Tierra Verde was once 15 islands covered with mangroves, pines and bush. These islands ranged in size from only a few acres to the largest, Cabbage Key, having over 289 acres (1.17 km2). For centuries, Native Americans used the islands for ceremonial and burial grounds. A marker remains on the east side of Pinellas Bayway, just north of East Shore Drive, where Native American relics were found in a typical shell mound, excavated when the road was built to Fort De Soto Park. The islands were sacred ground to Native nations as far back as 500 years ago, archaeologists suggest, and deadly conflicts occurred when outsiders trespassed.
Then the Spanish explorers came. One explorer, Juan Ponce de León, came to the area in 1513, and again in 1521, when he received the wound that he later died from after returning to Cuba. Later, Hernando de Soto, Narvaez and Juan Ortiz explored, and then pirates and buccaneers sailed the area, including José Gaspar, Juan Gomez and Jean Lafitte. A treasure was reputed to have once been buried here.
In 1848 Robert E. Lee, then a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. army, recommended that Mullet Key be used for coastal defense in Florida. During the Spanish–American War of 1898, Fort De Soto was built on Mullet Key. Remains of the fort still stand, along with fortifications on Egmont Key. In 1948 the federal government sold Mullet Key to Pinellas County for park and recreation facilities, now Fort De Soto Park.
Early settlers to the area included Baltimore sea captain William Bunce and Silas Dent, who with his brother had a dairy farm. Dent lived on Cabbage Key until he died there in 1952. The Roberts family was among the early settlers of Pass-a-Grille and Tierra Verde. George "Florida" Roberts was a fishing guide for figures such as land developer Walter Fuller, Cecil B. Detre, and John Wanamaker. The thousands of tarpon caught by Roberts and his clients can be found as far away as Alexandria, Egypt, in the home of Sir Harry Rofe.
Although two homes were built on Monte Cristo in 1923, and one in 1946, things were quiet until the mid-1950s when a Dr. Bradley "Doc" Waldron went to Tallahassee and persuaded the State of Florida to sell him Pine Key, Cabbage Key, Pardee Key and the surrounding bay bottom. This was about the same time construction of the old Skyway Bridge began. Waldron formed a partnership with two builders from Detroit, Hyman and Irving Green, who became majority owners of a group of 36 corporations. They named their island investment "Green Land".
To complete reading the history of Tierra Verde please click here: Tierra Verde History