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For most of its history Miami-Dade County has simply been known as Dade County. After whom was it named?

Major Dade

Here’s a hint. HistoryMiami, 1974-024-3.


It was named after a soldier who, together with his command were ambushed and most of them, including him, killed by a Seminole War party in December 1835, as they proceeded from Ft. Brooke near Tampa into the interior. This hostile act had much to do with igniting the Second Seminole War and gave the martyred soldier's name to our county, formed shortly thereafter (1836).   Other historical figures connected with early Miami-Dade County history include Commodore Alexander Dallas who commanded the United States naval forces in the Caribbean and it is after him that a military post that installed in 1836 at the mouth of the Miami River was named (Ft. Dallas), Lt. Col. William S. Harney who, in December of 1840, led an expedition, the members of which were disguised as Indians, into the Everglades, there surprising and killing the Indian leader Chakaika and Richard Fitzpatrick that attempted to establish a plantation at the mouth of the Miami River in the 1830s, an effort cut short by the Second SeminoleWar.

Answer: Major Francis Langhorne Dade.


Posted at 06:00 AM on June 24, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Who purchased most of what is now Fisher Island and planned a resort for African Americans?

Fisher Island

Fisher Island, 1926. Richard B. Hoit, photographer. HistoryMiami, Hoit-A1171.


The purchaser came to Miami from Quitman, Georgia, in the closing years of the 19th century to work as a carpenter on Henry Flagler's railroad. Early on, as means permitted, he began buying land, which at the time was cheap and plentiful, in the vicinity of N.W. 7th Avenue and 19th Street. Black workers, the main source of railroad and urban construction labor, streamed into Miami, but, with segregation, were quite limited in where they could live. He built housing units on his land and rented them to black workers. Through real estate transactions and a growing number of rental properties, he became Miami's first black millionaire. In 1918, he bought two thirds of what became Fisher Island as a resort for blacks, at a time when they were prohibited from using public beaches. The plan eventually fell through and he sold his holding to Miami Beach developer Carl Fisher.  A civic-minded business leader, he donated land in the 1920s and ‘30s for a high school, a library and a park, all for the benefit of black citizens for whom, at that time; such amenities were rare, if not non-existent.

Answer: Dana Albert Dorsey


Posted at 06:00 AM on June 17, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Approximately how far back does archeological evidence support a human presence in South Florida?


(Archaeologist Bob Carr, 1993. Credit HistoryMiami, 1993-359-20)

According to former Dade County archeologist Robert Carr, radiocarbon samples dating back thousands  of years were obtained from samples of charcoal excavated at the Cutler Fossil Site on the Charles Deering Estate in the southern part of the county. Also unearthed were artifacts of a similar vintage made of bone and stone, in some cases evincing trade with or migration from central Florida. These Paleo-Indians entered on the scene when the landscape's wildlife included mastodons, jaguars, dire wolfs and paleo-horses. The era was one of climate change, however, the last vestiges of the Great Ice age with its cooler, drier weather, giving way to a warmer, wetter environment. Many of the animals, adapted to the earlier Ice Age climate and the conditions it produced, disappeared not long after mankind made his appearance. Indeed, the extinction of some animals may have been partially due to a growing hunter-gatherer presence. Besides humans, deer, dogs, many small mammals, reptiles and birds survived the climatic changes which caused the glaciers and Arctic ice to melt, dramatically raising the level of the oceans, and greater rainfall, turning Florida's dry savannas into flooded areas where plants, not equipped to grow in standing water, died off in great numbers.

Answer: 11,000 years ago

Posted at 06:00 AM on June 10, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What structure near the Miami River was demolished to make way for Flagler's Royal Palm Hotel?


(Royal Palm Hotel groundbreaking, March 1896. Credit HistoryMiami, 1966-001-1)

As Henry Flagler's foreman, John Sewell arrived in the Miami area on March 3rd, 1896, and soon began the task he had been assigned, clearing the site upon which the Royal Palm Hotel would rise. This labor, largely carried out by a staff of African American workmen, necessitated leveling a mound which stood about twenty to twenty-five feet high, one hundred feet long and seventy-five feet wide. The items found inside the mound were stored in barrels in Sewell's tool shed, until the Hotel was nearing completion. At that time, Sewell and some of his "most trusted" African American workmen deposited these items in a large, nearby hole, about 12 feet deep, and then covered it over with sand. He admonished those associated with him in this effort to forget its location. According to Sewell, a fine residence came to stand on the site. As he added in his Miami Memoirs, "The things that owners don't know will never hurt them."

Answer: An Indian burial mound

Posted at 09:55 AM on June 3, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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