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George H.K. Charters

The first resident in what is now Manalapan was George H.K. Charters, a young man from Vermont, who homesteaded on the beach ridge from the south end of the lake to the north end of the lagoon - two and one-quarter miles. He called it his shoestring farm as he said he could stand on the ridge and, with a twist of his body, throw coconuts into the lake or the ocean.

A Dade County Deed Book states: George Charters from U.S. Receiver, July 23, 1887, all of fractional Section 11 and other lands $3.20 (Township 45, Range 43). This is just one of several entries. Accounts and records indicate that he was here before 1882.

One of the first things George did was to plant a grove of coconut trees about half a mile north of the haulover (now the South Lake Worth Inlet). He built a sturdy dwelling from shipwrecked materials near the grove, which he called “Buzzard’s Roost.” Even today when the up- drafts are just right, many buzzards are seen soaring over the treetops as you drive along the Ocean Boulevard in that area.

George was young and strong. Stories about him relate that he never wore shoes and that he could carry a hundred pound sack of supplies under each arm. Frank Lyman remembers hearing that George was strong enough to pick up a two- hundred pound sack of rock salt from the bottom of a glades boat (Indian dugout) and wade waist deep to place the salt on the dry ground. The salt was used to season ‘gator hides. Back then killing alligators was not illegal.

Another story is that one time George came to the M.B. Lyman General Store in Lantana. Speaking in barely a whisper, he let it be known that he had pneumonia in one lung. Then, beating on the other side of his chest, he ROARED, “But this one is alright.” Other stories tell of his habit of shouting.

George was the mail contractor at the time of the Barefoot Route. He hired the carriers and provided substitutes when necessary. The Barefoot route was really a Star route, like a rural route, which stretched from the lake of Lake Worth to Biscayne Bay. It was he who hired Ed Hamilton, the “barefoot mailman” who disappeared in Hittsborongh Intet and was presumed drowned, killed by alligators or, according to Charters, eaten by sharks.

About 1891 he sold his beach ridge property for $7,500 and bought 40 acres to the south in what was later known as the townsite of Boynton. He paid $1.25 an acre. Two months Inter, he sold it to Pred S. Dewey for $10.00 an acre.

The Tronical Snn, Pebeuaey d, 1892, vol., No.50, reports in “The Palm Beach Breeres” column:

Mr. Peed S. Dewey had purchased the only remaining piece of property belonging to George Charters near Hypotuxo. Now Me. Charters says he is ready to start foe Jamaica. Prom other reports we know that George changed his destination and headed for his home in Bratdeborongh, Vermont, to be married. When he reached Jacksonville, however, he became ill with brain fever and died there.

George had a brother, Charlie, who lived on the beach ridge for same years. Charlie raised hogs foe a living, fattening them on coconuts. Later Charlie moved to Boynton where he made his home on the canal bank.

Note: Some sources say Charter; others say Charters.


 

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