History of Indian Key
W. C. Maloney Letter
By Jerry Wilkinson
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        The following report by Mr. W. C. Maloney, Acting Clerk of Dade County was sent after an election that was conducted on November 6, 1843 which the author does not possess. Portions of other responses follow.
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       "The undersigned encloses copies of the Election returns as made to him of the result of the Election held on the 6th November 1843 in Dade County; and assigns as reasons why the law has not been complied with -
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       "lst That it is inapplicable to Dade County from the fact of the county seat being totally deserted since its destruction by the Seminoles on the 9th August, 1840; and further that the nearest settlement is 25 miles from the County Seat, Key Vaccas on the one side and Cape Florida 100 miles on the other.
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       "2nd That the distance has to be travelled by water. Consequently the Clerk cannot get to persons competent to canvass votes or they to him under 10 or 12 days. Even provided the weather is good.
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       "3rd That in consequence of the destruction of the County Seat and the total abandonment of the County (until within a few months past) the Clerk has not deemed it safe to reside in that County.
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      "4th That not more than one in Ten at the nearest settlement is competent to canvass the votes as will be seen by reference to the certificate enclosed. The referees having to X for their names.
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      "Under these disadvantages (for the truth of which reference is made to Senators English and Smith) copies of the returns made to the Acting Clerk are forwarded to his Excellency the Governor, with the hope that they may reach him in time to elicit such remarks thereon as will convey to the Legislative Council a just idea of the impediments in the way of complying with the Law on Elections of 1843. Especially in Dade County.
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      "The Clerk for his justification would inform His Excellency that since the destruction of Indian Key (the Co. site) and his residence at Key West he has ordered a Special Election to fill the place vacated by his removal. And also another Election was ordered at the stated time in 1842 for the same office. No candidate appeared, nor was there a vote given for such an officer. And the only reason given for not appointing him a successor was that there was not in the whole county a competent person to fill the office. The Acting Clerk was in possession of the Seal, the only thing left by the Indians whereby to recognize the County Court of Dade, and as a matter of accommodation to the former residents he has at his own costs procurred a Book and recorded such papers as he has been requested to record; and has made all former returns of Elections, simply because no one else would do it - as no Emolument is derived there from.
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      "The undersigned Acting Clerk of Dade County, believing that the past election will be the subject of scrutiny before the House of Representatives as regards the number of votes legally Polled, and the Qualification of the Candidates has made the returns directly to the Governor, as they cannot be returned agreeable to Law to the Secretary of the Territory.
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      "He will also make a communication directly to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and will furnish any further information to the Governor in the meantime that may be deemed necessary.
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                                   "W. C. MALONEY
                                   "Actg. Clerk Dade Co. Ct."
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"His Excellency,
"Governor of Florida"
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       The above Maloney's letter prompted the Florida Legislative Council to pass the following Act on March 6, 1844:
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       "An Act to Legalize the Acts of the Acting Clerk of Dade County.
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      "Whereas, since the depopulation, or abandonment of Dade County, caused by Indians in 1840, the citizens have failed to elect a Clerk for said County, and the then Clerk has acted in said capacity, and performed all the functions of Clerk of the County Court of said County. Therefore -
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      "Be it enacted by the Governor and Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida, That all proceedings had under, and acts done by, the Acting Clerk of the County Court of Dade, be, and the same are hereby legalized, and declared valid and good, as fully and completely as if the law had been complied with."
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Following this resolution on March 9, 1844, the Legislative Council enacted:

       "That the County Site for the County of Dade shall hereafter be at Miami, on the South side of Miami River, where it empties into Bescaino Bay."

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       (Date unknown but believed to be in 1844. J. W.
"To the Senate & House of Representatives of the General Assembly of Florida -
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       "The undersigned citizens of Dade County show to your Honorable body that the County of Dade has a very small population scattered over a large section of country. That owing to these causes they have no officers, nor have they a prospect for a long period hence, that there will be a sufficient population to induce persons to hold office. That owing to this want of officers inconvenience has occurred & great inconvenience may yet occur to the citizens of said County from the want of proper tribunals for the administration of Justice & the settlement of estates & other business pertaining to a Court of Ordinary.
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       "Wherefore your Petitioners pray that the County of Dade may be united to the County of Monroe for all judicial purposes & that they may have the right of resorting to the Circuit Court, the justice Courts & the Probate Court of the County of Monroe, the people of Dade being allowed to vote for all the officers elected by the people, constituting or pertaining to said Courts."
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       On December 11, 1850, of an act of the General Assembly consolidated Dade and Monroe as one Court District, with the provision that Court should be held at Key West.
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