Courtesy The Palm Beach Post.
Joseph Robert “J. R.” Leatherman, originally from West Virginia, founded the farming community of Chosen just west of Belle Glade, along the southeast edge of Lake Okeechobee. Leatherman, a member of the Brethren Church, a conservative Christian denomination, organized a church in Chosen. He was relieved of his duties as “elder,” or minister, in 1925, and the church was dissolved right after the 1928 hurricane. Leatherman’s brother Isaac was among those killed by the storm.
Before coming to the Glades, J. R. Leatherman grew citrus in Delray Beach, where he left his mark as a builder. Three of his structures have been preserved: the Sundy House, now a bed-and-breakfast; the Cathcart House, now a private home; and the rectory of the Methodist Church, at Swinton and Atlantic Avenues. The church itself was destroyed by the 1928 hurricane.
The Smithsonian Institution, in the 1930s, and the Florida State Museum in Gainesville have excavated a site believed to have been a Calusa settlement and burial mounds at the former townsite, which people refer to as “Indian Mound.” The Chosen community is marked only by a sign at a sugarcane field near State Road 715 and the Hillsboro Canal.