Historic Markers Across Florida

The Lewis Family

Marker ID:  
Location: at the intersection of SW 9th Avenue and Coconut Dr, Fort Lauderdale, FL
County: Broward
Coordinates: N 26° 6.808    W 080° 9.199
  26.11346666    -80.15331666
Style: Mounted **
Waymark: None


Coming over from the Bahamas sometime before 1792, Suries and Frankee Lewis and their three sons settled on the banks of the New River and were the first permanent settlers of European descent in what in now Broward County. In 1793, after reports of their presence reached the Spanish royal governor, Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada, in St. Augustine, a reconnaissance expedition was ordered to investigate their settlement and their rumored ties to William Augustus Bowles, a former British army officer who was then fomenting Indian rebellion against Spanish authority. Though it was long suspected that the Lewis's small farm served as a way-station for British adventurers who consorted with segments of the Creek tribes (including Seminole bands) to subvert Spanish control over the colony, King Charles IV of Spain ordered the royal governor of East Florida to leave them alone. The Lewis farm on the New River included a cabin and several outbuildings and there they raised limes, oranges, sugar apples, coconuts, and guavas until 1824, and lived along Biscayne Bay until 1836. Under an American law passed in 1824 following the accession of Florida, the widow Frankee Lewis applied for and received a land grant in 1825 from the U.S. government for 640 acres east of the family's actual settlement, in what is today Fort Lauderdale's Rio Vista and Colee Hammock neighborhoods. In 1830 Frankee Lewis sold this land for $400. Neither the exact location of their farm, nor their place of birth, is known for certain.