John Hale Breisford (Doc) arrived on the shores of Lake Worth in May 1880 [Pierce, p.129] on a hunting and fishing trip with his brother, Edmund Munger Brelsford (E.M.). Finding game and fish plentiful, the climate delightful and the few settlers around the lake friendly and helpful, they decided to become permanent residents. After buying Frank Dimick’s property, E.M. went back to Ohio, leaving Doc in charge of their newly-acquired house.
John Hale Brelsford, son of Dr. James R. and Dorinda Hale Brelsford, was born at Bellbrook, Ohio, in 1856. Though he was known to the pioneers as “Doc,” there is no record of his having been a medical doctor. He was a sailor and businessman, and also a musician. When E.M. returned in the fall with their mother, Dorinda, and sister, Minna, the first real music was heard on the lake. Joining Doc on the cello was E.M. on violin and Minna on piano.
Doc and E.M. went into partnership with Captain U.D. Hendrickson and constructed a general store on what became known as Brelsford’s Point. They built a dock for their schooner, “Bessie B.” to unload supplies from Jacksonville. Their well-stocked store became a local gathering place besides offering transportation to and from Jacksonville The settlers applied for a postoffice in the name of Palm City, which was rejected because there was already a postoffice by that name in Florida. One man suggested Palm Beach, which was accepted. The postoffice was located in Breisford Brothers’ store, with E.M. as the first postmaster.
Sometime later, the partnership was dissolved. Captain Hendrickson built his own store farther north on the lakeshore, bought a schooner, “Mary B.”to get his own supplies, and went into competition with Brelsford Brothers.
Because of the need for a regular service between Jupiter and Palm Beach, the Brelsfords and E.N. Dimick organized a hack line between the two points in 1884.
The Brelsfords selected three adjoining sites for homesteads, running from lake to ocean. E.M. claimed the first one on the north, Doc chose the middle one, and their sister Minna and her husband, Dr. Henry C. Hood, took the southernmost. Doc named his “Rabbit Hill” and lived there with his wife, the former Miss Mary Cadby.
Doc and E.M. sold their store property to Henry M. Flagler in 1893, who built his mansion, “Whitehall”, on the site. They sold the “Bessie B.” to the Lyman brothers, who had built a store and needed to supply it. Doc and E.M. then helped organize the first bank in the lake country, Dade County State Bank. It opened on 1 May 1893, with Doc as president and E.M. as one of the directors. In 1895, a West Palm Beach branch was opened at Clematis Avenue and Olive Street, and later all operations were moved there from Palm Beach.
Doc Brelsford died 18 April 1897, leaving a son, John Hale Brelsford, to whom he willed one dollar, and left everything else to his widow.
Real Estate and Insurance
Office Next to P. 0.,
North of Poinciana Hotel
PALM BEACH, FLA.
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