The rhythmic street names of Linton and Swinton of Delray Beach, FL engage many folks to question the background of each thoroughfare. Both streets are named for men who passed briefly through Delray Beach. William Seelye Linton was born in 1856 in St. Clair, Michigan, the son of Aaron and Sarah Linton. Aaron was a saw mill worker from Canada, relocating his family to Saginaw, Michigan when William was three years old. The 1870 census lists William as his 14-year old boy “attending school” and by 1880 he was a “Lumber Inspector” and wed to Ida Lowry, the daughter of Pennsylvanian William Lowry. Linton engaged in numerous business ventures becoming involved in politics as a Michigan Representative, Mayor, Congressman, and 16-year Postmaster of Saginaw. In 1894 Linton traveled to our area and with the backing of Henry David Swinton, Linton purchased 160 acres and put a down payment on another 640 acres.
“Linton became aware of the land sale through an advertisement, placed by [W.H.] Gleason, promoting it as an excellent buy for interested developers. The railroad would not extend south to the advertised land until two years later. In order to see the property, Linton and Swinton traveled by boat on Lake Worth to the mouth of the canal, and then by barge. The East Coast Canal…had been made navigable to the House of Refuge in 1890. The same year Linton arrived, black families from the mid-Panhandle region of Florida, purchased land and settled west of that bought by Linton – land west of the Intracoastal canal…Linton and Swinton returned to Saginaw following their land purchase. Linton began advertising the Florida land in Michigan area newspapers and by the fall of 1895, had organized a group of followers. ‘The Michigan Connection’ arrived in the South Florida frontier in October of 1895 and began the task of settling the Town of Linton. The group included E. Burslein Thomson, a civil engineer; W.W. Blackmer, an F.E.C. railroad clerk; Frank W. Chapman, former Michigan Central Railroad supply agent; and farmers Fason Baker, Peter Leurs, Otto Schrader, Kemp Burton, and Adolf Hoffman. After the initial excursion with Linton, Swinton opted not to return to the heat stricken, bug-infested land. William Linton returned to Saginaw, leaving the settlement bearing his name and a lake named ‘Ida’ after his wife. After the freeze of 1895, Mr. Linton became unable to make payments on his land. A few discouraged farmers returned north. By 1898, Linton’s mortgages foreclosed and able remaining settlers bought back the land. Yet along with the setbacks came progress. The first alcohol house was built in 1898 and three years later, the settlers met there and decided to change the name of their town. Linton had seen hard days and a new name might bring better times and more settlers. The name Delray was selected for a Detroit suburb where many of the settlers had come from. The word originated from the Spanish derivative meaning ‘of the king’.”
In addition to the accomplishments above, Linton orchestrated the establishment the first school in Delray Beach and directed Thomson to lay out town of Linton and to plat Atlantic Avenue. After his brief travel to Southern Florida, William returned to Michigan, where he and Ida continued raising their children, Raymond, Lawrence and Elsie. William continued his Governmental duties for the State of Michigan but for us will always be remembered for his brief but everlasting impact upon our town.
Sources: http://www.delraybeachhistory.org/delray_beach_history.aspx, Delray Beach, By Dorothy W. Patterson, Janet M. DeVries, http://bioguide.congress.gov, http://atdetroit.net.
Marc D. Thompson, owner of VirtuFit® & VirtuGen, is a prominent fitness trainer, personal coach & professional genealogist with a background in medicine, exercise physiology & family history research. He has pioneered virtual training and teaches via webcam one-on-one and group classes. He also combines traditional genealogical research methods with cutting edge internet surfing while using multiple computers to produce the fastest, most accurate results. Along with over 25 years of experience in both fields, he draws from thousands of exercises, fitness disciplines, sports psychology techniques, nutritional principals & research techniques to teach & empower each individual client. His published works have appeared in Fighting Chance Magazine, Love’s Chance Magazine, Northern Stars Magazine, Offerings, Poetry Motel, Suzerian Enterprises and The Pink Chameleon. He currently pens blogs at marcdthompson.net.