Ee I t~esi'At
THE JOURNAL OF THE HISTORICAL
ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA
Editor: Charlton W. Tebeau
THE CAPE FLORIDA SOCIETY OF 1773 1
By Roland E. Chardon
NORTHERN BISCAYNE BAY IN 1776 37
By Roland E. Chardon
THE SAMUEL TOUCHETT PLANTATION, 1773 75
By James C. Frazier
MIAMI IN 1876 89
By Arva Moore Parks
LIST OF MEMBERS 147
COPYRIGHT 1976 BY THE HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA
t' setl : is published annually by the Historical Association of Southern Florida.
CI Communications should be addressed to the Corresponding Secretary of
the Society, 3290 South Miami Avenue, Miami, Florida 33129. The Association does not
assume responsibility for statements of fact or opinions made by contributors.
HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN FLORIDA, INC.
FOUNDED 1940-INCORPORATED 1941
George B. Hardie, Jr.
Jack G. Admire
First Vice President
Mrs. James S. Wooten
Mrs. Robert L. Parks
Walter C. Hill
Charlton W. Tebeau
Leonard G. Pardue
Dr. Thelma Peters
Magnus S. Altmayer Donald E. Lebrun
Ms. Marie Anderson Mrs. Robert A. Nicolet
Samuel J. Boldrick Larry Peacock
Otho B. Bruce Richard A. Pettigrew
Mrs. Kate Stirrup Dean John F. Reiger
Alfredo G. Duran .
Mrs. Thomas T. Shiverick
Boyce F. Ezell, III McGregor Smith
Donald C. Gaby Mrs. Herbert 0. Vance
Mrs. Edward G. Grafton Woodrow Wikins
Mrs. Lewis M. Kanner Wayne E. Withers
Randy F. Nimnicht Ms. Patricia West
Mrs. Donna R. Saleda Ms. Rebecca A. Smith
THE CAPE FLORIDA SOCIETY OF 1773'
By Roland E. Chardon
One of the episodes which took place during the American Revolu-
tionary Period involved a proposal for the settlement of some 20
European families on 6,000 acres of land, on the mainland of south-
eastern Florida. The year was 1773, and the major personalities in-
cluded an English lord who owned the land, a highly skilled surveyor
who found himself in London due to a temporary embarrassment,
and two Swiss men, also in London, who tried to organize a polyglot
group of potential agricultural settlers, collectively and usually re-
ferred to as the Cape Florida Society.
The proposed settlement never materialized, but its story is an
interesting example, with occasional humorous overtones, of the at-
tempts then being made to colonize part of the region around Bis-
cayne Bay, as well as some of the difficulties the would-be emigrants
encountered before they even left Europe. While not all the details
have yet been unraveled, it may be appropriate at this time to pres-
ent, as a sort of interim report, the main outlines of the story of the
Cape Florida Society,2 its objectives, its demise, and particularly
some of the documents which pertained to its colonization plans and
to the Biscayne Bay area.
When Spanish Florida was transferred to the British Crown by the
Treaty of Paris in 1763, most of the Spanish population and many of
the Indians chose to leave for other Spanish dominions, rather than
remain under a sovereign of different language, faith, and culture. His
Britannic Majesty thus acquired a largely uninhabited territory, and
one which furthermore lay on the main Spanish trade route from her
New World possessions, and which was thereby of considerable stra-
It made good political and military sense, therefore, to establish a
policy of resettlement in Florida, and this King George III undertook
to do shortly after the Treaty was signed. As a first step, Florida was
administratively divided into two geographic units: East and West
Florida. Then, partly because information about the new colonies
was not very complete, a new office of Surveyor-General for the
Southern District of North America was created. The King appointed
one William Gerard De Brahm as the first Surveyor-General in 1764,
with express instructions to concentrate his surveying efforts on the
east coast of East Florida. De Brahm came with good credentials. A
German of noble birth, he had had an excellent education, had been
an engineer in Europe and, after helping to found a settlement in
1751 near Ebenezer, Georgia, had developed considerable skill and
experience as both engineer and surveyor-cartographer in America.3
Although a small budget was allocated to the Surveyor-General-
ship, De Brahm was also appointed Surveyor-General of East Florida,
a provincial post by which means he could survey, or have a deputy
survey for him, private lands in the province, thereby obtaining addi-
tional income from the fees charged for such surveys. The ambi-
guities concerning possibly conflicting lines of authority inherent in
De Brahm's dual appointment, as both Surveyor-General for the
Southern District and provincial Surveyor for East Florida, led in
large part to the difficulties which resulted in his having to return to
London some time later, and thus played a role in the events which
developed with regard to the Cape Florida Society.4
Upon receiving his official appointments in the latter part of
1764,5 De Brahm, with characteristic energy and the aid of several
deputy-surveyors and other personnel, started the General Survey in
February, 1765,6 and for the next six years carefully surveyed and
mapped the entire east coast of Florida. A few days prior to his
initial departure on the General Survey, De Brahm had received fur-
ther instructions from East Florida Governor James Grant,7 in effect
reiterating that a major aim of the survey was to ascertain and locate
lands suitable for European settlement.
De Brahm, one of the eminent scientists of his day, was also
unfortunately somewhat hard to get along with, and his career in
America was marred by a number of personal and professional con-
flicts involving, among others, Governor Grant and Bernard Romans,
at one time his deputy surveyor. Eventually, in October, 1770, De
Brahm's difficulties resulted in his suspension as provincial Surveyor
by Governor Grant, and in 1771 De Brahm had to go back to Eng-
land to face charges of misconduct and other official irregularities.8
Kept waiting in London for three years, he was reinstated in 1774,
and returned to America the following year, with every intention of
continuing the Survey.9 But in the meantime the winds of revolu-
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 3
tionary change had already made themselves felt on the land, and De
Brahm never again set foot in Florida.
De Brahm's General Survey of the east coast of Florida had, how-
ever, been largely accomplished by the time he went to London in
1771, and British colonial settlement policy for East Florida was
being implemented with good results. This policy has been ably sum-
marized elsewhere,' and it only need be said here that a primary
provision concerned the concession of two types of land grants, by
which settlement could be effected. The first, in practice for several
hundred years among a few European counties, was to give persons
of importance tracts usually including at least several thousand acres.
The grantees were then expected-in fact required-to develop their
individual tracts by encouraging immigrants to establish themselves
on the land. The second type of land grant provided small acreages
for lesser individuals, who would then settle Crown lands themselves.
So far as the Biscayne Bay area of Florida is concerned, no small
land grants appear to have been made during the period of British
control of East Florida, from 1763-1784. But at least three large
grants were made and have been located (Fig. 1); there also appear to
have been four more. The three geographically known grants, all
fronting Biscayne Bay's western shores, are listed here, from north to
south. John Augustus Ernst received belatedly (in 1774) a 20,000-
acre tract extending from Arch Creek to, presumably, the Miami
River.11 Samuel Touchett also obtained 20,000 acres in a .section
along the Bay, from the Miami River to somewhere near Shoal
Point.1 2 And William Legge, the then (Second) Earl of Dartmouth,
received a grant of 40,000 acres, from the Touchett grant south to an
unnamed creek about 3/4 of a mile north of Black Point.13 Al-
though all grants were supposed to have limited frontage on the
Bay,14 only Lord Dartmouth's extended further inland than it did
along the shore (Fig. 1); its water frontage was about six and a half
miles, while its inland extension ran almost ten miles.
None of the three grants were ever actually settled during the
British period, and the lands later reverted to Spain and, eventually,
the United States. But colonization plans to settle the lands granted
to Ernst and Lord Dartmouth were actively pursued by the donees
themselves, and these plans went beyond mere words. The story of
Ernst's lands has been briefly touched on elsewhere.' s Those of the
Earl of Dartmouth also attracted popular interest in Europe, suffi-
cient to lead to serious efforts to form a European society the
only one expressly organized for settlement in the Biscayne Bay area,
with a specific tract set aside and plotted on a map for the proposed
settlement (Fig. 2).
BISCAYNE BAY LAND GRANTS,
Tentative Location of Proposed Cape Florida
1770 Place Names in |, See Text
Base Map from US.NO.S. Naula Charts 11451 & 11
0 1 2 3
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 5
This society, generally known as the Cape Florida Society,16 was
largely the result of the efforts of four men: two Swiss entrepre-
neurs, William Gerard De Brahm, and Lord Dartmouth. The Swiss
men were the leaders of the group of hopeful settlers; De Brahm,
then in England facing charges, knew the territory which was to be
colonized; and Lord Dartmouth owned the land on which the So-
ciety's settlement was to be established. Lord Dartmouth had also
recently, in 1772, been appointed the King's Secretary of State for
the Colonies,17 and was interested in Florida colonization schemes
in general. Moreover, he knew De Brahm and, partly as a result of
their rather close friendship, was instrumental in obtaining De
Brahm's later reinstatement as provincial Surveyor for East Flori-
da.18 De Brahm, in turn, was familiar with Lord Dartmouth's lands
in the Biscayne Bay region as a result of his surveys, and it was he,
De Brahm, who acted as intermediary between Lord Dartmouth and
the Cape Florida Society during the negotiations for the proposed
The Cape Florida Society, as it turned out, was short-lived
-indeed, it was never formally incorporated and thus never legally
existed. The concept for it seems to have been initiated in early
1773, by Daniel Bercher, a French-Swiss Protestant,19 but De Brahm
may have suggested the idea in late 1772.2 0 In October of that year,
he had written to Lord Dartmouth saying that, if he approved, De
Brahm could find 13 French Protestant families willing to go and
cultivate the Lord's lands in Florida.2 1 He enclosed two letters from
Mr. and Mrs. Roux (to De Brahm), indicating the Roux' interest in
obtaining a grant of 6,000 acres in America.22 Lord Dartmouth
apparently was favorably inclined, for the next correspondence in-
volves a letter from Daniel Bercher, acting for the Cape Florida
Society, to Lord Dartmouth. This letter,2 3 dated February 20, 1773,
discussed terms for the acquisition of the Lord's 6,000 acres. Further
correspondence and negotiations ensued, and it appeared that, by
March 25, 1773, an agreement had been reached.24
A few days previously, Bercher had sent a copy of a proposal and
plan "to form a Social Colony of good and Useful Agriculturists, on
the Domains of America of Mylord Dartmouth, situated at Cape
Florida, on Sandwich Gulf.... ,"2 This proposal contained an out-
line of a tentative agreement with Lord Dartmouth for obtaining the
necessary land, and 32 statutory regulations, or by-laws, for the
Under its conditions, Lord Dartmouth agreed to lease, in perpe-
tuity, 6,000 acres of his land to the' Society and its successors, in
return for an annual quit-rent, after ten years, of 300, and other
minor considerations. The Society, to remain in existence for at least
ten years in order to give it a chance to survive, was to be organized
as a small community of 20 heads of families. Its goal was to grow
and export any or several agricultural commodities, among them
wine, silk, cotton, indigo, "and other Fruits very Useful to the Hap-
piness of a Reasonable Society, etc."'26 Shares in the form of land
were to be sold to its members, all of whom were to be "Protestants
Native of Switzerland, their Allies and confederates, or English, all of
irreproachable Life, Healthy in Body and Spirit and faithful to His
Majesty King George and Successors, etc." The subscribers also were
to act as security for each other, and to be "Assiduous Vigilant to
work, each according to his Talents and Capacity ... for the com-
mon well-being and advantage of the Society, under Pain of losing"
his lands.2 7
The idealism expressed in the tone of the regulations went further.
It was stipulated that all members were to be treated equally, with-
out regard to age, ancestry, "or other distinction-but each of them
[i.e., its members] will view themselves as Brothers. They will have
for each other a Reciprocal deference and honesty." It was "the
intention of this Society to also Assist those of Its members who, in
their illness, will not be able to carry out their duties . but they
can rest quietly, without being deprived of their benefits, nor be
criticized .... 28 All houses were to be built "at the expense of the
Society, so that each Member can be lodged with his family at the
least cost. . Three directors were to be elected "by Ballot" each
year "until all the members have exercised the Charge," but there
was also a stipulation that no one could be elected director prior to
the tenth year, if he had not subscribed to two lots of land (see
below). The directors were responsible for maintaining the records,
income, and disbursements of the Society, and to see that the quit-
rent was paid promptly.2 9
Although things never got that far, it was stipulated that "all
Purchases be they Negroes or Negresses, and others of such kind as to
be for the usage of the Society, will be made by the Directors from
the products of the Subscriptions, and will be shared According to
the Lots which each Subscriber will have Subscribed." Laborers, "be
they white or black," were to be housed and maintained by the
Society, though whoever had the "Care of Directing them" would
also have to provide other necessities for them.30
In order to attract settlers of little means, the 6,000-acre tract was
to be divided into 120 lots of 50 acres apiece. Each member was to
receive two lots free, "provided he is a Good Cultivator." Since 20
heads of families were involved in the deliberations, this came to a
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 7
total ot 40 lots, or 2,000 acres. The remaining 80 lots, or 4,000
acres, were to be sold by subscription to acceptable persons, at 25
per lot.3 1 It was probably expected that each member would pur-
chase at least two lots by subscription, in addition to his two free
lots, but the wealthier members could subscribe to as many as were
available. Thus, each member would start out with a minimum of
100, or possibly 200, acres.
The settlers foresaw the eventual need for a town outside of their
tract, for Article 19 stipulated that
"each member will be at full liberty to Build Houses at his own expense
On the Land which the Said Lord Dartmouth shall Designate for the
placement of a City, and to contract Separately the Leases without the
Society's being interested nor responsible."32
No changes in the by-laws were to be made, nor individual lots
sold to anyone else, nor could the Society be dissolved "without the
Unanimous Consent of all Subscribers. . ." for a period of ten years.
After that time, a member could request that a distribution be made
of "all which could belong to the Society, According to the Sub-
scribed Lots. ... ."3 If, after giving his initial signed consent, a mem-
ber wanted to withdraw from the Society, he could do so, but his
lots presumably reverted to the Society, and he was to pay a
"Damage of five Pounds Sterling, for each Lot which he will have
The men who wanted to form the Cape Florida Society conceived
of it as a small group of family settlers, who would be honest, indus-
trious, resourceful, and religious. The Swiss promoters were able to
interest some of their own countrymen, as well as an assorted mix-
ture of English, Scots, and Italians, in the venture. It is not yet
entirely clear whether Negroes or some other laborers were to be
brought with the colonists, or introduced later, but that possibility
was at least considered. Within the context of the times, however,
the intended settlement was designed to be a democratic community,
composed of members from several countries, and with an idealism
fairly typical of many America-bound colonists of the 1770s.
The site for the proposed settlement was located on what, for the
Biscayne Bay region, is high ground, between 5 and 20 feet above
mean sea level. The 6,000 acres were grouped together in the form of
a compact rectangular block, some 2.62 by 3.13 statute miles accord-
ing to De Brahm's map (Fig. 2), and the block was placed toward the
southeastern, bayshore part of Lord Dartmouth's lands, equidistant
from his northern and southern boundaries. The 6,000-acre block
Figure 2. This map is slightly adapted from the one De Brahm drew for Lord
Dartmouth, to show the situation of his lands in Florida, in March, 1773 (Dart-
mouth Ms. D(W)1778/11/654; reproduced with permission from the present Lord
Dartmouth and the Stafford County Record Office).
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 9
was apparently centered about three-and-one-half miles from the nor-
mal high-water mark along the Bay shore, as it was then mapped, and
the block side closest to the Bay was some two miles away from
water. On the high ground, between the 6,000-acre tract and a fresh-
water marsh bordering the Bay, land was reserved for the town.
The environmental setting for the site included fairly rocky lime-
stone land, on which was mostly pine growth. Towards the Bay, a
short distance from the tract, a 5- to 15-foot bluff overlooked the
freshwater marsh, which varied in width from about half a mile to a
mile. To the northeast of the proposed agricultural site, a mangrove
strip bordered the shoreline to the east of the marsh (Fig. 2); but
along most of Lord Dartmouth's lands, the shore comprised the
freshwater marsh itself, right to Biscayne Bay's waters.
In view of the remarkable accuracy of another map drawn by De
Brahm, showing the northern part of Biscayne Bay,35 it could be
expected that locating the intended site of the Cape Florida Society
settlement would be relatively easy. Such is not the case, however,
and it can only tentatively be placed on modem maps, until other
locational factors have been further researched.
The main problem seems to lie in several geographic discrepancies
which arise when comparing De Brahm's map (Fig. 2) with more
modem maps of the same area. Some of these discrepancies may
result from the possibility that the mainland coast of Biscayne Bay
was not as carefully surveyed, during De Brahm's General Survey, as
were the Key Biscayne and the Miami Beach areas. This, if it was the
case, could have been due to any one of several causes, or a combina-
tion thereof. The first is that De Brahm was in a hurry to finish the
General Survey, and he may simply not have been as accurate as he
usually was. When mapping this part of Biscayne Bay, apparently in
late 1770, his difficulties with Governor Grant were coming to a
head and he was facing suspension from office, as well as increasingly
depressing financial worries.36 Also, his health had begun to fail
somewhat, no doubt related to the problems he was facing.37
A second possibility might well be that De Brahm, who made the
map (adapted here as Figure 2) for Lord Dartmouth in order to
locate the site for the Society's colony,38 could not recall all the
details of the land in that area. De Brahm drew the map in London,
some two-and-one-half years after having personally surveyed the
Bay area; and though he had his huge Survey map39 at hand to help
him, this part of the Florida coast was not of as great a significance
to navigation as were some other sections. Coupled with the possi-
bility that he had only meant to locate the Cape Florida Society site
in a general way, with more precise surveying to follow once the
settlement plan had progressed further, this may have led to less
accuracy than might have been expected under other circumstances.
A third explanation may be that the mainland was in fact gener-
ally accurately mapped, but that part of the coastline has changed
since then. This happened elsewhere in Biscayne Bay, and seems to
have occurred at least in part along the shore, behind which the Cape
Florida Society settlement was to be established.40
Whatever the reasons, some important geographic discrepancies
remain, even if the low tidal shore (the freshwater marsh) has
changed its configuration since 1770. The most significant, so far as
locating the Cape Florida Society tract itself is concerned, is the
configuration of the landward edge of De Brahm's "freshwater
marsh." The closest modern approximation to this landward edge
that this writer has been able to use, pending detailed field or remote
sensing analysis, is the 5-foot contour shown on U.S. Geological
Survey topographical maps (7.5' quadrangles) of the site area. Since
it seems unlikely that this contour would have changed its geographic
position, except for localized recent construction and alteration, it
can probably be assumed that today's 5-foot contour generally lies
quite close to the line which De Brahm indicates as the landward
edge of his freshwater marsh.
This line De Brahm shows as intersecting the northern boundary
of Lord Dartmouth's lands about 1.25 miles from the bayshore (see
Fig. 2). It then turns almost due south, and then curves rather
sharply southwest and then west-southwest, intersecting the southern
boundary of Lord Dartmouth's lands about 2.42 miles from the Bay.
Modern topographic maps show the 5-foot contour (and the 10-foot
contour) very close to the bayshore near present Cutler, trending
southwest more or less as a straight line, until it "bends" slightly
towards Black Creek. The 10-foot contour does, on the other hand,
tend to curve more sharply in the southern part of what was Lord
This discrepancy, added to the contrasting Bay shoreline configu-
rations evidenced between De Brahm's and modern maps, prevents
an accurate placement of the Cape Florida Society tract on modern
maps, and is a problem still to be resolved in a satisfactory manner.
The boundaries of Lord Dartmouth's lands can, on the other hand,
be located fairly accurately and with reasonable certainty, though
their positions must be derived by interpretative analysis and some
guesswork. In this case, most of De Brahm's 1770 landmarks which
are pertinent appear more identifiable with those on modern maps,
and there is at least one contemporary document to help corroborate
the other evidence. Even here, however, some problems arise.
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 11
When De Brahm surveyed this part of Biscayne Bay, he drew his
lines of sight by compass bearings from a boat at anchor; the spots he
chose are shown as anchor symbols on his 1773 map (Fig. 2).
Though aware that sighting from such positions posed difficulties in
accurate surveying, De Brahm nonetheless selected, as the "base
point" for his map, a spot at sea about one statute mile S 50" E from
Oswald Island. Now Oswald Island, as far as can be determined at
this time, must be assumed to be today's Soldier Key, and it is
somewhat of a mystery as to why De Brahm did not in fact use this
island as a survey base. It was relatively accessible, since a channel,
shown on modern maps and which De Brahm himself depicts on his
map, leads to it from the north (see Fig. 2).41
Unfortunately, even if De Brahm had based his sightings from
Oswald Island, locating Lord Dartmouth's lands on modern maps by
triangulation from there would still have occasioned substantial
errors, as this writer found out when he tried it. The reason is that
De Brahm placed Oswald Island about a mile south of where Soldier
Key is today. Why he did so is not known, since he shows quite
accurately the distance from the southern point of Key Biscayne (as
it was in 1770) to the northernmost of the Ragged Keys (then called
Los Paradisos). This distance he measured as 8.125 statute miles;
today's distance, according to National Ocean Survey Nautical Chart
11451 (1974), is 8.2 miles (or 8.5 miles to present Cape Florida).
Other discrepancies occur concerning the distances De Brahm cal-
culated between his Oswald Island, Los Paradisos, and Key Biscayne,
on the one hand, and the mainland shore to the west, on the other.
From the northernmost Ragged Key directly west to the mainland is
about nine statute miles; De Brahm's map shows 11.25 miles. From
Soldier Key to the vicinity of Shoal Point is about 7.6 miles; De
Brahm's distance from Oswald Island to his Turtois Crawl Point is
9.6 miles. And from the southern tip of Key Biscayne (in 1770) to
just south of Shoal Point is about 7.8 miles on modern charts; De
Brahm's distance from Key Biscayne to his Turtois Crawl Point is 8.8
miles. Since these distance errors are variable, they prevent accurate
location of mainland landmarks by triangulation from the Keys. In
addition, even though the "base leg" from Key Biscayne to the Rag-
ged Keys is quite comparable between De Brahm's map and modern
charts, the meridian on his 1773 map angles a slight but critical 2.5
east from the true meridian.
In spite of these not inconsequential drawbacks, De Brahm's map
does provide fairly reliable clues indicating where Lord Dartmouth's
lands were located. In the first place, De Brahm's Turtois Crawl
Point42 is shown with a mangrove island just to the south of it (Fig.
2). This bears a modem cartographic resemblance to an unnamed
mangrove point, found today about a mile south of Shoal Point and
opposite Paradise Point, and south of which is today's Chicken Key.
This in turn implies that Chicken Key (or some mangrove island very
close to its present location) existed in 1770, an existence some have
The question to be answered, then, was whether De Brahm's Tur-
tois Crawl Point was in fact the point mentioned above (opposite
Paradise Point), or whether it was today's Shoal Point. If the former,
this presently unnamed point shows a much sharper "point" in its
configuration than in De Brahm's day. On the other hand, if Turtois
Crawl Point was today's Shoal Point, then the island just to the south
of Turtois Crawl Point must have been joined to the mainland since
1770, with Chicken Key being formed as another island in the inter-
vening years. Both interpretations are quite possible, and though the
latter seems somewhat less likely, it should not be rejected out of
hand without further analysis.
The next step was to compare compass bearings from those sites
which appear to be accurately located on De Brahm's map, with
those on modern nautical charts. This was done from two points (see
Fig. 1): the northernmost of the Ragged Keys, and the southernmost
point of Key Biscayne-this last adjusted to its proper location in
1770.44 From the Ragged Keys Point to Turtois Crawl Point, De
Brahm's map shows a bearing of N 54 W; using Nautical Chart
11451, the bearing from the same Key to the point opposite today's
Paradise Point is N 50" W (to Shoal Point itself it is N 440 W). From
the southern tip of Key Biscayne as it was in 1770, the De Brahm
map shows a bearing to Turtois Crawl Point of S 760 W; the modern
chart shows S 730 W, and the bearing to Shoal Point is about S
In short, the comparison of one set of bearings (from the Ragged
Keys) tends to show the point opposite Paradise Point as De Brahm's
Turtois Crawl Point, while the other set of bearings tends to show
Turtois Crawl Point closer to Shoal Point (Fig. 1). The fact that both
localities exhibit mangrove and are underlain by quartz sands did not
help matters, and further evidence was needed.
Mention has been made of Bernard Romans' survey map of Sam-
uel Touchett's land grant of 20,000 acres, discussed elsewhere in this
issue. Touchett's tract bordered Lord Dartmouth's to the north, and
Romans states, on his map, that the distance from present Point
View (former Lewis Point) to the southern boundary of Touchett's
grant was 800 chains, along a straight line of sight, S 330 W.4 s5 At 80
chains to the statute mile, this would place the southern boundary of
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 13
the grant-and the northern boundary of Lord Dartmouth's-almost
halfway between Shoal Point and the point opposite Paradise Point
(Fig. 2). Assuming Romans was correct, this tends to support the
thesis that Turtois Crawl Point was not Shoal Point.46
One final piece of evidence should be noted. De Brahm states that
Lord Dartmouth owned 40,000 acres of land on Biscayne Bay.47 He
also indicates that the northern boundary of the Earl's lands ran
77,500 links inland, and that the southern boundary was parallel to
the northern one. This inland distance, at 100 links to a chain and 80
chains to a statute mile, means that Lord Dartmouth's northern
boundary extended 9.6875 statute miles inland. Though De Brahm
does not show the western boundary of the tract, it can be rather
safely presumed that it was roughly parallel to the coast, but on a
straight line. Thus, Lord Dartmouth's lands formed an approximately
rectangular block, whose length was 9.6875 miles, and whose area
was 40,000 acres, or (at 640 acres per square mile) 62.5 square miles.
It can therefore be quickly calculated that the width of the rectangle,
if it were perfect, would be about 6.45 miles.
Postulating, for the moment, that De Brahm's Turtois Crawl Point
was very near the point opposite Paradise Point, the northern
boundary of Lord Dartmouth's lands, where it intersects Biscayne
Bay, was about a third to one-half mile north of that point. De
Brahm also notes that Lord Dartmouth's northern boundary ran S
700 E to the Bay. From that intersection of the northern boundary
and the Bay, a straight line drawn S 200 W (i.e., at right angles to the
boundary), for a distance of 6.45 miles, leads directly to a small bay
with a tiny island inside, about 3/4 of a mile north of present Black
Point. A somewhat similar small embayment, with a tiny island in-
side, is shown at what appears to be an identical spot on De Brahm's
map, where he indicates Lord Dartmouth's southern boundary
reached the Bay.
Was this small bay, then, the starting point of the southern boun-
dary of Lord Dartmouth's lands? This writer is inclined to believe
so, for the modern bearing from the northernmost of the Ragged
Keys to that bay is N 88.50 W, and De Brahm's bearing from the
northernmost point of Los Paradisos to the small bay shown on his
map is N 870 W (see Fig. 1).
It would seem that the location of Lord Dartmouth's lands on
modem maps is now possible, and it is shown on Figure 1. Admit-
tedly, the location is based on interpretive reasoning, but the land-
marks seem to fit, even if all the compass bearings do not. And this
seems to be the only way that Lord Dartmouth's lands could attain a
total area of 40,000 acres.
On the basis of the evidence presented, and following this writer's
interpretation, it appears that De Brahm's Turtois Crawl Point was
close to the point now opposite Paradise Point, and about a mile
south-southwest of Shoal Point. This writer has not seen any maps or
charts, other than De Brahm's, which give this point a name and, if it
has none, would suggest that Turtois Crawl Point be applied to that
point. Whether Chicken Key was then located where it is now is a
topic for further research; the shoreline to the southwest appears
quite clearly to have been at least partially eroded, and much of De
Brahm's "fresh water marsh" has disappeared, very probably due to
natural environmental factors.
As for the intended Cape Florida Society's 6,000 acres, for the
reasons outlined earlier, these can only be approximately located at
present. It would appear that they were to be sited somewhere near,
and to the southwest of, present Cutler, including the present com-
munities of Perrine and Goulds. A more precise geographic identifica-
tion must await later analysis, but it seems certain that the tract
could not have been more than a mile off the tentative location
suggested in Figure 1.
It was mentioned earlier that, by March of 1773, an agreement
had apparently been reached by Lord Dartmouth and the Cape Flor-
ida Society, with regard to the terms for the colonization of the
Earl's lands by members of the Society. On April 30th, De Brahm
transmitted to Lord Dartmouth a copy of the instructions he had
drawn up for the Cape Florida Society, 48 and on May 4th wrote an
informational report and suggestions which he (De Brahm) felt might
be of value to the Society members when they settled in Florida.
This 12-page document, part of which De Brahm included, in some-
what different wording, as part of Chapter 5 of the 2nd Tome of his
Report,49 included observations of many aspects of Florida life.
Although some of the observations and suggestions were based on De
Brahm's own experiences in St. Augustine rather than in the Bis-
cayne Bay region itself, it indicates De Brahm's lively interest in a
wide variety of aspects of the natural and cultural environment in
which he found himself, as well as some valuable comments concern-
ing South Florida. For these reasons, it is reproduced here as Appen-
dix A, following this article, with permission of the present Earl of
Dartmouth and the Staffordshire County Record Office in England.
With an apparent agreement reached in March, 1773, it would
have seemed that the Cape Florida Society was on its way to found-
ing its colony on Biscayne Bay. But things didn't work out that way.
During the next two months, the Society held a number of meetings,
during which the proposed plans were discussed at length and, ap-
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 15
parently, heatedly. After several such meetings, the Directors of the
Society decided, perhaps after reading De Brahm's informational re-
port (App. A), that the 20 families originally thought to be sufficient
to establish a viable settlement in Florida, should be increased to 25
or 30 families. Consequently, on June 28, 1773, Bercher asked De
Brahm if Lord Dartmouth would be willing to add another 2,000
acres to the 6,000 already granted. De Brahm, apparently without
consulting Lord Dartmouth, advised the directors not to ask for
more land.s 0 This the directors could not understand,s 1 and they in
turn specifically requested De Brahm to bring the matter up with
Lord Dartmouth, which De Brahm did on July 5th, and again on
July 23rd. 2
By August 18th, a controversy had developed, with Bercher feel-
ing that De Brahm was trying to discourage the proposed plan.5 3
Bercher so informed Lord Dartmouth,54 with more letters ex-
changed. Lord Dartmouth himself finally wrote to the Society,5
stating that De Brahm had written the draft according to the Earl's
instructions, which the Earl had thought were what the Society
wanted, but that now some things were expected of him with which
it was not within his power to comply. He suggested the plan be
dropped or the matter settled between his lawyer, Mr. Wilmot, and
theirs. There matters stood until finally, on November 11, 1773,
James Loup, of the Society, wrote to De Brahm, saying the plans for
the Cape Florida Society and its projects had "exhaled themselves
away into smoke."5 6
The failure of the intended Society and its colonization scheme
appears to have had numerous causes. There were some misunder-
standings in which De Brahm-seemingly still difficult to get along
with-may have played a role. But other factors were involved, not
the least of which included personality and quite possibly cultural
differences among the potential settlers themselves. Loup implied
this occurred in his letter, reproduced below, when he resigned as
leader of this "company of simpletons." Also, there was clearly a
lack of proper funding for the colonists, and they may have felt the
terms of the grant were too costly for their means. Moreover, some
of the settlers quite probably entertained real fears for their lives
(and fortunes), in a far-off, virtually uninhabited land, so environ-
mentally different from their homelands, and so isolated from any
other European settlements in America.
To blame the failure of the Cape Florida Society's plans, as has
been suggested,5 entirely on De Brahm's "oppressive disposition"
seems very unfair.58 Partly to correct this impression, but also be-
cause of its inherent interest, style, and flavor, James Loup's final
letter to De Brahm is reproduced here in full. The letter further
represents one of the more amusing sidelights to the story of the
Cape Florida Society's colonization hopes, giving some indication as
to what must have gone on during at least a few of its meetings. The
letter is here reproduced with the permission of the present Earl of
Dartmouth and the Staffordshire County Record Office in England.
Punctuation and spelling have been retained as closely as possible.
Your Esteemed Letter 3d Instant is duely come to hands, as was like-
wise that which you wrote to the Directors of the Intended Society for
Cape Florida on the 4th Septber last, inclosing one from his Lordship the
Earl of Dartmouth. I should not, Sir, have delay'd so Long, in giving you a
satisfactory reply had it been in my power to do it pertinently, but it is
only now that I am able to inform his Lordship, and you, that the In-
tended Society and all the mighty projects belonging thereto, have exhaled
themselves away into smoke, Nothing remains at present of that famous
scheme, except the mortification, which I for my own part entertain of
being comprehended with those who have given to his Lordship so much
trouble and so little Satisfaction.
"I do Sir, acknowledge with you the condescending dispositions of his
Lordship towards that Society, he has from the beginning to the end,
acted with that Steadiness, candour, and generosity, natural gifts of his
Noble Mind, which do characterize a Man of his rank tho' they do not
always attend the Great; his answer to the Intended Directors (by which
he leaves to his Attorney and ours the final determination of such of the
Articles of the Intended Grant as were in dispute) is a convincing proof of
his goodness. Indeed we had no reply to make to his Letter, it work'd
effectually of itself and Satisfied us all.
"But my Good Sir, you no doubt want to know, why the affair has
thus melted away, and I must Satisfy you as well as I can.
"In the first place, the reasons which have occasion'd this turn of
things, proceed from various causes, viz/
from several prejudic'd minds amongst the members, who suspected
you would be their enemy
from several prejudic'd minds, who by picking up intelligencies
right or wrong in all the corners of the Town, have been persuaded
that the spot of ground intended for us was not a proper place to
establish a colony on accot of the badness of the Soil
from those prejudic'd minds above, whose notions have prevail'd,
and have been the means, to dispirit the greatest part of the mem-
bers, so that since the Letter received from My Lord, Several of the
Intended cultivators whom we considered as resolute and able mem-
bers, have gradually lost their courage, and declined the undertaking
"In short Sir, it proceeds from that restless and turbulent Spirit which
you yourself have seen reign and been witness to at Some of our Meetings,
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 17
where no resolution has ever been taken with any consistency, where
People bringing their Strong heads without brains, were ready to disap-
prove this minute what they themselves eagerly approved of the minute
before, and so on from the beginning to the End; I indeed had succeeded
so far as to make out a Book of regulations, which was fairly approved of
by all the members in regard to its tenor, and the next day fairly trans-
gress'd by all, every one wanted to put an article in the Book, to answer
his own Interested views, in short the Book wanted every day a new dose
of Physick, and finding it at last impossible to reconcile together the
respective Interests of the united Tribes of English, Scots, Swiss and Ital-
ians, which Mr. Bercher the first promoter of the Scheme had, through a
nice stroke of Policy, prudently jumbled together into the Society, I was
forc'd to Say non plus ultra, and resigned my Post, heartily tir'd of being
leader of a company of simpletons.
"I must however Sir, under the justice which is due to some amongst
the Intended members, possest of very good Sence and Sound Judgement
who having as well as me, considered in its true light the whole frame of
that Scheme, found that it had from it's beginning, been wrongly under-
stood betwixt the parties, that it was carried on with too much confusion
for to answer any good purposes, therefore we were unanimous to lett the
affair drop, as being the surest method to Set us all right and to get rid of
the united Tribes above, for Sir, as we do not give over all thoughts of
reniewing a project of that Sort, yet we are determined to avoid all such
inconveniences for the future, Our resolution is taken, to raise a Sufficient
Capital before we begin any thing of that sort, likewise to be very cautious
in the choice of our members and to have no mixtures of nations, but all
"I intend Sir, doing myself the honour to wait upon you in a few days
and we will talk more at large about it, the copy Draught of the Grant has
been duely returned to Mr. Willmot a long while agoe, but did not acquaint
that Gentleman with the definition of our affairs, thinking there was no
necessity to do it.
"I beg whenever you have occasion to wait on his Lordship, you'll
tender him the Sentiments of my most profound respect, and endeavour
to reestablish in him, that credit and moderate reputation which he enter-
tained before for the Swiss nation.
"Mrs. Loup desires to be remembered to your Lady and to you Sir. as
for me, I beg leave to Stile myself
Your most obedt &
very humble Servant
(signed) James Loup
Baringhall Street 11th novber 1773
To WmGerdDeBrahm Esqre
Other events, other distractions took place in those fateful years,
and the Cape Florida Society faded from the scene. Whether its
colonization efforts would have succeeded, had they been given a
chance in America, is debatable. But Lord Dartmouth's lands on
Biscayne Bay were never colonized while he owned them. They were
not populated until many years later, and then by a very different
people from those he had envisaged, or intended to settle there. The
site of the proposed colony became known as the Indian Hunting
Grounds, largely remaining so until a century later, as such inter-
rupted only when a later grant of land in the same general area was
given by a young United States to a man whose agricultural innova-
tions became so well known in Miami-Henry Perrine.
1. The author gratefully acknowledges the prompt and generous assistance
of Professor Denys Brunsden (Department of Geography, University of
London King's College), the present Earl of Dartmouth, Miss Isobel Mor-
com, Assistant Archivsit, Staffordshire County Record Office, Stafford,
England, and Mrs. Maureen Adams, Fall's Church, Va. They made avail-
able to the author the materials on which this paper is based.
2. Although references to the Cape Florida Society occur occasionally, the fact
that its plans came to naught has evoked little research on it. The longest
description of the Society the present author has seen is in Charles L.
Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, 1763-1784, University of Cali-
fornia Publications in History, v. 23, University of California Press, Berke-
ley and Los Angeles, 1943. Reprinted as a Facsimile Reproduction, with
editorial preface by Rembert W. Patrick, University of Florida Press,
Gainesville, 1964. Mowat devotes a short paragraph to the Cape Florida
Society on page 63.
3. For a very useful summary of De Brahm's life and works, see the introduc-
tion by Louis DeVorsey, Jr., in his edited DeBrahm's Report of the Gen-
eral Survey in the Southern District of North America, University of South
Carolina Press, Columbia, S.C., 1971, pp. 3-59 and 259-279. See also
Charles L. Mowat, "That 'Odd Being' De Brahm," Florida Historical Quarter-
ly 20 (1942): 323-345.
4. DeVorsey, op. cit., pp. 33-35, 39-44; Mowat, (1942), op. cit., pp. 326,
5. DeVorsey, op. cit., p.33;Mowat (1942), op. cit., p.324.
6. DeVorsey, op. cit., p.36.
7. The instructions start out with: "It is necessary for the advantageous and ef-
fectual Settlement of this Province that the true state of it should be fully
known as soon as possible, which can only be ascertained by an accurate Sur-
vey, and that must be made as soon as conveniently may be." Letter from
Governor James Grant to William Gerard De Brahm, dated St. Augustine,
Feb. 1, 1765. Colonial Office Papers (hereinafter cited as C.O.) 5/540, p.
8. DeVorsey, op. cit., pp.42-43; Mowat (1942), op. cit., p. 335.
9. DeVorsey, op. cit., p. 50; Mowat (1942), op. cit., p. 336.
10. Mowat, East Florida..., op. cit., pp. 50-58.
11. Wilbur Siebert, Loyalists in East Florida 1774 to 1785, Publications of the
Florida State Historical Society no. 9, Deland, Florida, 1929, v. 2, pp. 51-53.
See also Henry S. Marks, "The earliest land grants in the Miami area," Te-
questa 18 (1958): 16-17,
12. Mowat, East Florida. .., op. cit., p. 60. Also, Bernard Romans, "Survey of the
Tract of Samuel Touchett, Esq.," unpublished map, 1770. The manuscript
original is in the Yale University Library, New Haven, Conn., with reproduc-
tions in the Historical Association of Southern Florida Library, Miami, Fla.,
and in the Otto G. Richter Library, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Flor-
ida. I am indebted to Mr. Larry Resnick, of the Metropolitan Dade County
Department of Highways, for having lent me his personal reproduction of the
13. Lord Dartmouth had received 100,000 acres near Miami, granted in 1770 (B.
D. Bargar, Lord Dartmouth and the American Revolution, University of
South Carolina Press, Columbia, S.C., 1965, p. 69). However, 60,000 acres
appear to have been given to three sons of Lord Dartmouth; these are three of
the four additional Biscayne Bay grants mentioned above. This writer's guess
is that the three grants joined Lord Dartmouth's 40,000 acres to the south,
along the western shore of Biscayne Bay.
14. Leonard W. Labaree, Royal Instructions to British Colonial Governors
1670-1776, published for the American Historical Association, Octagon
Books, Inc., New York, 1967,v. 2,pp. 531-532.
15. Siebert, op. cit., pp. 51-53; Mowat, East Florida..., op. cit., p. 63; Marks, op.
cit., pp. 16-17.
16. But also referred to variously as the Swizer Society, the East Florida Society,
and the Society for Cape Florida. This last reference from Dartmouth Ms.
D(W)1778/II/742; the first two from Great Britain, Historical Manuscripts
Commission (14th Report, Appendix, Part X), Manuscripts of the Earl of
Dartmouth, London, 1895, v. 2, pp. 143 and 167. Although Mowat (East
Florida . ., op. cit., passim.) cites this source as Dartmouth MSS., it is pub-
lished and consists of summaries of Lord Dartmouth's papers and correspon-
dence. It therefore should not be confused with the Dartmouth manuscripts
themselves, which are deposited in the Staffordshire County Record Office,
Stafford, England. The manuscripts themselves are hereinafter cited as Dart-
mouth Ms.; the Commission volume as Historical Manuscripts Commission.
For further comments regarding the Commission reports, see Bargar, op. cit.,
17. Bargar, op. cit., p. iii.
18. DeVorsey, op. cit., pp. 44-47.
19. Letter James Loup to De Brahm, dated London, Nov. 11, 1773. Dartmouth
20. Historical Manuscripts Commission, op. cit., p. x.
21. Ibid., pp. 102-103.
23. Ibid., p. 139.
24. Ibid., p. 144.
25. Dartmouth Ms., D(W)1778/II/684. Translation from the original French by
the present author.
27. Ibid., Articles 1, 6, 11.
28. Ibid., Articles 13 and 14.
29. Ibid., Articles 18, 20-24.
30. Ibid., Articles 15 and 17.
31. Ibid., Articles 3, 9, 10.
32. Ibid., Article 19.
33. Ibid., Articles 8, 16, 26, 27.
34. Ibid., Article 31.
35. DeVorsey, op. cit., p. 209; the original is in the British Museum, Kings Ms. 211,
p. 238. A copy from the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Con-
gress, Washington, D.C., has been adapted in another article in this issue of
36. C.O. 5/71, Plantations General, passim. De Brahm wrote numerous and
lengthy letters complaining about his treatment by Governor Grant, and
about the inadequacies of the funding for the General Survey and his own
expenses. One such letter, to Lord Hillsborough, Lord Dartmouth's prede-
cessor as Secretary of State, is representative of many others; it was dated St.
Augustine, June 30, 1770 (C.O. 5/71,pp.357-360).
37. Mowat (1942),op. cit., p. 334.
38. Letter De Brahm to Lord Dartmouth, 15 March, 1773. Dartmouth Ms.
D(W)1 778/II/578. The map in Figure 2 is based on the one DeVorsey (op.
cit., p. 273) felt was "presumed lost"; the original is filed as Dartmouth Ms.
39. Ibid. De Brahm's General Survey map was 25 feet long (DeVorsey, op. cit., pp.
40. The author is presently writing a paper describing the natural changes occur-
ring along the shorelines of northern Biscayne Bay between 1770 and 1887.
It appears, on initial analysis, that a substantial part of De Brahm's fresh-
water marsh (Fig. 2) is now a broad bight, just west and southwest of Chicken
Key. See also Harold R. Wanless, Sediments of Biscayne Bay distribution
and depositional history, University of Miami Institute of Marine Sciences
Technical Report 69-2, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, 1969, pp.
96-98, for possible erosion of the shoreline in the Cutler area.
41. See also U.S. National Ocean Survey, Nautical Chart 11452 (1974). The pres-
ent author saw Laurens Island, in existence since at least 1574, as a few rem-
nants of sharp rocks, now visible only at low tide. Under spring low tide con-
ditions, some 100 feet of "land" are exposed (personal communication from
Mr. James C. Frazier, of the Metropolitan Dade County Surveyor's Office,
during a field trip to the island on August 5, 1975). Thus, Laurens Island has
virtually disappeared due to natural environmental factors in the past 200
years; the same processes are also apparently affecting some of the Ragged
Keys, to the south.
42. The name De Brahm gave to this point possibly indicates that a turtle crawl
had been constructed there, or even conceivably that some turtles were us-
ing the beach to lay eggs, although this is certainly not proven. That a quartz
sand deposit does exist along this shore, however, has been demonstrated
(Wanless, op. cit., p. 66).
43. Wanless, citing a study by F. A. Kohout (Relation of seaward and landward
flow of ground water to the salinity of Biscayne Bay, unpublished master's
thesis, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, 1967) which the present
author has not examined, states (op. cit., p. 66) that Chicken Key is man-
made. However, the first edition of U.S. Coast Chart 165, published in 1887
by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, clearly shows Chicken Key in exis-
tence at that time.
44. About 0.3 statute miles south of present day Cape Florida.
45. Romans, op. cit.
46. It should not be inferred from this that Romans was the better surveyor of the
two men. Romans' mapping of the bayshore of Touchett's grant, on prelimi-
nary examination, contains more inaccuracies than De Brahm's.
47. Dartmouth Ms. D(W)1778/II/654, from which Figure 2 is derived.
48. Historical Manuscripts Commission, op. cit., p. 149.
49. DeVorsey, op. cit., pp. 209-229.
50. Historical Manuscripts Commission, op. cit., p. 159.
51. Letter Cape Florida Society to De Brahm, June 30, 1773. Dartmouth Ms.
D(W)1778/II/684;also. Hist. Mss. Comm., op. cit., p. 161.
52. Historical Manuscripts Commission, op. cit., pp. 160, 162.
53. Ibid.,p. 167.
54. Ibid., p. 162.
55. Ibid.,p. 171.
56. Dartmouth Ms. D(W)1778/II/742.
57. By B. F. Stevens, in his Introduction to Hist. Mss. Comm., op. cit., p. x.
58. As a matter of fact, De Brahm put a good deal of effort into the project, and at
some possible risk; at one point during the negotiations, he offered himself as
security for 450 for the Society, if he could be allowed to return honorably
to East Florida (Letter De Brahm to Lord Dartmouth, 22 March, 1773; Hist.
Mss. Comm., op. cit., p. 143).
This Page Blank in Original
Information and recommendations to the Cape Florida Society,
by William Gerard De Brahm; with cover letter to Lord Dartmouth,
dated May 4th, 17731
I humbly beg Leave to Transmit copy of the continuate directions, which I
have Since sent to the Cape Florida Society, truly wishing they may be posses-
sed with the necessary knowledge if possible of all occurrencys in America, as
they for want of Sufficient preordinations may cause confusion, discouragement
and miscarriage in a country, where they will be by themselves with out any
counsel to their advantage, but perhaps meet dissuasions from the providence
fisher man, who for the Sake of injoying all the benefits of those, who unfor-
tunately Suffer Shipwrack at Cape Florida, would look with invious Eyes upon
these new Settlers, and take ungenerous advantage by distressing them with
contrary notions to the prejudice of Your Lordship. I am most respectfully
Queens square Westminister most obedient and most
May 4th 1773 humble Servt WGdeBrahm
To the Cape Florida Society
"Gentlemen! at Mr. Berchers request I have furnished you with a list of
necessary furniture and utensils for your intended settlement at Cape Florida, I
have finished also the plots, which are to be joined to Your Grants.
as your resolution is fixed to publish your undertaking in order to invite such
as have capacity to accompany your design, I think it will greatly contribute to
your intention, if in your publication is given sufficient information of what is
necessary to remove obstacles, what to be provided in Europe before your
departure, and what to be observed in America, when at your arrival you Set
about your project.
you are therefore to know your own Climate in which you are born, to what
you have ben used in the course of your life as well in regard to nurishment as
rmedicins, and provide such articuls of plants, seeds, medicine, provisions and
garments, as you know you cannot meet with in America at your new settlement.
you are to Know that Climate in America, which you intend to inhabite, as
also the practice in planting, building, living and preserving health, that you may
do Justice to your constitution as well as to your interest in a forrigh part of this
you know my residence in America has begun in 1751 in the V climate and
ended in 1771 in the IV climate, please therefore to observe from my own
observations, surveys and experiences, that the province of East Florida (whose
southern extremity is your choice) lies under the fourth Climate from the Ae-
quator where vidt at Cape Florida the longest Day in Summer is 13 hours, 36
minutes and 17 5/8 Seconds; the Shortest Winter Day is 10 hours, 23 minutes and
40 3/8 Seconds, from which proximity to the AEquator you will probably
Judge, that the heat must be intolerable; this would be really the case, were not
the Easterly breeze (: which trades3 from 9 in the fore to 3 in the afternoons
West and from the West to the East at Nights;) such a remedy by which at Cape
Florida the heat is made as tolerable in summer as the spring heat in England,
and even the Winter Season at Cape Florida can be equally compared to the
Spring in England, which is situated between the VIII and XI Climates, so that at
East Florida is no general cession of Vegitation in the Winter. non of your
Society as to its native Country exceeds the Northermost Climates of England,
but most of you are rather within or to the Southward of them all.
the general opinion is, that Emigrations of Man and transplantations of Vegi-
tation do best succeed in the same climate, this opinion cannot mis to be
favorably received in Theory, but to examine it by practice and experience, to
what Theory has agreed, is the only way to truth.
I therefore go to observe, that the spanjards have taken from their best grape
Vine at Madeira Situated in the V climate, and transplanted them in the same
Climate upon the Coast of California, but the Wine produced from the California
cultivation is much inferior to the Wine exported from Madeira. the query is
now: if the Same Climate does not prove Successful for transplanting of its own
natives carryed a distance of 5000 or more miles, which Climate is to be prefer-
abely chosen, that more Northerly or more Southerly [p.2] my answer is, that
no body would be apt to think, a plant used to a certain degree of Solar heat
would prosper in a lesser degree, of course the decision must fall in favor of a
climate which affords more heat, videlicet4 nearer to the AEquator, where the
plant receives more warmth, which can be affirmed from an other experience
made by the Hollanders, who took from the best Vines in Burgundy Situated in
the VIII climate, and transplanted them at Cape good hope, which lies in the V
Climate from the AEquator; the Wine obtained from the good hope production
is highly delicious and much superior to the Wines made in Burgundy; this
experiment in Company with the first of California me thinks Sufficiently
proves the mistake of the above opinion. I would however, gentlemen! give this
caution not to exceed the VIII Climate Northwardly in the choice of your plants
and Seeds, because the proportion between the climates may perhaps be as well
too great than too little, and those plants whick are used to the very oblique
inflection of the suns Rays, may not all at oface be able to bear an inflection of
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 25
so much less obliquity, for East Florida (:as I have mentioned:) lies under the IV
Climate, where in summer the inflection of the Suns Rays are almost perpendic-
ular, and where you will be one Climate nearer the AEquator than Good hope;
altho' I make no doubt, that Rheinish and Mosel Vines laying under the IX
climate wood succeed at Cape Florida, Jet I would advice a Tryal of it first; So
much is certain, that the Wine grapes seem to accommodate them selves to each
climate by assuming in Cold Climates a thick and in Warm Climates a thin skin
to cover the juce in the berrys, in which latter videlicit thin Skins the best
digestion is performed and the best Wines prepared.
that you may know, what principal plants are not at all, or are preferable in
East Florida, and which are not fit to be introduced at all, like wise which plants
from supposition of those happily Cultivated in the same climates on the south
of the AEquator may be worth trying, I will joine the different lists of them
vidt: plants not existing in East Florida.
are pinioli, pistacho, Amonds. Olives. currano
of these are neither genus nor species to be met with.
plants now in East Florida preferable to any in Europe are
Chinee Orange; Sevil Orange; Citrons; Lemons
of these are species also not to be met with in Europe, and common in East
Florida. plants not fit to be introduced in East Florida having proved to de-
generate to the Southward of the VI Climate are
appeals. pears. peaches. prunes. cherrys.
the Northren grains and Seeds, which by my knowledge from others and my
own experience have proved equal and some superior in quality to what they
had ben in their former cold climates are.
Wheat. Rye. Barley. Oats. peases. Lentils, flax and Hamp.
the plants cultivated in the four first climates South of the AEquator, and in the
first three climates North of the AEquator, to which add that of East Florida (;
equal to the fourth Climate on the South side of the AEquator vidt to the
Southermost extend of Paraquay, where the Zona terminates, in which [p. 3]
from the AEquator North and South the Sugar Canes are planted, and the
produced Sugar at Paraguay is Sold at Santa Fe in the province of Buenos Ayres;
So that East Florida may confidently as far as Hillsborough alias Ays Inlet (:in
Latitude 270 24' 45" by observation:) be called a country adapted for sugar
canes and of course for all West Indian products vidt.
:Sugar; Rum; Cotton; Indigo; Tabacco; Conchonille.
the manner how to preserve your European plants and Seeds in order to bring
them over to America without prejudice, without much expense, and with the
least trouble and greatest advantage I would propose is: to pack up immediately
all roots, Suckers and Vines after collected in Europe in tight Strong Iron bound
oak cases of different Sizes, then headed, and through the bungs to fill the
cases with oil, and your Seeds to be put in bottles filled with oil and well
stopped, out of which oil the aforesaid articuls hereafter are not to be taken,
until your ground is determined on and prepared, then the oil is drawen in
empty Vessels, the plants and Seeds well Wiped and regularly planted and
Sowed. the oil which is not diminished in virtue and Taste can be disposed of for
Oeconomical use in markets, and the cases some sawed through the middle in
two will Serve in plantations vidt the bigger for Tupss and the lesser for pails
and bockets, but the whole ones will serve for sending in them the oil to market
places; this method will require no attendance at sea or on Shore; consequently
give no trouble more besides boarding and landing; other methods as per in-
stance to pack them in Earth cannot Kip out, but must admit the air, which will
enter the pores of the plants and with assistance of its Warmbt Swelling the
closed germs dispose them to Sprout, this happening whilst packed up in ground
and Caskes, the plants cannot obtain Sufficient air, putrefaction of course in-
sues, and the plants or Seeds are destroyed, but in case the plants and Seeds can
obtain the reach of free air, they require to be frequently watered, but the
expence of laying in Sufficient provision of water at Sea, besides the labor
connected there with is too extravagant, as also at the time (:when they are to
be landed from the Vessel on Shore:) the hurry is so great, that most of the
plants are destroyed before they can reach their destined ground, which perhaps
for some weeks with any propriety cannot be pitched upon and prepared, during
which time the labor (which Should be bestowed on other necessary) must be
divided in order to attend the plants, which if not don, they chance to be
neglected and perish, and if don other pressing business must be retarded;
therefore to Kip the air from the plants and Seeds is the only remedy, and
cannot be more effectually executed, then to Surround them with wax, or
Tallow, which is attended with much inconveniencys and nicitys; or in honey,
which on a long voyage and in great Warmbt is apt to ferment, therefore best in
oile, else all the premisses Stop effectually the pores of the plants and Seeds, and
Kip out the air, this Stopping out of the air from the pores may seem pernicious
and apt to prevent them from Sprouting in the ground, when planted, but if
they are carefully wiped, some (:if not all:) pores will open to give passage to the
air under ground, and require perhaps one or two Days more time to swell the
Seeds and plants so much, that thereby the other pores are forced open also,
which [p.4] the Small particul of remaining fatness is insufficient to hinder the
air from penetrating, besides the Warmbt of the ground will by ratification and
evaporation consume great part of the fat also.
I venture to recommend this method for preserving the Silkworm Seed (:Eggs
from hatching or giving vent to the inclosed Worms sooner, than the mulberry
trees or Shrubs are Sufficiently Sprouted, and aford the necessary Quantity of
leaves to feed them. the way of wiping these Seeds must be by moving them on
fresh plotting paper so long until the paper Shews no marks of the remaining oil.
as it is in my power to give you a description of the communications and soils
of East Florida, I will gladly inform you thereof in order to render your Idea
more compleat: that part of East Florida which forms the peninsula is not above
180 common miles East and West from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico in
wedth, and 370 common miles in length from St. Augustin North to the Dry
Tortugas South. at Hillsborough Inlet coming from the North ward I met with
the first Infallible criterion, which indicates that Zona commonly calculated for
(:what are called:) West Indian products mentioned herebefore, which Zona also
fairly promises Success in all Northern Cultivations herebefore not excepted,
this country therefore does by no means deserve to be lefft longer with out
being improved as it has been since 1513 the year, in which it was first dis-
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 27
covered by Europeans vidt John Ponce the than Governor of porto Rico. this
peninsula is Surrounded with Seas vidt by the Gulf of Mexico to the West, the
Atlantic Ocean to the East, and the Florida Stream to the South; this Stream
leads from the Gulf into the Ocean, and afords a constant current throughout
the whole year from East Florida to the Northren provinces upon the Atlantic,
and with its Eddy, which the whole year with all other winds (:except those
between East and North:) returns that whole distance a long Shore and favors
the Navigation to and fro (:North and South:) through the whole year, except-
ing at the times, when the aforesaid winds between North and East prevail, at
which time the current to the North is exceeding Strong, but admits of no Eddy
from North to South to return and at which time Vessels bound from South to,
North must endeavour to make what offing they can, for fear of being drawn on
Shore by the current.
what makes East Florida more conspicuous, is that all Spanish riches brought
from the Kingdom of Mexico, New Spain, peru, chili in America and from the Ma-
nilles in the East Indies are gathered in one fleet at the Havanas on Cuba Island,
which fleet Sailes for the Cape of East Florida and from thence takes its departure
for Europe Sailing through the new Bahama Channel a long the Coast of East Flor-
ida as far as Cape Canjaberal, which method is followed by all Vessels Trading to
pensacola, New orleans, Bay of Hundoras and Jamaica, so that the Seas of East
Florida are the most frequented, and its Shores the most Knowen for Ship Wrecks,
inhabitants in that part are therefore highly necessary to give assistance & comfort
to so many distressed, who in return will dispose to them their saved cargoes at low
The Soil near the Coasts of East Florida in many places, especially on the East
and West Coasts is sandy, but the South Coast is of a rich marl in most places, and
the inland contains a soil equal in goodness to that of the Northren provinces, how-
ever the Sandy soil generally displeasing the Eyes of those used to marl or other rich
soil must not discourage European Emigrants from making choice thereof, pro-
vided the Situation has otherwise most of desirable advantages both of free air and
easy access; for the quicksand, which contains the Subterraneous universal Water
source, lays under a stratum (:in case 'tis sand;) generally not above Six foot thick,
but where it is marl (:which generally is Suported by a coral rock:) there the quick-
sand lays about four foot under the Surface, and is met with after piercing through
the coral rock. the Sandy Stratum Ihave experienced in the dryest Seasons never to
be above two feet from the Surface exhausted of moisture, so that Vegitable plants,
which Strike the fibers of their roots more than two feet deep, received always
nurishment from below, and the Night Dews refreshed the plants as far, as they had
ben over ground withered in the Day time. the undisguished truth of this is obtain-
ed by the Dayly experience since 1765 in this very province both in regard to
cultivations and natural products, which are peculiar to the country Climate.
however Should not withstanding of my Eight years experience on sandy Soil
the through many thousand years entertained notion from a want of fair trials in
different Climates and on different as well deep as shallow laying quicksand not
be willing to trust to the fertility in a thin Sand Stratum but desire a marl or
otherwise manured soil, for which I do not mean to reproach so good a care of
men they need not however to exchange or refuse occupying a well situated and
for many advantages well calculated place on account of being Sandy, and elect
an other inconveniently Situated but of a rich soil, they may in rainy Seasons
cover any part, they please, and intend for gardens or fields with Stones or Shells
about Six Inches thick, in case leaves, dead gras, straw or Ruches etc: are
handyer, then twelve Inches thick, thereby to absorb the firy particuls (:phlo-
giston:) conveyed by the inflecting Rays of the Sun, and hinder the Reflecting
Rays from exhausting the subterraneous moisture reaching the Earths surface;
they (:who will bestow their leisure hours upon such useful and profitable
undertaking:) will in about twelve months be convinced, when in an other rainy
season they remove said Stones Shells etc: by forming passages and Rowes each
six foot wide, have all materials cleared out of the passages and played upon those
remaining in the Rowes, when they will find in the passages, that an acid has
been generated during the time they was covered, that this acid has corroded
(:alkuholized:) the upper part of the Sandy Soil into a fine marl, which after it is
showed or plowed about six Inches in depht, with, and under the Sand, in order
to stop the wide interstices between the sand grains, and hinder the quick
passage of the rain through them to the refreshment of what is Sowed or planted
there, that consequently [p.6] this method will richly reward them with a fine
Crop in the passages, and there remains no room for doubt, that, when the pain
is taken a little before the next insuing planting Season, to move the stratum of
Stones etc: out of the Rowes into the passages last planted, so as to make them
to Rowes and the Rowes to passages, they will experience, that a two years
cover has made a much deeper impression of corroded sand into marl, and will
consequently pay that trouble with a Second and richer crop. NB6 the Seeds or
plants must be sowed or placed both sides of the passage next the stratum of the
Rowes so as to give them the benefit of the moisture constantly retained under
the stratum, thus annually or every two years removing the stratum from the
Rowes into the passages will aford a perpetual renual and inriching of the
ground, and be a destruction to all wild and pernicious roots and Seeds of grass
and weeds; this method answers preferably to that of the Northren and cold
country, where the farmer by plowing up the roots of the grass and weeds and
exposing them to severe frosts endeavour to get rid of them, however these
frosts do not distroy any of the Seeds, which are dropped from the ripe grass
and weeds in the ground, which the prescribed Stratum will smother and per-
fectly distroy, and save the laborious showing7 or plowing in the Summer Season
to extirpate the grass and weeds out of the planted fields, so that this method is
saving of much labor, and procuring a richer crop than the common methods; thus
I have given a remedy to those who will or cannot trust a crop on a Shallow
Sandy Soil. and they will also experience that this method, if once introduced
and becomes common, will prove the best manure in all, especially hot climates,
where dung increases rather the heat more than is necessary, and where the
showing or plowing looses and mellowes the ground fit to absorbe much of the
airy night Dews or even winds. observe that your fields at Cape Florida are never
to be showed or plowed in the hot hours of the Day, but before sunrise, at the
hours of the Trading Sea breeze and at sun set, NB in a rainy season all hours
of the day are fit for showing or plowing, unless such hours, when the clouds are
thin or move from before the sun.
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 29
I have above advised with good reasons drawen from experience, that your
Vines should not be taken from country situated to the North of Bergundy, I
would now recommend Verona (:or Lucca8 rather:) for gathering your Olive
trees or stones as being the best in Europe videlicet the great ones, which when
ripe give the best oile, and the lesser kind commonly called: picholini are the best
for pickeling, when green, as the pickeling of the olives is performed chiefly with
Sea Salt water it being the principal ingredience, you will find, that the Sea
water at cape florida being richer of Salt, then that of Lucca (: verona not
enjoying that convenience, being an Inland Town:) will procure the preference
to your Olives pickeled at Cape Florida.
altho I have advanced Several necessary observations, which I think worth
your attention, and which chiefly fall within the present bounds of your recog-
nizance whilst on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, I shall however have much
more to say [p.7] relative to occurrencys Strictly concerning America, especially
that part, which you propose to inhabit; however Since your good Success in
that great undertaking depends chiefly from the Vigor and health of your body
and constitution, I think it highly necessary, to Shew9 from my twenty years
experience, by what diet and Regimen you may preserve your vigor and health
from the time you change the present and for the time you continue in a New
and warm climate, and to make you Judges and guardians over your Selves.
please therefore in the first place to abstain in hot seasons from boiled meat and
fish, from all manner of warm broth or liquids, but let all your warm Victuals be
rostedt 0 and all your drinks be cold in your common diet except in cases where a
Regimen of perspiration requires it, of which I shall make mention hereafter;
and never drink water with out mixing it with a little good Rum (:by all means
avoided bad Rum:) if good Rum is not to be had, correct your water by Cali-
biating it with quenching in it a red hot Iron, and at no times make free with
immoderate draughts of Strong liquors, nor charging your Stomacks with much
Victuals, nor Sleep in a Room between two openings (:Doors or Windows:)
where the wind has a free (:be it ever so small a :) draught.
21y avoid wetting your bodys or even your feet only in rain and more so in
dew, but if by chance or necessity it will happen so: increase your motion until
you reach your mansion; take than a good and repeated draught of Warm Tea,
warm but weak coffee, warm water and Rum or Wine, or in case non of the
premisses is to be had conveniently, take warm calibeat water; Dishabit your
Selves, enter your beds, and promote under sufficient coverts a moderate perspi-
ration for the Space of thirty minutes, than dress your Selves Dry, and take a
gentile exercise, Should hereafter you find your Selves feverish disposed, repeat
the afore said Regimen of perspiration as often until that disposition is expelled.
31y you are to avoid performing hard work in the hot, calm hours, Whereby
you will exhaust too much of your necessary humors by perspiration, but in case
necessity makes it an obligation to work hard at such hours and expose your
Selves some time, you are (:when the perspiration is violent:) to quit your work,
put on a blanket coat, therein retire to a Shady but not windy place, and take
very moderate Small and often repeated but cold draughts of calibeated water,
or water mixed with a little good Rum. 41Y in case a sudden cold wind or rain
should surprise you, whilst in an (:altho small:) perspiration before you are well
covered with closes,i1 you are to take recourse to the setting Regimen above
directed. 5th you are not to go out in the sun with an uncovered head; your best
head cover in Summer is a straw hat with a broad Rim to be light and give Shade
to your face and Shoulders, and let your hats be white or whitish in order to
absorbe non, but reflect all Suns Rays inflecting upon you and give passage to
those reflecting from the ground through the Texture of the straw hat. 61y your
dress in general is to be light colored, wide and light, as far as to your Knees, but
[p. 8] from your Knees down to your Soles, be always (: Summer and winter:)
warmly dressed in cloth (:flannel or strouts12:) and good shues; in order to
make this dress convenient, you have two square pieces of flannel or strouts, in
them Wrap up your leggs and confine them with garters below your knees, the
rest loosely covers the feet and heels home to the ground, which will prevent
(:altho' wet:) to get any cold on your feet, and the Rattelsnakes, which commonly
bite near the heel, if they do bite at all, they will be satisfied of having revinged
themselves on the cloth for having ben disturbed by you, and you will receive no
hurt by them. 71y the American woods and forests especially near the Sea Coast
Shelter an infinite number of Nats (:muskitoes:) during the time that plantations
are only Small, of course the forrest near, the winds have no great power to
dissipate them; these insects are very troublesome after Sun Set, and through out
the whole night, by which the Weary man is deprived of that rest, which he
needs to recover and regroute13 new strength in order to make your Selves
private and Kip off Such troublesome company, you are to have each a pavilion
made of Thread or Silk net (:gawze:) in a form of a Bell tent 24 foot wide
running up at 7 foot to a point fixed to a ring to be hanged up over the bed and
to Spread over it at night, so as to touch the ground. the remedy for driving
these Insects from your habitations in the evening, before you go to your beds,
is by making several Smoak fires round your house, these will effectually force
the nearest to leave your houses, and hinder those, which come from a distance
to draw near you. the inflammation (:which they cause with their Stings: and
form littel Swellings in your Skins:) is best and Soonest cured by rubing the
diseased places with Spirit of camphor.
let your dwelling houses be built laughty so that your Rooms may be at
least 9 but not above 11 foot high, let your windows come as near down the
floor as your doors on all four sides of your houses; though I have observed that
all American Spaniards make no door nor window on the North side of their
houses, but they build a dubble wall about 8 foot distance from each other
forming a passage, this Served them for Kipping their victuals and liquors it
being the coolest place and excloods the Rawness of the Dampy North air,
which perhaps they Judged pernicious to their health; this Judgment they surely
drew from experience, of which they had in 200 years a greater Share than I
pretend to. Jet I have not followed their practice, but build doors and windows
on the North side of my house in St. Augustin, where I fixed my landry and
pantry with good success in Kipping victuals and liquors of all kind, my reason
for not following the Spanish rools of Architectur was from experience, that an
inclosed could not be so wholesome, as a free circulating air; however you may
try the Spanish method first, and myn after, as the former will save time and
expenses, and the latter may be don after the first experiment does not give
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 31
satisfaction. as I suppose the want of boards will prevent you from making your
first floor 3 foot high from the ground, as is necessary to prevent Jiggers and
other vermin from nestling in your floors, by frequent cleaning, washing and
airing the house and throwing your doors and windows open [p.9] from nine in
the fore to three oclock in the afternoon; I advise you to burn Shells into Lime,
and mix it with twice the quantity of pounded unborndt 5 Shells these materials
together make up into a mortar, which you must not temper with fresh but Salt
water from the Sea, this Salt water in all your buildings you will find to make a
soon petrifying of course better mortar, than that not made with sea water and
Sea Sand, which soon putrifies, as I have experienced in both ways on my
buildings in St. Augustin; after you have well rammed the ground floor of your
house, lay on this mortar Six Inches thick, and have it beat all over gentily but
quickly with light pestils by three or more persons, until nothing of the mortar
will Stick any more to the pestils, than give a brush of lintseed oil all over and
continue beating until the oil disapears, thus brushing with oil and beating repeat
as often until your floor is hard, smooth and Shiny; such a floor you will find
near equal to marmor very lasting, cold, easy to be cleaned with a wet mop,
and aired to kip out Jiggers, and all manner of bugs and Vermins. at Cape
Florida the expence of glas windows may be saved, as they are of little Service,
unless in Sturmy and rainy weather, which the Shutters and doors on the
weather Side will shut out more effectually than glas windows. I advise you to
make use of gawze blinds (the same Stuff your pavilions are made off) both in
the Door and window Openings, which blinds you shut all day long, at least
before sunset, and thereby injoy not only the free air, but you will also Kip out
both Sandflies and Muskitoes during your evening conversation before you go to
bed, at which time they are to be opened and your Shutters and doors to be
shut. but let this advise not alarm you, and give cause to suspect, as if the night
airs were unWholesome, as it is in the first, second, and Third Climates both
North and South of the AEquator, to the contrary I can from my own experi-
ence Warrant the night air in the IV North Climate vidt in East Florida as far
South as Cape Florida to be the most inoffensive, least dangerous and most
healthy in the universe, as far I have ben vidt from the 26th degree East Longi-
tude to the 83th degree West from London, and from the 55th degree to the
25th degree North Lattde, which is a difference of Eight Climates on the North
side of the AEquator; I can assure you that my Self and people with me have
slept many nights in the woods and on the sea coast, when I was on my general
Surveys, and never any of us felt the least inconvenience, so that I can advise
you to choose the outside of your houses for your nights rest, in order to enjoy
the benefit of the air, provided tempestuous weather will not prevent you, and
you hang your pavilions on Branches of trees to Spread over your beds for
Kipping of the Muskitoes. altho' you lay in the air, Jet the air has no draught
over you as in houses; a draught of air can as to its effect be compared to a
Braziers blowing through a soldering pipe, which little draught incensed by the
flame of a lamp will smelt a piece of metal in few seconds, which the quiet flame
will not effect even in many years.
you will perhaps meet at your arrival with persons on the spot or in other
parts, if you should tuch any, who will endeavour to prepossess your minds with
many prejudices in regard to climate, soil, insects, wild beasts, tempests, In-
dians, french and Spanish wars [p.10] believe me, that the persons you will meet
with in any part of America never have ben on the spot, or if they have ben,
they never took proper pains nor inclined to inquire minutely so as to form a
fair Judgement of the place, but the persons you will meet on the spot have
interesting reasons, which does induce them to look with a jealous Eye upon
you, who (:they are sure:) will become Sharers in their advantages, nay will cut
them off from many profits, notwithstanding the benefit, they themselves will
enjoy from your Settlement, which to foresee their avarice Stands in their own
light. I have therefore given you so full an account of the climate, and fortified
you with proper means against the worst; I have given it in your power to turn
the soil (:be it, what it will:) to your viewes; I have shewent 7 you how to fix
barriers between your selves and the insects; as to wild beasts (:Bears, panthers,
Basilisks and crocodiles which are the only offensive one) they are never known
to have hurt a person, unless when they being attaqued, was obliged to defend
them selves, they all will flye at the Sight of a human species, except Basilisks
(:rattlesnakes:) they cannot flye, but when a person comes near them, they will
give warning with ratteling their tales, which is equal to the noise of the mount-
ing of a watch, at which noise one may Stand of.t8 crocodiles in deed will
attaque a person but not otherwise than in the water, as to tempests you will
certainly see more of them in that place, than in any other you have ben, as you
will be situated open to the Gulf of Sandwich1 within and the Florida
Stream20 without the Sound of Dartmouth21, in which stream the winds be-
tween North and East have great powers and cause turbulations of disagreable
effects but only to those on the stream in Vessels, and not to you on Shore in
your houses, whereby your minds at first will be affected, until you become
acquainted and familiar to it, when your apprehensions will be much less to what
they can be in hurraganes on Shore. as to Indians, you will find them in your
first setting out rather friendly and useful, if any in their way of hunting (:being
unlimitedd) Should come near you, they will endeavour to gain your accquaint-
ance and friendship by Supplying you with Venison, of which they will make
practice, provided you present them with a little Corn, Rice, or salt (:by no
means let them know you have stronger liquor than water:) they will readily
Trafic with you and exchange Skins, furrs, bears oil, wax and honey for the
Belts leather with bukles Earbobs Silver slight Linsey woolsey Salt
Blankets very small Flints Looking glasses small
Bracelets, silver and Garters Needles coarse Shirts(Scizzaws)
brass for arms & hands Guns very Slight Pots tin Strouts
Bulletts Hatchets Powder Gun Timbles, Thread
Calicoes Kettles brass Razors Vermillion
Combs Knives Ribbons silks Wire brass & Iron
however to be justly entitled to this Trade, you are to Sollicited the governors
licence, and by no means make a practice of it without the Governors Knowl-
edge and permission, the Indians will not brake out into War, nor be jealous
about your settlement, nor even complain of it out of a political [p.11] pretence,
provided the Governor is required to send invitations to the head men of the
The Cape Florida Society of 1773 33
Seminolskees22 (:Indians, which live in small Tribes and have built Towns to the
West and South of St. Augustin :) these headmen may easily be informed and
satisfied, that His Majesty has thought it necessary a Settlement Should be made
at Cape Florida by His Subjects to give assistance and relieve to so many
distressed, which yearly Suffer Shipwrack on or near that place. a present of few
coats, some Weastcoats, Blankets, Shirts, guns, powder and Balls to the value of
50 pound Sterling distributed among the headmen (:which are about six or
seven:) will make the Settlement at Cape Florida an object, if not agreable, at
least indifferent to these Barbarians. as to french and spanish Wars, I must
observe in general, that such a plantation, farm, country seat, Village, Town,
City or fortifications has as Jet not existed which could claim a right not to be
attaqued or molested, for even the best Fortified places, which might have
expected that previlege, have ben worse treated than open places, when these
meet frequently with good treatment, in the year 1762, I than had fortified
Savannah but only to defend against Indians on the land side, the River side was
quit open, french and Spanish privateers frequently entered and anchored in the
mouth of Savannah River, one of which met once a frolocking party from
Savannah in the River, alurfd them to the Vessel and took them prisoners, the
Captain send his barck up to Savannah in the Night, when they might have burnt
us all, for nothing was to hinder them, however, they was satisfied with the
token they could give to the prisoners before they Set them at liberty, that they
positively had ben in the Town of Savannah. you at Cape Florida will be much
better off than all others in any place I know upon the Eastern Coast of Amer-
ica, for the new Bahama Channel is the principal outlet of the Gulf of Mexico
for all Vessels bound for the Northren provinces or Europe, consequently in
time of War Kings Ships and English Privateers will be constantly croosing at and
about Cape Florida, and Serve you as guards, on which account Enemys will not
venture to Stop, but endeavour to make all sails for running as fast by your
Quarters as possible.
as you may not be able to acquire early a Stock of Cattle to draw milk for
your Famely use; I would advise you to take a Number of goats for a brood with
you from England, and as soon as you arrive at Cape Florida to dispatch one of
you Company to St. Augustin, where he may contract with the butchers to drive
a Stock of Cattle to your place, which they will readily undertake, especially if a
certain Juaniko is present, who is a relick of the ancient Jamarce Indians23 (;
which was expelled from East Florida by the present Creek Indians :) he speaks
both English, Spanish and Indian, has deserted from a Spanish Man of War, he
has ben in my Service and proved him Self an exceeding good Sailer, fisherman
and Hunter well acquainted with all the Seas, Rivers, and woods in East Flor-
ida, and has behaved him Self incomparably well; if you will take him into your
Service you'll find him a necessary and serviscable man; if you cannot contract
for Cattle in East Florida, you may Send to Ogetchee River in Georgia to Fords,
Colsons, Lundays or Goldwire's Cowpens, where you will make the most favor-
able contract and have some horses in the Bargain, but by all means, get Juaniko
in your Service [p.12] if you purchase Slaves, get them rather out of an African
Vessel new, and see that they are healthy and Strong; I had new Negroes, which
did their Taskes in clearing of land and planting the Same in every respect as well
as seasoned Negroes, but I was obliged to overlook them constantly and advise
them, where they went wrong. one Slave cultivates with his How five acres of
land (:one acre of corn, peas and potatoes, and four acres of Rice or Indigo: the
culture of either is estimated equal labor:) this is their Taske both in newly
cleared or old worn ground with out altering the denomination of an acre, only
with this difference, that the same measure vidt of 220 feet (:by which overseers
lay out an acre of land:) is diminished by degrees every year until its reduction
comes down to 200 feet, the first measure of 220 feet makes an acre of new land
one nineth too big, and the last measure of 200 feet in Old land better than one
twelfth too little, this they do, because new land produces Scare any Grass, and
once Hewing4 will do for the Whole Season, but the Grass increases yearly in a
manner, that Some times three Hewings are not Sufficient in one season; and,
when this comes to be the case, the Planters relinquish those fields for pasturages
and clear new ground of its woods. an Acre of which is a days taske for Eight
working hands, but they do no more than cutting down the trees; the lopping
and burning of the limbs and under woods is performed with out tasking the
Negroes, and is don in the following manner: the planters Set their weak hands
(:Women, Boys and girls:) to cut down the bushes nd Shrubs (:under woods:)
with Howes25 and Hatchets, before the takes are laid out and marked, and after
this the trees are all cut down by Taske NB this is Day Work, but the lopping
and burning is Night work: vidt at Sun Set or after the Taskes are finished all
Slaves leave the field, and retire to their cottages to rest an hour, then all hands
are turned out to lopping and firing, which they continue until nine o clock at
Night: the fires are made but small and in many places in order not to burn the
Soil, yet to destroy all branches, Shrubs and bushes, whereby they Scatter the
Salt in the ashes all over the ground. the bodies of the trees remain on the land,
and as many as are fit for Rails, and other timber are manufactured to those
purposes, as they have leisure; the rest are by degrees Split for firewood, and
with the remaining limbs (:not consumed by the fire:) brought to the planters
and Negroe houses for the Kitchen and chimny use, which is not moved by
tasking the Slaves, but they dare never return from their Fields without bringing
a load of firewood on their Shoulders, this is the practice except of those
planters, which have a near and immediate market for their firewood and timber;
they set about Sawing, Splitting, cutting and piling immediately after cutting
and lopping the trees without firing new land, except with the Shrubs and
bushes. altho' most new fields remain for a long time lumbered with the bodies
of trees for one or two years, this however does not hinder planters from
cultivating the clear spots; mean while the places thus covered with the bodies of
trees improve in goodness of Soil.
Notes to Appendix A
1. Dartmouth MS. D(W)17781II/607. Reproduced with the kind permission
of the present Earl of Dartmouth and the Stafford County Record Office,
Stafford, England. It should be noted that De Brahm was born and edu-
cated in Germany, and he had some difficulty with his English prose, occa-
sionally difficult to read. Punctuation and spelling have, however, been re-
trained, to conform as closely as possible to the original manuscript. Por-
tions of De Brahm's report were later included, somewhat differently
worded, in his Chapter 5th, of De Brahm's Report (Louis DeVorsey, Jr.;
ed., DeBrahm's Report of the General Survey in the Southern District of
North America, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, S.C.,
1971, pp. 107, 209, 216-229).
2. De Brahm's system of "Climates," used to divide the earth's surface on
what he considered a logical system, is described in De Brahm's Zonical
Tables for the Twenty-five Northern and Southern Climates ..., T.
Spilsbury, London, 1774. I have not seen this work, and so quote from
DeVorsey's summary (op. cit., p. 280). He writes: "De Brahm used the
term 'Climatic' to describe a band of the earth's surface bounded by
two designated parallels of latitude. In this scheme the longest day along
the parallel nearest the pole was one half hour longer than the longest
day along the parallel nearest the equator. His climates began at the
equator with number one and progressed poleward." Climate "4," or IV,
was a band six and one-half degrees wide, "which begins in Latitude
23050' and ends in 30020'" (De Brahm's Report, op. cit., p. 187)
thus including all of peninsular Florida. The latitudinal bands were not
of equal width, of course. DeVorsey writes (op. cit., p. 280): 'Climate
5,' which embraced South Carolina, was thus a band, six degrees and
sixteen minutes in width, which began at latitude thirty degrees and
thirteen minutes north and ended at thirty-six degrees and twenty-nine
3. De Brahm's concept of the "trade winds" was that they regularly "trad-
ed" from onshore in the morning to offshore in the evening-quite in
contrast to the commonly accepted usage today.
4. vid.t, vide, or viz.
6. Nota bene.
8. A town in northern Italy, famous for the quality of its olives.
12. DeVorsey transcribes this word as shrouds (op. cit., p. 224); however, in
this case strouts refer to heavy woolen cloth made in Stroud, a woolen
manufacturing center in Gloucestershire, England.
19. Biscayne Bay.
20. The Florida Strait.
21. The complex of channels and shoals between Key Biscayne and Soldier
Key, called by De Brahm Dartmouth Sound, by the early Spaniards
Bocas de Miguel Mora, and by some modem writers as part of the
"Safety Valve"-this last a singularly unattractive name which is not
really even applicable.
22. It seems doubtful that the Seminoles maintained permanent villages much
to the south of St. Augustine in the 1770's, though they apparently sent
scouting and hunting parties as far south as Cape Florida, and beyond.
See James W. Covington, "Migration into Florida of the Seminoles,
1700-1820," Florida Historical Quarterly 46 (1968): 340-342, 346-348.
23. Was he referring to Yamassee Indians around St. Augustine?
NORTHERN BISCAYNE BAY IN 1776'
by Roland E. Chardon
When one is writing for a historical journal, and especially for the
issue devoted to local history a Bicentennium ago, it is somewhat
unfortunate to begin the essay with the statement that virtually no
one was living in the local area at that time. Yet this appears to have
been the case with regard to the shores of northern Biscayne Bay in
1776. So far as can be determined, this now heavily urbanized part
of Florida was essentially deserted. Not a single piece of archeolog-
ical, historical, or other evidence has yet been found to indicate the
existence of any habitation or settlement anywhere on the islands,
beaches, hammocks, or pinelands of this Bay region in that fateful
year. That there was human activity in the area appears likely, but it
is only suggested by inference, though further research may eventu-
ally provide something more substantial.
Perhaps a more refined way of describing the situation would be
to say that the year 1776 happened to come along at a time when
the Bay area was experiencing a general, if only temporary, lack of
permanent residents. Indeed, this absence in the 1770s seems to have
been unique in the region's human history. Not too many years
previously, Indians had lived in a small village at the mouth of the
present Miami River, though that village was only inhabited season-
ally. And not too many years later, perhaps around the turn of the
century, both European-Americans and another group of Indians
were settling the Bayshores, sharing or sometimes violently compet-
ing for the attractions of their new lands. But, during a period lasting
approximately 30 to 50 years, and including the 1770s, the Bay
sparkled serenely, not forgotten, but unenjoyed by any permanent
residents living on its shores.
This rather unusual state of affairs does not necessarily mean there
was absolutely no popular interest in the Biscayne Bay region. The
evidence, circumstantial though it may be as far as the year 1776
itself is concerned, does seem to imply that probably temporary and
possibly seasonal visits to, and uses of, the Bay and its Atlantic
environs were made in the 1770s. But if any settlements took place
as a result of these visits, they were definitely transitory. Those who
came to the Bay, whether for profit, pleasure, or by circumstance,
returned home or went to other places when their stay in the Bay
area was ended. Before discussing who may have come to the Bay in
1776, and for what purposes, it is perhaps pertinent to examine some
of the reasons for the absence of permanent settlements in the region
during that time.
Probably the most puzzling question which comes to mind is why
there were no Indian communities along the Bay. The answer seems
to have two sides to it. On the one hand, the descendants of the
inhabitants described by Fontaneda and others2 in the 16th Century
had, by 1770, disappeared from the scene. And, on the other, differ-
ent Indian peoples, even then known as the Seminoles, had not yet
established themselves in the Biscayne Bay region on a permanent
basis. As a result, there was a relatively brief hiatus in the long
history of Indian settlement of northern Biscayne Bay.
The disappearance of the Indians, who for centuries had been
living on the Bayshores prior to the 1770s, seems to have had numer-
ous causes, though which ones were the more significant is difficult
to ascertain. It is likely that all of them contributed in some measure
to the demise and subsequent absence of the Indians living around
the Bay, but ostensibly tribal warfare, political changes, and certainly
disease were among the most important. One document provides
some clues as to what probably happened to these unfortunate peo-
ple, however, and describes the situation of the Indians some years
In the summer of 1743, two Jesuit missionaries, backed by some
Spanish soldiers, attempted to establish a mission at the site of the
Indian village mentioned above, on the Miami River. Although one of
the priests, Joseph Xavier de Alafia, sent back a report citing the
need for a mission, and requesting for that purpose official military
support and the creation of a small colony of Spanish settlers, the
mission lasted only a few months. In the meantime, however, Alafia's
report furnishes a good deal of information on the state of the In-
dians he had come to convert.3
The Indian village was located on the north bank of the present
Miami River, where it flows into Biscayne Bay. At that time, the
settlement consisted of five long houses, in which lived 180 men,
women, and children "crowded together."4 The inhabitants were
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 39
seminomadic, and the village was apparently only used during the
summer months. In September the entire population, who, according
to Alafia, "lived more at sea than on land,"5' took to their canoes and
went down to the Florida Keys for the winter, returning the follow-
ing spring. It is not known what this small group of Indians called
themselves, aside from "Keys Indians," but the Spaniards gave them
the name of "Boca Raton," after the inlet of that name located
about two leagues (roughly six miles) to the northeast (see Figure 1
below). They also renamed the village the Pueblo de Santa Maria de
Alafia's report, which contains much material on the beliefs and
some of the religious and other practices of the Boca Raton Indians,
candidly admits that they were unimpressed by Jesuit logic, and
categorically refused to become Christians unless they were given
liberal quantities of rum, among other conditions.6 As can be imag-
ined, the classic conflict was on. The Spaniards were adamant, the
Indians equally so; they were not only obstinate and uncooperative,
they became downright threatening. The Spaniards, fully intending
to stay, at least initially, found it expedient to build a temporary
stockade in some haste (within three days), overlooking the village.7
But, lacking the official support they had requested, the Spaniards
withdrew shortly thereafter, their mission a failure.
In 1743, other small Indian "nations" existed some distance away.
Those apparently closest, culturally, to the Boca Raton were the
Carlos (Calusa) to the west, and Cayos (Keys) Indians to the south-
west. In addition, there were three other tribes, whose total number
seems to have been only about 100 people, or slightly more. A
"day's journey" away (20-30 miles?) were the Maymies, perhaps to
the north, though this is not specified in Alafia's report. Beyond
these, presumably to the north and northwest, and two and four
"days' journey" away respectively, were the Santaluzes and the Ma-
Alafia's report is informative, but of special pertinence here is a
section which documents a rapid depopulation of the Indians, and
which gives what the Spaniards felt were the reasons for that depopu-
lation. His paragraph summarizes the situation succinctly:
Finally, this aid is conducive to the conservation of the Indians. At
each step these little nations (nacionillas) fight, and are diminishing, as
affirms the memory of the much greater number which existed twenty
years ago. So that if they are left alone, in their barbarous ways, in a
few years they will have become extinct, either by the little wars, or by
the rum which they drink to the point of bursting, or by the children
they kill, or by the toll of smallpox, for lack of a remedy, or by,
finally, those which perish at the hands of the Vehises. In which case
we would lack the utility, which to our nation these few Indians bring,
also for their aversion which they maintain towards the English as
well as their devotion to us, albeit only founded in their own in-
Clearly, the Indians of northern Biscayne Bay were in the process
of dying out even by 1743, and the dark prediction made by Alafia
seems to have been borne out by the 1770s. The Spaniards aban-
doned their short-lived mission, but the Indians remained. It is sim-
ply not known whether the Indians died out in situ, or were taken
away as slaves by the Vehises (who were very probably the Yuchis -
an advance party of "Seminoles"), or fled to the Keys. It seems
doubtful that any remained on the Bayshores by 1763, when Florida
was transferred from Spain to England by the Treaty of Paris. But if
any did remain, they apparently chose to leave with the Spaniards,
and went to Cuba,' after which nothing is heard from them again.
The remains of the little Boca Raton settlement, however, did not
disappear entirely. In 1770, the surveyor Bernard Romans, while
marking out the boundaries of a land grant just south of the Miami
River (which he called the Rio Rattones), noted a clearing on the
north bank of the river, at its mouth. This clearing he described, on
the survey map, as an "old field of Pueblo Ratton Town."1' And the
former Indian settlement continued to be recorded by several wit-
nesses later.' 2 An Indian mound at the same site quite possibly the
site of the temporary stockade built by the Spaniards in 1743 was
described many years later by John Sewell, who levelled it to make
room for Henry Flagler's Royal Palm Hotel in 1896. At that time,
the mound was about 100 feet long and 75 feet wide; it was about
20 feet high, and there were large trees growing on top of it.1 3
From the foregoing, it seems fairly evident that the settlements of
the Indians who had been living along Biscayne Bay had been aban-
doned well before 1770, and very probably prior to 1763. As has
been mentioned, no evidence of any settlement initiated by other
Indian groups has been found, but it appears very likely that Indians
did visit the Bay at least occasionally. Alafia noted the Vehises, or
Yuchis, in his 1743 report, and it seems probable that they reached
the Bay in subsequent years. Covington,14 states that raiding and
hunting parties of Seminoles swept through all parts of Florida in the
late 1770s, a statement backed by Adair, who wrote in 1775,'1 and
implied by Romans.16 William Gerard De Brahm, Surveyor-General
for the Southern District of North America (i.e., south of the Poto-
mac River) and for the British province of East Florida, provides
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 41
supporting evidence for such incursions into the Biscayne Bay region.
In his instructions to a group of would-be European settlers who
planned to colonize the area around present-day Perrine in 1773,17
De Brahm mentions that they might meet some "Seminolskee" In-
dians, and he offered advice as to how the colonists should deal with
them if they did meet them. But in none of these sources is there the
slightest hint that there were Indian habitations of any kind along
Biscayne Bay in the years immediately preceding 1776, and it must
be assumed there were none in that year, either.
If Indian activities in the Biscayne Bay area were limited to spo-
radic and quite temporary visits, what can be said of other peoples?
Again, the evidence available so far points to a total lack of perma-
nent settlers in the northern Biscayne Bay region. This almost cer-
tainly pertains to any European or American settlements, although it
is conceivable that a squatter family or single person may have lived
unnoticed along the Bay, in some hidden house a romantic possibil-
ity, but one for which there is neither physical nor documentary
basis. The Spaniards abandoned their missionary post in 1743 and
did not return for many possibly 60 years. When the British took
over Florida, they sent several surveying expeditions to the northern
Bay region. In 1765, De Brahm and his survey party made a two-day
reconnaissance of the area,18 and he or members of his survey teams
returned to the Bay frequently in the ensuing six years, but nowhere
in the numerous letters and reports which De Brahm wrote is there
any indication of any settlement, European or otherwise. The 1770
survey of Bernard Romans has already been cited"1 and will be
analyzed later, but he makes no mention of any settlement along a
10-mile stretch of shore on the mainland, south of the Miami River;
nor does he note any settlers anywhere else in the Bay area in his
The absence of European settlements on the shores of Biscayne
Bay was not due to a lack of effort to colonize the area. In 1763, the
British Crown obtained possession of Florida and held it for some 20
years. Virtually all the Spanish residents, and many of the Indians,
elected to emigrate to other Spanish colonies, rather than to live
under a new monarch of different culture, language, and faith.20
Consequently, one of the major policies of the new owners, imple-
mented shortly after their acquisition of Florida, was to effect its
resettlement as soon as practicable. This policy was only partially
successful, and was brought to an abrupt close when Florida, once
again a pawn in international politics, was transferred from Britain
back to Spain in 1784.
But during the British period, King George III did undertake to
repopulate Florida, and in preparation for this he ordered an exten-
sive General Survey to be made of its coasts. One of the major
purposes of the Survey, of which more will be said later, was to
enable the King to grant specific lands in East Florida to certain
individuals. Under the conditions of each grant, the grantee was to
have his property surveyed at his expense, and he was to provide
settlers, who would then furnish a stable population for the new
province. Although many large tracts were granted in Florida, very
few were actually taken up, and fewer yet were settled.2 1
Around Biscayne Bay, the British land grant policy was even less
successful in achieving its goals than it was for East Florida as a
whole. Several large sections of land were given to a number of
personages, most of whom were of noble lineage. Among the grant-
ees were the Earl of Dartmouth, his three sons, Samuel Touchet
(Touchett), possibly one Caleb Garbrand, and, later, John Augustus
Samuel Touchet was the first, so far as is known, to be granted
lands in the Miami area. He received 20,000 acres in June, 1766,23
and his grant extended along the shore from the present Miami River
south to a place about half a mile south of present Shoal Point (see
Figure 2). It is Touchet's tract which Romans surveyed in 1770, to
which reference has already been made, and which survey is discus-
sed elsewhere in this issue.24 Touchet, a wealthy London business-
man and financier, maintained world-wide commercial interests. Ap-
parently somewhat of a speculator as well, Touchet found himself in
some difficulties at home in London,2 5 and his relatively unimpor-
tant lands in Florida were never settled, nor are any plans for the
colonization of his tract known to exist.
Lord Dartmouth initially received 100,000 acres in 1770,26 but
he apparently gave 60,000 of these to his three sons, retaining
40,000 acres to the south of Touchet's grant. Lord Dartmouth's
lands extended some six and a half miles further south along the
coast, and ran inland a distance of almost 10 miles.27 De Brahm
seems to have surveyed the Earl's lands, though I have not seen the
actual survey, and plans were made to colonize a portion of his tract.
This effort, undertaken by a group known as the Cape Florida Soci-
ety, is discussed elsewhere in this issue, and all that needs to be said
here is that the settlement scheme failed.2 8
Another try at colonization in the northern Biscayne Bay region
was made in 1777 by Ernst, who had received his grant in 1774; but
this attempt, too, was unsuccessful, and has been discussed briefly
elsewhere.2 9 No other effort to settle the Biscayne Bay area is
known to have been made, and no colonists came to populate the
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 43
region. There the record seems to end. Many years later, in 1799,
Andrew Ellicott reported "the coast and islands (of East Florida)
being uninhabited by a single solitary settler from Apalachy, almost
round to St. Augustine!"3 0 And the lands that had been granted dur-
ing the British period eventually reverted, since the provisions of the
grants had never been fulfilled, to Spain and, later, the United States.
Thus, in 1776, neither Indian, nor European, nor American settle-
ments existed on the shores of northern Biscayne Bay. Even the
surveyors had departed from the area, and "Seminole" Indians ap-
parently only came to the Bay in search of game, or perhaps on their
way to the Keys. But again, this does not mean the Bay was com-
pletely neglected. It appears that sporadic visits, and perhaps even
transitory settlements, occurred in the Bay region in the 1770s. And
here, once again, the evidence for the occasional uses made of the
Bay is largely inferential. But this time, the users came from the sea,
and this time the evidence seems conclusive. The home bases for the
people who came to the Bay were islands, principally the Bahamas
and Cuba, and their activities were extensions of those they, or
others from the same islands, pursued to the south and southwest, in
the Florida Keys.
In connection with these activities, it should be remembered that
northern Biscayne Bay was, as it is today, only a few miles west of
one of the most heavily traveled sea lanes of the times. The main
route of the return voyage to Europe from tropical America and
much of South America as well lay between southeastern Florida
and the Bahama Islands, through what was then known as the New
Bahama Channel. Each day an average of two or three ships passed
silently northward in the Gulf Stream and, on rarer occasions, coastal
vessels made their cautious way south, much closer to shore. Gener-
ally the ships did not stop, unless forced to do so by circumstance.
Sometimes, a ship might come in and around the southern tip of Key
Biscayne, anchoring on the west, or lee, side. If they were lucky,
crewmen could find fresh water right there under the sand, in addi-
tion to a sheltering harbor.31 But often a boat would have to be sent
across three miles of shallow bay to get fresh water from any of the
myriad sources on the mainland. There, springs or rivulets provided
ample good water; some of the springs of fresh water came up into
the Bay itself, and, if the crewmen had knowledge of them, the trip
across the Bay could be shortened. The most famous of the mainland
springs later became known as the Punchbowl, a natural outflowing
at the base of a limestone bluff, just a few feet from the Bay. And, of
course, there was the Miami River itself, which always provided fresh
water only a short distance farther north.
Even more occasionally (and I know of no record indicating that
this took place in 1776), a ship might become disabled, by storm or
simply due to faulty navigation,32 near northern Biscayne Bay. If
that happened, the survivors would have to manage as best they
could, until they were either picked up by some small coastal vessel
or other passing ship, or were able to leave the area on their own.
Shipwrecks, however, occurred much more frequently further south,
along the treacherous reefs paralleling the Keys. There they were
numerous indeed, so much so that they gave rise to an industry
known as "wrecking," which attracted quite a few people, mostly
from the Bahamas, but also from Cuba.
The "wreckers," as they were called, became much better known
in later years, as both shipping and shipwrecks increased along the
Keys. The wreckers were often maligned, but at least at first they
had some staunch supporters among the surveyors who mapped the
Keys in the late 1760s and early 1770s, for the wreckers frequently
performed many valuable services.13 Their business centered on the
Florida Keys, but it was by no means the only activity taking place
there. The Keys had been, and continued to be for many years to
come, a focus for other pursuits carried out by the same people,
including fishing, turtling, and timber-cutting.
Cuban fishermen had for a long time been plying their trade,
mostly in the Lower Keys and along the southwest coast of Florida,
as Alafia had pointed out in his report in 1743,"3 and as Gauld
reported in the 1770s.3 s But some of the Cubans went along the
eastern coast as well, for De Brahm noted that they were fishing in
the Hillsborough Inlet during the time he was there.36 With the
transfer of Florida to the British, therefore, this activity does not
seem to have abated substantially, if at all. The Cubans had tradi-
tionally received much help from local Indians, as Alafia describes for
the 1740s, and, when the Calusas left, the Indians who took up the
slack were the Seminoles, especially in the 19th Century.37 It cannot
be demonstrated that the Cubans did come to Biscayne Bay in the
1770s, and it might even be argued that, since there were no Indian
settlements on the Bay at that time, the likelihood of Cuban activity
on the Bay was reduced even further. But the possibility that Cuban
fishermen came to the Bay in those days is one that cannot be
However, another group of islanders, this time from the Bahamas,
were quite active along the Upper as well as Lower Keys during the
1770s.38 While their primary centers of activity were further south,
there seems little question that they utilized the southern part of
Biscayne Bay, and apparently extended their range just to the north,
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 45
in the northern part of the Bay. These "Providence people," as they
were sometimes known,3 9 already enjoyed a reputation as the best
pilots for the dangerous waters of the Florida Reef and Keys. But
they were also fishermen, turtlers, woodcutters, hunters, and, of
course, wreckers. They are known to have frequented all of the Keys,
especially in summer,40 and Romans writes that they also visited
northern Biscayne Bay in the early 1770s;41 by implication it may
be assumed they were there during 1776 also.
Thus, for the first time in this discussion, there are tiny bits of
documentation to support the thesis that somebody in this case the
"Providence people" came to northern Biscayne Bay in the 1770s.
Two further tantalizing hints, both from De Brahm, are supple-
mented by place names which seem to have been given certain local
geographic features by the Bahama seamen. In addition, the fairly
close proximity of the northern Biscayne Bay area to the Bahama
Islands, only about 47 miles away, tends to support its use by the
The first documentary clue lies in a cover letter which De Brahm
sent to Lord Dartmouth in 1773, with which he enclosed those same
instructions he wrote for the intended Cape Florida Society settlers
who planned to live on the Lord's lands, around present Perrine. In
that letter, De Brahm specifically emphasizes that he is providing the
instructions partly because of the possibility that the colonists might
be dissuaded from settlement by the "providence fisher man."42
Thus, De Brahm felt there was sufficient Bahamian activity in the
northern Bay region to warrant some sort of warning on his part.
The second hint comes from a place name which De Brahm gave
to one of the points he mapped on the mainland, and very close
indeed to the site where the intended colony was to be established.
South of Shoal Point, and opposite present Paradise Point near the
present town of Cutler, De Brahm named a point (today still un-
named) Turtois Crawl Point (see Figure 1). It is not yet known
precisely where this point was located with reference to today's nau-
tical charts, but it was somewhere between Shoal Point and Chicken
Key. This shore is characterized, as it was then, by mangrove under-
lain by a quartz sand deposit.43 It was apparently an ideal spot for a
turtle crawl, though De Brahm does not mention the existence of
one of 1770, when he made the original map.
Still, the inference is there. The etymology of the word "crawl,"
in this context, is from the Spanish "corral" or, more precisely, the
Portuguese "curral," and the term "crawl" was commonly used to
apply to turtle pens in the Keys, where many are known to have
been built during the 1760s and 1770s.44 It seems logical to assume,
since De Brahm named his point for one, that a turtle crawl existed
on the point near Cutler, and I for one offer the suggestion that this
name be given today to the point opposite Paradise Point. That a
turtle crawl would not have been noted in the current or later sailing
directions, or coast pilots, is understandable, since no part of the
Biscayne Bay mainland coast figured prominently in the normal sea
routes to be followed along the Florida coastline. Whether the turtle
crawl, if there was one, was owned by a Cuban or Bahamian turtler is
impossible to say for sure, but it is more likely to have been the work
of a Bahamian than a Cuban, judging from the relative prominence of
the two peoples in the Biscayne Bay area at that time.
Other place names also point to at least occasional visits by the
Bahama Islanders, notably the use of the term "cut" to describe
what the British normally called "inlet" or "outlet" that is, narrow
water passages leading from the Ocean into other bodies of water.
One such passage, between present Sands Key and Elliott Key, is
known today as Sands Cut, but Romans states that "the Providence
people have stiled it Saunders's Key, and the inlet to the south of it
Saunders's Cut.. ." (see Figure 3).4 Romans also mentions the
name "Bear Cut" as identifying the passage which today bears the
same name;4 6 could this place name also have originated with the
"Providence people"? Romans does not say, and De Brahm, who
liked to name many local geographic features for prominent people,
called it Dartmouth Inlet (see Figure 1), though in his original 1765
survey he gave it the rather improbable name of "The Gorge.'4 7
In short, both Cubans and Bahamians made extensive use of the
Florida Keys during the 1770s, with the Cubans concentrating their
activities on the Lower Keys and the southwest coast of Florida, and
the Bahamians more important throughout the remainder of the
Keys and Biscayne Bay. This occurred consistently, even though the
Keys are described as uninhabited during that period.48 Although
the Cubans are reported to have built huts on the western coast of
Florida, none are known to have been erected, by either people, on
the Keys or the shores of Biscayne Bay. But there seems little doubt
that the activities, especially of the Bahamians, extended to northern
Biscayne Bay at least occasionally.
If the lack of permanent residents around northern Biscayne Bay,
and the marginality of its attractions to those who did frequent
southern Florida, provide little raw material for many historians, the
historical geographer finds a veritable treasure in the relatively and
surprisingly large number of letters, reports, recommendations,
notes, maps, surveys, and even books, in which at least some aspect
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 47
or portion of the Bay in the early 1770s is described. This particular
geographer has only begun to tap what increasingly appears to be a
plethora of documentary sources, from which can be derived not
only geographic descriptions of the region in 1776, but also a wide
range of data usable in a variety of ways not the least of which is
for future planning in this, our Bicentennial year.
But the immediate purpose here is to portray northern Biscayne
Bay as it probably was in 1776, and it should be said at the outset
that a detailed description of this area in that year, based on mater-
ials already known and encompassing an analysis of all its natural
environmental aspects, could easily fill a fairly bulky volume. It is
true that this author has not yet come across any document specifi-
cally describing the northern Bay in the year 1776, but physical
geography tends to change relatively slowly, even in a low coastal
area, unless some cataclysmic event occurs, such as a particularly
severe hurricane or earthquake. Thus, the materials and descriptions
written in the late 1760s and early 1770s are timely enough for our
purposes here, as there was no earthquake or major storm of suffi-
ciently destructive proportions to have modified Biscayne Bay or its
shores substantially, between 1771 and 1776.49 And subsequent de-
scriptions passed on by the Sailing Directions and later maps re-
mained based on these materials, for many years.
The remarkable thing about the sizable amounts of documentary
materials on the Bay in the 1770s is that most of them seem to have
come from the pens of two men: both were surveyors and engineers,
both were very well educated, both were extremely talented, and
both were equally difficult to get along with.
Bernard Romans is probably far better known in the United States
and in Florida than is De Brahm, principally due to the fact that
Romans published a large map and a lengthy book on Florida in
1774 and 1775,5s both of which have since been reprinted. Romans'
map of Florida was republished, accompanied by a work by P. Lee
Phillips about Romans, by the Florida State Historical Society as an
atlas of 13 sheets in 1924.5 And Romans' book, originally meant to
accompany his 1774 map, was reprinted, unfortunately without the
map, in 1962.52
So far as this author is aware, Romans himself directly contributed
three documents concerning Biscayne Bay, although either he, or
materials from these documents, added much to other works, such as
the Sailing Directions already cited.5 3 The three documents include
the map of Florida he drew in 1774, which shows Biscayne Bay in
some detail (see Figure 3), the valuable book on Florida already
mentioned, and the survey of Samuel Touchet's grant in 1770, also
already cited. Romans based most of his work on personal experi-
ence, though he drew from the notes and maps of others as well. He
had traveled extensively around the coastal areas of Florida from
about 1766 to 1773, and for a time he was also deputy surveyor in
the province. As a result of these travels and experiences, he was
probably as familiar with the peninsula as anyone else of the period,
and his book, map, and survey provide much information on Bis-
cayne Bay during those times.
William Gerard De Brahm was little known among historians and
other scholars until, in 1971, Louis DeVorsey, Jr., performed a truly
estimable service by publishing De Brahm's Report on the General
Survey in the Southern District of North America.54 DeVorsey's
introduction to the Report contains the best available summary of
De Brahm's life and works, and has brought to light many facets of
this obscure and complicated, but remarkable, man. Prior to De-
Vorsey's publication, some materials had been produced concerning
De Brahm,s s but his works remained accessible only to a very lim-
ited number of people. The present author reflects the gratitude of
many in expressing his appreciation of DeVorsey's contribution,
which not only makes available to the public De Brahm's lengthy
report, but also indicates the existence and extent of many of De
Brahm's other written materials.
Mention has been made that, during the British period of Florida
history, the King of England ordered an extensive General Survey to
be made of its coasts. The person in charge of this and other surveys
in the province was De Brahm, who was appointed both Surveyor-
General of the Southern District of North America, which as has
been said included all of the territory of British North America south
of the Potomac River, and Surveyor-General of East Florida, in
1764.56 A few months later, in early 1765, De Brahm began a long
and thorough six-year survey of the eastern coast of Florida. During
and after this time, he sent back to England many descriptions,
including the Report of the General Survey, and numerous maps, of
the regions he and his men surveyed. In addition to the more general
maps of Florida or major portions of it which he drew, De Brahm
also produced large-scale "Plans" of most of the large harbors he
encountered on the Survey. Northern Biscayne Bay received, there-
fore, a good deal of attention from De Brahm, who visited it several
times during the Survey, and we consequently have a number of his
maps of the northern Bay region.5 1
Unfortunately, both De Brahm and Romans had abrasive person-
alities, and the careers of both men were marred by not a few per-
sonal conflicts and animosities, with others as well as with each
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 49
other. The two men had a long running battle with each other, each
criticizing, belittling, and ridiculing the other, neither man losing the
opportunity to take a verbal swipe at the other whenever the occa-
sion presented itself. Romans seems to have won this unhappy verbal
exchange, partly because, though a foreigner like De Brahm, Romans
was more articulate in the English language, but also no doubt be-
cause of his book on Florida. Also, though De Brahm was privately
sharply critical of Romans, he did not openly criticize him in his own
published works, nor in such harsh terminology.5 8 It is not entirely
surprising to find that, when the two men became involved in the
revolutionary conflict raging in North America, each chose different
sides: Romans joined the revolutionary cause, while De Brahm re-
mained a staunch loyalist, even though he eventually returned to
America to live out the rest of his days.
The rivalries and often bitter feelings between the two men would
make an interesting paper in themselves, but only to the extent that
they concern Biscayne Bay are they included here. De Brahm's diffi-
culties with others, however, eventually resulted in his suspension
from one of his offices in October, 1770.s 9 Continuing his work on
the General Survey for a few more months, he then went to England
to face charges of insubordination, overcharging for private surveying
work, and other official irregularities. Though cleared and later rein-
stated in 1774, De Brahm never returned to Florida, even though he
held his posts until 1778. And so, after 1771, this, plus the political
disruptions that accompanied the American Revolution, brought to
an end the surveys around Biscayne Bay; they were not resumed
until some 70 years later. Thus, the only detailed maps of all of
northern Biscayne Bay in the 1770s are those drawn by De Brahm
prior to 1771. But De Brahm's work, as has been noted, was severely
criticized by Romans, and the often sharp differences between the
two men make the job of reconstructing northern Biscayne Bay's
landscape in the 1770s more difficult since, as we shall see, fre-
quently contradictory maps and descriptions of the same area, during
roughly the same years, were produced by both men. It may even be
that Romans decided to write his book and draw his map on Florida
in order to correct what he felt were serious errors on De Brahm's
What makes things even more troublesome is that both men were
at times quite accurate in their observations and cartography, while
at other times they were equally inaccurate. Romans' maps of Bis-
cayne Bay are essentially his own, though he supplemented his
memory with materials from others with whom he had worked a
development which forced him to defend himself against accusations
of literary piracy.60 De Brahm's maps, however, are based not only
on his own personal surveys, but also on those of staff whom he
employed during the General Survey. His maps are therefore compos-
ites of several persons' observations, though he himself drew the final
maps which were submitted to his superiors in England. This leads to
serious and often inexplicable discrepancies on De Brahm's own
maps, where the 1770 cartography of Biscayne Bay is concerned.
Some portions of the northern Bay area, such as the barrier complex
from today's Baker's Haulover Cut to southern Key Biscayne, appear
almost unbelievably accurate. But distance and other geographic
errors immediately appear, for example, when the barrier complex is
related, on the same map, to the Miami River and mainland shore to
It is not the purpose here to try to explain how these errors arose,
since this becomes quite a complicated matter and involves a number
of assumptions and analytical interpretations of a somewhat techni-
cal nature. Suffice it to say that, in my opinion, De Brahm's maps of
northern Biscayne Bay, though they contain inaccuracies, are in gen-
eral and in detail more accurate than Romans,' especially where the
shorelines are concerned. Consequently, the following description of
the Bay area is based primarily on De Brahm, though Romans' car-
tographic and other contributions are also included and discussed to
some extent. But it should not be forgotten that the Romans and De
Brahm maps of Biscayne Bay, whatever their faults, were the first to
portray reasonably accurately the outlines and many of the geo-
graphic features of the Bay and its shorelines.
The map of northern Biscayne Bay in 1770, shown as Figure 1, is
derived and adapted from two maps by De Brahm; these are shown
as Insets A and B. Inset A is based on De Brahm's "Plan of Dart-
mouth Inlet and Stream, Cape Florida, and Sandwich Gulf, surveyed
in the Years 1765 and 1770." Two very similar, but not identical,
"Plans" were drawn by De Brahm of the area covered by Inset A; the
second, "final" one was included in his Report,61 but both have
been utilized for my own drawing of Inset A.
Inset B is derived from another map, which De Brahm drew in
1773 for Lord Dartmouth, but whose basic outlines were taken from
De Brahm's General Survey map of 1770.62 This map has been
redrawn and presented elsewhere in this issue of Tequesta.63 Fortu-
nately, all three maps were drawn by De Brahm at the same scale of
10,000 links to the inch, so that, with only very minor adjustments,
it was possible to join them into one composite map of the entire
northern Biscayne Bay shoreline here shown as Figure 1.
One final note should be added. Inset B and the mainland coast of
Inset A were drawn, in De Brahm's maps, on a meridian which ran at
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 51
B D:,o ---R-- MH
Carto sect, Sch oF Gr. i. L5,U
Figure 1. Sources: Inset A from Library of Congress copy of map in British
Museum, King's MS 211, fol. 83 (11), and another original in the Houghton
Library, Harvard University. Inset B from Dartmouth Ms. D(W)1778/II/654,
Stafford County Record Office, Stafford, England.
an angle of between 2.50 and 3o east of north. The section from
Baker's Haulover Cut to the southern tip of Key Biscayne, however,
was drawn on the basis of the meridian shown in Inset A, which ran
almost exactly due north. This minor discrepancy has been retained,
as is noted by the two meridians shown in Insets A and B, in Figure 1.
For the map shown as Figure 2, however, this author has taken the
liberty of modifying De Brahm's 1770 maps to show a "best fit"
~- - - - - - - --^_p t~ fJ SEC..
liberty of modifying Dc Brahm's 1770 maps to show a "best fit"
DoV.61, 177o SIroi.Ii. (.dj~,.idd
A, .- Si4,.-os by D 0.#~. mtd)
--- kwbwbe 17 70 Shwe.dm
cape FI.1i*o177 PIam Na
Figure 2. Northern Biscayne Bay shorelines in 1770 and 1974. Base map from
U.S. N.O.S. Nautical Charts 11451 and 11467.
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 53
shoreline, in relation to present nautical charts of the same area. For
most of the Bay shoreline, this required only minor modifications,
such as the correction of De Brahm's meridional error just men-
tioned, and the placing of the Miami and Little River sections in their
present locations. For the section south of Matheson Hammock, on
the other hand, De Brahm's coastline seems to be quite in error,
although certain features are shown correctly. I have therefore shown
two mainland shorelines for that coast, indicated by letters A and B;
A represents the shoreline as De Brahm has it, while B represents a
"best fit" modification. Aside from these adjustments, De Brahm's
1770 shoreline has been retained as he drew it, and superimposed on
the 1974 nautical chart coastlines as of 1974.
As can be seen by comparing Figures 1 and 2, northern Biscayne
Bay has, as might be expected, retained its general configuration over
the past 200 years, aside from those modifications which have ac-
companied the rapid urbanization of the region in the 20th Century.
But some changes of considerable magnitude have also occurred due
to natural factors. The present author is currently writing a paper
analyzing in some detail these natural alterations between 1770 and
1887, but the preliminary results can be summarized here.
In the northern part of the Bay, two features of unusual interest
stand out. The first is the existence, in 1770, of an opening between
the Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, about halfway up present Indian
Creek in Miami Beach. This opening had been known to the Span-
iards as Boca Ratones for at least 50 years before De Brahm called it
White Inlet in 1765,64 but he retained the Spanish name in his 1770
map. Boca Ratones had been named by the Spaniards, not for rats as
is commonly supposed, but for the sharp, submerged rocks found off
the Atlantic entrance to the passage, which made the opening ac-
cording to both De Brahm and Romans, "only fit for boats";6 this
even though the depth of the channel inside was at least six feet.
Sedimentary materials mostly sand appear to have been de-
posited and worked by southbound currents progressively southward
immediately before, during, and after, 1770, forming thereby a bar-
rier beach which finally closed the opening by 1822,66 and separat-
ing present Indian Creek from the Atlantic Ocean. The rocks at Boca
Ratones, and another group of rocks now probably under sand,
north of the present Roney Plaza complex between 24th and 25th
Streets in Miami Beach, are clearly shown by De Brahm on his map.
So far as can be determined at present, Boca Ratones itself was
located, in 1770, somewhere in the vicinity of the present municipal
parking lot built at former Indian Beach Park, and the present Eden
Roc Hotel. The inlet was subsequently forced southward and, as
stated, had disappeared by 1822.
But by 1838 another inlet had been opened to the south, and at
first this cut was called Boca Ratones, since the former inlet by the
name had been closed. However, the new cut was also called Nar-
rows, or Norris, Cut, and the name Boca Ratones was the subject of
considerable cartographic confusion for several years, until finally
the issue was, incorrectly, resolved by giving the name Boca Raton to
a third inlet much farther north a name with which the present city
of Boca Raton was correspondingly honored, even though there are
no "ratones" anywhere around!
The second feature of interest in this part of Biscayne Bay is
conspicuous by its absence in 1770. There was no Norris Cut then -
and consequently no Virginia Key (see Figure 2).6 A long, uninter-
rupted island, called by De Brahm Narrow Island,68 extended from
Boca Ratones to De Brahm's Dartmouth Inlet (see Figures 1 and 2).
It was not until the 1830s that Norris Cut was opened, very probably
by the great South Florida Hurricane of 1835, though the precise
year or method by which the Cut was formed has not yet been
verified. At any rate, Dartmouth Inlet, today and even then known
as Bear Cut, was much broader than it is today; it was almost a mile
wide in 1770. However, even then it was considered dangerous for
navigation into what De Brahm named Sandwich Gulf, and Romans
called Biscay Sound today's Biscayne Bay.
To the south lay Key Biscayne, much as it had been for at least
250 years previously. De Brahm first mapped it in very cursory fash-
ion during his two-day surveys of northern Biscayne Bay in 1765,69
and here we find one of the inconsistencies which sometimes marked
this strange man. In the 1765 map, he shows Key Biscayne much
smaller than it really is, and furthermore entirely covered by man-
grove. He placed his Cape Florida where it is located today, at the
southern tip of the island. Yet, on his 1770 map (Figure 1), De
Brahm shows a much larger Key Biscayne, with no mangrove on it at
all, and his Cape Florida is placed north of Bear Cut, as shown in
De Brahm's 1765 surveys were carried out on widely separated
dates: May 13th and 29th of that year. On at least one of those days,
quite probably the latter, he went to the mainland and trekked four
miles across to the west, reaching a "river" (the Everglades?), which
Romans, when during the dry season reached a similar spot in De-
cember, 1770, claimed did not exist.7 0 But the point at issue here is
De Brahm's description of Key Biscayne in 1765, and the inconsis-
tency with his 1770 description of the same island. In 1765, con-
cerned primarily with the northern arm of the Bay, De Brahm ob-
viously had very little, if any, time to survey Key Biscayne. Since he
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 55
was at anchor about a mile NNE of the island," I believe he as-
sumed all of it to be as he saw it from Bear Cut a mangrove island.
Consequently, we can assume De Brahm's inaccurate description and
mapping of Key Biscayne in 1765 to be the result of a highly and
admittedly superficial reconnaissance, and it should be largely disre-
By 1770, when De Brahm spent far more time and care surveying
this area, his cartographic presentation of Key Biscayne was radically
different and vastly more accurate than his previous one. Yet,
some questions are still raised, for in 1770 De Brahm shows no
mangroves at all on Key Biscayne, not even along its northern shore,
even though his 1770 map shows (see Figure 1) that he anchored
very near it during that survey. What he does show is an island
divided into two biogeographic zones: a sand beach-scrub palmetto-
sea grape complex along the eastern part, and a large saltwater marsh
on the western side, extending farther into Biscayne Bay than does
the mangrove shore today.
I have no explanation to offer yet for these inconsistencies, but
suggest that the 1770 map should be quite accurate; De Brahm took
soundings all around the island, and correctly identifies and locates
two rocky areas just off the eastern shore: one at the northeast point
(the fossil mangrove-root reef described by Hoffmeister,7 2 which can
be seen today), and the other about half a mile north of present Cape
Florida. Romans makes no descriptive mention of Key Biscayne,
except to say that in the lee of its southern tip there was a good
anchorage for vessels of less than 10 feet draft, where fresh water
could sometimes be obtained, and where such ships could be ca-
The southern tip of Key Biscayne is shown by De Brahm's 1770
map to be considerably broader than it has been since then (see
Figure 2). Here we have an almost insoluble problem trying to verify
De Brahm's accuracy, for this part of the Key is beset by compli-
cated currents, and the location of its shorelines has undergone many
changes as a result, even within the 20th Century. Somewhat surpris-
ing, however, is the implication from De Brahm's map that the Cape
Florida Channel, which follows the present southwestern shoreline of
the Key quite closely today, was in 1770 almost a quarter of a mile far-
ther west, and this is a problem which only future research can resolve.
De Brahm appears to have had second thoughts about locating
Cape Florida, as he did in 1765, on Key Biscayne, for in 1770 he
placed it on Narrow Island, on the north side of Bear Cut (his Dart-
mouth Inlet). He apparently decided, as did the Spaniards before
him, that Key Biscayne was more properly part of the Florida Keys
than of the Florida mainland. Romans, critical and caustic as ever, on
his 1774 map of Florida, renamed De Brahm's 1770 Cape Florida
"Fool's Cape," and placed his Cape Florida on Key Largo then a
peninsula at Sound Point (see Figure 3).74 Not many followed
Romans in this new location for the Cape, however, although some
confusion continued for many years among several writers as to just
where Cape Florida was supposed to be.7 5
South of Key Biscayne lay the complex of shoals and channels
which the Spaniards had early named the "Bocas de Miguel Mora,"
and to which De Brahm gave the appellation of Dartmouth Sound a
far more melodious name than the present crude, and highly inappro-
priate, "Safety Valve" placed on maps by misinformed name-givers.
De Brahm did, apparently, err in his location of Oswald Island -
today's Soldier Key. But his identification of a second, smaller is-
land, which he called Laurens Island, a little to the south of Soldier
Key, is apparently correct. Today, remnants of this island can be
seen at very low tide in the position, relative to Soldier Key, in which
De Brahm placed it.76 Romans, who used the Spanish place names
for the two islets, refers to Oswald and Laurens Islands as "La Parida
y su Jiguelo,"'7 and the "baby" island has since virtually disap-
Returning to the area of present Miami Beach and the 1770 Boca
Ratones, only one more comment needs to be made. Narrow Island
was, in 1770 as in later years, longitudinally divided into an eastern
sand beach geographic complex, and a western mangrove strip. Of
some interest is that the long, narrow passage from Boca Ratones to
the Bay had an eastern mangrove bank, behind an Atlantic barrier
beach, whereas the western shore was depicted by De Brahm as
having a scrub-palmetto and otherwise sand beach vegetation.
The extreme northern tip of Biscayne Bay shows various vegeta-
tion patterns on De Brahm's map, but it is not always easy to iden-
tify just what that vegetation was in some cases. On the eastern side
of the Bay, there seems to be no question but that mangrove was the
dominant type. On the northwestern shore, however, the symbol
used by De Brahm is difficult to read; I have interpreted it to depict
today's Miami Interama tract as covered by a mixed mangrove and
freshwater marsh or sawgrass vegetation. This needs to be further
researched, as do some of the other vegetation types for which De
Brahm uses symbols designating tall grass and marsh, both subject to
inundation. The locations of Little River, Arch Creek, and Bird Is-
land are shown somewhat incorrectly, as is the entire mainland shore
including the Miami River, when compared in toto and in position
with the offshore barrier island complex described above. The evi-
Figure 3. Two late 18th Century maps of Biscayne Bay, Florida
dence, too detailed to discuss here, seems to indicate that deputy
surveyors mapped this part of the Bay while De Brahm was mapping
the offshore barrier complex, and when the two areas were combined
for De Brahm's final map, the necessary corrections were not com-
At any rate, the mainland shore from Little River to the Miami
River, which De Brahm called the Garbrand River and Romans the
Rio Rattones,78 is singularly devoid of any vegetation symbols or
other notation on De Brahm's map, except for some tidal marshes
and the hammock on the north bank of the Miami River. The river
itself, however, has soundings shown on it all the way up to the fork
on De Brahm's original map, so someone went up it to find out what
there was. Upstream from the fork, and to some extent below it, De
Brahm indicates a tall grassland subject to inundation apparently a
reference to the Everglades and small patches of hammock vege-
tation on the river banks below the fork, too small to portray in
Figure 1. Nearer the mouth of the river, on both banks, was ham-
mock vegetation, consisting of a variety of trees, including oak, mul-
berry, cedar, gum, and other "hardwood" types, according to an
earlier description by De Brahm.7 9
Just off the mouth of the river, in the Bay, Romans indicates on
his 1774 map of Florida a fairly large island (see Figure 3), but his is
the only map I have seen which shows any kind of island there, prior
to 1900. A shoal seems to have existed there for many years,80 but
De Brahm correctly does not portray it as an island above water.
On the mainland, south of the Miami River, it is somewhat diffi-
cult to do more than partially reconstruct, cartographically, the
shoreline between Point View (formerly Lewis Point) and the vicin-
ity of Shoal Point. The reason for this statement is that this is a part
of the Bay coastline which was mapped independently by De Brahm
and Romans: the former during the General Survey, and the latter
during his survey of the Touchet grant referred to previously. Both
men thus drew maps of this area, at the same scale of 10 chains to
the inch, or about 1 : 79,200; and both surveyed this coast at about
the same time, in 1770. Consequently, it might be expected that this
part of the shoreline, at least, would be more amenable to inde-
pendent check and more accurate reconstruction today. In fact, how-
ever, and surprising though it may be, more questions are raised than
are answered by comparing De Brahm's and Romans' maps with each
other, and with the present, or even pre-1896, maps of the same
To make matters even more perplexing and frustrating, De Brahm
and Romans each drew smaller scale maps of this part of Florida,
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 59
showing Biscayne Bay in fair detail (Figure 3),8 but on which each
surveyor depicted this part of the Bayshore in a way substantially
different from what he himself had shown on his large scale map!
De Brahm, drawing his "Hydrographical Map" of south Florida in
1771, "straightens" the coastline from Point View to Shoal Point
considerably, in contrast to his large scale map drawn in 1770 (see
Figures 3 and 1). Romans, by the same token, adds at least one point
and a large indentation to this coast, on his 1774 map of Florida; and
this is in contrast to the generally "straight" shore he portrays on his
These discrepancies raise interesting questions, which cannot be
answered at this time. Did De Brahm and Romans bitter rivals not
in the least embarrassed about criticizing each other with biting sar-
casm each decide privately that just maybe the other might be
correct? Neither was apparently very certain about his original
survey of this part of Biscayne Bay's coast, but there is no evidence
to indicate why each decided to change his map. And it is unfor-
tunately a sad fact that both De Brahm and Romans show this parti-
cular shore segment very inexactly indeed, from what can be gath-
ered today, on their large scale maps (see Figure 2). Nevertheless,
these are all we have, and it is pertinent to discuss each briefly, since
the two men did agree on a number of features along this coast.
Romans, on his Touchet survey map, does say that there are "sev-
eral coves" on Touchet's shore. However, Romans' map shows the
coast as a fairly smooth one and, in order to do this, he has this shore
placed as much as a mile to the east of the present bayshore line. One
might conceivably look for considerable erosion to have taken place
since then, especially in those areas of low tidal marsh, were it not
for the fact that Romans also plainly identifies a "very high and very
rocky pine barren," running behind the coast from Point View to a
spot about a mile inland from Shoal Point.82 But this "very high"
land is much farther east than it should be in one place it is as much
as a mile inside the present Bay! To give Romans credit, he does end
his survey line at about the right place, on the present shoreline, 10
miles (Romans' 800 chains) S 350 W from Point View. But in be-
tween is a band, widening as one moves south, of "shoals and sands
and mud-flatts of Biscay Sound." There is also a "buttonwood
swamp and hammock" located rather imprecisely on the Bay shore,
south of present Matheson Hammock." 3
If Romans errs this much, De Brahm, uncharacteristically, does
little better. Depicting today's limestone bluff more or less correctly
from Point View to about 3/4 of a mile northeast of present Dinner
Key, he then does indicate the bight on which Coconut Grove is
located today (see Figures 1 and 2). But he has the shore of that
bight curve to the west and then south in an excessive arc, so that the
site of the present commercial district of Coconut Grove would have
been a mile away from the Bay (see Figure 2).
Further to the south, De Brahm shows a brief stretch of coastline
more accurately. In this case, he took at least one sighting from a
boat, about halfway between Key Biscayne and the mainland (see
Figure 1), and the part of the mainland just across from the Key (i.e.,
from the bight to a little north of Matheson Hammock) corresponds
closely to the present and 1887 shoreline. Then, inexplicably, and
after correctly indicating a short section of east-west coast to the
north of and opposite Matheson Hammock, De Brahm has the shore-
line continue much too far west, and then southwest, to such an
extent that, when he does finally show the coast curving south, it is
over two miles west of Shoal Point!
To compensate for this generous "addition" to the Bay's waters,
and to bring De Brahm's mainland shoreline anywhere near today's
coast, it is necessary to "move" his entire coast, from Matheson
Hammock south, about a mile and a half N 80 E! Were it not for
two recognizable landmarks located on De Brahm's map (see Figure
2), it would be highly unprofessional to even try this. The only
justification I have for doing so is that De Brahm did anchor very
close to shore at a place about 3/4 of a mile south of Shoal Point,
and he mapped a point which he called Turtois Crawl Point, men-
tioned above and elsewhere.84 Adjusting for the aberration by which
De Brahm added almost two miles to the width of Biscayne Bay at
this latitude an error he never corrected I have tried to demon-
strate elsewhere in this issue that his Turtois Crawl Point was very
near the present point on the mainland, opposite Paradise Point and
just north of Chicken Key.8
From this point south, De Brahm indicates and maps a coastline
which needs much more research before a final evaluation can be
made as to its usefulness in the historical reconstruction of this part
of the coast. But I have attempted to show elsewhere86 that at least
two landmarks Turtois Crawl Point, and a small bay with a tiny
island inside it located about 6.25 miles to the southsouthwest -
correlate fairly well, geographically, with the coastline as it is
As of now, one can but speculate concerning the wide divergences
of the De Brahm and Romans maps, portraying the same coast at
roughly the same time. On the whole, De Brahm's map is the more
accurate in some respects, but it can hardly be said that it is accurate;
and Romans in some ways was the more exact surveyor in this case.
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 61
But where Romans seems to have added a good deal of non-existent
land to Touchet's holdings, his rival and former employer apparently
"compensated" by placing about a third of them under water! Per-
haps this explains why Romans was never paid by Touchet! 87 And it
may be one of the reasons why Romans so bitterly criticized and
ridiculed De Brahm's work.
If the reasons for the cartographic discrepancies are speculation,
the fact is that the major geographic features of the coastline sur-
veyed by both Romans and De Brahm are in general agreement, even
though the shoreline locations are not. Except for a small, low tidal
marsh, indicated by De Brahm (Figure 1) at about the place where
today's Rickenbacker Causeway leaves the mainland for Virginia
Key, a "rocky bluff" extended right along the shore from Point View
to about a mile northeast of present Dinner Key. From there, both
men clearly show the bluff running a little distance inland from the
water's edge, with a low intertidal strip in between. At the north-
western end of what appears to be the bight on which Coconut
Grove is presently located, De Brahm marks the existence of a cy-
press swamp; whether this is the same "cypress" which Romans de-
scribes but does not show on his survey of Touchet's lands is not
From there, following the shore to a short distance south of his
Turtois Crawl Point, De Brahm shows a narrow strip of mangrove,
behind the northern part of which apparently was higher ground.
Romans, on his map, indicates a "buttonwood swamp and ham-
mock" and, as has been mentioned, a higher "pine barren" area
inland. Behind the southern portion of the mangrove strip in this
area, De Brahm portrays a freshwater marsh, which displaces the
mangrove entirely further south, and borders the Bay for some six
miles south of present Cutler. This ties in quite well with the vegeta-
tion patterns on more modern maps, although the details vary some-
what from later reports, which were written by chroniclers accom-
panying the military movements in this area during the Seminole
Wars in the 1800s.89
The foregoing discussion of the problems, difficulties, and discrep-
ancies which develop when using De Brahm's 1770 maps to describe
northern Biscayne Bay in the 1770s and by extension 1776 should
not detract from the great value they, and other documents by both
De Brahm and Romans, retain as primary historical sources. If this
writer has stressed maps as his principal sources, it is probably a
reflection of his professional bias, and, like other historical docu-
ments, maps must be critically evaluated before they can be success-
fully utilized as bases for historical reconstruction. But, in an area for
which there are few written descriptions for the years of the 1770s,
De Brahm's two maps, reproduced as Figure 1, provide almost at a
glance a geographic picture of what northern Biscayne Bay probably
was like in 1776. So far as I know, they are the best we yet have,
and, in spite of their deficiencies, in the main they are not all that
inaccurate. Supplemented by other information gathered from other
sources, they provide a useful framework for depicting a virtually
uninhabited area 200 years ago.
Three further aspects of northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 need to be
mentioned, if only briefly. The first is the surprising lack of detail
given by either De Brahm or Romans concerning the animal life of
the region; yet, that there was a plentiful animal life is certain. De
Brahm identifies Bird Island (present Bird Key) on his map, and he
must have had a reason for so naming it. The same applies, as we
have seen, to his Turtois Crawl Point. Also, he implies an abundance
of fish offshore by noting Grooper Bank, though this may have been
a place name given him by the "providence fisher man." In the notes
accompanying his 1765 map of the area, De Brahm comments on the
fact that, on May 13th and 29th of that year, he saw no fish around
Key Biscayne, few animals in the region, "except sea birds," and the
track of only one bear.90
Romans, to be sure, does generally cite plentiful wildlife, but he is
not very specific about its location. He notes a "species of deer
peculiar to these islands, and very numerous on them." several types
of birds, raccoons, "which seems here to be an universal inhabitant in
vast numbers," crocodiles, turtles, and, on Key Biscayne, "sometimes
bear."9I But, in general, this aspect of the landscape seems to have
been considered quite unimportant to both men, except to provide
occasional game. De Brahm, it is true, does mention animal life the
intended Cape Florida Society colonists might meet if they settled in
the region, but he was primarily concerned with the more dangerous
ones;92 these included rattlesnakes, crocodiles, panthers, and bears,
among others. But most of his discussion on the subject concentrates
on the variety of wildlife both he and Romans agreed was the most
ubiquitous and certainly the most pesky; there were lots of mos-
A reference to manatees, or Sea Cows, as they were called, is
found earlier, in the 1760s, when it was decided that the King of
England would retain those lands which were manatee "echouries,"
or landing places.93 The reason for this was because the animals
produced a valuable oil. But nothing more is said of them, and I have
been unable to locate any of these "echouries," no doubt because I
know little, if anything, about manatee ecology. In any case, they
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 63
don't seem to have mattered much, unless they came to the offshore
barrier complex, because lands were certainly granted later on the
mainland coast without apparent regard for the King's or the mana-
tees' privileges in this matter.
A second aspect concerns the place names in the northern Bis-
cayne Bay area in the 1770s. Mention has already been made regard-
ing some of them, but a little more should be said. De Brahm made it
a habit to name islands, inlets, and rivers for important people in
England. Thus, Dartmouth Stream, Dartmouth Inlet, and Dartmouth
Sound were names given in honor of De Brahm's patron in England,
the Second Earl of Dartmouth, who later (in 1772) became Secretary
of State for the Colonies.94 The Garbrand River was apparently
named for a Caleb Garbrand, a man who may have received a grant
of 5,000 acres on the river, though I have not yet been able to find
documentation for it. Keppel In and Outlet the entrance to Hawke
Channel from the north was named for a British admiral for whom
De Brahm had much respect; Hawke Channel itself was named for Sir
Edward Hawke, first Lord of the Admiralty from 1766 to 1771.
Sandwich Gulf was, of course, named for the Earl of Sandwich.
Oswald Island was named for James Oswald, an English commander
in the Navy and also Lord of the Treasury, as was Gilbert Elliot, for
whom De Brahm named Elliott Key. Most of these gentlemen were
members of Parliament during the 1760s and 1770s.9s
De Brahm retained some Spanish place names, however, possibly
at Romans' insistence. Boca Ratones has already been mentioned,
but Biskaino Island is clearly a retention of the Spanish Cayo Vis-
caino, as is Los Paradisos (today's Ragged Keys). Biskaino Rif is the
area south of where the Fowey Rocks are today. Romans was more
concerned about keeping those Spanish place names which he knew
about; thus, his Rio Rattones seems to have been derived from the
earlier Spanish Boca Ratones, or perhaps for the Boca Raton Indians.
His Biscay Sound is a slight corruption of Biscayne, with the Sound
itself probably being named after Key Biscayne, though the Span-
iards do not seem to have given this body of water a name, other
than the Bocas de Miguel Mora already cited, and which more prop-
erly refers to the area south of Key Biscayne, between it and the
It is interesting that no one, in the 1770s, ever gave the name
"Miami" to any feature of the northern Biscayne Bay region. I do
not yet know how, where, or when the place name "Miami" came to
be associated with the Bay or River; several suggestions have been
offered,96 none of them entirely convincing as yet. That name seems
to have been first used during the second Spanish period of Florida
history that is, between 1784 and 1821 probably around the very
early 1800s, but more than that I am not sure.
Finally, there is one very interesting feature which appears on De
Brahm's maps of 1765 and 1770, with respect to northern Biscayne
Bay itself. It was, to De Brahm, very much like a river. In fact, in his
1765 map, he called this part of the Bay the "Cape River," for which
he was again criticized by Romans.97 De Brahm did change his
"Cape River" to "Dartmouth Stream" in 1770, but, no matter what
the name, he clearly felt it was a body of water quite distinct from
the remainder of the Bay, which he called Sandwich Gulf. De Brahm
was therefore the first and for a century to come the only man to
recognize northern Biscayne Bay as an estuary, unusual enough to
warrant a distinctive appellation. To be sure, he used the term
"stream" to describe the long water bodies along the eastern Florida
coast, such as the present Indian River,98 which were separated from
the Ocean by a narrow sand barrier, through which occasionally ran
contracted and shallow inlets. But Dartmouth Stream opened broad-
ly into Sandwich Gulf to the south, and yet De Brahm gave it a
Today, as one drives across any of the causeways which span
northern Biscayne Bay, it is difficult indeed to imagine it as it was
200 years ago. If, while crossing the Julia Tuttle Causeway, the driver
suddenly and miraculously found himself taken back those 200
years, with his car transformed into a small but speedy shallow-draft
sailboat that could take him anywhere, he would be sailing in the
middle of Dartmouth Stream. From there, if he looked toward the
east, his view would have been much the same as it was a hundred
years later: an unbroken line of mangroves along most of the horizon
but without a Norris Cut. To the south, a saltwater marsh would
not have obstructed his view of part of Biscayne Bay, as did the later
mangroves on western Key Biscayne. To the north, more mangroves,
with some marsh and tall grasses, bordered the Bay. He would have
seen many birds flying from a small low island; at low tide it would
have appeared as a fairly large exposed flat.
If he wanted to take his boat up to the mouth of Indian Creek,
and then follow it south, he would have found himself, after a short
trip, facing the Atlantic Ocean, and he would have had to be careful
to avoid the rocks that lay all around him at the entrance of Boca
Ratones. On his return trip to the Bay, he might well have seen a few
crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks, and slapped not a few
mosquitoes on his arms.
On the mainland to the west, we don't know exactly what he
would have seen in the section between Little River and the Miami
Northern Biscayne Bay in 1776 65
River. The shore was higher than to the east, and there were some
low intertidal flats; the vegetation may have been predominantly
pine and palmetto, but it is hard to say. Further south, dense ham-
mock covered both sides of the entrance to the Miami River; its
banks were low and fairly steep, but the boat, if the wind was right,
could easily have gone up the river to its fork, there reaching the
river's falls, on the other side of which were the Everglades.
From today's Brickell Point south, and then to the southwest, the
boatman would first have come to a shallow cove and then, rounding
present Point View, he would have followed the silvery rock bluff
right at the water's edge. Then, receding behind a low coastal flat
strip, the bluff would have been hidden from view by thick vege-
tation; the man might have heard a panther scream. Perhaps, a little
later, he might have spotted some tall cypress, but soon the shore
became lined with mangrove as his boat moved south. Eventually,
rounding a point with a little mangrove island just off it, a turtle
crawl might have been seen the only human construction to be
found in the entire area. Continuing south, the boatmen would have
found the mangrove disappearing, to be replaced by an extensive
freshwater marsh, behind which could be seen, in the distance, the
pines and palmettos of the higher ground.
Moving south along the shore, the boatman would have come to a
little embayment, with a rock bottom, and a tiny island within.
Then, with a good wind, he might have crossed the Bay to the
Ragged Keys, and then made his way north across crystal clear
waters to Key Biscayne, passing two small keys on his way. If he
completed his circuit to Dartmouth Stream by rounding Key Bis-
cayne on the east, and coming into Bear Cut from the Ocean, he
would have had to pick his way cautiously through the mile-wide
inlet,, for rocks and shoals made the entrance tricky, as did the un-
usual mangrove-root reef which jutted out, low and dark, to the
north from Key Biscayne.
When he had returned to his starting point, he would have felt the
loneliness or the peace of the absolute solitude he had just experi-
enced; his chances of meeting another human being on his trip
around the northern Bay would have been slight indeed. Not a house,
nor even a lowly hut, graced any of the shores he had seen. Had he
stepped on the mainland, he might have met, by sheer coincidence,
an Indian hunting party from far to the north. Or perhaps, on the
Bay itself, he could have chanced on some unknown Bahamian sea-
men checking the turtle crawl, or heading for Key Biscayne to hunt
small deer. But it is much more likely that he would have met no one
Wrenched back equally suddenly and miraculously to 1976, the
driver continues east on the Causeway, and sees ahead of him a long
line of glistening white buildings where there had been mangroves
only a moment before. The Bay that Romans had at one time called
a "parcel of pitiful flats""99 is transformed into a blend of water and
islands, many with homes on them. Behind him lies a large city, with
all its people and a totally different landscape than the one that had
met his eyes earlier, and he ponders on what he has seen. During his
dream trip back to 1776, he had not viewed the Bay as pitiful flats;
he thought it had much beauty. Yet, today, around him there is
much beauty also; and so many now enjoy it. What will it be like in
the year 2176? He wonders.
Then he realizes that the transition from the Bay he saw in 1776
to the modern metropolis he sees now is not less dramatic than
others which have taken place in many parts of our country since its
birth. And in the city's integration with aquatic surroundings, its
enjoyment of sea and sun and wind, and its continued contacts with
Spanish-speaking and Bahamian islanders, he finds that Miami has
retained at least some of the elements which characterized its re-
gional setting 200 years ago.
1. The author expresses his gratitude to the Louisiana State University, and to
the Department of Architecture and Architectural Engineering, School of
Engineering and Environmental Design, University of Miami, for the sup-
port, financial and otherwise, provided him while carrying out the research
and writing of this paper. Appreciation is also extended to Mr. James
Frazier, Mrs. Arva Parks, and Dr. Charlton Tebeau, for their generous help
in so many ways. The author is also grateful to the present Earl of Dart-
mouth, and to Miss Isobel Morcom of the Staffordshire County Record
Office, Stafford, England, for their assistance, as well as for permission to
use the documents from Lord Dartmouth's manuscripts, herein cited as
Dartmouth Ms., which are housed in that Office.
2. Hernando Escalente Fontaneda, Memoir of D d'Escalente Fontaneda re-
specting Florida. Written in Spain, about the year 1575. A translation,
with notes, by Buckingham Smith, of the Memoria de las cosas y costa de
la florida, edited by David 0. True, with preface by Marjory Stoneman
Douglas. Historical Association of Southern Florida Reprint (Miami, Flor-
ida, 1973). See also Juan L6pez de Velasco, Geografia y descripci6n uni-
versal de las Indias, 1571-74, published by Don Justo Zaragoza in the
Boletin de la Sociedad Geogrdfica de Madrid (Madrid, 1894), p. 166.
3. Joseph Xavier de Alafia, "Informe que Presentan . los Padres Joseph
Maria Monaco, y Joseph Xavier Alafia de la Compabiia de Jesus, sobre el
estado en que han hallado a los Yndios de la florida Austral, y sus cayos con
lo quejusgan nesasarios para su constant reduction 1743, Archivo General
de Indias, Santo Domingo 1314, unpublished manuscript in Seville, Spain
I am deeply indebted to Dr. Eugene Lyon, Consulting Historian for St.
No tes 67
Augustine Restoration, Inc., who generously lent me his photographic
copy of this "Informe" for my research.
4. ". . de monton . ibidd., p. 2).
5. ... una gente vaga; y que mas vive en la mar que en la tierra hasta los Nifios,
y las mugeres." ibidd., pp. 4-4a).
6. Alafia cites the "derision which they show for the truths and the reasons
therefore." ibidd., p. 3); he says: ". . for they have told us clearly, that
without rum they neither can nor wish to be Christians, . ." ibidd., p. 4a).
7. ". . sobre el pueblo." ibidd., p. 7).
8. Ibid., p. 2.
9. Ibid., pp. 5a-6; author's translation.
10. There is some controversy on this point. Romans writes: ". at Cayos
Vacos, and Cayo Huiso, we see the remains of some savage habitations
built, or rather piled up of stones; these were the last refuges of the
Caloosa nation; but even here the water did not protect them against the
inroads from the Creeks, and in 1763 the remnant of this people, consist-
ing of about eighty families, left this last possession of their native land,
and went to the Havannah." (Bernard Romans, A Concise Natural History
of East and West Florida, Facsimile Reproduction of the 1775 edition by
the University of Florida Press (Gainesville, Florida, 1962), p. 291). Al-
though Romans specifically mentions the Calusas as having left in 1763,
and implies that they were driven from the Keys, Swanton feels "that the
80 'Calusa' families mentioned by Romans as having gone to Cuba in
1763 .. were rather the inhabitants of the southeast coast than the Ca-
lusas proper." (John R. Swanton, The Indians of the Southeastern United
States. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin
137 (Washington, 1946); republished by Greenwood Press (New York,
1969), p. 192).
Robert E. McNicoll follows Swanton's interpretation in "The Caloosa
village Tequesta: a Miami of the Sixteenth Century," Tequesta 1 (1941),
p. 17. Upon examining Swanton's earlier work, however, this author found
that he states that ". . indeed the emigrants may have been Tekesta and
other occupants of the eastern shore, who were always rather better in-
clined toward the Spanish Government than were the Calusas." (John R.
Swanton, Early History of the Creek Indians and their Neighbors, Smith.
Inst., Bur. Amer. Ethno. Bull. 73 (Washington, 1922), pp. 343-344). Thus,
this represents Swanton's personal opinion and, valid though it may be,
does not fully resolve the controversy.
11. Bernard Romans, "Survey of the Tract of Samuel Touchett, Esq.," unpub-
lished map, 1770. A copy is in the Yale University Library, but photo-
graphic reproductions also exist in the Otto G. Richter Library of the
University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, as well as in the Library of the
Historical Association of Southern Florida, Miami, Florida. These last were
made from a photostat owned by Mr. Larry Resnick, of Miami, Florida,
who kindly allowed this author to reproduce it. Romans' survey is dis-
cussed by James C. Frazier in this issue of Tequesta ("Samuel Touchett's
Florida Plantation, 1771," p. 75).
William Roberts, writing earlier than Romans or De Brahm (see be-
low), mentions "an Indian town, called Pueblo Raton," located on a "Ca-
yo Ratones, about four miles in length" just north of "Cayo de Biscayno"
(Williams Roberts, An Account of the First Discovery, and Natural History
of Florida, printed for T. Jefferys [London, 1763], p. 21). He adds that "5
leagues to the Northward of Pueblo Raton" is the "Boca de Ratones"
ibidd., p. 22). Taken at face value, and substituting miles for leagues, this
would place Roberts' "Pueblo Raton" on the north shore of Bear Cut as it
was then, or very near De Brahm's 1770 Cape Florida (see Figure 2). Thus
it would be at the southern tip of De Brahm's "Narrow Island," which
could be Roberts' "Cayo Ratones," opposite the northern end of Key
There is as yet no other evidence for the location here of an Indian
village, although Roberts specifies that the town "is the only settlement of
Indians that we have any account of on the Martyres" ibidd., p. 21).
However, Roberts' geographic locations concerning the Florida Keys are at
best confusing and often in error; he himself says his is only "the best
account we have been able to procure of them" ibidd., p. 20). Thus, some
corroborating evidence is needed before "Pueblo Raton" can seriously be
placed on the north side of Bear Cut, or De Brahm's "Dartmouth Inlet."
Archeological evidence of an Indian site would be the best kind. If such a
site exists, it should be somewhere slightly west of the center of present
Virginia Key, along the leeward side of the old shoreline; in the 1760s, the
northern shore of Bear Cut ran somewhere along the middle of this island
(see Figure 2).
12. For example, James Grant Forbes mentions the former settlement in his
Sketches, historical and topographical, of the Floridas, Facsimile Repro-
duction of the 1821 edition by the University of Florida Press (Gainesville,
Florida, 1964), p. 99.
13. John Sewell's Memoirs and History of Miami, Florida, printed for the
author (Miami, Florida, 1933), pp. 46-47. It is somewhat surprising that
no Spanish descriptions of this mound have yet been found, although it
may well be that the temporary fort built in 1743 and overlooking Pueblo
Boca Raton (Alafia, op. cit., p. 7), was constructed on the mound. Romans
does not mention the mound, either; perhaps the trees growing on it since
at least 1763 had not yet reached a sufficient height to be distinguished at
a distance from the larger, older trees on the lower ground around the
14. James W. Covington, "Migration of the Seminoles into Florida, 1700-1820,"
Florida Historical Quarterly 46 (1968), pp. 340, 346, 348.
15. James Adair, The History of the American Indians . Edward and Charles
Dilly (London, 1775), pp. 455-456.
16. Romans, A Concise Natural History . ., op. cit., p. 291.
17. William Gerard De Brahm to the Cape Florida Society, May 4, 1773. Dart-
mouth Ms. D(W)1778/II/607, pp. 10-11. De Brahm's instructions are re-
produced as Appendix A in Roland E. Chardon, "The Cape Florida So-
ciety of 1773," this issue of Tequesta, pp. 23-34; the specific reference to
Indians is on p. 32. It should also perhaps be added here that De Brahm
made no mention of Indians in the notes accompanying a map he drew of
northern Biscayne Bay in 1765; see W. G. De Brahm, "Chart of Cape
Florida according to the surveys made may 13 & 29, 1765," (a copy of
this manuscript map is in the Geography and Map Division of the Library
of Congress, Washington, D.C.).
18. De Brahm, "Chart of Cape Florida 1. 1765," op. cit.
19. See footnote 11 above.
20. According to Dr. Tebeau, "The Spaniards departed from Florida almost to a
man." (Charlton W. Tebeau, A History of Florida, University of Miami
Press (Coral Gables, Florida, 1971), p. 74). The 1763 population of St.
Augustine, the only real Spanish settlement in East Florida at the time,
was 3,046 ibidd.), and over 3,100 persons went to Cuba in 1763-1764
(Robert L. Gold, "The settlement of the East Florida Spaniards in Cuba,
1763-1766," Florida Historical Quarterly 42 (1964), p. 216).
21. Charles L. Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, 1763-1784, University
of California Publications in History, vol. 32, 1943; republished as a Fac-
simile Reproduction by the University of Florida Press (Gainesville, Flor-
ida, 1964), pp. 50-64. Mowat provides the best concise summary and
discussion of royal land policy with regard to East Florida.
22. Ibid., pp. 60-63; see also Henry S. Marks, "The earliest land grants in the
Miami area," Tequesta 18 (1958), pp. 15-16. Although Marks cites the
Ernst grant as the earliest recorded one, the Touchet and Lord Dartmouth
grants aAtedate Ernst's by several years.
23. Sir Lewis Namier, "Touchet," in: Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke, The
House of Commons 1754-1790, vol. 3, Members K-Y, published for the
History of Parliament Trust, Oxford University Press (New York, 1964), p.
24. Frazier, op. cit., p. 76.
25. Touchet seems to have ended his life by hanging himself in 1773 (Namier,
op. cit., p. 536).
26. B. D. Bargar, Lord Dartmouth and the American Revolution, University of
South Carolina Press (Columbia, South Carolina, 1965), p. 69.
27. Chardon, op. cit., Figures 1 and 2, pp. 4 and 8.
28. Ibid., pp. 1-21.
29. Mowat, East Florida . op. cit., p. 63. For more detail, see Wilbur H.
Siebert, Loyalists in East Florida 1774 to 1785, vol. 2, pp. 51-53. Publica-
tions of the Florida State Historical Society, No. 9 (Deland, Florida,
1929). I have not seen the survey of Ernst's tract.
30. The Journal of Andrew Ellicott . (Philadelphia, 1803), p. 271.
31. Referring to Key Biscayne, Romans writes: "At the south end of the key,
very good water is obtainable by digging, but at a time when by accident
of drought or otherways, the wells yield none, then the watering places
either in the grand marsh, about 10 miles to the W by S; or the river
Ratones, about as far to the NW of the key, may be always depended
upon; ... (Romans, A Concise Natural History .. ., op cit., Appendix, p.
v). See also George Gauld, Observations on the Florida Keys, Reef and
Gulf, . ., printed forW. Faden (London, 1796), p. 18.
32. Romans himself apparently suffered this undignified fate when piloting a
Spanish vessel southward towards Cuba; he struck ground southeast of
Key Biscayne, as William Gerard De Brahm gently points out on his un-
published map showing the situation of Lord Dartmouth's lands at Cape
Florida, 1773 (Dartmouth Ms. D(W)1778/II/654; adapted and redrawn,
with permission from the present Earl of Dartmouth and the Stafford
County Record Office, England, as part of Figure 1 below).
33. Both Gauld and Romans had praise for the wreckers. Gauld writes:
". .. they give every kind of assistance to those who faithfully attending to
the interest of the owners, remain with their ships till they are relieved;
and if we consider the activity with which the Wreckers always exert
themselves, we must look upon them as a set of very useful men." (Gauld,
op. cit., p. 19). Romans defends them even more strongly, ". . taking
notice of the abuse generally thrown upon them very undeservedly." (Ro-
mans, A Concise Natural History .. ., op. cit., Appendix, p. xxx).
34. Alafia, op. cit., pp. 2-2a.
35. Gauld, op. cit., p. 10.
36. Writing in 1772, De Brahm says: "This Inlet ... is to this day frequented by
Spanish-fishing Schooners from Cuba ... they send their Boats, and leave
their Schooner in the Harbour, from whence they do not return to Cuba
before the Schooner is laden with Fish; .." (Louis DeVorsey, Jr., De
Brahm's Report of the General Survey in the Southern District of North
America, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, South Carolina,
1971), p. 207). Romans also mentions Spanish fishermen at Hillsborough
Inlet (A Concise Natural History . ., op cit., Appendix, p. xvii).
37. Alafia, op. cit., p. 5a. For the 19th Century, there are many references to
the relationships between the Cubans and the Seminoles; see, for example,
Clarence Edwin Carter, comp. and ed., The Territorial Papers of the
United States, vol. 23, The Territory of Florida 1824-1828, National Ar-
chives (Washington, 1958), p. 183.
38. William Gerard De Brahm, The Atlantic Pilot, a Facsimile Reproduction of
the 1772 edition, with an introduction by Louis DeVorsey, Jr., University
of Florida Press (Gainesville, Florida, 1974), p. 11. See also Gauld, op. cit.,
pp. 10, 13, 18; and Romans, A Concise Natural History ..., op. cit.,
App., pp. xxiv-xxx.
39. Romans, A Concise Natural History. ., op. cit., App., p. viii.
40. Ibid., p. xxix.
41. Ibid., p. 295. Referring to northern Biscayne Bay, Romans says: "... and
the gentlemen from providence, who come sometimes here for the diver-
sion of hunting a species of deer peculiar to the islands . ."(ibid.).
42. De Brahm to Lord Dartmouth, May 4, 1773. Dartmouth Ms.
D(W)1778/II/607; reproduced in Chardon, op. cit., p. 22.
43. Harold R. Wanless, Sediments of Biscayne Bay distribution and deposi-
tional history, University of Miami Institute of Marine Sciences Technical
Report 69-2, University of Miami (Coral Gables, Florida, 1969), p. 66.
44. Gauld, op. cit., p. 11 and passim.
45. Romans, A Concise Natural History. ., op. cit., App., p. xxvii.
46. Ibid., p. xxvi.
47. De Brahm, "Chart of Cape Florida ... 1765," op. cit.
48. "None of the islands is inhabited by any of the human species, but con-
stantly visited by the English from New Providence, and the Spaniards
from Cuba, for the sake of wrecks, madeira wood, tortoise, shrimps, fish,
and birds; . ." (De Brahm, The Atlantic Pilot, op. cit., p. 11). A similar
statement, obviously derived from De Brahm, is made in the New Book of
Sailing Directions for Capt. B. Romans' Survey of the Gulf of Florida, or
the old and new Channels of Bahama and Neighbouring Parts . ., printed
for Robert Laurie and James Whittle (London, 1797), p. 24. Though
published, like Gauld's Observations .. (op. cit.), in the late 1790s, the
material within the Sailing Directions is virtually entirely based on the
work done by De Brahm, Gauld, and Romans in the late 1760s and early
1770s (some additional comments were included from several ships' cap-
tains, but these are of limited value to the discussion here). This leads one
to believe there were very few, if any, reports on Biscayne Bay between
1773 and around 1800.
49. Although something of that nature did occur between 1829 and 1838,
creating Norris Cut; but that is another story being written elsewhere.
50. "Map of Part of the Province of East Florida" (New York, 1774); A Concise
Natural History of East and West Florida (New York, 1775). Though the
map is entitled as it is, it in fact covers all of East Florida and most of West
51. P. Lee Phillips, Notes on the Life and Works of Bernard Romans; also,
Romans' Map of Florida. Publications of the Florida State Historical So-
ciety, No. 2 (Deland, Florida, 1924).
52. Romans, A Concise Natural History . ., Facsimile Reproduction by the
University of Florida Press (Gainesville, Florida, 1962), op. cit.
53. New Book of Sailing Directions .. ., op. cit.
54. Louis DeVorsey, Jr., ed., De Brahm's Report on the General Survey in the
Southern District of North America, University of South Carolina Press
(Columbia, South Carolina, 1971).
55. Charles L. Mowat, "That 'Odd Being' De Brahm," Florida Historical Quar-
terly 20 (1942), pp. 323-345; Carita D. Corse, "De Brahm's Report on
East Florida, 1773," Florida Historical Quarterly 17 (1939), pp. 219-226.
56. DeVorsey, op. cit., p. 33; Mowat, "That 'Odd Being' De Brahm," op. cit., p.
57. DeVorsey, op. cit., opposite p. 209. See also footnote 17 above, and De
Brahm's manuscript map of part of Biscayne Bay, adapted as Figure 2 in
Chardon, op. cit., p. 8; this last map is also incorporated in Figure 1
below. See also Figure 3 below, for a map of Biscayne Bay adapted from
De Brahm's "Hydrographical Map of the Southermost Part of the Prom-
ontory of East Florida," unpublished map, 1771, a copy of which is in the
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. I have so far seen seven maps of
Biscayne Bay, or portions thereof, made by De Brahm between the years
1765 and 1773, and there are at least two more which I have not yet
58. Romans called De Brahm, among other things, a "lunatic writer"
(Romans, A Concise Natural History . ., op. cit., p. 295).
59. DeVorsey, op. cit., pp. 42-43; Mowat, "That 'Odd Being' De Brahm," op.
cit., p. 335.
60. Phillips, op. cit., p. 27.
61. DeVorsey, op. cit., opposite p. 209; the original of this map is in the British
Museum in London, although a copy exists in the Library of Congress. The
first "Plan" is in the Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge,
Massachusetts, and has been used here with permission from that Library,
62. De Brahm to Lord Dartmouth, 15 March, 1773. Dartmouth Ms.
D(W)1778/II/578. The map is filed as Dartmouth Ms. D(W)1778/II/654,
and has been used here with the permission of the present Earl of Dart-
mouth and the Stafford County Record Office, Stafford, England.
63. Chardon, op. cit., p. 8.
64. De Brahm, "Chart of Cape Florida ... 1765," op. cit.
65. DeVorsey, op. cit., p. 208; Romans says it was only good for "small vessels"
(A Concise Natural History . ., op. cit., App., p. xxi).
66. H. S. Tanner, Map of Florida, published by H. S. Tanner (Philadelphia,
1823). On the Tanner map it is identified as Indian Creek Inlet.
67. Of course, there was no Baker's Haulover Cut nor a Government Cut; these
were artificially created in the early 20th Century.
68. Gauld, op. cit., p. 19.
69. De Brahm, "Chart of Cape Florida ... 1765," op. cit.
70. Ibid.; Romans says bitingly: "Every letter of this is a forgery of the brain of
this lunatic writer, no river is found at or near this latitude, but Rio
Rattones above described;. ." (A Concise Natural History .., op. cit., p.
71. De Brahm, "Chart of Cape Florida ... 1765," op. cit.
72. John E. Hoffmeister, Landfrom the Sea: the Geologic Story of South Florida,
University of Miami Press (Coral Gables, Florida, 1974), pp. 53-62.
73. Romans, A Concise Natural History . ., op cit., App., p. v.
74. Romans, "Map of ... Florida," 1774, op. cit. 4
75. New Book of Sailing Directions .., op. cit., p. 15. Gauld, writing about
Key Largo, says: ".. the coast of Cayo Largo, which here appears like
main land, turns quickly N.N.E. and N. by E. to North; for which reason
Cape Florida might be reckoned somewhat hereabouts; though there is no
particular point of land known by that name to the people of Providence,
who seem to be best acquainted with those parts." (Observations. ., op.
cit., p. 16). One writer who did refer to Romans' Cape Florida at least
occasionally was Forbes (Sketches ... of the Floridas, op. cit., p. 105).
76. Mr. James Frazier, of the Metropolitan Dade County Surveyor's Office and
author of another article in this issue of Tequesta, very kindly took the
present author out to find the remnants of Laurens Island in August,
1975. We found it, and Mr. Frazier informed me that, at low spring tide,
the area uncovered extends as much as 100 feet.
77. Romans, A Concise Natural History ... op. cit., App., p. xxvii. "La Parida"
translates as "a woman lately delivered of a baby," or "having recently
brought forth offspring"; "Jiguelo," probably misspelled by Romans,
should be "Hijuelo," which translates as "young child."
78. Ibid., p. 288; Romans, "Surveyof . Touchet Tract," op. cit.
79. De Brahm, "Chart of Cape Florida... 1765," op. cit. Referring to this
description, Romans states: "... nor is there a sprig of any of the above
plants found within many miles of the cape" (A Concise Natural His-
tory ., op. cit., p. 294); but Romans forgot his own survey of Touchet's
lands, in which he refers to at least "some few Live Oaks, some Turkey
Oak . ." (Romans, "Survey of ... Touchett Tract," op. cit.; see Frazier,
op. cit., p. 76).
80. Alafia describes it in 1743 (op. cit., p. 4a), and De Brahm implies its exis-
tence by the soundings he shows on his 1770 maps.
81. De Brahm, "Hydrographical Map of the Southermost Part of . East Flor-
ida," 1771, op. cit.; Romans, "Map of ... Florida," 1774, op. cit.
82. Frazier, op. cit., p. 78.
83. Ibid., p. 78.
84. See above, pp. 45 and 51; also Chardon, op. cit., pp. 11-12.
85. Ibid., pp. 11-13.
87. Frazier, op. cit., p. 79.
88. Ibid., p. 78. A preliminary guess is that the location of De Brahm's "cypress
swamp" might be north of the present outlet of the Coral Gables Water-
way, but no research has been undertaken on this problem.
89. See, for example, the "Map of the country traversed by Capt. J. M. Bran-
nan's Company . March 1857 ... drawn by Lieut. Childs," National Ar-
chives, Record Group 393, Department of Florida, Memoir of Reconnais-
sances in the Florida Campaign, Part II, Oversized Maps. The shoreline
from Shoal Point to Black Point on this map, incidentally, is remarkably
similar to that portrayed by De Brahm in his 1773 map of the same coast
(i.e., Figure 1).
90. De Brahm, "Chart of Cape Florida ... 1765," op. cit. As usual, Romans had
a retort; concerning the absence of fish on the two days, he suggests:
"Everybody that is acquainted with the immense variety and quantity of
fish found here, will naturally imagine, that the fish were retired on May
13 and 29, to some general council or meeting of the finny nations, .. ."
(A Concise Natural History ... op. cit., p. 295).
91. Romans, A Concise Natural History . ., op. cit., p. 295 and App., pp.
92. De Brahm to the Cape Florida Society, May 4, 1773; cited in Chardon, op.
cit., pp. 30 and 32.
93. Labaree, Leonard W., ed., Royal Instructions to British Colonial Governors
1670-1776, vol. 2, pp. 605-606. Published for the American Historical
Association by Octagon Press (New York, 1967).
94. Bargar, op. cit., p. iii.
95. Namier and Brooke, op. cit., passim.
96. Allen Morris, Florida Place Names, University of Miami Press (Coral Gables,
Florida, 1974), pp. 101-102.
97. De Brahm, "Chart of Cape Florida ... 1975," op. cit. De Brahm, as usual,
was attacked for this by Romans, who says that there was "No such river
as Cape river known to any but this extraordinary inventory himself. ."
(A Concise Natural History .. op. cit., p. 294).
98. De Brahm called it Hillsborough Stream (DeVorsey, De Brahm's Report. .,
op. cit., pp. 202-208).
99. Romans, A Concise Natural History . op. cit., p. 297.
SAMUEL TOUCHETT'S FLORIDA PLANTATION, 1771
By James C. Frazier*
During the short British period in Florida, 1763-1783, the govern-
ment went to some lengths to develop its newly won lands. As is
described earlier in this issue of Tequesta headrights were given to
responsible individuals and families who would settle and cultivate
them. Grants in 20,000-acre units were offered to men of means who
would bring in laborers and establish plantations.1 The Englishman
Samuel Touchett2 secured the preliminary papers for such a grant on
Biscayne Bay in 1771. His stated intention was to grow indigo, sugar,
rice and anything that would grow on the supposedly fertile soil up
the river and in the marshes along the Bay. The land was surveyed,
but no effort at settlement was made because of the outbreak of the
American Revolution. Our interest here is in the survey made by
Bernard Romans and the location of the grant in present-day terms.
The existence of the Touchett grant first came to light locally in
1955, when a Mr. Forest H. Sweet of Battle Creek, Michigan con-
tacted the Dade County Courthouse with the photostat of a survey
sketch by Bernard Romans, Deputy Surveyor to the British Crown.
His letter asked for help in locating the survey of 20,000 acres in
relation to modern towns, rivers and other features. The clerks in the
Courthouse took one quick look and spotted the River Ratton on
the sketch, connected that mentally with Boca Raton and mailed the
request to Palm Beach County. The county engineer in Palm Beach
examined it and with no difficulty ascertained that it belonged in
Dade County. Three items on the sketch made its location positive;
distance south of St. Augustine 270 miles, latitude 25040' and the
name on the bay, Biscay Sound.
*Professional Land Surveyor, Metropolitan Dade County, Public Works
Romans' map from drawing by author
Samuel Touchett's Florida Plantation, 1771 77
Mr. E. A. Anderson, the Dade County Engineer at that time, wrote
and asked Mr. Sweet if he could send the original sketch since the
photostat attached to the original letter was of very poor quality. Mr.
Sweet obliged by sending the original of which a high quality photo-
stat was made. Mr. Sweet's basic questions were answered after
which he offered to sell the original for $15.00 but this offer was
unfortunately refused. Some years later an effort was made to con-
tact Mr. Sweet without success and the original is now in the Yale
University Library at New Haven.
How this document has managed to remain intact for over two
hundred years is not known; many modern survey sketches are lost
or destroyed in less than a generation. What is known is that Romans
was not paid for the survey and Samuel Touchett, the prospective
grantee, may not have gained title, much less developed the grant.
Provincial Governor, James Grant, wrote that the Surveyor General
'^ ....ETT^ -- -- Beach
..,i '-- / .S '3--
1 % TO'.'TT'S T 1L77 .
A \ . ....
Touchett's map superimposed on map of present-day Miami
charged 293 for a survey of 20,000 acres but this must have been
near St. Augustine because the charge made by Romans for the
Touchett survey was 71 and that for another survey in what is now
Dade County by Frederick George Mulcaster was for 100 19s lid.
Romans' description of the Touchett grant gives as a point of
beginning; "A mastic tree with three blazes at water's edge of the
River Ratton" (Miami River). This point would be on the south side
of the river at about the present-day NW 27th Avenue which would
have been at that time the general location of a falls where the water
from the glades spilled over a rock ledge and in effect marked the
beginning of the river. The line of ownership then ran down the river
to the bay and cornered on "A Broad Leaved Coccoloba tree oppo-
site the old fields of Pueblo Ratton" (downtown Miami). Over one
hundred years later this corner would be the site of Brickell's trading
post. The next course ran southerly along the bay and cornered at
the beginning of "a rocky steep bluff." This corner would be in the
vicinity of today's Point View section. The next course meandered
down the bay, on anything but a straight line, along the "shoals,
sands and mud flatts of Biscay Sound" and cornered on "a Cephalan-
thus tree in a small hammock in a marsh." This course would have
passed by Vizcaya, Coconut Grove, and Gables Estates, and termi-
nated on the shore in the vicinity of Shoal Point opposite Chapman
Field. The next course ran inland in a westerly direction to some-
where in the vicinity of Ludlam Road and was marked by a stake
with three blazes in a heap of stones. The last course ran northeast-
erly through rocky pine land, was marked by many blazed pine trees
and terminated at the Mastic tree at water's edge on the Ratton
Prior to running the above exterior traverse, Romans for some
reason saw fit to make an exploratory line diagonally through the
property. This line is mentioned at the beginning of the description
thusly: "Began at a Mastic tree by watersedge (same tree as in main
description) and surveyed a traverse line to inspect the situation S
100 W throughly blazed, not to be mistaken for ye boundary." The
amount of work entailed in cutting and blazing over 8 miles of line
for exploratory purposes would indicate that he must have been
instructed to include only high and usable land in the grant and to
keep out of the glades.
The technical aspects of this survey are somewhat confusing in
that it does not balance geometrically but with certain reasonable
assumptions a pattern can be developed to arrive at a solution. Once
this solution is reached we can plot quite accurately the boundaries
of Touchett's grant. Basically we have a five-sided figure, two sides of
Samuel Touchett's Florida Plantation, 1771 79
which were not traversable i.e., the first course down the Miami
River and the third course through Biscayne Bay. These courses were
run by meander lines and a straight line and distance then calculated
and therefore suspect. The other three sides were actually run on
true line and therefore less likely to err, (Appendix B).
The point of beginning up the river can only be at the falls on the
north fork. This proves true by scaling and was without a doubt,
then as in later years, a valuable site because of the power available
from the waterfall. The point at the mouth of the river can only be
Brickell Point for only from there can the next point," the beginning
of a steep rocky bluff" be seen. There is only one other geographical
feature which can be used and that occurs on the south line where
the line run from the bay inland intersects "a steep precipice of
rocks." This is the sharp drop on the eastside of Old Cutler Road just
north of the U.S. Plant Introduction Garden, a part of former Chap-
Two discrepancies occur on the three "so-called" good sides, one
of which can be resolved while the other can only be given as most
likely. The line from Brickell Point to Point View (2nd course) is
shown as S 100 E but it can only be S 100 W since this is a solid
rocky shore and lies on this bearing. The last course, terminating on
the Mastic tree on the river, is given as 810 chains in the description
but 820 chains on the sketch. The larger distance is chosen since it
more nearly agrees with the course south through the bay, (Ap-
There is no reason to believe that Samuel Touchett, the grantee,
ever visited his estate in Florida. He had received his Order in Council
for the grant in June 1766 but it was five years later that the survey
was finally made, at which time he would have been 66 years old. He
was active in both commerce and politics but his business, and it was
worldwide, was conducted through agents while he stayed in Lon-
He had begun his career along with two brothers, sons of Thomas
Touchett of Manchester, in the family business of manufacturing
cotton and linen textiles at which they were very successful. Prior to
1740, Samuel moved to London, probably as a representative of the
family business and by the 50s had blossomed forth in many direc-
tions. His textile trade was with the Continent, the West and East
Indies, America, and West Africa, but he also became a shipowner,
insurance broker, speculator in naval prizes, sugar merchant and slave
trader. As was only natural for a man with such far flung enterprises,
he was drawn into politics; first as a government contractor supply-
ing garrisons of the expanding empire, loaning money to the govern-
ment, and finally as a member of Parliament from Shaftesbury,
Sudden financial success of this magnitude most certainly indi-
cated a high degree of rapacity even in an age noted for that quality
but in Samuel's case it seems to have been overdone. He was repeat-
edly accused of trying to secure monopolies in raw materials. A try
for that in raw cotton and Senegal gum from West Africa is under-
standable since they both tied in with his family's textile business
but why try for an exclusive government charter on furs, whale bone,
fish and masts in Labrador or late in his life, an exclusive charter, in a
group with Sir Edward Walpole as figurehead, on all mines and mine-
rals in the Lake Superior region. Is it possible that this group foresaw
the Mesabi Range in 1768?
Other reasons for criticism was the fact that during his term as MP,
he went bankrupt but escaped the normal penalties because of his
"parliamentary privilege." Then there was religious opposition to
him since he and his brothers were Dissenters. It is probable that
they simply did not recognize the Church of England; not the best
formula for social and political success at that time.
From the autumn of 1763 till his death by hanging (suicide) on
May 28, 1773, he lived under reduced circumstances compared to his
former affluence but curiously even his enemies and detractors of
better days were not vindictive and numerous writings of the time
refer to "poor Touchett" and a note of sadness prevailed.
As a final note on Touchett's possible influence on North Amer-
ica, mention should be made of the fact that he was often consulted
by people in high positions in the government. Although his financial
bubble had burst, his contacts in far places remained and his ability
to sense where profits lay was still respected. The North American
colonies continued to be looked upon in certain circles as an insuf-
ficiently tapped source of government revenue. Their raw materials
were appreciated by the merchant classes but cash revenue was what
the treasury understood. And so in the spring of 1767, we find
Touchett advising Charles Townshend, in writing, as to which spe-
cific items would bring the best returns in the form of duties to be
imposed. Here are the seeds of the coming revolution and "poor
Touchett" is knee deep in the affair.
Should the Touchett and other plantations have come to fruition,
Touchett would have had as neighbors the Earl of Dartmouth and
the Cape Florida Society to the south and a German of long resi-
dence in England to the north across the Miami River, What little is
known of the grant to the north is found in the claims made against
the British government after Florida was ceded back to Spain in
Samuel Touchett's Florida Plantation, 1771 81
1783. Parliament passed an act which appointed commissioners to
inquire into losses suffered by colonists in East Florida and to make
payments on legitimate losses.5
One of these claimants, called memorialists in the proceedings, was
John Augustus Ernest,6 a German of 22 years residence in England
who had never been naturalized. In his claims for recompense, he states
that his land was 20,000 acres "In pine, marsh and savannahs, situate
on Gulph Sandwich, bound by Rock Bridge River, North; by a Fresh
Water River, South -by Biscay Sound, East; & by Vacant Land west;
distant from St. Augustine in said Province of East Florida, about two
hundred and Ninety Miles, South."
This description can only be interpreted as running from Arch Creek
(Rock Bridge River) south to the Miami River (Fresh Water River) since
these grants were relatively narrow coastal strips due to the then un-
drained Everglades and the Fresh Water River can hardly be today's
Little River and still encompass 20,000 acres.
To further bear out the probable location of this grant, the amount
of pine land shown in the following schedule of property, indicates it
was high land and didn't include much, if any, of the Everglades.
Schedule of the Property of John Augustus Ernest Esqr.'
Pine Land 12,000 acres
in Marsh Land 3,000 acres &
Savannah 5,000 acres
For which the proprietor refused to receive t 2000 from
Mr. Wm. Roberts of the late Plantation Office.
Mr. Ernest therefore values hts loss at t 2000 Os Od
Actually disbursed by Mr. Ernest for Patent Fees,
Surveying, taking possession & other contingencies. 400 Os Od
t 2400 Os Od.
The following three paragraphs, extracted from Mr. Ernest's me-
morial to the claims office, is all that is known of his grant at this
time, including whether or not he was paid the above sum, which is
Says that he never cleared any land or paid any quit rent nor complied
with any conditions of the Grant. That he intended to have settled the
Land with foreign Protestants, but was prevented by the breaking out of
the War. That in 1777 he engaged 17 Swiss and German Protestants, 8 or 9
of Whom he sent for over [sic] and the rest of Whom he agreed with in
England to go over to his plantation. That they were detained in England 3
months and more and that he was at the Expense of about t 281 Id in
maintaining them, which he states from memory only and not from any
That he applied to Ld Geo. Germaine for passage for them, Who re-
fused it on Account of his Agent Mr. Turnbull being disaffected to Gov-
ernment, That he thinks he paid t 18 in fees for the Order of Council but
has no receipt or Memorandum to produce for it.
That he paid Mr. Mulcaster t 100 19s lid for locating and Surveying his
tract of Land and produced a rect from him for that Sum by a Bill of
Exchange which appeared to be paid. That his Land was never appraised.8
Certification of Survey by Bernard Romans DS for the Samuel Tou-
chett grant 1771, as it appears in longhand on the face of the origi-
Pursuant to a precept from Frederick George
Mulcaster Esq re Surveyor General for his majestys said province
Directed to any Deputy Surveyor bearing date this tenth day of
December 1770. I have admeasured and laid out unto Samuel
Touchett, Merchant, a tract containing 20,000 acres of land
situate in the province aforesaid upon Ratton River. Distant
South South Eastward from Saint augustine, Two hundred and seventy miles.
Bounding South & West on vacant lands, North on said Ratton River
&East on Shoals Sands &flatts of Biscay Sound & hath such
natural and artificial Marks as are in the annexed Plott represented.
Certified this 30th day of March 1771
B. Romans DS
This Page Blank in Original
Cadastral notes and boundary description by Bernard Romans DS for
Samuel Touchett grant-1771, as it appears in longhand on the reverse
of the original document.
The Place A contains about 250 acres of as good ground
for a plantain walk as the West Indies afford and
alone is capable to maintain 1500 Negroes
in that breadkind alone. The situation, as well
as the soil pointing it out for that use & it,s
remainder also is fit for guinea or Indian corn,
yams, cassado, Eddas or potatoes. B is Hammock
Land, exceeding good for Indigo. The marsh and
Buttonwood swamps will certainly produce
Rice & if drained, no doubt, Beet Sugar.
The growth on the Hammock Land is some few
Live Oaks, some Turkey Oak, a good deal of Sweet
Bay. Besides much Broad Narrow & Oval leaved
coccoloban, some Bastard fustick, much Mad tick
Egyptian Bean Trees called Doctor Long a Species
of Calabash & many other trees to me wholly un-
known. The swamps produce some Cypress, some
Dwarf Elder, many Maho trees, the bark of which
is excellent for rope, many cocoplumbs & those near
the sea are edged with Buttonwood, also many of the
West India wild cane with many trees and plants
to which I am a stranger. The roks are all a
Began at a Mastick Tree by Watersedge &
Surveyed a Traverse Line to inspect the
Situation S 100 W 660 Chains
Then returned and thro' the several windings of
the River, made a traverse which gives a strait
line of 310 chains on a course S 710 E and there
cornered on a Broad Leaved coccoloban and an Egyptian
Bean Tree opposite to the old field of Pueblo Ratton
at the mouth of Ratton River in Lat 250 40'
then along Biscay Sound S 100 E 63 Ch. to a point near
Beginning of a Rocky Steep Bluff.
then along sands and flatts of Biscay Sound
thro'several coves a course of S 330 W 800 Ch.
where cornered on a Cephalanthus in a small
Hammock in marsh, then thro' marsh to a steep
precipice of Rocks N 710 W 44 Ch.
then thro 'Rocky Pine Land N 71 W 80 Ch. to stake 3X
in a heap of stones, then thro' rocky pine
Land N 210 E to a pine 80 Ch.
to a do 92 do
to a do 74 do
to a do 79 do
to a do 83 do
to marsh 35 7 do
to creek 11 do
to Mastick 3X on River -34 do
in all N 210E 810 Chains
Which compleats the Survey
The following list will show the original deed calls by B. Romans-1 771
for the Touchett grant and the adjustment thereof to agree with known
geographical features as explained in the text. The directions or azi-
muths on the original were takenwith a magnetic compass and are sub-
ject to considerable fluctuation both from mechanical errors within a
compass and from changes in magnetic declinations since 1771.
Original calls Adjusted calls
#1 S 71 E 310 ch = 20460 ft. S 650 E 19200 ft.
#2 S 10 E 63ch= 4158ft. S10W 4158ft.
#3 S33 W 800 ch = 52800 ft. S 360 14' W 50158 ft.
#4 N71W 124 ch = 8184ft N710W 8184ft.
#5 N21 E 810 ch = 53460 ft. N22 30' E 54120ft.
or 820 ch = 54120 ft.
The acreage from the above calculates as 17,860 acres, so Mr. Tou-
chett was being a little shortchanged on his 20,000 acres. Additionally,
a considerable amount within the figure is made up of water in Bis-
cayne Bay along the course southwesterly from Point View.
1. Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, p. 54.
2. Romans spelled the grantee's name Touchett throughout his survey sketch
but used Touchet in his writings at New York in 1774 which is also the
spelling used in Parliament. For consistency's sake we are using Touchett.
3. Ibid., p. 67.
4. Namier, The History of Parliament, Vol. III, p. 533. I had tried unsuccess-
fully for quite a long time to discover the needed information on Samuel
Touchet to round out the history of his land grant in Florida. I hereby
wish to express my appreciation to Dr. Patrick Lipscomb, Assistant Profes-
sor of History at Louisiana State University for providing the required data.
5. British archives 20 George III c. 75.
6. Siebert, W. H., Loyalists in East Florida. Vol. II, p. 51.
7. Ibid, Vol. II, p. 52.
8. Ibid, Vol. II, p. 53.
DeVorsey, Louis, Jr., De Brahm's Report of the General Survey of the Southern
District of North America. The University of South Carolina Press. 1971.
Mowat, Charles Loch, East Florida as a British Province, 1763-1784. A facsimile
reprint series. Gainesville, Florida. University of Florida Press, 1964.
Namier, Sir Lewis and Brooke, John, The History of Parliament The House of
Commons 1754-1790, Vol. III. Published for the History of Parliament
Trust by the Oxford University Press, New York, 1964.
Phillips, P. Lee, Notes on the life and works of B. Romans. Florida State Histori-
cal Society, #2, 1924.
Romans, Bernard, A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida. New
York 1775. Facsimile, Floridiana reprint series, University of Florida
Siebert, Wilbur Henry, Loyalists in East Florida, 1774-1785, 2 Vols. Florida
State Historical Society, 1929.
MIAMI IN 1876
By Arva Moore Parks
Eighteen seventy-six was a memorable year in American history.
Although the people were wallowing in the slough of a depression
and at the same time suffering the unprecedented political corrup-
tion of Grant's second administration, they were buoyed with the
optimism that was generated by the coming Centennial celebration.
The Centennial offered the bruised nation a chance to salve the
wounds of the recent war and its aftermath by joining together to
review the first hundred years of nationhood.
In May 1876, the great Centennial Exposition opened in Philadel-
phia. Before the gates closed in October more than nine million
visitors had come to the fair. In the face of this grandiose reiteration
of America's past achievements, even the most pessimistic citizen had
new faith in the future.
Coincident with the opening of the Centennial Exposition, Presi-
dent Grant issued a proclamation urging cities and towns to celebrate
the Centennial by having a history of their town prepared to file in
the County Clerk's office and the Library of Congress. A complete
record could be "obtained of the progress of our institutions during
the first centennial of their existence."1 Grant's recognition of the
role local history played in the nation's story brought about a re-
newed interest in the hometowns of America.
In 1876, there was only one real town in South Florida. It was the
island city of Key West, which at that time was Florida's largest city
with a population of 12,750 people. It had reached that impressive
size largely because of its position as the wrecking capital of the
Great Florida Reef. Each year millions of dollars of salvage were
awarded by the Federal District Court, the "wrecking court" estab-
lished there in 1828.
Key West's city fathers made elaborate plans for the Fourth of
July Centennial Celebration which included the dedication of the
impressive new city hall. The principal speaker that day was long-
time resident, Walter C. Maloney, who had prepared a long speech on
the city's history. Just as he began his talk a fire broke out nearby in
Mr. Alderslade's roof. The thousands assembled to hear Mr. Maloney
gleefully followed the firemen to the more exciting event at. Mr.
Alderslade's. When the fire was put out ten minutes later, the cheer-
ing crowd had obviously lost interest in listening to history. Fortu-
nately, Maloney decided to have his interrupted speech privately
printed, giving Key West its only nineteenth-century history.2
There was no recitation of past glories in South Florida's second
largest settlement. This settlement, a hundred and fifty miles from
Key West on the shores of Biscayne Bay, had less than a hundred
residents and a few permanent structures. These hardy pioneers, like
those who came before them, were trying to endure life in this
isolated, rocky-soiled, insect-infested, tropical wilderness. Little had
changed in the three hundred and nine years since the first Spanish
missionaries arrived and attempted to Christianize the aboriginal Te-
questa Indians who had lived there for at least two thousand years.3
If any pattern of development had been set here it was the pattern
of failure. Through the years a succession of individuals had come to
this jungle land of uncertainty, wavering hopes and hardships. How-
ever, every time a real attempt at settlement was made, something
occurred that interrupted it.4
The settlers in Miami in 1876 did not know it at the time, but
they were at the threshold of change. While the number of residents
may not have looked impressive, compared to the past, the popula-
tion was "booming." There would still be many who would give up
on the area, but for the most part the pattern would be broken and
many people there in 1876 would actually witness the end of the
frontier and the birth of the City of Miami in 1896. Some would
even help bring it about.
Before describing what occurred in Miami during the nation's cen-
tennial year and analyzing the reasons for the end of three centuries
of failure, it is important to highlight briefly the history of the
century before in order to have a better understanding of the impor-
tance of the events in 1876.
At the conclusion of the American Revolution in 1783, the Treaty
of Paris returned Florida to Spain. This turn of events caused a great
hardship for the many Loyalists who, rather than fight their mother
country, had sought refuge in British Florida. Many chose to emi-
grate to the Bahamas that had been colonized by the English as early
Miami in 1876 91
as 1647. By 1789, the Loyalists had swelled the population of the
Bahamas to over eleven thousand people.
In the early Nineteenth Century most of the white inhabitants of
South Florida came from the Bahamas. Many became familiar with
the coast while salvaging the many wrecks on the reef. In 1817 it was
reported in Niles Register that "two or three settlements of little
consequence are about Cape Florida. All of these southern settle-
ments are from Providence, Bahamas."5 A few years later it was
reported that Key Biscayne was frequented by New Providence
men.6 But even though this type of activity was common during the
Second Spanish Period the real beginning of the orderly process of
frontier settlement occurred in 1821, when Florida became a terri-
tory of the United States.
One of the first orders of business for the United States was to do
something to prevent the many wrecks on the Florida Reef. To this
end, the Cape Florida Lighthouse on Key Biscayne was built and
lighted in 1825.' It was the first permanent structure in the Miami
At about the same time a commission was set up by the United
States Government to hear claims based on occupation and/or land
grants from the Second Spanish Period (1783-1821). There were
only eight claims in the entire Miami area. By 1825, five claims for
about 640 acres each had been validated by the commission. There
were the James Hagan (Egan) Donation on the north bank of thp
Miami River, the Rebecca Hagan (Egan) Donation, Polly Lewis and
Johnathan Lewis Donation on the south of the Miami River and the
Mary Ann Davis Donation on Key Biscayne.8 Thus at the beginning
of the Territorial Period only about three thousand acres were held
in private ownership, the rest was public land.
The Egans and Lewises, who had come to the area via the Ba-
hamas, deposed in their claim that they had lived in the area around
fifteen years.9 They built homes, cultivated a few crops and began
the chain of title to the land that continues to our day. In 1829, Dr.
Benjamin Strobel of Key West visited Biscayne Bay and wrote a
remarkable description of the "Lewis Settlement."
The point of land to which we steered our course was steep and perpendic-
ular, consisting of a wall of limestone rock, twelve or fifteen feet above the
level of the water. At one of these we landed, and ascending a rude flight
of steps, I found myself at the door of a neat palmetto hut which was
seated on the brow of the hill. It was quite a romantic situation. The
cottage was shaded on its western aspect by several large West Incdian fruit
trees, whilst on its eastern side we found a grove of luxuriant limes, which
were bowing to the earth under the weight of their golden fruit. This was
the residence of the old lady to whom I had been recommended and who
was bordering on 80 years of age. I entered the house and made my
devoirs. She received me graciously and placed before me some Palmetto
and Icaca plums and after refreshing politely conducted me herself over
her grounds and showed me a field of potatoes and corn which she had
cultivated. She generally employed several Indians for this purpose, who
for their labor received a portion of the products. 0
By February 1829, James Egan decided he preferred to live at
Indian Key because it was already a sizable community. He placed the
following advertisement in the Key West Register and Commercial
A Valuable Trace of
Near Cape Florida
Situate [sic] on the Miami River. The Land is very good and will produce
Sugar Cane or Sea Island Cotton, equal if not superior to any other part of
the Territory. There is at present a number of bearing Banana and Lime
trees and the fruit is inferior to none raised in the Island of Cuba. The
forest growth consists principally of Live Oak, Red Bay and Dog Wood.
Any person desirous of purchasing a valuable plantation will do well to
visit the land.' 1
Key West resident, Richard Fitzpatrick, formerly of South Caro-
lina, took James Egan up on his offer. In 1830 he paid him $400.00
for his 640 acres on the north bank of the Miami River. By 1832 he
had also acquired the Polly Lewis Donation for $500.00, the Johna-
than Lewis Donation for $300.00, and the Rebecca Hagan (Egan)
Donation for $640.00. Thus he acquired four square miles of the
most desirable land in Miami for $1,840.00! For another $500.00
he added the Frankee Lewis Donation (Johnathan Lewis' mother,
Polly's mother-in-law) at New River (Ft. Lauderdale.)" 2
Richard Fitzpatrick had come to Key West from South Carolina
before 1830. As a delegate from Monroe County (which at that time
included all of Dade County) he was elected President of the Legisla-
tive Council that convened in Tallahassee in January, 1836.13 Appar-
ently, by that time his overseer, James Wright, was living at Miami.
He had directed the building of extensive improvements on Fitz-
patrick's land. According to a later claim made against the United
States these improvements included about a hundred and fifty acres
of sugarcane, corn, pumpkins and sweet potatoes, four thousand
Miami in 1876 93
A VALUABLE TRACT OF
NEAR C.IPEi,.F yIDA.
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rial superior to ady dltherpart uf the 'I'rra-
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In 1829 James Egan offered to sell his 640 acres on the north bank of the Miami
River. About seventy years later it would become downtown Miami.
Key West Register, February 18, 1829
banana and plantain trees, a hundred coconut trees, a lime grove and
many other tropical fruits. Fitzpatrick also listed a hundred hogs,
assorted ducks and other fowl.
The farm was worked by Negro slaves brought from South Caro-
lina. They lived in twelve wooden houses constructed on the prop-
erty as slave quarters. There were five other frame houses on the
property but only one, his home, was on the north bank. Two of the
four on the south bank had been occupied previously by Lewis.
There were also several outbuildings on the estate. Four boats were
anchored nearby.'4 Even if this precise list of Fitzpatrick's im-
provements was exaggerated in order to increase his claim, the activ-
ity on, and plans for his holdings were obviously extensive. A real
beginning had been made. Fitzpatrick was committed to the area.
Fitzpatrick demonstrated this commitment by pushing the plan
for the creation of a new county to be formed from part of Monroe.
The plan was tentatively approved early in the session (January 28)
and it was suggested that the new county be named Dade in honor of
Major Francis Langhorne Dade who, along with 109 of his men had
been killed by the Seminole Indians1 s only seven days before the
legislative session began. Before the bill could be officially passed in
February,16 the Seminoles attacked the William Cooley family who
were living on Fitzpatrick's land at New River (Ft. Lauderdale).
Everyone in the family except William Cooley, who was away at the
time, was killed. The only survivor of the massacre, a young slave
boy, managed to reach the "Cape Florida Settlement" and warn the
people there. Everyone sought refuge at the Cape Florida Lighthouse
until they could flee to Key West.' 7 One of those fleeing was James
Wright, Richard Fitzpatrick's overseer. He left everything behind ex-
cept the Negro slaves who he forced to accompany him so they
would not join the Indians.1 "
The Second Seminole War, which began with the Dade Massacre
near Bushnell, Florida, had come to South Florida. In July, the
Seminoles attacked the Cape Florida Lighthouse19 which was the
last bastion of the white man. With the destruction and abandon-
ment of the lighthouse the last white man left the Miami area. The
cycle was complete. The South Florida mainland was back where it
started from. When the white man returned, he did not return to
settle the area but to reclaim it.
After the destruction of the lighthouse, the United States located
a series of fortifications in the Miami area. The first was established
by the Navy on Key Biscayne and called Fort Bankhead. Eventually
taken over by the Army, it was moved to the mouth of the Miami
River on Fitzpatrick's land and called Fort Dallas.20 With Colonel
William S. Harney in command, Fort Dallas became the point of em-
barkation for several major expeditions into the Everglades in search
of the elusive Seminole.
These soldiers were the first sizable group of people, other than
Indians, to ever spend time in the Miami area. Although there were
frequent complaints of the difficult conditions the soldiers faced,
some, like Army Surgeon Jacob Rhett Motte, saw a brighter side. In
1837 he wrote of his impressions of Harney's Camp.
... the spot where I found Colonel Harney encamped could with very little trou-
ble be converted into a perfect Eden. The cocoanut, the banana, the orange, the
lime and tamarind flourished around us, the spontaneous growth of the soil.
Miami in 1876 95
Swarms of deer abounded in the forests close by; .. this was indeed
the land of flowers and no wonder that the Seminoles desired to remain in
a country where food was as plentiful and as easily procured as manna by
the Israelites; for here no necessity existed for labor, and the sojourner
reaped what he sowed not.2 1
Apparently Harney too was impressed with what he found in
South Florida. In the middle of the war, Mary Ann Davis, who was
living in Texas, decided to subdivide her land at Key Biscayne. Col-
onel Harney became her first customer on July 1, 1839 when he
purchased two lots "on the west side of Jackson Street.. one ex-
tending from Jefferson Street northward to Washington Street and
the other extending from Washington Street to a point 180 feet
northward thereof"2 2 for $100.00.23
About this same time Henry Perrine, former United States Consul
in Campeche, Mexico, and noted horticulturist, convinced Congress
to grant him a township of land in South Florida in order to awaken
interest in the culture of tropical plants through both cultivation and
plant introduction. When Perrine and his family arrived in South
Florida in December, 1838 they found that the Indians were still in
control of the mainland so they decided to stay on Indian Key until
the hostilities ceased.24
At that time it could be said that Indian Key was Dade County.
The twelve-acre island was owned by the infamous Jacob Housman
who in a little more than a decade had built himself a sizable empire
there. Streets were laid out and at least thirty-eight structures, in-
cluding the Tropical Hotel, were built on the island. It was also the
temporary county seat of Dade County. Housman, people com-
plained, owned everything. He had even managed to have Indian Key
made a port of entry challenging Key West's former monopoly of the
wrecking trade.25 By 1840 the many refugees from the mainland
had swelled the population of Indian Key to over fifty people.2 6
Housman's island empire came crashing down in the early hours of
August 7, 1840. Over a hundred Indians, led by their chief Chakaika,
launched an attack on Indian Key. The destruction was total, only
one house survived the conflagration. Miraculously, only seven
people lost their lives. One of them was Dr. Perrine. Fortunately, his
wife and three children managed to survive, were rescued and re-
turned to New York.2 7
Back at Fort Dallas Colonel Harney vowed revenge for the mas-
sacre at Indian Key. On December 4, 1840, he led an expedition of
ninety men from Ft. Dallas into the Everglades to seek out Chakaika
at his island sanctuary. After Harney's men shot and killed him they
hanged his huge corpse with two other captives.28 While the war
dragged out for over two more years, the death of Chakaika ended
most of the activity in South Florida. As a result of the war, which
officially ended in 1842, 3,824 Seminoles had been shipped west-
ward. The few Seminoles that remained in Florida withdrew into the
With the war over and Ft. Dallas abandoned a few of the pre-war
settlers returned to the Miami River to pick up the pieces. Richard
Fitzpatrick found his plantation in ruins, all his buildings destroyed
and much of his hammock land stripped. Rather than try again he
sold his entire holdings to his nephew, William F. English, for
English came to Biscayne Bay with the most ambitious plan to
date. He platted the "Village of Miami"3' on the south bank of the
river. This was probably one of the earliest recorded uses of the name
Miami to describe the settlement there. Word spread of his plans for
the new city. The following story appeared in the St. Augustine
News in December, 1843:
From Indian River to Cape Florida only one site suitable for a town,
combining the exquisite advantages of proximity to the ocean and com-
munication with the interior of the country .. extraordinary fertility of
soil .. every inducement is presented to active industry. ... These capa-
bilities, we are gratified to learn are being properly appreciated and an
activity already prevails at that river. ... A town is laid off on its southern
banks, opening in front upon Key Biscayne Bay and some coontie mills are
in progress of rapid completion. The settlers, already numerous, are every
day increasing and there is no doubt at no very distant day-the inhabi-
tants of the new city in Dade County will be more numerous than this.32
English sold some lots in "the new city in Dade County" to Harris
Antonio, one for $1.00 on the condition that he build a "good frame
building" there. On the same day Antonio also bought lot No. 97,
located on Porpoise Street for $25.00. Lots numbered 93-96 were
sold to A. Antonio for $160 to be paid in four equal installments
with interest.3 3
Besides the plans for the new city, there were several other reasons
for optimism. In March, 1844, the county seat of Dade County was
moved to "Miami on the south side of the Miami River, where it
empties into Biscaino Bay."34
In 1845 Florida became a state. The following year the Cape
Florida Lighthouse was rebuilt and relighted.3s In the same year the
Miami in 1876 97
The stone building shown here was started by William F. English in the 1840s
and completed by the Army during the Third Seminole War. It was used as
temporary housing by many early settlers until permanent homes could be built.
In 1928 it was moved to Lummus Park where it stands today. Munroe Collection
first American survey of several of the townships in South Florida
was certified.36 This made it possible for the first time to purchase
land there for as little as $1.25 an acre. Before that the Armed
Occupation Act of 1842 (extended in 1848) had made it possible for
a head of a family to obtain title to 160 acres of land if he built a
home, cleared five acres, did not settle within two miles of a military
post and lived there for five years.3 Because it was difficult to
obtain unsurveyed land, most waited to apply until the act was ex-
tended in 1848.
The purpose of the Armed Occupation Acts was to fill the frontier
with homesteaders hoping that settlers would succeed in dealing with
the remaining Indians where the Army had failed. It was an uneasy
peace. In 1849 it was reported that all the settlers had again left Mi-
ami for the safety of the Cape Florida Lighthouse. This time the Navy,
sent from Key West to investigate, convinced them to return home.38
"LORIDA ARROW ROOT.
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SEven the threat of Indian uprisings did not stop growth. In the late
S. .. ,
S.\ 1i i hI
!\I i:iSI [I)ID^4 ',
In 1859 George Ferguson advertised his coontie starch in Key West that was
manufactured in his factory on the Miami River. Key to the Gulf, July 9, 1859
Even the threat of Indian uprisings did not stop growth. In the late
1840s Dr. R. R. Fletcher opened a store on the south bank of the
river, and George Ferguson opened a store adjacent to his coontie
mill39 near the rapids of the Miami River. In the 1850 Manufactur-
ing Census, Ferguson reported that he and his twenty-five employees
had processed 300,000 pounds of coontie at a value of $24,000.40
Ferguson produced starch on such a large scale that he sold it to