Margretta Moore Pierce was one of many children born to Mary Bingham and William Moore, a soldier who was stationed at several military camps in the mid-west; they both died from “galloping consumption.” Margretta went to live with her married sister Kate in Waukegan, Illinois, and there met shipwrecked seaman Hannibal Pierce and married him in 1858. By 1871, she had buried three young children and was living in Chicago. Margretta, Hannibal, their child Charlie, and Margretta’s brother William Moore left Chicago for Florida in late 1871. They lived in several places, including Ankona, Fort Pierce, and Lake Worth. Husband Hannibal was employed at Jupiter Lighthouse, Biscayne Bay House of Refuge, and the Orange Grove House of Refuge at Delray Beach, where she had her last child, Lillie. However, their main home was Hypoluxo Island, where they were among the first homesteaders in the area.
Summary: In this presentation on the life of her grandmother, Margretta Moore Pierce (1840-1912), given to the Boynton Beach Historical Society on 29 October 1970, Freda Oyer draws on family papers from several sources to construct a descriptive talk of what life was like on the south Florida frontier in the 1870s. She includes some details of her great-grandmother’s life (Mary Bingham Moore), her grandmother’s marriage to grandfather Hannibal Pierce, their leaving Chicago shortly after the Chicago fire of 1871 on the boat Fairy Belle, their house burning down in Ankona, recovering ship wreckage while Hannibal was the Assistant Lighthouse keeper at the Jupiter Lighthouse, enduring a hurricane under a boat while moving to Hypoluxo Island, and details of the first Christmas dinner in south Florida (possum and biscuits were served). Also mentions life at the House of Refuge in Biscayne Bay and later teaching her granddaughter, the author, how to read.
Click here to listen to the presentation online (transcription available)