Even though they spelled their surname differently, George Washington Lainhart and William M. Lanehart were brothers.
In 1870, they were both living at Titusville, Florida. George had a contract to carry the mail from Titusville to Ft. Pierce via Indian River. He also took a few passengers. In 1871, he was hired to bring a party of surveyors under Deputy U.S. Surveyor General Williams to the lake of Lake Worth. Williams had tried to survey the area in 1856 but had been driven out by Indians.
George Washington Lainhart was born in February 1849 at Albany, New York. After a few years in Florida, he returned to New York to work as a carpenter. There, in 1879, he married Martha Toll. Brother William paid him a visit and urged him to move back to Florida and live with him. George, Martha, and their young daughter, Grace, took him up on his offer in 1884 and lived in William’s rustic cabin on the shores of Lake Worth until George built his own house.
He and Martha had two more children, born in Florida, Sons Spencer and Donald. Martha died in 1907, and in 1909, George married Minnie Stirk at Poughkeepsie, New York, and brought her back to his home on Palm Beach.
Most of the pioneers were active in the community, resourceful and capable, and George was no exception. He became known as a builder of fine homes, one of which was for Robert R. McCormick who later sold it to Henry M. Flagler for $75,000. Lainhart went into the lumber business with George Potter and their company, Lainhart and Potter, is still in business in 1994. Both of Lainhart’s sons, Spencer and Donald, were active in the business.
In 1889, George was commissioned to lay out a road from the lake area to Miami. The mosquitoes were fierce at that time, and his crew had to wear mosquito nets. They carried guns in the event there were sharks at the inlets or wild animals along the way. They persevered, and this route became Dixie Highway.
George Lainhart was one of three men to name Palm Beach, after their first choice, Palm City, was rejected, there already being a city by that name in Florida.
Lainhart was one of the men appointed by the U.S. Government to survey and appraise the “Fort Jupiter Reservation.” Lainhart bought a nearby tract of land and started an orange grove, “Loxa-grove.” He won a gold medal for his prize oranges at the St. Louis Worlds Fair.
Respected in the community, George Lainhart served as a county commissioner for sixteen years and also on the board of public instruction. He was a vice president of First National Bank, founded in 1893, and a director of the old Citizens Bank.
George Washington Lainhart died in October 1930, in a hotel in New York City. He was eighty-one. He and Mrs. Lainhart were on their way home from a vacation in Maine when he was taken sick. His body was brought to his Palm Beach home, “Grasmere,” where services were held, and he is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, West Palm Beach.