Local History Archives Oral History Collections

  • Miss Gillian dance class

The Boynton Beach City Library has led several oral history initiatives over the years, with the help of staff and volunteers. Thanks and credit go to many individuals for preparation, interviewing, transcribing, digitizing, and creating access. Oral history is always a group effort and the City Library is proud to be able to present a wide range of materials here. Special shout-outs go to Virginia Farace for her leadership as former library director, Janet DeVries Naughton for her initiative with the fishing oral history and other programs, Susan Swiatosz for digitizing so many of the interviews, and director Craig Clark for continuing to support the Archives. All the interviewers, including James Hartley Nichols and Caryn Neumann did a great job, too. Working together, we're collecting, preserving, and making history available!

Bertha ChadwellBertha May Daugharty Williams Chadwell (1887-1982) came to Boynton Beach in 1907 from DeLand Florida with her husband, J.J. Williams (1876-1947). They owned several businesses in Boynton Beach, including a tomato farm, a taxi service, Boynton Lumber Yard, and Boynton Fernery and Mango Groves. She was friends with people far and wide and active in many local organizations, especially the Boynton Woman's Club. Her second husband, Leonard Chadwell (1887-1965), was mayor of Boynton Beach in 1958.

  • 1979 Oral History Interview: Interviewed by James Hartley Nichols, 7 August 1979 for the Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Project. Topics include life in Boynton Beach in the 1900s, the Boynton Woman’s Club buildings, including the 1911 building, the donation of the Boynton family toward the 1925 Woman’s Club building, its donated design by Addison Mizner, and the financial problems during the crash. Also discussed is the Coquimbo wreck, the poet Edgar Guest, riding Flagler’s East Coast Railway to Key West, and the 1928 hurricane’s effect on Belle Glade.
    Read the transcript at the Internet Archive (no recording available)

Martha Meeks Norfus LightMartha Ann Meeks (b. 1939) married Eugene Norfus (1935-2000) at 15, and had eight children; divorced c. 1988. Remarried in 1994 to Charlie Light. She earned her GED after her children were in school, and went on to earn two doctoral degrees. She was an instructional aide at Poinciana Elementary School (Boynton Beach) and a kindergarten teacher at Kirklane Elementary (Palm Springs), from which she retired in 2002. Her autobiography, Sweet Pineapples: A Touching Memoir About a Strong Black Family was published in 2013 under the name Dr. Martha Norfus Meeks-Light. She continues to be an articulate advocate for her community.

  • 1992 Oral History Interview with Dr. Martha Meeks-Light: Interviewed by Caryn Neumann (FAU intern) on 26 September 1992, for the Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Project. Interview starts with a written statement from Meeks-Light detailing the nature of the Boynton Beach African-American community before integration and in the early days of integration. Topics discussed include the Black owned businesses in Boynton Beach before integration, how integration resulted in the busing of African-American children to distant schools, her experience in the 1947 hurricane, and her teaching career and educational achievements.
    Listen to Interview on Internet Archive (Transcription available)

Glenn MurrayBorn in May 1895 to Horace B. Murray (1867-1949, first mayor of Boynton) and Mary E. Smith Murray (1869-1934) in Michigan, who brought him to Boynton Beach at 8 months old. Murray lived primarily in Boynton Beach, working as a carpenter, except for his time in Yuba City, California (c. 1921-1939). Murray married Bessie Lee Brown (1891-1987) in 1915 and they had several children.

  • 1978 Oral History Interview: Interviewed by James Hartley Nichols on 2 October 1978 for the Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Project. Discussion chiefly focused on life in the Boynton Beach area before 1915, including food eaten; activities, including hunting, fishing, camping; local people, including Native Americans and Charles Pierce; the shipwreck of the Coquimbo (1909); and what the local stores and houses looked like.
    Listen to interview at the Internet Archive (Transcription available)

Freda Oyer
Lillian "Freda" Oyer

Lillian Frederica "Freda" Voss Oyer was born on 27 October 1896 in Hypoluxo, Florida to Frederick Voss (1865-1958) and Lillie Pierce Voss (1876-1967). She married Harvey Oyer Sr. (1892-1975) on 24 April 1924; they lived in Boynton Beach, Florida and had three children. She died on 31 March 1998.

  • 1978 Oral History Interview: Interviewed by James Nichols on 13 December 1978 for the Boynton Beach City Library. Chiefly discussed life in newly settled Florida in the Hypoluxo, Lantana, and Boynton Beach areas. Includes experiences in early Hypoluxo, including school in a one-room schoolhouse in Lantana and high school in Palm Beach, foodways, oyster roasts, friends, relatives, and activities; also details about the life of her father, doctors in the area, and how she met her husband, Harvey Oyer (1892-1975), Yallah and Chuck Pierce’s adventures in the Hurricane (probably 1903), and her mother’s enjoyment at the Coconut Grove Hotel in Palm Beach.
    Listen to interview (Partial transcription available)
Ethel Pierce.
Ethel Pierce

Born 10 Dec 1890 in Boston, Georgia. Following her family, she lived in various places through Florida and Panama until moving with them to Jupiter in 1914. She became the postmaster there in 1918. She married Boynton postmaster Charles W. Pierce in 1924. When her husband died in 1939, she assumed the position of Boynton postmaster until 1956. She died in 1987.

  • 1978 Oral History with Ethel Pierce:  Interviewed 9 January 1978 by James Nichols for the Boynton Beach City Library. Topics include Pierce’s family, including her father, Eli Sims (1856-1927), and brothers; her own life, including growing up in Jupiter, living in Panama, and becoming postmistress of Jupiter; and the publication of her husband’s memoirs, Pioneer Life In Southeast Florida, edited by Donald Walter Curl, published by the University of Miami Press in 1970.
    Listen to the interview (transcription available)

C Spencer Pompey.C. Spencer Pompey (1915-2001) was an educator and civil rights activist. Pompey taught at several places, including Poinciana Junior High in Boynton Beach, Carver High School in Delray (where he launched the first athletic program in 1944), Seacrest/Atlantic, and Carver Middle School, where he served a principal until his retirement in 1979. He was associate editor of Like a Mighty Banyan: Contributions of Black People to the History of Palm Beach County and his memoir, More Rivers to Cross, was published posthumously. His efforts in civil right activism include becoming, in 1940, the first president of the Palm Beach County Education Association, which was formed in protest to being excluded from the Florida Education Association and pay inequity on the basis of race, which resulted in joining the NAACP’s class action suit against the Palm Beach School Board in 1941. Pompey was also significant in the fight to end the practice that African-American students had a summer term so they could work in the fields for winter harvest and allowing African-Americans to use public beaches. Mr. Pompey was the recipient of many awards, including being a member of the Black Floridians Hall of Fame and Delray Beach’s Old School Square’s lifetime achievement award.

  • 1996 Oral History Interview with C. Spencer Pompey: Interviewed 13 November 1996 by Arleen Dennison. Chiefly focused on a discussion of integration in the Palm Beach County School system. Includes a discussion of the 1941 class action lawsuit against the Palm Beach County School Board by the Palm Beach County Teachers Association, argued by future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, for equal pay; getting a school named after an African-American (Carver High School); and politics around funding and education. Also includes a discussion of personal philosophy of what African-American youth should be taught and personal history. 
    Listen to interview (transcription available)

John Robert Rousseau (1920-1995) was the son of Abel Augustus Rousseau (1878-1960) and Katharine Missouri Ford Rousseau (1880-1934). After graduatingd from Boynton Beach High School in 1937, he served in the U.S. Army, stationed in England as a glider pilot. He married Margaret R. Howarth before becoming a veterinarian in 1948. Rousseau opened a veterinary clinic in Boynton Beach in 1957 and retired in April 1995. He died 31 December 1996.

  • 1979 Oral History Interview: Interviewed by James Nichols on 29 June 1979 for the Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Project. Topics discussed include his life, his family's history in the area, his earliest recollections of Boynton Beach, and pranks that people played on each other.
    Listen to interview at the Internet Archive (Transcript available)

Lucille and Otleys restaurant.
Lucille and Otley's
Restaurant, 1950

Otley Webb Scott (1912-2002) arrived in Boynton Beach in 1930 with his father Clemons Otley Scott (1884-1962), a farmer and dairyman, and mother Tina Webb Scott (1888-1965). Mary Lucille Tuck (1913-2012) arrived in Boynton Beach in about 1929, with father Benjamin Tuck (1889-1964) and mother Rubye Lucille Tanner Tuck (1892-1975) and her sisters. Lucille repeated her senior year of high school in Boynton School (Class of 1931), where she met her future husband. They married in 1934 and had three children. The couple owned and operated a series of restaurants between 1936-1941, and 1945-1978, including Lucille and Otley's. The restaurant continued to operate under the family's management until 1998.

  • 1992 Oral History Interview: Interviewed 17 June 1992 by Caryn Neumann for the Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Project. Topics discussed include their experiences in Boynton Beach during the Great Depression (1930s), the establishment and operation of their restaurant business (1936-1941, 1945-1988), Otley’s experience in the 1928 Hurricane in Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach during World War II.
    Listen to interview at the Internet Archive (Transcript available)

3 girls.
Hazel Lacy,
Christine Jordan,
Margaret Meredith,
c. 1930

Born in 1917, Margaret Meredith came to Boynton Beach with her family in about 1921. Her father, John Brockner Meredith's sister Ione was married to T.E. Woolbright, a manager of a pineapple plantation in Boynton. Meredith (1888-1947) opened an electrical shop and installed the first electric lights in Boynton Beach in 1921. Her mother, Anna Brugger Meredith (1896-1985) worked at the Boynton Hotel, R.O. Myers grocery store, and was the a treasurer of the Boynton Woman's Club. Margaret Elaine Meredith attended Boynton School (Class of 1935), Palm Beach Junior College, and Florida State College for Women. She was a teacher in Florida and in many other places as her first husband, Jack Meredith Jones, served in the military. In Germany, she studied library science and returned to be a librarian at Lake Worth Public Library, eventually becoming head librarian. She was also married to Emil C. Link and John Stanley, and had three children. She died in 2002.

  • 1992 Oral History with Margaret Meredith Stanley: Interviewed on 30 June 1992 by Caryn Newmann (FAU Intern) as part of Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Project. Topics discussed include her parents' work; her childhood activities; discipline at Boynton School under principal Williamson; and life in Boynton during the depression of the 1930s, including using the food kitchen established by the government. Also brief discussions of her life in Japan and Germany in the 1950s, including a visit to Hiroshima in 1953.
    Listen to interview in the Internet Archive (transcription available)

Born 21 Dec 1912, Thompson came to Boynton Beach with his family in about 1922. He worked at various dairies and other jobs, including farm laborer and bus driver. Married Katherine Foy (1922-2014), daughter of dairyman Charles Foy, in 1942. They adopted two children. Thompson died 14 Nov 2002.

  • 1992 Oral History Interview with Leonard Thompson: Interviewed on August 5, 1992 by Caryn Newmann (FAU intern). Topics discussed include the many local dairies in the 1930s, including location; rum-running in Boynton during prohibition; activities of young adults during the 1930s, including dances and Halloween pranks; working for the CCC to recover bodies after the 1935 hurricane in the everglades; the WPA garden in Boynton Beach; his World War II experiences; and having the first airplane in Boynton Beach.
    Listen to the interview at the Internet Archive (transcription available)

3 men with fire engine
Tuite on far right

John “Jack” Tuite was born 10 Feb 1918 to Francis J. Tuite and Isabelle Kane. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in the Pacific. Jack was one of the first paid Boynton Beach firemen in 1953 and later became the first paid Fire Chief in 1959. He also worked in the Palm Beach Police and Sheriff’s departments. He and his wife Mabel Rousseau (1913-1992) married in 1942. He died 1 August 2006.

  • 1992 Oral History with Jack Tuite: Interviewed by Caryn Neumann (FAU intern) on 29 July 1992 as part of the Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Project. Interview is split into three digital files. The first file concerns his family history, including his father’s and grandfather’s hotel businesses, and life in Boynton Beach in the late 1930s. The remainder of this first part is a personal narrative of his service in Pacific for the U.S. Army during WWII. In the first half of the second part, Tuite details his various jobs, including working as a policeman for Boynton Beach and Palm Beach. The last half of the second part and the third part mainly deals with the Fire Department at Boynton Beach, including its organization, training, and several fires. There is also some material at the end concerning his wife, Mabel Rousseau.
    Listen to interview at the Internet Archive (transcription available)
Tuppen Wood Works Building.
Tuppen Wood Works

Sherman "Bud" Tuppen Jr. grew up amid his family's tackle and boat store, Tuppen's Wood Works, which he later owned. His father, Sherman Tuppen Sr. (1895-1979) and mother Mildred Davis Tuppen (1902-1994) started the business in the late 1940s, specializing in wood moldings and cabinets; in 1956, they opened their store at 1002 Dixie Highway, selling boats and fishing gear. Bud Tuppen married Marilyn Reichheld in the 1960s and they had one son, Scott (1968-2012).

  • 2007 Interview with Buddy Tuppen: Interviewed by Janet DeVries and Cindy Jamison as part of the Sport Fishing in Palm Beach County Oral History Project, in conjunction with the Boynton Beach City Library. Topics discussed include the Tuppen Wood Works and the Tuppen family, the Lake Osborne power boat races, other local tackle shops, and how boating and fishing has changed over the years.
    Listen to interview at the Internet Archive (Transcript available)

Edna Hutchinson Jung Waters taught at Delray Elementary from 1954 to 1957 and Boynton Elementary School from 1957 to 1971.

  • 1992 Oral History with Edna Hutchinson Jung Waters: Interviewed by Caryn Neumann (FAU intern) on November 4, 1992 for the Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Project. Interview chiefly features Waters’ experiences teaching at Boynton Beach Elementary School, including student backgrounds and behavior, and interactions with administration. 
    Listen to interview at the Internet Archive (Transcript available)

C Stanley Weaver.
C. Stanley
Weaver, c. 1955

Charles Stanley Weaver was born 19 January 1922 in Boynton Beach, Florida. He graduated in 1939 from Boynton Beach High School and from the University of Florida in 1943 with a degree in political science/history. He then joined the Army-Air Force and served in French West Africa. After discharge, he joined his father, M.A. Weaver, in the family business, Weaver Dairy and along with his siblings, owned and operated the dairy until 1973. He served on the Boynton Beach City Commission from 1951-1956 and was elected Mayor in 1955. He served on the Board of Directors of First Bank & Trust of Boynton Beach (later Barnett Bank) for over 26 years. He was a 32nd degree Mason, a past master of the Boynton Masonic Lodge, helped establish American Legion Post 164, and was a charter member of the Boynton Kiwanis. For 47 years, Stanley served on the Board of Supervisors of the Lake Worth Drainage District retiring in 2007 due to declining health. During many of those years, he was chairman of the board. In September 2007, the Drainage District honored him for his service by renaming the Boynton Canal the “C. Stanley Weaver Canal.” C. Stanley Weaver died 1 Sept 2010.

  • 1992 Oral History with C. Stanley Weaver: Interviewed by Caryn Neumann (FAU intern) on June 17, 1992 for the Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Project. Interview focuses on the histories of several members of the Weaver family in the Boynton Beach area, including his grandfather C.F. Knuth, his father M.A. Weaver, and his brothers and aunts. Details his life experiences in Boynton Beach, including childhood activities, Boy Scout activities, city planning, and establishment of the Rotary Club, and his personal experiences in World War II. Also elaborates on his family’s experiences in the 1928 and 1947 hurricanes.
    Listen to interview at the Internet Archive (Transcript available)
  • 1984 Oral History with C. Stanley Weaver: Interviewed by Elethea M.  Goodkin on Sept. 24, 1984 for the Boynton Beach City Library. Interview focuses on the Weaver family and the municipal beach.
    Listen to interview at the Internet Archive (No transcription available)
Dr Nathaniel Weems Jr.
Dr. Weems Jr.

Dr. Nathaniel Marion Weems Junior (1927-2015) was a family physician in Boynton Beach from 1957 to 1990, and was the son of one of the first physicians in the Boynton Beach area, Nathaniel Marion Weems Senior. Nathaniel Marion Weems Junior attended the Boynton school until tenth grade, when he attended a prep school before attending Emory. After earning his medical degree at University of Miami, he began practicing medicine in Boynton Beach in 1957, joining his father’s medical practice until the mid 1960s. He retired in 1990 and later died in 2015.

  • 1992 Oral History with Dr. Marion Weems Jr.: Interviewed 15 June 1992 by Caryn Neumann (FAU intern) on November 4, 1992 for the Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Project. Topics discussed include his father’s life, the Boynton School and teacher Marion LaQuitte; his experience being a bank teller during the robbery of Boynton State Bank in 1949; WWII boat torpedoed off-shore; and differences in medical practice between his and his father’s practice.
    Listen to interview at the Internet Archive (Transcription available)

Born 16 August 1906 in Centralia, Illinois to Thomas Edward Woolbright and Lovesta Ione Meredith Woolbright. Father was a coal miner and pineapple grower. Beryl Woolbright came to Boynton Beach in 1912 at age 6 and lived in Boynton Beach through high school, graduating from Delray High School in 1926. He then attended Georgia School of Technology, graduating with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1931. He worked in several places as a civil engineer, and in 1943 moved back to the Boynton Beach area when he went to work for the Lake Worth Drainage District. He also later became the Resident District Engineer for Martin, Palm Beach and Okeechobee Counties. Married c. 1929 to Nellie Marie Perry, they had seven children. Woolbright was active in the Boynton Beach community, a member of the Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite Temple, Amara Shrine Temple, and the First Methodist Church. He died 3 May 1997.

  • 1978 Oral History with Beryl Woolbright: Interviewed 5 December 1978 by James Nichols as part of the Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Project. Interview focuses on life in Boynton Beach in the late 1910s and early 1920s, when Woolbright was a young boy. Topics discussed include what the town looked like, including the layout of the town and the flora and fauna of the outlying regions; what children did, including hunting and socializing; pineapple farming in the area and water use; and biographical information about family members. Also includes stories about Bahamian blacks fishing, panthers in the region, Indians Sam and Shirttail Charlie, Gypsies traveling through the region, and an encounter with the John Ashley gang.
    Listen to interview at the Internet Archive (Transcription available)

Beryl Woolbright was born 16 August 1906 in Centralia, Illinois to Thomas Edward Woolbright and Lovesta Ione Meredith Woolbright. Beryl Woolbright came to Boynton Beach in 1912 at age 6 and lived in Boynton Beach through high school, graduating from Delray High School in 1926. He then attended Georgia School of Technology, graduating with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1931. He worked in several places as a civil engineer, and in 1943 moved back to the Boynton Beach area when he went to work for the Lake Worth Drainage District. He also later became the Resident District Engineer for Martin, Palm Beach and Okeechobee Counties. Married 1928 to Nellie Marie Perry. Woolbright was active in the Boynton Beach community, a member of the Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite Temple, Amara Shrine Temple, and the First Methodist Church. He died 3 May 1997.

William Turner “Sam” Woolbright was born 29 March 1908 in Centralia, Illinois to Thomas Edward Woolbright and Lovesta Ione Meredith Woolbright. He came to Boynton Beach in 1912 at age 4 and graduated from Delray High School. After serving in the Navy during WWII, he worked as an electrician, ultimately owning an electrical contracting business in Delray Beach, “Sam’s Electrics.” Married Virginia Brewster in 1936. Very active in the Boynton Beach community, he was elected mayor in 1947; he was also commander of the American Legion and a master of the Boynton Beach masonic lodge. He died in Boynton Beach in 3 December 1994.

  • 1992 Oral History with the Woolbright brothers: Interviewed by Caryn Neumann (FAU intern) on June 18, 1992 for the Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Project. Topics discussed include the earliest day of the family’s life in Boynton Beach; childhood activities, including each breaking his arm and medical attention, hunting, and camping; the naming of Woolbright Road; and Boynton city politics while Sam was mayor.
    Listen to interview on the Internet Archive (transcription available)

Thomas Wright.Thomas Alexander Wright (1920-2014) was a Baptist minister, social activist, entrepreneur, educator, and president of the NAACP. As the leading religious figure in St. Augustine, he led the way for Dr. Martin Luther King's visit to St. Augustine which capped a long struggle, culminating in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He was featured in the Gainesville Sun as one of the fifty people who made a difference in north central Florida and was given a day of recognition (Thomas A. Wright Day, July 21, 1985) by the Gainesville City Commission. Wright was recognized for his four decades of dedicated service to Florida communities and as a noted civil rights champion in the state of Florida in 2002, when the University of Florida Honorary Degree Committee awarded Reverend Thomas Alexander Wright the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service. 

  • 1995 Oral History Transcription: Interviewed by Myra K. Jones on 2 May 1995 as part of the Boynton Beach City Library Oral History Program. Transcription only of a short interview focusing on Thomas A. Wright’s life growing up in Boynton Beach, including the farm work, the inspiration of principal Spencer Pompey, and the community.
    Read transcription of interview (no recording available)