The Founders of Biscayne Bay

A brief look at some of the visionaries behind the developments and islands sitting in Biscayne Bay!

  • William Brickell

    MIAMI

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    May 25, 1825 (d.1908)

    Steubenville, Ohio

    Married to Mary Bulmer, England

    N/A

    Before settling in what would become Miami, William Brickell’s prospecting had brought him to Australia, where he met resounding success peddling wares to gold prospectors. It was in Australia that he would also meet his future wife, Mary.

    In 1870, William Brickell and his wife Mary moved to southern Florida from Cleveland, Ohio. After acquiring land from Harriet English who was selling four Spanish land grants she acquired from her late son, the Brickells opened a trading post as well as a post office on the south bank of the Miami River, near Fort Dallas. The family eventually owned large tracts of land and joined fellow pioneer Julia Tuttle in gifting acreage to the Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway, heralding growth, development and a new city. But prior to Miami, William had had a rich life, despite losing both parents by the time he was 18. With the 1851 discovery of gold in Australia, the enterprising William, along with Adam Kidd, set out for the land down under. Together the pair would found Kidd & Brickell, peddling wares to hopefuls. William and his partner met resounding success, eventually building the town’s first hotel, as well as operating a barge, even and a coach service. William and Mary were, however, fated to return to the US, eventually making way to Cleveland, Ohio, as well as the acquaintances of the up-and-coming Henry Flagler and John D. Rockefeller. Still enjoying his wealth gained in Australia, William was Flagler and Rockefeller’s benefactor, loaning the pair money to pay taxes on 375 acres of oil land.

    After William’s death in 1908, Mary became one of the fledgling city’s prominent real estate developers and managers.

    Sidebar:

    Wanting to create a town to the north of Miami, Mary gifted Henry Flagler rights to a strip of land on which he built a one-square-mile townsite and laid out the streets of what became Fort Lauderdale. The Brickell family house was located at 501 Brickell Avenue, where the Icon at Brickell stands today.

  • Julia DeForest Tuttle (nee Sturtevant)

    MIAMI

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    January 22, 1849 (d.1898)

    Cleveland, Ohio

    Florida’s State Senator Ephraim Sturtevant’s daughter

    N/A

    Business Woman

    Dubbed the mother of Miami, Julia DeForest Sturtevant was the daughter of Florida State Senator Ephraim Sturtevant. She married Frederick Leonard Tuttle on January 22, 1867. In 1875, Julia and her husband first journeyed to the Biscayne Bay region of southern Florida, visiting a 40-acre orange grove her father had purchased. In 1890, her father died, bequeathing the then widowed Julia land in Florida, prompting her to sell her house in Cleveland. Julia used part of her inheritance to purchase 640 acres on the north side of the river, where the City of Miami now sits. She was far from satisfied with mere landownership; she wanted a city. And, having decided to take a leading role in birthing a metropolis, she knew transportation was critical. The enterprising Julia seized the opportunity created by the Great Freeze of 1894-1895 that had devastated the groves in central and northern Florida, virtually erasing fortunes overnight. She convinced Henry Flagler to extend his railroad from West Palm Beach to Miami, even gifting him land for a hotel and a railroad station. Though Julia couldn’t officially vote (women we not yet granted that right), the city she envisioned, her City of Miami, was incorporated on July 28, 1896, a mere three months after the Florida East Coast Railway service arrived on April 22.

    Sidebar:

    Apparently an ardent teetotler, Tuttle wanted to ensure folks who bought land from her would remain ‘dry.’ She went as far as to insert a clause banning the sale of alcoholic beverages in purchaser’s deeds. However, she acquiesced to Flagler’s demand that guests at his impending Royal Palm Hotel would be free to have their ‘little sips’ three months of the year. In addition to the Julia Tuttle Causeway linking Miami to Miami Beach, Julia is immortalized with a Daub and Firmin sculpture in Miami’s Bayfront Park.

  • James R. Reid

    MIAMI BEACH

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    June 24, 1862 (d.1929)

    Bowling Green, Ohio

    Father John H. Reid was a prominent lawyer.

    At age 16 he worked as a shop clerk and five years later he owned the shop!

    Real Estate Developer

    You could say James R. Reid was destined for success. Pedigreed, he worked as a shop clerk at age 16, and by the time he was 21, he owned the shop, having been made partner a mere three years into his tenure. Having spent 20 years in the clothing business, at times trading mercantile for real estate, James left his native Bowling Green, Ohio, for Miami in 1911, acquiring 650 town lots adjoining the Charles Deering Estate. He launched the North Bay Shore Land Company, serving as its president, and built the North Bay Shore Inn, a popular resort. He was also the proud owner of the South Beach Park, 650 feet of ocean frontage. John was known as a “public-spirited and progressive citizen…while his liberal culture and genial nature make him popular in the social life of the city.”

    Sidebar:

  • John Newton Lummus

    MIAMI BEACH

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    December 25, 1871 (d.1961)

    Bronson, Levy County, Florida

    Father was a veteran from the Civil War, having served in the Confederate Army. They were from Georgia.

    Learned telegraphy

    Banker, Real Estate Developer

    John Newton Lummus was as a telegraph operator before moving to Miami where he joined his brother, James, “in fulfilling a large commissary contract with the Florida East Coast Railway” in its expansion from Miami to Key West. John went on to be one of the founders of the Southern Bank and Trust Company, becoming its first president in 1911. But he had eyes on the development of the area, and in 1913, bought all of what was then known as the Ocean Beach. He would go on to incorporate the Ocean Beach Realty Company, and in his role as active principal, set out developing the south end of the peninsula. He was fated to meet Carl Fisher a few months later, and the two contracted to develop the “entire province.” Having developed an area encompassing 600 acres, John sold all but his residence in 1918. He would prove instrumental in successfully lobbying for a causeway connecting Miami and Miami Beach. It was hardly a surprise that John became the inaugural mayor of the newly minted Town of Miami Beach in 1915.

    Sidebar:

    In 1912, the Lummus brothers, along with Avery Smith formed the Ocean Beach Realty Company and bought 600 acres of land, most of it from Charles Lum (from 14th Street to Government Cut). Biscayne Street (today South Pointe Drive) was laid out along the north side of Smith’s strip of land, and the numbered streets started a block farther north. In keeping with the South’s tradition of not restriction the Jewish community, the original Lummus development, had no bans at all against Jews.

    John Lummus was the first mayor of the Town of Miami Beach in 1915. His son, John N. Lummus Jr, will become the youngest mayor of the City of Miami Beach in 1926 at age 27.

  • James Lummus

    MIAMI BEACH

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    December 23, 1867 (d.1955)

    Bronson, Levy County, Florida

    Father was a veteran from the Civil War, having served in the Confederate Army. They were from Georgia.

    Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie, New York 1888.

    Banker, Real Estate Developer

    Raised in Levy County, Florida, James E. Lummus would become the second mayor of Miami Beach, having moved to Dade County in February 1896, shortly after divesting his interests in Epperson, Lummus & Colson, a partnership that included his uncle, J.W. Epperson. By 1908, and with the completion of his building, James established a thriving mercantile business, though he would eventually abandon that pursuit for banking, assuming the vice presidency of the Bank of Bay Biscayne, then the presidency a year later, a position he held until December 1918 when he became president of the Southern Bank & Trust Company. It is worth noting that James was credited as the second man to erect a business in the community, having moved to the area prior to the arrival of Henry Flagler’s railroad.

    Sidebar:

    In 1912, the Lummus brothers, along with Avery Smith formed the Ocean Beach Realty Company and bought 600 acres of land, most of it from Charles Lum (from 14th Street to Government Cut). Biscayne Street (today South Pointe Drive) was laid out along the north side of Smith’s strip of land, and the numbered streets started a block farther north. In keeping with the South’s tradition of not restriction the Jewish community, the original Lummus development, had no bans at all against Jews.

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