Overlooked No More: Julia Tuttle, the ‘Mother of Miami’

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As one story goes, Tuttle took the opportunity to try reaching Flagler again. She sent him flowering orange blossoms from her very own yard beside Biscayne Bay to show that they were, as some called it, “freeze proof.” The land, she made clear, was filled with warm weather possibilities for agriculture and tourism.

In another version of the tale, it was Ingraham who finally appealed to Flagler on Tuttle’s behalf. By this time he was said to be working for Flagler, and he visited Biscayne Bay to find that it was unscathed.

There were, he told the Miami Women’s Club in 1920, “orange trees, lemon trees and lime trees blooming or about to bloom without a leaf hurt, vegetables growing in a small way untouched. There had been no frost there.”

“I gathered up a lot of blooms from these various trees, put them in damp cotton and after an interview with Mrs. Tuttle and Mr. and Mrs. Brickell of Miami, I hurried to St. Augustine, where I called on Mr. Flagler and showed him the orange blossoms,” he added, referring to William Brickell, another prominent landowner who, with his wife, Mary, wanted to see the area developed.

Ingraham also brought proposals from Tuttle and Brickell offering Flagler portions of their land if the railway were to be constructed.

Flagler finally decided to visit the fastest way he could: He took a train to West Palm Beach and a boat to Fort Lauderdale, where he was picked up by Tuttle, who took him to her home in a wagon. There, Tuttle, Brickell and Flagler came to an agreement: Tuttle and Brickell would each donate large portions of their land if Flagler would build a railroad, provide waterworks and pay for a survey and the clearing of the streets.

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