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Brickell and his wife Mary moved to southern Florida from Cleveland, Ohio in 1871. He and his family opened a trading post and post office on the south bank of the Miami River, near the site of Fort Dallas.
The Brickell family owned large tracts of land stretching from Coconut Grove to the Miami River. Their neighbor, Julia Tuttle, also originally from Cleveland, is credited with attracting the attention of Florida's east coast railroad and resort hotel magnate Henry M. Flagler to extend his interests to the area. Both Brickell and Tuttle contributed land to the Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway, which brought growth and development and put Miami on the map. After William Brickell's death, his widow, Mary Brickell, became one of the young city's prominent real estate developers and managers.
Originally, William and Mary Brickell were entombed on their property located at 501 Brickell Avenue, Miami, but in 1946 their daughter Maud Brickell decided to move her parents to Woodlawn Park Cemetery and Mausoleum (now Caballero Rivero Woodlawn North Park Cemetery and Mausoleum).
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