Louis William Burkhardt settled on the shores of Lake Worth on 15 January 1893. The year before, in March 1892, he had purchased five acres on the west shore of the lake on the north side of Lantana Point, for $50 an acre.
Louis was born at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 9 December 1855, son of Gottlieb and Christine (Daubman) Burkhardt. His parents had emigrated separately from Germany, Gottlieb in 1850 and Christine in 1848. Tn Philadelphia, they met and married.
Louis grew up in Philadelphia While a young man, he worked as a theater usher and acquired a life-long ability to quote Shakespearean plays. He later became a cabinet maker. Louis married Eva Jane Hill on 11 March 1883. Eva, youngest daughter of John and Harriett (Morris) Hill, was born at Wolverhampton, England on 9 July 1863. Louis and Eva’s four children, all born at Camden, New Jersey, were: Louis Hill, Maude Stuart, Henry John and Ralph George. Louis, hoping to improve Eva’s health, moved his family from Camden to South Florida in 1893. His brother, Henry John Burkhardt, had settled on the lakeshore five years earlier and told Louis of the area’s mild climate.
Through Lyman’s General Store (third one on the lake), they bought lumber for the floor of their dwelling. The walls were of canvas and the roof of palmetto fronds. Cooking was done outside. When it rained, an umbrella was used to keep the food dry.
The Burkhardts were a musical family and had a “square” piano shipped to Lantana on a sharpie, a long narrow sailboat used on the lakes and waterways. Louis and his son joined the Lake Worth Band. Seminole Indians would come to the Burkhardt home and ask Eva to play the piano for them. Eva’s mother, Harriett, was a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in London. She came to live with Eva and Louis and was the first piano teacher in West Palm Beach.
Visiting the closest neighbor or taking long walks in the woods were pleasant diversions of the time. Jacob Earnest was a neighbor who had built a dock to make unloading supplies easier. The Burkhardts, Earnests and Bradleys lived on the cove on the north side of Lyman’s Point, just to the north of present-day Lantana Road.
Louis and his brother, Henry, owned and operated a grocery store and semi-restaurant across the lake on Brelsford’s Point (now the site of the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum) in Palm Beach. They named it the Lake Worth Grocery Company. Eva and her three youngest children were often alone at home, as Louis would take the oldest with him to work. The Burkhardts were one of the last families to arrive before the railroad (Florida East Coast) reached West Palm Beach. The Royal Poinciana Hotel, begun 1 May 1893, had opened for guests on 11 February 1894. Mr. Flagler wanted his guests to see only the “pretty” sights, so he ordered all businesses to leave the island. Burkhardts’ grocery had to go. The building was loaded on a lighter (small barge) and taken across the lake to 207 Clematis Street, Lot 13, Block 2. Tt was the first lot sold for cash on the west shore. Louis and his brother bought the lot for $400. Later, Henry sold his half for $500.
In West Palm Beach, the store was known as The Pioneer Grocery, established 1 February 1893, the day West Palm Beach was created. The family occupied the first house on the west side of the lake in 1894, making them the first permanent residents. They were on the east side of South Dixie Highway between Evernia and Datura. All of Louis’ family helped out in the store.
Louis was an active citizen of West Palm Beach, serving on the Board of Aldermen from 1895 to 1897 and as Mayor in 1902. He was Judge of the First Municipal Court in West Palm Beach. He served as treasurer of Holy Trinity Church and treasurer of Harmonia Lodge #138, F.A.A.M., and was a charter member of Odd Fellows Lodge. Louis retired from business 1 October 1919. He and Eva moved to 215 Vallette Way, where they spent the rest of their lives. Eva died 24 December 1919; Louis died 21 March 1941. They are both buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach.
Louis Hill Burkhardt, born 11 January 1884 at Camden, New Jersey, was a store owner. On 20 December 1914, he married Florence E.__, and their children were Louise, who never married, and Virginia, who married Richard Powers. Louis died 16 January 1942. Florence on 22 August 1980, and they are both buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
Maude Stuart Burkhardt, born 23 June 1885 at Camden, New Jersey, first married Carl Kettler, Jr., who owned and managed five theaters in West Palm Beach. They had one son, Ralph. Maude later married Herbert E. Seaman. She
died 28 January 1956 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
Henry John Burkhardt, born 7 December 1889 at Camden, New Jersey, married Susan Cordelia on 2 October 1921. They had no children. Henry, an electrician, turned his father’s old grocery store property into Burkhardt’s Electric Shop and Construction Business. He retired in 1947 and in 1953, he and Sue were living at 1500 South Olive. He died 6 August 1976, Sue died 28 June 1977, and they are both buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
Ralph George Burkhardt, born 22 November 1891, was also an electrician. He married Anna Auer on 27 May 1915, and their children were Vincent Louis, Ralph William and Ruth Louise, who married Robert C. Conklin. Ralph G. Burkhardt died 14 November 1958 and Anna died 19 August.