Although Delray was not officially our town’s name until 1911, the US Federal census taken in April of 1910 listed Delray as a municipality for the first time. This census is an invaluable tool for understanding our town as it began to grow, representing a nearly complete and detailed snapshot f life in Delray.
The census lists 907 residents living in “Delray.” Of those, 335 were born in Florida. One local was Emma Reynolds, a 43-year old lady born in Florida. She was married at age 26 and had eight children. By 1910 Emma was widowed and the head of house of her remaining three sons, a daughter and two grandchildren. Emma was one of only 128 locals who, along with her parents, were born in Florida.
Delray had just four residents less than one year old. The youngest was the beautifully named Hazel Ivy. Hazel was a two-month old girl and the youngest of the seven children of Elias and Mattie Ivy. Elias was a truck farmer from Alabama. The family had moved from Alabama the previous year, certainly in hopes of a better life.
The oldest resident was Isaac D Taylor, a 78-year old Fruit Truck Farmer living with his wife Mary. Both hailed from Pennsylvania and Isaac headed a household including Rachel, Isaac and Lamon, three of their four adult children. Isaac was a house carpenter and Lamon was a teamster. Imaging what Isaac experienced in his life in the harsh environs of the time.
There were 469 white, 459 black and 171 West Indian residents in 1910. One interesting West Indian lady was named Genevaw, a 30-year woman living intown Delray. She was born in the Bahamas and was married to Joseph Rolle. Joseph worked as a brakeman and they had seven children aged 2 to 10. Imagine the challenges facing this family, immigrating to a new country with some many young children.
Another outstanding family was that of Richard Taylor, a truck farmer who married Eliza. They had eight children ranging in age form 17 to 1: John, Milton, Edith, Ethel, Edna, Joseph, Gwendoline and Roland. Obviously in the era families had large families and the Taylors and Rolles were doing their best to strengthen the community.
Mr. Sakai family was one of 31 Japanese residents. He was a 37-year old Truck Farmer who was married to Sada, also from Japan. They had two children, Chicara and one of which died in infancy. Chicara was a nine-month old girl born in Florida. The Japanese hold a special place in our heritage which will be explored in future columns.
The immigrants of Delray originated from places such as England, Germany, West Indies, Denmark, Italy, Canada and Austria. Emma Tasker was an English-speaking Canadian born of New York parents. Emma was the wife of Allen Tasker, eleven years her junior. Allen hailed from Kansas and earned a living laboring at “odd jobs.” Emma took care of their two children Helen and Allen and her younger sister Harriet. Traveling from Canada to Florida to better themselves would have been a difficult undertaking.
William Gamberg was a 73-year old immigrant from England who arrived in America in 1844. He lived with his wife Amelia and their daughter Nellie. Nellie was married to Washington Blackmer, a Michigan farmer. Nellie and Washington had five children: Will and Tom living at home, two living elsewhere and one that died in infancy. 248 immigrants embarked on the challenging travel from other countries to America to settle this untamed frontier with no or little friends and family.
These and all the other brave 907 individuals shaped our community a hundred years ago. Let’s continue the proud tradition and continue to make Delray Beach a great town. As was the case in 1910, South Florida is still a melting pot of locals and transplants, improving their lives and our community.
Sources: Ancestry.com, Delray Beach Historical Society