South Miami — Where everyone knew your name

The city of South Miami (formerly Larkin’s) was located in an area that was once part of America’s last frontier. Pioneers settled into a region called, by the Tequesta Indians, the Little Hunting Ground (Coconut Grove) and the Big Hunting Ground. (Cutler Ridge).

A wagon trail connected the two areas and became what is known today as the Old Ingram Highway.

Settlers flocked to the area and a city was born. The first school building was erected in 1898 at the southeast corner of Sunset Drive and Erwin Road. (SW 52nd Avenue).

In 1904 the Florida East Coast railroad extended its trunk line from Miami to Homestead, thus opening up the entire frontier. Freight service was established and Larkin’s became a regular stop, thanks to Henry Flagler, a railroad tycoon.

In 1925 the Florida real estate boom made for phenomenal growth as construction projects began springing up everywhere.
Some of the prominent names at the time were; the Larkins, Stoms, Paxsons, Shelleys, Fosters, Barrs, Meyers, Stangs, Dorns and the Martins. The Federal Marshal was William Weaver, who later became the city’s first Police Chief.

In 1926 an incorporation committee headed by J. Lamar Paxson succeeded in getting the name Larkins changed to South Miami.
Eventually, two old Florida families, the Dorns and Martins merged, forming the Dorn Martin Drug Company, the area’s first and only drug store.

Tragically, in 1940, The Angel of Death struck at the corner of US-1 and Red Road. A fast moving Florida East Coast railroad train struck the automobile in which Doc Martin and his wife were occupants, killing both of them instantly. It was a time for great mourning for Doc Martin was loved by everyone.

In the year 1898, South Miami was called Larkin, named after its first Postmaster Wilson A. Larkin. The first school was erected at the corner of Erwin Road and Sunset Drive. It was built by A.H. Ramsey and John Burtashaw, W.A. Larkin’s father-in-law and close family member.

In 1900, a census taker by the name of W.A. Hobbs built the first stone house on Battersea Road and the Old Ingram Highway.

The first man to be charged with the health of the residents was O.O. Underwood, who, incidentally, purchased the first fire truck for the area.

The city’s first mayor was W.A. Foster, an ex-judge, while J.L. Paxson, John Barrs, John Meyers, W.G. Stang, R.L.Martin, J.B. Jones and Harold Dorn were the city’s first aldermen.

After constant wrangling, the City of Larkin received its charter in 1927 and changed its name to the City of South Miami.

In 1931, the charter for the City of South Miami was surrendered, but it was later restored in 1932, on the grounds that no provisions had been made to take care of the city’s creditors. After 1932, all attempts to surrender the charter failed and the name, City of South Miami was here to stay.

In 1953, a city manager form of government was established and Leonard Bishop, an avid pigeon enthusiast, was appointed South Miami’s first city manager and Sylva Martin was the city clerk.
(Chapters 1 and 2 are available online at:

Edward M. Longo was born in Mount Vernon, New York, in 1934. At the age of 14 months, he, along with his entire family, moved to South Florida and settled in the little town of South Miami.

During his years of schooling, he attended South Miami Elementary, Coconut Grove Elementary, Ponce De Leon Senior High and graduated from Coral Gables Senior High in Back in 1952. In 1953 he attended the University of Florida, in 1954 and 1955 the University of Miami and in 1957 the University of Maryland.

In 1972 he earned an Associate of Arts degree from Miami Dade Community College.

He was drafted in 1956 and served two years with the US Army in Germany plus 6 years in the active reserves.

After completing his tour of duty in 1958, he returned to the city and remained in the immediate area for 80 years.

This is his first novel, and is 100% factual. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Read chapters 3 and 4 >

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