The first written account of Florida’s East Coast was by Fontaneda, a Spanish youth who was shipwrecked at age thirteen. Captured by the Indians, he spent seventeen years traveling with them up and down the East Coast. Upon his return to Spain, he wrote a short memoir in 1575.
The next account was Jonathan Dickinson’s Journal, which related his experiences and hardships of being shipwrecked off the Jupiter Inlet in 1696. Dickinson and his wife, baby, servants and friends were returning to Philadelphia from Jamaica. Indians helped them keep moving on as food was scarce and they didn’t want to share. The party finally reached St. Augustine, and about 1698, Dickinson published his Journal.
Very little was happening in South Florida in the 1700s. There were no settlers south of the Indian River and only an occasional explorer or adventurer.
By 1834, the Seminole Wars had begun. Soldiers were sent to South Florida. Military Trail from Fort Capron to Fort Dallas (Miami) was built, back from the coast.
In 1843, Colonel William Jenkins Worth was responsible for bringing the hostilities of the Seminole Wars to a close. He later became a general. Named for him in Florida is the lake of Lake Worth, the town of Lake Worth and Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. Fort Worth, Texas, and a nearby lake bear his name also. General Worth is buried in New York City at Broadway and 5th Avenue. A monument marks his grave and there is a Worth Street nearby.
The lake of Lake Worth lies in Palm Beach County in Township 45 South, Range 43 East. After the first thirteen colonies were laid out, the states east of the Mississippi River were laid out in townships and ranges, measured from a meridian marker in the capital city of each state. Townships and ranges are six miles square so the lake is 45 by 6 miles south of Tallahassee and 43 by 6 miles east.
The lake of Lake Worth originally had no opening to the ocean. Florida is bordered by barrier islands and waterways. Some of the waterways connected by canals are rivers, lagoons and lakes. The Intracoastal waterway was completed from Jacksonville to Miami in 1894.
Some surveying was done in 1845 when Florida became a state. In 1853, Congress appropriated $35,000 to build a lighthouse at the confluence of the Loxahatchee and Indian Rivers. The Jupiter Lighthouse is the oldest structure in Palm Beach County and was lighted 10 July 1860. The keeper and his two assistants became the first settlers in the area. Jupiter lighthouse is 7 1/2 miles north of the head of Lake Worth.