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Historical Articles

Barefoot Williams
By Bonnie Jean Cousineau, Naples Historical Society Docent

As residents and visitors are aware, many of the highways and byways in this area are named for the movers and shakers who contributed to the development of Naples -- Collier Boulevard, Goodlett-Frank Road and Crayton Cove are just three among many. There is another, perhaps less well-known and certainly less well-traveled road in east Naples that is a named for John Archie Williams, otherwise known as "Barefoot Williams." According to Dr. Earl Baum, who knew Williams, "the road that bears his name has great historical more »

by J Arthur Stewart

I was born at 55 12th Avenue South in Naples on August 13, 1909 and spent all of my early life here. At that time the year round population was less than 40 and when I started school there were just 15 students enrolled in grades 1 through 8 in the little schoolhouse just west of our house at 165 Broad Avenue South. Since I am one of the very few people, now living, that remember what Naples was like in those early days, I thought it would be worthwhile for me to record my observations for more »

by Barbara Jones, Docent Naples Historical Society

Early Naples comprised a collection of colorful characters-like, for example, Mr. Speed Menefee, who lived up to his name by being dubbed "Naples 15-minute Mayor". Social life was all-inclusive: rich and poor, young and old gathered here and there at more »

Henry Watterson...a Notable Man in Naples History
by Bonnie Jean Cousineau, Docent, Naples Historical Society

Visitors to Palm CottageTM, a 3,500 sq. ft. historic house museum located in the heart of Naples' historic district, are sometimes reminded that such luminaries as film stars Hedy Lamarr and Gary Cooper were at one time guests here. Indeed, their celebrity is part of the reason Palm Cottage is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A far more illustrious guest, however, was Henry Watterson, whose portrait hangs in the Palm Cottage more »

by Barbara Jones, Docent, Naples Historical Society

Luther Burbank said: Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine to the more »


Most of us may remember Walter Haldeman's name when we think back to the beginning of Naples. But, how about Roger Gordon? Joe Wiggins or the Weeks brothers?

After the Civil War ended, when many Southerners lost everything, Florida was seen as a "land of opportunity." As early as 1868, poor families or single men trekked down the Gulf Coast in oxcarts, mule wagons, or boats, to rebuild their lives. Their aims were the same: to scratch out a living by fishing, hunting, or farming on "free land," where they could claim "squatter's rights." It was a process where you'd build a house, raise crops, show improvements to the land as a squatter, but at the end of three years, file a more »

Historic Structures & Homes in the Wilderness By Barbara Jones, Docent - Naples Historical Society

Early creatures, humans included, took refuge in convenient caves. As brains developed, so did concepts of shelters. Our ancient ancestors surveyed their environment and through trial and error employed the properties of natural elements for building homes. So what happens if your environs consist of sandy beach and swamp?

Early native inhabitants of Florida maintained a viable culture based on the abundance of flora and fauna around them. The Seminole word for "house" was chickee-a cozy-sounding name for one's safe place. But safety was illusory for the Seminoles, who were pressed and hounded ever further into the interior of the Everglades by soldiers clearing the way for settlers and more »