Julia Tuttle (January 22, 1849 – September 14, 1898) was an American businesswoman who is known as the “Mother of Miami.”
Due to her urging, such wealthy individuals as Henry Flagler and James E. Ingraham extended their railroad tracks from Palm Beach to Miami.
Hence the city of Miami grew into what today is the largest metropolitan area in the state of Florida.
Tuttle was successful in her persuasion by sending fragrant orange blossoms and oranges from what was to become Miami to Flagler during one of Florida’s hard freezes in the northern part of Florida.
Flagler, the godfather of Florida, was so impressed he agreed to extend his railroad to the fishing village of a few hundred individuals living in this southern part of Florida.
A little-known fact is that Tuttle gave Flagler 100 acres, which was half her land. That tract now covers much of downtown Miami. This all happened 125 years ago.
To give you some more depth into Tuttle’s life we look at the year 1891, when Tuttle, a Cleveland widow with two young children, moved to the Biscayne Bay area, where her father had been for more than two decades and which she had visited as early as 1870.
Julia Tuttle bought 640 acres on the north bank of the Miami River and moved into a 40-year-old home. That year she wrote to Ingraham, president of Henry Plant’s South Florida Railroad. The letter from Tuttle was ignored by Ingraham.
However, when Ingraham partnered with Flagler, they reconsidered Tuttle’s idea and the rail line was built.
Flagler provided free electricity, water and sewage to the area.
Flagler’s railroad arrived in Miami in April 1896 and his Royal Palm Hotel opened in January 1897.
Tuttle had the foresight to imagine that the area would someday be a great seaport and a gateway to Latin America.
Tuttle was quoted as saying, “But as surely as the sun rises and sets, all of this will come true.”
In 1898, Tuttle fell ill with apparent meningitis. Plans were made to move her to Asheville, North Carolina, by rail, for treatment, but her condition deteriorated before she could be transported. She died on September 14, 1898, at age 49. Her funeral took place at her Fort Dallas, Florida, home, and she was buried in a place of honor at the City of Miami Cemetery.