Class XV History Day started at 7:30 am at Ridgway Bar & Grill with a breakfast and panel of long time Naples residents and business owners.  John R. Wood, Doris Reynolds and Merle Harris regaled us with many wonderful stories of the early residents of Naples.

It was time to work off the breakfast pastry with a walking tour of Old Naples and Palm Cottage.  After the tour, we departed for the Collier County Museum and presentations by David Southall, Curator of Education, and, Lodge McKee, Historian and Naples resident.  David and Lodge presented history from 1500 to post hurricane Donna.

After a box lunch, we headed to Everglades City.  Our first stop was the Museum of the Everglades for a presentation by Tim England, Manager of the museum, featuring Everglades history and the dredge that dug the Tamiami Trail.  The class had the opportunity for a self-guided tour of the museum before walking to Everglades City Hall.  There we met with Mary Jene Koenes, member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.  Mary Jene is active in preserving the history of her culture and a third generation cattle owner at Big Cypress Reservation.

We then traveled to Chokolaskee to the Smallwood Store with Tim England on board the bus pointing out various locations of historic interest in the Everglades City area.  The group toured the Smallwood Store, and, met the wife of the great grandson of Ted Smallwood, Teresa McMillin, who operates the store as a museum.  Tim also presented background on the 100th anniversary of the murder of Mr. Watson which happened on the site of the Smallwood Store.

Late afternoon we headed back to Naples and ended the day at Ridgway Bar & Grill for a light hearted session with several of our daytime speakers plus Tony Ridgway and Paul Arsenault, a Naples artist who has preserved historical buildings on canvas.  The theme of the hour was sunset and dining in Naples over the decades.  Time was provided for Class XV to mingle with the presenters and ask questions in small, informal groups.

The day had many highlights and all the presenters were fabulous.  Thank you to the History Day team, Sandy Abookire, Penny Isermann, Mally Khorasantichi and Sara Williams for a great kickoff to Class XV’s first session day on the road.

Photo of Mary Jene Koenes by Van Williams, Class XV

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