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MIHS Alley Proposal – Part III

Painting of Cushing inside the Silver Spray painted by Wells Sawyer

By Noelle H. Lowery and Craig Woodward During its Aug. 1 regular meeting, the city of Marco Island Planning Board approved a proposal from the Marco Island Historical Society (MIHS) to name 11 currently unnamed alleys around the island after major players in Marco’s history. With a vote of 6-1, the proposal was passed onto City Council, but council has yet to set a date to review and consider the proposal. An initiative of the MIHS, the proposal will help mark the 50th anniversary of modern Marco, which begins January 2015. Society members believe it is a good time to ... Read More »

MIHS Alley Proposal – Part II

Lostman’s Key

By Noelle H. Lowery and Craig Woodward During its Aug. 1 regular meeting, the city of Marco Island Planning Board approved a proposal from the Marco Island Historical Society (MIHS) to name 11 currently unnamed alleys around the island after major players in Marco’s history. With a vote of 6-1, the proposal was passed onto City Council for review and approval. The proposal is the brainchild of Marco Island historian and attorney Craig Woodward, who worked with several members of the MIHS to come up with local historical figures who were not already recognized in some way around the island. ... Read More »

Hiking with Henry Lowe: Part Two North of the Isles of Capri

Henry Lowe holds the top part of an old carbide light.
PHOTOS BY CRAIG WOODWARD

COASTAL HISTORY Craig Woodward CWoodward@wpl-legal.com Heading north of Isles of Capri on the hiking trail that was formerly the old Marco Road, I was joined by Henry Lowe and Steve Purcell in an expedition to locate and explore Henry’s former home site, which his family occupied starting in 1939. The old Marco Road began from its intersection with U.S. 41, in the location of today’s Hitching Post, and ended at a ferry crossing in the current Isles of Capri. The road was built around 1912 as part of the Naples-Marco segment of the developing Tamiami Trail which by 1915 was ... Read More »

Hiking with Henry Lowe: North of the Isles of Capri

PHOTO BY ALVIN LEDERER

COASTAL HISTORY Craig Woodward CWoodward@wpl-legal.com A conversation led to my taking a walk in the woods with Henry Lowe accompanied by Steve Purcell. We were on an expedition to hike the 1912 old Marco Road and seek out the location where Henry had lived as a child. Armed with bug spray, we headed north of Capri Boulevard and followed a hiking trail into the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Preserve. We quickly found that the trail was not used much as we were forced to climb over fallen trees, push through dense brush and fight heavy vines. Henry pointed out ... Read More »

Joe Dickman: the hermit of Kice Island?

Joe on his front porch.

COASTAL HISTORY Craig Woodward CWoodward@wpl-legal.com South of Marco Island is the well known Cape Romano with its famous, dilapidated dome house tilted on washed out pilings above the Gulf of Mexico. Kice Island, located north of Cape Romano and just south of Marco Island, received almost no attention until recently, when a number of pilot whales beached themselves there. Kice Island is a beautiful island, running parallel to the Gulf with a long, sandy beachfront; leaving us to wonder, how did it get its name and what can we find of its history? Almost 100 years ago, on Sept. 27, 1915, ... Read More »

The Star of the Everglades Its Journey From the 1920s to Today Part 2

The “New” Star of the Everglades, at the time moored at Boat Haven in Naples, then owned by Capt. Jim Martin. (c. 1971). PHOTO S BY JIM MARTI N

COASTAL HISTORY Craig Woodward CWoodward@wpl-legal.com In our last issue, the history of the original vessel, the Star (of the Everglades), operated by the Lopez family from Lopez River and Chokoloskee was covered, including its use in hosting several U.S. Presidents, its being part of the classic local film “Wind Across the Everglades,” and its key role in opening up sports fishing for tourists in the Ten Thousand Islands. That boat was retired and replaced by a new vessel, a beautiful yacht with a colorful history. After finishing its service in charter fishing, the new boat was owned and lived on ... Read More »

The Star of the Everglades Its Journey From the 1920s to Today

The historical Lopez home located on the Lopez River. Jim Webb recalls that at the end of mullet season there were always big parties held here; the home no longer exists. Photo by Alvin Lederer

COASTAL HISTORY Craig Woodward CWoodward@wpl-legal.com Mention the vessel Star of the Everglades to local, long-time residents, and it brings a big smile to their faces. Soon, they are flooded with memories of this fabulous boat which was aptly named the Star. Not only was the Star a luxury cruise boat for its day, but it also opened up the Ten Thousand Islands to world-class fishing. Digging into the vessel’s history, one quickly hears stories. Its first owner made money in the bird feather, or plume, trade in the late 1800s. The boat’s builder was extremely wealthy, becoming famous by running whiskey ... Read More »

Mystery at Hideaway Beach

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COASTAL HISTORY Craig Woodward CWoodward@wpl-legal.com In September of 2010 the Marco Island Police Department received a concerned phone call saying that someone had discovered a number of large bones near the shore during a very low tide at Hideaway Beach. Sergeant Hector Diaz, who responded to the call, could see that the bones were projecting from what appeared to be an old wooden barrel – the remains of which were adjacent to the bones, making it appear the body had once been placed inside the barrel. Gene Erjavec, a Marco Islander who has worked on many local archaeological digs was called ... Read More »

Unknown Islands & Marco’s Geological Growth

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By Craig Woodward So, have you been to Karina Island or Pelican Island? Even readers who are very familiar with the Marco Island area and the adjacent 10,000 Islands may ask “Where?” to that question. But even more amazing, for some local residents the answer is not only “Yes,” but that they currently live there. Many others have actually been there often without realizing it! We need to travel back in time 120 years to 1893 and take a peek at a U.S. Coast and Geodetic Nautical Chart of that era to help answer the question. First a little background ... Read More »

The Predator of the Sea: Marco’s Commercial Shark Fishing

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By Craig Woodward The former Coconut Island was a traditional place to raft up your boat, along with your friends’ boats, on a lazy Sunday afternoon and have a cookout on the beach while everyone swam and simply relaxed. It was a beautiful location – just north of the future Hideaway Beach, due east of Isles of Capri, situated in the mouth of the Marco River and the view to the west was of the Gulf of Mexico and the setting sun. Hurricane Donna created Coconut Island in 1960 when the south tip of Cannon Island was cut off; over ... Read More »

REMEMBERING HELEN: Building the Marco Community

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By Craig Woodward  CWoodward@wpl-legal.com  On Wednesday, November 14, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, a church which first opened 46 years earlier in November of 1966, many old timers came together to celebrate the life of a Modern Marco pioneer – Helen Tateo. She and her husband, Vince, moved to Marco Island in August of 1966, just a little over a year and a half after the official grand opening of the Island on January 31, 1965. They had first visited in February of 1966 and within eight months moved here permanently, bringing with them their three young sons: Paul, age ... Read More »

Florida at War

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COASTAL HISTORY Craig Woodward  CWoodward@wpl-legal.com  As we reflect on a peaceful Veteran’s Day with great weather and our local beaches full, it is hard to envision a time when Florida skies were full of fighter pilots, our coasts under constant watch for enemy attack, and U.S. sailors both dead and wounded were being brought into Florida hospitals. World War II was not only fought in Europe and in the South Pacific, but was also fought here at home. Few remember that Nazi Germany brought WW II literally to our shores, with U-boats (submarines) paroling up and down our coasts looking for ... Read More »

The Astronomical Station at Cape Romano and the Caximba route

COASTAL HISTORY  Craig Woodward  CWoodward@wpl-legal.com The last few issues of this newspaper have contained excellent articles about Cape Romano, regarding the history of the dome house and the former pyramid house built in the early 1980s. This large point of land is one of Florida’s earliest recognized geographic features similar to Florida’s other large cape, Cape Canaveral. So, let’s investigate the early history of Cape Romano. Our story started 500 years ago when, in 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon sailed up the Southwest Coast of Florida on his first discovery trip of Florida. A few years later in 1521, he returned ... Read More »

Broaden your Horizons

The Marco Island Historical Society is pleased to announce a marvelous pair of events for the merry month of May. We invite you to broaden your horizons with a concentration on the history of Fort Myers. On May 1, our regular monthly meeting will begin at 7:00 P.M. in the Rose History Auditorium with our featured speaker Matthew Johnson, Director of Cultural and Historic Affairs or the city of Fort Myers.  His power point presentation will include references to the time 10,000 ago when stone age people inhabited Florida, and will bring us up to date with the ancient Indians of ... Read More »

150 years ago – Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Weeks

COASTAL HISTORY  Craig Woodward  CWoodward@wpl-legal.com An article titled “The Headstone Project” was published in this column on October 7, 2011. Donations were requested for the purchase of a headstone for Elizabeth (Lizzie) Weeks Barnes Sawyer. Granny Sawyer, as she was known before her death, was buried in an unmarked grave at the Marco Island Cemetery. She died in 1939, in the middle of the depression and her family had a simple burial at the cemetery, later adding a tabby mortar slab, where her name had once been scratched in the surface. For over half a century there was no visible clue ... Read More »

Deltona Settlement Agreement – and its enormous impact

Craig Woodward  CWoodward@wpl-legal.com The one single document with the greatest impact on the growth and density of Marco Island would be, without a doubt, the “Deltona Settlement Agreement.” This document created much of the current developed and undeveloped “eastern” Marco Island, as well as much of Rookery Bay and also created a great deal of the “951 Corridor” south of U.S. 41. The Agreement was not your normal arm’s length negotiated “deal” but was, in fact, the end result of years of complex litigation between the Deltona Corporation, who were the developers of Marco Island and of Marco Shores, and ... Read More »

Rev. George W. Gatewood, Fishing, the 1900 Census and Religious Zeal

COASTAL HISTORY  Craig Woodward  CWoodward@wpl-legal.com The first full time minister in Southwest Florida was George W. Gatewood. Before Reverend Gatewood, at age 24, came to scout out the area in 1886, there had been traveling Protestant preachers who held periodic revivals as well as Roman Catholic priests, from Key West, who came to the Chokoloskee area to attend to the spiritual needs of the Santini family and other Catholics; but none of them actually resided here. In the late 1800s, Key West was the principal city of the area and a number of the Conchs were Methodists. “Conchs” being the name ... Read More »

Surveying problems in the Ten Thousand Islands

Submitted by Everglades Historical Society  Imagine not being able to obtain a deed to property on which you have built a house and lived in for years! That was just one of the problems faced by pioneering settlers in “Florida’s Last Frontier”. Surveyors faced myriad obstacles such as shifting coastlines and, of course, mosquitoes. Meanwhile, the State was transferring vast tracts of land to railroad companies without regard to pioneers’ homestead rights. To learn more about early attempts to establish property boundaries and obtain titles, you can attend an illustrated presentation: “Surveying Problems in the Ten Thousand Islands” on Friday, February ... Read More »

Explore our Island history!

Submitted by Friends of Fakahatchee  Join us for a really unique “Olde Florida” treat. The Friends of Fakahatchee are hosting Coastal Cruises through the mysterious mangroves of the Ten Thousands Island. On the way, you will probably see dolphins cavorting with the tour boat. When you arrive at Fakahatchee Island, a naturalist will point out unusual plants on the path up the ancient shell mound to the old cemetery. On the return journey, the boat passes by a famous rookery where the birds will be settling down for the evening. We might think of “Fakahatchee” as a swamp with Ghost Orchids ... Read More »

Spanish Fishing, Salt and Bureaucracy

Craig Woodward CWoodward@wpl-legal.com While most know that the Spanish discovered Florida and that the U.S. later purchased it from Spain, few know that for 20 years England owned and controlled the state, which they divided into East Florida (the peninsula) with its headquarters in St. Augustine, and West Florida (the panhandle) with its headquarters in Pensacola. These twenty years were a critical time for the U.S – from 1763 to 1783 – the years encompassing the American Revolution, a time when life might have been much easier if an ally like Spain and not England controlled the area south of ... Read More »