John Sewell (Miami)
|3rd Mayor of Miami|
|Preceded by||J. E. Lemus|
|Succeeded by||F. H. Wharton|
|Born||July 20, 1867|
Elbert County, Georgia
|Died||December 1, 1938 (aged 71)|
John Sewell was born in 1867 in Elbert County, Georgia, and moved with his parents to Florida when he was 19 years old. Sewell, working for Henry Flagler, served as foreman and superintendent for the Florida East Coast Railway during the construction of the line from Jacksonville to Miami and later joined the hotel construction department. After helping to construct The Royal Poinciana Hotel and The Breakers Hotel at Palm Beach, Sewell moved to Miami in 1896 to work on the Royal Palm Hotel. While working on the hotel, Sewell stumbled upon the burial grounds of the Tequesta Native-Americans. Sewell gave away some of the skulls as souvenirs, and ordered African-American laborers to move the remaining bones and bury them in a hole. Sewell remained in the employ of the Florida East Coast Railway until 1899, when he left to concentrate his efforts on the mercantile establishment jointly owned with this brother. He was Mayor of the City of Miami from 1903 to 1907.
After serving in local politics, Sewell began the construction of his house in 1912. Built on the highest point in the city, the house was named Halissee Hall from the Seminole word meaning "New Moon."
Sewell wrote a self-published autobiography entitled John Sewell's Memoirs and History of Miami, Florida. It included an appendix describing his witnessing the attempted assassination of president-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. The book is valuable as a primary source of information on pioneer days in Miami.
He is buried in the Miami City Cemetery.
- Connolly, N.D.B. (2014). A World More Concrete: Real Estate and the Remaking of Jim Crow South Florida. University of Chicago. pp. 20–21.
- University of Miami website
- "Historic Preservation application" (PDF). (708 KiB)
- Sewell, John. John Sewell's Memoirs and History of Miami, Florida. (No place): (No publisher), (No date). But self-published in Miami in 1933.
J. E. Lemus
| Mayor of the City of Miami
F. H. Wharton
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