Lake Worth Pioneers' Association, Inc.


Upcoming Events

lwpa Annual Meeting


John Yeend

1109 S. Congress Ave.
West Palm Beach, FL 33406

Phone: 561-642-4200


Affliate Links

lwpa Palm Beach Historical Society

lwpa Yeend, Castaneda & Flynn, LLP

lwpa Jupiter Lighthouse

lwpa Norton Art Museum



Allen Edgar Heyser

Allen Edgar Heyser, born 1857 in Pennsylvania, came to the shores of Lake Worth around 1881. He lived with the Geer family, helping them farm, and reading law in his spare time.

In 1885 he married Mattie A. Spencer, daughter of Valoris 0. Spencer, the first postmaster on the lake. At the time of the census that year, they were living with Allen’s father, Emanuel. The following year, Allen walked to Miami with the mail carrier to take the bar exam, which he passed. He became the first attorney in the lake area and, in 1888, was elected the first judge in Dade County, which at that time stretched from Jupiter to Biscayne Bay.

The Heysers settled on the west side of the lake, opposite the inlet, and were the first residents of what became the city of Riviera Beach. They built and operated the Oak Lawn Hotel near the present site of the Port of Palm Beach, and later changed the name to the Riviera Inn.

By 1889, there were more Dade County voters living around the shores of Lake Worth than there were around Biscayne Bay, yet the county seat was Miami, a long walk for the lake settlers. They called for a special election to change the county seat to Juno, and won. The Miamians were not happy with the vote and vowed not to give up the county records. Judge Heyser and five others went on foot to Miami to get the records. There, they argued all day and got nowhere. After the Miamians retired, the lake men found an Indian canoe. They loaded the heavy books into the canoe in the dark and took an interior route to the Fort Lauderdale House of Refuge. Leaving the records there with one man to guard them, the other five returned home and sent a boat back for the books. A new courthouse was built in Juno where Judge Heyser had his offices and courtroom until 1899, when the county seat returned to Miami.

Judge Heyser was an active Mason, an original member of Harmonia Lodge, West Palm Beach, until he moved to Miami, where he died 12 March 1924. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach. His father, Emanuel Heyser, died about 1892 and is buried in Pioneer Park, over which was built Norton Gallery of Art. Mattie Heyser moved back to West Palm Beach, where she died on 10 July 1941 and is buried beside her husband.


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