Señor Boynton? Hotel owner had Hispanic roots

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, a recent discovery about Major Nathan S. Boynton, for whom the city of Boynton Beach was named, can be brought to light.

Recently I was helping a friend with some research on her family history, and I thought it might be interesting to see if I could find some more information on Major Boynton, who founded and owned the Boynton Hotel on the beach. I first found Major Boynton on the 1860 census, living near Cincinnati, Ohio. He was 23 and listed his profession as “Physician.” I had read he intended to study medicine after working in the grocery business (“mercantile”) for a few years. As the Civil War broke out, he returned to Michigan and enlisted in the cavalry. He rose in rank to Major, and mustered out in 1865, relocating to Marine City, Michigan. In the meantime, he married and started a family. On the 1870 census, he is listed as being an “editor” with wife Annie in the household along with children Charles, Annie, George and Frances.

Major Nathan S. Boynton (center, seated) and his family.

Major Nathan S. Boynton (center, seated) and his family.

He had purchased the local newspaper and served as editor. I did not find an 1880 census record for the family, and the 1890 census is pretty much gone, lost in a fire.

It was the 1900 census that presented some interesting information. Census forms changed over the years; one of the changes was the requirement to list the place of birth of the parents of each of the persons in the census. And in Major Boynton’s line on the census, place of birth for his mother was listed as Spain. I knew that Major Boynton’s wife was from Germany, but I had never heard his mother was born in Spain. A bit of looking found a biography of Major Boynton and it listed his mother as Frances Rendt Boynton, daughter of “Old Captain Lewis Rendt.” In looking at Captain Rendt, his actual name was Johann Ludwig Rendt, and he was born in 1773 in Germany. He was a Hessian soldier who had served in the British army. The British would “lease” entire battalions of Hessian soldiers to join their side in various conflicts; Captain Rendt had fought for the British in the war of 1812 against the United States. As part of his payment, he was granted land in the province of Ontario, very near the Michigan border. He married Joaquina Josephina Sophia Arliano from Cadiz, Spain and together they had eight children, born in Spain, Malta, and Canada. Among them was Frances Margaret Rendt, Major Boynton’s mother. She married Granville F. Boynton in Port Huron, Michigan. Granville died in 1845, and Frances remarried, to a Jonathan Graves. They had two sons together, who were half brothers to Major Boynton.

In today’s terms, that would make Major Boynton “Hispanic,” although such a categorization was unknown at the time. Major Boynton’s father was of English heritage, so Major Boynton certainly illustrates the melting pot of America as people of all lands sought its shores. You just never know what the census may reveal.

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.

No hurly-burly in Boynton!

As I was watching television this morning, a reporter was describing the village of Bucklebury, where the royal baby is, as being away from the “hurly-burly” of London. To my mind immediately came an old advertisement for the Boynton Hotel, which said that the Boynton Hotel was “away from the hurly-burly of large, fashionable hotels.”

Boynton Hotel ad from 1899

Boynton Hotel ad from 1899

So who could have written the ad with the somewhat British expression? It very well could have been Albert Edward Parker, who managed the hotel for many years. He was Major Nathan S. Boynton’s son-in-law, married to his daughter Anna. The only known picture of them was taken at the Boynton Woman’s Club dedication in 1932. Parker was a native of England, born in 1873 who emigrated to America in 1886.

A.E. Parker also has a special spot in Palm Beach County’s history as the first naturalized citizen, sworn in on the day that Palm Beach County became official, July 1, 1909. Parker managed the hotel until the early 1920s, and also had the first dairy in Boynton, the Bertana farm, which was a combination of his first name and Anna’s. He went by the name “Bert” among his friends.

Albert and Anna Parker, 1932

Albert and Anna Parker, 1932

He went on to become West Palm Beach’s city manager, and eventually sold real estate in Palm Beach. He built a beautiful Mediterranean-revival house on Flagler Drive (recently renovated). Albert passed away in 1935; he and Anna are interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in West Palm Beach.

Parker Gravesite

Parker Gravesite

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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