Hiriam F. Hammon first arrived on the shores of Lake Worth in 1882 from Titusville. He had been told about the lake by his friend, William Lanehart, and sailed south alone to look it over. Delighted with what he found, he returned home and filed the first homestead claim in the lake area.
His homestead contained 169.20 acres and was located just south of present-day Royal Palm Way. It was considered the richest in the U.S. when he sold it later for over one million dollars.
Hammon returned in December 1873 with his friend, Lanehart, and together they built a house. That Christmas, they were invited to dinner at Charlie Moore’s, about three miles north. All ten of the settlers on the lake enjoyed a feast of roast possum, sweet potatoes, biscuits and syrup and prickly pear pie.
Hiriam F. Hammon, a boatman, was born in Pennsylvania about 1842 and never married. He had operated boats on Indian River before coming to Lake Worth and, in a few years, was making regular trips to Titusville with the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants grown on the lake.
When the Spanish barque, “Providencia,” wrecked on the beach in January 1878, Hammon and Lanehart were first on the scene. They made friends with the captain and crew, who were later picked up by a passing ship. Hammon and Lanehart told the arriving settlers that the captain had given them the barque. The cargo was 20,000 coconuts, which they sold for 2 1/20 apiece. Hammon distributed the Cuban rum from the ship’s stores to his neighbors and a grand beach party, lasting two weeks by some accounts, commenced.
A charter member of the Lake Worth Pioneers’ Association, Hammon donated a lot to the society for a cemetery. It was a 50’ lot near the ocean on Worth Avenue. The society members felt it was too small to hold the remains of all 84 pioneers, so the lot was sold and the money used, along with a donation from the city of West Palm Beach, to purchase land between Dixie and Olive on Pioneer Place, for a cemetery.
Hammon owned a farm west of Pompano (now in Broward County). Hammonville, later Margate, was named for him. He was in the process of buying cattle for the farm when he died, at age eighty-one, in 1923. Then there was only one of the 84 original pioneers left:
* Hammon’s lifelong friend, William Lanehart.