Celebrating our 125th annual Pioneer Picnic on Saturday, May 1, 2021!
Celebrating our 125th annual Pioneer Picnic on Saturday, May 1, 2021!
The son of William Smith and Mary Jane (Sprague) Allen, he was born 31 July 1860 in Jacksonville, Florida. At the time of his death, 12 October 1954, he was the oldest living member of the Lake Worth Pioneers’ Association.
After Jacksonville was bombarded during the Civil War, the Allen family fled to Key West. A few years later, Mary Jane contracted yellow fever, and William moved her and their three sons back to her hometown of Ithaca, New York. She died when Dwight was only nine years old. Dwight attended school in Ithaca, and finished in Key West when his father moved back there. By 1873, his father had settled in Chokoloskee, near Everglades City on Florida’s southwest coast. From 1880—1883 Dwight served in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Galena.
Dwight was appointed assistant keeper for the Jupiter Lighthouse in 1885, a position he held for six years. Many of the early settlers were keepers at the lighthouse. It was one of the few ways to earn “hard cash.” While at the lighthouse, Dwight entertained visitors by walking barefoot on the railing around the top and ending with a handstand. He had such great equilibrium from climbing riggings since the age of twelve.
In 1891, Dwight moved south to the shores of the lake of Lake Worth and became a farmer. On 10 October 1894, he married Ida Eugenia Russell of Russell, Oconee County, South Carolina, She was born 24 March 1873, one of fifteen children. The children of Dwight and Ida were:
* William Russell, Kibee Russell, George Dwight, Claramae, Margaret (Mrs. John D. Roberts) and Jane (Mrs. Oliver Gordon).
After his marriage in 1894, Dwight built sea walls along the shores of the lake of Lake Worth. At one time he was Customs House Collector.
On his 50 acre farm he grew oranges, pineapples and other fruit. Allendale Road in the south end of West Palm Beach marks the site of his farm land. In 1918, Paris Singer bought 40 acres from him to supply vegetables and fruit to the new Everglades Club.
Dwight’s father, William Smith Allen, was the first permanent white settler in Everglades City He was born in Enfield, Connecticut. When he married, he lived for awhile in Georgia, where he taught school. In the early 1850s, the Aliens settled in Jacksonville, Florida, where William was a bookkeeper for the Fairbanks Sawmilling Company. Years later, he served as Mayor of Key West. Dwight’s brothers, George Whiting and John William Allen, owned a drugstore in Key West, a busy, thriving town. They remained in Key West while Dwight came to the shores of Lake Worth. Most of the Lake Worth pioneers came from the North but Dwight Allen had been in Key West and Southwest Florida before settling here.
Dwight’s daughter, Claramae, took care of her father when he became blind in later years. She had several important secretarial jobs in Washington, D.C., and the Palm Beaches, and she served as Chief Clerk of Board #1 of the Selective Service Bureau for Palm Beach County. Claramae was secretary of the Lake Worth Pioneers’ Association for eleven years, active as an officer in her D.A.R. chapter, as well as in other organizations.
Cornelius Vanderbilt Barton, son of Samuel and Lydia R. Barton, married Jessie Cluett, daughter of J.W. Alfred and Elizabeth R. Cluett, all from New York State.
C. Vanderbilt and Jessie Barton had established a winter home on the east shore of the lake by 1886, just north of Cap Dimick’s Cocoanut Grove Hotel. Barton Trail (later Barton Avenue) from lake to ocean was named for them.
The Bartons enjoyed the increasing social life of Palm Beach as more winter visitors came to enjoy the delightful climate. On a typical Sunday afternoon, they would join other prominent people in visiting the Charles I. Cragins at their beautiful estate, “Garden of Eden.” Transportation was by launch up the lake or by wheelchair, up the Lake Trail.
The C. Vanderbilt Bartons sold their home on the lakeshore in 1902 and took up residence at the Breakers Hotel.
The Bartons, senior and junior, were strong Episcopalians. They supported the building of the first house of worship in Dade County, the Episcopal Bethesda-by-the-Sea, in 1889. As Bethesda grew and moved into larger buildings, the Bartons continued to participate in and contribute to the church. In 1927, C. Vanderbilt and Jessie Barton donated the Pool of Bethesda in the north cloister wall of the Garth, with a statue of an angel, in memory of their four parents. After Jessie died, C. Vanderbilt gave the choir stalls, lay reader’s stall and clergy seat in memory of his wife.
C. Vanderbilt Barton died sometime between 1928 and 1940.
Edwin Ruthven Bradley, son of Asa F. Bradley, was the oldest of six boys. He was born in July 1840 at Chicago, Illinois. He died 15 May 1915 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Miami.
This E.R. Bradley is not to be confused with the man, Edward R. Bradley, who operated a gambling casino in Palm Beach on Coconut Row and Main Street.
Asa and his son, Edwin, both have a postal service “first” to their credit. Asa was head clerk of the Railroad Post Office (first to sort mail on the train). In 1865, after service in the Civil War, 1862-1865, Edwin took over his father’s job, which he held for several years. After coming to Florida in the 1 870s, he became the first “B are- foot Mailman” in 1885.
Edwin Ruthven Bradley married an English girl, Lydia Phillips. She was born about 1841 and died in December 1914. She is also buried in Miami. Their five children were: Lewis and Guy, both born in Illinois, and Flora, Rose and Margaret (Maggie) born in Florida.
Edwin and Lydia left Chicago about 1875 for the wilds of Florida, near Orlando. By 1877, the family moved to Lantana, north of Lantana Point on the west side of the lake opposite the north end of Hypoluxo Island. First they lived in the Malden home near the present day Palm Beach Inlet. Because there were no neighbors, they went on south to Hypoluxo Island and occupied the H.D. Pierce home while the Pierces were living in the Orange Grove (Delray Beach) House of Refuge. The only other inhabitants were Mrs. Pierce’s brother, Will Moore, and William Butler.
In 1876, five government Houses of Refuge were built from the Melbourne area to Miami. Edwin became the second keeper of House #4 at Fort Lauderdale from 1883- 1884. It was there that Guy and Flora became very ill. Guy recovered, but Flora died, and was buried on the grounds of the House of Refuge.
In 1885, a rural mail route was established. Until this time, delivery of mail to the southeast coast of Florida had been very unpredictable. It was brought by anyone who might be coming south. The Jupiter Lighthouse had been the end of the line. To go south, the mail carrier had to walk the beach to Miami. At first, the carrier would go by boat to Juno, pick up the mail, and stop at Palm Beach, Figulus and Lantana. With the new route, the carrier crossed over to the beach at the haul-over (site of today’s South Palm Beach Inlet). The carrier traveled a distance of about sixty miles. He spent the first night at the Orange Grove House of Refuge, the second night at the Fort Lauderdale House of Refuge, and reached Miami on the third day. Edwin had the first contract, and he and his son, Lewis, took turns carrying the mail.
E.R. Bradley, as Edwin was popularly known, took an active part in the affairs of the settlement of South Florida. Having previously been a newspaper reporter, he wrote a column called “Lotus Cove” for The Tropical Sun, which was published on Indian River. Under by-lines of Ruthven, or Old Man Bradley. he told about the activities at the south end of the lake and mentioned the TOMS (tomatoes) he raised and sent to market.
Palm Beach County. created in 1909. was part of Dade County in the 1890s. Dade County was bounded by the St. Lucie River on the north, Cape Florida on the south and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. The Everglades on the west was unexplored and unsurveyed. E.R.Bradley served as Superintendent of Schools for Dade County until 1895 when he resigned.
He was assistant superintendent of the Florida Coast Line Canal and Transportation Company which was dredging the East Coast Canal. It reached Miami at the same time the East Coast Railway reached West Palm Beach (1894.) Bradley was an agent for the Florida East Coast Land Company and the Model Land Company.
Edwin moved farther south into what is now Broward County, then to Flamingo, where he served as postmaster. He resided in Miami before moving to Goulds to live with his daughter, Maggie (Mrs. W.R. Burton).
Morris Benson Lyman, who came to Lantana in 1888, is given credit for being the founder of the town, because he started several businesses and sold some land. E.R. Bradley came to Lantana eleven years earlier (1877), and was the first to settle on the west shore of the lake, on the north of Lantana Point (west end of today’s bridge.) In 1877, the only inhabitants at Hypoluxo (the whole area at the south end of Lake Worth as it was called) were the Pierce family of four and two bachelors, Will Moore and William Butler.
Guy M. Bradley, son of pioneer Edwin Ruthven Bradley, was born 26 October 1870 and grew up on the shores of Lake Worth. He, along with other sons of pioneers, thought nothing of killing egrets and selling the feathers, prized for decorating ladies’ hats. Later, he saw the error of his ways and dedicated himself to preventing the killing of birds.
The Bradleys moved to Flamingo at Cape Sable in the late 1890s. There, Guy became a deputy sheriff and conservation officer for the newly- formed National Association of Audubon Society. He confronted some plume hunters, who defied him, and he was shot and killed in his skiff on 8 July 1905. He is considered to be the first park ranger in the Everglades, and he was killed in the line of duty.
Guy M. Bradley’s story is told in a diorama at the visitors’ center at Everglades National Park at Flamingo.
Edmund Munger Breisford (E.M.) arrived on the shores of Lake Worth in May 1880 [Pierce, p.129] on a hunting and fishing trip with his brother, John Hale Brelsford (Doc). They liked what they found and bought Frank Dimick’s place on the east side of the lake. Then E.M. went back to Ohio, leaving Doc in charge of their newly acquired home.
E.M. Brelsford, son of Dr. James R. and Dorinda Hale Breisford, was born 3 December 1853 at Belibrook, Ohio. In the fall of 1880, he returned to Lake Worth with his widowed mother and his sister, Minna, and rejoined Doc. They brought the first music to the lake. E.M. played the violin, Doc, the cello, and Minna played the piano.
The Breisford brothers 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. The well-stocked store became a local gathering place, besides offering transportation to and from Jacksonville. The settlers applied for a postoffice, sending in the name Palm City to the government, but it 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 Brelsford 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. Now the other pioneers had their choice of two stores and two means of transportation. Because of the need for a regular service between Jupiter and Palm Beach, the Brelsfords and Cap Dimick organized a hack line between the two points in 1884.
In June of 1886, E.M. and Doc Brelsford took along two witnesses and set off for Gainesville to prove their homestead claims. The trip to Jacksonville was made in the “Bessie B.” From there they traveled by train to Gainesville. The return trip was not so smooth. The usual two- day ocean run from Jacksonville to Palm Beach lasted twelve days and nights, due to bad weather, but the homestead claims were proved.
In 1889, E.M. went to Jacksonville and married Laura Elizabeth Bell, of Ohio, and brought her back to Palm Beach. They had four children:
* Frederika, Marjorie, Mildred and Edmund, Jr. E.M. was interested in many facets of the new community. Not only storekeeper and postmaster, he was first commodore of the Palm Beach Yacht Club, a Mason (32nd degree), and a vestryman in the first church in Palm Beach, Bethesda, which he helped build.
E.M. and Doc sold their store location in 1893 to Henry M. Flagler, who built his mansion, “Whitehall”, on the property. The brothers then set about organizing the first bank in Palm Beach, Dade County State bank. Doc was president and they were both directors. In 1909, they moved it across the lake and renamed it Pioneer Bank. E.M. also helped organize the Bank of Palm Beach, the First Bank & Trust Company of Palm Beach and First National Bank in Miami.
E.M. and Laura decided to build a house of their own design at 1 South Lake Trail. When construction started in 1901, Laura took the children and stayed at St. Augustine until the house was finished. Named “The Banyans,” it was an impressive three-storied, white, Greek-revival mansion. It cost E.M. $13,000 and he supervised every detail of the building. The third floor had a large gymnasium with a stage, where the children would present plays for their parents. E.M. had two Banyan trees planted on the grounds, as well as rows of Royal Palms and other trees and flowering shrubs. “The Banyans” became the center for many social events.
Laura died, after a long illness, in a nursing home at Battle Creek, Michigan, on 14 September 1927. Funeral services were held at “The Banyans” and burial was at Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach. E.M. lived ten more years, dying 20 June 1937, and is buried beside Laura.
Frederika Breisford, born February 1892 in Tennessee, grew up in Palm Beach. She married David Forrest Dunkle, a lawyer, at “The Banyans,” where they lived at first, afterward moving to West Palm Beach. Their children: Elizabeth Carlisle Dunkle Axford, David Forrest Dunkle, Jr., and John Brelsford Dunkle. David, Sr., died 22 November 1956, Frederika died 5 December 1985, and they are both buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
Marjorie Brelsford, born March 1895 at Palm Beach, married W.H. Tilson, and was living in Staunton, Virginia, in 1937.
Mildred Brelsford, born a twin in August 1898 at Palm Beach, married Charles Clarke, son of another pioneer, in 1921. They had a son, Thomas, and were living in Paris in 1937. Mildred died 12 December 1946 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
Edmund Munger Brelsford, Jr., born a twin in August 1898 at Palm Beach, married twice and had four children: Alicia, Dorinda, Edmund M., ITT, and James Edmund.
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.
David Brown, one of the earliest settlers on the shores of Lake Worth, arrived in June of 1876 with his family. In 1870, they moved from illinois to Jacksonville, where David was a dairyman. There he was visited by Mason Dwight, who offered to sell him his house, located in what would some day be Palm Beach. Brown took a chance and, along with fellow Illinoisans Cap Dimick, Frank Dimick and Albert Geer, traveled south to Lake Worth. They were so delighted with the area, they determined to make their homes there.
David Brown was born in 1825 in Pennsylvania of Irish parents. His wife, Fannie E., was a native of Michigan. Their five children, all born in Illinois, were Anna: Jarvis, Roswell K., Lida P., and David E. (“Ned”). Anna was attending college in Illinois when the rest of the family moved to the lake, and she rejoined them in the fall of 1876.
The Browns had hardly gotten settled into the Dwight house on the east lakeshore, north of where the Royal Poinciana Hotel would be built, when Mrs. Brown got a plea for help. H.D. Pierce’s wife, Margretta, was in convulsions after the birth of her baby at the Orange Grove House of Refuge (present day Delray Beach). Fannie Brown, city woman who had never walked through beach sand, nor yet met Mrs. Pierce, went unhesitatingly to her aid. The two became fast friends, and their two sons, Roswell Brown and Charles Pierce, best buddies.
When the Dimicks and the Geers arrived with their families, the David Browns took them all in to live with them until their own houses were built. All their furnishings were piled on the wide porches. Somehow, Fannie managed to find beds for everyone. In October of 1876, there were twenty-eight people in the house, which included three infants, when a hurricane struck. One person remarked that it was the largest gathering ever on the lake and ordinarily would have been an occasion for merrymaking but, instead, they all crowded into the center hall of the house, listening to the roaring wind through the night. No lives were lost but many trees were down, and the Dimicks’ and Geers’ belongings were strewn far and wide.
David Brown afterward raised a large fine crop of tomatoes, hoping to ship them to northern markets, but they all spoiled en route due to the poor transportation facilities. However, this event inspired his fellow pioneers to build a tramway from the north end of the lake across the sawgrass to the southern end of Indian River, greatly shortening the length of time to market.
David’s oldest son, Jarvis (“Jardy”), accidentally tripped a shotgun set to kill deer and lost part of two fingers and took a buckshot in the thigh. The nearest doctor was 140 miles to the north, and he seemed to heal with Fannie’s good nursing, but in two weeks, he was dead. They buried him on their property, the first death in the little pioneer community.
In 1885, the heads of families around the lake decided it was time they had a school. David Brown and Squire J.C. Hoagland each gave half- an-acre of land for the building site. Other settlers donated lumber which was brought from Jacksonville by the Brelsford Brothers, free of freight charges. Roswell K. Brown and George Lainhart built the school, which opened in March of 1886 with twelve pupils, one of whom was Ned Brown.
No death records have been found for David and Fannie Brown.
Daughter Lida P. Brown married _____Trumbull and lived in Port Angeles, Washington. Son David E. Brown (“Ned”) also died in State of Washington. He had been an appraiser for the United States Customs Bureau, from 1900 to 1930. He was also a well-known authority on birds, especially those of Washington State. He and his wife, Mary, made their home in the Seattle suburb of Bothell, and had a son, Ford K. Brown, of Annapolis, Maryland. His sister, Anna Brown, predeceased him.
Roswell K. Brown (“Ros”) was twelve years old when his parents moved the family to the shores of Lake Worth in 1876. Son of David and Fannie Brown, Ros was one of their five children, all born in Illinois. They had spent the previous six years in Jacksonville where Ros’ father was a dairyman.
Ros’ family settled into a large house on the east shore of the lake, about three miles south of the inlet, and soon were joined by two other large families, the Dimicks and the Geers, who stayed with the Browns until their own houses were built. Ros grew accustomed to having a houseful of people and in later years, commented that hospitality was extended to anyone passing through the area, friend or stranger.
On the lake, Ros met another boy his age, Charlie Pierce, who lived on Hypoluxo Island with his parents. Ros and Charlie shared many camping and exploring adventures over the next few years. When Ros was fourteen, he was invited to go along on a trip to Biscayne Bay with Charlie and his father, H.D. Pierce. Ros excitedly stowed his fishing tackle, gun and bedding on board the Pierce’s old sailboat, “Creole.” They left Lake Worth Inlet one morning and sailed south along the coast for forty miles. Arriving at Hillsborough Inlet late that afternoon, they made camp ashore and rigged mosquito bars, without which sleep would have been impossible. The two boys explored the area while it was still daylight. Finding a turtle egg nest on the beach, they brought fifty eggs back to camp, not a whole lot considering it took a dozen eggs for a batch of flapjacks, their staple diet on this trip. They also climbed coconut trees for a supply of green nuts, which provided drinking water and even water for coffee when fresh water was not available.
They were unable to continue their trip the next day due to a hard southeast wind, and the boys continued to explore the tropical jungle. Mr. Pierce, however, had done all that before and decided to walk nine miles to the New River House of Refuge and spend the night with the keeper. He told the boys to sail the “Creole” on south in the morning if the sea was smooth and wind fair. The two young boys were so excited about being left in charge, they stayed up half the night talking and keeping a big campfire going to keep up their courage. They finished all their chores in the morning, stowed everything aboard and sailed on down the beach in a light breeze, picking up Mr. Pierce on the way.
So Ros grew to manhood in south Florida. He had spent the first six years of his life in Illinois, too young for school. During the next six years in Jacksonville, he may have attended school. When he arrived on the lake, there were no schools. The settlers decided a school was needed. Ros’ father donated a half-acre of land, another pioneer donated the other half-acre, and Ros helped George Lainhart build a school. That was in 1886 when Ros was twenty-two, too old for school.
In 1885, Ros’ father, David, gave him 40 acres of his homestead property. Ros later bought and sold various parcels of land on the east shore of the lake and homesteaded 80 acres of his own in 1891.
Roswell K. Brown was one of the three-man Republican County Committee, organized before the fall elections in 1888. The following year, he was married to Anna L._____ . Sometime after 1893, they moved to Washington State, where Ros became Collector of the Port, Port Townsend, until his retirement. He returned to visit Palm Beach many times over the years, and died between 1938 and 1940.
The last of the “barefoot mailmen,” Henry John Burkhardt was literally one of the most colorful characters in the early days of the lake area. Believing in the beneficial effect of the sun’s rays on the whole body, he not only walked the beach barefoot, but naked. His skin turned bronze and, with his brown eyes, the Seminole Indians were convinced he was an Indian who had become a white man. Burkhardt, of course, put on his clothes when approaching a settlement or another beach walker.
Henry John Burkhardt was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 26 June 1862, the son of Gottlieb and Christine Daubman Burkhardt. He joined the Navy and traveled around the world before serving his last three years in Italy, where he enjoyed the mild climate. After his discharge at age twenty-four in Philadelphia, he traveled south in search of a climate like that of Italy and found what he was looking for in south Florida.
Burkhardt homesteaded 160 acres of land on Biscayne Bay in today’s Coconut Grove. He took the job of beach mail carrier after the tragic disappearance of Ed Hamilton in October 1887. (See Barefoot Mail Route.) It was 60 miles each way between the Bay and Lake Worth and Burkhardt, striding six mile per hour, enjoyed the job. His job terminated in 1892 when a road was built between Lantana and Lemon City and the mail was transported by wagon.
H.J. was so happy with his new location, he wrote to his brother, Louis W. Burkhardt, to “come on down.” Louis did, bringing his family, and the brothers built a wood and canvas home and store on the east side of Lake Worth upon the site where Flagler’s “Whitehall” currently stands. Together they ran a grocery store and semi-restaurant.
When Henry Burkhardt had to file his homestead claim in 1889, he traveled to the new county seat of Juno, at the head of Lake Worth. He saw a business opportunity there, bought a boat, which he named “Maud S.B.” after his niece, Maude Stewart Burkhardt, and began running a passenger service. Juno was the southern end of the Celestial Railroad and from there passengers needed to travel to various destinations on Lake Worth by boat. Burkhardt charged 50 per person to take them to Brelsford’s dock or $10.00 to go outside in the ocean to Miami. He lived aboard his boat and made Juno his headquarters.
When Henry M. Flagler was ready to build his Royal Poinciana Hotel on the lake shore in Palm Beach, he ordered all commercial businesses to the west shore, where he had bought up property and hired Henry J. Burkhardt to head up a crew to clear the land for a town. Tn 1894, the grocery store was floated by barge across the lake and installed on Clematis Street on the lot the Burkhardts had bought for $400. Henry later sold his half for $500.
H.J. Burkhardt was one of the early organizers of the new town of West Palm Beach. He was elected to be one of the first seven aldermen and presented the first seal of West Palm Beach, a coconut tree encircled with the words, “West Palm Beach, Fla.” which was adopted 5 November 1894.
He moved back to the Miami area in about 1897 and opened a store. He also married Bessie E. . He was hired to be in charge of bringing coconut trees by barge from Elliott’s Key to be planted in Royal Palm Park on the Miami River. Burkhardt ran unsuccessfully for county judge. In the U.S. Census of 1900, he gave his occupation as Quartermaster Cuba, U.S. Service. He and Bessie had a daughter, Mary, born in April 1900.
About 1915, Henry John Burkhardt moved to California and by 1937, had a fruit grove and chicken ranch near San Diego. He died before 1940.
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.
Very little information has been found about David C. Burnett. He arrived on the shores of Lake Worth between 1886 and 1893, and was a land owner on the west side of the lake.
In the winter of 1913-19 14, Burnett moved to the small settlement of Ritta (now Lake Harbor) on the south shore of Lake Okeechobee. His brother-in-law, Henry Braddock, persuaded him to move to Torry Island in the lake, where Burnett took up farming. Apparently he never married.
David C. Burnett was drowned in the 1928 hurricane.
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Proudly celebrating our 125th annual Pioneer Picnic on 5-1-2021 at The Norton Museum for member families.