JULIA TUTTLE Biography - Pioneers, Explorers & inventors


Biography » pioneers explorers inventors » julia tuttle


Julia DeForest Tuttle, (c. 1848-September 14, 1898) was a                                 
businesswoman and citrus farmer who was largely responsible for, and the                 
original owner of, the land upon which the city of Miami, Florida, was built.             
For this reason, she is called the Mother of Miami.                                       
Julia DeForest Sturtevant married Frederick Leonard Tuttle on January 22, 1867.           
They had two children: a daughter, Frances Emeline (b. 1868), and a son, Henry           
Athelbert (b. 1870).                                                                     
She first visited the Biscayne Bay region of southern Florida in 1875 with her           
husband, visiting a 40-acre (0.16 km²) orange grove her father had purchased.           
She loved the experience, but returned to Cleveland, Ohio with her family.               
Her husband died in 1886, leaving her the iron foundry he owned, which she was           
able to keep going. In 1891, when her father died and left her his land in               
Florida, she sold the iron business in Ohio and returned to Biscayne Bay. She             
used the money from the sale of the business to purchase another 640 acres (2.6           
km²) of orange groves along the Miami River, including the old Fort Dallas,             
which she would convert into a home for entertaining guests. She immediately             
decided to take a leading role in the movement to start a new city on the river,         
but knew that decent transportation (in that time, a railroad) was necessary.             
She first contacted Henry Plant, a developer of railroads along Florida's west           
coast. He responded to the potential opportunity, but Plant's engineers                   
determined that a connecting route from his existing railroad lines near Tampa           
through the Everglades to Tuttle's property was not feasible.                             
She next contacted the Florida East Coast Railroad of Henry Flagler in 1893,             
making several correspondences to the magnate over the next two years. Each time         
she was rebuffed, with Flagler seeing no need to extend the railroad beyond West         
Palm Beach. However, the freeze of February 1895 would finally help to sway               
Flagler's opinion when Tuttle alerted him that the freeze had spared the Miami           
River. Legend has it that she sent an orange blossom to him by mail. More                 
accurate accounts contend that Flagler sent Tuttle an associate, who then had             
vast amounts of citrus shipped back to Flagler as proof of its agricultural               
survival. In either case, Flagler himself arrived in March of that year and was           
won over rapidly, drawing up plans to extend the railroad there immediately.             
Under their agreement, Tuttle supplied Flagler land for a hotel and a railroad           
station for free, and they split the remainder of her 640 acres (2.6 km²) in             
alternating strips.                                                                       
On April 22, 1896, train service of the Florida East Coast Railway came to the           
area. On July 28, the new City of Miami was chartered. The original Royal Palm           
Hotel was opened in 1897. This hotel was demolished following the hurricanes of           
1926 and 1928.                                                                           
Julia Tuttle died on September 14, 1898. She woke up with a bad headache and             
collapsed a few hours later. She was one of the first people interred in the             
City of Miami Cemetery, given a place of honor there. She died leaving a large           
amount of debt, partly the result of her altruistic land grants to Flagler. Her           
children sold her remaining land to pay it off when they went home.                       
Just as Tuttle is called the Mother of Miami, Henry Flagler became known as the           
Father of Miami. Coincidentally, both Tuttle and Flagler were originally from             
Cleveland, Ohio.                                                                         
Although she is considered the mother of Miami, Miami's toponomy does not do her         
justice. It was not until Miami built causeway I-195 over Biscayne Bay in 1960           
that her name was given to a local landmark. At the same time, William Brickell's         
name describes the whole area south of the Miami River as well as Miami's main           
avenue in the financial district. Julia Tuttle's possessions north of the River           
did not leave any trace in the toponomy.