December 19, 1923 Highlander


Last updated 12/20/2023 at 9:56am

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.

December of 1923 saw plenty of changes happening in the growing town of Lake Wales, then with a population of perhaps 2,000. A bit of a land-rush had been initiated weeks before when the "Knee Deep" club laid claim to an island in Crooked Lake. The group hoped to build a clubhouse on the land. New claims were filed that month on two other islands located in Lake Easy. The state "School Land Selecting Agent" responded by ordering the islands surveyed, thus removing them from potential homestead claims. Lake surveyed by the state were deemed "meandered," and thus claimed by the state.

The recent county-wide vote on whether to end the "open range" policy in favor of requiring the fencing of cattle passed by an nearly three-to-one vote, according to The Highlander. That vote showed the rapid change in thinking from the traditional rural mindset to that of an increasingly settled county.

Yet another election was slated for February 26 when citizens will vote on a new $3.580 million road bond issue that may pay for 116 miles of new roads and other road-widening projects. Polk's rod network earned it the moniker of "Imperial Polk County," a label applied by the editor of the Polk County Democrat in Bartow.

Meanwhile, a membership drive by the "Board of Trade," forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce, had succeeded in more than doubling the membership of the organization to at least 148. The rapid growth was indicative of the fast pace of development happening during the middle of the "Great Florida Land Boom."


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