November 14, 1923 Highlander
Last updated 11/15/2023 at 3:05pm
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.