Celebrating our 125th annual Pioneer Picnic on Saturday, May 1, 2021!
From the records of the Lake Worth Pioneers’ Association and the 1910 Census, the following information was taken: William H. Whidden was born 4 August 1865 and died 11 September 1951. On 12 March 1893, he married Georgia Elizabeth Johnston (born 17 October 1872, died 12 December 1934.) He arrived on the shores of Lake Worth in 1886, about twenty-one years of age.
In 1882, he left Hillsborough County to join his father on the shores of Lake Worth. He spent some time in Jupiter, Juno and on the shores of Lake Mangonia, where the Whiddens had established a dairy. This dairy was still there in 1900 when the Thomas Wade family was making their way to Biscayne Bay from Fort Meade (near Lakeland, Florida). The Wades had heard there was scarlet fever and malaria in Miami, so they resided in Indiantown as one of three white families. They eventually lived in Lantana for a while before returning to Fort Meade, at Mrs. Wade’s pleading. Mr. Wade worked for Whidden at the dairy but the work was not to his liking.
William and Georgia had five children: Estelle W., Viola W., Belle W., William Jasper and Clara
W. They all attended school in Jupiter. Estelle married Stanley Walicki. Viola married Charles W. Crow and had two daughters, Carol and Jane. Belle married, first, David A. Nasal and, second, Morton W. Fichtelberg. William married, first, Helen Keyes and, second, Claire Webb. Clara married Forrest Warren Dana, and they had one son, Forrest, Jr. Belle served as historian of the Lake Worth Pioneers’ Association.
Very little information is available about James J. White. He came to Florida, near Rockledge, first, and was on the shores of Lake Worth by January 1887. At that time, he bought 10 acres of land from Moore W. Dimick for $731, making him Dimick’s neighbor to the south, in Palm Beach. He also bought a piece of land from Sylvanus S. White, who may have been his brother. James and his wife, Louisa F., sold some or all of their property in 1892 and later moved to Cocoa, Florida, to live.
James J. White is assumed to have died before 1928 as his name is not included on the list of the original eighty-four pioneers still living then.
One of the few native Floridians among the 84 pioneers listed on the monument at the Norton Gallery of Art, West Palm Beach, was Abner M. Wilder. Born 14 March 1860 in Manatee County, Florida, Ab came to the shores of Lake Worth in the summer of 1875. His widowed mother, Elizabeth, had married Charles Moore, (See his story) and Ab and his eighteen-year-old sister, Eliza, came to live with them. His stepfather’s land was about two miles south of the old inlet, on what was to become Palm Beach. The following year, Eliza married James Russell of Indian River.
Ab Wilder may have been born as early as 1857. In the Census of 1880, he gave his age as twenty-three. He was listed as a registered voter in 1876. He was supposed to have been sixteen years old when his mother married Charles Moore.
At any rate, he grew up fast on the lake. He was reported to be a crack shot and a willing worker. Ab fit right in with the other, older pioneers.
In 1881, Ab bought 50 acres of his own, north of Charlie Moore’s place. In 1887, Ab’s stepfather died, and three years later, his mother, Elizabeth, gave 12 acres of land apiece to Ab and his two sisters, Elizabeth Catherine Moseley and Eliza Jane Russell.
Ab married Selene ____ and had four sons: John A., born 1881, Medford J., born 1883, Richard H., born 1884, and Earl T., born 1888.
By 1920, Ab was in real estate in West Palm Beach. Six years later, he and Richard, both single, were living at 508 Banyan Street. Ab’s youngest son, Earl, died on 12 February 1923, and is buried in the family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach. Abner died 27 November 1930, and is buried beside Earl. John A.Wilder, an engineer, married Hattie Belle. She died 26 August 1962, and John died 4 August 1968. Richard H. Wilder died, unmarried, 30 July 1957. Medford J. Wilder married Bessie Mae ____. He died 18 August 1940, Bessie on 10 May 1946. Ab had purchased eight graves in Woodlawn Cemetery when his son Earl died. The eighth grave was for Mary L. Wilder, who died 29 September 1957 and may have been a second wife of Ab or his daughter-in-law.
Charles A. Woodruff, born in Madison, Tennessee, near Nashville, came to Florida in 1888. He settled in Juno at the north end of Lake Worth. Before long, he traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, where he married Florence 0. Robinson and brought her back to Juno.
Charley was well liked and respected in the community of Juno, the county seat of Dade County from 1889 to 1899. He built a general store and post office in 1891 and became the postmaster. The building was at Juno Inlet where little Lake Worth and big Lake Worth meet.
Charley homesteaded 47 acres on the ridge by the Celestial Railroad, just north of the future Seminole Golf Club clubhouse. Florence planted coconut trees and had a garden, and Charley kept bees.
When Henry M. Flagler bypassed Juno with his Florida East Coast railroad, people began moving south to West Palm Beach, and so did the Woodruffs. Charley moved his store building on a barge, pulled by a steamboat, down the lake. He located the building on the southeast corner of Banyan Street and Olive Avenue, across the street from the railroad depot, and opened for business. In 1905, he moved the building again, this time to First Street and Dixie Highway. He took on a line of fertilizers and, in 1920, sold the business to Hector Supply Company.
Charley and Florence had seven children, the first two born in Juno and the last five in West Palm Beach. They were: Mabel Woodruff Shore (Mrs. Fred), Charles H. Woodruff, Myrtle A. Woodruff Mahathey (Mrs. George), E.D. Woodruff, Gladys Woodruff Curtis (Mrs. Louis), E.N. Woodruff and Alvin L. Woodruff. They lived in a house near the northwest corner of First Street and Dixie Highway, across from the store.
Charley died in 1935 and Florence in 1946.
Solomon Fisk Worthington was born 17 June 1838 in Penn Yan, New York. In 1887, he and his wife came to the shores of the lake of Lake Worth, and lived with “Cap” Dimick in Palm Beach, just below where Whitehall now stands.
Two years later, the Worthingtons bought 5 acres of land on the west side of the lake for $200, from the Lanehart sisters. Located just south of present day West Palm Beach, it was their home for many years, until they moved to 220 Evernia Street.
Though he had retired from many years of government service and came to south Florida for rest and relaxation, S. Fisk Worthington went into the real estate business, according to the 1910 U.S. Census.
He died in West Palm Beach on 4 February 1917, survived by his widow, Elizabeth, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
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