This is the fourth and last column on A.F. Gonzalez’ memoir of his 1893 journey, with three others (William G. Rew, L. C. Stewart and Joe Henley), across the wilderness of South Florida from Fort Myers to Palm Beach. They’d expected the trip to take four days. It took 15.
“We never saw a bird of any kind, no deer, no turkeys, no sign of life at all from the day we left (Lake) Okeechobee until we reached Alapatta Flat near Jupiter Florida,” he wrote.
The 19-year-0ld Gonzalez got work on a dredge, splicing rope, from Oct. 1 to April 1, at $40 a month.
(Debi Murray, archivist at the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, said that would have been the project to straighten “Lake Worth Creek,” a waterway at the north end of the Lake Worth lagoon.)
Later, Gonzalez, miffed when the captain hadn’t paid him, went to the sheriff, who “told the captain not to lift the dipper out of the water till you pay this boy.” The captain said he’d been waiting on his paymaster but agreed to square with Gonzalez out of his own pocket.
Gonzalez took a steamer up the Indian River to Titusville, then a train to Lakeland and another to Punta Gorda, where he got a boat ride to Fort Myers, and home.
“This,” he wrote decades later as an old man, “ended a trip I never want to make again.”
Note: As we’ve been recounting A.F. Gonzalez’ adventure over the past four weeks, we’ve been making use of some drawings provided by the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
The illustrations were done by George W. Potter, a surveyor, illustrator, and original homesteader. Potter came to Florida in 1873 from Cincinnati and settled in Palm Beach in 1881. An original partner in Lain-hart & Potter Building Supplies, he served a year as mayor in 1909. He died in 1924.
In 2009, his great-grandson, David Willson, donated the entire Potter art collection to the historical society.
The illustration shown with today’s column, Debi Murray says, was improperly called Boat in Empty Canal. It actually is the cut-through workers created to cross from the Lake Worth lagoon into the Lake Worth Creek at the north end of the lagoon. “Gonzalez,” she wrote, “would have been working the dredge that was working to create a straight line of the Lake Worth Creek.”
A.F. Gonzalez, who walked across the Florida Everglades with three others in 1893 (Photo courtesy of the Gonzalez family)
A.F. Gonzalez (back row, right) and his siblings (Photo courtesy of the Gonzalez family)
George W. Potter came to Florida in 1873 from Cincinnati and settled in Palm Beach in 1881. An original partner in Lainhart & Potter Building Supplies, he served a year as mayor in 1909. (George W. Potter Collection, Historical Society of Palm Beach County)
Potter’s sketchbooks feature a study of the cut-through to Lake Worth lagoon. (George W. Potter Collection, Historical Society of Palm Beach County)
Tags: historical society, photos, pioneers
Second grade at South Grade Elementary School in Lake Worth, 1962-1963 (Palm Beach Post file photo)
Second grade at South Grade Elementary School in Lake Worth, 1966-1967 (Palm Beach Post file photo)
Palm Beach Public School in 1975 (Palm Beach Daily News staff file photo)
There’s no date on this photo of the new senior lounge at Twin Lakes High School, but it looks like late 1970s, early ’80s. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Lunch with Snoopy at Palm Beach Public School in 1980 (Palm Beach Daily News staff file photo)
Students walking along Georgia Avenue to Belvedere Elementary School in 1984 (Palm Beach Evening Times staff file photo)
Tags: photos, school
Lolly on the front page of the July 17, 1979 Palm Beach Post.
Lolly the Trolley made her Lake Worth debut in the summer of 1979.
A 1986 feature in The Palm Beach Post lauded Lolly as “Lake Worth’s friendly transportation system.” (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Lolly wasn’t the only trolley in south Florida. Stuart introduced a trolley named Molly in 1980. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Molly Co. representatives show off trolley in Stuart. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
The Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce hired this trolley to drive shoppers around town in December 1978 “in an effort to keep local money in local cash registers during the holidays.” (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Tags: buses, photos
July 31, 1968: A group of railway fans from Ft. Lauderdale are shown in the parlor car of the last Florida East Coast Railway passenger train to Jacksonville without even a soft drink to toast the last run over rails that used to carry 12 trains each way daily. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Tags: photos, trains, transportation
The West Palm Beach Trailways station, May 12, 1967 (Palm Beach Post-Times staff photo)
Lake Worth Greyhound Bus Depot, June 15, 1966. The depot was at 20 S. East Coast Ave. according to the 1967 city directory. (Palm Beach Times staff photo)
July 26, 1971: This orange and white jitney-bus took its first busload of official passengers from Lake Worth City Hall this morning for an initial ride before heading out on routes which cover Dixie and Federal highways at 15 minute intervals and the Lake Worth Casino every 30 minutes. From left are Commissioner Max Kleinlein, Mayor F. Kenneth Bradley and Karen Sutherland, Miss Palm Beach County. (Palm Beach Times staff photo)
Oct. 5, 1973: This is “Electrobus,” a batter-powered, short-haul, public transportation vehicle that is pollution-free and travels up to 50 miles before recharge. It will be on display Monday and Tuesday at the Palm Beach Mall and Wednesday at Boca Raton City Hall. The bus in under consideration for use in Palm Beach County. (Palm Beach Post file photo)
Jan. 17, 1975: A little bit of the British Isles arrived in the Palm Beaches when a 1956 Leyland Omnibus was delivered to the Worth Avenue National Bank. Robert Thomas, an employee of Omnibus Promotions, Ltd., drove the vehicle to Palm Beach from Norfolk, Va., after its sea voyage from England. The company has sold 50 of the buses in the U.S. during the past year. (Palm Beach Daily News staff photo)
A Jan. 30, 1975 Palm Beach Daily News story about the bus said “Nude sunbathing may be on its way out, now that passengers sitting in the upper deck of Worth Avenue National Bank’s omnibus are getting a rare glimpse over the walls of Palm Beach estates.”
“Riding the bus when it makes a U-turn in front of Palm Beach Towers is an experience. The turn requires two back-ups, two forwards, and the assistance of (bus hostess) Dorothy and a parking attendant.” (Palm Beach Post staff photo)
Palm Beach Post staff photo
Tags: buses, Lake Worth, Palm Beach, photos, transportation, West Palm Beach