Celebrating our 125th annual Pioneer Picnic on Saturday, May 1, 2021!
Charles C. Haight, born in December of 1853 in Maine, came to the lake from Boston in 1887. He bought a homesite from Charles Moore for $735 on the east shore of Lake Worth and became a permanent resident.
He joined other Palm Beach Republicans in forming a Republican Party committee of three, with himself as chairman, and was an active Republican in the pioneer community.
Tn 1890 Haight married Ida M. from Vermont. They had no children but adopted a daughter, Ruth, who later married Guy McClaren.
The Haights lived close to the first school in the county, which had opened in 1886, and it became the meeting place of the Episcopal church. Haight built a small wooden church in 1889 for the Episcopal congregation and it was named Bethesda-by-the-Sea.
In February 1890, he signed a contract to build a courthouse in Juno. At that time, Dade County reached from Jupiter Inlet on the north to Biscayne Bay on the south. In a recent election, there were more voters at the northern end of the county than around Miami, and they voted to have the county seat changed to Juno. The courthouse site was just northeast of present-day Oakbrook Square Shopping Center, on U.S. 1 and P.G.A. Boulevard. The contract price was $1,495. Haight was paid an additional $230 to finish the second floor.
Haight was an architect, contractor and builder. He was not only an active Mason, he built the Masonic Temple on Clematis, west of Dixie Highway, the first brick veneer building in West Palm Beach, completed in 1895. Ida was a
member of Eastern Star.
In 1920, the Haights were living on Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach. Charles died 19 June 1922 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the city. Ida died 18 September 1931 and is buried beside her husband.
John J. Haley was on the shores of Lake Worth by March 1891 when he bought a tiny island at the north end of the lake from the U.S. Government for 62 cents. The island contained just under half an acre. Haley received his patent in March 1892. In June 1892, he sold the island to Mrs. Caroline F. Pitts for $150.00. Then he bought some land near present-day Riviera Beach from George and Mary Robbins for $280.00 in July.
E.L. Briggs of Grand Rapids Morning Press, writing about Pitts’ Island (see Nathan Wesley Pitts) said in part:
“Pitts’ house stands at the extreme south end of Nuctsachoo Island. . . .From the front you look out on the broad expanse of Lake Worth. . . with Haley’s little island a mere speck in the foreground. . .
Nothing further is known about this charter member of the Lake Worth Pioneers’ Association.
Hiram 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.
Hiram 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.
Note that Hiram's name is sometimes shown as Hiriam (modern spelling). Thank you to Lise Steinhauer of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County for pointing this out.
Un Dunning Hendrickson (“U.D.”), third of the seven children of Stephen and Maryann (Dunning) Hendrickson, was born 3 September 1846 at Mentor, Ohio, near Cleveland.
It is not known when U.D. left Ohio but his name appears in early writings about the first settlers in Florida. A history of the Episcopal Church in Melbourne mentions a U.D. Henderson of Eau Gallie, who built a store in Melbourne in 1878. Despite the spelling of the surname, it must have referred to Un. How many men would have the initials “U.D.?”
He was definitely in the Lake Worth area by 1879 when he had a 40’ sharpie built, the “Illinois,” as a cargo carrier. It was damaged slightly in the hurricane of October 1879 but, when U.D. got word of a shipwreck near Daytona, he repaired the damage, sailed north and salvaged a quantity of lard in ten pound pails. After the hurricane season was over, the “Illinois” was the settlers’ only means of transportation to Titusville, the nearest store. The following year, U.D. and another pioneer, Hiriam F. Hammon, began making regular trips to Titusville with the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants grown on the lake.
About 1882, U.D. went into partnership with the Breisford brothers in opening a general store and small hotel on the east shore of the lake. They acquired a 30 ton schooner, “Bessie B,” to bring merchandise from Jacksonville, and to offer public transportation and freight service. Sometime later, the partnership was dissolved and U.D. opened his own store at the north end of the lake, near the inlet. He bought a schooner, the “Mary B,” to get his own merchandise and went into competition with the Breisfords. He was awarded the contract to carry the mail from Jupiter to Hypoluxo, which he did, three times a week, serving all the other postoffices on the lake as well.
By 1886, U.D. was also operating the hack line between Jupiter and the lake. Seeing the need for quicker and more reliable transportation between Titusville and Jupiter, he had a small steamer built in Jacksonville. Christened the “Lake Worth,” it was the first steamer on the lake and carried twenty-five passengers. U.D. gave everyone a free ride on the Fourth of July 1889, taking the lake residents to Jupiter for a picnic. They left Palm Beach at 8:30 in the morning, picked up passengers around the lake, and arrived in Jupiter at 11.
Then, at age forty-four, Un Dunning Hendrickson married Etta Almira Moore. Twenty years his junior, she was the daughter of pioneer Robert Bingham Moore, and had just finished college in Iowa. The wedding was in Palm Beach and they made their home on North Lake Trail in the big 23-room house they had built. They loved company and, at Christmas time each year, gave a party for all the children who lived around the lake. They had three daughters and one son of their own. The son, Walter, fell off the dock and drowned at age three. Their daughters were: Mary (1892-1973), married first Clive Merchant and had three children, Howard, Russell and Katherine, married second Paul Pelky; Dorothy (1894-ca.1944), married first W.A. Whitcomb, married second _____MacDonald; Frances (1900-1988), married Thornton Bridgeman and had three children, Etta Bechtel, Bette Frances Lehman and Jean Ann Thurber.
U.D. opened a second store on the west side of the lake and his businesses flourished. With the coming of the railroad in 1894, he put his 90’ schooner, “Emily B,” which he’d had since 1887, up for sale. Etta helped organize the Woman’s Guild of Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and was an active member. She was the originator of the annual spring festival, held at the Charles I. Cragins’“Garden of Eden,” to raise money for the Guild.
About 1921, U.D. and Etta joined other settlers who had moved to Umatilla, Florida. There, U.D. died on 8 December 1925. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach. Etta died 12 June 1945 at Umatilla and is buried beside U.D.
Irving R. Henry came to South Florida from North Carolina about 1880. In September of that year, he filed a claim in Gainesville at the land office for 130.86 acres of land on the west side of the lake. His nearest neighbor was three miles away. He improved 5 acres and built the first settler’s home on the west shore. His homestead was around the foot of Clematis, and his home was at 213 Narcissus St. Henry sold his homestead to Porter and Potter Real Estate, who, in 1893, sold it to Henry M. Flagler to use as part of the new town of West Palm Beach.
I.R.Henry married 24 November 1894 Ava A. ____ at Orlando, Florida. Ava had two sons, John B. and Charles B. Hires, by her late husband. She and I.R. had a son, Irving Robinson Henry,b. 1895.
I.R.Henry died 19 November 1899 at Charlotte, North Carolina. Ava was living in Miami with son, Irving, at the time, and by 1903, had married _____ Blanton and was living in Boca Raton.
Allen Edgar Heyser, born 1857 in Pennsylvania, came to the shores of Lake Worth around 1881. He lived with the Geer family, helping them farm, and reading law in his spare time.
In 1885 he married Mattie A. Spencer, daughter of Valoris 0. Spencer, the first postmaster on the lake. At the time of the census that year, they were living with Allen’s father, Emanuel. The following year, Allen walked to Miami with the mail carrier to take the bar exam, which he passed. He became the first attorney in the lake area and, in 1888, was elected the first judge in Dade County, which at that time stretched from Jupiter to Biscayne Bay.
The Heysers settled on the west side of the lake, opposite the inlet, and were the first residents of what became the city of Riviera Beach. They built and operated the Oak Lawn Hotel near the present site of the Port of Palm Beach, and later changed the name to the Riviera Inn.
By 1889, there were more Dade County voters living around the shores of Lake Worth than there were around Biscayne Bay, yet the county seat was Miami, a long walk for the lake settlers. They called for a special election to change the county seat to Juno, and won. The Miamians were not happy with the vote and vowed not to give up the county records. Judge Heyser and five others went on foot to Miami to get the records. There, they argued all day and got nowhere. After the Miamians retired, the lake men found an Indian canoe. They loaded the heavy books into the canoe in the dark and took an interior route to the Fort Lauderdale House of Refuge. Leaving the records there with one man to guard them, the other five returned home and sent a boat back for the books. A new courthouse was built in Juno where Judge Heyser had his offices and courtroom until 1899, when the county seat returned to Miami.
Judge Heyser was an active Mason, an original member of Harmonia Lodge, West Palm Beach, until he moved to Miami, where he died 12 March 1924. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach. His father, Emanuel Heyser, died about 1892 and is buried in Pioneer Park, over which was built Norton Gallery of Art. Mattie Heyser moved back to West Palm Beach, where she died on 10 July 1941 and is buried beside her husband.
Louis D. Hilihouse had settled on the shores of the lake called Lake Worth by 1886. He was a clerk in Breisford Brothers’ store, and was probably renting a room from them.
Hillhouse homesteaded land on the west side of the lake, opposite the store, going to work by boat. His neighbors on the north were Capt. and Mrs. O.S. Porter, who later gave him 30/100th acre off the edge of their land for his use as a roadway. Of his original homestead of 160 acres, he sold 49 acres to W.S. Clow in 1892 for $2,450.
Hillhouse was listed as an 1891 taxpayer in Dade County, which at that time extended from St. Lucie Inlet on the north to Biscayne Bay on the south. He was one of the contributors to the building of the first church in Dade County, Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.
In 1893, Hillhouse sold his land to Henry M. Flagler for $10,000. His neighbor, Porter, sold his too, and these two properties formed the beginning site of the town of West Palm Beach.
Louis D. Hillhouse married Tessie Harrison of Benton Harbor, Michigan, in 1894. He died 9 February 1909 at Colorado Springs, Colorado, at age fifty.
John C. Hoagland was known as Squire Hoagland by the pioneers of the Lake Worth area. He was a justice of the peace and served as a judge in whatever legal matters arose. He also was called upon to perform marriages when there was no resident minister. A fellow pioneer, Ben Potter, said of him,
“Squire Hoagland was the judge in the only legal court for miles around in those days. All the differences between the early settlers were settled in the Squire’s court. We didn’t have many cases for the Squire,but when the occasion arose he did a mighty fine job of presiding in his court of justice.”
Squire Hoagland was born in 1832 in Somerset County, New Jersey. He was on the lake as early as 1883, when he bought 64 acres of land for $500 from Charlie Moore. In the census of 1885, he gave his occupation as farmer.
That same year, he and David Brown each gave one-half acre of land for a school building site, which was built in 1886, the first school in Dade County. In 1889, Squire Hoagland contributed to the first church building in Dade County, Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.
Squire John C. Hoagland died in Palm Beach 28 September 1894, leaving everything to his widow, Mary H. Hoagland, and son, Irving Hoagland. He had declared himself to be single in 1883 and again in 1885 but, in 1888, had Mary H. Hoagland sign a quit claim to the property he gave to the school building site, indicating that he had married her between 1885 and 1888 or that they may have married earlier in New Jersey and been separated. He had a brother, William J. Hoagland, also of Palm Beach.
Henry C. Hood, M.D., was welcomed with open arms by the pioneers living around the shores of Lake Worth when he arrived in 1889. He was the second practicing physician on the lake, the first being Dr. Richard B. Potter.
Dr. Hood was born in March 1855 in Pennsylvania and came to south Florida from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He married Mary Minna Breisford in 1889 at Palm Beach. Minna, born in October of 1858 in Ohio, had been living on the lake since the fall of 1880 when she arrived with her mother, Dorinda, and brother, E.N. Breisford, to join their brother. J.H. Brelsford. They all homesteaded on South Lake Trail in what became Palm Beach. When Minna married Dr. Hood, they lived with her mother on the property south of brother J.H. Breisford.
Minna and Henry Hood had two daughters, Mary, born in Tennessee in July 1891, and Margaret, born July 1895 in Florida.
Dr. Hood maintained his office in his residence near the Royal Poinciana Hotel, but his practice extended north and south for many miles, at a time when there were no roads and most travel was either by boat or by walking the beach.
Dr. Hood was also active in local politics and in the Pioneers’ Association. He died at Emergency Hospital in West Palm Beach at age sixty- one, following an operation.
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