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Biographies

BIGGERS, L. Garland


Transcribed from:  The History of Florida:  Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., Vol. 
II, page 201, 1923.

BIGGERS, L. GARLAND. As mayor of West Palm Beach and one of the active real estate men of
that city, L. GARLAND BIGGERS came to Florida in 1914, and is well known in this state, as
also in Georgia for his remarkable success in publicity work. Both alone and through
organizations he has carried out some very interesting campaigns for the promotion of special
and general improvement and projects that are counted as permanent assets in the progressive
development of West Palm Beach and other Florida towns.

Mr. BIGGERS was born near Eufaula in Barber County, Alabama, in 1878, son of LORENZO J.
and JOSEPHINE FANNIE (GARLAND) BIGGERS. His parents were natives of Alabama and the Garlands
were an old Virginia family. L.G. BIGGERS was liberally educated, and was active in educational
work before his time was engrossed in broader affairs. He graduated in 1897 from the State
Normal College at Troy, Alabama, and also did post-graduate work in the University of Alabama
at Tuscaloosa.

For one year he was superintendent of schools at Phoenix, Alabama, and for four years was
principal of school at Linden in Marengo County of his home state. From an early age he had
felt a strong inclination for publicity work as a profession. He started as advertising man
and general manager for J. H. Churchwell & Company of Cordele, Georgia, a firm of merchants.
Later he went to Columbus, Georgia, and from 1906 to 1910 was employed in the advertising
and editorial departments of the Columbus Ledger. His next location was at Dothan, Alabama,
where he was secretary of the Business Men's League and also organized and established the
Dothan Daily News, a morning newspaper.

It was with this successful experience as a publicity man to his credit that he came to
West Palm Beach in 1914. He was engaged in the real estate business for about a year but
in May, 1915, was chosen secretary of the Chamber of Commerce. So far his biggest constructive
service to this city was rendered as secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, a post of duty he
assumed in May, 1915, and with which he remained until September, 1917, when he was called to
Fort Myers, as secretary of the Board of Trade. On May 1, 1918, Mr. BIGGERS joined the Army
Y.M.C.A., being attached to the Y hut No. 136 at Camp Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina,
in the educational section. A part of his duty was lecturing, and his lectures "Uncle Sam
and the Doughboy", was delivered to every hut in the camp.

After an interval of a year and a half, Mr. BIGGERS returned to West Palm Beach, in January,
1919, and resumed the real estate business. In politics he is a republican, and has been
active in his party in this state. In 1919 he was given the republican nomination for
representative to that State Legislature, being defeated by M.D. CARMICHAEL, the democratic
nominee. In August, 1921, he was the nominee of the white citizens' caucuses of the north
and south boroughs for commissioner at large and mayor of West Palm Beach. Again he was
defeated by a small majority by M. D. CARMICHAEL. In March, 1922, Mr. BIGGERS was nominated
by the joint caucus of the three boroughs for commissioner at large, representing the three
boroughs of the city, and on August 6, 1922, was elected over Judge E. B. DONNELL, and W.
J. VON BEHREN.

His election as commissioner at large carried with it the duties of mayor of that city. He
is now filling that office for a term of two years, and as mayor he has pursued a course in
which the fundamental welfare of the city, including health, education, good morals and material
improvement and advancement are emphasized and carried out so far as economy of administration
as state laws will permit. At the time he was elected he proposed the general principals
that would govern him in all departments of his administration, these general principals
being stated as follows: "City building is something more than the construction of business
blocks and the building of streets, seawalls and even parks, It is as much the work of an
official to build ideals of good citizenship and physical and moral cleanliness in the lives
of the citizenship as it is to construct drainage systems and provide adequate fire protection.
Without such ideals the city is nothing more than a mass of material which passes away with
time. Great and good cities are first builded in the minds of great and good citizens.
Great and good citizens come from properly directed and protected children. Safeguards should
be thrown around the children of the community, and the city officials should be zealous to
prevent any activities which tend to debase childhood."

There should be noted here some of the achievements of the West Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce
while Mr. BIGGERS was its secretary and manager. These achievements included the following:
Participated in the origination of the inlet project creating the inner harbor and brought
about the voting of the bond issue of $350,00 to provide for that improvement; in the building
of the Dixie Highway through Palm Beach County; in the purchasing of the City Park from the
Florida East Coast Railway and built the seawall in front of it; organization of the Cross-State
District for building the road from West Palm Beach to Lake Okeechobee, for which project
$150,000 was voted and for which 7,000 acres of land was donated by the state; inaugurated
tick eradication in Southeast Florida, a campaign that resulted in the cattle of Dade, Broward
and Palm Beach counties being made tick free, and the Federal Quarantine over this territory
raised; introduction into Palm Beach County of the farmers' cooperative demonstration work,
and also the home demonstration work under the auspices of the Federal Government; organization
of the now famous annual event of West Palm Beach, the Seminole Sun Dance. Besides this work
credited to the organization as a whole, Mr. BIGGERS himself organized the East Coast Chamber
of Commerce, which secured from the Florida Legislature in 1915 and 1917, six constructive
bills. Mr. BIGGERS is a Knight Templar Mason and Shriner, and is a charter member of Alcazar
Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Montgomery, Alabama. He is a member of the Congregational
Church of West Palm Beach, and has been active in Sunday School work as a teacher for a
quarter of a century. He is a member of the Kiwanis Club and is a director of the Palm Beach
County Council of the Red Cross. He married Miss EFFIE BLAU, of Columbus, Georgia.

Pesented by Nancy Rayburn

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