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The published histories of Detroit give too much credit to Edward Stiling. This article is part I of a two-part article, Detroit Before Edward Stiling, that investigates the earliest history of Detroit that has so far been discovered.
Part II of Detroit Before Edward Stiling, a continuation of the story told in the first part.
Orville Whitford Calkins
Orville Whitford Calkins was an early homesteader west of Florida City, then known as Detroit. His daughter, Mary Calkins Heinlein, was instrumental in founding the Redland Fruit and Spice Park.
Rev. Joseph M. Cormack
Rev. Joseph M. Cormack was the Methodist minister in the Florida City area – his colleague was Rev. Joseph A. Kahl in Homestead. Cormack was a minister as well as a businessman in early Florida City and has been almost completely forgotten.
Arthur Robb Cunningham was an adventurer from Detroit, Michigan who came to Detroit, Florida in January of 1911. He only stayed 6 months, but his wife, Ella, took some remarkable photographs and Art’s grandson, Sheldon, reached out to the author and together, we produced two booklets that are a wonderful insight into life in Detroit long ago.
The Beginnings of Detroit, Florida
Detroit, Florida, now known as Florida City, was founded in 1910 by the Tatum Brothers, who were based in Miami. The town was a real estate promotion scheme, heavily promoted by the developers, very much unlike Homestead, which was promoted by the Model Land Co., the land holding company of the Florida East Coast Railway.
Bryan Hastic Edwards
Bryan H. Edwards was a real estate salesman and an early mayor of Florida City. Bryan H. Edwards Park, now a site for semi-permanent campers, was named after him. His daughter, Jacqueline, was the wife of Henry Brooker, Jr.
John & Florence Hunt
John Hunt was not depicted well in Jean Taylor’s book, Villages of South Dade. In this article, I’ve tried to present a more balanced portrait of he and his wife, who was an early nurse in Detroit/Florida City and later opened a hospital in Homestead – the Hunt Hospital.
An Overview of Florida City History
No one has ever written a history of Florida City. This is an attempt to provide an overview but there is much more that needs to be done to correct the myths and inaccuracies that have become accepted wisdom about its history.
The Detroit Ice, Light & Power Co. Before Homestead had an electric plant in 1917, Florida City had an ice plant that also provided electricity in 1915. This article goes into great detail how that plant came into being and includes some photographs of it.
William C. Norwood
William C. Norwood was an early businessman in Detroit/Florida City who was related to the Feaster family. He tragically died quite young and is buried in the Titusville area.
The Miami Land & Development Co.
James M. Powers was the secretary-treasurer of the Miami Land & Development Co., the founders and promoters of Detroit. The company was created by the Tatum brothers of Miami to develop and promote Detroit. This article explains the connection between the Model Land Co., the Tatum brothers, the Lawton, Oklahoma capitalists and the Miami Land & Development Co.
Elbert H. Ring
Elbert H. Ring came to Detroit from Virginia in about 1912 and established a sawmill, served in an official capacity for the town of Detroit and platted one of its subdivisions, Florida City Heights.
The Tatum Brothers
The four Tatum brothers in Miami played a central role in the founding of Detroit and Florida City – far greater than Edward Stiling. They were relentless promoters, making outlandish claims about their venture. This article provides a little bit of background on them.
The Women’s Industrial Club of Detroit
The Homestead Women’s Club gets all the press in the existing histories of this area but it was not the first woman’s club – the Longview Neighborhood Club, established in 1911, was. The Woman’s Industrial Club was established shortly after the Longview club and some of its members were residents of Homestead.