Interesting History of Deerfield Beach, FL
It’s always interesting to explore the unique history of our local cities. I believe that our history is what makes us so unique. So even though I am a present-day Personal Injury Lawyer in Deerfield Beach, I thought it would be fun to learn more about the city’s roots. I’ve learned a lot while writing this article and I hope that you will too. Join me as we take a stroll though our city’s past.
Before Deerfield Beach was home to settlers, it belonged to the Seminoles. In fact, what is today Sullivan Park, was once a traditional Seminole hunting camp. In 1838, during the Second Seminole War, Lieutenant Robert Anderson (who would later become famous as a Union Commander at Fort Sumter during the Civil War) took this camp as well as 46 Seminole Prisoners, including Chief Tuskegee.
Deerfield Beach was officially founded in 1877 when the first non-native laid down roots amongst the resplendent, lush and wild tropical vegetation growing along the Hillsboro River, which empties into the Atlantic. As stated before, up until this then, the Seminole Indians were the only inhabitants in the Deerfield Beach area, but they lived more inland. To the south, Key West and Miami were already teeming villages. And to the north, Palm Beach was becoming a popular winter getaway for wealthy northerners. (source: https://www.deerfield-beach.com/548/History)
Some surprising history linking Deerfield beach back to the British is that the Hillsboro River was named after the Earl of Hillsborough, who was given the land by King George the III of England in the late 1700s. By the 1890s, a few homes dotted the winding coastline of the Hillsboro River. And in the spring of 1896, Henry M. Flagler had extended his Florida East Coast Railroad down the coastline into Miami, making Deerfield Beach more accessible.
In 1898, Deerfield opened its first post office to serve the population of 20 settlers. According to Britannica, the name “Deerfield” was chosen for the deer that roamed the coastlines of the Hillsboro River. A narrow wooden bridge built west of the railroad led to another growing settlement: Boca Raton. (Source: https://www.deerfield-beach.com/548/History)
By 1910, the intersection of what is today Hillsboro Blvd and Dixie highway was the original downtown Deerfield (not too different from today!) At the time, the road was made of shells and dirt and about nine-feet wide. There were a couple of stores, a lodge and the Australian and Pioneer Hotels. (Side note: Australian Hotel, built in 1907, would burn down in 1937 after a kitchen fire.) However, the real economic engine of Deerfield during this time was agriculture. It was said that the tomatoes from Deerfield were among the best in the state. (Source: https://www.deerfield-beach.com/548/History) .
The village of Deerfield experienced more population growth after the construction of the Hillsboro Canal, which linked to Lake Okeechobee, in 1911. And even more growth when the bridge linking across the Intracoastal Waterway to the beach was completed in 1917. In 1939, Deerfield was renamed what we know it as today – Deerfield Beach. By this point, it was a city fueled by tourism and farming with a population of about 1800. (Source: https://www.deerfield-beach.com/548/History).
In 1942, WWII soldiers traveling via train to basic training camp at the Boca Raton Club witnessed a devastating train accident. The now ultra-luxurious Boca Raton Resort & Club was being used as temporary housing for thousands of troops. The train had just stopped at the Seaboard Station in Deerfield Beach. The soldiers were stretching their legs on the platform when they witnessed another train slam full-speed into the train they had just gotten off. One person was killed and four were injured – who could have really benefited from a present-day personal injury attorney in Deerfield Beach.
After WWII, the tourism industry in Deerfield Beach really blossomed. The soldiers who had trained in Boca Raton, just north of Deerfield Beach, remembered its tropical beauty and they came back for vacation with their families. Hotels and motels shot up around the shore line. The economy drifted more and more away from its agricultural roots and became more reliant on tourism.
South Florida (specifically, Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach) had more involvement in World War II then simply housing a base for the training of U.S. troops during World War II. Nazi submarines were spotted off of the coast of Florida, including Deerfield Beach and other places in South Florida. Today, many believe that some German sailors did make it onto our shores and were quickly caught.
From the Seminole wars, to farming community, to WW2 covert ops, there are so many fascinating topics in Deerfield Beach’s history.
If you are looking for a personal injury attorney who truly values our community and history, contact Waring Law today at (954) 388-0646.