Deaconess Harriet Bedell 1875 _ 1969
Role in Florida's history: Dedicated her later years to the well-being of the Miccosukee Indian tribe in the Florida Everglades.
Bedell, an Episcopal deaconess, moved to Everglades City in 1933 to revive an old mission. At 58, she learned to drive (a clunky Model A Ford sedan) in order to get around town.
Bedell helped the Miccosukees make a living from selling their handicrafts. She also was instrumental in the Indians gaining tribal status and acquiring 200,000 acres of Everglades, where they could have their own school and control their own hunting and fishing areas. Bedell also made sure the Indians were not displaced when Everglades National Park was established.
Blanche Armwood 1890 _ 1939
Role in Florida's history: The first African-American woman from Florida to graduate from an accredited law school.
Armwood was born in Tampa. After attending Georgia's Spelman College, Armwood returned to Tampa and worked as a teacher for seven years and then opened a school of household arts for African-Americans.
In 1922 she was appointed Supervisor of Negro Schools for Hillsborough County. In this position, she fought to achieve equal education rights for African-Americans and established the first accredited high school for African-Americans in Hillsborough County.
Armwood also was involved in Tampa's Urban League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Association of Colored Women. She enrolled in Howard Law School in Washington in 1934 and graduated in 1938.
Julia Tuttle 1848 _ 1898
Role in Florida's history: Known as the "Mother of Miami," Julia Tuttle envisioned building a new city amid exotic shrubs and woods.
Although not born in Florida, Tuttle moved to the state in 1891 after her husband died from tuberculosis. She purchased an abandoned military post called Fort Dallas and made South Florida her home. Not long after arriving in Florida, Tuttle tried to persuade railroad magnate Henry Flagler to extend his rail line to Biscayne Bay but he turned her down until the financial devastation of the great freeze of 1894-95 forced him to take her seriously.
Tuttle gave Flagler another chance, sending him an orange blossom from her frost-free Miami home.
The fragrant sprig worked and within days, Flagler arrived in Miami for talks with Tuttle. He agreed to build a large hotel, clear streets and finance water and light plants. He immediately began laying railroad track southward. Thanks to Tuttle, Miami was incorporated.
Sources: Florida's Family Album, Florida's Past, A Treasury of Florida Tales, African-Americans in Florida.