Historical Society Officers Conduct Award Winning Historic Moonlight Cemetery Tours

For more information and to register please call the City of West Palm Beach at 561-804-4900

2016

Friday, January 22, 6:30 p.m.
Monday, February 22, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 23, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 21, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, May 20, 7:30 p.m.

2017

Thursday, January 12, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, February 10 – 6:30 PM

Thursday, March 16 – 7:30 PM

Thursday April 13 – 7:30 PM

Thursday, May 11 – 7:30 PM

Sponsored by the City of West Palm Beach – Historic Preservation Program and the Parks and Recreation Division.

Look for more cemetery tours for Delray, Boynton Boca Raton & Lantana cemeteries coming soon!

Woodlawn Cemetery - Palm Beach's oldest gated community

Woodlawn Cemetery – Palm Beach’s oldest gated community

Moonlight Cemetery Tours of Woodlawn Cemetery conducted by  Boynton Beach Historical Society officers Janet DeVries and Ginger Pedersen, Palm Beach County historians and authors of “Pioneering Palm Beach: The Deweys and the South Florida Frontier,” and “The Collected Works of Byrd Spilman Dewey.”

Woodlawn Cemetery at dusk.

Woodlawn Cemetery at dusk.

These award-winning history tours are limited to 50 guests, and a $5.00 donation is appreciated and will be used to help restore this historic cemetery. The tour will cover some of the most prominent pioneer families who arrived in the area more than 100 years ago.

chillingworthAlong with a couple dozen other interesting pioneers, Charlie Pierce, Florida’s famous barefoot mailman and Boynton’s first postmaster is featured along with Anna and Albert Parker, Maj. Nathan S. Boynton’s daughter and son-in-law. Mr. Parker managed the Boynton Hotel.

 

Several of South Florida's barefoot mailmen. Charles "Charlie" Pierce on the right.

Several of South Florida’s barefoot mailmen. Charles “Charlie” Pierce on the right.

To make reservations, please call 561-804-4900 (Francene).

PLEASE BRING: A flashlight, bug repellent, water (there are no facilities on-site).

PLEASE WEAR: Closed-toed shoes such as sneakers.

LOCATION: 1500 South Dixie Highway, across from the Norton Gallery. Parking is available on-site inside cemetery gates.

ALL TOURS BEGIN AT 6:30 PM or 7:30 PM dependent upon daylight savings time. PLEASE ARRIVE AT LEAST 15 MINUTES EARLY FOR CHECK-IN.

Rain Policy: If heavy rain occurs on the night scheduled, the tour will be held the following evening. If it rains on the next night also, the tours is suspended for that month.

A Secret from the Past is Revealed

In the great adventure that has been the story of Byrd Spilman Dewey and husband Fred S. Dewey, who filed the plat for the Town of Boynton in 1898, a few mysteries remained, nagging for an answer. We had wonderful photographs of the grand house they built in West Palm Beach called Ben Trovato (meaning “well invented” in Italian), but we knew there was another Ben Trovato, and that home stood somewhere in Boynton.

Ben Trovato in West Palm Beach, 1896

Ben Trovato in West Palm Beach, 1896

We didn’t know where the house was, nor how it looked. Not one person living in Boynton today had any recollection of the house.
We had a few clues. When Judge Earl Hoover researched Mrs. Dewey in 1966, he had a letter from prominent Boyntonite Bertha Williams Chadwell, who had moved to Boynton in 1907 and was friends with the Deweys. Mrs. Chadwell wrote: “The Dewey home stood at the corner of Second Avenue [Boynton Beach Boulevard] and the Dixie Highway [Federal Highway]. It was a big two-story house facing east. It is no longer in existence. It stood where the Cities Service Station now stands. The house was destroyed by fire later when owned by a succeeding owner, about 1920.”

Bertha W. Chadwell

Bertha W. Chadwell

That was our only clue as to the house’s location and how it looked. We combed through old pictures of Boynton from books, pamphlets, historical society newsletters, and other archival collections, but none seemed to match the location and the description.
In July, a postcard with a lovely frame vernacular Boynton house owned by A.P. Lynch appeared on the eBay auction website.

A.P. Lynch House

A.P. Lynch House

We checked land records and noted that the Deweys had sold their seven-acre citrus grove to Mr. Lynch in 1912. The Lynch house was two-story, but located on the east side of Federal highway at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Federal. We saw the Lynch house noted on the well-known 1910 “Boomer” map of Boynton, and a portion of the house is visible on an old snapshot from Cindy Lyman Jamison.

Lynch house location

Lynch house location

In August we pulled all the lot sales records from the original Town of Boynton at the Palm Beach County Courthouse for careful inspection of the lot buyer’s names and lot locations. We found that in 1912, the Deweys sold lots 1 through 5 in Block 1 of the original Town of Boynton to Charles T. Harper, which according to Mrs. Chadwell, is where the Dewey house stood. This information would also coincide with the year Mr. Dewey reentered the Soldier’s hospital in Johnson City, Tennessee and the Deweys left Boynton. Harper and wife Cora Stickney Harper would have lived in the house until they moved to Fort Pierce in 1913 when Charles was transferred to the Florida East Coast Railway station as head agent. In 1923, Charles sold the five lots to the Austin family.

The 1924 Sanborn Fire Insurance map shows no structures on lots 1 and 2, where the house had stood. It could be that the house had burned down by the time the map was drawn. This supports Mrs. Chadwell’s report of the house burning down in about 1920. Without further evidence we were left with only the probable location, and no idea what the house was like, other than it was two-story.
Then something very strange happened. Last week I was searching through the old Florida East Coast Homeseeker magazine, which was a sales tool for selling off Henry Flagler’s vast land holdings he had gained from the state of Florida for building the railroad. Several copies of this publication are scanned online in the HathiTrust archive, and once in a while I like to scroll through the pages and clip old photographs of areas long since developed.

As I was looking through the Homeseeker late one evening, Janet DeVries texted me about the Dewey house – would we ever really know what it looked like – could it be the Lynch house after all? I answered back that I doubted we could ever know what it looked like. I continued to scroll through the Homeseeker issue, which featured the Everglades drainage project. Some interesting pictures of dredges and such, then a picture of a Delray house with a wooden cistern that looked like a scene from the 1960s television show Petticoat Junction.

Then I scrolled to the next page—and saw a rather imposing two-story house in the woods—and the words “Ben Travato” [sic] sprang out from the page…and Dewey…and Boynton. It was as if I was guided to that page, that one page among the millions of books scanned online and their billions of pages, the one page that had a picture of the Dewey house in Boynton, at the exact moment we wanted to solve that mystery.

Ben Trovato in Boynton, 1910

There it stood—in the wilderness of pine trees that was Boynton—the big two-story house, with a wonderful deck and unusual windows that is reminiscent of a Frank Lloyd Wright design. A shingled frame vernacular design with high ceilings and screened porches. There stood Fred and Byrd, she in her signature white dress with parasol, and Fred looking down from the deck with his familiar grey hat. The design was probably Byrd’s; from a 1936 letter: “I’ve built nearly a dozen cottages, and several big houses. My biggest ‘job’ is doing that sort of thing, as I’m my own architect, as well as landscaper, and it PAYS when we’ve needed nice sums in a hurry, and my husband was unable to work.”
The photograph is not sharp, having been scanned from the original lithographed magazine page. The photographer was listed as the “Florida Photographic Concern” and “Fort Pierce.” The company was based in Fort Pierce and run by Harry Hill, who was a bee-keeper and avid photographer. Many of his glass negatives have been preserved by the St. Lucie County Regional History Center; we contacted them to see if an original photograph exists in their archives. Hill did much photography for Flagler’s businesses, so he was probably hired to photograph the Dewey house.
I will leave the reader to draw conclusions as to how this happened as it did. A parable written by Mrs. Dewey, “Who Seeks Finds,” certainly fits what occurred in the rediscovery of the Dewey house in Boynton. The joy and triumph of finally seeing that wonderful home in Boynton still lingers. If spirits do return…

UPDATE 4/16/2016:

The newly updated Palm Beach Post archive at Newspapers.com revealed that the Dewey house burned May 16, 1916 in the early morning hours. No cause was given.

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Frozen in Time

Last week an envelope of late 1950s/early 1960s photographs arrived in our mailbox. The lovely 8″ by 10″ photographs were taken by popular lens man Stan Sheets. While Mr. Sheets took photographs for the Boynton Star, the Palm Beach Post and other local newspapers, he also captured street scenes of mid twentieth century Boynton Beach. His foresight to photograph everyday street scenes and share his images with friends and neighbors (in this case friend Charles Cassell), allows us to look back and see the charm of our town a half century ago.

Most of the photographs are not labeled, but careful scrutiny of the foreground, background, and other details give clues to the place and the date of the images, now frozen in time.

Photograph of Boynton Greyhound Lines Bus Station by Stan Sheets. Donated by Faith Cyr. Colorized by Ginger Pedersen.

Photograph of Boynton Greyhound Lines Bus Station by Stan Sheets. Donated by Faith Cyr. Colorized by Ginger Pedersen.

My favorite photograph is of the Greyhound Lines Bus Station. According to the 1959 Polk City Directory the bus station was located at 112 S. Federal Highway on the east side of Federal Highway about a block south of Ocean Avenue. What I find most amazing about this image is the details it captures.

Google Map of 112 S. Federal Highway today

Google Map of 112 S. Federal Highway today

Look closely, and you will see that not only did this structure serve as the bus terminal; it played an important role in communication and transportation, two vital components of our town’s infrastructure.

Note the two benches outside the station, for waiting for the bus. Imagine how many people rested there over the years, perhaps to leave for college in Tallahassee or visit relatives in the north.  Picture the moms and dads tearfully waving white handkerchiefs as the buses pulled away. The station had a Western Union Telegraph Office, where you could send a telegram announcing you had arrived. “ARRIVED IN BOYNTON SAFELY STOP MISS YOU ALREADY STOP LOVE PATSY”

1958 Chevrolet Impala

1958 Chevrolet Impala

The telephone number for the local taxicab (9694) is displayed outside the station, and I spy a telephone booth in the far left of the frame, behind the 1958 Chevy Impala.

Try peering into the open door.  Barely visible inside is an old Coca Cola machine. The 6 oz. bottles of Coke from the vending machine likely cost 10 cents by 1960. The empty bottles fetched a 2-cent return value. The bus station probably sold many of those 10-cent cokes in the summer, as the station had no air conditioning. The structure had jalousie windows and the door is open to let in a breath of air.

This home once belonged to the Joseph Kolendo family

This home once belonged to the Joseph Kolendo family

The house to the right of the frame once belonged to the Kolendo family. Joseph Kolendo, a building developer, was responsible for developing many of the single-family homes in Boynton in the 1950s.

Advertisement for Kolendo Construction Company from 1955 Palm Beach Post.

Advertisement for Kolendo Construction Company from 1955 Palm Beach Post.

 

 

The house has a huge television antenna. Those were the days before cable TV, satellite dishes, or WiFi. The television was likely a black and white console with only a few TV stations reached by dial, probably WTHS, channel 2,WJNO, channel 5, WEAT, channel 12, WIRK, channel 21.

1950s logo of WPTV News Channel 5 NBC affiliate

1950s logo of WPTV News Channel 5 NBC affiliate

What is curious about the photo is the roadside citrus stand. An old pickup truck with a makeshift stand is peddling grapefruit and oranges.

Roadside citrus stand

Roadside citrus stand

Behind the truck are several lean-to’s or storage sheds with an assortment of old junkyard type objects lying about.

Children's toys and other items piles atop the structures next to the bus station

Children’s toys and other items piles atop the structures next to the bus station

I spy a child’s old rusted tricycle on top of the haphazard pile. I guess the city didn’t have code enforcement in those days.

(Update: Wayne Kolendo tells us the small building with the tricyle, bike wheels and other items housed his bicycle repair/building shop. Kolendo was a mechanical entrepreneur during his high school years.).

While no gas pumps are visible, one can’t miss the iconic yellow and red Shell Oil Company sign with the 1955 emblem. Using modern day magic, the original photograph by Stan Sheets is again glowing brightly.

1955 Sign for Shell Oil Company

1955 Sign for Shell Oil Company

Next time you come across some old pictures, send them to us. You might see some of them featured here!

*If any readers know Mr. Sheets, please let him know we are interested in talking to him, and thanking him for capturing and preserving our history.

(8/21/14 update) We learned Stan Sheets left us in 2005. We are working with his family to honor him for his community support and for chronicling Boynton history.

We also found another photo of the bus station/Shell Station.

Jim Smith, owner of Smith's Shell Station in his truck. (Photo courtesy Wendy Smith Franklin)

Jim Smith, owner of Smith’s Shell Station in his truck. (Photo courtesy Wendy Smith Franklin)

Special thanks to:

  • Faith Cyr
  • Wendy Smith Franklin
  • Debra Kolendo
  • Ginger Pedersen
  • Stan Sheets
  • Historic Boynton Beach Facebook Fans

References for this story:

  • Car Gurus. http://www.cargurus.com/Cars/1958-Chevrolet-Impala-Pictures-c4308
  • Florida Television History. http://rogersimmons.com/florida-television-history/
  • GoogleMaps. https://www.google.com/#q=112+S+Federal+Hwy%2C+Boynton+Beach%2C+FL
  • Palm Beach Post
  • Polk City Directory
  • Shell Oil Company. http://www.shell.com/global/aboutshell/who-we-are/our-history/history-of-pecten.html
  • History of Coca Cola. http://www.worldofcoca-cola.com/coca-cola-facts/coca-cola-history/

 

The “Other” Boynton Beach

In my days working as archivist for the Boynton Beach City Library, every once in a while I’d get a phone call from an enthusiastic caller who thought they discovered a rare image of Boynton Beach. I adore finding new (old) images of Boynton Beach, so you can imagine my excitement as I anticipated this revealing, deeper glimpse into the faded history of our fair city.

A group of young people enjoying the time at the shore.

A group of young people enjoying the time at the shore.

Envision my disappointment, and theirs, when I scrutinized the photograph and determined it was not Boynton Beach, Florida.

How did I know the images were not Boynton Beach? Well, the trees weren’t right (we had pines and palms). The big Ferris Wheel and merry-go-round, while resplendent for their time, weren’t representative of our Boynton Beach.

Beach-goers flocked to the New Jersey shore in the summer-time.

Beach-goers flocked to the New Jersey shore in the summer-time.

The other Boynton Beach, in this case, was a New Jersey waterfront resort established by another Boynton, Cassimer Whitman Boynton, a native of Maine. It was located in Woodbridge Township near Perth Amboy.

 

 

There are many similarities and even more differences in Boynton Beach, New Jersey and Boynton Beach, Florida.

 

One of the amenities in Boynton Beach, New Jersey

One of the amenities in Boynton Beach, New Jersey

Similarities between Boynton Beach, New Jersey (also known as Sewaren) and the Boynton Beach Hotel in Florida.

 

 

 

 

  • Both places called Boynton Beach
  • Both established as resorts for wealthy northerners
  • Both on the waterfront
  • Both offered postcards as souvenirs to guests
  • Both had wooden hotels for guests to stay
  • Visitors arrived to both resorts via train or boat
  • Both had a bathing beach with a bathhouse
  • Both had a shooting range
  • Both offered fishing and boating excursions
  • Both began in the late 1800s
  • Both the resort in New Jersey and the Hotel Boynton in Florida closed by 1925

 

 

Pleasure boating.

Pleasure boating.

Differences between Boynton Beach, New Jersey (also known as Sewaren) and the Boynton Beach Hotel in Florida (established by Major Nathan Smith Boynton of Port Huron, Michigan).

 

 

 

This undivided back postcard shows the bathing beach and bathhouses.

This undivided back postcard shows the bathing beach and bath houses.

  • Started by different Boynton families (they were both descendants of Sir Matthew Boynton)
  • The Boynton Beach in New Jersey attracted visitors in the summer months
  • The Boynton Beach in Florida attracted visitors in the winter months
  • The Boynton Beach in New Jersey offered amusement rides, a Nickelodeon, photographic booths and pony rides.
  • The Boynton Beach in New Jersey had a hot dog stand and an ice cream stand
  • The Boynton Beach in Florida offered dining in the Boynton Beach Hotel dining room. Meals were included for $2.00 a day in 1898.
  • The Boynton Beach in New Jersey had a dance pavilion with live orchestra’s every Saturday in night in the summer.
  • The Boynton Beach in New Jersey had a pier.
The Ferris Wheel. Boynton Beach, New Jersey

The Ferris Wheel. Boynton Beach, New Jersey

 

Both of the resorts closed by 1925. The New Jersey property was sold to the Shell Oil Company. The Florida Boynton property was managed by A.E. Parker, Major Boynton’s son-in-law until 1925. The area is now known as Ocean Ridge.

 

The Dancing Pavillion. Boynton Beach, New Jersey

The Dancing Pavillion. Boynton Beach, New Jersey

 

The faded picture postcards of both Boynton Beach resorts are the remnants of this idyllic time in history.

Pre- 1907 postcard of Boynton Beach New Jersey.

Pre- 1907 postcard of Boynton Beach New Jersey.

More information about Boynton Beach in New Jersey may be found at the following websites:

 

 

 

Hatala, Greg. The Star Ledger. (2013)

http://www.nj.com/middlesex/index.ssf/2013/07/glimpse_of_history_cabanas_at_boynton_beach.html

History of Sewaren. http://mhswebtvprinting.tripod.com/wrcsewarenhistory.html.

ThatNJVideoGuy. Historical Boynton Beach. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpnS1jlVxG0.

http://www.nj.com/middlesex/index.ssf/2013/07/glimpse_of_history_cabanas_at_boynton_beach.html

Trueger, V. Sewaren’s History. (2011) Garden State Legacy. Issue 11. http://gardenstatelegacy.com/files/Sewarens_Heyday_Troeger_GSL11_PRINT.pdf.

 

 

History treasures in your house?

 

What treasures are in your house?

What treasures are in your house?

Do you have photo albums stored on the top shelf of your closet, buried deep in the attic or stowed some other place in your house?  What about that file box of old school awards and birthday cards or the shoebox full of postcards?

The items are probably mementos from your childhood, and likely illustrate people and places lost to time. Perhaps you inherited these items from a relative and you don’t know much about the people and places in the photographs.

House (just north of the Boynton Inlet) built in 1982 and torn down in 2000.

House (just north of the Boynton Inlet) built in 1982 and torn down in 2000.

Please do not throw them away.  Each scrap of paper, image, postcard, receipt and letterhead contains a link to the past. You never know how such information might reveal clues  to our history or provide valuable information to researchers and future generations.

Looking west from Manalapan to Hypoluxo Island. Circa 1912-1917.

Looking west from Manalapan to Hypoluxo Island. Circa 1912-1917.

Case in point: I recently came across a 100-year-old photo album on the Internet. The album contained hundreds of images of coastal Palm Beach County prior to development.  Following clues discovered in the old album, I researched and uncovered the locations of the images and learned about the earliest families to live in the area we call Manalapan; the tropical paradise just north of the Boynton Inlet.

Image of our beach, circa 1912-1917, discovered in a discarded photo album full of coastal Palm Beach County photographs.

Image of our beach, circa 1912-1917, discovered in a discarded photo album full of coastal Palm Beach County photographs.

To learn  more about my “paradise found” in the August issue of The Coastal Star newspaper- click here to read it.

Next time you think about those dusty old photo albums stashed somewhere in your house, consider adding to the historical record by chronicling your family history. If you can’t remember who the people are, or where the images were taken, the historical researchers at the Boynton Beach Historical Society (and our members) might be able to figure it out. We refer you to the appropriate local or national repository.

Manalapan, Florida. circa 1914.

Manalapan, Florida. circa 1914.

Remember, please don’t throw our history away!