Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Barefoot Mailman

Located at 1210 Hillsboro Mile in Hillsboro Beach, a statue stands of a barefoot mailman. Why? Because in the late 19th century there were eleven barefoot mailmen who trudged along the beaches between Palm Beach and Miami to deliver the mail. Roads were very poor in those days, and taking the shortcut up the coast seemed like a preferable route at the time. However, it wasn't as easy as a seashell searching stroll: approximately 28 miles of the "barefoot route" required postal carriers to row more than one boat to get to their destination. All this just so some guy in Lemon City could send a "Wish you were here" Florida postcard to his cousin Sylvia in Weehawken.

There are actually three barefoot mailman statues; another is in Pompano Beach and the other can be found on the Coast Guard's Hillsboro Inlet Light Station to commemorate the mysterious disappearance of James "Ed" Hamilton, who had moved to Florida from his original home of Cadiz, Kentucky.

In 1887, Hamilton vanished while he was out attempting the swift completion of his appointed rounds and the mystery has never been explained. Hamilton's possessions, including all of his clothes, were found neatly laid out on the north bank of the Hillsboro Inlet. The rowboat that he had used to cross the inlet was missing.

It has been speculated that alligators got him, but his body was never recovered and why he had removed his clothes remains a mystery.

There are antiquated reports that a "stranger from the north", no name given, was charged with stealing Hamilton's boat and tried in Federal Court in Jacksonville. As per the custom of the time, the man's name was never publicly released or entered in the record because he was found innocent. What really happened out there? We may never know now.

In addition to the statues, there's a historical marker about the barefoot mailmen located in Boca Raton. Curiously, it lists Hamilton as having drowned, which is really only conjecture on someone's part.

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