This Week in History: July 25, 1923 Highlander

Overcrowded Schools, Roaming Cattle Among Problems

Series: This Week in History | Story 4

Last updated 7/30/2023 at 10:45pm

Courtesy Lake Wales Public Library archives

The issue of overcrowded schools was raised as the town completed the build-out of the 1919 school building to create three more classrooms. The same building, located at Seminole Avenue and Third Street, is being remodeled again today to accomodate students from Bok Academy North.A referendum on whether Polk County should end the free range use and put up fences to keep cattle under control was a hot topic in Lake Wales in 1923. The effort was predicted to cost the "staggering" sum of $40,000 for 114 miles of fences. Cattle had become a too-often-fatal problem as automobiles began to run at higher speeds on better roads.

The Lake Wales Highlander of 100 years ago reveals much about the history of our community, including overcrowded schools and the divisive debate over free-range versus fences. A referendum would soon decide whether to end free-range cattle that often wandered onto roads. The build-out of the 1919 school building was underway, but The Highlander pointed out that some 100 minority students still had no facility.

Each week the Lake Wales News will publish a front-page image of the former Lake Wales Highlander from 100 years earlier, tracking the growth of the community a century ago, when Florida was in the midst of a great land price boom and rapid population growth..

The images are retrieved from the digital archives of the Lake Wales Public Library.

The Lake Wales Highlander eventually became The Daily Highlander under several different names, and was published six times a week as a Sunday morning paper, and afternoons Monday through Friday until 1995.The original Lake Wales News was a weekly broadsheet newspaper that also served the community for many decades until six years ago. Lake Wales was among only a handful of small communities that supported two local newspapers, a mark of the level of literacy and community interest here.


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