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Edward Stiling — 18 Comments

  1. Thank you for the hard work you put in to research and gather this information. I’m a Homestead native (born May 30, 1948) and I enjoy your historical articles.

    • Thank you, Larry. Yes, the articles take a lot of time to research and write. It is my hope that by doing so, others will join me in this project. Donations of photographs, books, documents and other material about the history of this area to the archive at the Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum are always welcome.

  2. A very well researched and illuminating portrait of an early settler of the Florida City area, touching on his interactions with many others of his time. His connections to the two cities of Detroit is interesting. Your dedication and hard work to conserving and celebrating local history is appreciated.

  3. As always, your articles are educational and entertaining. They reflect a forgotten part of our history, often overshadowed by the larger cities to the counties north. Having spent the first 18 years of my life in Homestead, I truly appreciate learning about the areas historical development, and the pioneers who had the vision and fortitude to invest in South Florida. These articles give me a renewed sense of pride; having grown-up in the once “Winter Bread Basket of America”. Now retired in the “Cornhusker State”, I still coddle a part of my heart in the “Sunshine State”. Thanks for the dedicated and fascinating research!

  4. Hi Jeff, Thank you for another informative chapter.

    BTW: Where do you hypothesize the railroad platform was that Edward Stiling and others were standing on? South side of Palm near Strano packinghouses or North side?

    • My guess is that it was at the intersection of Palm Drive and the railroad tracks. If you will read my article about Detroit in 1911, you can download a couple of booklets written by the grandson of one of the early 1911 pioneers and me. The booklet of photographs makes for interesting viewing.

  5. Excellent job, as always, Jeff. Two thoughts (all I can muster today): (1) Seems like mass conflagrations have played a big role in the development of most cities, except Homestead. Was there ever a “great Homestead fire,” or did the town avoid that diaster? (As if hurricanes aren’t enough.) (2) I was wondering recently: Has there ever been a serious effort, or even an earnest proposal, to bring about a municipal merger of Homestead and Florida City? I’ve never understood why that hasn’t happened.

    • Homestead suffered a number of fires in its early days, before a fire department was established and buildings started to be made fire-proof. The biggest was on November 10, 1913, when the Homestead Inn (now the Hotel Redland), the Campbell Bros. store and three other buildings burned to the ground in 2 hours. On September 7, 1916, Sistrunk Hall burned down. Homestead wasn’t big enough to suffer a fire like Cocoa and Sanford did, but fire was a big problem, nonetheless. As to your second question, yes, there were attempts to merge Florida City and Homestead but Florida City would have nothing to do with the proposals and thus a merger never happened. Florida City and Homestead were very different settlements, a fact that few people know. The difference lay in the fact that Homestead was built on land purchased from the Model Land Co. and Detroit (Florida City) was a real estate development scheme promoted by the Tatum Bros. and their Miami Land & Development Co.

  6. Your article was very informative. We moved to Homestead when I was 4. We left Connecticut and all of our relatives. I am shocked how much of South Florida history I do not know. I had no family to tell me about it and I always felt out of place. I love Florida and it is my home state.

    • Thank you, Deborah. You have lots of company, including me, who do not know that much about the history of this area. That is one of the reasons I write these articles. If you have questions about the history of this area, please ask. I may be able to answer them.

  7. Thanks, Jeff, for your dedication to South Dade history in this latest article on Mr. Stiling. I’m always amazed at what people went through in those early days and realize how sedentary I am, by contrast, and content to stay in one place. Too, the land developers who brought settlers from where they were from in the north to populate the new Detroit or Homestead. I think I read where Edward Stiling was responsible for 40 some families moving to the Detroit area from Michigan. Your article is very informative, but I also got a lot out of the questions in comments and your answers. I had forgotten that Octavia Lehman was a Stiling and started reminiscing about Avocado Dr. east of Krome. I remember her daughter Helen Gustus too. Thanks.

    • The number of families that Stiling brought to Detroit varies. I’ve seen figures from 23 – 30 but no one has provided primary documentary evidence of the actual number of people.

  8. My Grandfather, Rosco Graves, was a doctor in Saco, Maine and lived on the same street as the Stilings and probably delivered Octavia. My aunt Helen Hackler, who lived in Miami, was friends with the Stilings and Octavia. Used to visit her often. Octavia’s daughter use to babysit me as the story goes. Around 1936, is my guess. My Dad John Graves and I would visit Octavia in Florida City when Helen came from Miami.

    Warren Graves

  9. Jeff, thank you. Octavia Stiling Lehman & her husband Lee Lehman were good friends with my father’s parents. My middle name is Lee after Mr. Lehman. Their son Clayton Lehman was best man at my parents wedding, later presumed dead after being shot down in Europe. Helen & her husband Charles “Swede” Gustus were my parents’ best friends and lived on the grove behind my house in the Redlands. Many fond memories of them.

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