By Jeff Blakley
When I started researching the early settlers of Florida City and Homestead in April of 2015, I soon wanted to know exactly where they had claimed their homesteads. The links on the sidebar entitled BLM Tract books and Homesteading Records/BLM provide written information on where the homesteads were located, but maps are not provided. I was aware that both the Pioneer Museum and the Town Hall Museum had reproductions of the 1912 Miami Daily Metropolis map but it is hard to read and it does have some errors in it. Also, contrary to popular belief, it is also not a map of homesteads. Instead, it is a map that shows the ownership of property in November of 1912 that was included as part of a special edition of the Miami Daily Metropolis to promote real estate in the Redland District. So I set out to make a map, the old-fashioned way, using paper and pencil. Last August, I became aware of the work of David Torcise. He had spent an incredible amount of time carefully locating all of the homesteads from S.W. 184 St. south to below S.W. 392 St. and from S. W. 117 Avenue west to S.W. 227 Avenue. All of the homesteaded land is accounted for, but that doesn’t include all of the land on the map. Most of the land not homesteaded belonged to the Florida East Coast Railway or to the Model Land Company, the real estate holding company of the railroad. David has combed through the records and filled in the ownership of the so-called “school sections”, section 16 in each township. His handiwork is available for anyone to peruse by clicking on the Resources tab, then selecting “Maps” and then “David Torcise’s Google Earth Map of Homesteads.”
Download the file and then open it. You must have Google Earth installed on your computer to be able to view the file.
Once the file is open, zoom in using the “+” button on the upper right side of the screen to look at the parcel you are interested in. The more you zoom in, the more detail you will see, including street and avenue names.
If you want to know where your pioneer ancestor claimed his or her homestead or you want to know who his or her neighbors were, this map is an invaluable resource. My hat is off to David for his hard work and I appreciate his willingness to share his work with others.