In 1894 or 1895, my great-grandparents, Arthur and Alice Sturgis, along with their six children, boarded a train in Muskegon, Mich., and headed for Miami.
The train was delayed near Delray Beach because of an outbreak of diphtheria. Once they were allowed to continue on their trip, they boarded a ship to Miami. The railroad had not yet reached Miami. They purchased a house in Miami, which Alice opened as the Sturgis Boarding House.
Arthur, a blacksmith, died Nov. 1, 1897. Alice purchased a burial plot for six for $50 in the Miami Cemetery. I still have the deed. Alice continued accepting boarders and raised their six children.
In 1897, my grandfather, Joseph Montgomery English, came to Miami from Tennessee. He had only 12 cents in his pocket and asked whether there was any place he could stay until he found work. Someone pointed him to the boarding house, where he met my grandmother, Mildred Mable Sturgis.
They married and had six children. He was a butcher and owned a grocery store between Northwest Fifth and Sixth streets on Third Avenue. In 1912, he built a five-bedroom house for his mother-in-law, Alice, for a new boarding house. This house is on the corner of Southwest Sixth Street and 11th Avenue.
After Alice died, my grandparents moved into that house. They lived there until 1925, when my grandfather built a house at 2733 SW Fifth St. In the back he had a three-car garage converted to an apartment. He died Jan. 5, 1926, just before the house was finished.
They also owned an apartment building on Southwest 13th Avenue, which enabled my grandmother to finish the house before the 1926 hurricane. I still remember the living room of my grandmother’s house. It was beautiful, with bookcases on both sides of the fireplace. The walls were so textured that they had to be painted with sponges.
I loved that house with its sun porch and huge kitchen.
When my parents, Mitchell M. Wynne and Mable Alice English, were married in 1928, they purchased a one-bedroom house. In 1940, they moved to a house on Northwest 23rd Place. This was the house I grew up in. It was made with Dade County pine and wood shingles.
It survived hurricanes without a broken window or missing shingle.We lived in a wonderful neighborhood. We would take the bus downtown to shop at Burdines and eat at the Woolworth’s lunch counter or see a movie at the Olympia Theater. We spent our summers riding our bikes to Curtis Pool and the PBA Park. We also spent many days at Crandon Park and Matheson Hammock.
All four of us attended Citrus Grove Elementary and Junior High School and graduated from Miami Senior High.