When I first moved to Florida almost a year ago, I had no inkling of its colorful history. This state has a very dark history, and there is a lot of depth here–a lot more than many people realize. An essential book for any amateur historian, researcher, or writer of historical fiction, is the memoir of Charles W. Pierce. Having arrived in Florida when he was a small child in 1872, Charles witnessed the rapid growth of a state that would eventually become densely populated and a huge tourist attraction.
He saw Florida when it was a total wilderness, when the only way to get from Lake Worth to Jupiter Inlet was by taking a boat, piloting it to the haulover on one end of the Lake, and finally heading seaward. Pioneer Life in Southeast Florida paints a detailed picture of what Lake Worth was like when Charles lived there. The reader learns about how the pioneers survived, what they ate, how they built their houses, and how they traveled from one place to another. As a writer of historical fiction, I have found this memoir to be an absolute treasure.
The author also makes mention of numerous other South Florida settlers, including Ed Hamilton, the most famous of all the “barefoot mailmen”, who mysteriously disappeared while making one of his weekly mail deliveries.
You may have difficulty locating the book. Even the cheapest copies on Amazon are relatively expensive. However, the price is worth it. This book is a wonderful account of frontier life in Florida.