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How Hillsboro Became Belle Glade, Version Two

Q: How did Belle Glade get its name?

A: Actually, it’s become quite an issue.

The town, settled in 1917 along Lake Okeechobee at the Hillsboro Canal and a central location for smaller settlements along Lake Okeechobee, was originally called Hillsboro. The story behind its name has always been that a blackboard was set up in the town’s only hotel, and guests and residents were invited to suggest a new town name, with the winner being a derivation of “Belle of the Glades.”

But Frank Stallings, now 93 and living in Central Florida in the Lake County town of Tavares, recently offered a different version.

Stallings’ family was the fourth to move to the settlement now known as Belle Glade. It got its post office in 1917 and was incorporated April 9, 1928, five months before the great Okeechobee hurricane.

Stallings says various businessmen who had helped found the town gathered every week or two to discuss farming and other topics and at one meeting, in the fall of 1921, the issue of the town’s name came up for consideration. Warren Badger, the postmaster, suggested Badger. Walter Greer, on tap to be mayor, suggested Greer. Both were voted down.

Then up stood a Captain Stone, skipper of the boat that for six years was the settlement’s only link to civilization, plying the New River Canal to Fort Lauderdale. He suggested the town be named for his boat, the Glade Bell. Stallings, who would have been a teenager at the time, says he was at that meeting and made a suggestion.

“I said, ‘Captain Stone: Why don’t you turn it around and call it Belle Glade?’ It was almost unanimous,” Stallings said recently.

Records show a post office was established on March 31, 1917, at Torry Island, and was replaced by the Belle Glade office on March 29, 1921, which is earlier than the fall of 1921 but pretty close.

Joseph Orsinego, a leading Glades historian and member of the Belle Glade Museum Board, said in an Oct. 16 note that “the hotel/blackboard scenario is ahead 2 to 1,” but promised to alert us if new material surfaces. Readers?

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg November 21, 2001 at 12:36 pm.

1 comment

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  1. I Love the mack


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