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Delray incorporation meeting 100 years ago this week

Delray Beach will mark its centennial Oct. 9, the official incorporation date. Look for plenty of fun events next month.

A meeting “for the purpose of discussing the advisability of incorporating” occurred a century ago, Sept. 4, 1911. It was at the Ladies Improvement Association Hall in what then was the settlement of Linton.

A month later, on Oct. 9, 57 “qualified electors” voted almost unanimously — one ballot was tossed — to create the new municipality of “Delray,” west of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Maj. Nathan Smith Boynton, U.S. Congressman William Seelyn Linton and David Swinton had come from Michigan in 1895.

Boynton was a retired Civil War major and former mayor of Port Huron, Mich.; Linton, postmaster of Saginaw, Mich., and a congressman; and Swinton, a Saginaw bookstore owner.

In West Palm Beach, they heard of land for sale to the south. By 1895, Linton had brought down 10 settlers. After they were hit by a freeze and Linton defaulted on land payments, settlers decided Linton reminded them of struggle and chose a different namesake.

Delray was a neighborhood in Detroit that was itself named for the Mexican town of Del Rey, translated as “of the king.” At the October 1911 meeting, John S. Sundy (pictured above) was elected mayor with 53 votes. He served seven terms.

A construction superintendent for the Florida East Coast Railway, he had stepped off a southbound train in 1898. When Henry Flagler told him, “There’s nothing here,” he replied, “There will be.”

Also at the incorporation meeting was George H. Green (pictured above), one of 10 people nominated for five aldermen’s positions, coming in seventh. Notable about that was that Green was black, in Florida, where in the early 20th century, few blacks even were allowed to vote. In fact, 11 of Delray’s 57 electors were African-American.

In 1923, the town of Delray Beach, encompassing residents on the barrier island east of the Intracoastal, was incorporated. Four years later, on May 11, 1927, the two towns merged.

The Delray Beach centennial web page is delray100.com.

Read the minutes of Delray Beach’s incorporation meeting here.  


Miller and Son’s First Bicycle and Barber Shop in Delray, circa 1912. Left to right: two unknown customers, Albert L. Miller, Mary (Clutter) Miller and Albert F. Miller. The photo was taken near the location of the old Arcade Tap Room, now Gol! The Taste of Brazil on Atlantic Avenue. (Photo courtesy of Delray Beach Historical Society)

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg September 1, 2011 at 9:52 am.

1 comment

One Reply

  1. The bar at GOL! is 78 years old from the original tap room where people like Winston Churchill, Joe Kennedy, and Clint Moore held court. There is a brass plaque from the 1960′s honoring Winston Churchill above the bar until today.


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