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Marie Pimm P.A.
Real Estate Consultant

Marie Pimm, P.A. Realtor
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888.777.1193 ext. 499

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History of Estero, Florida

Estero´s History

Founded when 250 pioneering settlers carved a new, Utopian society out of the Southwest Florida wilderness in 1894, richly historic Estero can claim a heritage filled with ancient Native Americans, Spanish conquistadors, citrus and cattle farmers, a unique religious sect and, finally, 20th century retirees.

Today, as the community forges its way into the 21st century, young families and professionals join the ranks of the retirees. The citrus groves and cattle herds may be dwindling, but Estero´s colorful history is being carefully preserved by the Estero Historical Society. The Society´s several dozen members have collected hundreds of photographs, artifacts and first-person narratives that chronicle its colorful past.

Calusas & Spaniards
Estero, along with much of coastal Southwest Florida, was inhabited thousands of years ago by ancient tribes of Native American Calusas. The Calusas fished the Gulf, established settlements near fresh water tributaries, and paddled cypress canoes to colonies in other areas. Archaeologists believe nearby Mound Key in Estero Bay may be the tribes´ regional center; the 125-acre island is about 33 feet high and covered with massive middens - refuse heaps composed of discarded shells.Calusa Indian, Estero Fl

In the 1500s, Spanish explorers and enterprising pirates sailed Southwest Florida´s coastal waters in treasure-laden galleons. They named this area "Estero," the Spanish word for estuary. Some purposely put ashore to rest and refill their water casks, others were driven in by storms and high winds, and still others sank to the sea´s bottom, overcome by hurricanes.

When word returned to the Spanish monarchy of this new land and its tall, fierce-looking inhabitants (the Calusas), Ponce de Leon was sent on a mission of conquest. He sailed as far south as Estero Bay, but the warrior tribes defeated him and drove him back to sea.Other Spaniards followed, and the Calusa were eventually conquered-but by disease, not warfare. Common European illnesses such as smallpox and influenza spread like wildfire among the sheltered tribes, and the last known Calusa died in the late 1700s.

Citrus, Cattle & Koreshans

By the mid 1800s, Florida had become a land of opportunity. Pioneer families headed south, settling on the high ground created by the Calusas and raising citrus and cattle. Frank Johnson, one of Lee County´s early pioneers, settled on Mound Key and began excavating the historic site, gathering Calusa artifacts and gold left behind by the Spaniards.

In 1904, the Koreshans, a celibate Utopian society that settled by the Estero River, built a post office at their settlement and Estero officially became a town. But three years later, other local citizens protested the incorporation, and the neophyte city was once again part of unincorporated Lee County.The Koreshans gradually dwindled in numbers, and when their leader, Dr. Cyrus Teed, died in 1908, the group began breaking up. The four remaining members deeded the Koreshan property to the State of Florida in 1961.

Today, the Koreshan State Historic Site includes several preserved buildings, and fishing, camping, nature study, picnicking and boating are popular activities. Canoe rentals are available and park rangers offer guided walks and campfire programs according to seasonal demand.



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