William H. Moore was born 15 March 1845 at Waukegan, Illinois, one of the eight children of Mary Ann (Bingham) and William Moore. On 30 December 1863, at age eighteen, he enlisted in the Seventeenth Illinois Cavalry, First Regiment, Company I, as a bugler. He gave his occupation as tinsmith. He was discharged on 23 November 1865.
He returned to Waukegan and stayed until 1867 when he moved to Chicago. He continued learning the tinner’s trade but the close confinement of the job was damaging to his health and the doctor advised a warmer climate. Will traveled to Jacksonville, Florida and, for a while, camped in a tent on the banks of the St. Johns River. His health improved. He moved farther south and bought a piece of land in what is Ankona Heights on Indian River. The property had an old cabin and a fruit grove. In 1870, he returned to Chicago to ask his sister, Margretta, and husband, H.D. Pierce, to go back to Florida with him. They agreed. The men bought a 28’ sloop, “Fairy Belle,” and began outfitting her for the trip. The disastrous Chicago fire of October 1871 hastened their departure, and with the Pierce’s young son, Charles, they headed south. Their route was down the Mississippi River where they were frozen in a cove all winter. In the spring of 1872, they reached New Orleans, set off across the Gulf of Mexico and reached Cedar Keys, Florida. There they were advised that it would not be safe to sail around the Florida peninsula as hurricane season was approaching. Heeding this advice, they sold “Fairy Belle” for $100 in gold and went by train to Jacksonville. Will secured a job to earn some cash while the Pierces continued by boat to Will’s property at Ankona. In a short time, the cabin burned down and they lost all their possessions.
H.D. Pierce took ajob as assistant to the keeper of Jupiter Lighthouse for one year. In December 1872, Will joined them,. . .“to get rid of the blamed plague.” One day, a Virginian named W.M. Butler docked his boat at the lighthouse. He was collecting skeletons of birds and animals of Florida for a university professor. After a few days, he headed farther south. Will learned that the man had located on Lake Worth and wanted to see for himself. He bought a long, narrow, round-bottom rowboat, rigged it as a sailboat, named her “Nellie,” and headed south to join Butler in his bone collecting business. The Pierces followed in 1873 and found Will and Butler living on a large island in Lake Worth, which the Indians called Hypoluxo. Will homesteaded the north half of the island, and Pierce took the south half. That winter, the men planted fields of sweet potatoes, and Will planted Indian pumpkin, a small variety which reseeded itself and grew year after year.
In 1874, Dade County reached from the St. Lucie River on the north to the end of the mainland on the south. Will Moore was elected one of the two county constables and personally carried the five ballots cast in the Lake Worth area to Miami. (See also the H.D. Pierce story.)
In the summer of 1875, Will went back to Jupiter, served as assistant to the lighthouse keeper, and put all his spare time into building a boat to use in the party business. By this time, people in the northern states were beginning to hear about the hunting, fishing and cruising in Florida in the winter. Most of the boats on Indian River at that time were so small, there was no room on board for cooking and sleeping. When night or mealtime came, parties had to go ashore. Will’s boat was 28’ long, with a large, room cabin with bunks. He named her “Bonton,” resigned his position at the lighthouse and began taking charter parties on the river.
In 1884, Will Moore was manager of the Titus House, largest hotel in Titusville, and let his nephew, Charles Pierce, use “Bonton” back on Lake Worth. In Titusville, Will met Josephine Shoemaker, born 2 Jan 1854 in New York. They went to her hometown of Prattsville, New York, and were married 15 September 1885. Back in Titusville, Will sent a letter to his nephew. He asked his nephew to come get him, and his bride, which he did and took them to Will’s place on Hypoluxo Island.
In January 1893, Will converted the “Bonton” into a steamer by adding propellers, two ten- horsepower engines and a boiler. He was assisted in this by Frederick C. Voss, who was later to marry his niece, Lillie Pierce. The renovated boat was named the “Hypoluxo.” Will bid successfully for the mail route from Juno to Hypoluxo and return. He also carried freight and passengers, stopping at all the docks around the lake. After the railroad came through in 1896, he sold the “Hypoluxo” and became a full-time farmer.
Will and Josephine Moore’s home on the island was just to the north of present day Ocean Avenue. His grand-niece, Freda Oyer, recalls that from the lake shore to the house there was a wide avenue of cleared land leading up to the house, which was set back from the lake. Near the front door was an ornamental cactus plant on which one could write his name. All visitors were requested to do so, and the signatures grew with the plant.
Will slipped on a piece of palmetto cabbage log in April 1905 and fell, injuring his foot and breaking the ankle. He applied for a partial disability pension as a veteran of the Civil War. Around 1910, he sold his homestead, and he and Josephine moved to Evernia Street in West Palm Beach. There he died 16 May 1914 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach. Josephine died 29 June 1932 and is buried beside Will. Will’s bugle hung for years in the Voss home in Hypoluxo. It is now in the possession of his great grand-nephew, Harvey Oyer, of Boynton Beach.