in this excerpt was regarded by interested parties as
being so favorable to this work of reclamation that it was circulated as
advertising matter to stimulate the sale of Florida Everglade lands by
companies who placed these lands on the market before the ditches were
dug to drain. Thus with only a cursory examination in the field and no
critical review in the office, engineering plans for this vast reclamation
work-the largest project in the world, was favorably recommended to
the public, bearing the approval of the Department of Agriculture. a
Evidence presented during the congressional investigations of the Ever-
glades in 1912 showed that the 1909 excerpt had been secured through corre-
spondence between Governor Albert W. Gilchrist of Florida and Secretary of
Agriculture James Wilson and that Wilson had given Gilchrist permission to
publish the extracts.41 Additional evidence was presented at the same hear-
ings by Arthur E. Morgan who had been asked to examine the report of his
associate supervising drainage engineer, James 0. Wright. Morgan testified
that the Wright plans were "so completely erroneous" and showed "such
complete incompetency" that publication of the full report would be not only
misleading, "but would be a serious reflection upon the professional char-
acter of the services performed by drainage investigations."42
The activity of the state drainage operations and the sales campaigns of
the various land companies focused a good deal of attention on the Ever-
glades. Since the United States Department of Agriculture was known to be
conducting examinations in that area it was natural that many letters seeking
information would be addressed to the federal agency. The delay in the
appearance of the complete report aggravated the situation and to meet this
demand a form letter was prepared in January, 1910, which was used to
answer the requests for information on the south Florida region. The state-
ments on the soil, agricultural value, climate, and amount of dredging and
ditching necessary were of such a cautionary nature that they were objec-
tionable to parties interested in promoting the Everglades.43
On February 3, 1910, Senator Duncan U. Fletcher received a telegram
from ex-Governor Broward, which read in part: "Received a telegram [from
Chicago] 'Bulletin coming out of Agricultural Department knocking Ever-
glades.' I earnestly ask you to investigate and prevent such action if you
can."" Senator Fletcher called on Secretary Wilson on the morning of Feb-
ruary 4, read Broward's message to him, and presented Wilson with a copy
of the circular letter.45 After some discussion Wilson called in his chief of
the divisions of publications and informed him that it was the business of
the department to furnish scientific data. "We are not here to give opinions
or make statements otherwise than that, and I want this stopped right
where it is."4"
Within a few days after Fletcher's visit to the Department of Agriculture,
E. C. Howe and T. E. Will visited the drainage division of the federal agency
and inquired as to the author of the circular letter. They were indignant at
J. E. DOVELL
what they termed the misinformation in the circular and sought to secure
suppression of the letter and to have a retraction issued. The real estate
agents were given a cool reception in the drainage division and took their
case to Secretary Wilson, who had already taken action.47
On May 10, 1910, Congressman Frank Clark of Miami, in whose district
most of the Everglades lay, introduced a resolution on the floor of the House
of Representatives proposing that the Secretary of Agriculture furnish the
lower house with any information showing what the "Government of the
United States" was doing "toward directing or supervising the drainage of
any lands in the everglade region of Florida."48 The resolution was sub-
mitted on the basis that the Everglades Land Sales Company stated in its ad-
vertisements that Everglades lands were "being drained under state and na-
tional direction and supervision."49
Clark's resolution was referred to the Committee on Agriculture, ordered
to be printed but was never reported on. Two years later at the congressional
hearings Will stated that the resolution was but a part of the campaign of
antagonism which the Miami congressman was waging against the Everglades
project. According to Will the resolution tended to create "disquiet" in the
public mind, which in Will's eye probably represented the "buying public"
at that time.o0
Three days afterward, on May 17, Will and M. L. Bowen, an associate of
Will's in the land company, paid a visit to Secretary Wilson in regard to the
contemplated report which had been promised to the public some months
previously. Will recalled that he had expressed the hope that the delayed
publication would soon appear, when Wilson brought his fist down on the
table and said, "I told- them fellows I would not do a damned thing for them
until they quit fighting among themselves."-' Wilson did not inform Will
and Bowen that the revised page proof of the Everglades report had been
presented for publication the previous January 28, 1910,52 nor did Wilson
inform them, on June 14, that he had decided not to publish the disputed
Through 1910 and 1911 Will continued his interests in Everglades lands,
particularly in the offices of the land company. The homebuilder's associa-
tion was quite active, "meeting regularly, and earnestly studying all aspects
of Everglades questions."'4 In addition, Will organized what he termed the
"first Everglades Farming Association," a group which sponsored the trans-
porting of a number of Everglades buyers from Washington and New Jersey
to Zona, ten miles west of Ft. Lauderdale on the South New River canal.
These pioneers became residents of the first true Everglades settlement."
David G. Fairchild recalled that "Some business men of Miami who were
interested in the sale of Everglades lands had established an experiment sta-
tion at a little settlement called Davie."-' And John Newhouse, settler of the
Upper Everglades, remembered Davie as "a lively place" in the fall of 1914.57
Among the men that Will interested in joining the settlement at Davie was
Felix A. Forbes of Washington. In 1912, Forbes established one of the first
boat lines providing regular service from Ft. Lauderdale to Rita Island in
Lake Okeechobee, and later extended from Miami to Ft. Myers.58
No doubt a good part of Will's time in 1911 was filled with the work he
did in connection with the completion of the papers and information of Sen-
ate Document 89. The two hundred page document contains all of the avail-
able major acts, reports and other papers relating to the Everglades and as
late as 1933, was, according to Will, "the chief Everglades fact book to
date."'9 The publication is a veritable documentary history of the Florida
Everglades, containing such papers as the Florida Treaty, Congressional Acts
of Admission for the State, abridged Buckingham Smith Report, Acts of the
Florida Legislature, Legislative Reports, Drainage Reports, and other mate-
rial on the south Florida area.
The Wright report on the Everglades lay dormant in the files of the De-
partment of Agriculture for a full year before it was published in Senate
Document 89 at the instigation of Senator Fletcher. Broward, Gilchrist and
a host of others had attempted to secure copies of the government engineers'
recommendations without success.60 In June of 1911, Fletcher heard that the
report had been killed, the plates melted down, and the number the paper
was to have borne given to another document.
Senator Fletcher, who represented the progressive element that wanted
to carry out the drainage project, figured out a plan to force its publica-
tion whether the department liked it or not. So he introduced a Senate
resolution to have the whole thing published as a Senate document,
along with much other matter bearing on the drainage enterprise. . 61
This collection of assorted manuscripts pertaining to the south Florida
lands became a "cause celebre" about which the gathering storm broke in the
fall of 1911 when it appeared in print and played a major part in the con-
gressional hearings which began in February, 1912. The responsibility for
the idea which fathered the collection may be divided between Fletcher and
Will. Fletcher stated that "The document was prepared at my instance, and
under my direction . to state only the absolute truth in connection with
that great enterprise."s" In an article published by Will in the Ft. Lauderdale
1. E. DOVELL
Call on June 12, 1926, Will wrote that he had conceived and compiled Sen-
ate Document 89.63
Senator Fletcher began assembling the materials for the document in the
late spring of 1911. George H. Carter, clerk of the Joint Committee of Con-
gress on Printing, asserted that the material was prepared and arranged by
T. E. Will. The former educator and editor went to various libraries and
government offices in a search for the numerous papers and assisted Fletcher
in getting the papers ready for publication. Will also managed to secure,
without the Department of Agriculture's authorization, a copy of the no-
torious Wright Report for the printing committee4
At the congressional hearings in 1912 this document became a major sub-
ject in the questioning of the various witnesses. Testimony brought out the
facts that the proofs were read and corrected in the late summer of 1911 in
Jacksonville, Florida, by Senator Fletcher, ex-Governor Jennings, and Chief
Engineer J. 0. Wright of the Florida drainage commission.*5 During the
course of the investigation William H. Ellis, attorney for the Florida officials,
asked Henry E. Davis, attorney for the Committee, if the latter intended to
attack this document. Davis replied that it was his purpose to point out the
interests which its preparation served.c6 At the same hearing Chairman Ralph
W. Moss read a large display advertisement from an Everglades Land Sales
Company promotion into the record. It reads as follows:
United States Senate Document No. 89, regarding Everglades, now
ready. Every person interested in the glades should send for this publi-
cation, compiled at the request of the Miami Board of Trade, submitted
by Florida's distinguished Senator, Duncan U. Fletcher.67
Moss questioned J. 0. Wright as to the reputation of the volume in Florida
as an endorsement of the Everglades project. Wright answered, "Yes, I
think I could say it is an endorsement of the project."68 When Will was
asked if the Everglades Land Sales Company had used the document as a
means of selling land, the latter replied, "I think so. They have used it."69
Senate Document 89 was a very popular collection. The first edition, ap-
pearing in the late fall of 1911, was soon exhausted. On February 1, 1912,
Senator Nathan P. Bryan, the junior senator from Florida, introduced a
resolution providing for the printing of 4,800 additional copies of the docu-
ment.70 The printing committee reported the resolution favorably and it was
adopted by unanimous senatorial consent on February 15, 1912.71
In August, 1911, Vance W. Helm, president and general agent of the Ever-
glades Land Sales Company, wrote Will that he had received a letter from
Senator Fletcher announcing the forthcoming publication of Senate Docu-
ment 89. Helm declared: "This is certainly great news and I want to con-
gratulate you on this successful part of the program."72 Helm asked Will if
it would be possible to secure a large number of copies of this document on
the Everglades with Fletcher's wrapper "all complete for mailing with his
frank."73 On August 22 Helm again Wrote Will, ordering a thousand copies
of the document in one, five, and ten thousand lots.7' On August 26 Helm
informed Will that the company officials were urging Senator Fletcher to
persuade President William Howard Taft to stop and inspect the Everglades
on a proposed trip to Florida in January, 1912.75 Upon the appearance of
this publication, Helm again wrote Will that he had "Just received a copy of
the Senate Document. It is a peach. When making the big shipment to us
you may keep out 25 copies for your use."76 On December 15, 1911, Will
wrote Helm that "your batch of documents, accompanied by franked en-
velopes start to you in the morning."77
The high tide of the Everglades sales promotion campaign was reached in
an advertisement which appeared in the February 5, 1912, issue of the
Washington (D. C.) Star.
United States Official Indorsement
First time in the history of the Government such a thing has been
done. The Sixty-second Congress has recently issued a document of 208
pages indorsing the great reclamation, climate, healthfulness and fer-
tility of the Everglades. The greatest opportunity of the century is
offered here to the man with small capital to establish himself where the
evident cooperation of the Government is sufficient to make the com-
munity rich and prosperous. Free literature. Call for some.
Everglades Land Co., 809 G Street, N. W.78
But the 1910-1912 boom in the development and sale of the Everglades and
contiguous lands of South Florida was received with very decided differences
of opinion in the state and in the nation at large. There were many who had
feelings on the subject similar to those of the Miami merchant, Isidor Cohen,
who believed the reclamation of the Everglades had been a boon to Miami
and that it was gratifying to note the subsequent experiments in agriculture
had vindicated the attitude of the "boomers."79 Joe Hugh Reese, a reporter
on the Miami Metropolis (in 1909), writing in 1926, recalled that many
newspapers in Florida were against the Everglades project in those early
years on account of the exploitation by the land agents and the political con-
nections which resulted, Reese felt, however, that "It was not until that time
that Miami and Fort Lauderdale amounted to much. .... At that period Miami
1. E. DOVELL
was pretty much of a dead town but the Everglades action woke it up, and
in less than two years it was flourishing. . o
Opposition to the Everglades reclamation project came from many sources.
The corporate interests which had lost their grip on the bounty of state lands
opposed the work from the outset and fought their way through the federal
courts to stop it. Rufus E. Rose held the opposite view, when as State Chemist
he wrote that an organized system of "criticism, slander, and defamation"
had been started by "interested parties, citizens, and newspapers of the state,
and of western states" who were envious of the emigration of capital and
people to the region.81 J. C. Gifford found it hard to believe that there were
hundreds of "knockers" among the "home people, who had nothing to lose
and everything to gain, and who talked it down by the hour on the street
corners to newcomers."8
Concrete expressions of skepticism regarding the Everglades land promo-
tion appeared in the media of articles and communications published in
numerous periodicals. In a letter to the editor of Harper's Weekly by L. C.
Parsons, citation was made of a prospectus of the Florida Fruitlands Com-
pany which offered 180,000 acres for sale, stating that "twelve hundred farms
and homes are being practically given away."'3 Parsons said that questions
of frost, fertilizer, irrigation, freight rates and profits of commission men
should be settled before purchasing 'Glades land as the drainage project was
many years premature. George T. Odell launched a severe assault against
the promoters who sold ten acre tracts for farms. Odell asked who ever heard
of making a living out of sugar on a ten acre farm. Prophesying the future
trend of land holding in the Everglades, he added:
How many of those silly persons who bought their land "sight un-
seen" will have their tiny patches when the Florida Everglades is trans-
formed into fertile farms?8
For two years, Thomas Elmer Will had been busily engaged in the pro-
motion of selling Everglades land contracts.85 In a letter of December 16,
1911, from V. W. Helm to Will, the land company official outlined what he
believed were reasons for "the present odium now attaching to the whole
Everglades proposition."86 Helm felt that if the land companies had shoul-
dered the responsibility of supplying collateral drainage to supplement the
state canals the "odium" would have been forestalled. As a means of allay-
ing the ill-feeling Helm agreed to enter a six month contract with Will to
conduct a Washington publicity bureau for the Everglades Land Sales Com-
pany. Will was to be paid $100 a month for his services in providing mate-
rials for the press and periodicals in a campaign of education on the possi-
bilities of the Everglades.87
One of Will's literary productions in the interest of publicity was a six
page article titled "The Everglades of Florida." The manuscript was brought
out in the October, 1912, issue of the Review of Reviews, and differed very
little from the descriptive writing that had been in common circulation. Re-
citing the current figures in regard to Lake Okeechobee levels, lengths of
completed and proposed canals, and equipment in operation, Will noted that
the state was following Broward's drainage plan of "cut and try" for the
dredging of canals.B8 Significantly, in view of Will's professional back-
ground, he concluded that national public interests lay in the "bringing to-
gether of the man and the land" in the Everglades.
The odium which attached itself to the Everglades proposition, referred to
in Helm's letter to Will, was not dispelled by the efforts of all the proponents
of the drainage project. Throughout the fall of 1911 and early winter of
1912 references were made to probability that the House of Representatives'
Committee Investigating Expenditures in the Department of Agriculture, un-
der the Chairmanship of Representative Ralph W. Moss of Indiana, would
look into federal participation in the Everglades drainage. Interest in Wash-
ington centered on the stories of the suppression of the engineering report of
the drainage division, the famed circular letter, and the appearance of the
Wright report in Senate Document 89 in December, 1911.0s Meetings of the
Committee were called on February 3 and 6, 1912, at which time Congress-
men Frank Clark of Florida and E. R. Bathrick of Ohio came before the
group and presented their reasons for asking the legislative group to investi-
gate the Florida reclamation plans.
The Moss Committee summoned a large number of witnesses and many
others became witnesses, including Florida's governor and several state offi-
cials, on a voluntary basis. The investigators wanted to determine if "public
funds had been expended in the examination and survey of the Everglades"
and whether reports prepared by the engineers as a result of this expenditure
of public funds "had been refused publication" or "had been suppressed."90
The committee sat through forty-three hearings from February 3 to August 9,
1912, and collected 1,759 pages of testimony and exhibits on Florida in gen-
eral and the Everglades in particular. At the conclusion of the Everglades
hearings the majority report of the committee found that
The vacillating course of the department in its treatment of this im-
portant project was . in part due to a difference of opinion among
Members of Congress and the State Authorities of Florida; irrecon-
I. E. DOVELL
cilable differences in the opinions and conclusions among the engineers
in the Division of Drainage was another contributing cause. The evi-
dence . warrants the conclusion that the entire treatment of the project
was most unfortunate and subjected the Department of Agriculture to
much suspicion and criticism.91
The reaction to the Congressional investigation held in 1912 was ex-
pressed in several ways. Joe Hugh Reese believed the hearings had been a
healthy thing for all of Florida since they had made drainage no longer an
issue, but a definite policy.92
Its most important consequence for the board of trustees of the
internal improvement fund and for the large landholders was that they
found difficulty in attracting new purchasers, and that the funds with
which they expected to finance the work of drainage were seriously
Will, in an article on the history of the Everglades land owners' troubles,
did not mention the investigation, but he did write that in the 'Glades slump
of 1912 all the buyers deserted the market.04 The Trustees of the Internal
Improvement Fund attempted to stem the tide of adverse criticisms by ap-
porpriating $1,000 to cover the expenses of a party of representatives of the
press of the mid-western states on a "Cook's Tour" of South Florida and the
Everglades. The party arrived in Jacksonville on April 12, 1912, and was ac-
companied on the trip by Governor Gilchrist, state officials, educators, bank
and railroad presidents and others including "Dr. T. E. Wills, formerly of
Agricultural State College, Kansas, and editor Conservation Magazine, Wash-
ington, D. C."93
Will's primary purpose in coming to Florida in 1912, however, had been
to lead a "large delegation from Washington to the Bryant and Greenwood
auction held on the present site of Lake Worth during the week of April
6-13."06 A large majority of the persons who attended the land distribution
plan were representatives of groups of land buyers who held clearance re-
ceipts and contracts issued by the Florida Everglades Land Company.97 The
Bryant and Greenwood Realty Company served as agents of the land com-
pany which in turn owned the land that was auctioned to the buyers near
West Palm Beach. The representatives organized an assembly and held a
number of meetings, discussing and debating matters of Everglades settle-
ment and agriculture. The assembly appointed a committee to call on the
Moss Investigating group to invite the congressmen to personally inspect the
Everglades project. The assembled buyers also passed measures censuring
Congressmen Clark and Bathrick and approving the work of the Everglades
The people in attendance at the West Palm Beach meeting represented
4,860 buyers of small tracts-amounting to 64,240 acres. As an inducement
to purchase tracts of five and ten acres, townsite lots were thrown in free
A name, Okeelanta, was chosen for the townsite as the area was between
the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Okeechobee. In 1914 the townsite was surveyed
and staked. Altogether in the one and a half sections allowed for the town-
site there were 4,800 lots, with provisions for streets and alleys, parks and
public building sites, residence and business districts, and shipping and mar-
keting districts. "Nicely painted white stakes with black numbers dotted the
townsite for a couple of years afterward, but fires, decay, and squatters
played havoc with the survey and soon most of the stakes disappeared. No
buildings were ever located on the townsite, except squatters' shacks."'oo
The tracts sold at auction were located in town ships running from 42
South, Range 37 East to 47 South, Range 34 East. The large blocks of land
which the State of Florida had sold in the 1908-1910 period had been deliv-
ered in alternate sections, thus the West Palm Beach land purchasers found
themselves scattered over several different townships in the raw sawgrass
lands south of Lake Okeechobee. "In transferring the land to Bolles and
other purchasers, the trustees reserved alternate sections for themselves, a
practice which was applauded as a shrewd means of withholding the lands
from the market until drainage should appreciably increase their value."'01
The sale of the alternate sections by the land companies and the resale in
small tracts to the out-of-state purchasers posed a difficult problem to the
members of the Florida Everglades Homebuilders Association which had been
organized by Will in 1910 with the intention of making a cooperative settle-
ment in the Everglades.
Will later wrote that the buyers' attendance at the 1912 meeting was an
evidence of "their sincerity, preparing to start settlement."o10 He added that
he "drove, aggressively and incessantly, for a practical plan and an early
start." The proposed Okeelanta settlement plan was abandoned because of
the scattered holdings and Will returned to Washington. From that place he
made several attempts to consolidate the tracts into one contiguous tract, but
he was not able to interest the land companies or the State of Florida in his
settlement plan.'03 As a consequence of this failure, he again visited Florida
and in February, 1913, appeared before the Trustees of the Internal Improve-
ment Fund in Tallahassee. On February 6, he purchased 880 acres from the
J. E. DOVELL
Florida trustees to add to the 120 acres he already owned.1o4 Through this
purchase Will was able to consolidate his Everglades holdings into one of
roughly two sections which he laid out in small plots to be resold to settlers.
The new townsite selected by Will was a mile south of the old Okeelanta
townsite on the North New River (Ft. Lauderdale) Canal.'05
On October 24, 1913, Will launched the first planned settlement in the
Upper Everglades of Florida. His son, Lawrence, now of Belle Glade, was
one of the first five settlers.1os "Other settlers followed the first five, many
of them bachelors, but there were some families, one couple having a babe in
arms."107 John Newhouse (Jan Van Nijhuis), an emigrant from the Nether-
lands, came to Okeelanta in the fall of 1914 in a party with several other men
and settled in "an old trapper's shack until a new house could be built."
Newhouse wrote that many trades and professional people, not experienced
. were easily talked into buying a tract of Everglades land on
monthly payments. They could hardly wait until the land was paid for
before moving to Florida, to live a life of ease, plenty, and independence.
Usually they had a little money laid by and part of that went for
traveling expenses. Another part was spent by their families living in
East Coast hotels and rooming houses, while locating their land-if they
could find it.
Then the hard work and sweating began. Clearing a place to build,
hauling the material, often by privately hired boat or barge, doing the
construction work themselves, they soon were disgusted. The women
seldom liked it. The real estate company payments, and the high cost
of living soon syphoned the last money out of their pockets, and before
long they left, disgruntled and broke; and looking for a scapegoat.
They never blamed themselves.o08
The difficulties which beset these pioneers were common to any frontier
settlement of the nineteenth century with the differences caused by the peat
soils of the overflowed lands, but this was the modern year of 1914. Prob-
lems of boating supplies sixty miles from Ft. Lauderdale, belaboring the
saw grass roots from the soil by hand, fighting mosquitos and snakes, and
seeding the soil beset these frontiersmen. Setbacks from frost, soil troubles
and plant diseases dulled the optimism of many of the settlers and they left,
but others came in to take their places. The hardier ones stuck it out and by
varying their crops of beans, potatoes, cabbage and lettuce managed to live.
Lawrence E. Will described the vitality of his father during a typical day
at Okeelanta after the elder Will joined the group in December, 1914, as
Here he and I lived in a small shack, 12' x 16', in a rather primitive
style, kerosene stove and lights, no refrigeration, and very little in the
way of comforts of living.
He arose in the morning in time to get to work at 7 o'clock. Dressed
in overalls, boots and big straw hat, he worked in the field as hard or
harder than anyone else, planting, tractoring or surveying, often walking
a mile or two to get to work, as the ground was too soft for a car. At
noon he would relax a few minutes after eating. In the afternoon he
would work like a steam engine till six or later, take the essential bath
to remove the muck and muck itch. After supper he would sleep one
hour, then he would repair to his desk and write letters or a story for
publication or possibly read some accumulated newspapers. If the mail
boat was due the following morning, he often wrote till one or two in
the morning. However, he was always up at the regular time.
On Sunday he attended religious services, and if there was a Sunday
school at the time, he taught the adult class. The remainder of the day
was devoted to studying, writing and tramping around the fields to plan
work for the following week.'09
Attempts to eliminate the manual labor necessary to prepare the Ever-
glades soils for agriculture were made in a number of instances with the use
of walking, crawling, and rolling types of tractors. S. R. Cooper tried a
walking tractor at Okeelanta in the early winter of 1914 and another in the
fall but both were returned to the factory for further modification.,to During
the Christmas season of 1914 many of the Okeelanta settlers went to Ft. Lau-
derdale for the holidays. A number of the group, led by T. E. Will, spent
December 24 in a trip to Davie to observe a wide-wheel type tractor which had
been developed there. This machine, fitted with cutting knives which pul-
verized the soil, was later shipped to Okeelanta and employed in breaking
up the raw land.'" The interest in such machinery presisted and in 1916 Will
persuaded S. W. Bollinger, a Pittsburgh manufacturer and Everglades land
owner, to construct a five ton tractor equipped with a revolving cylinder
armed with long teeth to comminute the soil."2
As the developer and one of the pioneer settlers at Okeelanta, Will's
work was primarily that of finding crops which would thrive on the peat
soils and return a profit to the farmers. He experimented continuously to
determine the plants that were adaptable to the area and to determine correct
methods of cultivation. "3 In the course of the search for implements for
I. E. DOVELL
clearing and cultivating the soft and loose earth he developed many useful
machines. "One of his accomplishments was the invention of the type of
turning plow and large rolling coulter, now in almost universal use in the
Located fifty-seven miles from Ft. Lauderdale, the residents of Okeelanta
evidenced the news hunger common to all pioneers. Felix A. Forbes ran a
regular boat to Lauderdale on Monday and Friday, returning on Tuesday and
Saturday in the afternoon. On those latter days the settlers would move toward
the Okeelanta landing at Bolles and North New River Canals to meet the
boat for supplies and mail amid rair, cold or mosquitos. The settlers would
return on Monday and Friday morning with mail and cash for their store
orders."1 Early in 1915, V. M. Baker considered building a store at Okee-
lanta and Will encouraged him with the offer of a lot free of charge. Where-
upon Baker accepted and started the first store in the upper Everglades."1
As this was the only store available settlers came from far and wide to trade,
and soon a fourth class post office was established in the store.
New settlers arrived during 1915, some of the families with children of
school age. A teacher was secured in the fall and a classroom with school
furniture was fitted out in a building furnished by the community. in 1916
the Palm Beach County School Board built a one room school house on a lot
donated by T. E. Will. The county board hired a school boat to transport the
children from the lake shore and along the canals to the school site. Will was
a member of the Okeelanta school board and served as school supervisor by
appointment. He served as a school trustee for many years during which time
other schools were begun at South Bay, Toirey Island, Kreamer Island, Rilta
and several other locations.17
The agitation for highways and roads was one of the vital issues of the
Everglades pioneers in their efforts to improve their way of life. Beginning
in 1914 a canal was excavated between two townships, 44 and t5 South, across
two ranges, 35 and 36 East, for the purpose of building a road bed. The
canal, popularly called the Bolles Canal, extended from a point a little more
than a mile east of Okeelanta to the Palm Beach County line, three miles
west of the Miami Canal. The expense of the work was divided between the
county and the Okeechobee Fruit Lands Company.1l1 This road bed was com-
pleted in 1916 and the Okeelanta settlers expected that the project would be
continued to the east coast.
The movement for road construction as an essential factor in Everglades
settlement was strongly supported by R. J. Bolles in January, 1915, when he
spoke before the Palm Beach County Commissioners on the subject."9 When
road construction was stopped on completion of the Bolles Canal, Will or-
ganized a meeting of representatives from the Everglades. A meeting was
held in Okeelanta in the winter of 1916. The group voted to renew its efforts
for the construction of a highway across the state from West Palm Beach to
Ft. Myers via the Bolles Canal and Okeelanta.120 Shortly thereafter a dele-
gation of Okeelanta residents, under the leadership of Dr. Will, journeyed
to the county seat at West Palm Beach where they called upon the Chamber
of Commerce and the County Commissioners. One of the results of this road
promotion came in the creation of Special Road District Number Six in Palm
Beach County. A bond election held in the new district in August, 1916, to
issue $150,000 in bonds was successful and the new road seemed assured.'2l
Differences arose as to the route of the proposed road and when the survey
was made the route lay along the south shore of the lake four miles north of
Will and other settlers at Okeelanta were dismayed at this turn of events.
However, again under Will's leadership they were successful in securing the
passage of a special act in the 1917 Florida Legislature providing for the
issuance of $50,000 in county warrants. Proceeds from these warrants were
used to excavate a canal from Gladescrest, on the Hillsboro Canal, to the
eastern end of the Bolles Canal. The spoil bank of this canal was used as a
road to connect the Okeelanta section with the cross state highway at Six Mile
Bridge, southeast of Belle Glade.122 As a means of expediting this road the
Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund, on January 25, 1918, donated
land to the value of $100,000 to the Roads and Improvement Society and
Commissioners of Palm Beach County to aid in the digging of a canal from
the West Palm Beach canal to the Bolles Canal, thus assisting in the con-
struction of the highway.'23 The Okeelanta connecting dirt road was com-
pleted in the summer of 1919, but it was never hard surfaced.
As a result of a surprise party given one of the Okeelanta families in
1915, J. F. Waters remarked that such events should happen oftener. New-
house wrote that the settlers made good company for each other out in the
wilderness. The Okeelanta Growers Association grew out of the idea, pros-
pering for ten years as a division of the Federal Farm Bureau Federation, and
was one of the prime movers in the establishment of the Everglades Experi-
ment Station near Belle Glade in 1923.'24 Dr. Will served as Chairman of
the Growers Association for many years. As an outgrowth of this Association
was formed after the passage of the Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916. An
Okeelanta Federal Farm Loan Association was established in 1917 at a mass
meeting held in 1917 at Will's initiative. "Capital being a crying need in those
J. E. DOVELL
days in the 'Glades, and none available-even groceries had to be paid for in
cash, ."'as Will was selected as one of the three appraisers, and spent a con-
siderable number of days in looking over landholdings of persons joining
the loan group. Unfortunately nothing came of the movement as the re-
gional bank could not be interested in making loans to the Everglades Asso-
After moving to Okeelanta in 1914, Will sought to make his livelihood
from the sale of farm products. He owned a goodly amount of land, some
of which he was able to sell from time to time. During these years he also
was engaged in encouraging the original land buyers to hold on to their land
and to develop their acreage for profit. Among the many papers of the
massive collection which Dr. Will saved are dozens of pamphlets and broch-
ures which he had written and published for circulation to his many corre-
spondents. Of these years, he wrote:
Between 1913 and 1922, Okeelanta acquired a live farming popula-
tion, prosperous store, school, town hall, Sunday School, church services,
post office, daily mail, cooperative association, leading all forward
'Glades movements; a voting precinct, telephone to the coast, and con-
stant cross-state traffic via Okeelanta, between Miami and Ft. Myers.126
Will's primary object was always to make the land available to the thou-
sands of original buyers of small plots who, like Will himself, had purchased
on the promise of the land companies and the state to reclaim the area and
make it fit for agriculture. He viewed the problems of the Everglades in a
large way and championed the cause of those who bought lands, paid taxes
for benefits never received and who finally relinquished their holdings. To
further this goal he was ever in the van to secure any improvements for the
benefit of the Florida Everglades.
We must organize, find an accessible, livable spot, move there, im-
prove conditions far and near, and help each other other live civilized
lives. . Old buyers have been hit, hard, but few as hard as I. Most
waited for George to do it, and I was George.,27
A visitor to Okeelanta in 1919 reported that there was evidence of activity
in the Everglades soils on all sides of the settlement. He was particularly in-
terested in the "good tomato, bean, and potato crops" that were being pro-
duced in "soil that looks like an old manure pile."128 This tourist spent a
night at the Okeelanta hotel which was crowded with guests at the time. He
remarked that boat traffic was moving in the canal all night and that the next
morning the Okeelanta store was serving thirty to forty customers. Such
prosperity, however, was relatively shortlived, for in 1920 the upper Ever-
glades were flooded with excess water beyond the drainage capacity of the
long diagonal canals to the lower east coast.
As a result of the inundation of the land, agricultural operations were
halted. Thomas E. Will left Okeelanta to stay with his wife and daughters in
Ft. Lauderdale, temporarily, so he then believed.'9 The upper Everglades
area was, however, destined for a series of alternately very wet and very dry
years between 1920 and 1930. Residents of the Everglades slowly realized
that the State drainage program would have to be supplemented through the
establishment of sub-drainage districts. In the decade of the 20's over ten
sub-districts were created and began local ditching and dyking for gravity
drainage. This drainage was supplemented by the installation of pumping
stations to draw off excess water from the land.13o In the spring of both 1921
and 1922 the water table sank to very low levels, only to rise and flood the
land with the advance of the rainy season. In 1922 the water sank so low
that transportation on the Lauderdale Canal was brought to a stop. The boat-
man wanted high water; the farmers wanted low water. Thus settlers, like
Will, were unable to farm with high water and unable to transport their pro-
duce under conditions of low water.
For ten years, 1921-1931, Will resided in Ft. Lauderdale. Here, during
the period of the hectic Florida boom he spent a large part of his time selling
real estate, specializing on large acreage projects.
. most of his efforts were devoted to selling land on or near the
coast, since the real estate boom by-passed the Everglades, yet he con-
tinued to preach the gospel of developing the back country. He would
even, on Saturday nights, mount a soap box at one of the busy corners
in Ft. Lauderdale, and harangue the crowds with arguments of the possi-
bilities of benefit to the coast, which would result from the development
of the 'Glades, and of the folly of believing that Florida could prosper
as a tourist resort.'3'
Though he was living on the east coast, his heart remained in the Ever-
glades and until boat traffic on the canal was discontinued he conducted
prospective buyers to the "Okeechobee Country."132 The newspapers of Ft.
Lauderdale bear evidence of Will's many stories on the possibilities of the
Everglades. His writing talent was expressed in numerous letters to people
over the nation and to the editors and publishers of papers and magazines,
and also in the preparation and publication of folders on Everglades
Meanwhile conditions at Okeelanta continued to deteriorate. An observer,
visiting the settlement in 1925, found that the land on the north side of the
I. E. DOVELL
Bolles Canal was reverting to saw grass and that water stood on the land from
an inch to a foot in depth.
Okeelanta is just about deserted. There are still a few families in
the community, but there principally because they do not have sufficient
funds to get out, as their all is tied up in the property. Water condi-
tions are worse than I have ever seen them. At the old hotel the ground
was boggy and one sinks up to the shoe top in walking. At the bench
mark at the rear of the old Tilton property the ground has settled about
5 inches in the last 4 years-three of which have been so wet that there
has been practically no cultivation.'13
In 1926 and 1928 hurricanes passing across the peninsula of Florida in-
flicted untold damage to property along the east coast. But their real damage
was felt in the loss of life on the shores of Lake Okeechobee at Moore Haven
in 1926 and at South Bay and Belle Glade in 1928. These catastrophes horri-
fied the nation and were responsible for federal participation in the con-
struction of lake shore dikes to protect the area against another such disaster.
On October 27, 1928, Will wrote that "despite hurricanes, fires, floods, and
busted booms and banks, I am still fighting the Everglades battle. . .",35
In this year Will had organized the South Florida Development League,
with a membership of 400, to push the restoration of the Everglades. As the
leader of this group Will sought to influence local, state and national govern-
ment officials toward adopting a rational plan for the reclamation of the
Everglades. Meetings were held at Ft. Lauderdale to stimulate interest in
the twenty-year-old project.'36 E. H. Andrae and Will formulated revised
plans for flood control in the Okeechobee area and published them for public
approval. In "The Okeechobee Question" Will urged that the drainage offi-
cials work "with nature and gravity" from the lake south through the Ever-
glades to the tidewater at Shark River, letting the water spread over the
southern part of the area until it reached the Gulf.'-7 Andrae proposed an
extension of the Bolles Canal, widened to one hundred feet and deepened,
east to the tidewater of the Atlantic Ocean.
As president of the league Will wrote Governor Doyle Cailton on May
17, 1929, soliciting his support of a home-rule bill for the Everglades then
before the Florida Legislature.
Without self-government, the Everglades are Doomed. Twenty years
close-up experience ought to have taught me something. ... Once lower
East Coast ruled, robbed and ruined us. Then the Lake Shore came into
action. Nature gave that little strip reclamation, the War Department
compelled maintenance of navigable conditions-that give it transpor-
tation-the two absolute essentials of Glades success. .. t8
Opposition to the Everglades drainage program, alive and active since
the beginning, was strong enough at this period to achieve notoriety. "Some
Floridians outside the 'Glades will privately admit regarding it that it is a
millstone hung around the neck of Florida by nature and misplaced zeal.
. .' 13 Another writer found that the problem of the Everglades was relegated
entirely to the southern end of the state as the northern section took little
interest in the Everglades.140 During the flood control hearings on Florida
before a committee of the House of Representatives in Washington on Jan-
uary 11, 1929, Frederick H. Davis, Attorney General of Florida, and a mem-
ber of three Everglades state boards testified that "a vast number of people
that come down into" the Everglades "from other states, and it is mighty hard
to get people in other parts of the State interested in whether they perish or
not. . ."'. According to Will, Davis lifted the lid and exposed the "com-
mon enemy" when Davis said he had heard it advocated in certain districts
of Florida that "what the people ought to do is build a wall down there and
keep the military there to keep the people from coming in. . ."t42
Will's belief that the State of Florida and many of its citizens had treated
the Everglades like an unwanted step-child was now vindicated. Such an ad-
mission from a state official was the evidence he needed to convince others
that "wreckers have wrecked the 'Glades region." He began agitating and
publishing his views with renewed vigor. In 1930, he stated:
My writings here would fill volumes. From necessity they are largely
didactic and polemical. They hold that South Florida is the coming
world-center, with a future baffling the imagination. . To realize this
noble destiny it must make fit and accessible its waste places, draw upon
its vast resources, convert them into consumption-goods, and make them
available for use.'A3
In addition to "writing and agitating" for the Everglades, Dr. Will traveled
to Washington and Tallahassee in order to appear in person in his efforts to
promote aid for the improvement of flood control, navigation, and road build-
ing in the region."'4 On these trips to the state and national capitals Dr. Will
would call upon the officials of the various committees, boards and commis-
sions and present materials pertaining to the needs of the area.
An example of his labor may be found in the Minutes of the Board of
Commissioners of the Everglades Drainage District for August 11, 1931. He
had been working for the reconditioning of the North New River Canal to
be made a part of an inland waterway from Port Everglades at Ft. Lauder-
1. E. DOVELL
dale to the headwaters of the Caloosahatchee River. Will appeared before
the board on the above date in the hope that he could enlist the assistance of
that body in an appeal to the army engineers to reexamine the canal with a
view to improving it for navigation and flood control. He presented a two
page resolution on the history and importance of the waterway, pointing out
that due to soil subsidence, destruction of locks, and growth of hyacinths
the inefficiency of the canal had stopped settlement which in turn had brought
an end to tax payments.'45 As a result of Will's plea the Commissioners, by
resolution, offered the Lauderdale Canal to the United States for improvement
in the interest of navigation and for joint operation in the interest of drainage
in the district.
When Will was in Washington in 1932 he received a letter from G. P.
Allison relative to the great drought in the Everglades and the muck fires
raging over the saw grass. Will answered that he had been to the Forest
Service in search of aid and to Congresswoman Owen's office, but to no avail.
"In Sen. Fletcher's office, talked with his Secretary, Mr. Hill. He's willing
and anxious to help; but could not see how to jump the hurdles." Will con-
cluded: "Remember, I'm on the job all the time, seeking our Glades sal-
The work that Will did toward the furtherance of drainage, flood con-
trol and navigation in South Florida was prodigious, but an evaluation of
his influence is difficult to make. Without doubt his crusades were effective
in the overall improvement of the reclamation of the Everglades. In the con-
struction of the highway from South Bay to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, how-
ever, there is a monument that will perpetuate his name as the father of the
idea behind it and the tireless worker who brought the road into being. When,
in 1918, the survey of the West Palm Beach-Ft. Myers highway skirted the
lake shore and by-passed Okeelanta Dr. Will launched his campaign in the
upper 'Glades for a "Lauderdale-to-Lake Road."''4
In 1920 Dr. Will was able to interest Broward County citizens in the
Okeelanta region of the upper 'Glades, especially with reference to a paved
road from the lake into Ft. Lauderdale. A mass meeting on the subject was
held at South Bay, but the idea did not secure any other concrete support.'48
For years Will continued to advocate the plan, mentioning it time and again
in his articles and letters. In February, 1925, the Broward County Commis-
sioners were granted authority to build a road on the north side of the South
New River Canal and the south side of the North New River Canal from the
Davie Bridge to the west boundary of Section 28 of Township 50, Range
30.'4s While living in Ft. Lauderdale, Will began serious efforts to enlist the
cooperation of various civic organizations and commercial companies in the
With the development of the Dahlberg-Celotex and Southern sugar in-
terests around the shore of Lake Okeechobee from Canal Point to Clewiston,
beginning in 1927-1928, Miami and Dade County leaders looked toward the
upper Everglades as a potential purchasing-shipping market. In March, 1927,
Vance W. Helm, of the Helm real estate holding corporation, wrote the Miami
Chamber of Commerce to ask if that body had taken any official action on a
proposed road along the Miami Canal to the Lake.150 Helm suggested that
the Miami Chamber write Governor John W. Martin and Road Department
Chairman Fons W. Hathaway relative to the highway department's officially
adopting the project as a state road and include it in its plans for earliest
Dr. Will, however, was working on the same project for the Lauderdale
Canal. On May 24, 1929, he was present at a meeting of the Trustees of the
Internal Improvement Fund at Tallahassee during which he requested that
1,500 acres of land set aside for Palm Beach County "be converted into cash
and the amount realized . be applied on the construction of a road along
the North Canal and on necessary work in the canal."'*1
In 1933, when Will was attempting to secure construction of the road
along North Canal by State and Federal agencies he felt that it was essential
to have additional information on the condition of the route of the proposed
He could not find what he wanted in existing records. His solution
of the problem was typical. ... With two glades hunters, Dr. Will set
out from South Bay [in an old Ford car] and followed the canal to Ft.
Lauderdale. The canal had been impassable to boats for years, and
there had never been even a trail along the canal. . As they proceeded
he took notes on the depth of the muck, and of the canal, the nature of
the old spoil bank, whether of muck or rock, the location of dams and
locks and such other features as he considered advisable to know.'53
The three men cooked their meals on a small gasoline stove and slept on the
saw grass at night. They arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on the second day and
apparently suffered no ill effects from the journey.
While in Washington, in 1933, Will was assured that the proposed road
would be adopted as a part of the federal public roads program.154 The fol-
lowing year he wrote that surveys of the route and dredging of the canal
would be the next step.'51 In July 3, 1935, Will jubilantly noted that the
Florida State Road Department had allowed $450,000 to be spent on the high-
I. E. DOVELL
way to Miami. "I understand the bridge will cross the Bolles Canal . right
by my door in Okeelanta, where I'm staying much of the time, staging a
comeback."'56 In the fall of 1935 the Everglades Drainage District deeded
a right of way of one hundred feet along the canal bank to the State Road
Department and a year later the Improvement Fund Trustees granted a right
of way through their lands for the same purpose.'57
On February 12, 1937, Will wrote a long letter to the Everglades News
on the progress of the highway being built to Miami.,'8 Less than a month
later, March 5, 1937, death brought a close to the career of Thomas Elmer
Will, of whom it was written:
A man of outstanding personality, inflexible honesty, deeply religious,
and with a philosophy that would admit no defeat and knew no discour-
agement, his death will be a distinct loss . to the Everglades for
which he devoted his untiring efforts."'59
The work of Will, covering the years from 1910 to 1937, is perhaps the
best illustration of the almost futile efforts of the individual of moderate
means to bring order out of chaos in the confused Everglades reclamation
project. Will no doubt expressed this feeling of futility, mixed with a little
satisfaction, when, in October, 1936, he wrote:
This country has a tremendous future once the cloud lifts. I figured
it all out in 1909, with maps before me. I saw the Panama Canal-
Theodore Roosevelt was fighting for it then-the Gulf and our position
in the Western World. .. Since then Miami has become a big aeroplane
headquarters; and South America is just at our door. I watch with deep
interest such things as the coming Buenos Aires round-up; initiated I
think by President Roosevelt. Out of it may come a sure-enough com-
bination for the Western World. Then when poor Europe and Asia have
had their last round with killing machinery, maybe they can pattern
after us. I'm all the time after a better world, a decent place in which
to raise children.
As to my holding on. Well, a man usually has to die to get under-
stood. I'm a sentimental sort of creature; and my parents always taught
me to be square with people and I've tried to be just that. With every-
thing down here SHOT, I've never felt that I would be justified in run-
ning off and leaving everybody in the lurch. This has cost me a profes-
sional career, and every cent of such money I had; and has meant 27
years of hard work and fierce fighting; but IF ONLY we can get out,
and I can say with a clear conscience, "The Glades area is at last ready
to occupy and use," I'll feel amply repaid.Ifo
The Thomas E. Will Memorial Highway along the west bank of the North
New River Canal was opened to traffic on April 11, 1941.'6, The 1937 Florida
Legislature had resolved, by virtue of House Concurrent Resolution Number
17, that state road number 26 from South Bay to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami
be designated and known under that name in recognition of Will's efforts in
promoting its construction.1)e
In the Everglades settlements and cities of Canal Point, Pahokee, Belle
Glade, Clewiston, Moore Haven and others, life to-day is much the same as
elsewhere in the United States. Throughout the area an atmosphere of opti-
mism prevails. No one wants to remember the tragedies of 1926 and 1928,
and few can recall the trials and hardships of the pioneers of forty years
ago, for as usual the second and third generations reap the benefits of the
1 J. E. Dovell, "A Brief History of the Florida Everglades," The Soil Science Society
of Florida, Proceedings, IV-A (1942), 132-161; and "The Everglades-Florida's Fron-
tier," University of Florida, Economic Leaflets, VII, 6 and 7, (April-May, 1947). For
fuller treatments see also Marjory Stoneman Douglas, The Everglades--River of Grass
(New York: Rhinehart and Company, 1947) and Alfred Jackson Hanna and Kathryn
Abbey Hannah, Lake Okeechobee: Wellspring of the Everglades (Indianapolis: Bobbs-
Merrill Company, 1948).
z J. E. Dovell, "The Everglades Before Reclajnation," Florida Historical Quarterly, XXVI
(July, 1947), 1-43.
3 Minutes of the Proceedings of the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund
of the State of Florida, VI, 96 et. passim. Hereinafter cited as I. L. F. Minutes.
4 Ibid., VII, 261-265, 447-448, 485-498, 502-512, 553.
s Winthrop Packard, "The Rush for Florida," Technical World, XVI (March, 1910),
6 George T. Odell, "Paradise on the Installment Plan," Technical World, XVII (Sep-
tember, 1912), 21. "Millions of dollars have gone into the pockets of land sharks for
land that is eight, ten and twenty-one feet under water, land that ought to have been
sold by the quart instead of the acre. . ." Odell wrote that most of the Everglades
had been parcelled out in ten acre slices and sold to "thousands of clerks and sten-
ographers and school teachers all over the United States."
7 1. I. F. Minutes, VIII, 557, 587.
a D. A. Simmons, "The Florida Everglades; How They Happened; What They Are;
What They Will Be," The World To-Day, XIV (May, 1909), 536. "Enormous crops
can be grown without any fertilizer whatsoever," he said, "and the Everglades could
supply vegetables through the Winter for all the cities and towns east of the Rocky
Mountains." See also Napoleon Bonaparte Broward's "Draining the Everglades," In-
dependent, LXVI (June 25, 1908), 1448-1449 and "Homes for Millions: Draining the
Everglades," Collier's XVIV (January 22, 1910), 19; S. M. Ball, "Reclaiming the Ever-
glades," Putnam's, XII (April, 1910), 796-802; Day Alley Willey, "Draining the Ever-
glades," Scientific American, CIV (January 21, 1911), 67-69; and A. W. Dupuy, "Air-
line Across the Everglades," World's Work, XV (February, 1908), 9893-9897.
0 Winthrop Packard, "The Rush for Florida," loc. cit., 21. See also H. Parker Willis,
"Secretary Wilson's Record: 2. The Everglades," Collier's, XLIV (March 23, 1912),
15-16. Hereinafter cited as "Wilson's Record."
I. E. DOVELL
Io Unaddressed and unsigned promotion letter of Everglades Land Sales Company, Kansas
City, Missouri. Thomas Elmer Will Collection, P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History,
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida. Hereinafter referred to as Will Collection.
'a John Clayton Gifford, The Everglades and Other Essays Relating to Southern Florida,
Kansas City: Everglades Land Sales Company, 1911), 1-2.
isaIbid., 10-11. See also John Clayton Gifford, "The Everglades and the Landes of
France," Conservation, XV (August, 1909), 453-460.
t4 "Will's Work: Sketch of Everglades and other South Florida Activities of Thomas
Elmer Will since July, 1909." Typed manuscript written by Will in 1934 outlining his
Everglades endeavors. Will Collection. Hereinafter cited as "Will's Work."
is "Where Nature Smiles," Advertising leaflet announcing stereopticon lectures on Florida
by Dr. Thomas Elmer Will, published by the Everglades Land Sales Company. Will
17 Everglades News (Canal Point, Florida), March 12, 1937.
Ia Letter of John Newhouse, South Bay, Florida, to the writer. May 21, 1948.
is Transcript from "Lawrence University Souvenir," furnished by Lawrence E. Will, Belle
Glade, Florida, son of T. E. Will.
20 Miami (Florida) Herald, March 16, 1937.
a' Typescript on "Thomas Elmer Will" from Fortieth Anniversary Report, Class of 1890,
Harvard College. This report is in the possession of Lawrence E. Will. Hereinafter
cited as "Anniversary Report."
2z L. D. Walters, History of Kansas State Agricultural College, (Manhattan: Kansas State
Agricultural College, 1909), 125.
2a Ibid., 125-126. The Will children included: Lawrence Elmer, born January 31, 1893;
Marian Van Velsor, born January 27, 1894; and Gertrude Rogers, born April 28, 1903.
24a Ibid. A check through the standard indexes to periodical literature reveals the in.
formation that beginning in 1894 and continuing through 1912, Will published at least
twenty-eight articles in journals and magazines of national circulation. Through the
medium of the Arena, published in Boston, nineteen articles were printed, four ap-
peared in the Review of Reviews, two in the Independent, and one each in the Journal
of Political Economy, World's Work and Popular Science Monthly. By years, eight
articles were published in 1894, four in 1895, one in 1896, one in 1898, three in 1901,
one in 1902, one in 1904, two in 1906, three in 1907, three in 1908 and one in 1912.
The earlier articles deal with social and political problems of money, war, child labor,
municipal reform, and representative government. Later articles were on the subject
of conservation of natural resources, particularly forest reserves. The 1912 article was
on the Everglades of Florida.
24 Miami Herald, March 16, 1937. See also printed brochure, "Press and Other Notices
of Lectures by Thomas Elmer Will." Will Collection. Ruskin College honored Will
with an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree. Lawrence E. Will to J. E. Dovell,
April 29, 1948.
27 Walters, op. cit., 126. "In connection with this forestry work he has written widely for
the magazines and has lectured in twenty different states, sixty-four illustrated Chau-
tauqua lectures having been given in 1908 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri."
See also Forestry and Irrigation, XIV (August, 1908), 450-452.
to Thomas E. Will, "A Personal Word," American Forestry, XVI (February, 1910),
29 The original title of the journal had been Forestry and Irrigation. It was changed to
Conservation in 1908 and to American Forestry in 1909.
so T. E. Will, "A Personal Word," loc cit., 112. Will pointed out that he had written
many articles on conservation of resources, especially forests, and that these had ap-
peared in World's Work, Review of Reviews, Independent, Popular Science Monthly,
McClure's, Journal of the Franklin Institute, Vick's Magazine, Journal of American
Merchants and Manufacturer's Association, and American Industries.
a1 Lawrence E. Will, letter of April 29, 1948, to J. E. Dovell.
a2 "Where Nature Smiles." Will Collection.
SA "Will's Work." Will Collection.
as "Florida Everglades Homebuilders Association, Constitution and By-Laws." Will
3a Florida Everglades Homebuilders Association, Printed Prospectus, Will Collection.
Thos. E. Will was chosen as President of the Association.
37 W. S. Blatchley, In Days Agone: Notes on Fauna and Flora of Sub-Tropical Florida
in the Days When Most of Its Area Was a Primeval Wilderness, (Indianapolis: Nature
Publishing Company, 1932), 99-100. "When we remember that the lake is only a
great saucer 20.5 feet above tide, and that the Kissimmee drains into it, practically in
four months of the year, 48 inches of rainfall from 8,000 square miles of territory, we
can understand how visionary is the scheme proposed. Thousands of dollars have
been spent in advertising and millions gotten back in profit by selling to widows,
orphans, and poor devils in the North, this land, in five or ten acre tracts at 850 to
$100 an acre," wrote Blatchley in 1911.
as Everglades of Florida, Acts, Reports, and Other Papers, State and National, Relating
to the Everglades of the State of Florida and their Reclamation, Senate Documents,
Number 89, 62 Congress, 1 Session, (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1911),
16, 130, 140, Hereinafter cited as Senate Document 89. See also Committee on Ex-
penditures in the Department of Agriculture, House of Representatives, Everglades of
Florida, Hearings before the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of Agri-
culture, February 3-August 9, 1912, Ralph W. Moss, Chairman, (Washington: Gov-
ernment Printing Office, 1912), Number 5, 212 et passim. Hereinafter cited as 1912
as Journal of the State Senate of Florida of the Session of 1909, (Tallahassee, state printer,
1909), 1605-1623. James 0. Wright, a supervising engineer of the Drainage Investiga-
tions Office, prepared the report on the basis of 1907 and 1908 surveys made in the
Everglades and on information he had secured at Tallahassee and elsewhere. Wright's
conclusions had been questioned by his associates in Washington, and as a consequence
the publication of the findings of the examinations had been held up pending further
investigation and revision. 1912 Everglades Hearings, Number 9, 337-387, Number
10, 409-410, Number 21, 1039-1040; letter of Dr. Arthur E. Morgan, Yellow Springs,
Ohio, to the author, March 9, 1946.
,go Ralph W. Moss, Report of the Committee of the House of Representatives on Expendi-
tures in the Department of Agriculture, House Reports, Number 1207, 62 Congress,
2 Session, (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1912), 2.
41 1912 Everglades Hearings, Number 12, 560.
42 Ibid., Number 10, 409.
4s A copy of the circular letter appears in 1912 Everglades Hearings, Number 5, 215-216.
It was later determined that "The same interests which made . objection to the
circular had been guilty of circulating highly extravagant statements in praise of Ever-
glade lands, and falsely attributing the authorship to Secretary Wilson." House of
Representatives Documents, Report Number 1207, 62 Congress, 2 Session, 3.
44 House of Representatives Documents, Report Number 1207, 62 Congress, 2 Session, 3.
as 1912 Everglades Hearings, Number 19, 929. Fletcher stated that M. L. Bowen, an
agent of the Everglades Land Sales Company in Washington, gave him the copy of
the letter in question. Ibid., Number 16, 757-758.
47 Ibid., Number 13, 597, 624-625; Number 21, 1042-1043.
4a House Resolution 694, 61 Congreess, 2 Session; Congressional Record, XLV (May 10,
1910), (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1910), 6317.
I. E. DOVELL
so 1912 Everglades Hearings, Number 13, 625. Will claimed Clark had criticized the
Everglades project at the door of the House of Representatives in front of a crowd on
February 7, 1910, and had promised to bring the matter up on the floor of the House
in a speech. Ibid., Number 16, 748-749.
51 Ibid., 627. Wilson was referring to the differences of opinion in the Florida Con-
gressional delegation, especially between Senator Fletcher and Representative Clerk.
52 Ibid., Number 21, 1041. The controversy in the Department of Agriculture over the
Everglades report reached a climax in February, 1910, when the original author, James
0. Wright, accepted the position of chief engineer for the Board of Commissioners of
the Everglades Drainage District, Ibid., Number 5, 190, Number 21, 1042.
s3 Ibid., Number 21, 1041. Wilson later stated that the Wright Report had not been pub-
lished because "We had not done enough; we had not done what the people of Florida
had a right to expect .... It was not what it should have been." Ibid.
a4 "Will's Work." Will Collection.
s5 Ibid. See also "Light on a Dark Subject," one of a series of articles by Will, Ft. Lau-
derdale Daily News, April 1, 1931, and John Newhouse manuscripts on the experiences
of a pioneer who entered the Everglades in 1914. The Newhouse Collection consists
of a number of notebooks, photographs and miscellaneous papers located in the P. K.
Yonge Library of Florida History, University of Florida, Gainesville. Hereinafter cited
as Newhouse Collection.
as D. G. Fairchild, The World Was My Garden, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons,
s7 Newhouse Collection, Book I, 2.
as "Will's Work." Will Collection.
so Senate Document 89, 17-18.
a' Judson C. Welliver article in the Washington Times, October 15, 1911, quoted in
full in 1912 Everglades Hearings, Number 18, 882.
es 1912 Everglades Hearings, Number 7, 282. See also Fletcher's defense of Senate Doc-
ument 89 on the floor of the Senate, Congressional Record, XLVIII (February 15,
63 Ft. Lauderdale (Florida) Call, June 12, 1926.
64 1912 Everglades Hearings, Number 19, 943-956, 958, 964-965, Number 21, 1029. When
Will was on the witness stand in March, 1912, before the House Committee investi-
gating the Everglades he was asked if he had had any connection with Senate Docu-
ment 89. William H. Ellis, representing the Florida Internal Improvement Fund
Trusttes at the hearings (later a Justice of the Florida Supreme Court), objected to
the question and the objection was sustained. Ibid., Number 16, 760. The Committee
did not press Will to ascertain where he procured the page proof of the suppressed
Wright report and Will's memory failed him as to the name of the man in the gov-
ernment printing office who supplied the material. Ibid., Number 13, 634-635.
an Ibid., Number 1, 10, Number 5, 221, Number 18, 841.
86 Ibid., Number 7, 261.
67 Ibid., 300. Fletcher rebutted the evidence by stating that the document was not pre-
pared "at the instance of any one board of trade or individual. ... I thought the pub-
lic interest would be subserved by a collection, compilation, and publication of public
records. . ." Ibid., Number 8, 334-335.
as Ibid., Number 7, 299.
Go Ibid., Number 16, 766.
70 Congressional Record, XLVIII (February 1, 1912), 1615. "The promoters and the
boomers have thus been furnished with a fresh supply of information, which they can
use at will for the purpose of misleading investors." H. P. Willis, "Wilson's Record,"
loc. cit., 16.
71 Ibid., (February 15, 1912), 2084. The resolution authorizing the printing of the first
edition had received the consent of the Senate on August 7. Ibid., XLVII, (August 7,
72 V. W. Helm to T. E. Will, August 16, 1911. Will Collection.
7A V. W. Helm to T. E. Will, August 22, 1911. Will Collection. In the same letter Helm
agreed to reduce the subscription price of the company's Everglades Magazine to 50c
for members of Will's Everglades Homebuilder's Association.
7s V. W. Helm to T. E. Will, August 26, 1911, Will Collection. Helm added: "Before
making the big shipment to us, please advise if it is possible for us to furnish individual
addresses for all our salesman so that the bulletin can be mailed out under Senator's
Franking Privilege direct from Washington." Ibid.
70 V. W. Helm to T. E. Will, December 11, 1911. Will Collection.
77 T. E. Will to V. W. Helm, December 15, 1911. Will Collection.
78 1912 Everglades Hearings, Number 7, 298.
79 Isidor Cohen, Historical Sketches and Sidelights of Miami, Florida, (Miami: privately
printed, 1925), 170.
Bo Joe Reese, "Agricultural Possibilities in the Everglades," Florida Grower (Tampa),
XXXIII (April 10, 1926), 2.3.
at R. E. Rose, The Swamp and Overflowed Lands of Florida: The Disston Drainage Com-
pany and the Disston Purchase, (Tallahassee, T. I. Appleyard, 1916), 129.
B2 J. C. Gifford, op. cit., 99.
a0 Harper's Weekly, LIV (November 12, 1910), 6.
84 George T. Odell, "Paradise on the Installment Plan," Technical World, XVII (Sep-
tember, 1912), 21.
es Statement of Will, 1912 Everglades Hearings, Number 13, 596-597.
so V. W. Helm to T. E. Will, December 16, 1911. Will Collection.
87 Ibid. Will stated on February 29, 1912, that beginning with the new year he had
been engaged in literary work, part of which was devoted to Everglades publicity.
1912 Everglades Hearings, Number 13, 596.
as T. E. Will, "The Everglades of Florida," Review of Reviews, XLVI (October, 1912),
as Washington Times, October 8, 1911, quoted in 1912 Everglades Hearings, Number 18,
880, 903. Washington Times, December 8, 1911, quoted in Ibid., Number 19, 953.
so House Documents, Report Number 1207, 62 Congress, 2 Session. 1.
*' Ibid., 3. See also H. P. Willis, "Wilson's Record," loc. cit., 16. For a full discus-
sion of the back ground of the hearings, see J. E. Dovell, "A History of the Ever-
glades of Florida," (Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill, 1947), 269-317:
*~ J. H. Reese, "Agricultural Opportunities in the Everglades," loc. cit., 4.
R3 Fritzie P. Manuel, "Land Development in the Everglades," Hearings Before the Select
Committee Investigating National Defense Migration, House of Representatives, 77 Con-
gress, 2 Session, 12868.
94 "Light on a Dark Subject," Ft. Lauderdale Daily News, April 1, 1931. One commen-
tator wrote that Congressman Clark had shattered at least 40,000 dreams of paradise
on the installment plan and "made it plain to 40,000 people that all their savings had
been thrown away." G. T. Odell, "Paradise on the Installment Plan," loc. cit., 16.
so I. I. F. Minutes, IX, 395; Jacksonville (Florida) Evening Metropolis, April 22, 1912.
go "Will's Work." Will Collection.
97 Newhouse Collection, Book I, 3.
ma Ibid., 16, 18. The assembly resolved to ask the State of Florida to establish an agri.
cultural experiment station on the muck soils of the Everglades. Ibid., 11.
*9 Ibid., 10.
J. E. DOVELL 53
too Ibid., 10-11.
1o0 F. P. Manuel, "Land Development in the Everglades," loc. cit., 12884.
o102 Memorandum in Will Collection.
ioa "Light on a Dark Subject," Ft. Lauderdale Daily News, April 1, 1931.
io4 Ibid.; 1. I. F. Minutes, X, 36-37. Will stated: "I had paid in full for ten Bryant and
Greenwood contracts: 120 acres to occupy and cultivate. Much Glades land was sold
on the scatteration plan; each for himself. This defied settlement and success."
"Light on a Dark Subject."
Ios Newhouse Collection. Book I, 11-12. The Will townsite was plotted in Section 35
of Township 44 South, Range 36 East.
toe Memorandum in Will Collection. Samuel R. Copper, formerly of South Bay, was
another of the original five settlers. Miami Herald, March 16, 1937.
107 Newhouse Collection, Book I, 9. During the fall of 1913 the Everglades were drier
than ever observed before, probably as a result of the combination of dry weather and
the canal excavations. The muck soils were dry from six to eight miles back on each
side of the canals near Lake Okeechobee with the water table up to three feet below
the surface of the soil. "Minutes of the Board of Commissioners of the Everglades
Drainage District," I, 232-233. Typed and bound manuscript located in the office
of the secretary of the board, Miami, Florida. Hereinafter cited as "E. D. D.
1ea John Newhouse to J. E. Dovell, May 21, 1948. See also the manuscript recollections
in the Newhouse Collection. According to Newhouse, the "joker" of the sales con-
tract could be found on the reverse side of the instrument where the contract stated
"that in case of failure to pay the installments, the company has the right to cancel
the contract upon 30 days notice and keep the land, and the money paid on it." New-
house to Dovell, May 18, 1947. A "Purchaser's Receipt" of the Okeechobee Fruit
Lands Company, issued for five acres in Sec. 36, Tnp. 44, S. R. 36 E. in Palm Beach
County is in the Newhouse Collection and substantiates the above statement.
10o L. E. Will to J. E. Dovell, April 29, 1948.
1no Newhouse Collection, Book I, 25, 27, 43.
1't Ibid., 25.
"11 Ibid., 43; Tropical Sun (Lake Worth), May 18, 1916. The machine was too heavy
for the soft earth although it did succeed in breaking up a considerable amount
113 Memoranda in Will Collection,.
114 Miami Herald, March 16, 1937.
-s Newhouse Collection, Book I, 30-31.
,s, John Newhouse to J. L. Dovell, May 21, 1948; Gertrude M. Winne, "Early Days on
Lake Okeechobee," Everglades News, March 7, 1930.
117 See Will Collection for correspondence and other memoranda on teacher appoint-
ments, elections, hiring of school boat pilots and so forth.
ita Ibid. See also Newhouse Collection, Book II, 45-49 and John Newhouse letter of
May 18, 1947.
its Ft. Lauderdale Sentinel, January 15, 1915. Bolles stated that he paid an annual tax
bill of $100,000 in Palm Beach County alone. On the subject or roads see also Palm
Beach Post, October 23, 1915; Miami Metropolis, November 31, 1915; and Ft. Lau-
derdale Tropical Sun, January 1, 1916.
z2o L, E. Will to J. E. Dovell, April 29, 1948. See also Will and Newhouse Collections.
121 Newhouse Collection, Book II, 45-46.
122 Ibid., 49.
las I. I. F. Minutes, XII, 163-164. One of the troubles of the pioneers "was that localities
along the east coast were not adverse to using the Glades territory as a milk cow ....
In early 1915 Palm Beach County decided to improve the Dixie Highway, an $800,000
bond issue was voted on the whole county." But special road district No. 6 consisted
of Everglades lands on both sides of the Okeelanta road and the city of West Palm
Beach only. "Other towns along the east coast stayed out." Newhouse letter of May
21, 1948. "At the same time that the establishing of an Everglades road district
and bond issue was voted-and approved-in August, 1916, an east coast inlet dis-
trict was voted, and laid out somewhat on top of the road district." Ibid.
I=A Newhouse Collection, Books I, 28-29; IV, 154-155.
125 Newhouse letter of May 21, 1948.
a12 Memorandum in Will Collection. The pamphlets of this period include: An appeal
Purchasers of Florida Everglades Land to their Fellow Purchasers, Everglades Owners
of Idle Lands, Listen! Eureka! We Have Found the Saw Grass Crop-Dasheens, A
Home and Independence, Okeelanta Poultry Farms, The Sugar Famine: Help End It,
Insure Your Living, and To the Lost Tribes of Israel-the Buyers of Scattered Ever-
127 T. E. Will, "Light on a Dark Subject," Ft. Lauderdale Daily News, April 1, 1931.
120 Edward Howe, "Looking About in the Everglades," Country Gentleman, XXXIV
(August 23, 1919), 10-11. Howe had reached Okeelanta as a member of a weekly
excursion from Miami, conducted by H. H. Hart, now of Belle Glade, Florida. The
trip was made at a cost of $9.50 for three days, which included "bed and board."
129 Lawrence E. Will letter of April 29, 1948. Dr. Will wrote in 1927 that he was driven
from the Everglades by the high water, but that he continued to fight for water con-
trol and roads to be followed by settlement and development. "Confessions of a Con-
servationist." Will Collection.
130 Everglades News, May 1, 1925; July 16, 30, 1926. Newhouse Collection, Book 4,
166 et passim.
is' Lawrence E. Will letter of April 29, 1948.
1iz Advertisements and memoranda. Will Collection.
133 Correspondence between Will and Gifford Pinchot, Governor of Pennsylvania in
1925, relating to conservation and between Will and Senator D. U. Fletcher, in 1922-
1923, relating to flood control are but two examples of the interests he followed.
The folders include "South Florida, Land of Destiny" and "Settle or Sell: A State-
ment, Appeal, and Opportunity for Old Everglades Buyers." Will Collection.
134 0. A. Kay, "Conditions at Fellsmere, Dave and Okeelanta," 7. Manuscript in the
Arthur E. Morgan Collection of Everglades materials, P. K. Yonge Library of Florida
History, University of Florida, Gainesville.
'ss T. E. Will to Addison F. South. Will Collection. A grass fire had consumed a house
belonging to Will at Okeelanta. Everglades News, February 26, 1926.
'as Printed announcement in Will Collection; see also Miami Herald, July 6, 1928.
137 "The Okeechobee Question;" E. H. Andrae, "Plan For Flood Control in the Ever-
glades." See also T. E. Will to Governor David Sholtz, July 12, 1934. Will Collection.
'as T. E. Will to Doyle E. Carlton, May 17, 1929. Will Collection.
139 E. H. Taylor, "Florida's Question Marks," Country Gentleman, XC (October, 1927),20.
14o Edward Howe, "Looking About in the Everglades," loc. cit., 11.
%A Hearings before the Committee on Flood Control in Florida and Elsewhere, House
of Representatives, 70 Congress, 1 Session, (Washington: Government Printing Office,
143 "Anniversary Report." Dozens of published and unpublished manuscripts are found
in the Will Collection. Titles include: "Killing Everglades Settlement," "The Para-
mount Issues of the Florida Everglades," "Federal Aid for the Everglades," and "Fred
H. Davis Exposed the Glades Foes." See also letters to Will from Congresswoman
Ruth Bryan Owen of September 15, 21, 1931; Will to Senator Fletcher, January 10,
1929; and Will to Captain S. E. Lawrence, U. S. Army Engineers, December 8, 1930.
144 In 1929 and 1931 Will visited Tallahassee and in 1931 and 1932 he spent several
months in Washington. "Will's Work." Will Collection.
,as "E. D. D. Minutes," August 11, 1931. On his visits to the state and national capitals
Will received support from such organizations as the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of
Commerce and the Port Everglades Authority. ". . the funds furnished him by the
sponsoring organizations would have been sufficient to enable the usual lobbyist to
have remained only a few days. He had no funds of his owi, save the small dues
he collected from friends and interested persons in the South Florida Development
League." L. E. Will letter of April 29, 1948. On one trip to Washington he re-
mained for three months on a little more than $200, part of the time subsisting on
46c per day. Ibid.
146 G. P. Allison to T. E. Will, February 23, 1932. T. E. Will to G. P. Allison, February
25, 1932. Will Collection.
1. E. DOVELL 55
147 "Will's Work," Will Collection.
14S John Newhouse letter of May 21, 1948.
14B "E. D. D. Minutes," V, 34.
15o Vance W. Helm to Miami Chamber of Commerce, March 11, 1927. Morgan Collection.
See also Miami News, June 10, 1928.
is1 I. I. F. Minutes, XVIII, 111.
isa "Will's Work." Will Collection.
ais L. E. Will to J. E. Dovell, April 29, 1948. Dr. Will was 72 years old when the 60
mile trip was made through the dense weeds and sawgrass of the Everglades.
iS4 "Will's Work." Will Collection.
155 Everglades News, July 27, 1934. It was finally agreed that the lake to coast roads
desired by Miami and Ft. Lauderdale should be combined, with a road to Miami
continuing from the Lauderdale road at a point west of the Broward County city.
1i Ibid., July 3, 1935. See also Miami Herald, July 2, 1935. The first construction on
the road was in 1935, a strip of about two miles from Okeelanta south.
157 Ibid., September 27, 1935; 1. I. F. Minutes, XXI, 16-19.
Ias Everglades News, February 12, 1937.
is- Miami Herald, March 16, 1937.
*oo T. E. Will to W. L. Alexander, September 24, 1936. Will Collection.
'6 Palm Beach Post, April 12, 1941.
ls2 House Concurrent Resolution Number 17, Laws of Florida, 1937.
This Page Blank in Original
The Lower East Coast, 1870-1890
By W. T. CASH
The lower east coast of Florida, as discussed in this paper, in 1870 in-
cluded the counties of Brevard, Dade and Monroe, including all of Lake
Okeechobee. As all students of Florida know, there are more than twice
that many counties in this area now but the additional ones have been cre-
ated by various Florida legislatures in 1887 and since.
The total area of this section in 1870 was 14,130 square miles of which
Brevard had 3,940, Dade 4,424 and Monroe, 5,766' The population of the
three counties by the Federal census of 1870 was 6,958, including Monroe,
5,657; Brevard 1,216; and Dade 85. These figures evidently did not include
such Indians as lived in the area.
The total assessed valuation of the property in the three counties was
$1,916,713, of which Monroe's was $1,651,728; Brevard's $240,000; and
The United States census of 1870 reported Brevard as producing 38,650
bushels of corn, 38,700 of sweet potatoes, 4,000 of peas and beans, 6,450
pounds of rice and one hogshead of sugar; Monroe, 685 bushels of corn but
no other crop; and Dade, no agricultural productions. The same census
gave Brevard 69,390 head of cattle, 4,550 of hogs and 340 horses and mules.
Monroe was given 14,706 head of cattle, but no other livestock; and from
Dade nothing was reported.
Monroe County, the only one listed in the census of manufacturers, re-
ported 29 manufacturing establishments with an invested capital of $273,050.
These paid their 300 hands $215,700 and their total product was valued at
$612,050. Cigars were the principal product, but prior to the Civil War
much salt was made. The salt-making industry was revived in 1871, but was
put out of business by a hurricane in 1876, after which there was no attempt
to revive it.
The lower east coast in 1870 presented a sorry educational picture. There
were no schools in Brevard County and 305 of its 357 children of legal school
age could neither read nor write. Three of Dade's 13 children of legal age
attended school-doubtless outside the county-but only one could read or
write. Of Monroe's 1,025 children of school age only 459 attended school
and there were 802 who could neither read nor write.3
At this time both Brevard and Dade were without churches, though the
citizens may have occasionally heard traveling preachers. Monroe had one
Baptist church with a seating capacity of 150; one Episcopal, seating 400;
one Roman Catholic, seating 300; and three Methodist, seating 1,000. Val-
uation placed upon all church property was $38,500.4
At the beginning of 1870 Key West had one newspaper-the Dispatch,
founded by W. C. Maloney, Jr., in 1867. During 1870 Mr. R. E. Neeld
founded the Guardian, a very short-lived paper."
Why did this section, now so well known throughout the English-speaking
world, and to quite an extent in other areas, go unnoticed so long? As a
matter of fact a few persons, who might be regarded as visionaries today,
had dreamed of its possibilities and a few had attempted to put foundations
under the air castles they had built.
Dr. Andrew Turnbull may have been the first one. While his large land
grant of 1767 was mainly within the present Volusia County, it did include
a small part of what is now Brevard. Some very recent maps still list
"Turnbull," a community about nine miles northeast of Titusville, and this
neighborhood is doubtless near the southern end of the Turnbull holdings.
Had the Turnbull colony not been broken up by disturbances related in most
Florida histories, northern Brevard might have been a prosperous section
when the United States took possession of Florida in 1821.
Although the writer has no proof to substantiate it, one is led to infer
that Captain Pedro Marrot, Spanish surveyor general of East Florida, 1791-
1800, had examined if not surveyed what we now know as Merritt's Island
some time before the end of the eighteenth century. This island still bore
his nanie when the United States land commissioners in 1823 were examining
claims to land in East Florida., One man who early became interested in
Merritt's Island was John H. McIntosh, a Georgian who had a number of
run-ins with the Spanish authorities between 1790 and 1821. McIntosh sup-
ported his claim before the land commissioners on occupancy about 1804 to
1806. The evidence offered was that two of his slaves lived on the island
for two years, but it was brought out that as soon as some white squatters
there at the same time left, the blacks got out.7
But in 1830, Douglas Dummitt, a true developer, not merely a dreamer,
settled on the northern end of the island and planted a 131/2 acre orange
grove, a few of whose trees were still bearing in 1926. It is asserted by some
that the old Indian River oranges were descended from stock obtained from
the Dummitt grove.8
In 1808 one John Egan of St. Augustine received a grant of 100 acres of
land on the north side of the Sweetwater (now the Miami) River. He soon
had it surveyed and, moving his family down, cultivated it for a time. In
1821 James Egan, his son, acquired 640 acres adjoining his father's tract, and
W. T. CASH
the same year Rebecca Eagan, a widow,, took up 640 acres on the south side
of the river. About this time Jonathan Lewis and Polly Lewis each acquired
640-acre tracts still farther south. In 1827 Richard Fitzpatrick of South
Carolina purchased the Egan and Lewis lands and, it is claimed, raised cot-
ton and sugar cane on them from 1830 to 1837.'o
Years before Richard Fitzpatrick began agricultural operations on his
Miami River estate there were persons up Philadelphia way who dreamed of
even bigger achievements than the South Carolinian. On June 7, 1821, The
East Florida Coffee Land Association, with some ninety stockholders, was
organized in Philadelphia, with the stated purpose of growing coffee, cocoa
and such tropical fruits as were adapted to the climate and soil of lower
southern Florida. First, needing to obtain the land the stockholders peti-
tioned Congress to sell them 24,000 acres for $1.25 per acre. The location of
the land asked for was described as "Cape Florida, or Key Largo named
Monroe's Presque Isle. This peninsula is connected to the mainland by a
narrow isthmus or neck of land; (and) is situated between latitude 24 de-
grees, 56 minutes and 25 degrees, 12 minutes".
Notwithstanding the glowing hopes held out by the petitioners as to the
benefits the United States would get from coffee growing, Congress turned
The next attempt to secure a grant of land, although it took years of
knocking at Congressional doors, was more successful than that of the Coffee
Land Association. As early as 1832, Dr. Henry Perrine, a native of New
Jersey, but from 1821 to 1827 a resident of Natchez, Mississippi, became in-
terested in securing a grant of land within the limits of the present Dade
County to use as a tropical plant introducing station. Dr. Perrine's interest
was first aroused as early as 1827, soon after he was appointed United States
consul to Campeche in Mexico. Noting many plants in that area that he
believed could be grown with benefit to his country within the limits of the
present Dade County, he early sought a grant of land where he could prove
his faith. Perrine's activities were noted in Tallahassee, where the acting
governor, James D. Westcott in his message to the legislative council, meeting
January 2, 1832, recommended that a charter be granted to a community
composed of Dr. Perrine and his associates, authorizing them to cultivate
Not,.'ithstanding Perrine's failure at first to influence Congress he began
as early as 1833 to send to Indian Key selected specimens of useful tropical
plants and by 1838 had a nursery there of not less than 200 different
The legislative council of 1838 passed an act, approved by the governor
February 8, incorporating the Tropical Plant Company of Florida, with Dr.
Perrine, James Webb, District Judge at Key West, and Charles Howe, post-
master at Indian Key, as directors. Congress later the same year made a
tentative grant of a township of land within Dade County to Dr. Perrine
and the above named associates.I2
Dr. Perrine lost his life during the Indian massacre at Indian Key, August
7, 1840,t3 and this was the sad end of his tropical plant experiment in Dade
"The earliest recorded data about Key West" says Judge Jefferson B.
Browne in his "Key West, the Old and the New," "is to be found in a grant
of the island of Cayo Hueso on August 26, 1815, by Don Juan Estrada, the
then Spanish governor of Florida (East Florida is correct), to Juan Pablo
Judge Brown further tells us that on January 19, 1822, Salas sold the
island to John W. Simonton of Mobile for $2,000. Later Simonton sold most
of his purchase to John Warner, United States consul at Havana, John
Mountain, United States commercial agent at Havana, John Whitehead and
John W. C. Fleeming.14
Many persons, probably more from South Carolina than any other state,
soon made purchases from the original buyers of Cayo Hueso, or Key West,
and by 1829, it had sufficient population to secure legislative incorporation.
By 1850 it had become the largest town in Florida.
Between 1870 and 1880 Monroe County's population grew from 5,657 to
10,940, nearly doubling, but in Dade and Brevard the increase was less
striking. It is true that the increase in Dade County from 85 persons to 257
was nearly 300 per cent, but this was no great growth, considering its small
number to begin with. Brevard's was not greatly above what might have been
expected from the natural increase.
What makes this the more surprising is the big expectations some people
had. An act of Congress, approved July 2, 1862, provided that an agricul-
tural college should be established in every state, each to receive land scrip
sufficient to put its college in operation. To secure a college for Florida
under the Federal act, the legislature of 1870 passed an act, approved Feb-
ruary 18, that year, establishing the Florida Agricultural College, and an-
other, approved February 19, authorizing the governor to receive from the
Federal government the state's share of the land scrip. The college was in-
corporated two years later, but no location for it was chosen.
W. T. CASH 61
A failure of certain Alachua County persons to raise the money promised
to get the college located in their county gave William H. Gleason, first lieu-
tenant governor of Florida under the constitution of 1868, his change to ad-
vance the value of the large acreage of land he had acquired in Brevard
County. In a letter to the trustees, dated April 10, 1875, Gleason offered to
give them 2,320 acres of land if they would locate the college in the village
of Eau Gallie. The trustees accepted the Gleason offer and on May 18, 1875,
employed John Varnum, former state treasurer and now treasurer of the
college,'" "to proceed to Eau Gallic and begin at once the work of clearing
and laying out the land necessary for the erection of buildings that will serve
for the educational uses of the college . and he is granted plenary au-
thority to use such measures as in his discretion may seem best in the shortest
possible time and in the most economical manner will give shelter and ac-
commodation to such scholars and teachers as may resort to the college, and
in the exercise of such discretion, it is recommended to him that, if it is not
deemed good to begin the erection of the main college, then he erect some-
where upon the college lands wherever it can be most economically done,
a substantial temporary building that will suffice for the necessary uses of
the college at first . .
On December 31, 1876, Varnum made a report to Honorable W. W.
Hicks, state Superintendent of Public Instruction and ex-officio President of
the Board of College Trustees, which stated in part:
"I began work at Eau Gallie in May, 1875, and after infinite dis-
couragement finished the work proposed.
"The college building was completed about December 1st. It is built
of cut coquina stone, thirty-five by sixty-five feet, two stories high, and
contains ten rooms and a hall. It is made fire proof by stone partitions
between all the rooms. The roof is covered with tin. The walls are
plastered and the woodwork painted and grained. A dormitory of two
rooms, a tool-house and other out-buildings have been provided, and
the town lot on which the building stands is surrounded by a picket
fence. The building is, in my opinion, well adapted to the use for which
it is designed, a temporary college edifice; and it will be of use for
other purposes when the permanent buildings shall have been erected.
"An avenue nearly two miles long, and various cross streets about
the buildings have been opened and are in good condition for travel.
An avenue has also been opened from Indian (probably "river" should
have been added) to Lake Washington, a distance of six miles. It passes
through the college lands, greatly improving their market value.
"The college is provided with a fine pair of mules, double and single
harnesses, a wagon, cart, light and heavy plows, wheel-barrows, a har-
row, a great variety of farming and carpenters' tools; a kitchen stove
and utensils, beds and bedding, tables, chairs and forms, a set of Fair-
banks scales, a handsome sloop-rigged yacht boat and a skiff."
Varnum stated further that "Professor Hill is now at work clearing and
fencing the park, which he will plant with vines and fruit trees. It lies upon
an eastern slope touching the river, and is covered with stately groves of
palmettoes, oaks and pines. College Place is opposite the park and is des-
tined as the site of the permanent college buildings."17
One would have thought that Gleason's big dream was about to be realized.
Unfortunately for the former Republican lieutenant governor, the Demo-
crats won the election of 1876 and the Democratic Assembly of 1877 took a
step to beat Gleason's game if that is the right word for it.
A legislative act approved March 7, 1877, in section 4 read as follows:
"It is hereby further enacted, That the said Board of Trustees (a new board
had been created by the act) provided for and established by this act shall
have power to remove said agricultural college on Indian River in Brevard
county,'1 to any point that in their judgment will be for the best interest of
the State of Florida; Provided, That the point which may be selected for its
location shall be easily accessible, and as near the center of the State as
It seems very likely that the legislative act of 1877 authorizing the newly
named trustees for the Agricultural College to move it from Eau Gallie put
an end to the operation of the institution there. On page 88 of Florida of
Today, J. Wood Davidson (N. Y., Appleton, 1889), speaking of Eau Gallic
mentions "its State Agricultural College building as a monument of recon-
struction sham and of Gleason."
In 1876 a company of which E. Hopkins was president, W. H. Churchill,
superintendent, and S. J. Fox, treasurer, opened a railroad from Titus-
ville to Salt Lake, connecting with the St. Johns River. Its length was 8.25
miles but no report of its operations was ever made to the publisher of Poor's
Railroad Manual, from whence this writer has obtained his information. Ap-
parently this road was about 1882 merged with the Atlantic Coast, St. Johns
and Indian River Railway and extended to Enterprise on the St. Johns River.
By 1886 it had been leased to the Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Rail-
way, whose principal office was in Jacksonville.
Many travelers visited the three counties herein discussed during the 1870-
1880 decade. One of these was Sidney Lanier, the famous Georgia poet, who
after visiting Dade County in 1874 wrote:
W. T. CASH
"There are settlements in Dade County at the mouth of the Miami River,
along Biscayne Bay and at Key Biscayne, the latter being the county-site . .
A railway ('the Great Southern') has already been projected to run from
Jessup, Georgia (the intersection of the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad with the
Macon and Brunswick) to Jacksonville, and thence down the center of the
Biscayne Bay and Barnes Sound."'-
F. Trench Townshend, a British captain, who took a hunting trip to
Florida in 1874, was not too favorably impressed with the lower east coast,
or, in fact, with any other part of the state he visited. Of Key West he said,
"The principal occupation of the inhabitants is sponging, turtling and wreck-
ing. The Cubans settled in Key West are largely employed in the manufac-
ture of cigars of which there are about fifteen factories in the island. The
leaf, which is grown in Cuba, or supposed to be so, is rolled at these factories
into cigars, which are very good, though inferior to the genuine Havana in
everything except the price. The other industries of the island consist in
("of" is better) a factory for canning pine-apples, which are grown on some
of the keys, and extensive salt works where 3,000 bushels are annually made
by solar evaporation."
In later paragraphs Captain Townshend discusses the lazy negroes, the
general monotony of the town and the high prices. He evidently was not
charmed much by what he saw.
Nor was he impressed by Miami, of which he said in part:
"Throughout Florida, the settlement of Miami, on Biscayne Bay, is
represented as a sort of terrestial paradise, cultivated like the garden of
Eden, where fruit of the tropics grows luxuriantly, where magnificent
scenery delights the eye, and fever and death are unknown .... A great
objection to settling in Miami is its location, the only communication
with the outside world being by a little mail-cutter which sails twice a
month to and from Key West, but a greater objection still, in my opinion,
are the winged insects. . .. A great deal is said by Florida land agents
about Biscayne being made the terminus of a railway to be constructed
from Jacksonville via the town of Enterprise and St. John's River to
Miami, and thence along from key to key on tressel work as far as Key
West, so as to convey the trade of the West Indies and South America
through Florida to the North. Beyond the fact that the track is marked
in the maps of Florida, published at Jacksonville, there is no reason to
suppose that such a line is ever likely to be built as long as Florida re-
mains in her present bankrupt and impoverished condition."zo
Ralph Middleton Munroe, lovingly called "the commodore" by his friends,
who first visited Biscayne Bay in 1877-three years after Captain Town-
shend-fell in love with the beauties of the region round about, making in-
termittent stays till 1885 when he became a permanent resident.2'
One of the most interesting characters coming to the Indian River sec-
tion in the early 70's (he was certainly there by 1874) was Colonel H. T.
Titus, who was soon after sufficiently prominent to get his own name applied
to the little Sand Point settlement, which has ever since been called "Titus-
ville". Captain Townshend said Titus had made everybody his enemy, but
admitted that tourists who stayed at the Titus Hotel claimed it was the only
house worthy of the name in the settlement.22
It is possible that in spite of the hope of getting the state agricultural col-
lege for Eau Gallie and the building in 1876 of a railroad from Titusville
to the St. Johns River, settling of the Indian River section was long held up
by tales of the ferocity of the mosquitoes. A correspondent of the Rural
Carolinian in 1873, as quoted in Sixth Annual Report of the Commissioner
of Lands and Immigration, paid his respects to those tales saying:
"The many fabulous stories, which have been told of the insects of
the Indian River Country are mainly the results of the wonderful growth
which such hearsay tales are wont to make in the fertile minds of imagi-
native narrators as they pass from lip to lip. I was so dismayed by these
exaggerations as I first passed up the St. John River, on my way to the
Indian River, that had I not been ashamed to turn back, I should prob-
ably have never seen what I consider the most beautiful, fertile and
healthy country of which I have any knowledge. I remained there dur-
ing the winter of 1868 and the summer following, clearing and planting
in a hammock. Some orange trees which I then planted have ripe fruit
on them now. I have revisited the country since and am now about to
make it my home, satisfied that the insects will not seriously interfere
with the comfort of myself or family. .... It is being demonstrated that
not only the wild beast, the Indian and the pioneer can stand the insects,
but the delicate women and children are happy and contented in their
new homes, and hopeful in prospect of the golden harvest of the future."
The Carolinian writer did not deny that mosquitoes existed along the
Indian River but said they "are smaller and more frail and clumsy than those
found in Georgia. The gallinippers and blind mosquitoes of the St. Johns
River are never found here."23
The counties of Brevard and Monroe played their parts in the political
life of the times. Judge Jefferson B. Browne told the writer that it was owing
to the activities of Jephtha V. Harris of Monroe County that the first primary
W. T. CASH
election of Florida was held. This was in 1876 and prior to that time, ac-
cording to Judge Browne, a clique or group of political leaders, in Monroe
County, "the best people," got together in election years and nominated the
most suitable candidates for representatives and state senator (the only state
and county officials they were allowed to vote for except constables).24
Dr. Harrisz2 wanted to represent Monroe County and as he knew the old
crowd of "best people" didn't want him, kept agitating the matter of leaving
nominations to all the people so much that a primary was the final outcome.
Dr. Harris won both nominations and election, though many were opposed
to him. This Dr. Harris was a Mississippian recently moved to Florida, first
settling in Dade County, where he acquired an interest in the old Fort Dallas
The Board of State Canvassers of the election of 1876, two of whom were
Republicans, subtracted 401 votes from what the returns showed the Demo-
cratic candidates for presidential electors received in Monroe County, charg-
ing that their majority of 57 had been won by fraud and violence.2" Ap-
parently the votes of Broward and Dade, together amounting to only 173,28
After the 1878 Congressional election in the Second District, Brevard
County, notwithstanding its small vote, got plenty of notice. It is apparent
to the writer that there was nothing less than an attempt to "doctor" the re-
turns in behalf of the Democratic candidate-none other than Noble A. Hull,
then serving as lieutenant-governor of Florida, to which position he had been
elected in 1876 when George F. Drew was chosen governor. The State Can-
vassing Board gave the election to Hull by a majority of 13 votes,29 but Bre-
vard's vote was not counted.
Presumably Brevard's vote was left out because the election had been
conducted without any attention to law, John M. Lee, clerk of the circuit
court of the county, admitted under oath the county commissioners failed to
provide any registration books, he himself did not provide them and if
either of his deputies prepared any he did not know it. He also said if any
such books were furnished election managers it was unknown to him, and
that the election managers furnished the ballot boxes themselves. It may be
stated here that when Lee gave this testimony he was an inmate of the Fed-
eral penitentiary in Albany, N. Y., to which he had been sent for partici-
pating in election frauds,3o but the State Canvassing Board doubtless already
had the information.
The most interesting person connected with the Brevard election frauds
was E. S. Gaulden, a bright young man, whom Florida historians have so
far neglected. Born in South Georgia about 1854 or 1855 and receiving a
better than average education at the Bradwell Institute near Savannah, Gaul-
den apparently moved to Orange County not long after his schooling was
completed to seek out such opportunities as might present themselves.
Because of his superior knowledge Gaulden was soon employed as a
teacher. But being an ardent Democrat and not too squeamish as to means
used to promote his party's success he was soon given political offices in
Orange County, where he claimed citizenship, and in neighboring Brevard.
His first was special registration clerk of Orange and following this he served
as deputy tax assessor, deputy tax collector, deputy sheriff and deputy clerk
of the circuit court in Brevard.31
Gaulden admitted under oath during the United States court investigation
of the 1878 election that he had been an ardent worker for Hull in the cam-
paign and that Hull had promised him a good office and $1,000.00 for his
services. Gaulden also testified that Hull had told him the Republicans were
going to perpetrate frauds in some of the counties in order to have a majority
on the face of the returns and for the Democrats to win they must fight fraud
with fraud. Gaulden further stated that Hull asked him if he (Gaulden)
thought Brevard County could be so managed as to give a sufficient Demo-
cratic majority to offset any majority the Republicans might get outside, and
that he replied with money the county canvassing board could be controled.
Gaulden swore that he had seen a letter Hull sent Nat Poyntz of Orlando
three days after the election which read:
"I inclose a telegram from John A. McRae, dated November 7,
7 P. M., which says Bisbee's majority is 940; Orange, Volusia, Brevard,
and Dade to hear from and since Orange and Volusia only give me
738 (I think), it leaves me a few over 200 to come from Brevard and
Dade. Do you think those 202 could be had? Would it do any good
for you to go to Brevard? I would give anything if this could be ac-
complished. Expenses of the trip are no consideration to me. Think of it.
N. A. HULL."
"I am very much mortified at the conduct of Orange and Volusia.
If they had only done their duty I would have been all 0. K."
We get from all this court investigation that Gaulden was sent to Brevard
with one Major J. H. Allen, who carried money to pay for raising its vote
and by this means succeeded in having it changed from 118 to 310. In
this vote alteration, J. M. Lee, clerk of the court, would take no part, but he
did give his deputy, E. S. Gaulden, the key to his office and let him make
W. T. CASH
out a "corrected" set of returns. Following this Gaulden and Major Allen
took the new returns to Orlando from which they were sent to Tallahassee.
Gaulden testified that soon after Bisbee gave Hull notice that he would
contest the election, he received an unsigned letter from Hull stating, "You
are going to be summoned before the United States court as a witness against
the Brevard canvassing board; you must keep out of the way; they will not
be able to prove anything; I will remember my promise." A second letter
was in substance, Gaulden swore, "I want you by all means to keep out of
the way; if you have money don't call on me, but if you have not I will
honor your draft for $250."32
In spite of the fact that he had received only a small part of the money
he had been promised, Gaulden seems to have done his best to keep hidden
and U. S. Marshal Albertus Vogt, who finally arrested him, swore that al-
though he received the necessary warrant on January 21, 1879, it took him
till February 28 to find Gaulden.
If Gaulden told the truth in the United States court trial he followed the
safest course for himself in hiding out. "I did not find out," he swore, "until
I was arrested that they (some Orange County Democrats who wanted to
clear Hull) were seeking to take time by the forelock, by trumping up some
charges made before a justice of the peace, in Orange County, on which they
had issued warrants for my arrest, in order that they might hold me until
the sitting of the court in Brevard, and the impression forced itself upon me
that they would sacrifice me to save Governor Hull."
After the United States court-session in which Gaulden gave so much
damaging testimony against Hull's campaign methods and the Brevard County
Canvassing Board we lose sight of him for a while. It seems, however, that
he went back to Orange County and there somebody shot him, the wound so
affecting him that he ever afterward was drawn over as from a rheumatic
We next find Mr. Gaulden living in the Old Town neighborhood of Lafay-
ette County. In his new home he soon became so popular that he was elected
tax assessor, a position he seems to have held at least six years.33 In the late
1890's Gaulden is said to have operated a Suwannee River steamboat line and
gave the general impression that he was something of a capitalist. Early
in the twentieth century he left Lafayette County for parts unknown and when
he returned about 1915 he said he had been living in Mexico.34 The post-
office of Eugene, a few miles south of Cross City on the Atlantic Coast Line
Railroad, was established after Gaulden's return and he received the double
honor of being made postmaster and having the office given his first name
In 1921 after the creation of Dixie County, Gaulden was appointed tax
assessor by Governor Cary A. Hardee and held this office until his death a
few years later when his wife was appointed to succeed him.
An aged and truthful citizen of Alachua County, who knew Gaulden from
the time he moved to Lafayette County, told the writer he doubted if Gaulden
ever had the money be pretended to have and this citizen thought Gaulden
operated "on a shoestring," trying to impress people with his capability. He
further stated that he was by no means certain that Gaulden ever went to
Key West, which then as now contained most of the population of Monroe
County, made great strides during the 1880-1890 decade, and at the latter
date was the largest city of Florida with a population of 18,080 against
17,201 for Jacksonville. In 1887 over 4,300 square miles of the mainland
portion of Monroe was cut off to form Lee County. Had this not occurred
the population of Monroe County in 1890 would have been 20,200, an in-
crease of almost 85 per cent for the decade. The two industries most re-
sponsible for Monroe's growth were cigar manufacturing and the taking of
There were some labor troubles about 1886, which caused V. Martinez
Yhor, a leading cigar manufacturer of the island city, to look elsewhere for
a location and led to his purchasing land on which to locate his factories just
outside the city limits of Tampa. This was the beginning of Ybor City and
the first step toward making Tampa rather than Key West Florida's leading
cigar city. However Key West was still ahead for years to come.
In 1885 a franchise to operate a street car line in Key West was granted
by the Florida legislature to Eduardo H. Gato and others, but this was merely
a mule-car affair. The line was not electrified until 1900.
In 1880 Charles T. Merrill started a banking business, but this did not last
long. In 1884 George Lewis of Tallahassee and George W. Allen of Key
West founded the Bank of Key West. It was still in operation at the end of
the decade, but failed in 1891.
In 1889 John Jay Philbrick established an electric light plant, which
superseded the old gas plant.3A
According to the state census of 1885 Dade County had a population of
only 333, but settlers were even then coming in, most of them, locating
around Lake Worth. A Florida State Gazeteer issued in 1887 gave Lake Worth
a population of 400 and listed 42 pineapple growers. The business of the
town was quite limited, however, as it reported only one store, two hotels and
a machine shop. Miami with an estimated population of 150 reported two
stores, a steam starch factory and seven run by horse power. Unimproved
W. T. CASH
land around Miami sold for $1.25 per acre, but at Lake Worth it was re-
ported as selling at from $100 to $200 per acre.
But Miami was going down. At an election held February 19, 1889, the
county seat was removed from there to Juno at the extreme north end of
Lake Worth, over sixty miles away, where it remained for ten years. It was
moved back to Miami, as a result of the East Coast Railroad's extension to
Brevard County grew rapidly between 1880, considerably more than
doubling its population. Many citizens moved in, induced to come there not
only by the fine climate, but by the opportunities the section offered for
growing pineapples and oranges, thought to be unequaled. It also grew in
fame as a stockraising region and in 1886 was said to have more cattle on
its ranges than any other county in Florida, however something like one third
of its area was taken away in 1887 when Osceola County was created.37
Many persons from the northern part of Florida and from various states
of the union were visiting the Indian River country, often becoming so en-
raptured with it as to move there. The writer remembers reading with interest
about 1889, a letter to our local paper from a' Madison County Primitive
Baptist preacher, who gave a delightful account of the section and visits with
friends of his in south Florida who had already gone down there.38
The Titusville Star, established in 1880 by Ellis B. Wager, has continued
its existence to this day39 and has been one of the chief promoters of the devel-
opment of Brevard County. A second Brevard County newspaper, the Cocoa
Public Spirit was founded in 1888 by R. N. Andrews.
Three years before the present Lee County was cut off from Monroe a Mr.
A. L. Cleveland began the publication of the Fort Myers Press. Many years
later it was combined with the Fort Myers Tropical News as the Fort Myers
Newspapers published at Key West during the 1880-90 period were the
Key of the Gulf started by H. A. Crane who continued to publish it until ill
health forced him to quit in 1887, the Democrat founded by William Curry,
Asa Taft and others in 1880 and combined in 1888 with the Equator-El-
Equador, the two taking the name of Equator-Democrat, which had its be-
ginning in 1887, and the New Era founded about 1888 by George Eugene
Bryson. It was seldom that any of these papers remained in the hands of
their founders long. Some of the editors during these years were among the
very ablest in Florida.
This section during the 1880-1890 decade was beginning to furnish lead-
ers in several lines. In politics were emerging such young men as Jefferson
B. Browne of Key West, and J. Wood Davidson of Lake Worth; in literature,
Kirk Monroe and J. Wood Davidson, both of Dade County;40 in horticul.
ture, T. E. Richards of Brevard; in industry F. A. Hendry and William B.
Curry of Monroe. By 1890 this area had an influence in the state far out
of proportion to its population.
It was quite an honor to the section to have Dr. Joseph Yates Porter, of
Key West, made the first state health officer, after the state board of health
was created by a legislative Act of 1889.
This section could show great improvement in educational conditions
between 1870 and 1890. Instead of having 462 children in school at the first
date, there were 2,222 reported in public schools for the year ending De-
cember 31, 1890. At this time Key West had some of the best public schools
in Florida. Among these were the Sears School operated in a three-story build-
ing erected in 1874, Russell Hall, opened in 1887 and the Douglas Negro
School, which had its beginning in 1870.
Key West also had in 1890 two convent schools and St. Joseph's College,
a Catholic institution established for white boys in 1881. The attendance at
these private schools would add considerably to the public school enrollment
given in the preceding paragraph.
A booster for the lower East Coast section in 1890 could truthfully
say, "We make more cigars than all the rest of Florida; we grow more
pineapples than the remainder of the United States. Our climate is
discussed over the English-speaking world. In Kirk Monroe we have
the best-known writer of Florida. In Joseph Y. Porter, we have perhaps
the best authority on yellow fever in the country. Henry M. Flagler,
the oil magnate, has already got his hand on the railroad to Titusville
and will soon build it farther down our way. Our population has in-
creased over 400 per cent in twenty years' time, and we have only just
begun to grow. Just watch us!"
I See page 14 of state census report of 1905. This does not include Lake Okeechobee,
all of which was in Dade.
2 The figures for Brevard and Dade are from 1871 tax rolls, as those for 1870 have ap-
parently disappeared. It is not believed that one year made any great change.
a These educational statistics are from the U. S. Census of 1870 and probably refer to
the previous year.
From U. S. Census statistics of 1870.
s Page 145 of "Key West, the Old and the New," by Judge Jefferson B. Browne, 1913.
While Merritt's Island doubtless originally took its name from the Spanish surveyor-
general, Pedro Marrot, it could have been named for the Mr. Merritt whom John Lee
Williams in his Territory of Florida (New York, 1837) says once cultivated a part of
W. T. CASH 71
it. See page 42, next to final paragraph. See also American State Papers, Public Lands,
vol. IIlI, pp. 633-647.
7 See American State Papers, Public Lands, pp. 633-647.
See Florida Horticultural Society Proceedings for 1926, pp. 234-235.
o She may have been the wieow of James Egan.
o See special edition of Florida Times-Union and Citizen, December, 1897. There are
reasons for believing there are errors in the Times-Union and Citizen article. See pp.
27-29, Senator F. M. Hudson's article, "The Beginnings of Dade County," in Tequesta
for July, 1943.
" House Executive Document 114, 17th Congress, 2nd session.
12 The information above given is from the following sources: (a) Journal of the Fla.
legislative council, 1832; Dictionary of American Biography, v. 14, pp. 480-481, Fla.
Hist. Quarterly, v. 5, pp. 38-39, and article in vol. 1, no. 8, of 'I equesta, pp. 9-10.
'3 Pages 18-38, v. 5, of Fla. Historical Quarterly.
14 p. 7, Chapter 1, "Key West, the Old and the New," 1913.
Is Varnum had by this time acquired considerable acreage in Brevard County. See tax
roll for 1871.
i6 P. 116, appendix to Senate Journal, legislature of 1877.
17 Pp. 105.106, appendix to Senate Journal of 1879.
sa Italics mine.
-' Page 155, Florida, Its Scenery, Climate and History, Philadelphia, 1875.
20 Extracts from chapters XII and XVIII, "Wild Life in Florida," by F. Trench Town
shend, London, 1875.
21 Munroe's adventures in Florida are related in "The Commodore's Story," by Ralph
Middleton Munroe and Vincent Gilpin, N.P. 1930.
22 Pp. 279-280, Wild Life in Florida, by F. Trench Townshend, London, 1875.
23 Page 186 of the 6th annual report of the Commissioner of Lands and Immigration.
24 See article V., Constitution of 1868, which gave the governor the right to appoint all
state and county officials, except constables and members of the legislature.
as See page 85, part 1 of Miscellaneous Documents, House of Representatives, 44th Con-
gress, 2nd session. Dr. Harris testified at a Congressional investigation of the 1876
election in Florida that he was an allopathic physician.
26 I believe this statement correct. See paragraph 2, page 238, Wild Life in Florida, by
Trench Townshend, London, 1875.
27 Page 722, Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida, by W. W. Davis, N. Y., 1913.
2a See page 79 of Miscellaneous Document 35, part 3, U. S. House of Representatives,
44th Congress, 2nd session.
29 Florida Mirror, issue of Dec. 28, 1878.
so Information about Gaulden's activities in Orange and Brevard Counties is found in
pages 188-208 House Document No. 26, 46th Congress, 1st Session.
32 See Bisbee vs. Hull, pp. 198-208, Miscellaneous House Doc. 26, 46th Cong., 1st Sess.
33 It may have been ten. The Secretary of State's report shows him as holding the place
for at least six. Prior to 1893-94, the Secretary of State did not report county officials.
a3 All these are not guaranteed, but, in general, they are based on statements the writer
has heard from persons who knew Gaulden.
as Recollections of a conversation in 1935 and memory may have played me a trick.
3s Paragraphs about Key West are based on statements in Chapter xvii, Key West, the
Old and the New, by J. B. Browne, 1913.
37 Osceola County was created from territory taken from both Orange and Brevard.
30 As I read article about 59 years ago and have no copy of it now I can only speak of it
39 Many years later it was combined with Advocate, a paper established in 1890 by
C. H. Watts.
40o Davidson, just mentioned as a political leader, had already written two or more books
before moving from South Carolina to Florida.
This Page Blank in Original
MIAMI: A Study in Urban Geography
By MILLICENT TODD BINGHAM
This type study of the location and growth of a city as influenced
by its location is a spectacular example in urban geography. Writ-
ten in French in 1931, it was prepared for a volume of researches
by the students of Professor Raoul Blanchard of the University of
Grenoble to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of his founding
of the Institute of Alpine Geography. It was published in full by
that institution.* In abbreviated form the paper was presented, with
slides, before the International Congress of Geography in Paris,
September, 1931.t To the European audience it was a startling
thought that a small settlement could have grown into a metropolis
in the brief space of thirty-five years. The study is here made avail-
able in English for the first time.
Last February when I was in southern Florida, I had just returned one
morning from a very early trip out into the Everglades to see the birds-
clouds of herons, ducks, and ibises-darkening the sky with their flight,
filling the air with the rustle of their myriad wings. We had followed the
road fifty miles or more straight across the swamp without a turn, without
the sight of a single house or a single human face. Yet here I was once
more back in the midst of a city-a great noisy modern city, its silhouette
of incongruous sky-scrapers rising through the tropical haze above the bay.
Miami, this city beside the Everglades, has grown up like the cities of
the fairy tales, almost over night. Twenty years ago it was a sleepy little
tropical town, with gentle Southerners in hammocks of rattan dozing at
noonday beneath the palms. And now, during the winter season it is a
bustling metropolis of over 200,000 inhabitants. It has been groomed until
all the old landmarks have been swept away. The ibises and roseate spoon-
bills that used to wade in the quiet lagoons know it no more, and the wild-
cats that prowled out of the Everglades at night to prey upon the chicken
Millicent Todd Bingham, "La Floride du sud-est et la ville de Miami," Milanges
geographiques offers par ses lives a Raoul Blanchard, i ]'occasion du vingt-cinquibme
anniversaire de lInstitut de G6ographie Alpine de Grenoble, 1932. Pp. 89-133.
t M. T. Bingham, "Miami," Comptes rendus du Congris International de Geographie,
Vol. III, 1934. Pp. 423-431.
yards now follow their trails through the tall sedges to the rookeries of herons
within the swamp, but not beyond. Only a short time ago this was a pioneer
belt, where brawny men in wide-brimmed hats rode on horseback into the
wilderness along narrow trails and alligators lounged in stagnant pools in
Miami, the incarnation of the restless American spirit, juxtaposed against
a wilderness, undisturbed, drenched in the quiet of prehistoric calm. What
could explain this startling contrast? Why did this city grow here rather
than elsewhere? What do the people who live here do?
While I was meditating, the postman handed me an invitation to con-
tribute to this volume. The present paper exists by virtue of this coincidence.
My meditation changed with amazing rapidity to questioning whether, among
the reasons for the growth of this modern city on the edge of a remote unin-
habited area, might not be found problems which could be explained by a
geographer? The locality is comparatively unknown, and unique, with
unique resources. It is the only tropical, humid part of the United States of
America, the only area of growing coral reefs, and it is all less than twenty
feet above sea-level. A curious region to include in a volume of studies pub-
lished by the Institut de Giographie Alpine! However, the very novelty of
its problems, I thought, might be of interest to students of mountain
And so I began to see what I could discover. I present herewith the re-
sult-an outline of a study of Miami and its hinterland, a study complicated
by the fact, I may say, that no surveys of Southern Florida as a whole have
been made, and no detailed maps of it exist.'
The Florida peninsula is a finger of land stretching more than 400 miles
in a southerly direction from the southeast corner, so to speak, of the United
States of America. Its average width is 120 miles. On the east it is bounded
by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by the Gulf of Mexico. Its southern tip
is farther south than any other part of the country, and is swept by the tepid
waters of the Gulf Stream as it is forced through the narrow Straits of
Florida between Key West and Cuba. On the north, the peninsula is con-
tinuous with the coastal plain of southern Georgia and the east-west extension
of the state of Florida along the Gulf Coast, but assumes, the farther south
one goes, a totally different character.
The southern hali of the peninsula is largely covered by the Everglades,
a vast swamp about 10 miles wide and 150 miles long, from the head of
Lake Okeechobee to the Bay of Florida-a region of more than 3,000,000
MILLICENT TODD BINGHAM
acres, level as the surface of the ocean on a quiet day, stretching off to the
misty horizon. But Southern Florida includes something more: the south-
eastern shore with the long stretch of fringing islands or keys habitable for
Except for the keys, the area of our study is roughly co-terminous with
Dade County, its focal point the city of Miami, located on the east coast near
the tip of the peninsula, on Biscayne Bay.
After summarizing the structure and relief of southeastern Florida and
briefly discussing the climate, I shall describe the natural regions of the
mainland, differentiated one from another by soil and vegetation, the keys
and shoreline features being treated separately. The denizens of the wilder-
ness, birds, animals and wandering Seminole Indians, will be contrasted with
the city of Miami, creature of its environment and a spectacular example for
students of urban geography. Its history and evolution are so brief that its
elements de fixation still characterize the city today, though a brand-new
factor hitherto unknown, which is a function of geographical location, may
be about to start a new era of growth and of prosperity.
A. STRUCTURE AND RELIEF
From the point of view of structure and relief it would be hard to
imagine a region more uniform and simple than southeastern Florida. The
strata are almost horizontal. The elevation above sea-level is so slight and
the surface so flat that no altitude exceeds 20 feet. The uniformity is further
accentuated by the fact that the rock is all limestone, though of varying
formations, and though in great part overlaid by surface marl, muck or
sand. There is nothing older than Pleistocene, and fossils revealed by ex-
cavations are identical with forms now living in the sea. In places the land
forms are so fresh, so unmodified by wind and rain, that they look as if
they had but yesterday been raised from the sea-bottom, An uplift of twenty
feet would add hundreds of square miles to our area, while a depression of
a like amount would obliterate all traces of it. Why such delicate ad-
Peninsular Florida cannot be considered apart from its under-sea ex-
tension. The name "Floridian Plateau" is applied to the great projection of
the continent of North America which separates the deep water of the Gulf
of Mexico from the deep water of the Atlantic Ocean. The plateau includes
not only the visible peninsula, but a larger area that lies submerged beneath
water less than 50 fathoms deep, mostly very much less. (See U. S. Coast
and Geodetic Survey relief-model of the Bay of North America reproduced
in bibliographical reference No. 6.)
Though the Floridian Plateau has been in existence since very ancient
times, it has undergone repeated changes of elevation and consequent changes
of form and area. Not to go further back than Pleistocene times, there was
an elevation of a few feet early in that epoch, followed by subsidence of a
similar amount in middle Pleistocene, when the coral-reefs along the Floridian
border of the Gulf Stream (Upper Keys) were built up, and most of the
limestone laid down in shallow water. Then came a period of slight eleva-
tion in late Pleistocene when the southern tip of Florida assumed its
There are many proofs of this last elevation: an old coastal-reef in the
Everglades (Everglades Keys) ; elevated sand dunes north of Miami, half a
mile inland from the present shore-line; sub-aqueous caverns (near Cape
Sable) with immense stalactites which must have been formed above the
That the coast is at present subsiding, however, is abundantly shown, not
only by stumps of live oaks and other trees in the localities where they un-
doubtedly grew and now below high-tide level, but by drowned shoreline
topography. That both emergence and subsequent submergence have taken
place in Recent times will not be questioned. The only point in doubt is the
magnitude of these movements.
During these fluctuations, deposits have accumulated both on land and
under the sea: marine formations such as shell marl, sandy limestone, oolitic
limestone, coral-reef rock and sand; terrestrial, wind-blown sand, muck, peat,
cavity-fillings in limestone, and residual sand and clay.
The contorted mica-schists, quartzites and other rocks that make up the
foundation of the plateau have been reached by only one deep well consid-
erably north of our area (290 North), but as has been said, the sedimentary
deposits that overlie the basement rocks have suffered very little deforma-
tion. They appear to retain very nearly the attitude in which they were
originally laid down.
Throughout the Miami area the surface rock is an oilitic limestone
(Miami ooilite) of Pleistocene origin. It extends from a point forty-three or
forty-four miles north of Miami southward and southwestward along the
coast almost to Cape Sable. Where it is not exposed at the surface in bare
ridges or outcrops, it is covered by loose sand or by peat, muck or fresh-
MILLICENT TODD BINGHAM
water marl. Typical Miami odlite is pure soft white limestone which in-
cludes occasional layers of calcite and usually more or less sand, particu-
larly toward its northern boundary. It shows cross-bedding, hardens on ex-
posure and makes good road material and building stone. Odlite is distin-
guishable from other calcareous deposits by its content of small spherules of
carbonate of lime which resemble the roe of a fish. Its surface is a nearly
level plain that ranges in altitude from less than 15 feet above sea-level on
the mainland to less than 15 feet below in the lagoons.
The Lower Keys are composed of oblitic limestone like that of the main-
land, the chief difference being that it shows fewer signs of surface rough-
ening. But the Upper Keys are different. The rock of which they are com-
posed (Key Largo limestone, the name taken from the largest key), has a
coral-reef facies. This elevated coral-reef appears to have been built up in
large part by corals, calcareous algae and other organisms on the edge of
the deep water of the Straits of Florida at the same time that Miami oolite
was accumulating in shallow water on the submerged part of the Floridian
Plateau. It is found nowhere else.
The mention of these two formations is sufficient for our purpose, which
is to emphasize the simplicity of structure of the Floridian Plateau.
The topography of southeastern Florida reflects the simplicity of struc-
ture: a former shallow sea-bottom, recently lifted to its present level. As
previously stated, most of the area is a flat plain that slopes imperceptibly
southward from an altitude of 18 feet near Lake Okeechobee. (See section
on Everglades.) On a floor of shell-marl or limestone, this plain is generally
covered by 6 or 8 feet of peaty muck, thicker toward the north. There is
but little difference in elevation between the Everglades and the Miami
The topography has all the aspects of infancy: defective drainage-de-
fective to such an extent that most of the Everglades is under water from
June to October; consequently, no well-defined river systems or stream
valleys, the streams being mere drainage lines. In the Miami oolite area,
where the limestone reaches the surface, there is subterranean drainage and
the soil is dry. Minor topographic forms and surface-features are an integral
part of the rock of which they are formed. This oblite is so soft and porous
that it is easily eroded. The effects are everywhere visible: potholes, large
and small, caverns, sinks and natural wells which communicate with under-
ground solution channels and subterranean springs, sometimes gushing with
clear, sweet water below tide-level, as in Coconut Grove. Nearly everywhere
water is near enough to the surface to be brought up by suction pumps,
larger supplies obtainable from wells, the water of which contains lime,
sulphur or salt, though not sufficient in quantity to make the water undrink-
able, except on the keys. But erosion has resulted in a surface so rough and
ragged, with such angular shapes and knife-edges, that it is dangerous to
walk upon it. In places the honeycombed rock becomes so undermined that
it breaks under the foot and a fall may result in an ugly wound.
In an area where topographic contrasts are lacking, vegetation, which
reflects the composition of the soil, serves to differentiate natural regions,
the more so since it is still largely native, in spite of the fact that "develop-
ers" are destroying it as fast as they can, to make way for problematical
farms and towns.
Before considering vegetation, however, we must briefly sum up the
climatic characteristics of the region.
After all, it is not so much the topography and soil which constitute the
difference between southern Florida and the rest of the country, as the climate.
At the extreme end of the Atlantic coast temperature-ladder, lying between
the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean and those of the Gulf, in sub-tropical
latitudes, the region enjoys an almost tropical climate. The winters are ex-
traordinarly mild and equable, interrupted now and then by moderate cold
spells which, on relatively infrequent occasions, are sufficiently severe to
The climate of the city of Miami, where there is a station of the U. S.
Weather Bureau, may be considered typical of the region as a whole. Records
cover the last 34 years with scattering records for the past 50 years. That
city has a modified tropical climate. During the summer months it is only
slightly, if at all, affected by continental influences; but in winter the areas
of high and low pressure which control the weather of the rest of the country,
move far enough south to reach our area.*
Average seasonal temperatures are as follows: winter, 680,2 spring, 74,
summer, 820, and autumn, 770, with a mean annual of 75.1. The winter
mean is about twenty degrees warmer than that of Nice. Freezing tempera.
At this point in the original text charts were introduced depicting extremes of tem-
perature (1895-1930), and average annual and monthly rainfall, as given in the Annual
Meteorological Summary, Miami, Florida, 1930.
MILLICENT TODD BINGHAM
tures have been recorded on only seven days in a period of thirty-four years,
and then only for a few hours, the absolute minimum for the same period
being 27. There is on the average only one day in the year when Miami
does not have a temperature of 600 or more. The sea-water at Miami Beach
is always 700 or warmer.
Though continuously warm in summer, excessively high temperatures do
not occur. The average number of days in the year with temperature of 90
or above at Miami Beach is four, while Boston has nine such. The absolute
maximum at Miami in a period of thirty-four years was 960.
The temperature of the Gulf Stream is 80 in mid-summer and the air
above is about the same during both day and night. Diurnal sea-breezes
reinforce the prevailing onshore wind during the warmer hours of the day.
When the air reaches Miami Beach it is about as warm as when above the
Gulf Stream, with a maximum of 860 or 870 at midday. It grows pro-
gressively warmer as it proceeds, reaching perhaps 890 above Miami, while
a mile or two inland it may reach 96' or 970, a difference of seven degrees.
Mean annual ranges of temperature are less than anywhere else in the coun-
try except in Key West. Miami's average daily range is 11.8' and its average
yearly range of mean monthly temperatures is 14.4.
Miami averages only six days a year without sunshine. The cloudy days
usually occur in the summer and fall. Because of the low latitude the varia-
tion of sun-angle is less than for any other city in the United States. These
several conditions combine to provide a large amount of sunshine of quite
constant quantity, particularly valuable at the time of year when the rest
of the country has very little. An observatory for investigating the qualities
of the sun's rays has been established, but as the records began only in No-
vember, 1929, it is too early as yet to predict their value, though important
discoveries as to therapeutic effects of the sun's rays are confidently expected.
III. WINDS AND RAINFALL
Most of the United States lies in the belt of the storm-bearing prevailing
westerly winds, but the southern tip of Florida reaches into the belt of the
northeast trades. By reason of latitude, therefore, Miami should enjoy the
trade-winds. But though the summer winds have the constancy of the trades,
they are persistently from the southeast and east, not northeast. This is be-
cause a branch of the trades is under the control of the Atlantic high-pressure
area, as a result of which they shift to southeasterlies. These prevailing
winds blow in summer across the warm Gulf Stream and consequently be-
come a source of plentiful water-vapor-supply near at hand, which explains
the high relative humidity, 75 to 80 per cent throughout the year. Few fogs
occur, and those that do, always lift with the rising of the sun. Day-time fog
is almost unknown.
The rainfall is of a distinctly tropical type, with a total for the year of
about 60 inches. From June to September or October there is a true rainy
season, the maximum tending to occur in September-October. Maximum pre-
cipitation may be as much as 8 inches in 24 hours, the result of local con-
vectional thunderstorms or tropical hurricanes with their flooding downpours.
This is the only district in the United States with over 35 per cent of its an-
nual rainfall in autumn. The average winter rainfall is as follows: Decem-
ber, 1.89 inches; January, 2.9; February, 2.05; March, 2.52. No severe
storm has ever been recorded during the winter months. The average wind
velocity for the year is 9 miles per hour, the highest recorded wind-velocity,
December to April inclusive, being 38 miles per hour. Much higher veloci-
ties during the summer and fall are due to West Indian hurricanes, the one
adverse element in the climate of southeastern Florida.
Hurricanes are tropical cyclones which occur during the months of June
to October inclusive, with 35 per cent in September and 32 per cent in Oc-
tober. During fifty years there has been a total of 316, or an average of 6.3
per annum. (The number varies greatly from year to year, the least number,
one, the greatest, sixteen in a single year.) But of all the storms so classified,
only a few were of hurricane intensity, by which is meant a central pressure
of 29.00 inches or lower, and winds near the center of more than 60 miles
an hour. (The highest recorded velocity at Miami was 138 miles on Sep.
tember 16, 1926, after which the anemometer blew away.) Eighty-four of
the 316 have been of hurricane intensity along the east coast of the United
States, sixteen of which could be classed as "great," both as to intensity and
diameter of storm-area.
Great hurricanes deface the landscape to such an extent that even if trees
are not uprooted, it takes several weeks or months for them to grow a new
set of leaves. These storms cause tides which make it dangerous for persons
to remain in houses located on the beach. But they do not seriously damage
any properly constructed building, and there is no reason for anyone to be
injured in a hurricane if he will remain in a substantial house until the
storm is over. Fortunately, no one need be taken unawares as their appear-
ance can be predicted several days in advance.
Though southern Florida is included in the Gulf Province among the
climates of the United States, its climate is very different from that of north-
MILLICENT TODD BINGHAM
ern Florida, which, in turn, differs from that of the rest of the eastern sea-
board. Southern Florida has in general higher temperatures, milder winters,
weaker cyclonic control-summer cyclonic control being hardly perceptible-
the wind, temperature and weather changes are fewer, less sudden and less
emphatic, and rainfall is heavier, with a marked late-summer or early-autumn
maximum. In other words, conditions are more settled, except for an oc-
Since the climate of Miami is typical of southeastern Florida as a whole,
and since its topography is uniform, the natural regions must be differen-
tiated by soil and vegetation, of which the latter is the more convenient
C. VEGETATION AND NATURAL REGIONS OF THE MAINLAND
In the broadest sense there are but two natural regions in southeastern
Florida, that in which Miami odlite reaches the surface, and the far larger
area of swamp land surrounding it. But it is not so simple as this. For both
of these regions have an important characteristic in common, one with more
or less uniform traits, yet utterly unlike either matrix in which it is found,
namely, islands of vegetation, large and small, different from either pine-
land or swamp, but superficially resembling one another. These islands are
called "hammocks," the latter a word of presumably Indian origin meaning
dense tropical vegetation. Their importance from a human point of view is
out of all proportion to their area. In addition to the hammocks, salt marshes
along the coast, irrespective of soil or hinterland, become mangrove-swamps.
If a natural region were defined as an area geographically distinct from
those surrounding it, each mangrove-swamp, each hammock, should be en-
titled to separate consideration, which is manifestly impossible.
So, our method is indicated: after describing the pineland and asking
the reader to bear in mind its boundaries and extent as well as those of the
swamp area, both of which, though topographically equally flat, are distinct
from the point of view of soil-limestone in the pinelands, and peat, muck
or marl in the swamps-we shall proceed to describe hammocks and man-
grove-swamps irrespective of location, belonging as they do to pineland,
Everglades and coast prairie alike. In describing the Biscayne pineland it
should not be forgotten, however, that the first thing to strike the eye is the
two types of vegetation-plant-associations, to use the ecological term-pine
woods and hammock, of which the pine woods occupy by far the larger area.
I. BISCAYNE OR MIAMI PINELAND
This region coinciding with the outcrop of Miami odlite, begins on the
coast about forty-five miles north of Miami, where it averages 20 miles in
width. Its eastern edge follows the shore until, in the vicinity of Miami, it
turns, and in crescentic form the outcrop extends south and southwest for
about fifty-five miles, gradually dwindling to less than two miles in width.
West of Homestead it tapers off in a series of rocky "islands" known as
"Everglades Keys," surrounded by swamp. The trend indicates that for-
merly these inland islands were part of the Antilles. Though their average
elevation is but a few feet, it is sufficient to enable them to support a flora
different from that of the surrounding country.
This essentially flat area has a surface of exposed, honeycombed lime-
stone, the innumerable cavities of which are mostly filled with sand north of
Coconut Grove, and with residual clay in the Redlands district near Home-
stead. It is intersected by numerous transverse glades averaging a few hun-
dred feet in width, to be described in connection with the Everglades, of
which, although not identical in all respects, they may nevertheless be con-
sidered a part.
The pine woods are composed of Pinus caribaea, a long-leaf pine peculiar
to the locality. It is handsome when young, with luxuriant masses of long
rich-green needles, stately in its prime and picturesque in old age, the gnarled
branches spreading flat at the top of the tall trunk. The undergrowth is saw-
palmetto, scrub-oak and coontie, with a few annual and perennial herbs.
The surface of the soil is almost always dry, as the rain that falls quickly
disappears in the porous rock. The woods are so often fire-swept that the
soil, sand or rock, is nearly if not quite, devoid of humus. As a result there
is no tall growth aside from the pines, which do not require humus as do
broad-leafed trees. In fact, it is said that they die when cultivated. If the
pines survive fire in their youth, they become immune to it, unless the bark
is broken so that the flames can get through to the resinous heart of the tree.
Fire is constantly modifying Florida ecology. As one passes through on
the train it seems as if the entire state were burning. The crackle of the
flames close at hand blends with the smouldering blue distance. It is in-
credible to the observer how any vegetation can remain. Yet these fires are
not casual. They are part of the policy of the Florida "cracker," as the native
is called, who is greedy to make his state attractive to winter visitors, yet
thinks the way to do so is to denude it of all plant growth! Nor can he be
made to see that to the northern tourist native vegetation is one of the chief
attractions. The pine woods in particular are the object of the cracker's at-
tack, and fire is his weapon. But the study of fire in Florida belongs perhaps
in the field not so much of geography as in that of psychology.
MILLICENT TODD BINGHAM
Two other fire-resistant plants are abundant in the pine woods. The
coontie (Zamia) of four endemic species, a cycad, has a subterranean stem
and is thus protected. It has been so much modified from its original form
that the healthier and more robust plants are now found in areas that are
periodically fire-swept. Its root is a storage-organ for starch. The other low
plant particularly prominent in the landscape is the saw-palmetto (Serenoa
repens), which, like the coontie, thrives on fire. Tannic acid is stored in the
stem. The trunks are typically prostrate. After being exposed to fire, the
plants show only blackened trunks resembling large reptilian monsters, with
the charred stubs of petioles where the crown once stood. After a short pe-
riod of rest, however, the bud breaks forth with renewed vigor, develops a
fresh crown of leaves and is soon in readiness for the next fire.
What are the uses to which these resources can be put? For lumber,
Pinus caribaea is inferior to the larger and straighter pines farther north,
but for most purposes it is more economical to use it than to pay freight on
better material. Though the pines are used extensively for lumber, the tur-
pentine industry has not yet reached as far south as Miami, fortunately. The
coontie has been drawn on recklessly for many decades for the manufacture
of starch in commercial quantities. Wire-grass (Aristida) would furnish good
grazing for cattle were it not for the honeycombed surface of the limestone.
Less than 5 per cent of the Biscayne pineland has so far been cultivated. Pos-
sibly ten per cent of it is occupied by settlements, with their groves of citrus
and other tropical fruit-trees. (See Part II, C, II, Role of Present City.)
The Biscayne Pineland is surrounded by swamplands of different types
which include Everglades on the west and south, salt meadows and mangrove-
swamps along the coast. Scattered over both pineland and swamp are ham-
mocks of various sizes, from a few square miles to a few square yards in area.
II. THE HAMMOCK
As previously stated, hammocks are covered with dense tropical jungle of
broad-leafed trees, palms and shrubs characteristic of the Antillean flora, all
wreathed in an epiphytal covering of orchids, bromeliads, resurrection ferns,
Spanish moss and climbing lianas of giant proportions. The ground is covered
with rich, loose black mold. The hammock cannot be correlated with altitude
or with subsoil, for beneath the humus resulting from the decaying vegetable
matter, may be found sand, clay, marl or rock. Problems as to whether ham-
mocks are increasing or diminishing in number, their relation to fire and how
they originated, are of absorbing interest to the botanist.
Tropical hammocks are most common southwest of Miami. They are
usually encircled by live oaks (Quercus virginiana). In a typical hammock
most of the trees have crooked trunks, hard heavy wood, and stiff evergreen
leaves. They make so dense a shade that few herbs grow on the ground, but
a profusion of air-plants cling to limbs and leaning trunks of live oak, and
other rough barked trees: massive gumbo limbo (Bursera), mastic (Side-
roxylon), buttonwood (Conocarpus), red bay (Persea), ironwood (Eugenia),
satin-leaf (Chrysophyllum), pigeon plum (Coccolobis), various figs including
Ficus area which strangles its host, papaw, (Carica papaya), Spanish bayonet,
(Yucca aloifolia), palmettoes and an occasional majestic royal palm (Roy-
stonea) sometimes as much as one hundred feet tall. Small trees, vines,
climbers and creepers, briers, shrubs and air-plants, ferns and tillandsias fill
every inch of space. This profusion of vegetable life contrasts with the dry
monotony of the pineland. The hammock is a striking and welcome feature
of the landscape. Different hammocks, though alike in general appearance,
have rare plants peculiar to themselves. Even the beautifully colored tree-
snails (Liguus) are different in neighboring hammocks, a fact which fires the
imagination of the zoologist. Thirteen species of palm are said to grow wild
in Dade County, including the non-indigenous coconut palm which is found
everywhere, from the saltiest marsh to pineland and hammock. There are in
addition over one hundred and fifty other exotic species, now so common as
to appear native.
Very little use has as yet been made of hammock trees, for the wood is
hard to work. Roads have now been cut through some of the finest hammocks
and a few others have been "improved"--shocking misnomer-for valuable
Wherever hammocks reach to the water's edge they blend with those
strangest of all plant-associations, mangrove-swamps. Dr. David Fairchild,
distinguished botanist, having visited the mangrove-swamps of the eastern
hemisphere says, "Nowhere have I seen such magnificent mangrove vegetation
as that which characterizes the southern Everglades of Florida." It flourishes
wherever there is shallow or brackish water not too much exposed to wave-
action. The nature of the soil seems to make but little difference. The width
of the strip occupied along the shore is extremely narrow since mangroves
cannot live on dry land, nor can they thrive if the water is too deep.
In addition to the red mangrove (Rhizophora) which forms the bulk of
such swamps, are black mangrove (Avicennia), white mangrove (Lagun-
cularia), buttonwood (Conocarpus), sea-grape (Coccolobis) and a few other
plants. Little use has been made of the wood of these trees, though the red
MILLICENT TODD BINGHAM
mangrove has served for tan-bark and the buttonwood is the favorite source
of charcoal for the kitchens of Key West. Though mangrove soil is never
cultivated, in recent years a good deal of the swamp has been converted into
building sites by pumping sand into it, a dismal process which slowly kills
As previously said, most of southern Florida is occupied by the Ever-
glades, a great swamp owing its existence to low altitude, flatness and abun-
dant rainfall. It is hard for one who has not seen it to imagine the endless
expanse of sedges, stretches of shallow water, scattered clumps of bushes
and small islands (hammocks) which constitute the region. Photographs
cannot convey an idea of the distance and remoteness, the aloofness of this
This area, south of Lake Okeechobee, five to six thousand square miles
in extent, is one in which a difference of two feet in water-table, the normal
range between high and low water in the Everglades, makes the difference
between shallow lake and dry land. These relationships, moreover, are con-
stantly changing, drastically so with the seasons. Okeechobee, though shown
on the map as a lake thirty-five miles across, a body of water apparently
second in area to any in the United States, is in reality merely a part of the
Everglades in which the water is a little too deep for sedges to grow. Its
average depth is under ten feet. Moreover, the borders are impossible to de-
fine, particularly on the south where, in seasons of high water, the overflow
takes place. The movement of the water, though almost imperceptible, is in
general toward the south-southwest, the average elevation of the lake-surface
being 18 feet.
At the extreme south, the Everglades merge with mangrove-swamp, where
the shoreline is disguised by impenetrable jungle, or with sandy beaches
strewn with coconut palms. On the west, the Everglades blend with the Big
Cypress Swamp, a vast lonely region of undetermined area. The cypress
stands in water, a deciduous tree with an abruptly enlarged base, the but-
tresses reaching to high-water mark. Its wood, being very durable, is much
in demand for poles and shingles. On the east the swamp land reaches to
The Seminoles' name for the Everglades is "grassy-water," for the vege-
tation is mostly saw-grass (Mariscus jamaicensis, a variety of Cladium).
It is, in fact, the largest saw-grass marsh in the world. This plant is a sedge
with grasslike, folded leaves seven feet long. They "spring in a great tuft
from the root and the slender leaves are armed on their edges with sharp
teeth like those of a rip-saw." There are other reed-like plants, phragmites,
foxtails and bulrushes as much as fifteen feet tall, Sagittaria, boneset, gama
grass, floating-leafed aquatics in the open spaces where water is deepest,
water-hemp, pickerel weed (Pontederia), water-hyacinth, water-lettuce (Pis-
tia), water-lilies and many other species derived from Middle America. All
these plants by their partial decay under water have formed the peat or muck
deposits which are gradually building up the soil. If it were not for this ac-
cumulation, most of the area would be a shallow lake.
But the character of the Everglades is by no means uniform. In addition
to small areas of cypress there are myriads of hammocks, standing out on
the plains of saw-grass like oases on a green Sahara, with their wealth of
low trees covered with air-plants. Dr. Fairchild says, "In no other tropical
region of the world have I seen anything like these hammocks. The nearest
approach to them I encountered on the so-called Winneba Plains of the
African Gold Coast."
The greater part of the Everglades is covered with peat or muck before
mentioned, in layers ranging in thickness from a feather-edge to several feet,
which has to be drained before it can be cultivated. This they have been
trying to do for twenty-five years, but though many canals have been cut,
not more than two per cent of the area was under cultivation in 1927 and
since then it has doubtless diminished. The most marked effect of the pre-
liminary work is that along the banks of the canals and on all slightly ele-
vated spots trees and shrubs are springing up, so that where formerly the
eye swept over an unbroken, monotonous expanse of saw-grass, there are
now patches of incipient forest. When drained the soil is rich in nitrogen
and in nearly every other necessary constituent except potash, which must
be artificially added at great expense. The supply of peat is practically un-
limited, and it could be used for fuel or fertilizer-filler were it not for the
cost of labor. But in southern Florida little fuel is needed and there is an
easily obtainable supply of wood. Moreover, in wet seasons it is hard to get
rid of the water, and in dry seasons the drained peat sometimes catches fire.
If that happens the soil merely goes up in smoke. This is on the whole a
discouraging country for the farmer, imperilled as he is by both fire
The soil of the southern end of the Everglades, with the numerous narrow
glades intersecting the pineland before mentioned, and the coast prairie is
different. It is not muck or peat but a soft gray marl lying beneath the muck
toward the northwest, but exposed over more than one hundred square miles
at the south. The glades are elongated depressions at most a few feet deep
MILLICENT TODD BINGHAM
and from fifty yards to a half mile in width. Inundated in the wet season,
they are grass-covered and edged by water-worn pillars of limestone a foot
or two in height. Some of them extend through from the Everglades on the
west to the salt coast prairie and mangrove-swamps on the east, while others
open only into the latter. For our purposes they may be considered part
of the Everglades although both soil and vegetation are slightly different.
The salt coast prairie, southeast and east of the Biscayne pineland, reach-
ing from the shores of Biscayne Bay to the Bay of Florida, is another per-
fectly flat area, nearly all of which is subject to inundation either by high
tides or by fresh water during the rainy season. Although continuous with
the Everglades it is quite distinct, for they are never touched by salt water.
There is very little farming in the coast prairie (about one per cent of the
total) except at its inner edge, where vegetables, especially early spring to-
motoes, are raised. To the eye, the expanse of sedges in both narrow glades
and prairie is indistinguishable from the Everglades with which they blend.
All are equally negligible from a utilitarian point of view.
The structure and climate of the keys have already been touched upon
during the course of our study of the mainland. This long fringe of islands
curving southwestward along the edge of the Straits of Florida from Bay
Biscayne to Key West, includes outlying islands as far west as the Dry Tor-
tugas. They are of all sizes, from Key Largo, 30 miles long by 3 miles wide,
to a single struggling mangrove on a submerged bank. All stages of island
growth are visible. Shorelines are ephemeral, often being impossible to de-
fine, on account both of shallow water and dense vegetation. The keys are
famous as a fisherman's paradise.
A glance at the map shows two different types of key, the Upper and the
Lower. East of Bahia Honda Channel, the Upper Keys lie along a sweeping arc
curving toward the east and gradually more and more toward the north. West
of the channel the Lower Keys form a triangular archipelago, its axis per-
pendicular to the arc, reflecting a difference in rock structure and in the
forces which have shaped the islands. As I have said, the Upper Keys are
remnants of an old coral reef while the Lower Keys are composed of the
same rock as the mainland, of which they are the partly submerged extension.
I. UPPER KEYS
From Soldier Key, eleven miles south of Miami, to Bahia Honda Channel,
a distance of about one hundred miles, the Upper Keys are of different
lengths, but average less than a mile in width with a maximum of three
miles, the long axis distributed along the curve determined by the direction
of the Gulf Stream. The rock surface looks new and fresh, its maj or inequali-
ties not the result of sub-aerial decay. The highest elevation is 18 feet above
sea-level on Key Largo. All are of Key Largo limestone, an uplifted, un-
changed fossil coral much in demand for building material because of its
beauty. After exposure this rock is harder than oblite.
The vegetation is sparse tropical hammock: buttonwood, ironwood and
madeira, with mangroves below the level of high tide. The forests which
were luxuriant before the building of the Florida East Coast Railroad (1908-
1909) have been nearly exterminated and the soil along with them. As it is
impossible to use either plough or hoe, citrus-groves, principally limes, are
grown in holes blasted out of the rock. On account of scarcity of soil and
water the population is sparse, but the Upper Keys shared nevertheless in the
boom of 1925-1926 when much land was sold at fancy prices.
II. LOWER KEYS
The Lower Keys extending from Bahia Honda Channel for about 40
miles to Key West are not part of the coral-reef, but are composed of oilitic
limestone. Although irregular in shape, the long axis of each key is nearly
north and south, as previously stated, while that of the adjacent Upper Keys
is east and west. The rock, Key West oolite, though of the same age as Miami
odlite, is more solid, less sandy, and with a smoother surface. The highest
elevation in the Lower Keys is 13 feet. Wells yield water too salt to drink,
so the city of Key West depends on rain, or on water hauled by rail from
Homestead more than one hundred and twenty miles away. Though the vege-
tation is more diversified than that of the Upper Keys, with some forests of
pine, they were probably never as tall and dense as those on the mainland,
as this is not only the driest part of Florida, it is also subject to severe hurri-
canes every few years. Many varieties of fish and sponges marketed at Key
West are the chief resources of the region. It used to be the center of the
sponge industry, now shifted to the west coast.
The water-areas enclosed behind the keys are, from the north to south,
Biscayne Bay, Card Sound, Barnes Sound and south of about 250, the great
horn-shaped Florida Bay, the water in which is so shallow, seldom as much
as 10 feet deep, that the bottom can everywhere be seen. What are some of
the characteristics of this coast, this ill-defined meeting place of land and sea?
E. SHORELINE FEATURES
On the ocean side of southern Florida there is shoal water for a mile or
so, but as the distance increases, the water deepens up to the point where a
barrier reef is forming, 4 to 7 miles off shore. The seaward face of this reef
MILLICENT TODD BINGHAM
lies along an arc roughly concentric with the outer edge of the old coral-reef,
or present Upper Keys. Seaward from the barrier reef, the bottom falls
away and the hundred-fathom line is within 4 to 10 miles of the line of outer
coral patches. This, however, should not be mistaken for an abrupt descent
to abyssal depths. A glance at the relief model of the Bay of North America
already referred to, shows that the sudden deepening indicates the channel
of the Gulf Stream across the continental shelf, a furrow gouged out as that
great river flows north from the Straits of Florida. The eastern boundary of
the Floridian Plateau is, in fact, more than one hundred miles to the east.
The Gulf Stream is nearer the coast here than ever again throughout its course,
being but three miles distant opposite Bay Biscayne. The proximity of this
mass of warm water helps to make the climate of Miami unique.
Sandy beaches follow the outer shore. On the keys they are composed
not of grains of quartz, but of limestone, shell fragments and powdered
coral. Such calcareous sand, once packed, does not blow. From Key Bis-
cayne north, on the other hand, where beeches are composed of silicious sand,
the great seas accompanying hurricanes pile it up into dunes. Contrary to
what might be expected, however, there are no active dunes higher than
5 or 6 feet. But beginning a few miles north of Miami, dunes run parallel
to the shoreline about half a mile inland. Though aeolian in origin, they
are not growing at present, but are quiescent. Instead of burying forests in
their advance, they are themselves covered with large pine trees, where not
denuded by man.
Shoreline topography shows such adolescent forms as cuspate forelands,
bay bars and long beaches with gentle curves. As dominant currents move
toward the south between the Gulf Stream and the coast, sand bars lengthen
toward the south. The water thus surrounded becomes a lagoon, which in
turn gradually fills with silt until transformed into marsh or mangrove-
swamp, a network of channels and islands, nearly impenetrable.
On beaches and low dunes there is a rather sparse vegetation, resembling
that of northern sea-beaches except for having more woody plants, and ex-
cept for the coconut palm, now common everywhere though not native.
Most species are tropical, having overflowed from adjacent hammocks or
mangrove-swamps. The more noticeable shore plants are sea-grape (Cocco-
lobis) and Spanish bayonet (Yucca). Beautiful vines with shining leaves,
Ipomoea in particular, grow to immense lengths, trailing across the sand.
There are still about forty species of land mammals in swamp and pine-
land. Unlike plants, however, their relationships are with the north instead
of with the tropics: opossum, wild cat, panther, now nearly extinct, otter,
raccoon, and the small Florida white-tailed deer. The manatee or sea-cow,
one of the strangest beasts alive, can still be found in remote swampy dis-
tricts. The trapping of fur-bearing animals, principally raccoon and otter,
is still an important industry in such districts.
The Everglades teem with bird-life, water-birds in particular. The greed
of man has led to the shooting of these beautiful creatures in their rookeries
until several species including the most beautiful of all-great white heron
and roseate spoonbill*-are nearly, if not quite exterminated. But myriads
belonging to other species still remain.
Mammals and birds, however, are not the only creatures of interest, for
reptiles and amphibia include crocodiles, alligators, lizards, snakes, turtles,
frogs, toads and salamanders of rare species. Skins and tortoise-shell consti-
tute the basis of a small industry.
The variety of salt-water fish is almost endless. There are 83 species of
commercial importance, in addition to those noted for their grotesque or
beautiful appearance which are shipped to aquaria in the north. One of the
chief attractions to the winter visitor is fishing in the Gulf Stream, especially
for tarpon and sail-fish.
There are literally thousands of species of insects. Mosquitoes are most
abundant on the keys, Cape Sable and Ten Thousand Islands, and least so
in the Everglades and on the pineland. Though Anopheles has been reported
from a few places malaria has never been prevalent.
Crustaceans include the salt-water crawfish (Palinurus), an article of
commerce, and the fresh-water crawfish (Cambarus) of the Everglades. An-
other delicacy is the stone-crab (Menippe mercenaria) which sometimes
weighs as much as a pound. The land-crab (Gecarcinus), on the other hand,
is not only inedible, it is a pest which ravages plants and gardens.
Mollusks are more abundant in southern Florida than in any equal area
in the United States. Shells are everywhere, on the ground and beneath its
surface, on the beach, in the water, even on the trees. Clam digging is an im-
portant industry. Nor was it different in previous ages, so archaeologists tell
us. The Stone Age of America was almost the Shell Age in this region, for
prehistoric Indians had hoes and axes of shell, shell cups and ornaments, as
well as war-clubs made of shell.
These birds, thanks to the efforts of the National Audubon Society, are now (1948)
increasing in numbers.
M1LLICENT TODD BINGHAM
I. PREHISTORIC INDIANS
When Ponce de Leon and his companions reached Florida in 1512-1513
they found the peninsula peopled by sedentary Indians. These were divided
into tribes of which the most powerful were the Caloosas. The Tequestas
occupied the southeastern shore. These Indians had grouped villages along
both coasts, around the inland lakes and beside the streams. A man named
Fontaneda, who lived as a captive among them a little later, reports that they
were cruel, naked savages, living on mollusks, fish, game, roots, wild fruit,
acorns of the live oak and vegetables raised in small patches. The men were
fighters, equipped with bows, arrows, knives and spears. They traded in fish,
skins and ambergris and went about in canoes. Living predominantly on low,
insect-plagued coasts and keys liable to inundation, they built extensive shell-
heaps that would serve as dry platforms on which to live.
French Huguenots attempted to settle on the east coast (1562-65), but
their villages were destroyed by the Spanish and their Indian allies. During
the eighteenth century invasions by the English from the Carolinas and their
savage Indian allies, Creek, Catawba, Seminole and others, were attended
by great destruction and bloodshed. The native Indians, who were loyal to
the Spaniards, rapidly dwindled with the decline of Spanish power until, on
the transfer of the territory to the United States in 1821, only a handful re-
mained. After seeking refuge on the keys they finally disappeared, not a
living trace of them having been seen since 1821. The only material proof
that they ever existed is in their mounds and shell-heaps. These are not
simple kitchen-middens, but structures built with a purpose from all. avail-
Matthew W. Stirling, of the Bureau of American Ethnology, has recently
(May, 1931) returned from several months of archaeological exploration in
Florida. On the edge of the Everglades, near Lake Okeechobee, he found
great earthworks, elaborately laid out, covering an area a mile square. The
most prominent feature is a flat-topped rectangle of earth, 30 feet high and
250 feet long. He says, "The whole plan is laid out with remarkable pre-
cision. The parallel lines are straight as a string, and the semi-circles are
so perfect that we can imagine some Indian walking around a fixed point
with a string held taut, to mark the outline." Excavations on this important
site will be made next season.
The peopling of Florida was a relatively late event in the peopling of
the continent, which may have been due to several causes: its meagre fitness
for agriculture, plagues of mosquitoes and other insects, and chiefly to the
fact of under- rather than over-population on the adjacent mainland. The
prehistoric population never reached numerical, cultural or political im-
portance. The same can be said of their successors, the Seminoles.
These Indians of the Everglades seem to be a part of the environment,
a product of it, inseparable from it. Of Muskhogee stock, related to Choc-
taws, Chickasaws and Creeks of the Mississippi Valley, they migrated east-
ward before the discovery of America by Columbus, settling north and west
of the Florida peninsula. Gradually reduced by war and disease, in 1740
their warriors numbered only about 1500. Hrdlicka says they united with
Negroes in the English and Spanish colonies, a blend which formed the
nucleus of the nation called ishti semoli (wild men), corrupted to Seminole.
They subsequently possessed the whole peninsula. Driven by persecution
from one place to another, however, they have finally reached the most un-
desirable part, the Everglades, where their adaptation to life in the great
swamp, with the name of which they are indissolubly associated, is a spec-
tacular instance of geographical adjustment.
Ever since their first settlement in Florida late in the eighteenth century,
the Seminoles have been engaged in strife with the whites. The so-called
Seminole Wars (1817 and 1836-1843), their last stand against superior arms
and numbers, resulted in complete defeat for the Indians. The remnant of
the once fierce tribe, now mild and docile, roams about in the wildest regions
of the swamp. In 1930 there were, according to Lucien Spencer, Seminole
Agent, but 578 left.
The Seminoles live in a primitive state, a few families together in widely
scattered camps on hammocks in the swamp. The dwellings are the merest
shelters, a platform of small logs seven or eight feet square built on posts
a foot or two above the ground. A low roof of palmetto-thatch shelters the
platform which is open to wind and weather on all sides. They live mostly
by hunting and trapping. It is estimated that for their furs they receive a
total annual income of perhaps $25,000, most of which is spent on bad
whisky. The illegal sale of venison further augments the income. In the fall
of 1930, for the first time, they shipped their furs direct to Sears, Roebuck
and Company. But their life as hunters is doomed, for the Seminole is now
being beaten at his own game. In a dugout canoe, with a torch and by great
prowess, he can kill eleven alligators in one night, while the white man in
a gasoline launch, with a powerful reflector, can kill over a hundred in the
same length of time.
MILLICENT TODD BINGHAM
The Indian sometimes has a garden patch, never more than an acre in
extent, on which he raises, with axe and hoe, corn, sweet potatoes, squash,
melons and a small, sweet pumpkin. Though hogs are still bred to some ex-
tent he has been obliged to give up cattle, because the lawless class of white
men who roam the swamps kill them as if they had no owners. Such men
have been known to shoot a hog, cut off a ham and leave the rest for the
buzzards. Fortunately the food supplied by nature is still abundant: meat,
coontie flour, berries, saw-palmetto buds, cocoplums, sea-grapes, prickly
pears, sour oranges-all of which are to be had for the picking. The Indians
weave no rugs and fashion no pottery, but the women make dolls, bead-work
and trinkets which they sell to tourists.
Driven by force into this dreary morass, the Seminole has made himself
gay in appearance as a parrot. The women wear skirts which trail on the
ground, made of horizontal strips of the most brilliant colors, and a short
cape bordered with a highly-colored fringe. Countless strings of glass heads
are wound about the neck and over the shoulders, the set sometimes weigh-
ing twenty-five pounds. The men wear a shirt of the same bright colors
reaching to the knees and belted around the waist. The majority go bare as
to head, legs and feet. They are quiet and dignified in manner, their chief
vice being fondness for liquor. They prefer not to work for the white man
though they occasionally do so, at a very low wage. They are seldom seen in
the city, except the few who live in camps to exhibit themselves to tourists
and to sell Indian souvenirs. They prefer to live freely in the wilderness and
thus far have asked only to be let alone.
In 1880 Clay MacCauley was sent by the U. S. Bureau of Ethnology to
report upon the condition of the Seminoles. He found them keeping up
their customs and traditions independently of the world beyond the Ever-
glades. With the settlement of southern Florida, however, the building of
roads and railroads and partial drainage of the Everglades-though this last
is less important-the question of rights of the Seminoles has again come
up, ostensibly wards of the government as they are. Just as I am about to
send off this article, an exhaustive study of every phase of the life of the
Seminole in his environment has appeared; an authoritative, contemporane-
ous account of this remnant of Indian life, destined so soon to be absorbed
by the industrial civilization closing in upon it.
All natural forces having thus conspired to produce an area geographic-
ally unique in the United States-the only humid, tropical part of the
country, situated at the end of a peninsula reaching far into a tropical sea,
with a predominantly tropical flora and fauna, much of both peculiar to the
locality-its protection hitherto has been that it has been undiscovered. But
now, with its myriads of birds, its strange animals and its isolated little
groups of Seminoles, if it is to survive all the plans for its improvement,
an enlightened public opinion must intervene. And it is trying to do so. The
Federal Government has at present under consideration a project for the
reservation of a part of the southern tip of Florida as a National Park be-
fore it is too late. If it should become law, this strange beautiful region with
its wealth of natural wonders will remain to intrigue the minds and rejoice
the hearts of Americans of the future, when the age of the machine shall
have passed away.
THE CITY OF MIAMI
Our study culminates in an extraordinary town-Miami, "The Magic
City," focal point for southeastern Florida. The geographical factors of its
location will be briefly summarized before examining the evolution of
the city itself.
A. GEOGRAPHICAL FACTORS
These factors are of two kinds, general and local: the general, called the
situation; the local, called the site.
The Miami region is flat and less than twenty feet above sea-level. The
underlying limestone either crops out at the surface, or is covered, as north
of the city, by a thin layer of sand, or in places south of it, by marl. The
total area of the Miami or Biscayne pineland region, in which the soil is
dominated by rock too near the surface and too compact to plough, is perhaps
500 square miles.
The chief asset is the climate, of modified tropical-marine type: average
winter minimum of 620; average summer maximum of 860; mean annual
temperature of 75.10. Days without sunshine are so rare as to cause com-
ment. The mean annual rainfall is about 60 inches, most of which falls in
late summer and early autumn. The prevailing wind is off the ocean and
is agreeable except when, in early autumn, it sometimes reaches hurricane
The native vegetation is slash pine with undergrowth of saw-palmetto,
sprinkled with tropical hammocks. About five per cent of the limestone area
is under cultivation.
In so low an area water-courses are hardly more than drainage ditches
from the Everglades on the west to the bay on the east. Travel by water is
MILLICENT TODD BINGHAM
in small boats, except in artificially deepened channels. Transportation is
preferably by land, or by air-a topic taken up in a later connection.
The raw materials are mostly those peculiar to a tropical and sub-tropical
country. The waters teem with edible fish and crustaceans. Fibre-yielding
plants are a source of paper-pulp and other substances; the bark of the man-
grove of dyeing and tanning material; the root of the coontie of starch; pines,
of timber for lumber-mills and mill-works. Tropical fruits abound. (See
Present City, Agriculture.) Mineral resources are largely limestone deriva-
tives, cement and lime. Though oil-production is being curtailed throughout
the country as a whole, they are at present drilling near Miami. I visited a
well about forty miles west of the city on the Tamiami Trail which had
reached a depth of 4565 feet in February, 1931. No oil has as yet been
reached but expectation runs high.
The region has industrial possibilities, for, in addition to many raw ma-
terials, it has excellent transportation facilities and a labor-supply which
could be indefinitely augmented as necessity arises, since it requires little in-
ducement for a working-man from the north to go to Miami to live. Its ad-
vantages include elimination of fuel bills and reduced expenses for clothing,
as only the lightest materials are worn. At present labor is not plentiful,
though more than twenty per cent of the population are Negroes, mostly un-
skilled laborers. Water-power is lacking, but public utility development
during the past few years is one of the marvels of the region. The power-
system is supplied by new and modern generating stations. Another source
of power as yet but little utilized is the heat of the sun. Now, it is much
used for water-heating in private houses; after initial installation of equip-
ment the cost of upkeep is negligible.
Within this area, what were the reasons underlying a choice of the
The sand-bars which parallel the east coast of Florida are separated from
the mainland as we have seen by salt-water bays or lagoons, usually too
shallow for navigation. Biscayne Bay is one of these, separated from the
Atlantic Ocean by Virginia Key, Biscayne Key and the Miami Beach penin-
sula, joined to the mainland at its northern end. The bay is about 38 miles
long and from three to nine miles wide. The city of Miami is located on the
west shore of the bay at 250 48' N. and 80 12' W., midway between its
head and its principal entrance at Cape Florida.
Advantages of the site of Miami exist only by virtue of its relation to
bodies of water. But for this relation it might have been located anywhere
else on the oilite shore. The city originated on the north bank of the Miami
River where it empties into Biscayne Bay. The name, Miami River, gives a
false impression, however, for this so-called "river" is only 4.5 miles long.
It rises in the Everglades and flows southeast and east, emptying into the
bay opposite the tip of the Miami Beach peninsula. Canals join it at its
upper end, thereby prolonging its drainage area. The river proper is entirely
within the city-limits. It is about 200 feet wide at the mouth and tidal at
its lower end. The normal fresh-water discharge is about 200 cubic feet per
second, which, during floods, can approach 1500 cubic feet. The limiting
depth in the lower river is seven feet at mean low water in the bay, and
about five feet at the junction with the drainage canal 3.7 miles above the
mouth. The lower reaches have been improved by dredging and the construc-
tion of small docks and yacht piers, now forming part of Miami harbor.
The city has been connected with deep water by a 25-foot channel, 200
feet wide at mean low water, the work of government engineers. The harbor
includes the artificial turning-basins as well as channels dredged along the
water-front and through shoal water to the ocean. The greatest natural depth
averages 6 to 10 feet, with a mean tidal variation of 1.5 feet to 2.2 feet at the
entrance, varying a foot or more according to the wind. The terminal facili-
ties, not including the municipal piers, consist of eight wharves with a total
frontage of 3500 feet. Two of these have railway connections. The municipal
piers, with 25 feet of water, provide berthing space of about 5775 feet, with
warehouses and storage yards.
Lines of coastwise vessels are now making Miami their southern terminal,
the most important of which are the Clyde Line, Merchants and Miners Trans-
portation Company, Munson Steamship Line and the Baltimore and Carolina
The land on which Miami is built is geologically so recent that in places
it looks as if it had risen from the sea but yesterday. The evolution of the
land has taken place during the last chapter of geological history. So, like-
wise, the development of the city is confined to the very last chapter of
human history, contained in its entirety within the memory of a not yet very
old man. Though there has been a sprinkling of white settlements in south-
eastern Florida for one hundred years, as late as 1885 there were but two
families living in what is now a metropolis. The founding of Miami has
possibilities to attract a writer of romance.
B. CITY GROWTH
Henry M. Flagler was a builder of railroads who began in the 1880's to
extend a line south along the Florida coast from St. Augustine, thereby
M1LLICENT TODD BINGHAM
making a wilderness accessible. The immediate cause of the founding of
Miami is a geographical one-devastating frosts in the winter of 1894-95.
The citrus crop was the principal source of revenue for Florida. On the
29th of December, 1894, the temperature dropped so low that the fruit,
still ungathered, was frozen on the trees. Most of the young groves were
killed. And then, just as the survivors had begun to put out new growth,
on February 7th, 1895, a still more severe freeze occurred, and most of the
trees which had escaped the first, were killed by the second frost. The
state was financially ruined. Mr. Flagler was at Palm Beach at the time, the
railroad finished to that point. When he heard that in Miami and in the
regions to the south of it the orchards had not suffered he is said to have
remarked, "If there is a place in Florida where the freeze did not reach,
there we will build a city." And so the railroad was straightway extended
50 miles farther south, as far as Miami, and the city founded in 1895.a It
was incorporated July 28, 1896, with barely the three hundred registered voters
required for incorporation. In thirty-five years it has changed from a sleepy
little settlement of 480 inhabitants to a city with a permanent population
For the first fifteen years or so the growth of the city was slow. In 1910 it
covered but two square miles. In 1931 it covers 46 square miles, including
made land, dredged from the bottom of the lagoon.
The Federal Census gives the growth of permanent population as follows:6
1896 ------------------_ 480
1900 ----------------- 1,681
1910 ------------------_ 5,471
1915 ------------------ 15,592
1920 ---------- 29,571
1925 ------- ---- 69,754
The tremendous jump in 1926 was due to the following cause. As pop-
ulation grew, real-estate values increased correspondingly, culminating during
the winter of 1925-26 in one of those wild orgies of speculation impossible,
perhaps, elsewhere than in the United States where mob-psychology sweeps
the country with the rapidity of a spark along a train of gunpowder. A count
of the entire population that winter would have shown close to a quarter
of a million people in Greater Miami. Not only was the entire section over-
run by real-estate operators from the North, but every small shop-keeper,
every local truck-man was caught in the frenzy. They gave up their business
to speculate in real-estate. New cities were laid out at an expense of millions
of dollars, paved streets built for miles and miles out into the pine barrens-
tangible highways for ghost inhabitants. Now, as you explore them, the
asphalt street with its sidewalks and elaborate lamp-posts suddenly stops,
leaving you in a desert of gaunt pines and palmetto-scrub-a dream of ex-
pansion abruptly ended. For the bubble burst.
In that extravaganza of speculation land values soared to fantastic heights.
Such a boom reflected in the statistics not only of population, but of commerce
and of business as a whole, can with difficulty be imagined by one who has
not himself experienced the hysterical excitement. Although it may not be
within the province of geography to do so, a thorough study of that phe-
nomenon should certainly be made.
C. THE PRESENT CITY
The period of city evolution has been so short that the reasons for the
founding of Miami, its elements de fixation, so-called, are those which still
cause it to prosper. One of the factors explanatory of its growth has been
so incorporated that it serves to characterize the present city. Climate was
the decisive reason for its founding thirty-six years ago, and it remains today
the chief asset. The word "Miami" is synonymous with soft breezes of a
tepid ocean, dazzling sunshine and tropical verdure.
The physical aspect of the city has undergone a miraculous change. Dur-
ing the past ten years frame-shacks have given way to towering structures
of brick and cement-modern stores and office buildings, great hotels and
apartment-houses-a towering sky-line beside the tropical bay;white roads
to concrete thoroughfares; mangrove-swamps to parks, of which there are
37, totaling 173.31 acres in area. Bay Front Park, half a mile in length,
skirts the bay,its water-front gay with yachts. It is planted with palms of
many species, poinciana, almond, rubber, mango, hibiscus, oleander and
poinsettia.7 (There are said to be over one hundred and fifty species of exotic
plants in the vicinity of Miami, some now so common as to seem indigenous.)
The city area extends two miles west, south and east of its original
boundary lines, with outlying towns reaching many miles beyond. To the
west is Hialeah, with the Jockey Club, the racetrack, municipal water-supply
pumping station, and air-ports. To the south are Coconut Grove, South Miami
MILLICENT TODD BINGHAM
and Coral Gables, to reach which the Miami River is crossed on four modern
bridges. The over-expansion due to the boom of 1925-26 is chiefly visible
in Coral Gables, a residential city planned on a grandiose scale. With a hun-
dred miles or more of paved streets and twice that amount of sidewalks, for
instance, it has a present population of 5,697. (U. S. Census, 1930.) To the
north are Buena Vista, Lemon City, Little River, Arch Creek, Fulford and
Hollywood. The intervening areas are filled with subdivisions in process of
East of the city the bay is crossed to the Miami Beach peninsula by three
causeways. The first is a solid-fill causeway, paralleling the channel to the
ocean already described, and complementary to it. North of it and connected
with it by bridges, are several artificial islands with palatial homes. Less
than a mile north of this solid causeway is a concrete viaduct spanning sev-
eral artificial islands between Miami Beach and the mainland. The third
causeway is at northeast 79th street, while another still farther north is now
With regard to the area of artificial land in Biscayne Bay, a letter dated
April 6, 1931, from Ernest Cotton, Director of Public Service in the City of
Miami, says that "approximately 6,000 acres have been filled, which area is
about equally divided between island fill, i. e., where wholly new land has
been made, and low-lying areas that have been raised and made tenantable."
Cities are usually classified as industrial, commercial, agricultural, ad-
ministrative, military or intellectual. Does Miami belong in any of these
a. INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE
The number of manufacturing plants in Greater Miami today is 210 (U.S.
Census 1930), from the smallest, employing but a few workers, to those with
several hundred employees. In order of capital invested these industries are
rated as follows: newspapers, $4,250,000; ice manufacture, $2,090,000;
cement products, $1,515,000; ice cream manufacture, $1,275,000. Those
involving a capital of less than $1,000,000 include mill-works, bakeries, bot-
tling-works, sheet metal works, boat building slips, printing establishments,
nurseries, canning factories, and chemical manufacture. The list is not
impressive and Miami cannot be called an industrial city. How is it with
commerce and other business?
Of the total volume of wholesale business, 53.3 per cent, or 89 of the 175
wholesalers, are engaged in the food- and tobacco-products business. Next in
order are petroleum-products, iron and steel, chemicals, lumber and building
materials. In retail trade the two leading groups are the automotive, with 469
establishments, doing an annual business of $16,097,198, or 22 per cent of
the total, and food-stores with sales amounting to $14,957,888, or 21 per cent
of the total retail business.
The elements of import by sea are mostly materials for building con-
struction and food for local consumption. For 1929 the list included asphalt,
automobiles, beverages, building supplies, canned foods, cement, crushed
stone, feed, flour, fruits, grain, lumber, paper, petroleum products, sand,
sugar, vegetables and general merchandise. The tonnage for the year was
961,570 short tons, of which 408,845 was local traffic, 403,847 was coast-
wise commerce, and the remainder, cargoes in transit. Though this was a
total increase of over 16 per cent as compared with the preceding year, the
tonnage during the boom year, 1925, amounted to 2,401,472 short tons. For
export, ships carry out little for either foreign or coastwise trade other than
fruits and vegetables. Up to the present time commerce has not bulked large
in the city's activity.
If Miami is neither an industrial nor a commercial city, then, can it be
classified as agricultural?
The estimated area of Dade County, of which Miami is the county seat,
is 1,292,160 acres, of which 50,620 are at present in farms mostly on the
pineland. There were, in 1930, 1167 farms, mostly of less than 100 acres
each. In the county there is every variety of soil, from sandy loam to Ever-
glades muck. These soils combined with the climate will, with proper
fertilization, produce almost all useful tropical and sub-tropical plants, as
well as every garden vegetable grown in the United States. The climate, more-
over, permits from two to four crops annually, making it possible to market
them at a time of year when they cannot be produced elsewhere. The tomato
industry of the Redlands district, south of Miami, already referred to, is an
illustration. Tropical fruits include avocadoes, pineapples, papayas, mangoes,
sapodillas, coconuts, guavas, grape fruit, oranges, limes, and other citrus
fruits. Small-scale intensive farming is also being carried on, with approxi-
mately 30,000 acres in truck gardens. This sometimes results in the value of
property per farm and of crops per acre being inversely proportional to
fertility, some of the highest yields being on white sand near the eastern
coast. While the number of chickens has doubled during the past ten years,
the number of milk cows has almost tripled, 1557 in 1920, 4004 in 1930.