Black history month
This Week in History
West Palm Beach
World War II
Recently, a feature in the local section of the Post profiled Everee Jamison Clark, the unofficial historian of Pleasant City.
The area – the city’s oldest historically black neighborhood – has suffered from poverty and crime, even as its longtime residents fight to preserve its legacy and character.
But how did the city’s streets get those unusual names? Happy Street? Contentment Street?
Pleasant City was established in 1905 and platted in 1908.
A 1913 ad in The Tropical Sun advertised its remaining lots for sale by Currie Investment and Title Guaranty Company, saying, “this is a high-class colored subdivision north of town. Four hundred lots have already been sold, and we have about 75 more yet for sale from $150.00 up.”
George Graham Currie, West Palm Beach mayor from 1901 to 1902, chose “pleasant” names for the streets: Beautiful, Comfort, Merry, Cheerful, Contentment — even an Easy Street. Most of the colorful street names are gone now, replaced by numbers.
Present day Pleasant City is bordered on the north by 23 Street, on the south by 15th Street, on the east by Dixie Highway, and on the west by the FEC railroad tracks.
The history of the streets is linked tangentially to Pleasant City’s predecessor, the region’s first black neighborhood: the Styx.
The shantytown sprang up on Palm Beach’s County Road, north of the Royal Poinciana Hotel, in the 1890s for the more than 2,000 black workers at nearby hotels.
The legend of the Styx’ demise is, of course, one of the region’s most enduring myths. It’s been passed down by oral tradition and is accepted as gospel by many. But the evidence all but dismisses it.
The story is that Henry Flagler was eager to oust the residents so he could develop the land. He had it condemned on health grounds, then hired a circus to set up across the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach, gave black residents free passes, and while they enjoyed the show, burned their homes down. Another version places the incident on Guy Fawkes Day, Nov. 5, 1906.
According to an article in the Tropical Sun, featured on a web page of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, all property owners served the residents of the Styx notices – mostly 30 days – to remove both their shanties and themselves. In 1910, pioneer developer T.T. Reese convinced his employers to buy the land. By then, the residents had been gone for some four years, relocating to the West Palm Beach side. The last residents of the Styx were asked to leave around 1912.
West Palm Beach’s Pleasant City neighborhood originally bore colorful street names. Only three remain: Beautiful, Cheerful and Merry.
Tags: place names
Nathaniel J. Adams Park at 568 15th Street in West Palm Beach was named for the man who formed West Palm’s first Boy Scout troop for blacks. He died at age 73 in January 1982. The park was named in 1983.
When Nathaniel J. Adams went to an awards program of the Exchange Club of South West Palm Beach in April 1976, he expected to see his daughter presented with an award. Instead, Adams himself was given the group’s Book of Golden Deeds award for community service. A resident of West Palm Beach, Adams served 30 years with the Gulfstream Council for the boy Scouts and had been active in several other charitable and civic groups. (Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
Click on the images above to view larger versions.
Tags: African Americans, parks, place names, West Palm Beach
We’re wrapping up our 13th year of Post Time.
Our first column was in Jan, 19, 2000, and this is number 676!
We couldn’t do it without your great inquiries. Keep ‘em coming!
In honor of our anniversary, let’s revisit one of our earliest columns, in February 2000.
Q: Who is Santaluces High School, west of Lantana, named for?
A: “Santaluces” is a name given to a local Indian group by Europeans that probably was a corruption of Santa Lucia, the same person for whom St. Lucie County is named.
Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Aviles established the Santa Lucia settlement, at a spot identified as either St. Lucie Inlet or Jupiter Inlet, on Dec. 13, 1565, the feast day of Santa Lucia.
According to legend, she was born in the fourth century in Sicily of noble parents, made a vow of virginity, and was executed as a Christian after she was turned in by a spurned suitor. Fort Santa Lucia was abandoned by March 1566.
Other name origins that most either presume to be Seminole or haven’t a clue about:
Calusa/Caloosa (neighborhood, school, park): The Calusa, who lived mostly in southwest Florida, predated the Seminoles by centuries.
Manalapan: Actually named for a town in New Jersey.
Tequesta: Another group that predated the Seminoles, they lived along the southeast coast, mostly in the Miami area
Yamato: Named for a short-lived Japanese colony that operated in the Boca Raton-Delray Beach area in the early 20th century.
And some that really are Seminole:
Okeechobee: big water
Hypoluxo (island, town, road): Water all around, can’t get out (original name of Lake Worth, which was once a closed-in freshwater lake.)
Okeeheelee (park, middle school): good water
Cholee (Cholee Park, Cholee Lake Elementary): pine tree
Loxahatchee (wildlife refuge, river, neighborhood): turtle river
Pahokee: grassy waters
Have I missed some?
Happy New Year!
Tags: place names
Last week we listed the people honored in 2000 when the state instituted the Great Floridians 2000 program of markers, which still are scattered across our region. Here’s a list by town, with location, for the Treasure Coast, as well as additional honorees.
Joseph Verner Reed and Permelia Pryor Reed: conservationists. (Town Hall, 103 Bunker Hill Road)
R.R. Ricou: fishing business owner and civic leader. (Ricou Building, 1899 N.E. Jensen Beach Blvd.)
Morris Raiford Johns: pineapple grower, deputy sheriff. (County Cultural Arts Center, East Ocean Bouklevard)
Walter Kitching: banker, justice of the peace, philanthropist. (Former home, 210 Atlanta Ave.)
George W. Parks: businessman, bank founder, councilman, mayor. (Stuart Feed Store, 161 S.W. Flagler Ave.)
James R. Pomeroy: educator, county politician, postmaster, businessman. (County Cultural Arts Center, East Ocean Boulevard)
Albert E. “Bean” Backus: self-taught painter. (Backus Gallery and Museum, 50 N. Indian River Drive)
Dr. Clem C. Benton: founder, Fort Pierce Memorial Hospital. (Benton Building, 337 N. U.S. 1)
Zora Neale Hurston: writer and folklorist. (Hurston Home, 1734 Avenue L)
Daniel T. McCarty: Florida’s 31st Governor (1952-1953) and the first from “South Florida.” (McCarty Middle School, 1201 Mississippi Ave.)
Peter Raulerson: postmaster, mayor, county commissioner and school trustee. (City Hall, 55 S.E. Third Ave.)
The state later named additional Great Floridians, some already in the list above. Here are the rest of local honorees, along with date of designation:
Capt. David McCampbell, Lake Worth (2010). The U.S. Navy’s all-time leading ace, and Medal of Honor recipient, died in 1996; the terminal at Palm Beach International Airport is named for him.
Marshall E. “Doc” Rinker Sr., West Palm Beach (2011) founder of Rinker Materials, the largest producer of ready-mix concrete and block in Florida; he became a generous contributor to cultural and educational institutions. He died in 1996.
Tags: people, place names
A dozen years ago, as a new century began, the state instituted the Great Floridians 2000 program of markers, which still are scattered across our region.
Here’s a list by town, with location, for Palm Beach County.
Thomas Farrar Fleming Jr.: bank founder, instrumental in establishment of Florida Atlantic University. (Boca Raton City Hall. 201 W. Palmetto Park Road)
Charles W. Pierce: barefoot mailman, author of Pioneer Life in South Florida, the seminal memoir of the region pre-Flagler. (Old post office site, 523 E. Ocean Ave.)
Bernard Preston Thomas (above): artist and painter of Western scenes. (Boynton Beach Woman’s Club, 1919 S. Federal Highway).
Calhoun Yancey “C.Y.” Byrd: lawyer, city councilman, city attorney, county commissioner. (City Attorney’s Office, 200 N.W. First Ave.)
Dr. John Robert Cason Jr.: minister, founder of Methodist Children’s Home, school board member, municipal court judge. (Cason Cottage, 5 N.E. First St.)
Marshall DeWitt: farmer , agricultural leader, city councilman, mayor, Delray Beach Historical Society founder. (City Hall, 100 N.W. First Ave.)
Barbara Dodge Smith: Chamber of Commerce president, city commissioner, preswident of Delray Beach Community Child Care Center. (City Hall, 100 N.W. First Ave.)
Solomon David Spady, above: teacher and principal for 34 years. (Spady House, 170 N.W. Fifth Ave.)
Bessie Wilson DuBois: pioneer and historian. (DuBois Park, Jupiter Inlet)
Henry Morrison Flagler (above): “The Godfather of Florida” (Flagler Museum, Whitehall)
West Palm Beach
Edward R. Bradley, above: philanthropist, owner of iconic Palm Beach casino. (E.R. Bradley’s, 104 Clematis St.)
Dr. Joseph Wiley Jenkins, above: pharmacist. (Historic Jenkins House, 815 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd.)
Marvin U. Mounts, above: agricultural leader. (Mounts Botanical Garden, 531 N. Military Trail)
Dr. Thomas Rudolph Vickers, above: A black health care provider. (Vickers House community resource center, 811 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd.)
Tags: people, place names