Amnesia, Erasure and Desecration

Miami’s history is routinely told as if nothing of significance existed before the city’s incorporation in 1896. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Indigenous people have lived and thrived on the Miami River for literally thousands of years. Modern archeologists are downtown continuing to uncover more and more evidence of a very busy and populous ancient Miami.             

Why is it then that we hear the oft repeated stock narrative "Miami was founded by a Woman in 1896”. 

                                                                       The Mother of Miami 

 We all know the well worn tale of her delivering orange blossoms to the oil and railroad magnate William Flagler, to stir him to extend his railroad down to the Miami River and to build his massive Royal Palm Hotel.  ( Incidently this story is only partially true.  Julia did not, in fact, deliver orange blossoms to Henry Flagler. Instead she wrote to him of the frosts not reaching Miami.. Flagler sent his employee James Ingraham to check it out. Ingraham took samples and returned to Flagler with cuttings wrapped in wet cotton.)

So in 1896 the Magic City is supposedly suddenly born. Magic indeed. This was an ambitious tourism and real estate venture which began with a sad stupid act of desecration. To erect his Royal Palm Hotel Flagler completely destroyed the monumental ancient Tequesta Burial Mound which had stood,  for likely millennia, as the navigational beacon marking the mouth of the Miami River.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Due to this shameful inaugural act of desecration we will never know how old the mound was. Flagler’s foreman wrote of giving away 60 human skulls as souvenirs and of burying other human remains in an undisclosed location- a sinkhole. However recent archeological examinations have revealed that many of the ancient human remains where used as just so much fill to build a seawall for the Hotel. ( See- The Mound)

                       The Slave Plantation Homestead. Behind is the Royal Palm Hotel

While this desecration was going on Julia Tuttle was living in her large home about 100 yards from the Hotel. Her home had been built in the 1840s for the slave plantation owner William F. English but Mrs. Tuttle designated it as having been an Officers Quarters built for the military campaigns to purge the Seminoles from Florida. 

                                       The former Slave Quarters in Julia Tuttles time.

Furthermore, next to her house stood the Plantation’s slave quarters built at the same time, but Julia Tuttle called it 'Fort Dallas’ . She described as a military-built barracks.  Regretably its is still called that to this day.  

Today this  slave quarters structure sits preserved in Lummus Park with the signage as             "Fort Dallas”. ( See -Whats in a Name?) 

In February 2020 the Miami-Dade County Commissioners unanimously called for Dixie Highway to be renamed for Harriet Tubman. In this supposed era of  ‘ Woke' , is it not time for us to rename this unique structure to acknowledge its true history?

 In Miami the power of real estate industry and local politics have for 125 years have been actively opposed to presevation of our indigenoius and black historic sites.  Julia Tuttle may not a true mother of Miami but she could be, more accurately, called the Mother of the city’s Real estate/developer culture. In 1896 she and and her cohorts set an inaugural tone for an ongoing developer culture of  revisionist hype, denial and erasure.   

Sadly, as this site will document, this culture of desecration is still very much alive. 

(See Cover-up Culture) Coming Soon ….