Although Captain Morris Benson Lyman was not the first to live in the Lantana area, he is considered its founder. Lyman arrived from Canada in 1884; after his family followed in 1887, they filed a 160-acre homestead and started several businesses. Their home, built in 1889 of durable Dade County pine, still stands at 300 East Ocean Avenue as a restaurant. Lyman named the locale Lantana Point for the plant that grew in abundance, but shortened it to Lantana for the post office he established in 1892. Lantana was described in the Business Directory, Guide and History of Dade County, 1896-1897 as follows:
The lake here was a ‘bight’ [bay] immediately in front of the town, describing a perfect circle, with a pure white sand shore, the ground gently rising back of the hotel and residences around. This used to be the northern terminus of the Biscayne Bay hack line.
Courtesy Florida State Archives.
There was also a public school in Lantana, built in 1894 at the north end of Lake Drive. Daisy Emily Butler (1871-1964), the second teacher, had taught briefly in West Palm Beach. She was 24 years old and single in 1895, when she lived at the Bassett Hotel near Lyman’s General Store and Trading Post at Lantana Point; in 1962, she recounted to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County:
There were several young men there and no young ladies. Every boy had a boat, and the fella that had the nicest boat and could give you the nicest time was the one that got the dates. Well, [George Lyman] had a sailboat and a launch, you see. And we could go in the launch, if we wanted to go to the beach or make a quick trip, several of us. If we wanted to go in the sailboat, the whole family could go and we could sail up and down the lake anywhere we wanted to go. When he wanted to go out on the sailboat—‘Come, let’s take a sail’—I went with him. … There wasn’t anything that could be criticized much because a sail out on the ocean had to be attended to pretty strictly. … I married him at the end of that term.
Daisy’s husband, George Ralph Lyman, and his older brother, Morris Benson “M. B.” Lyman, kept the lake residents supplied with everything from fertilizer to groceries, even making deliveries with their small launch, or motorboat. Seminole Indians came to trade with them as late as 1910.
The Lymans also owned a large freighter to bring supplies from Jacksonville, and take back produce to sell. After the railroad came through in 1896, the produce, which was grown mostly west of Lake Osborne, was shipped north by rail.
The Lymans are among the two dozen people buried in the only cemetery in town, Evergreen, on Lantana Road across from
A. G. Holley Hospital.
When Lantana was incorporated in 1921, it contained one square mile and a hundred residents; 22 people voted in the first election. The town’s first two mayors were women, although women had only just gained the right to vote in 1920. Ellen M. Anderson was the first female mayor in Palm Beach County, appointed by the town commission after J. H. Vance was elected but did not take office. Anderson served until the next election, when the people chose Mary S. Paddock as mayor.
Courtesy Florida State Archives.
The area of Lantana has grown to 2.25 square miles and includes the northern two thirds of Hypoluxo Island; the balance of the island is part of the town of Manalapan. Lantana also expanded westward.
1889: Morris B. Lyman names post office Lantana
1921: Lantana incorporates; first female mayor Miss Ellen Anderson
1956: Anne E’Del Deacon appointed municipal judge for the Town of Lantana, She was first
female judge in Palm Beach County and fourth in Florida.
The Other E. R. Bradley
Edwin Ruthven “E. R.” Bradley (1840-1915) is often confused with Edward Riley “E. R.” Bradley (1859-1946), who built the Beach Club on Palm Beach. Edwin Bradley brought his family to Lake Worth from Chicago in 1877, staying briefly where families were absent due to work elsewhere. The Bradleys then became the first settlers in present Lantana, at Lotus Cove, north of the present East Ocean Avenue Bridge.
Like other pioneers, Bradley found many ways to earn a living. He served briefly as keeper of the Fort Lauderdale House of Refuge in 1883, where his daughter Flora, died from an unidentified illness. From 1885 to 1887, Bradley was the second mail contractor and beach-walking carrier known as the Barefoot Mailman, a route he shared with his son Louis E., or “Louie.” The happenings on Hypoluxo Island appeared in Bradley’s columns and articles in the Titusville Florida Star and the Tropical Sun, and for three years he was superintendent of Dade County schools. Bradley worked for Flagler’s Florida East Coast Line Canal and Model Land Company; in 1898 the latter took the family to Monroe County, where son Guy Morrell was murdered in the line of duty as a game warden..