Lake Worth Pioneers' Association, Inc.

 


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John Yeend

1109 S. Congress Ave.
West Palm Beach, FL 33406

Phone: 561-642-4200

E-mail: info@lwpa.org


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Guy Irwin Metcalf

Guy Irwin Metcalf was the son of William Irwin Metcalf, an attorney and judge. He was born at Niles, Ohio, in 1866. As a child, Guy was in poor health. His parents brought him to Florida on a stretcher. The climate and outdoor activities restored him to good health. In June 1893, he married Edith Augusta Lacey, also from Niles, who had also come to Florida for her health. She was a talented violinist. She and Guy settled in Juno and had two children, Paul and Lacey William.

One of the first newspapers of southeast Florida was The Indian River News in Melbourne, founded 21 February 1887, of which Metcalf was the owner and editor. He moved to Juno 18 March 1891 and changed the name to Jh Tropical Sun. Juno was the county seat of Dade County at that time. Dade County reached from the St. Lucie River to the Upper Keys. Ih Tropical Sun was the only newspaper in Dade County. The office was in Juno. In June 1892, S. Bobo Dean became assistant editor (later editor of Palm Beach Post and Times). Guy decided to diversify and set up the Tropical Real Estate Exchange.

Before the coming of the Florida East Coast Railroad, travel was a problem. Dade was the largest county in the state. Wheeled vehicles were being used, making roads necessary. Guy’s next endeavor was to build a road. For a rock road from Lantana to Lemon City (now North Miami) Guy bid $24.50 a mile and was awarded the job. To construct an eight-foot wide road, trees, stumps, palmettos and rocks had to be cleared away. The bridges were built by Peter W. Merritt. New River at Fort Lauderdale was crossed via ferry. The road was completed in December 1892.

Guy’s next project was establishing a stage line which he named Biscayne Bay Stage Line. He used two hacks (wagons pulled by mules), and set up a half-way camp at Fort Lauderdale, run by Frank Stranahan of Melbourne. The hack from Lantana made the trip to the camp in fourteen hours, while the Lemon City hack arrived in about seven. Here they exchanged mail and passengers and returned to their starting place the next day. The people thought it was a great improvement over walking on the beach. Guy also constructed a road from Juno to Mangonia.

With the coming of Flagler’s railroad in 1895, Guy moved his newspaper and family to West Palm Beach. Equipment was loaded onto a barge, and his shop was set up on the north side of Clematis, two blocks from the lake. His was no longer the only newspaper. One year before, C.M. Gardner started the Gazeteer and a fierce rivalry sprang up between the two editors. It is said that at one time they met in combat. “Gardner, toting a pistol, was felled by Metcalf, armed with a printer’s mallet.” (DuBois, p.8) The Gazeteer burned in the Big Fire of February 1896, and Gardner sold it to the Dean Brothers, who later turned it into Palm Beach Daily News. On 4 April 1902, Metcalf sold his paper to the Model Land Company, owned by Flagler, who hired Harlan W. Brush to run it.

Guy Metcalf played a major part in the development of South Florida. He served as postmaster of West Palm Beach from 1913 to 1915 and was superintendent of county schools when he died 7 February 1918. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach.

 

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