At the present center of Palm Beach, James B. Brown established the first post office on Lake Worth, Tustenegee, from February 27 to October 23, 1877; the office was reestablished with Albert Geer as postmaster from November 20, 1877, until March 11, 1879. At least one map, dated 1878, identifies the island as Tustenegee, a Seminole name. No other reference to James B. Brown has been found to date.
In 1880, before there was a town or city of Lake Worth, the Lake Worth Post Office was established at the home of Valorus O. Spencer at the north end of Palm Beach. It was long thought to be the area’s first post office. Tustenegee had been discontinued for ten months when Spencer and his 20-year-old daughter, Mattie, sailed Lake Worth gathering signatures on a petition for mail service. Although their skiff turned over in a storm, the petition was dried out and used to reestablish a post office and mail route. When Spencer’s health deteriorated in 1887, George A. Gale took over as postmaster.
The first medical doctor on Lake Worth in 1881, Dr. Richard B. Potter, was the postmaster of record at Figulus (“potter” in Latin), established in 1886. The 150-acre homestead—in his brother’s name, George Potter—was located south of today’s Southern Boulevard and the Bath and Tennis Club in Palm Beach. After their sister, Ellen, and mother joined them, the Potters moved to the west side of Lake Worth about 1891.
Edmund M. Brelsford and his brother, John, applied for a Palm City Post Office in January 1887, and were notified that the name had been approved for an office near Fernandina just a month earlier. Gus Ganford, a winter visitor from Philadelphia, is credited with suggesting the name Palm Beach, which was officially recorded in October 1887. The Brelsfords ran the post office from their lakefront store, near the present site of the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum.
The Town of Palm Beach, Palm Beach County’s second municipality, was incorporated on April 17, 1911, after it was discovered in January that West Palm Beach was going to attempt an annexation of the island resort during that year’s legislative session. For secrecy’s sake, residents quickly hired a Miami attorney to draw up the necessary papers and posted the public notices just thirty days before presenting their request to the state. The first town officials elected were Elisha N. Dimick, mayor; John McKenna, town clerk; Joseph Borman, marshal; and J. B. Donnelly, William Fremd, John Doe, Enoch Root, and J.J. Ryman, councilmen.