Celebrating our 125th annual Pioneer Picnic on Saturday, May 1, 2021!
Born in 1832 near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Robert R. McCormick had lived in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. He engaged in various business enterprises by 1864 when failing health made him head west to Denver, Colorado. There he organized the Denver Water Company, the St. Louis and Denver Land & Mining Company,and the Denver Brewing Company. With two partners, he built the Denver Pacific Railroad from Denver to Cheyenne, Wyoming. In 1880, he was involved with five large corporations beside other business interests
McCormick married Drucilla C. in Denver, and they had a son, William R. McCormick. Robert retired in 1884, and he and his family began spending winters on Lake Worth, staying at Cap Dimick’s Cocoanut Grove House.
During the winter of 1886, he looked over Albert Geer’s property in present-day Palm Beach and asked if he might buy it. Geer answered, “I’ve been here ten years. If you give me $1,000 for each of those years, I’ll sell it.”“Sold!” was McCormick’s reply. He paid Geer $10,000, setting off the first real estate boom. Seven years later, he sold the property to Henry M. Flagler for $75,000.
In those seven years, he tore down the pine house the Geers had built and erected what was the finest home on the lake. Called “Lac a Mer” and later “Sea Gull Cottage,” it was a large, white, two-story frame and shingle house, with plate glass windows, wainscoted walls and tile floors. It had a solid mahogany staircase made from lumber found on the beach, but all other building materials were brought by schooner from Jacksonville. It was said to have cost McCormick $30,000.
After selling to Flagler, the McCormicks moved south to Coconut Grove and had another fine home built. R.R. McCormick, with Brown and others, founded the Bank of Bay Biscayne. McCormick retired again about 1907 and died at eighty-three years of age in 1915, preceded in death by Drucilla. Burial was in Miami City Cemetery.
Flagler lived in McCormick’s home while he was having his own mansion, “Whitehall,” built. Then he had “Sea Gull Cottage” moved to Breakers Row on the ocean, and built the Royal Poinciana Hotel on the McCormick property. In 1984, the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach moved “Sea Gull Cottage” so that it faced the lake front.
James Drayton McFarland was one of the settlers who chose to live at the north end of the lake in what was known as The Village of Lake Worth. He lived on the lakefront, near the present day Palm Beach Country Club.
McFarland was born in December 1833 in Wales. His parents were Scottish. They immigrated to America in 1881.
Mcfarland was on the shores of. Lake Worth as early as 1882 when he bought 20 acres of land from Harlan P. Dye for $700. Seven years later, he sold the same property to Hubbard L. Hart for $12,000. Three years later, he bought it back for $9,000. McFarland then sold it to Col. George R. Davis for $14,000, double his original investment.
McFarland was married to Ethel ______ for five years, and they had no children. On 14 February 1895, he married Elizabeth James of Scotland. Their grandson, Allan McFarland, a retired pilot, lives in West Palm Beach.
James Drayton McFarland was a Dade County Commissioner in 1899. He was a real estate salesman and traveled around the country. He died 27 March 1916 in Umatilla, Florida.
John Purcell McKenna arrived on the shores of Lake Worth in October 1885 aboard the schooner, “Mary B.” His brother, Christopher, joined him a few months later, and they both left the area in the summer of 1886.
Born at Dublin, Ireland, on 11 June 1848, John P. McKenna emigrated to America in 1865, became a U.S. citizen in 1877, served in the U.S. Army in the West, and was a rancher in Texas when he decided to have a look at South Florida.
That he liked what he found is evident in the fact that, in 1889, he returned to stay, bringing his bride, the former Eleanor Ridge Bagnall, a native of London, England.
They lived at first on Government Lot #3, about a mile south of the present Port of Palm Beach. There, on 9 August 1890, Eleanor bore their son, John Purcell Alderson McKenna, the first Catholic child born on Lake Worth.
John then homesteaded 160 acres on the west shore of the lake about four miles south of present-day West Palm Beach. While he and his wife and son lived there, a daughter, Mary Teresa, was born on 20 April 1893. After his homestead was proved, John moved his family back to the east shore of the lake to a new, two- and-a-half story house they named “Laguna Vista” on North Lake Trail. There, the last three children were born: Edward Ridge on 1 March 1896, Eleanor Bagnall on 19 September 1897, and Jessie Agnes on 4 January 1901. The family lived at Laguna Vista until 1923 when John sold it to Gurnee Munn and they moved to their final home at 206 Dunbar Road, Palm Beach.
The Dade County Deed Book #1 records a sale of 56 acres of land to Thomas P. McKenna by the State of Florida in January 1881. In June of 1886, Thomas sold 1/3 of that property to his brother, John P., for $1.00, and presumably an equal amount to his other brother, Christopher C. for $1.00. If the deed book is correct, Thomas P. McKenna was here first, and his land was the attraction that brought brothers, John and Christopher. Only John became a permanent resident. Christopher lived in Portland, Oregon, and Thomas resided in New York City. In 1902, in poor health, John retired to Palm Beach where he lived another twenty years.
Besides farming, John served as Palm Beach’s first town clerk. He and Eleanor were active in Lake Worth Pioneers’ Association, John served a term as president, and she served as treasurer for several years. Eleanor died 30 July 1931, and John died 18 October 1931, a devoted couple who contributed much to the community they helped develop. They are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach.
John Purcell Alderson McKenna (Alderson) served in the National Guard in the Mexican border wars and in the U.S. Army Reserves during World War I. He married Anna V. Waldron of Providence, Rhode Island, and they had two sons, John E. and Robert W. McKenna. Alderson died 17 April 1947 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach.
Mary Teresa McKenna (Teresa) volunteered for service with the Post Office Department, Foreign Mails, during World War Tin Washington, D.C. She later attended University of Bowling Green, Kentucky, and graduated in 1926. Teresa served as permanent Historian of the Lake Worth Pioneers’ Association and was often asked to write articles about local history for the newspaper. She died, unmarried, on 19 December 1969, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach.
Edward Ridge McKenna, after a course at Massey Business College in Jacksonville, joined the National Guard and served on the Mexican border in 1916. When World War I broke out, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in France.
He married Alice Leona Loomis in Washington, D.C., and brought her to Palm Beach, where both of their children, June Magdalen and Edward Ridge, Jr., were born. In the construction business, Edward, Sr. also served a term on the town council of Palm Beach and was postmaster of Palm Beach for twenty-five years. He died 17 June 1974.
Eleanor Bagnall McKenna served in the office of the Quartermaster-General of the Army in World War Tin Washington, D.C. She continued in civil service after the war, working in the Palm Beach Postoffice. Eleanor married Andrew Pickens Talley in 1928 and died a year later on 14 December 1929. She is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach.
Jessie Agnes McKenna married Thomas R. Foy of Paducah, Kentucky, in 1922 and died 29 August 1924. She is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach.
George C. Matthams visited the shores of Lake Worth with his wife in 1888. After subsequent visits, they returned in 1891 to become permanent residents.
Matthams was born in England in 1843. He married Elizabeth Lindsell Gower on 10 August 1869, they emigrated to the United States in 1881 and settled in Chicago. They had one child who died young.
George and Elizabeth had a house built on the west shore of Lake Worth. After learning how easily pineapples grew in the South Florida climate, George became a pineapple grower in partnership with Henry Maddock and his son, Sidney. Their plantation extended from Dixie Highway westward to Parker Avenue in what became known as the Flamingo Section of West Palm Beach. After their partnership dissolved, Henry Flagler, having noticed that the beautiful pineapple fields were visible from passing trains and gave a favorable impression to tourists, took over the business.
Matthams, popularly known as Captain Matthams, was a lover of flowers who made trips to the islands to bring back different varieties to plant. He is credited with being the first to raise orchids in this area.
The Matthams celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in West Palm Beach on 10 August 1919 by attending Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and afterward entertaining some close friends. Elizabeth, who had been in poor health for several years, died one week later and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach. George lived on alone in the house he and Elizabeth had shared since it was built in 1892. He died 14 March 1922 and is buried beside Elizabeth.
Guy Irwin Metcalf was the son of William Irwin Metcalf, an attorney and judge. He was born at Niles, Ohio, in 1866. As a child, Guy was in poor health. His parents brought him to Florida on a stretcher. The climate and outdoor activities restored him to good health. In June 1893, he married Edith Augusta Lacey, also from Niles, who had also come to Florida for her health. She was a talented violinist. She and Guy settled in Juno and had two children, Paul and Lacey William.
One of the first newspapers of southeast Florida was The Indian River News in Melbourne, founded 21 February 1887, of which Metcalf was the owner and editor. He moved to Juno 18 March 1891 and changed the name to Jh Tropical Sun. Juno was the county seat of Dade County at that time. Dade County reached from the St. Lucie River to the Upper Keys. Ih Tropical Sun was the only newspaper in Dade County. The office was in Juno. In June 1892, S. Bobo Dean became assistant editor (later editor of Palm Beach Post and Times). Guy decided to diversify and set up the Tropical Real Estate Exchange.
Before the coming of the Florida East Coast Railroad, travel was a problem. Dade was the largest county in the state. Wheeled vehicles were being used, making roads necessary. Guy’s next endeavor was to build a road. For a rock road from Lantana to Lemon City (now North Miami) Guy bid $24.50 a mile and was awarded the job. To construct an eight-foot wide road, trees, stumps, palmettos and rocks had to be cleared away. The bridges were built by Peter W. Merritt. New River at Fort Lauderdale was crossed via ferry. The road was completed in December 1892.
Guy’s next project was establishing a stage line which he named Biscayne Bay Stage Line. He used two hacks (wagons pulled by mules), and set up a half-way camp at Fort Lauderdale, run by Frank Stranahan of Melbourne. The hack from Lantana made the trip to the camp in fourteen hours, while the Lemon City hack arrived in about seven. Here they exchanged mail and passengers and returned to their starting place the next day. The people thought it was a great improvement over walking on the beach. Guy also constructed a road from Juno to Mangonia.
With the coming of Flagler’s railroad in 1895, Guy moved his newspaper and family to West Palm Beach. Equipment was loaded onto a barge, and his shop was set up on the north side of Clematis, two blocks from the lake. His was no longer the only newspaper. One year before, C.M. Gardner started the Gazeteer and a fierce rivalry sprang up between the two editors. It is said that at one time they met in combat. “Gardner, toting a pistol, was felled by Metcalf, armed with a printer’s mallet.” (DuBois, p.8) The Gazeteer burned in the Big Fire of February 1896, and Gardner sold it to the Dean Brothers, who later turned it into Palm Beach Daily News. On 4 April 1902, Metcalf sold his paper to the Model Land Company, owned by Flagler, who hired Harlan W. Brush to run it.
Guy Metcalf played a major part in the development of South Florida. He served as postmaster of West Palm Beach from 1913 to 1915 and was superintendent of county schools when he died 7 February 1918. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach.
There is a monument on the grounds of Norton Gallery of Art, West Palm Beach, which contains the names of eighty-four men who came to the shores of Lake Worth between 1873 and 1893. Charles Moore’s name is on the monument, but he was already here when the others arrived. He had settled permanently on the lake shore by 1872, though he had been a beachcomber in the area for about twenty years.
In the fall of 1866, Michael Sears and his son, George, were sailing home to Biscayne Bay from Indian River when they noticed a new inlet, opened by recent storms. Curious, they sailed through it and onto a beautiful lake. About two miles to the south, they saw a man on the east shore, standing in a clearing he’d made in the tropical jungle. He introduced himself as Augustus 0. Lang and wanted to know how the war was going. He was surprised to learn it was over. Back home at Biscayne Bay, the Sears told their friend, Charlie Moore, about their experience. Sometime later, Charlie set out in his sloop, “Cruiser,” for Lake Worth and, unable to find Lang, settled into his empty cabin.
Charlie Moore, born Charles Warner in 1819 in New York, was legally adopted by an aunt whose surname was Moore. At an early age, Charlie ran away to sea and became a sailor, traveling to many different countries, and was finally shipwrecked off the Florida Keys about 1845. He became a beachcomber, roaming the southeast coast, picking up all sorts of things from shipwrecks, which he sold to support himself. It was said he found everything he owned on the beach, from pins and needles to an iron cookstove, which he vowed floated ashore. He once claimed to have found a trunk containing ladies’ fancy underpants, which he himself wore, having no wife to give them to. Though many conflicting stories were told about Charlie by the early pioneers, they all agreed that he was a colorful character. Charlie himself told this tale:
“Lang and I were here alone with plenty of game and all the fish we could catch, living the life of Reilly, when a hurricane hit the island with terrific force one night demolishing our shack and forcing us out into the open. During the next few days we discovered twenty-seven wrecks between Jupiter and Cape Florida. Amid the wreckage of one of the vessels we found a trunk with $8,000 in gold in its battered interior, and a good money belt to carry it in. After all the years of loneliness in the tropics, $4,000 as my share of the haul proved to be too much for me and after vainly trying to persuade Lang, who was still fearful of being caught as a deserter, to accompany me, I set out for Jacksonville, traveling most of the way on foot. I arrived in Jacksonville in time to catch a lumber schooner bound for New York. After downing several drinks in a waterfront saloon, in New York, I hove to around a corner and ran afoul of a lamppost. I woke up in a hospital minus my gold belt. So there was nothing to do but return to South Florida by devious routes where the news of the cessation of hostilities between the North and South caused Lang to start on a trip of his own.”
If this tale is true, Charlie and Lang knew one another before 1866. They had a shanty on the ocean beach and together, they were beachcombers until they found the money, if indeed they did. It’s hard to imagine Charlie walking the beach to Jacksonville, weighted down with $4,000 in gold. And a sailor, walking most of 350 miles, when passing ships were within hailing distance? Did he arrive in New York with all $4,000? Upon his return, by “devious routes,” he landed on Biscayne Bay and it was there he heard that Lang was still living on Lake Worth. Did he set out to find Lang for friendship’s sake, or to see what Lang did with his share of the gold?
In a retelling of this story, one hundred years later, the old beachcomber found not only gold in the trunk but lead bars which he used for ballast in his boat. After returning broke from New York, he noticed the ballast was an odd color and, upon closer examination, discovered the lead bars were actually silver, so it was off to New York again!
Some say Charlie lived in a shanty on the beach. Some say he built a hut on the ocean ridge. Some say he lived in a shack on the lakeshore. All may be right. The few brave souls passing through this untamed wilderness used palmetto fronds and driftwood to put up temporary shelters. But in the winter of 1872, Charlie moved into the pine log cabin that Lang had built, and not only took care of the trees and flowers planted by Lang, but improved the place. Charles Moore was the first permanent resident of Palm Beach.
He finally got some neighbors. By Christmas 1873, there were nine other settlers around the lake. Charlie caught and fattened a possum for weeks, and invited his neighbors to dinner. There were sweet potatoes to go with roast possum, and biscuits made in a Dutch oven set in the fire. There was prickly pear pie for dessert. The feast was enjoyed by all, especially by Charlie whose loneliness was eased.
There was no Palm Beach County then. Dade County stretched from St. Lucie River on the north to Biscayne Bay on the south. In the fall of 1874, Dade County elections were held. The local polling place was the H.D. Pierce home on Hypoluxo Island. Inspectors of election were Charlie Moore, Will Moore (no relation), W.M. Butler and Pierce. When election day arrived, only one voter showed up, old Doc Talbot, who had been living with the Butlers. Ballots were cut from a sheet of paper. The ballot box was Pierce’s palmetto hat. The inspectors voted, and the five ballots were put into a used envelope and carried by sailboat to Miami, the county seat.
In the summer of 1875, Charlie, age fifty-six, married Elizabeth J. Wilder, a widow with two children, Abner, age sixteen, and Eliza, age eighteen. The widow Wilder had been hired as a cook for the Dwight family, who were having a house built one-fourth mile south of Charlie’s, and he was one of the carpenters. When the Dwights decided the wilderness of South Florida was not for them and planned to move back north, leaving the widow Wilder without a job, Charlie proposed to her. Elizabeth, originally from Georgia, was fourteen years younger than Charlie. They were married in the Dwight’s new house by Mr. Dwight’s father, an ordained minister. Theirs were the first Palm Beach wedding and the first Palm Beach honeymoon.
Charlie Moore was no longer a “squatter.” The Dade County Deed Book records his purchase in 1880 of 129 acres of land just north of the old Bethesda church location from the U. S. Government for $80 an acre. He bought an additional 80 acres from the government in 1882. Over the next four years, he and Elizabeth bought and sold pieces of their land, the value of which was steadily increasing. On 3 May 1887, they sold five acres to Charles C. Haight. The next entry, 25 August 1887, shows Elizabeth J. Moore as executrix for Charles Moore, selling half of the 80 acre plot and buying the other half for herself. Charlie had died 13 May 1887.
The many stories about Charlie Moore paint a picture of a man who was a fearless, resourceful, practical sailor and beachcomber. He had a sense of humor and loved to “spin a yarn.” He described living in a shanty on a deserted beach as “the life of Reilly” with plenty of game and fish, never mentioning the bears, panthers, snakes and ferocious mosquitoes. He was able to live alone, yet loved company. Described as a jolly old sailor, he claimed to have sailed around the world several times and declared the climate of Lake Worth even better than that of southern Italy. After a hurricane in the 1870s, Charlie and some other beachcombers found plenty of salvageable goods on the beach, but another hurricane eight days later swept everything back to sea. Asked why they didn’t save the stuff, Charlie answered, “We found too much rum.”
The following story, written about Charlie, could only have originated with Charlie, and illustrates his incredible talent for surviving.
CHARLES MOORE TAKEN FOR GHOST
Charles Moore, who was clearing a place about Lake Worth, running short on supplies, started to make a boat trip to Sand Point, now Titusville, for the things required. Moore started out all right, secured his supplies, and began his return trip. When about halfway home, in a heavy north wind, with swells running swiftly, Moore, who was in the act of filling his pipe, lost his knife overboard, and while making an effort to reach for it, as it bounded out of his hand, a squall hit his cat yawl boat, the craft capsized, throwing Moore into the cold water and almost strangling him, before he could right the boat sufficiently to cling to it. This happened about nine in the morning, and realizing that something had to be done, Moore managed to cast aside his garments, with the exception of one shirt, and started to swim ashore. The place where his boat capsized was opposite where Jensen is now located. Moore swam towards the shore nearest the boat, but before he reached its safe retreat he became insensible, and when he recovered he was lying with his feet in the water and his head resting on some of the manatee grass just fringing the shore line. Reckoning by the sun, it was about three in the afternoon.
Chilled to the bone by the exposure to the cold wind and his long immersion in the water, Moore gathered some palmetto leaves and rubbed his body to a comfortable heat, then making a palmetto bed for himself, laid down and rested until morning. With day-light returning, he started out for Fort Pierce - it was not Fort Pierce in those days - and taking to the water’s edge and the paths of cactus, Moore made his way to the mouth of the St. Lucie River, where Sewell’s post office now stands, wading out to try the water again to reach the settlement where Alexander Bell lived, but fearing that it would never be accomplished, he took to the roads or rather to the paths. His hunger becoming keen, and having no water, his voice began to fail him, so that when he reached the place near where Bell lived, he could use his voice only in a whisper.
To tell of the struggles and hardships of his weary journey is unnecessary, it can better be imagined. The rocky shore tore the soles of his feet to shreds, the paths of the cactus ripped big pieces from his legs, his body was fatigued with the exposure, and wracked with the pains of exhaustion. He stumbled and tottered, he had twenty miles to travel, and such traveling as would have made a much stronger man give way under the hardships. But with a determination to get something to eat and drink, that nerves the best and the weakest, he struggled on, and when he came in sight of Bell’s place, he could go no farther.
In those days, houses were built with one big general room, when the women folks were ready for the floor beds, the men folks would walk about the place, and enter later. At this time, when Moore was making his way to Bell’s, Bell was having as a guest a man by the name of Nichols and waiting for the home folks to get ready for their evening rest, Nichols strolled down to the beach where Moore was struggling along at a slow pace. Just before this time, old Captain Hunter, one of the early men of this time and place, had sickened and died, and it was current rumor that the Captain was not averse to returning to this mortal earth to view how things were coming. When Moore saw the figure of Nichols he waved his hand to him to come and help him, but Nichols, with the stories of Captain Hunter in his mind, gave one look at this white ghostly apparition beckoning him, and with hair standing at a sharp perpendicular, dashed up the bluff ten feet at a bound and with a scream bordering close to the yell of the wildcat, dashed into the heavy door of Bell’s place, tearing the door from its heavy leather hinges, and falling upon the sleeping inmates, who no doubt thought a cyclone struck them, lay panting and gesticulating like a big land crab, with forearms spasmodically pointing north, and then south. After Bell had pounded Nichols with boot and heel in all parts of his anatomy, he cried out, “Captain Hunter is down on the beach!”
“You dang fool,” said Bell, “Cap Hunter is dead and buried.” When Bell and Nichols went to the beach to find out what was the cause of the latter’s fright, they came to Moore, who was still slowly making his way up to the home of Bell. Bell soon learned the gist of the matter, and Moore was taken care of. Later, when Moore recovered sufficiently to be questioned, he told the tale of his being wrecked, and Bell in return told Moore how Nichols took him for the ghost of Captain Hunter. Moore replied, “Well, I didn’t know whether to try the rocks and cactus again, or stand and be shot for a ghost.”
Robert Bingham Moore first came to the shores of Lake Worth in 1875. He was born 15 November 1831 in Watertown, New York, one of the eight children of Mary Ann (Bingham) and William Moore. He was named for his mother’s brother, who disowned her when she married his father. The family moved several times during Robert’s childhood, as his father was in the Army. They eventually settled in Waukegan, Illinois. There, in 1852, Robert married Ursula Turner Soule.
They had eight children, four born in Waukegan, and four born in Chicago: Lillie C., who married Alexander Flett, George W., who lived only five months, Minnie M., who married D.R. Ingersoll, Ida U., who married Franklin J. Pope, Etta A., who married U.D. Hendrickson, Robert Grant, who married Mary Wheeler Nokes, Walter Rufus, who married (1st) Eleanor Emmons, (2nd) Merion Hendrickson, (3rd) Estella K. Kutz, and William Lee, who married Bertha Winot.
Robert, who had weak lungs and had already lost two brothers, two sisters and his mother to consumption, traveled alone to south Florida in the fall of 1875 to visit his brother, William H. Moore, and his sister, Margretta Pierce. The climate agreed with him, and helping his brother and brother-in-law raise pineapples he began spending the winters on Hypoluxo Island.
In the summer of 1883, Robert and Ursula traveled by train from Chicago to Cedar Keys on Florida’s west coast, then by boat to Key West, and caught the mail schooner to Biscayne Bay, where the Pierces were stationed at the government House of Refuge. Robert announced that he intended to spend the rest of his life on Lake Worth and had brought Ursula to pick out a homesite. The four Pierces sailed north with them to Lake Worth. H.D. Pierce had previously offered to sell Robert 6 acres of land on Hypoluxo Island, but Ursula thought the location too isolated. Instead, they bought from Albert and Marion Geer, 6 acres of land where the Royal Poinciana Hotel was later built. They paid $500. They hired Morris Benson Lyman to build their house and returned to Chicago to wind up their affairs.
Their new home was a two-story house, the first on the lake finished in lath and plaster, and they named it “Dellmoore Cottage.” They moved in with their four youngest children, and became active members of the community. They operated “Deilmoore Cottage” as a small hotel, renting rooms for $2.50 a day. In 1900, they sold their property to Henry M. Flagler for $40,000 and moved across the lake to West Palm Beach.
Robert died 2 June 1903, age seventy-two. He had a good life prolonged by the Florida climate. Ursula died ten years later. They are buried side by side in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach.
Minnie Moore Ingersoll and her husband moved to the shores of Lake Worth in 1883 when her parents did. Sometime later, they bought a home in West Palm Beach where they lived for a number of years. Eventually, they sold their property to Mayor Whidden and moved back to Chicago.
Ida Moore Pope lived with her husband in Ohio until he died in 1919. She moved to Eustis, Florida. where she stayed two years. Then she lived in Umatilla until her death in 1942.
Etta Moore Hendrickson lived all her married life in West Palm Beach, where she died in 1945. (See the U.D. Hendrickson story.)
Robert Grant Moore married Mary Wheeler Nokes and was a bicycle dealer in West Palm Beach for several years. They lived in various places in Florida, including Jacksonville, and finally settled in Orlando, where he died in 1939.
Walter Rufus Moore and his first wife, Eleanor Emmons, had four children and were divorced in 1916. He and his second wife, Merion Hendrickson, were married and divorced in the same year, 1918. His third marriage, to Estella K. Kutz, produced four children. Raised on the water, Walter became a steamboat captain. In 1920, he and his cousin Lillie’s husband, Fred C. Voss, had a pleasure yacht built in Bath, Maine, and named her “Donnygill” after their two sons, Donald and Gilbert. Walter was the captain and Fred the steam engineer. They took charter parties cruising between Port Washington, New York, and West Palm Beach, Florida, for several years until Walter lost an eye in an accident and was advised to stay ashore. Walter sold his property at Gomez, near Hobe Sound, for $100,000.00 and retired to California with his family. Unfortunately, the Florida “bust” and combined with the 1928 hurricane, forced the buyers of his property to renege. Walter moved the family back home, where he lived until his death in 1952.
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 E. Oyer, Jr., of Boynton Beach. 2018--bugle is now in possession of Harvey E. Oyer, III.
In the late 1870s, the population around the shores of Lake Worth had grown considerably. At first there were no formal religious services. People were scattered along the shores and getting together was difficult, especially when there was no minister to lead them. There wasn’t even a circuit rider. In 1886, a school building was erected a mile north of today’s Flagler Bridge, on the east shore of the lake. For a time, the settlers would gather to worship in the school.
Any minister who might be traveling south would hold services. An Episcopal bishop visited one Sunday. He believed this would be a good place to establish a parish. He wrote in a church paper, asking for a clergyman to volunteer to come to Palm Beach. Joseph Newton Mulford answered that call in 1889. He was from Troy, New York, and asked only that his expenses to reach Florida be paid.
Mulford was born in 1837 in Pennsylvania. His parents were from New Jersey and England. His wife was the former Mary Cluett, born about 1837 in England, and she accompanied him to Florida. They had no children of their own but brought along Mary’s fifteen-year-old nephew, Sanford L. Cluett who, in later years, invented the process known as “Sanforizing.”
Mulford was an artist, wood carver and carpenter. With the help of local men, he built a small (100 seat) church next to the school building. Mary named it Bethesda-by-the-Sea, after their church, Bethesda, in Saratoga Springs, New York, where they spent their summers. A shingled building with a clock tower was built on the same site a few years later. It is still standing on the east shore of the lake opposite Currie/Bethesda Park.
Joseph Mulford served as the Episcopal rector for ten years. People of other denominations worshipped at Bethesda-by-the-Sea until such time as their denominations were established.
Mary Mulford died in 1915. The Cluett Gardens at Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach are named for her. Joseph died in 1921, at age eighty-four.
His name is spelled Mulligan on the pioneer marker, but in all other records, it is Mullikin.
John Wesley Mullikin was born at Bowling Green, Kentucky, in April 1864. He had lived on the shores of Lake Worth for several years before 1894. That year, he returned to Kentucky to marry Mary M. Grimes of Carlisle, Kentucky.
On their return to Florida, they rode the first train into West Palm Beach. The first section of the Royal Poinciana Hotel had been completed the previous month. At first, there were no bridges spanning the lake so John Mullikin used his boat to operate a ferry service. The city of West Palm Beach was just forming, and he was put in charge of the city waterworks.
John and Mary had four children, the first three born in West Palm Beach and the last in Carlisle, Kentucky. Their only daughter, Jessie Lee, married A. LeRoy Clark and resided in Dania. Son Sidney Redd married Ama Mozo and lived in Chiefland, Florida. James Clyde married Edith May Robinson, and they made their home in Dania. John, Jr. never married and also remained in Dania.
By 1904, some people were moving south to what became Broward County. John Mullikin moved his family by boat to Dania, a settlement west of Fort Lauderdale, which had been started by Danes. John was elected the first mayor of Dania about 1909. He set out a large grove of grapefruit and orange trees west of Dania. He also was a general contractor, handling lumber, stone and concrete.
John Mullikin died at Dania in April 1936. Mary died after 1941, and both are buried in Dania Cemetery.
Andrew Nilson’s surname was spelled Nelson on the Lake Worth Pioneers’ Association monument, but Nilson in all other records. Born in Sweden in June of 1848, Andrew married Anna Augusta, about 1879. They had already arrived in Florida by 1880 when their son, Tebout, was born. Their daughter, Vera, was born the following year.
Dade County Deed Book No.1 shows that Andrew Nilson bought 40 acres of land from William N. Wood on 26 April 1892 for $225. This property was in southern Dade County, between present-day Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
Andrew was listed as a Dade County poll tax payer in 1894. He and Augusta joined the new Christian Scientist Church in West Palm Beach about 1915 and lived at 611 South Olive Avenue. Andrew was the caretaker of the Bingham Estate in Palm Beach, about one-half mile south of today’s Mar-a-Lago.
Andrew and Augusta’s children predeceased them. Their daughter, Vera, died unmarried at age twenty-six on 22 November 1906. Her death was a tragedy from which they never fully recovered. Then, son Tebout’s death at age thirty-six on 1 June 1916, dealt a double blow.
Andrew died 21 January 1929, and Augusta on 16 November 1949. They are buried in the family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach, with their children. On 5 October 1914, Carl S. Anderson was also buried in their plot and may have been Augusta’s father.
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