Published by the Historical Society of Palm Beach County
Vol. 8 No. 1 Spring 2017
The Many Faces of the Historic 1916 Palm Beach County Court House THE ARTISTIC FRIENDS AND POETIC SIDE OF GEORGE GRAHAM CURRIE
KATHRYN ROBINETTE: REDEFINING PALM BEACH SOCIETY NEWS
In the summer of 2016, the Historical Society of Palm Beach County began to catalogue a large donation of objects and ephemera from the West Palm Beach Police Department dating from the 1920s through the 1980s. With additional materials still being received by HSPBC, that work is currently ongoing and will provide unprecedented insight into the evolution of the department. Among the extensive donation is a large collection of arrest ledgers which provide a record of local crimes such as those occurring during the prohibition era. 2 | TUSTENEGEE
Vol. 8 No. 1 Spring 20177
Kathryn Robinette: Redefining Palm Beach Society News By Kimberly Wilmot Voss. Ph.D. Society reporter and womanâ€™s page editor Kathryn Robinette (1925-1997) wrote about Palm Beach society from the 1960s to the 1990s, during the "Golden Era" of Woman's pages and beyond.
The Artistic Friends and Poetic Side of George Graham Currie By Deborah C. Pollack Early West Palm Beach resident George Graham Currie wore many hats in business and community affairs. A closer look reveals his artistic side.
The Many Faces of the Historic 1916 Palm Beach County Court House By Debi Murray This examination of the various transformations of the old courthouse is a reminder that government is really about people and their choices.
Oral History with Joseph Borman
In 1894 Joseph Borman arrived in Palm Beach as a day laborer; in 1911 he became its law enforcer and remained so for fifty years. This is an enlightening portrait of early pioneer days. NOTE: Contains racist language and attitudes.
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Become a Member HSPBC Membership Volunteer Honoring James A. Ponce New to the Collections Photographic Collections On the Cover In preparation for the onslaught of hurricane Wilma in 2005, Hedrick Brothers Construction cleared the 1916 court house reconstruction site of all debris. (Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.)
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From the Editor Dear Reader, It is my pleasure to introduce myself as the new Editor for the Tustenegee and Education Coordinator for the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. I am fortunate to have been surrounded by several people who have a broad knowledge of history of the area and of Florida to draw upon. I look forward to the continual growth this position has to offer and to learning more about the history of Palm Beach County. In this eighth volume of the Tustenegee we celebrate the one hundredth year of the historic 1916 courthouse, a monument that stands as a reminder of the triumphs this county has achieved, as well as the enduring spirit of its people. Also included in this issue is a fascinating 1962 oral history with Joseph Borman, the first Chief of Police for the town of Palm Beach. We always welcome articles that recall, retell, and explore historic events, people, places and themes related to Florida and Palm Beach County. The Tustenegee is a journal meant to draw knowledge from and share with those in our communities and afar. It provides a platform for researchers, academics, professionals, and history enthusiasts to contribute to the collection of our history and to share with our readers. Sincerely,
Rose Gualtieri Editor
Like Our New Look? The Tustenegee is looking rather refined. Our goal was to make it more attractive and readable, which is especially important for in-depth articles. Amanda Suiro Rier at Oâ€™Donnell Agency drew a lot of her design inspiration from historical elements of style, including decorative features on local buildings, and Addison Mizner and Joseph Urban tile designs. But she also gave it a contemporary look so that the publication blends beautifully into the HSPBCâ€™s brand family and its other marketing collateral materials. Please tell us what you think: rgualtieri@HSPBC.org We always welcome your feedback.
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Editor-in-Chief Debi Murray Editor Rose E. Gualtieri Copy Editor Lise M. Steinhauer Graphics and Layout O'Donnell Agency Printed by The Art of Printing
The Tustenegee is a journal about Palm Beach County history and is published online twice a year by the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. The Historical Society of Palm Beach County is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to collect, preserve, and share the rich history and cultural heritage of Palm Beach County.
Historical Society of Palm Beach County 300 North Dixie Highway West Palm Beach, FL 33401 Phone: (561) 832-4164 Fax: (561) 832-7965 www.hspbc.org www.pbchistoryonline.org Mailing Address: Historical Society of Palm Beach County PO Box 4364 West Palm Beach, FL 33402-4364 The contents of the Tustenegee are copyrighted by the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. All rights are reserved. Reprint of material is encouraged; however, written permission from the Historical Society is required. The Historical Society disclaims any responsibility for errors in factual material or statements of opinion expressed by contributors. The contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the editors, board, or staff of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
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Kathryn Robinette: Redefining Palm Beach Society By Kimberly Wilmot Voss, PhD
Associate Professor University of Central Florida
s a ground-breaking woman’s page editor and society columnist, Kathryn Robinette documented the social history of Palm Beach for more than three decades, beginning in the 1960s. She reported about issues from galas to feature stories. After her death, an editor wrote of Robinette: “She rubbed elbows with dukes and debutantes, kings and countesses. She covered the grandest balls of society’s richest people. But, in the end, society reporter Kathryn Robinette will be remembered, friends say, for her common touch in the uncommon whirl of Palm Beach society.” Like many woman’s page journalists of the time, she was interested in redefining society reporting to include both a capital and a lowercase S, which broadened the coverage of news. Robinette reached more than 100,000 readers. Her second husband, Roy Moyer, described his friendly workaholic wife the best: “She loved to work. She loved the news business. Robinette’s friend, restaurateur Jerry Beebe, said: “Her humor was terrifically dry, but her hugs were genuine. She was a dyed-in-the-wool newspaperwoman. She loved being called a crusty broad who had style and taste.” 6 | TUSTENEGEE
Kathryn Robinette. (Courtesy The State Historical Society of Missouri.) Robinette wrote of Palm Beach during a significant time for the newspaper sections she covered. While they date to the 1880s, pages devoted to women’s lives only came into their own after World War II. In Florida, they flourished as newspapers increased along with the population. These sections provided entertainment and connectivity to women adjusting to a new environment. Marjorie Paxson, a woman’s page journalist in Houston, Miami, and St. Petersburg, and the fourth female publisher in the Gannett newspaper chain, described the 1960s as the “Golden Era” for the woman’s pages.
Indeed, the Penney-Missouri Awards, the ultimate recognition for such reporting, began in 1960. Sponsored by the JC Penney Company and run by the Missouri School of Journalism, the competition rewarded progressive content that went beyond the traditional four Fs of family, fashion, food, and furnishings. Florida newspapers were then the place to be for woman’s pages, and their editors dominated the four circulation categories of the PenneyMissouri competition for its first decade.
just too great to be taken in a calm, sedate manner.” For decades, the only place for aspiring women journalists was in the woman’s pages of newspapers. These sections were largely brides, woman’s club news, society coverage, food, and fashion. Sprinkled into the traditionally soft news content were stories about societal issues. They often addressed community needs though fundraising and awareness in woman’s club campaigns. This was the material Robinette typically covered. One of the approaches Robinette had in common with other woman’s page journalists was her ability to reach out to all social classes in her community. Michael Brown, former general manager of the Brazilian Court Hotel, said of Robinette: “She had a way of making the plain feel equal to royalty. She printed the real-world side to the story versus just a Palm Beach side.” Longtime friend Jerry Beebe noted: “High social status was not a prerequisite to coverage. If your cause was legitimate, she’d scoop you up and off she went. She was almost like a validation service.” Robinette’s work helped to define her community, and identified important voices as she redefined society news.
Beginnings Kathryn Robinette receiving an award for Outstanding Service and Cooperation from the Palm Beach County Chapter of the American Red Cross, March 1969. (Courtesy The State Historical Society of Missouri.) Among the many honors that Kathryn Robinette received during her career was the Penney-Missouri Award – in 1966, 1968, and 1972 – for her woman’s section in the Palm Beach Post. Winners received the good news in telegrams that arrived on Christmas morning, and Robinette was clearly thrilled. She responded to the first telegram by writing, “That shout you heard wasn’t the south rising again – it was me. The news that I had won second place in the J.C. [sic] Penney-Missouri Journalism competition was
Robinette was born in Chicago in 1925. According to a news article, she was raised by a family in Savannah, Georgia, where her uncle worked for the city gas company and was a prominent resident. One of her sons, however, later claimed that his mother had been raised by an aunt and uncle in Chicago. The story of southern roots better fits the narrative she created. Educated by nuns, Robinette was described by a friend as having had “a kind of convent manner but the switchblade was right beneath the habit.” She earned an undergraduate degree from Barat College in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Purchased by DePaul University in 2001, Barat College closed in 2005.) After taking graduate classes from Northwestern University, Robinette finished a master’s degree in English at the University of Chicago. Years later, she wrote: “My thesis was on the correlation of the styles of Thomas SPRING 2017 | 7
outs, and Robinette mocked her own typing ability. She ended a 1967 letter saying, “The Savannah paper was reluctant to hire me because I couldn’t type. There’s been very little improvements.”
Kathryn Robinette at a 1969 workshop.
(Courtesy The State Historical Society of Missouri.)
Love Peacock and Aldous Huxley. I reread it recently and it sounded dreadfully pedantic.” In 1945 Robinette married Alan Cameron; she raised five sons. Many women journalists of the time did not even marry and of those who did, few had children. But Robinette remained largely a homemaker until her sons were in school, adding part-time jobs. After she and Cameron divorced, she married Roy Boyer and returned to Savannah for what was described as “health reasons.” Her aunt and uncle who lived in the area helped as she recovered. Robinette worked on a restoration project at Trustees’ Garden in Savannah and handled its rental property. She also spent several years in interior decorating and as a buyer for Allied Stores in Portland, Oregon. In the early 1960s, Robinette landed her first newspaper job as a society writer in the woman’s pages of the Savannah Morning News and Evening Press. As she later recalled, the newspaper had wanted someone younger and a better typist than she was, but Robinette talked her way into the position. In those pre-computer days, letters were often marred by typographical errors and cross8 | TUSTENEGEE
About this first newspaper experience, Robinette wrote: “I typed weddings and all that tiresome stuff but managed to fall in love with the work anyway. I also formed firm opinions about what type of story best served the reader’s interest – having been one for so long.” She followed the journalism practices of news values, objectivity, and getting out into the community. Thenhusband Roy Moyer confirmed, “She tried to get out as much as she could. She liked to talk to people instead of just sitting back.”
Society Reporting Robinette moved to Palm Beach in 1966 to join the staff of the Palm Beach Post and Evening Times, where she became known for working from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., seven days a week. At one point, she explained her lateness in a letter: “The season’s [in] full swing here and that means seven full days a week of full speed ahead.” A journalist commented on Robinette’s schedule: “She went to thousands of galas, lunches, and teas, and offered thousands of air kisses and compliments.” To cover the many dressy events, her closet was filled with ball gowns, all bought on a reporter’s salary. It was noted that in a decade of social seasons at The Breakers, she never missed one event, and often attended several parties during one evening. But according to James Jennings Sheeran, publisher of Palm Beach Society Magazine, she did not cover all events. “Robinette unstintingly supported fund-raisers she felt truly benefitted the causes they espoused, but disdained those she felt were organized for personal aggrandizement.” At The Post and Evening Times, Robinette’s section won first place in general excellence by the Florida
Press Club in 1971; one of her Penney-Missouri awards also arrived that year. She was known for her accessibility and a tight writing style. Sheeran described her as “Palm Beach’s best wordsmith flirt.” Another journalist expanded on that definition: “Why a flirt? Because her wit and writing teased. Her pen sometimes nicked the thin skin of her subject but she never made them bleed.” She was a clever writer as well. In one 1988 column, she asked, “If too many cooks spoil the soup, what will thirty-two ball chairmen do to the Palm Beach party scene?” During her career, she saw so much wealth, and the positives and negatives that can come with it. She once said to a Palm Beach newcomer, “Net worth and beluga for breakfast do not prevent ignobility.”
who made her home at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. One year, Robinette had assigned photographers from the Post to cover the event, telling the two men to rent tuxedos because the ball was “white tie” (referring to the dressiest of formal events). They arrived dressed head to toe in white, including white shoes. According to Moyer, “Kathryn almost died.” She had been raised by her southern aunts, whose lessons on the formalities of society aided in her journalism coverage. In November 1977, Robinette became the woman’s page editor of the Palm Beach Times, writing both society stories and news features. Some of the articles were picked up by the New York Times Features news service, including one that was heavily reported about sending children off to camp for the first time. Although she retired in 1989, she did not write the traditional farewell column. It was noted, “She was not the story, she would say. She was the reporter.” Robinette began publishing the weekly society tabloid Palm Beach Today in 1989 with husband Roy Moyer. She said, “This is a small town, and we’re just going to be a nice, small, friendly newspaper.” Palm Beach was small enough that the location of the newspaper’s office in Mizner Plaza [sic] was described as being “beside the gardenia bushes at the north side of the courtyard.” It was said that Robinette knew everyone with “a big bank account and a good cause.”
Gossip Journalism Kathryn Robinette, while writing for The Palm Beach Post-Times. (Courtesy The State Historical Society of Missouri.)
Society events were common topics for Robinette to cover, especially charity galas. One of her favorite events to cover was the International Red Cross Ball in Palm Beach, which celebrated its sixtieth year in 2017. It was founded by Marjorie Merriweather Post,
Robinette closed Palm Beach Today in 1996, and by the next year was a society columnist for Palm Beach Society under the pen name “Betsy Borgia.” Her columns, of course, included gossip. It was said that millionaires catered to her in the hope that she would mention them in her column. Famed writer Oscar Wilde once described journalism as “organized gossip.” Indeed, the foundation of newsgathering can be found in rumor, gossip, and innuendo. The seeds of reporting are planted in SPRING 2017 | 9
journalism school, where students are taught to seek out gossip as source material and then check it out. With the right verification, whispered information can become the heart of a front-page news story. In her book about gossip and politics, New York Times journalist Gail Collins noted the long history of gossip and women: “Gossip has always been identified as a woman’s vice because from the time of the ancient Greeks, men realized that their homebound, anonymous wives had access to the secrets of the master of the house.” According to Robinette, “Everyone is afraid of gossip, but gossip doesn’t have to be destructive. It’s just something you talk about over the back fence, except that here, they’re pristinely cut ficus hedges instead of picket fences.” Robinette was known for the news she carefully uncovered. Former Palm Beach Mayor Paul Ilyinsky said Robinette “did not use the information she gathered to harm the undeserving.” Her husband Moyer said, “She loved interviewing. People told her things you wouldn’t believe.” She held so many secrets that she had been known to say, “If I ever wrote a book, I’d have to leave town.”
Conclusion Kathryn Robinette died in 1997, with her husband of 37 years by her side. She was 71. She was active until the end of her life. In her final weeks, Robinette still went out for social events – with her oxygen tank in her car. The Wednesday before her death, she ate lunch at Dempsey’s restaurant in Palm Beach. A friend said, “When I was told that she was very, very sick, I couldn’t understand why she pushed herself. But evidently, she thought working was a way of getting away from all that pain and whatever she was going through in the last stages of her illness. She certainly did have a love for her labor.” Although there is no known published autobiography by Robinette, she wrote in a 1967 letter: “Writing a biography should be about the most simple thing in the world to do. It isn’t.” Writing about her professional career, she concluded, “Lastly, but definitely not leastly [sic], I am a wife and mother.” Robinette was lauded for her everyday contributions. Harriette Timmerman, the beauty columnist at The Palm Beach Post and Evening Times from 1967 to 1971, wrote a tribute that was published after her death: “A great big thank you, Kathryn, for your encouragement and inspiration. So long to one of the truly outstanding citizens of the world.” One column said that Robinette had been worried people would forget her. A local journalist wrote, “Kathryn Robinette was far too humble to see: Everybody’s a nobody without a good reporter around.” Robinette laid the foundation for the news of Palm Beach – covering all aspects of society. In doing so, she recorded the high society and the everyday lives of her community.
Bibliography Collins, Gail. Scorpion Tongues: Gossip, Celebrity, and American Politics. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1998. Epstein, Joseph. Gossip: The Universal Pursuit. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. Robinette, Kathryn. Kathryn Robinette to Paul Myhre, December 27, 1966. Letter. From State Historical Society of Missouri. Papers of the Penney-Missouri Awards.
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_______________. Kathryn Robinette to Paul Myhre, February 8, 1967. Letter. From State Historical Society of Missouri. Papers of the Penney-Missouri Awards. _______________. “Packing for Camp,” The Columbus Dispatch, June 25, 1988. _______________. “A link to the past, an eye to the future.” Palm Beach Today, August 26, 1989. Sjostrom, Jan. “Ex-‘Daily News’ editor Kathryn Robinette Dies.” Palm Beach Daily News, July 31, 1997. Smith, Thom. “Society Editor Remembered for Her Common Touch.” Palm Beach Post, July 30, 1997. Timmerman, Harriette. “So Long to One of the Great Ladies.” Palm Beach Post, August 5, 1997. Tuckwood, Jan. “Her Rightful Place in Society.” Palm Beach Post, nd.
Kimberly Voss Kimberly Wilmot Voss, Ph.D. is Associate Professor and Area Coordinator of Journalism at the Nicholson School of Communication, University of Central Florida, in Orlando, Florida, where she held the 2014 chair of the History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Her published works include The Food Section: Newspaper Women and the Culinary Community (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014); Mad Men & Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance and Otherness (Peter Lang, 2014), as co-author; a column for OKRA, the magazine of the Southern Food and Beverage Institute; many articles on women and journalism history; and a blog, WomensPageHistory, which was cited in Columbia Journalism Review. The Poynter Institute has featured research by Voss and Lance Speere, published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. She has spoken at conferences from New York to Tennessee about her research, and won the 2014 Carol DeMasters Service to Food Journalism Award. Voss is a member of the Publications Board for the American Journalism Historians Association.
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HISTORICAL SOCIETY of
PALM BEACH COUNTY
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The Artistic Friends and Poetic Side of George Graham Currie By Deborah C. Pollack
anadian-born George Graham Currie (1867-1926) — attorney, developer, map publisher, and politico — first came to West Palm Beach in 1895 while en route to Cuba to report on its war for independence. Aside from becoming a lawyer and real estate magnate, he served as mayor for two terms, was treasurer of Dade County, a founder of the Palm Beach County Fair, and president of the West Palm Beach Library. His civic and business activities, however, did not preclude him from writing lyrics and numerous books of poetry. Aside from his literary talents, this Renaissance man also championed the cause of the visual arts. In 1921 Currie partnered with his friend artist Josephine Lindley (1872-1968) to promote South Florida tourism in a flyer/souvenir. It could be purchased for 75 cents from Currie’s offices, the Hotel Royal Poinciana, The Breakers, and Bennett’s Gift Shop in West Palm Beach. Lindley had moved from Indiana to Deland, Florida, by the late 1890s, and relocated to South Florida by the 1910s. Primarily a watercolorist of flowers, she lived in West Palm Beach near Parker Avenue and eventually on Flamingo Drive. Like other local artists, Lindley was inspired by Palm Beach pioneer landscapist Laura Woodward (1834-1926) to paint en plein air and depict the Palm Beach paths and ocean. Lindley also joined Woodward and Daisy Erb as active members of the Woman’s Club and would
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George Graham Currie. (Courtesy Songs of Florida and Other Verse, 1922.) later belong to the Palm Beach County Art Club that Erb and Woodward helped establish. Remaining politically and civically involved throughout her life, Lindley was not at all shy about sending in volumes of letters to newspaper editors expressing her opinions, especially in support of the downtrodden. Lindley and Currie’s booklet entitled “The Season’s Greetings from Palm Beach” comprised her delicate vignettes of coconut palm-lined trails, flowers, and the ocean, and his poem “The Gulf Stream Boulevard” extolling the benefits of wintering on the coast from Palm Beach to Delray. It began,
All you who dread Winter with what it implies In the far away realms of Jack Frost; And you who are stricken when Dame Nature dies And would fly from her snows at all cost. Oh say won’t you come and enjoy while you may The enchantment of Tropical skies; And see the famed sunsets that hallow our day, And the love storied moonlight we prize? Won’t you come and hook “kings” from our ocean-swept pier? Won’t you troll for lake trout as we sail? Won’t you follow the fawn in our Everglades near; And encamp on the Seminole’s trail? Oh say won’t you come—or if Fashion’s the wile That must lure you from Boreal Blast; We can boast in “The Season” society’s smile And of “functions” a daily repast. Then come! Oh do come! To our city of Flowers, And partake of our bliss we beseech! In the North leave Earth’s storms and exchange them for showers Of the Heaven that you’ll find at Palm Beach. The souvenir received excellent notices; the Palm Beach Post called Currie’s poetry “smoothly running” and Lindley’s illustrations “clever.” The Tropical Sun remarked on its “descriptive vision” and “poetic optimism,” and deemed Lindley’s drawings “true
and artistic.” Sent to various locales throughout the nation for only four cents postage, it no doubt enticed many tourists to visit the area and boosted artistic awareness in the Palm Beaches.
“The Season’s Greetings from Palm Beach.” (Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.)
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Augusta is a sculptress fine A poetess as well Her coal black hair and eyes that shine A soulful story tell…With steady eye she looks on me Then takes a lump of clay When lo another self I see With all my faults away. 6 Augusta provided at least five poems for Songs of Florida. One, entitled “Sunset in Florida,” included the following verse: The red of all Earth’s battlefield, Is by the sinking sun revealed; While, overhead expanded swings, The silver white of seraph’s wings. It’s Summer Then hurriedly they fly away, Returning oft throughout the day, With open beaks and drooping wing, And little throats too dry to sing: It’s Summer. Augusta Christine Savage modeling an animal figure. (Image by Everett, still from a Works Progress Administration film.)
Currie also helped promote the cause of art when he befriended African American sculptor Augusta Christine Savage (1892-1962), who had moved to West Palm Beach in 1915 from Jacksonville. After Augusta found clay from a local potter, she modeled a figure of the Virgin Mary and one of a horse, and when her school principal noticed her adept work, he asked her to teach clay modeling for one dollar per day. Currie commissioned her to model his portrait bust, and in 1919, as superintendent of the Palm Beach County Fair, he offered her a booth at the fair to sell her sculptures. Her small figures of animals, extremely popular with visiting tourists, earned her $175 from sales alone. Additionally, the fair officials awarded her a prize of $25 and a ribbon of honor. In 1921 Savage’s likeness of Currie was displayed at the county fair and deemed “so natural you could see the glasses on his nose.” Greatly impressed with Augusta’s talent, Currie wrote a poem about her in his Songs of Florida, copyrighted in 1921 and published in 1922, which read in part: 14 | TUSTENEGEE
Cover of Songs of Florida. (Courtesy Library of Congress, 1922).
In “Compensation,” she reflected on her love of nature and on being African American: I’ve spent hours in deep communion With the humming birds and bees. I’ve exchanged loves deepest secrets With the softly sighing trees…And upon life’s harsh alarms I’ve turned my back…Many lessons has she taught me And a deep contentment brought me And my heart is filled with song, As I wend my way along, For my soul’s attuned to nature, Tho I’m black. Currie noted in Songs of Florida that Augusta’s literary and artistic talent showed “conclusively that this girl brought up under the most adverse circumstances has succeeded in the finer arts in a remarkable degree.” He then entreated the community: “Any assistance that readers can render to enable her to perfect herself along the lines she has so fondly chosen will indeed be appreciated by her and be of unquestionable value to her whole race in America.”
Along with Florida Senator Thomas J. Campbell, Currie encouraged Augusta to pursue greater horizons with study in New York. Consequently, with a letter of recommendation from Currie to sculptor Solon Borglum, who headed a school of sculpture in New York City, Savage moved out of South Florida to become a noted member of the Harlem Renaissance and the first African American accepted by the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. In 1922 Thomas Campbell determined that the legislature should designate George Currie Poet Laureate of Florida. Four years later George Currie died with that title in the hearts, minds, and lexicons of notables and friends who admired his literary work. At least two Palm Beach County parks have memorialized Currie, and his legacy of poetry is eternal. Currie and his artistic friends have also taught us the important lesson of how artists can help a community and how a community can help artists.
Bibliography Note: Much of this article is reprinted from Palm Beach Visual Arts by Deborah C. Pollack, © 2016 by Deborah C. Pollack used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. www.pelicanpub.com Elkins, James R. “George Graham Currie.” The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. New York: James T. White & Company, 1926, posted on “Strangers to Us All: Lawyers and Poetry,” http://myweb.wvnet.edu/~jelkins/lp- 2001/currie.html (accessed April 14, 2015). Currie, George Graham, ed., Songs of Florida (New York: J. T. White, 1922). “Greetings from Palm Beach” (advertisement), Juno Tropical Sun, March 4, 1921. “County Fair Breaks Records,” Palm Beach Post, March 4, 1921. George Graham Currie Papers, Historical Society of Palm Beach County. Martin, Tony, ed., African Fundamentalism: A Literary and Cultural Anthology of Garvey's Harlem Renaissance (Dover, MA: Majority Press, 1992). Wintz, Cary D. and Paul Finkelman, eds. “Augusta Savage,” Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance: K-Y (New York: Routledge, 2004), 1085. Gaze, Delia, ed., “Augusta Savage,” Concise Dictionary of Women Artists (New York: Routledge, 2001), 601.
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Historical Society of Palm Beach County Oral History
Circa 1930’s. Joseph Borman, Chief of Police in Palm Beach, FL. Photo by Frank Turgeon Jr. (Courtesy of Historical Society of Palm Beach County.)
Joseph Borman Subject: Joseph Borman
Personal Data Born: February 1873 Died: September 1968 (age 95) Occupation: Town Marshal and Tax Collector, Palm Beach; day labor Interviewer: Rush Hughes Location: Borman home, 201 Oleander Ave, Palm Beach, FL Date: February 27-28, 1962 Transcription: January 2006 by Lise Steinhauer
Joseph Borman, born in February 1873 in England, came to Palm Beach from Michigan in 1894, after reading newspaper articles extoling the beauties and opportunities available in the area. He describes a rough life, often in rough and racist language, including the lynching of a white man. Then in 1911, when the Town of Palm Beach incorporated, Borman became the town’s first marshal and tax collector. His position as marshal included many duties for the town and as the population grew, and the town needed full-time, year-round police officers, his title changed to police chief, a position he held for thirty-five years. For fifteen of those years, the position was an elected one but as the town’s organization changed, it became an appointed position. In 1962 Borman, aged eighty-nine, was one of thirty people interviewed by Rush Hughes, a broadcaster hired by the Historical Society for its first oral history project. Lise Steinhauer transcribed the interview in 2006 and edited it for this issue. 16 | TUSTENEGEE
Please note: An oral history cannot be depended upon for complete accuracy, as it is based on (1) the fascinating and complex human memory, and (2) communication of that memory, which varies according to many factors including genetics, social experience, gender, environment, or education. While oral history is a valuable tool in the study of history, its content is not guaranteed to be correct.
Joseph Borman Transcription: January 2006 by Lise Steinhauer HUGHES: We are in the home of Mr. Joseph Borman, 201 Oleander [Ave], Palm Beach, [Florida,] on Tuesday, the twenty-seventh of February, 1962. The time is twenty minutes after three. Mr. Borman, when did you come to these parts, sir? BORMAN: December 6, 1894. HUGHES: From where? BORMAN: Constantine, Michigan. HUGHES: Oh? Kind of cold and dreary up there in the wintertime, wasn’t it? BORMAN: It was twenty below zero when we left there. HUGHES: What inspired you to come to these parts? BORMAN: I was working on a dairy farm, distant relative of Captain E. N. Dimick, and we used to read The Tropical Sun up there published at Juno by a man by the name of Guy Metcalf. And we read about Florida, when we was husking corn at twenty below zero. HUGHES: He sold you the idea, huh? BORMAN: A few days there was an advertisement in the Michigan paper, an excursion from Constantine, Michigan, to West Palm Beach and return good for three weeks for $36.05. HUGHES: My good¬ness, what was the form of transportation? BORMAN: Railroad train. HUGHES: All the way down here, in those days? BORMAN: Yep. Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Indian River. We got off the train right where Montgomery Ward’s sportin’ goods place is, December the sixth, eight o’clock at night. HUGHES: How long did it take you to get your money back on the unused portion of the return trip? BORMAN: I didn’t get any. HUGHES: Oh, you didn’t? BORMAN: Never used it. HUGHES: They didn’t give you the money back? BORMAN: I never went back. Well, of course, it wasn’t supposed to be. We was gonna stop off at St. Augustine on the way back. You see we had three weeks. The dairy farm where I worked, they still owe me eight bucks. HUGHES: Oh, they do? BORMAN: Yep. HUGHES: Have you ever asked them for it? SPRING 2017 | 17
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Nope. Cause it done em more good than it would me. Well now, you stayed here. I had a letter of introduction to Captain E. N. Dimick. He was the president of the Dade County State Bank, the only bank in all of Dade County. It was right on the entrance to this north bridge at the present time [at Royal Poinciana Way], just up the north side, where that lawn is. Of course, the only way to get across the lake was, we got in a sailboat and the [boatman] brought [us] over for ten cents a piece. That was the transportation across? It was either that or swim. We wasn’t gonna do that because we couldn’t swim that far. And Mr. Flagler hadn’t put the bridge across yet? Oh no, oh no. I had a letter of introduction to Captain E. N. Dimic,k and in the afternoon we found him. He read it and offered us a job. He told us where we could buy a tent, picked out a spot where there was a tent colony where we could pitch it, stay as long as we wanted to: a winter’s work. We decided to stay. We brought a camping outfit and our agreement was, me and Mr. M. B. Monroe, that turned out to be a contractor after a while in West Palm Beach. I was the cook and the dishwasher. For the crew? For he and I. Oh, I see. I baked two loaves of bread every night, baking powder bread. I’d buy half a barrel of flour and a side of bacon at a time. How much did a side of bacon cost, do you remember? I dunno, back in those days you could buy a side of bacon for what you’d pay for a pound now, not quite. Well, we ate a lot of coconuts too. “Jungle bread,” we used to call it. Anyhow, we worked on and on and on and I saved a little money. I bought a sailboat from an old-timer. He had a sixteen-foot cat boat for twenty dollars. I bought it one Saturday night and the wind was blowin pretty stiff. I got in the boat, and I’d only rode in the sailboat twice, across and back. Didn’t know the first thing about sailing. But I’d sail about two miles to get where I wanted to go and nearly capsized a dozen times. But I got tied up to the dock and the sail all furled up, and I was the happiest guy in the country cause I’d made a sailor out of myself. We used to sail all up and down the lake, all over as far as that’s concerned. I’d sail the boat to Ft. Lauderdale inside and way up the Loxahatchee River inside too. Was the inside passage clear in those days, all the way? No, in the early days the canal up at the north end of the lake, Flagler wouldn’t let them open it for a long time. It was half a mile distance that was not open. Me and my friends was up at Juno and watched the train come in from Jupiter, called the Celestial Railroad. I have a picture of the locomotive. Who built that Celestial Railroad? Couldn’t tell you that. Built by some old-timers. It was just run from Jupiter to Juno. All the lumber for the Royal Poinciana was all over it from Jupiter to Juno and then by sailboat again
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down. When he built the hotel. Well, it must have been touch-and-go tacking up that inland waterway sometimes. Well, of course— it was all right once you got used to it. How old were you when you first came here? Well, it was December the sixth, ’94. I was 21. Monroe was 22—he was a year and fifteen months older than me. Oh, we worked along, had a good time, hunting, killing rattlesnakes, every other kind of animal. There was a lot of game here, wasn’t there? Oh, yeah. Deer used to be on this island. When did you move over to this side? Oh, we lived on this side when we first come. From the very beginning? We lived down, what is now Seaview Ave. It was just a lane at the time. There was quite a camp colony there, tent colony. I think there was six tents there altogether. Some workmen’s tents for engineers, workmen, and everything. See, there was Captain Dimick and George Lainhart lived side by each, and they was fillin in the swampy land in back of their places from the beach hammock with a little dinky railroad that we named the Fanny Dugan Line. The Fanny Dugan Line? Me and my pal named it that. That just ran up and down Palm Beach? Oh, just from the lakeshore up to the—not quite to the ocean. Hauling sand and fillin in, y’know. They had six dump cars. They made em up, six of em. They’d bring three loaded and there’d be three up there bein filled. Did they load them by hand? Oh, yeah, they had men shoveling sand. So it was ten cents a yard, I think. Then chug em across and dump em into the swamps, uh? Yep, every darn time. Every once in a while they’d move the track a little bit. Well, you must have done quite a bit of different types of works in the years you’ve been here. Well, it was all laboring work, a dollar and a quarter a day. We done so good, he paid us eight bucks a week a piece, because we was a little better than seven-fifty. How much did it cost you to live? That I wouldn’t know. Not very much. Half a barrel of flour was only two dollars and somethin, a side of bacon about the same, I think. Look how long that’d last you. That was baking powder bread. This was sour belly bacon? Well, [inaudible] buttons on you. It was good. The fat, the grease just keep you in good shape. Of course, after being in Florida as long as I’ve been, you couldn’t eat that stuff anymore. Don’t agree with ya. Did you hunt for bear? I have, in the west of Jupiter in the summer of ’97—barefooted. I followed two of em for SPRING 2017 | 19
about three hours and they got in a swampy place. There was quite a little thicket in there and too wet to burn so I could run em out. I walked to camp about three miles. Monroe, another guy had two dogs, got them out there. The dogs found the tracks and they hi-yi-yi’d and beat it, they never did go in. I never saw em. I never saw em, I was just followin the tracks. I just thought it was Indians. Billy Bowlegs, he’s not a full-blooded Indian. His grandmother was a full-blooded [Black]. Talk about Billy Bowlegs, you know bein a chief, he wasn’t a chief, never was. He was a nice old Indian though. HUGHES: Yes, I’ve talked to him over at Brighton. BORMAN: Uh-huh. He’s good. HUGHES: He’s still alert. BORMAN: Oh lord, yeah. We used to shoot targets. I had to furnish the ammunition. An Indian won’t waste any shots, y’know. HUGHES: He didn’t use a bow and arrow then? BORMAN: No, no, no, no. They never waste a shot as a rule. HUGHES: No practice on targets? BORMAN: Oh, no, no, no, no. They’d practice as long as I’d furnish the shells, that’s all. HUGHES: What kind of gun did you use? BORMAN: I used a 32/40 [caliber]. I forget what he used. He had a rifle. I think his was just an ordinary—I forget now, I couldn’t even tell you the make. HUGHES: Smith and Wesson, maybe, Savage? BORMAN: Well, it was—what’s that other brand? HUGHES: Colt, Remington? BORMAN: Might’ve been a Remington, I really don’t know ‘cause I never paid no attention. Mine was a 32/40 Winchester. His might have been a Winchester for all I know. HUGHES: Buckshot, huh? BORMAN: Might’ve been. I used a Winchester rifle and Monroe, he used a eight-gauge shotgun. He had it shipped down from Michigan. He had it up there. Put five [ounces] of powder in it and 21 buckshot. Then you need a place to stand on. HUGHES: You need a wall to stand against. [laugh] BORMAN: We camped north of Lake Park in the summer of ‘95, half a mile back from the lake, and worked for Nathan Pitts on Pitts Island. That was a hotel, you know, in the early days. He homesteaded Pitts Island composed of eighteen acres of ground, and there was a little island to the south of it, one-half acre, it was mean high water. The man who homesteaded that had the smallest homestead in the United States and made the most money, that in green turtle killings. He made $350 a month netting green turtles. This lake was full of green turtles. HUGHES: Used nets on em, huh? You think Mr. Flagler putting the hotel here resulted in all these money people coming down here? BORMAN: To a certain extent. See, I was with Thomas Adams, the chewing gum man, for years. He had a large property in Palm Beach from 98 until 1917, when they tore the house down. HUGHES: Well then, you have seen the thing grow up. 20 | TUSTENEGEE
Joseph Borman’s home located on the corner of North County Row at 201 Oleander, Palm Beach. (Courtesy of Historical Society of Palm Beach County.)
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Well, it’s kind of natural, you don’t notice it. Now,of course, some of it’s being torn down. Yep. Well, you see, Flagler bought property that was already developed, as far as that’s concerned. The McCormick estate, he bought that, and the McCormick house is still one of the Breaker’s Cottages, north of the Breakers. I know it when I’m east of it, I wouldn’t know it from the back. It was moved by hand. Cause I put in a long splice bottom[?] in ’95 to buy a block and tackle and nobody could put in a long splice bottom, they got me splice it for em. [laugh] Of course, me and Monroe was workin for Jay[?] McDonald, he was the foreman for Mr. Flagler, the builder. They was building the Wayside Inn that burnt in 1903, and he paid us a dollar and a quarter a day and the [Blacks] was gettin a dollar a day, and every base timber was plied[?] underneath that hotel. We was on one end and four [Blacks] on the other, that’s how I got even with them. It’s a fact. Then Mr. Fremd, [Flagler’s] gardener, knew we was good workmen, and he begged us to come with him. We figured he’d made arrangements with McDonald, which he hadn’t. McDonald was sore and fired us. [laugh] That didn’t bother us none. We took our camp and went north of Lake Park, and was going to plant potatoes on what is now Prosperity Farms, clearin up land and so on. We was each supposed to buy five SPRING 2017 | 21
acres from George Lainhart or Captain Dimick or Nathan Pitts or whoever it was that owned it. What they call the Earman River was dug by Pitts, Dimick, and Lainhart, dug by hand. I worked in it all the winter of ‘97, cutting muck down that floated out in the lake. But in the summer of ‘95 while we was clearin up our land, we was also working on Pitts Island. We painted the hotel for them and cleaned up a lot of the property. We had to live, you know, we had to earn a little money. I had my sailboat then, we could travel around. I don’t know whether I should tell you this, but you know they lynched a white man in Juno in the summer of 95. HUGHES: No, I didn’t know that. Joseph Borman, Chief of Police in Palm Beach. BORMAN: By the name of Sam Lewis. They (Courtesy of Historical Society of Palm Beach County.) got me on TV and I had to tell them the history of it on TV. HUGHES: What was he charged with? BORMAN: Murder! See, he used to strum a guitar around Banyan Street in the early days. What they call First Street over there was Banyan Street. There was two or three saloons there. Me and my friends used to see him there at nighttime sometimes. We never tended bar with him, we’d pass by him. We never drank to speak of. Oh, we’d drink a glass of beer. But Sam, he used to be playing his guitar and got around to places like that. He was a good looking guy. But the railroad was going to Miami and he wanted to be on the ground floor. He went down there, got acquainted with some girl, and her father didn’t like it and told Sam to stay away from her. And he killed him. Captain Hiscock—Sheriff Hiscock—is still living. His father had a big sloop called the Robinson Crusoe. He was down on Biscayne Bay at the time. Sam met him, took him over to Nassau at gunpoint, and they put him in jail in Nassau. He hadn’t been in jail not very long, I think, before he bribed the colored gal that did his laundry to bring him a gun. [Nassau] police come to free him, why, he locked them in and he leaves. Goes down to the waterfront and finds two big buck [Blacks] that had a big dory, made em row him back down to the mainland. HUGHES: Oh! That’s quite a long row. BORMAN: Oh, they used to do that quite often, y’know, in the early history. A dory, you know what that is? Well, they’ll stand any amount of water if you got enough power to plug em. Then [Sam Lewis] holed up in a little old cottage in that section—they were lookin for him. And the minister and his nephew was looking for him one moonlit night, where they figured he had to come for water, and the minister had a double-barrel shotgun loaded with buckshot, and his nephew had a rifle. He told him to throw up his hands and Sam was pulled 22 | TUSTENEGEE
down and broke his hip. Sam was yellin and yellin and yellin and so forth and so on. The woman come out and said, “Give him the other barrel, he ain’t dead.” He says, “I don’t want to kill him.” He goes to pull the rifle from under him and Sam pulled his gun and shot him dead as a doornail. But he pulled himself to his little shack. They was going to burn him out, but he hoisted the white flag—if they’d guarantee him protection to jail, he’d surrender. They guaranteed and brought him up to the county jail, which was at the north end of the lake at Juno. Not where Juno is no; it was at the north end of the lake. I could go to the spot where the courthouse was but I’m not going, cause I’ve been at the courthouse. On a Saturday afternoon, me and Monroe was over to the beach gatherin turtle eggs and fishin, and there was a big yawl out of Miami. It was high water and it didn’t attempt to come in, it just sailed up and down with a big party on board. We could see them, but they never tried to come in the inlet. We’d seen it in our lake before, never tried to come in, just up and down. In the middle of the night sometime, they went ashore and killed the jailer. They didn’t want to kill him, they wanted to shoot the [Black] that was on bond for killing another [Black] for somethin like a [Black] in debt to him. Kaiser, that was the jailer’s name, shot and killed him. Sam cried for a gun. They took him out and tied him to a pole and put three hundred rounds of bullets in him. According to the paper, there was three hundred. Then Sunday afternoon, we was down on the lake fishing and messing around, and there comes a steamboat called the Lake Worth, owned by Captain Hendrickson, going up the lake. Went up to Juno and went back, and we didn’t know what he went up for. In fact, we didn’t know what they came ashore for, as far as that was concerned. Two weeks later we went to town and bought papers and got all the information and everything. They’d lynched Sam and the steamboat had come up to take his body and take it down and have it shipped off somewhere. We was almost within rifle range of them two ourselves. HUGHES: Did they ever get the guys in the yawl? BORMAN: No. What, and go on with it? [laugh] No, in those days it was a job well done, I suppose, before they got through. HUGHES: Was this inlet here dug by hand? BORMAN: What’s now, the jetties was placed. There was no inlet there when we come in, it was further north, more than a mile further. What is now Singer Island, y’know, it was all part of Palm Beach at one time. We went five and a half miles north of the present inlet. We decided to give it up because the town didn’t care about messin with it. See, it was hard to get to. I had a place over on the island. The town of Palm Beach was a long town, it’s a long town now. HUGHES: Was it a law abiding town for the most part? BORMAN: Palm Beach? Always has been. Most law-abiding town in the United States, and the finest little town in the United States, even if I do say so. HUGHES: Well, why shouldn’t you? [laugh] BORMAN: I hold the world’s record in it. HUGHES: Which one? BORMAN: Elected fifteen years in succession, never asked anyone to vote for me. Nobody ever done that! [laugh] SPRING 2017 | 23
And you didn’t even have to appear on TV to do it, did you? No, no, of course, I had no opposition except twice. That didn’t mean nothing, didn’t bother me. Oh well, of course, I was on the Tutti Frutti chewing gum estate, if I hadn’t been there, I couldn’t have taken the job anyhow. It was only twenty-five dollars a month in the summertime. I didn’t get that for a long time. I didn’t have any money. In fact, the Town of Palm Beach was just created for a certain purpose, to keep West Palm Beach from grabbing it. You didn’t know that, did you? The powers that was in those days was Captain E. N. Dimick and a few others. They made arrangements for John Gramling, a Miami attorney, to come up with incorporation papers1. And April 17, 1911, eight o’clock at night, the Town of Palm Beach was incorporated in the old Palm Beach Hotel with thirtythree votes. I got twenty votes and my opponent got thirteen. Captain Dimick was elected mayor, Mr. John McKenna was elected clerk, I was elected marshal and tax collector. Enoch Root, John Doe, Mr. Donnelly, William Fremd, Mr. Rymond, was elected on the council. Mr. Enoch Root was elected president of the Town Council. That was the first council composed 1
In 1937 John Gramling, chief backer of the project, opened the first units of the Liberty Square housing project.
1935 Police Department of Palm Beach. Front and Center sits Joseph Borman, Palm Beach Chief of Police for thirty-five years. (Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.)
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in Palm Beach, the first mayor, the first marshal and tax collector, the first clerk. Were there any problems collecting taxes in those days? Not a bit. Never had any trouble. What was the total tax roll, do you remember that? No, I wouldn’t know. But they have it down the Town Hall, the old records. But everybody paid up? Oh yeah, always have in Palm Beach. Always have. And you never had any trouble with the natives as the marshal, huh? I would say, no. There wasn’t any natives. There was a lot of [Blacks] in the wintertime. You see, the hotel company would bring down all the waiters for the Poinciana and the Breakers. They had barracks for em to live in. They lived on the island? Oh yeah. You know, we had an awful lot of wheelchairs. A lot of [Blacks] owned their own wheelchairs and they could only go certain places, you know, they couldn’t hang around every place. One of them got shot one Sunday morning on the hotel grounds right in front of the Poinciana. I was half-shaved. I finished shav-ing and hopped on my bike and go down there and just got there in time to see the sheriff and the coroner takin the body away. And all the watchmen of the hotel company—they called them “policemen,” y’know, but they was really watchmen to me. All carried guns and the big boss man, his name was Catrell. They were scared to death cause all the [Blacks] in that neck of the woods, y’know, was paradin up and down. Had to be tired, a lot of em. I said, “Mr. Catrell, you get your watchmen, you get em all out of here, and leave the [Blacks] to me.” He says, “You can handle them all?” I says, “Sure.” I knew them all, the best part of em. I got em together and I said, “You can’t do old man Small any good, he’s dead. They got the man locked up. Get your boys together and go on about your business.” I had it all cleared away in fifteen minutes, everything. Two of them was goin to the north end of Poinciana and they had a smart cop there—thought he was smart. Told em if they didn’t get a leg on, they’d get the same as old man Small got. Then they went on strike right afterwards. Mr. Beam said, “They called on me again.” I had to straighten all that out. I says, “Fire that man, he ain’t no good to you.” I says, “I spend my time straightening em out and [laugh-unintelligible] and so forth and so on,” then he ruins it just because he wants to play smart. I said, “You can’t play smart with [Blacks].” I suppose they got jammed up sometimes. They won’t bother you if you know how to handle em. We got a call one time, I was sittin in my office on old Main Street, what it is now. A drunk [Black] with a big .45 goin round the hotel scarin people. [inaudible] says, “You goin out?” I says, “Sure.” I didn’t carry no gun, I never carried a gun. I found him and said, “Boy, what you doin?” He says, “Chief, I been havin some fun.” I said, “You have?” He says, “I sure have.” I said, “Give me the gun.” He give it to me, I stuck it in my belt, I says, “Come on, let’s go.” Put him in jail, went and hunted up the people that sent the complaint in. They wouldn’t appear against him because they worked for the hotel company. So I let him sleep his drunk off, give him a lecture, never had no more SPRING 2017 | 25
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trouble with him. Never saw him again as I know of. What about the tourists in those days? Did they cause trouble? Oh, not to speak of. With all this wealth around here, didn’t you have jewel thieves come in? No. We had a jewel robbery up the north end, it was quite a piece up at the Vail estate. Mrs. Vail had lost an awful lot of jewelry and a lot of cash money. I was the first one she called. I got up there and she says, “My suitcase is gone. It’s got my initials on it, “H. H. H. Vail” in big letters. You watch the trains.” I said, “Mrs. Vail, that suitcase ain’t goin on no train. Listen, if they come by boat, that suitcase is in the lake, and if they come by car, that suitcase is in the swamp.” I said, “Ain’t gonna carry that damn thing, it’s too much giveaway. Put yourself in their place, what would you do with it?” The chauffeur come in at the time, Clarence. I’d known him a while and I says, “Clarence, go down and look in the swamp and see if you can see it.” He went down and went through the sawgrass apiece and brought the suitcase back. By the time he got back with it, a Pinkerton man that was with the Sheriff ’s Department happened to come in. He was the one who put it there because he knew where to go and get it. And he couldn’t get that through his head, that I’d just told Mrs. Vail, if they come by car, they’d throw it away in the swamp on the way back, and if they come by boat, it’d be thrown in the lake. She sent him out to look for it and he brought it back. Nothing in it. She had a lot of jewels. But the funny part was, on her dresser there was thousands of dollars of jewels that they hadn’t touched. But they’d gone in her pocketbook and taken hundred-dollar bills out. A bishop was staying at Mrs. Vail’s with her daughter and his wife, and his daughter was married to a no-good bum that was supposed to be an artist. They were the only ones that knew where the stuff was. Did they ever find it? No, because they was always on the wrong track. And she is a peculiar gal. I used to have to go up and ride down with her when she was going to the Poinciana Ball. Ride down with the chauffeur just to please her. Was that [the Vail family from] the telephone or Pennsylvania Railroad [money]? Neither one. And—oh, she used to carry jewelry—her shoe buckles was all diamonds and all that kind of stuff. She was always giving me five dollars, sometimes fifty dollars, just for accommodating her. She was a wonderful old gal. She never believed it was Clarence. But the Pinkerton men get one thing in their head and they keep it there. “Why,” I says, “he’s got a house up in New York State where he lives.” He didn’t know that Mrs. Vail held the mortgage on that. And he says, “I can’t live like that and I get more pay than he does.” I says, “Yeah, but how many drinks do you take and how many cigars do you do? He don’t even smoke or drink.” But still, they still hanged on, they never got after the right party in my estimation. However, in rambling around—this will be more interesting than anything else— there’s a shell mound on the oceanfront just south of Mrs. Guest’s house, and the twenty-fifth of December 1913—it was in 1913 when this robbery was—I was up on the top of this shell mound, and there was a deep hole dug. You could see the impression where somebody had
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dug out a cache from pirates at one time. But these palm trees, each one had a mark on it, and it was right in the dead center. And the mound arrow was left there. Peter Larson, an oldtime sailor, when he was a boy he sailed with pirates and he found a lot of different places in Florida where he dug up money that they’d buried. There’s one place in Palm Beach yet that he never could find. Big rubber tree on the north end of this island where there’s supposed to be a pirate’s burial according to maps given him as a kid. And so they retained him. He left here one time broke and come back with a brand new schooner from Jacksonville. He used to sail a schooner out of Jacksonville all by himself. He was a typical sailorman, but he had a pineapple plantation between Juno and Jupiter and took care of pineapples, one thing and another. I worked with him in pineapples in the summer of ’97. He finally succumbed. He used to live on a big old cat boat called the Slow[inaudible]. Always had a dog. He was quite a character. But all the old people who knew him in those days—Danes and [inaudible] —are dead. The Military Trail, you’ve heard of that, haven’t you? Do you know why it’s called the Military Trail? No. United States Army fightin Seminoles. Oh? Put it in south of Jupiter, huh? It was almost Fort Pierce. I’ve traveled it from Jupiter, just south of Jupiter. I’ve traveled it with horse and wagon to get to West Palm Beach way back in 1904. Took me three days. I had to go south of Delray to get on the coast road back up. Thomas Adams, the chewing gum man, was getting out dye woods[?] on the Miami River in 1848 for a firm in New York and the Seminole Indians run him off. He escaped to Nassau with his whole outfit, his wife and family and the crew that he had workin. In the Miami River in those days, there was plenty of crocodiles. His oldest son got pert near caught with one one time. He gave me a lot of that stuff from way back in the early days. He was an Englishman. Mr. Borman, I’m entranced with having talked with you, and I’m very grateful to you because you’ve been a great help. Oh, you think it’ll be worth a darn? I think it’ll be worth a double darn. [laugh] END
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Sitting between the much taller 1995 courthouse complex, the old courthouse testifies to the growth of the county and its governing bodies. (Courtesy CJ Walker.)
The Many Faces of the Historic 1916 Palm Beach County Court House By Debi Murray
The official battle to create a separate county out of the northern portion of Dade County began on February 8, 1907, when a group of concerned citizens gathered in the hall over the Free Reading Room in West Palm Beach to discuss the pros and cons of division. With 4,424 square miles, Dade was the second largest county in the state and had an assessed valuation of $5,700,000 for the 1905 tax year.
n April 2002, the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners voted to save what has become known as the Historic 1916 Court House. By then the exterior of the original building was hidden from the casual observer, encased in a wrap-around addition built in the 1970s. The commissioners took a leap of faith that a jewel would emerge during the building’s restoration, and did it ever! Nestled among some of the county’s newest, monumental government buildings, the stately neoclassical courthouse enhances downtown West Palm Beach and stands as a fitting symbol of Palm Beach County’s place in Florida history.
The 2008 completed reconstruction of the historic 1916 court house. (Courtesy CJ Walker.) When it was first built, the old courthouse held all county government offices, including the sheriff ’s department, school board, county and circuit courts, county clerk, tax assessor and collector—everyone. Construction of the 1916 courthouse was hampered by many difficulties—so many that the dedication of the brand-new Palm Beach County courthouse in April 1917 was anti-climactic. From the very first, the building was surrounded by turmoil. But conflict was not unusual in Palm Beach County, for the county itself had been created with great tumultuousness. SPRING 2017 | 29
provided free shipment of road materials on the Florida East Coast Railroad. In addition, less than thirty-seven percent of the school budget, or about $15,000, was spent per year for both the white and colored schools in the northern section of the segregated county.
Members of the Palm Beach County clerk's office, 1920 or 1921. Girl in circle is Cleora Edwards Walton. (Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.)
Founding Palm Beach County The
official battle to create a separate county out of the northern portion of Dade County began on February 8, 1907, when a group of concerned citizens gathered in the hall over the Free Reading Room in West Palm Beach to discuss the pros and cons of division. With 4,424 square miles, Dade was the second largest county in the state and had an assessed valuation of $5,700,000 for the 1905 tax year. The group in favor of the county’s division wanted Dade County split just south of Fort Lauderdale so the new county would have approximately 2,500 square miles, or about sixty percent of the land. Their biggest complaint was that the area between Fort Lauderdale on the New River and Stuart on the St. Lucie paid sixty percent of the taxes, but few of those dollars were spent in northern Dade County. The men—because women could not yet vote— wanted a more equitable distribution of tax dollars, especially in the matter of roads and schools. Many of the roads in the southern portion of the county had been paved and were attractive to outside investors. Roads north of New River, however, were either incomplete or only finished after levying additional taxes and with help from Henry Flagler, who 30 | TUSTENEGEE
In view of these inequities and other injustices, and after discussion of how the new county would be able to function on the tax monies available, the group passed a motion to establish the Executive Committee of the County Division Movement. The seven men chosen to serve on the committee were empowered to do anything necessary to see that a new county was created out of the northern half of Dade County. At yet another mass meeting the following week, the committee resolved to take their petition for a new county to the appropriate officials in Tallahassee. At the time, the state legislature only met every other year and it was due to meet in April 1907, so time was of the essence. Reactions to the petition for division were varied, and many were acrimonious. The people in and around Miami saw those in north Dade as ungrateful agitators. Newspaper editorials reflected their readership’s geographic location. The Daily Tropical Sun and Palm Beach Daily News in north-county were pro-division. The Daily Miami Metropolis was against. Four Division Committee members—L. W. Burkhardt, M. E. Gruber, George Butler, and W. I. Metcalf—traveled to Tallahassee to lobby for division. T. J. Campbell, who would later be tax collector for Palm Beach County, acted as a messenger for the legislature that year and kept the delegation apprised of the petition’s progress. On May 8, 1907, Campbell advised that the “Palm Beach county bill passed senate 20 to 11.” Unfortunately, it was defeated in the House of Representatives, 39 to 21, on May 22, 1907. The Division Committee members were not idle during the two years they had to wait for the next legislative session to resubmit their petition. They searched for and found a candidate for the House of Representatives
who would support splitting Dade County. George O. Butler, the agreeable, successful candidate from Miami, submitted the petition for division, and it was quickly approved on April 30, 1909. When it became effective on July 1, 1909, Palm Beach County became the forty-seventh county in Florida.
The First Courthouse The first task for Palm Beach County was to find a place to conduct its business, and centrally located West Palm Beach was deemed the most desirable spot. The county’s organizers hoped the town would donate the former schoolhouse at the southwest corner of Clematis Street and Poinsettia Avenue (later renamed Dixie Highway). The school had been built in 1894 on land donated by Henry M. Flagler. Since a new schoolhouse was due to open on “the hill” that September, the old building would be standing empty. To reassure those who worried about the expenses of separating from Dade County, in 1907 the Division
Committee had promised that the new county would not spend more than $5,000 for a courthouse, vaults, and jail, and vowed that the facility would last for at least ten years. But that was not to be. First, they did not obtain the building for free; they had to pay $8,000 for the old school building and lot on the corner of Clematis Street and Poinsettia Avenue. In addition, their expectation to stay in the building for ten years was overly optimistic, and by 1913, county government had outgrown its quarters. The county commission hired architect Wilber Burt Talley to design a new courthouse for a lot on Poinsettia Avenue between 2nd and 3rd streets. Based in Lakeland, Florida, Talley had designed the $250,000 Duval County Courthouse and several other government buildings in Florida. Hiring Talley and agreeing to a design for the new courthouse were the easiest tasks the county commissioners faced. On October 9, 1913, local contractor Evert P. Maule won the bid to build it for $160,000, plus $23,800 for interior elements such as vaults and safes, and promised to complete
1916 Court house. (Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.)
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it in eight months. Despite this optimism, the new courthouse would not be dedicated for more than three and a half years.
The 1916 Courthouse
The first of many problems arose the following month when the Grand Jury, which convened annually to review official records and the general work of county government, issued a statement declaring it inappropriate to build a courthouse for more than $183,000 without going to the electorate for permission to spend that much money. The presentiment went on to complain about the poor roads in the county and the fact that only $65,000 of tax monies were allocated for roads in the next fiscal year. Since the current fiscal year was already $64,000 in debt for roads, there would be no money for road improvement for at least the next year. The issue did not go to the electorate but was presented to the Florida Supreme Court, which ruled in June 1914 that the contract with Evert P. Maule was invalid because the county commission had not properly advertised for bids on part of the project.
In September, the contract was once again put out for bid and once again, Maule was the lowest bidder. This time the total was $190,000 and the courthouse was projected to take twelve months to build. In October, the Tropical Sun, a West Palm Beach newspaper, carried an editorial complaining about the cost of the new courthouse. As had been the case the previous year, poor roads in the county were the number one issue requiring attention. In addition, the City of Stuart, then in Palm Beach County, needed a bridge over the St. Lucie River as they were still using a barge towed by a gasoline launch to cross the waterway. The author of the editorial also pointed out that St. Lucie County had only spent $50,000 for a courthouse and the rest of their money on roads. Many residents agreed with the Tropical Sunâ€™s editorial, and by November the county commission agreed to rescind the contract with Maule. That same month, the Grand Jury conducted another investigation. They discovered that a Mr. Franz of the Franz Safe and Lock Company had met with the Board of County Commissioners and told them what they needed in the way of vaults and safes, specifying the materials
The Court house in late 1927 early 1930s. (Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.)
to be used. While there was no contract between the county and Franz, the Tropical Sun reported that there was “an agreement that said material would be furnished by the said company and accepted by the board, under the specifications on file in the office of the company.” In other words, the commission had pre-selected the vault and furniture and required all contractors bidding on the courthouse to use the Franz Safe and Lock Company. Since the county had not put this part of the work out for bid as required by law, it was considered an illegal act. The Grand Jury reported this activity to the governor and recommended that three of the county commissioners be suspended or forced to resign for neglect of duty and incompetence in office. For the third time, the courthouse construction project was put out for bid and, for the third time, the lowest bidder was Evert P. Maule. His price was $122,500 for the building, plus $41,736 for the vault and fixtures. Once again, some opposed the entire courthouse project. This time the issue was not just that roads and bridges were needed but rather the fact that the southern part of Palm Beach County wanted to split off to form a new county to be known as Everglades. Consequently, the Pompano Board of Trade objected to building the courthouse because they did not want to be responsible for paying the tab. The county commission quickly explained that the departing municipalities would not have to shoulder the burden of building a courthouse for Palm Beach County—their tax dollars would go to the new entity that would soon be known as Broward County. The commission also had to hear protests from representatives of Stuart, Lake Worth, Delray, Boynton, and Deerfield, who asserted that road building was more important than a new courthouse. They also insisted that a new courthouse should not cost more than $75,000.
Court house construction crew, 1917. (Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.) In the meantime, as county government grew, the courthouse on Clematis Street became ever more crowded. At the commission meeting on February 2, 1915, commissioners “decided that a new building was an actual necessity for the county and further delay might cause irreparable loss.” They also wanted the new building to be “adequate for years to come.” By February 18, a new contract was in place. Per an undated newspaper clipping, the new courthouse was going to be finished by November 1, 1915, and it would be “the finest and best equipped courthouse in the state.” Construction did not go as quickly as had been predicted. The county tax assessor, James M. Owens, was the first county officer to occupy the new courthouse, and he did not move in until August 1916—eighteen months after the contract had been signed. He and his deputy, Miss Myrtle Miller, moved out of the old courthouse to escape the noise of construction going on nearby. Sidney Maddock had purchased the original courthouse and lot for $35,000 and was erecting a new building close by; the noise had become unbearable. Most of the new courthouse was complete and ready for business, but the county commission SPRING 2017 | 33
would not accept the building until every detail was as they desired. They did not like the copper doors and wanted them replaced. There were leaks around windows and where the brickwork needed to be “repointed.” Despite these delays and problems, the building was considered the “handsomest in the state” by a reporter at the Tropical Sun. The first-floor office walls were painted above the chair rail and paneled with oak below. Offices sported maple floors, while hallways had mosaic tile floors with marble on the lower portion of the walls. The exterior was of fireproof brick and limestone with granite trim. The very latest Johns Manville asbestos material covered the 8,250-square-foot roof. The final decorations were completed and the old benches stained, varnished, and installed by April 13, 1917.
local businesses participating. The organizers hoped the day would mark “a new era of prosperity and progress in the county.” Unfortunately, the United States of America declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917. The only notice of a courthouse dedication was a very short article in the Palm Beach Post announcing that West Palm Beach Mayor W. A. Dutch declared the building dedicated as of April 16, 1917.
1927 Annex The boom of the 1920s spurred county government to expand to meet the needs of all the newcomers. Consequently, by 1925 the courthouse was too small to accommodate efficient government. The county commission once again contacted architect Wilber Talley, who proposed adding an annex that would mirror the original building to be built east of the existing structure. The two buildings would be connected by hallways on each floor. He also suggested completely remodeling the 1916 courthouse to give various departments more space. The commissioners, who wanted to make the county officers happy and wanted extra space for future growth, soon agreed to Talley’s proposal. The annex was expected to be completed by December 1, 1926, but the building boom had created such a demand for building materials throughout south Florida that railroad freight yards could not keep up with the massive quantity of materials being shipped south. Some supplies sat at northern railheads for months waiting for space on a train.
Palm Beach Post news clipping. (Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.) Business and community leaders planned a citywide dedication of the courthouse for April 10, 1917, including a grand parade and giant picnic with all the 34 | TUSTENEGEE
Despite the transportation and construction delays, the new building was ready for occupancy in May 1927, just eighteen months after it had been started. As in 1916, the tax assessor’s office was the first to move into its new quarters. The courthouse annex was described as a better building than the old courthouse. It also sported an elevator—a first for the courthouse. In almost every other aspect, the annex matched the main courthouse. Just over a year after they opened, the courthouse and its annex
1972 Court house wrap-around. (Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.) served as a hurricane shelter when the massive storm of September 16, 1928 struck Palm Beach County. Photographs show the courthouse standing tall among the rubble of some of the surrounding buildings.
1955 Addition By the 1950s, county government was too big to reside in one building. To ease the overcrowded conditions at the courthouse, the county built an office building on Datura Street. In June 1955, the commission called for bids to redesign, modernize, and air-condition the existing courthouse space and to incorporate the empty space between the buildings into useable rooms. The commissioners wanted enough growth room for twenty years.
Wrap-around By 1968, the greatly expanded Palm Beach County courthouse once again needed further enlargement and improvement. Several designs were presented to the commissionersâ€”from free-standing buildings to wrap-aroundsâ€”but they could not reach a consensus.
So, in February 1968, the board ordered the formation of a special study committee comprised of men nominated from three fields of study: engineering, architecture, and contracting. The following men served on the committee:
Engineers: Robert E. Owen Brockway, Owen & Anderson, Engineers Jake Boyd retired county engineer of Palm Beach County Robert Hutcheon Hutcheon Engineers, Inc.
Architects: Donald Edge Howard Chilton Gerhard Selzer
Contractors: J. Y. Arnold Jr. Richard S. Black
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(Left) 2008 court house. (Middle) 2008 Reconstruction of the interior south stairway. (Right) The southern side of the 2008 court house. (Courtesy CJ Walker.)
The group requested sixty days to study the various expansion plans and to talk with the commissioners and department heads as to their space requirements. Meetings were closed to the public so they could get more done. This enlargement of the courthouse was estimated to cost $4.8 million. Related projects, including a new jail, would bring the total for expansion to $7 million. Judges and other courthouse occupants petitioned the commissioners to junk any wrap-aroundâ€”they wanted a free-standing courthouse. Commissioners wanted the cheapest plan. The special study committee was supposed to act as arbitrators between these two groups. By the end of May, Jefferson N. Powell and Donald Edge had been appointed architects of the selected project: the wrap-around. Satellite courthouses to be built in the northern and southern parts of the county were meant to reduce the main courthouseâ€™s traffic, but they were not seen as necessary as court could not be held in those buildings. Detractors said 36 | TUSTENEGEE
the wrap-around would not provide enough space to meet long-range needs. County Solicitor Marvin Mounts said it would meet needs for ten years, and he thought the county should be looking at supplying fifty years of growing room. In December 1968, the Miami Herald reported that the existing courthouse had 90,000 square feet, and the wrap-around addition would add 135,000 square feet. About 30,000 square feet of the addition would be left unfinished to begin with, designated for future expansion. This solution would also cost half what a new courthouse would. Nearly a year later, opposition to the wrap-around continued. Those who wanted it included most of the county commission: Dan Gaynor, E. W. Weaver, and Robert Johnson; as well as George Votow, consulting architect; and the architectural firm of Edge & Powell. Those against included commissioners Robert Culpepper and George Warren, thirteen judges, the tax assessor, tax collector, court clerk, sheriff, and state attorney and solicitor.
Despite the overwhelming opposition, the wraparound addition was put up for bids in 1970. The bids came in lower than expected for the 148,000-squarefoot addition; Arnold Construction Co. won the contract at $4,554,000. In the end, the buildingâ€™s square footage would be almost doubled, from 90,000 square feet to 180,000. Approximately 40,000 square feet would be left vacant for future growth. The commissioners expected the space to fulfill the needs of the county for ten years, and they expected all work to be completed by April 13, 1972.
Less than two years later, in January 1974, every governmental department housed in the courthouse needed more room, and the last 5,000 square feet of the extra 40,000 square feet of previously unused space was being renovated for courtrooms and support facilities. The bond for the courthouse addition and the county jail was not going to be paid for until 1993. Not only had the ten-year growth plan been shorter than the twenty-two-year bond payoff schedule, but the extra space had been used up less than two years after the wrap-aroundâ€™s completion.
Construction and deconstruction was not easy on the courthouse occupants, who continued to work in the building during the process. Since the outer walls needed to be smooth, workers used air hammers to pummel the walls to remove unnecessary features. The interior walls cracked, and the noise caused court cases to be postponed. As the wrap-around neared completion, most interviewed people criticized its look and complained about the number of hallways. The wrap-around was finished in the summer of 1972 at a total cost of $5.5 million.
In January 2004, Palm Beach County began demolition of all the additions to the 1916 courthouse. Watching the grande old dame emerge from her cement cocoon was amazing. Soon construction crews swarmed throughout the building, reinstalling and reconstructing her gracious, elegant, almost regal accoutrements that would make her unique once again. It serves not only as a monument, but as a reminder, to visitors and residents alike, of what Palm Beach County was like in its youth, and hopefully inspires pride and confidence in what it can be in the future. SPRING 2017 | 37
ur o Y ’t s
elebrate 100 years! c e m o c , ry Histo
R I C H A R D A N D PAT
JOHNSON PALM B E ACH COUNTY
Admission is free!
HISTORY MUS EUM Located within the 1916 Palm Beach County Court House, a symbol of the growth of our county The place to learn our rich and vibrant history, from the earliest natives through today’s influential leaders. Centrally located in downtown West Palm Beach near Celmatis street and other cultural attractions 300 North Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, Florida Monday- Friday , 10:00 am-5:00 pm Saturday, 10:00 am-4:00 pm (Closed major holidays)
561.832.4164 | www.hspbc.org
The Museum is operated by the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
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Become a Part of History Join Today! Benefactors – $2,500 & above
The success of any organization relies on leaders with a strong commitment to its mission, who serve as ambassadors and inspire others. In addition to the benefits of general members, Benefactors receive invitations to all lectures and special events (typically free), a book from our Museum Store, a copy of a historic photo from our Archives, an exclusive Benefactors Reception in Palm Beach, and your name on HSPBC letterhead.
Pioneer Circle – $1,000
Our Pioneer Circle members recognize the challenges of our forefathers, who inspire our shared civic pride. In recognition of this support, you will receive invitations to all lectures and special events (typically free), a book from our Museum Store, and a copy of a historic photo from our Archives.
Flagler Circle – $500
Celebrate the vision of Henry Flagler in developing this special community by the sea through your support. You will receive invitations to all lectures and special events (typically free), and a book from our Museum Store.
Mizner Circle – $250
Like Addison Mizner, you can help change the face of Palm Beach County. You will receive invitations to all lectures and special events (typically free), and a copy of a historic photo from our Archives.
Historical Society of Palm Beach County TITLE
ADDITIONAL NAME ADDRESS
EMAIL ALTERNATE ADDRESS DATES FOR OUT-OF-TOWN MAILINGS ADDRESS
SOCIETY MEMBERSHIP $ ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTION $ AMOUNT ENCLOSED $ Enclosed is my check in the amount of PAYABLE TO:
Or please charge my credit card:
Barefoot Mailman – $125
Make your community stronger by helping to provide free admission for all to the Johnson History Museum. You will receive invitations to special events, such as the private opening receptions for new exhibits.
Family/Dual – $75 | Individual – $50
As vital as all our levels is this foundation of support from singles and families, needed to continue operations at the HSPBC and the Johnson History Museum.
CARD NUMBER EXP. DATE
NAME AS IT APPEARS ON CARD
COMPLETE, CUT OUT, AND RETURN TO: HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY ATTN: LISE STEINHAUER PO BOX 4364
All Members are entitled to free research from the Archives and Library, by appointment.
WEST PALM BEACH, FL 33402-4364
*You can also join online at hspbc.org
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HSPBC Membership as of May 2017 Pioneer Circle ($1,000) Mr. & Mrs. Jeff Alderton Mr. Richard E. Baumer Ms. Jane Beasley Mr. & Mrs. Keith D. Beaty Mr. & Mrs. Gary Burkhead Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Chase Mr. & Mrs. Robert Forbes Mr. & Mrs. Mariano Garcia Mrs. W. Murray Hamner Mr. & Mrs. Jeremy Johnson Mr. & Mrs. Charles H. Jones Jr. Mr. & Mrs. Berton E. Korman Mr. & Mrs. Paul N. Leone Mr. & Mrs. Edwin Phelps Mr. & Mrs. David Rinker Mr. & Mrs. E. Burke Ross Jr. Mrs. Caroline B. Sory Mr. & Mrs. Timothy S. Sotos Mr. & Mrs. Dominick Telesco Mr. & Mrs. David J. Thomas Mr. & Mrs. William Told
Flagler Circle ($500) Mr. James W. Beasley Jr. Mr. & Mrs. F. Ted Brown Jr. Ms. Margaret Dean Mr. & Mrs. Joseph T. Harper Mrs. Hildegard Mahoney Mr. George I. Mavlios Mr. & Mrs. Richard Morgenstern Mr. & Mrs. Mark A. Murphy Mr. Harvey E. Oyer III Mrs. Alice Zimmer Pannill Ms. Justine F. Postal Ms. Elaine Ragon
Mizner Circle ($250) Mr. & Mrs. Kevin Asbacher Mr. & Mrs. Paul C. Bremer Mr. & Mrs. David Click Ms. Olympia Devine Mr. & Mrs. David Dickenson Ms. Margaret Donnelley Mr. & Mrs. Vincent A. Elhilow Mr. & Mrs. William G. Graham Mr. Thomas Grudovich Mr. & Mrs. Patrick Henry Mr. & Mrs. Howard L. Johnson Mr. & Mrs. Bernd Lembcke Mr. & Mrs. Robb R. Maass Mr. Ross W.W. Meltzer The Hon. & Mrs. Emery J. Newell Mr. & Mrs. Jeffrey P. Phipps Sr. Mr. & Mrs.Edward Pollack
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Dr. & Mrs. G. David Raymond Mr. & Mrs. Peter Schoeffer Mr. & Mrs. Greg Silpe Mrs. Sandra Thompson & Mr. Craig D. Thompson Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Toll
Barefoot Mailman ($125) Dr. & Mrs. William R. Adkins Mr. Jonathon W. Andrews Mrs. Betsy Anthony Mr. & Mrs. Guy Ashley The Hon. & Mrs. Nelson E. Bailey Mrs. Laurel Baker Mr. Stephen E. Barr Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Owen Barry Jr. Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth S. Beall Jr. Mrs. Veronica Burkhardt Birdsong Mr. Ken Breslauer Mr. Ian F. Brown Mr. & Mrs. Vince Burkhardt Mrs. Marsha Burkhardt Mr. & Mrs. Alerio Cardinale Ms. Jane Ann Caruso Mr. & Mrs. Ray S. Celedinas Mr. & Mrs. Theodore Deckert Mr. Joseph R. DeFina Mr. Britt Deviney & Ms. Dorothy Jacks Ms. Michelle Donahue Mr. & Mrs. Danny Finch Mr. & Mrs. John Geberth Dr. & Mrs. Bobby Green Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth L. Groves Mr. & Mrs. Jere B. Leffler Ms. Brenda Jean Lusher Dr. Steven A. Manalan Mr. James McCann Mr. & Mrs. Martin E. Murphy Jr. Ms. Shelley Newell Mr. Kenneth R. Novikoff Mr. & Mrs. Ron J. Ponder Ms. Paige Poole Mr. & Mrs. Frederick C. Prior Mr. David V. Reese Mr. & Mrs. Harland A. Riker Jr. Mr. Ronald D. Risner Ms. Paige Robinson Mr. & Mrs. Stanley M. Rumbough Jr. The Rev. Burl Salmon & Mr. Robert Henkel Mr. & Mrs. Nickolas Sargent Mr. & Mrs. John Shaffer Mr. Edward H. Sheahan III Mr. & Mrs. Ronald Simpson Mr. & Mrs. Michael Small Mr. John J. Tatooles
Mr. & Mrs. James Thompson Mr. & Mrs. William R. Tiefel Mr. & Mrs. Frank Todd Mr. Theofilos A. Vatis Mr. John Vinson Ms. Janet Waterman Mr. & Mrs. Dennis Wedgworth
Family/Dual ($75) Mrs. Maudie S. Baker-Schwartz & Mr. Mark A. Schwartz Mr. William P. Barry Mr. & Mrs. John K. Blumenstein Ms. Valerie Boehme Mr. & Mrs. Ray Bourque Mrs. William W. Brainard Mr. & Mrs. Kim Brodsky Mr. & Mrs. Ted Brownstein Mr. & Mrs. Ken Buchanan Mr. & Mrs. James C. Catrickes Mr. & Mrs. William Cini Mr. & Mrs. Trevor Curtis Mr. & Mrs. Joel T. Daves Ms. Katharine R. C. DeLong Mr. & Mrs. Jay Denger Mr. & Mrs. Richard Duncan Mr. & Mrs. Bill Dunn Mr. & Mrs. Richard Dunn Mrs. Carol Elder Dr. & Mrs. Robert A. Flucke Ms. Gladys Fundora Mr. & Mrs. James T. Gill III Mr. & Dr. Harold Gilmore Dr. & Mrs. Lawrence Gorfine Mr. George M. Greider & Ms. Gayle Kranz Mr. & Mrs. Thomas G. Griffen Dr. & Mrs. Randolph H. Guthrie Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Hearn Mr. & Mrs. David Herst Dr. Terry Hickey & Ms. Sherry Frankel Mr. & Mrs. Alec Hicks Mr. Steve Hollander Brig. Gen. & Mrs. Albin F. Irzyk Mr. David Jacoby & Ms. Marcelle Bayda Mr. & Mrs. Michael A. Kaufman The Hon. & Mrs. Ramez Khawly Mr. & Mrs. Christopher G. Knoll Mr. & Mrs. Barry A. Lavinson Ms. Annette S. Levinson Mr. & Mrs. James E. Lyons Mrs. Jimmie Vee McCoy Mr. & Mrs. Cameron Miller Mr. & Mrs. Ronald Mislowsky Dr. & Mrs. Jeffrey Mogerman Mr. & Mrs. Royal Mollineaux
Mrs. Polly Mounts Ms. Regina M. Mullen Mr. & Mrs. William D. Munro Mr. Patrick Painter & Ms. Fiona Spahr Mr. & Mrs. Kyle Papke Mr. & Mrs. Ward C. Parker Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Peltzie Mr. & Mrs. Arthur J. Poisson Ms. Susan Polan Mr. Larry Roberts & Ms. Mary Hopkins Mr. & Mrs. John J. Rybovich Mr. & Mrs. Scott Skier Mr. John Smith Mr. & Mrs. Lee K. Spencer Mr. & Mrs. Roland Stenta Ms. Louise Stoney & Ms. Kim Barbrie Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Tessoff Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Thurlow Jr. Mr. James Toomey Mr. & Mrs. Garth Wakeford Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Watkins Ms. Tracy White & Mr. Charles Carbone Ms. Debra Yates
Individual ($50) Ms. Courtney Andres Ms. Linda Askowitz Ms. Claire Blanchard Mr. Frank E. Booker III Mr. William Brady Ms. Catherine Ford Brister Mrs. Lois E. Burns Ms. Annie Cardelus Jones Ms. Debra Chandler Ms. Sally Channon Mr. Donn R. Colee Jr. Mr. William Condie Mr. Donald H. Conkling III Dr. John Cooney Ms. Linda G. Cullen Ms. Karen Davis Ms. Leslie Diver Ms. Margaret Duncan Mr. Guy Eble Mr. Chris Edden Mr. Edward Elgin Sr. Ms. Ann Frumkin Ms. Carmen Garcia Ms. Jennifer C. Garrigues Ms. Gina Grant Ms. Jeanne Janssen Ms. Lisa Jensen Dr. Susan Jones Ms. Josephine E. Kennedy Mr. John J. Kenney
Mr. Reeves King Ms. Florence Koontz Ms. Gabriella Kortz Ms. Catie Kuter Mr. Scott Laurence Mr. Patrick LeTourneau Mr. Philip F. Lund Ms. Dominique Luongo Mr. Paul L. Maddock Jr. Mr. Carlo Manganillo Ms. Joyce McLendon Mr. Gregory Meyer Mr. Richard Moyroud Ms. Sally A. O'Connor Ms. Katherine Gibbs Parr Ms. Alice H. Payne Mr. Dennis J. Perry Mrs. Lois G. Phillips Mr. Rick Poulette Mrs. Anna Pressly Ms. Page Pressly Ms. Nancy S. Pullum Mr. Stephen M. Rochford Mr. Rick Rose Ms. Helena Rowland Ms. Elaine A. Saugstad Dr. John A. Schaefer Ms. Brenda H. Schwerin Ms. Adela M. Shiner Ms. Linda Simonson Mr. Albert H. Small Ms. Sally Alice Smith Mrs. Virginia M. Spencer
Mr. Reginald G. Stambaugh Ms. Jenna Steffens Ms. Susan Swiatosz Mrs. Deane O. Ugalde Mr. Krystian von Speidel Mr. Ogden White Jr. Ms. Sharon Wickham Mrs. Mary Woodland
Life Members Mr. & Mrs. John W. Annan Mr. & Mrs. Keith C. Austin Jr. Mrs. Maria Bacinich Mr. & Mrs. David H. Bludworth Mr. & Mrs. Frank E. Callander Mrs. Linda Cothes Mr. William R. Cummings Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Dellaquila Mr. & Mrs. Willis H. du Pont Mr. & Mrs. Robert T. Eigelberger Mr. & Mrs. J. Pepe Fanjul Mr. Rodger S. Fowler Mr. & Mrs. Gordon D. Gaster Ms. Judy Hatfield Mr. & Mrs. Scott Johnson Mr. & Mrs. Richard S. Johnson Jr. Mrs. Elise MacIntosh Mr. George Matsoukas Mrs. Mary Alice Pugh Mr. & Mrs. William Sned Jr. Mr. & Mrs. John Tamsberg Mr. & Mrs. John K. Volk
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Historical Society of Palm Beach County 2017-2018 Officers
Ex-Officio Board Members
Chairman of the Board J. Grier Pressly III
School Board of Palm Beach County
First Vice Chairman Thomas M. Kirchhoff
Danielle H. Moore
Town of Palm Beach Council Member
Palm Beach County Commissioner
Second Vice Chairman Mark Stevens Third Vice Chairman Ross W.W. Meltzer Secretary Richard S. Johnson Jr. Deputy Secretary Carey Oâ€™Donnell Treasurer David J. Thomas III Member at Large Jeffrey P. Phipps Sr. General Counsel Mariano Garcia Past Chairman Mark B. Elhilow Member Emeritus Robert W. Ganger
Board of Governors Jeffrey Alderton James Beasley Jr. Margaret Cheryl Burkhardt Ann Margo Cannon Joseph Chase Kevin Clark Graham G. Davidson George Ford III Mary Freitas The Honorable Bradley Harper Joette Keen Russell P. Kelley III George Mavlios Sharon Merchant Penny Murphy Peter Nicoletti Lisa McDermott Perez Karen Swanson Kimberly Walkes
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Board of Advisors Cressman D. Bronson Katharine Dickenson George T. Elmore Mr. & Mrs. William Fleming Jr. Dennis Grady William Graham Dale R. Hedrick Pat Seaton Johnson Gary S. Lesser The Honorable Karen Marcus William A. Meyer Harvey E. Oyer III Jorge Pesquera Sidney Stubbs Jr. RADM Philip A. Whitacre, USN (Ret.)
Benefactors Thomas Anderson and Marc Schappell Brenda McCampbell Bailey Margaret Cheryl Burkhardt Julie and Michael Connors Susan and Christopher Cowie Martha DeBrule Mark B. Elhilow George T. Elmore Frances and Jeffrey Fisher Anneli and Robert Ganger Lorrain and Malcolm W. Hall Melanie Hill Mary Hulitar Pat Seaton Johnson Russell P. Kelley III Carol and Thomas M. Kirchhoff Patricia and Howard Lester Betsy K. Matthews Sydelle Meyer Pauline Pitt J. Grier Pressly III Frances G. Scaife Mark Stevens Annette Stubbs RADM Philip A. Whitacre, USN (Ret.) William Sterling Williams Robert Wright
Staff President and CEO Jeremy W. Johnson, CAE Chief Curator Debi Murray Education Coordinator Rose Gualtieri Curator of Collections Benjamen Salata Research Director Nicholas Golubov Director of Marketing & Special Events Jillian Markwith Director of Advancement & Communications Holly Finch Office Administrator Sharon Poss Membership Coordinator Lise Steinhauer Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator Rhonda Gordon
It’s Your History...Come Live It at the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum curiosity, discovery, engagement...a remarkable experience
Located within the 1916 Palm Beach County Court house — a symbol of the growth of our county The place to learn our rich and vibrant history, from the earliest natives through today’s influential leaders.
300 N. Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, Florida Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm | Sat, 10am-4pm (closed major holidays) 561.832.4164 | www.hspbc.org The Museum is operated by the Historical Society of Palm Beach County
Centrally located in downtown West Palm Beach near other cultural attractions
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Volunteer: Make a Powerful Difference to Others (and to Yourself!) by Rhonda Gordon Volunteering is an enjoyable way to explore your interests and passions and provide mental stimulation that can transfer into your personal and professional life. Volunteer work has many benefits for you and those you serve: • It enriches the lives of others. • It can help strengthen ties to the community. • It exposes you to people with common interests. • It can provide a warm environment to depart from your day-to-day routine. • It is a great way to meet new people. In today’s world, our routines have become consumed by our daily schedules— the sheer thought of donating time can seem overwhelming. One of the best advantages of volunteering, however, is that YOU decide when and where to spend your helping time. Although volunteering is unpaid in financial terms, nothing about it is valueless. Many volunteering opportunities provide extensive training that help you build upon skills you already have, and teach how to utilize those skills to benefit the greater community. Regardless of one’s age or circumstance, there are opportunities to volunteer at the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum, operated by the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. You can assist at special events, greet museum visitors, or help customers in the Museum Store. If you want to go ‘all in,’ you can study to become a museum docent or help with research and the archival collection. In whatever capacity we agree on, you can make a powerful difference! People who volunteer say the experience creates a euphoric feeling inside, noticeably improving their health and well-being by giving of themselves to benefit others. Our volunteers at the Historical Society of Palm Beach County are truly the best. Their diverse backgrounds in education, profession, experiences, skills, and residency make for quite an extraordinary team. Without their involvement, the HSPBC staff could not effectively further its mission. We would welcome your consideration of joining us. The difference that you will make in someone else’s life will make an even bigger difference in YOURS! To learn more, please contact Rhonda Gordon, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, at 561-832-4164, ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Honoring James A. Ponce While Ensuring Continued Excellence at the Johnson History Museum! The Historical Society of Palm Beach County is excited to announce it has established The James Augustine Ponce Endowment for Exhibition Development at the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, in honor of the late James Augustine Ponce, whose oral history was featured in the Spring/Fall 2016 issue of the Tustenegee. Through the Community Foundationâ€™s Forever Nonprofit Endowment Challenge, the Society was selected to receive a $25,000 matching grant for setting up the permanent endowment. Endowments provide a long-term location for assets to be donated, protected, and grow. In a permanent endowment, the original funds are reserved, but the growth from investments will be invested into initiatives. These funds are intended to support development of the annual special exhibitions in the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum. The Ponce endowment is also the first piece in activating a tremendous vision for the future of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. Please contact Holly Finch, Director of Advancement and Communications, to learn how your investment will provide an unprecedented opportunity to link our shared past to future generations at 561.832.4164 ext. 106 or email@example.com.
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New to the Collections Urban development and history seldom go hand in hand. Often we lose a cherished landmark in the name of progress. As Palm Beach County’s historical society, it is our role to preserve whatever memories we can. When we learned last summer that Russo’s Submarine Shop in downtown West Palm Beach would be closing for good, we approached owner Dan Russo to acquire its hand-carved wooden sign. Russo’s has been a downtown fixture for generations. Dan’s father, Sebastian, opened in 1947 at the east end of Clematis Street as Philadelphia Submarine Sandwich Shop. In the early 1960s, he changed the name to Russo’s when he moved it to South Dixie Highway. Dan took over when his father died, and later moved just across the street, between Fern and Gardenia streets. In August 2016, Russo retired at age 75 and closed the downtown location, while his son continues to run two others. In its place, developers are building an 18-story complex called The Cosmopolitan.
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Photographic Collection (Courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County.)
Designed by Viennese-born architect Joseph Urban, the spectacular interiors of Mar-a-Lago combine elements of Spanish, Venetian, and Portuguese styles. The drawing room’s remarkable gold-leaf ceiling is a duplicate of the “Thousand-Wing Ceiling” in the Accademia of Venice. The enormous hooded fireplace, Venetian silk tapestries, and lavish crystal chandelier serve to augment the regal composition of the space. Built for General Foods heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and her then husband, E. F. Hutton, this Palm Beach landmark has recently been thrust into the international spotlight.
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Patterson's grocery store was located at 719 N. Sapodilla Avenue in West Palm Beach. It was owned and operated by Joseph E. Patterson (featured on left) and his wife Irene. This photograph, taken in the late 1940s, illustrates the stark contrast between todayâ€™s large grocery chains and the family grocers that were common during previous eras. From the Historical Society of Palm Beach Countyâ€™s Zanetta Miller Digital Collection. Historical Society of Palm Beach County 300 North Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 Phone: (561) 832-4164 | Fax: (561) 832-7965 www.hspbc.org | www.pbchistoryonline.org
Published on Jul 5, 2017
Published on Jul 5, 2017
In this eighth volume of the Tustenegee we celebrate the one hundredth year of the historic 1916 courthouse, a monument that stands as a rem...