Early Boynton Beach Leaders: Horace B. Murray

Horace Bentley Murray


Bailey, Michigan native Horace Bentley Murray, his wife Mary Smith, and their three children, Florence, Clyde and Glenn travelled by train, steamboat and launch to a tiny Florida seaside settlement known as “Boynton,” arriving in January, 1896.

Murray, known as H.B. or simply “Hort” by family and friends, came to Florida as the head carpenter for Michigan politician Major Nathan Smith Boynton’s winter home. The spacious home, located on the rocky coastal ridge. overlooked the turquoise blue Atlantic Ocean.

Henry M. Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway, Boynton station


Nathan Boynton’s winter home – later the Hotel Boynton

While Murray and other laborers constructed the two-story wooden structure, the Murray family lived in a canvas tent on the west side of the canal (known today at the inland or Intracoastal Waterway).

Murray Family outside a Palmetto Thatched structure on their Boynton farm

Murray, like many early settlers, took advantage of Florida’s sunny clime and virgin soil and grew tomatoes (TOMS) and other winter vegetables while helping the fledgling settlement grow. He built homes for many of Boynton’s early settlers, including Fred S. and Byrd Spilman Dewey, who had purchased the Boynton garden lands in 1892 and filed the original plat for the Town of Boynton in September 1898, the same year Maj. Boynton opened his oceanfront home as a winter retreat for northern visitors.

Wooden swing bridge over the inland canal built by H.B. Murray, 1911

Murray raised ten children in Boynton, and fathered the town, designing bridges, constructing buildings, and steering the settlement toward incorporation. Though he didn’t serve as Boynton’s inaugural mayor (that honor belongs to George E. Coon), H.B. Murray has the distinction of winning the first election following the town’s successful incorporation in June, 1920.

Horace B. Murray Family

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.”

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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.