Boynton’s Earliest Churches

Before Palm Beach County existed, most of southeast Florida was Dade County. Before the pioneers founded religious institutions, the community relied on the occasional traveling missionary for church services. Congregants gathered in homes and in shady

Bethesda-By-The-Sea Church - Palm Beach (Courtesy Florida Memory)

Bethesda-By-The-Sea Church – Palm Beach (Courtesy Florida Memory)

arbors, reading the Bible and singing hymns. As more settlers arrived, the families raised money, gathered materials, and built small local churches. Weather and fire destroyed most of the early church buildings, though one pioneer church built in 1894, the second Bethesda-By-The-Sea Episcopal church, still stands in Palm Beach.

In 1930-1940, the WPA (Works Progress Administration) surveyed churches throughout the state to chronicle the history and inventory the church archives. The WPA reported the Town of Boynton had seven organized congregations with church buildings, though few buildings were the original structures.

According to WPA records, Saint Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church (1900) is the oldest. The records designate Saint John Baptist (1909) as the second oldest, yet a comprehensive history of the Boynton Methodist Episcopal Church, South published in 2006 (First United Methodist Church of Boynton Beach, Florida: A Centennial Celebration: A History of the First 100 Years 1905-2005) is contrary to the WPA date of 1915 and supports the claim the Boynton Methodist formed in 1905.

Original WPA Notes scanned into Florida Memory

Original WPA Notes scanned into Florida Memory

Other early Boynton churches

Saint John Baptist Church 1909

Saint Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church 1923

Community Church 1926

Church of God 1936

New Mount Zion Church 1939

Methodist Church, 1930s

Methodist Church, 1930s

In the 1976 film, The History of Boynton Beach, one of the scenes shows scores of men, women and children exiting a church. As the church-bell chimes, people scurry across Seacrest Boulevard and gather in small groups to chat. The women wear lovely skirts and wear heels, with their heads covered by colorful hats. Nearly every gentleman wears a tie, and most are carrying a suit coat or sport jacket over his arm. Though today many church-goers don’t dress up as much, this idyllic scene is still repeated across Boynton Beach on Sunday mornings.

Today Boynton Beach and nearby unincorporated areas of Palm Beach County are home to nearly 600 religious institutions. The Boynton Beach Historical Society would like to add to its knowledge base and archive with information including primary documents and photographs of each church. To contribute to the history, please email us at boyntonhistory@gmail.com.

Boynton’s Egg Circle

You can purchase farm fresh eggs in western Boynton Beach. Heritage Hen Farms (hidden behind the Publix Supermarket on Haverhill Road, west of Military Trail and south of Le Chalet Blvd) offers freshly laid chicken eggs, honey and goat milk.

Heritage Hen Farm

Heritage Hen Farm

During the 1920s, 30s and 40s, the farm was the site of Oscar Winchester’s “Flatwoods” pineapple plantation. Mr. Winchester was widely known as the “Pineapple King.”

http://www.heritagehen.com

If you have enough money, you can buy a mini-hen farm from the 2012 Neiman Marcus Fantasy Christmas Catalog for “just a drop in the bucket” – $100,000.

Neiman Marcus 2012 Fantasy Christmas Catalog Mini-Hen Farm

Neiman Marcus 2012 Fantasy Christmas Catalog Mini-Hen Farm

There’s one catch; cultivation of chickens and other farm animals are prohibited within the Boynton Beach city limits.

Not to ruffle any feathers, but that wasn’t always the case. Boynton once boasted a very successful Egg Circle.

In 1921, shortly after the town’s incorporation, a flock of Boynton Women organized a co-op for cultivating and marketing home-grown eggs.

Lake Worth Herald, Dec. 1 1921

Lake Worth Herald, Dec. 1 1921

Led by president Mrs. I.R. Funk, and Manager, Mrs. H.P. Smith, seven Boynton entrepreneurs went into business.

The Egg Circle presented an educational exhibit and promoted their egg circle production at the annual Palm Beach County Fair. (Note: George Graham Currie founded the Palm Beach County Fair in 1912)

Nearly 650 dozen eggs sold during the winter season. Because they didn’t put all their eggs in one basket, the women were able to sock away a nice little nest egg.

An Old-Fashioned Celebration

Early residents of Boynton and Delray celebrated Independence Day in ways very similar to the way we celebrate today. Leisure activities such as picnics, parades and swimming topped the list of events.

Parades have long been a big source of entertainment. In 1914, Delray and Boynton teamed up to hold a big 4th of July celebration. Decorated floats like this one paying homage to the principal crop, the tomato, paraded down the street.

Image courtesy State Archives of Florida/Florida Memory 31747

Image courtesy State Archives of Florida/Florida Memory 31747

The Boynton Inlet and the Boynton Casino were popular places for celebrating Independence Day. Games and contests were held along with a friendly game of baseball.  Each family packed a picnic basket with homemade treats like fried chicken, coconut cake and fresh pineapple.

Families would walk from town over the bridge carrying covered dishes and the baskets full of goodies. Children played in sand and surf and danced in the waves.

Image courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County archive.

Image courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County archive.

Watermelon was and still is a popular menu item with people of all ages. Here a group of Boyntonites feast on homegrown watermelon. The expressions on their faces reflect the merriment of the holiday.

Happy Independence Day from the Boynton Beach Historical Society!

 

 

 

The Boynton Hotel’s Magical Water

When I was collecting information on Major Nathan S. Boynton’s hotel on the beach, I found many old ads  for the hotel in The Tropical Sun and the Miami Metropolis, the area’s first newspapers. One of the peculiar findings was the hotel’s seemingly “magical” water for curing all sort of ailments. The ad states that the water is “unsurpassed,” a “certain cure for all kidney troubles.” It was even analyzed by a state chemist! Of course having healthful water with curative properties was a ploy used by many hotels of the time, especially in Europe.  A.E. Parker, the hotel’s manager, was originally from England and may have gotten the idea from growing up across the pond.  Maybe Boynton Beach should be bottling its special water.

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