Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dreams of Fulford by the Sea

When you come across a town with the name of your family you are almost required to research it to see if there is some kind of connection to your family.

I lived in North Miami, Florida for a year after college but never knew the area a couple miles north used to be called Fulford.

It was named for Captain William Hawkins Fulford who obtained 160 acres in the area by homestead in 1897. In 1912 some real estate developers bought the land from Captain Fulford with the idea they could divide it and additional acreage for residential lots. They called the development Fulford by the Sea and started selling lots in 1922.

The city development included a mile and a quarter wooden automobile race track. There was only one race at the track, in 1925 but it set a world speed record. The track and surrounding area was destroyed in a hurricane in 1926.

This was the time of the Florida Land Boom when speculators bought up worthless land and sold it to unsuspecting northerners. Fulford by the Sea was an extensive complex with wide boulevards, fountains and city services. They built a radio station and brought in prospective buyers on tour ships.
The real estate development went bankrupt several years later and the developer was charged with land fraud. It was one of the many land developments in Florida that fizzled out after the land boom of the 1920s. The State legislature changed the name of the City from Fulford to North Miami Beach in 1931.

William Hawkins Fulford was born in North Carolina in 1835. I've spent over five years off and on researching him but only recently came up with the proof that he was related to my Fulford family. According to my genealogy software he is my 2nd cousin, 4 times removed.

He was the son of William Fulford, born April 2, 1786 of Carteret County NC and Civil Pigott. His death certificate states the names of his parents. It shows his place of birth as Branford, NC but this was just an error in spelling Beaufort. There has never been a community in NC called Branford.

Because he had a city named after him there have been several books written about him. None of them were able to identify his heritage. In fact one called "South Florida History" says he was born in England. I'm not sure how they came up with that since he listed North Carolina as his place of birth on every census.
His father, William Fulford in Carteret County was the lighthouse Keeper at Cape Lookout Lighthouse. William Hawkins Fulford worked as the Lifesaving Station Keeper in Dade County Florida from 1890 to 1902. It was called the Biscayne House of Refuge.
Prior to that his occupation on census records in Florida was listed as Mariner or Sea Captain. He was the Captain of a Steamship between Jacksonville and New Smyrna, Florida for many years.

William Hawkins Fulford died in 1915. The following notice was printed in the June 4, 1915, Florida East Sentinel. "Capt. W. H. Fulford died at New Smyrna Tuesday morning. The Captain for whom this town was named and who was its first postmaster had passed his four score years and was greatly beloved by all his many friends on the East Coast where he had lived for over thirty years. He was a sailing vessel captain for many years and had sailed every ocean and had a host of friends in every port. His homestead at Fulford was bought by the Fulford Improvement company two years ago when he moved from the old stone house to his cottage on Royal Glade Boulevard. Besides his wife he leaves a son, a glass merchant of San Francisco, to mourn his death."

The article to the right is from the New Smyrna News.

William Hawkins Fulford had only one child, William Gilbert Fulford who was born in 1862 in North Carolina. He moved to San Francisco, California around 1890 and worked as paint and glass salesman for the W P Fuller Company. He filed an application for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution based on his mother's Revolutionary War ancestor. He could have also claimed membership based on his father's family since his great grandfather, James Martin Fulford was a Revolutionary War veteran also.


Anonymous said...

Looks like "Beauford" to me - which is close.


Robert McCaffery-Lent said...

Delighted to read about William Hawkins Fulford. I am investigating to try to shed some light on a theory that my Great Grandfather, Fulford Lent, was named after him. Fulford was the son of Titus Mead Lent who was a brother to Mary Ann Lent who was William Hawkins Fulford's wife. They married in 1862 and Fulford was born in 1872 so it seems plausible. Any further info that can be shared would be much appreciated as Fulford is quite a mystery in our Lent family.

Mark Green said...

Don't know for sure but it makes sense. They were living in NYC then as was Mary Lent's mother. I posted a newspaper notice about the death of two children of Mary and W H Fulford and the funeral was held at the grandmother's house.

Robert McCaffery-Lent said...

Wonderful! Where mIgnight I find this posting? I put Fulford into the search box of your blog and it didn't return anything.


Mark Green said...

It was this one