November 14, 1923 Highlander

Series: This Week in History | Story 17

Last updated 11/15/2023 at 3:05pm

Courtesy Lake Wales Library archives

The Lake Wales Highlander of 100 years ago reveals much about the history of our community. 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, and under several different names was published six times a week on Sunday mornings and Monday through Friday afternoons until 1995. The original Lake Wales News was a weekly broadsheet newspaper that also served the community for many decades, later changing to a tabloid format before closing 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.

The big issue before the voters in the Lake Wales area in 1923 was whether Polk County should opt in to the new state policy of requiring that farm animals be fenced in. Prior to that time in most of Florida, residents fenced their yards and gardens to keep unwanted animals, especially cattle, out. The issue became more serious with the popularity of the automobile after hundreds were killed in crashes involving cattle wandering onto highways.

Trains were equipped with "cow catchers" that would typically throw the animal off the tracks. Few cattle survived such an event.

Perhaps most importantly from the modern perspective was the requirement of the payment of a poll tax in advance before being allowed to vote. Since women were unable to vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, the poll tax had been an effective way to limit voting to only wealthier males, preventing Blacks and poor Whites, along with women, from access to the ballot. Times were indeed changing.

In other local news, the Hotel Wales, later known as the Plantation Inn, was reopening for the season after the construction of an addition and other improvements by the new owners, Mr. and Mrs. H.J. Crawford. The historic wooden building, located just north of the current Lake Wales Library on Crystal Lake, was the first significant boarding location in the new village. It was destroyed by arsonists in the 1980's.


Reader Comments(0)


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2023

Rendered 12/06/2023 07:12