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 Metropolis map but it is hard to read and it does have some errors in it. It also is somewhat limited in geographic scope. 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. Some of the blanks are because the land was owned by the Model Land Company and records are not readily available to document that. Others are because the land records are such a mess in this area that it proves the need for title insurance when purchasing property in South Florida. David has combed through the records and found quite a lot of land that was granted to various railroad companies, the Florida East Coast Railway not being one of them, interestingly enough. He also 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 link under Maps at the bottom of the right sidebar that reads “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.