Blog Description

Mound House Happenings shares the latest in ongoing projects, site improvements, scheduled programs and events, plus interesting facts and photos on our unique archaeology, history and ecology.

Mound House

Mound House
October 15, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Plants In Profile #28

FIREBUSH (Hamelia patens)
The Mound House is home to a wide variety of plants and trees.   Firebush, a native species of Florida, is one of the more colorful and interesting shrubs and is located right outside our office door.  Blossoming all year long with bright red and showy flowers, these plants are often featured in tropical landscaping.  The fruit of this shrub is a juicy red berry that is edible, but unremarkable in flavor.  Beyond enhancing the landscape with color, firebush serves as a host plant to attract butterflies and migratory hummingbirds.  While beneficial to wildlife, firebush has also been selected for the landscape at Mound House because of its medicinal and industrial uses.  Historically, firebush was utilized by Native Americans to treat skin problems such as burns, insect bites and rashes.   Recent research into the medicinal value of firebush has revealed that extracts from this plant showed analgesic and anti- inflammatory uses.  In addition, tannins from this plant are used in several industrial applications as well.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Plants In Profile #27


WILD COTTON ( Gossyplum hirsutum)

The newest addition to the Mound House botanical collection is a native plant often found on ancient shell middens such as ours here at Mound House. In the wild, growing amongst the coastal hammocks and thickets, wild cotton grows as a shrub and can reach heights of 6 to 12 feet living for several years. The native range of wild cotton includes southern Florida, Mexico, northern South America , Central America and the West  Indies. People have been cultivating and using cotton for over two thousand years, spinning the fibers of the cotton bolls into fabric and string. Today, modern varieties of cotton are the most widely used natural fiber in the world and the seeds of cotton are used in the production of oils and animal food. In herbal medicine, cotton seed and roots have been used to treat asthma , dysentery and cancer and is occasionally planted as an ornamental. Interestingly, in Florida, a permit is required  from the State to grow wild cotton, even though it is listed as an endangered plant. Oddly, this plant achieved its endangered status due to extensive eradication efforts in the 1930s which nearly obliterated wild cotton from the Florida. Wild cotton was eradicated in an effort to prevent the spread of boll weevils from wild sources into cultivated crops. Even though there is no cultivated cotton crop within several hundred miles of the Mound House and our plants, the Florida Department of Agriculture still requires a permit to grow cotton and monitors the site with insect traps to detect the potential presence of the boll weevil.       


Friday, September 20, 2013


During the seventeenth, eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth centuries, there was an
extensive and lucrative fishing industry between Cuba and the coast of Southwest Florida
which included the waters of Estero Bay and our own Mound House site. Semi-permanent
seasonal fishing camps or "ranchos" were established along the coast, many of which
occupied the abandoned shell mounds of the Calusa . The abundance and accessibility of
this tremendous shallow water fishery that had enabled the Calusa to establish a vast and sophisticated kingdom, now supported a new group of people, the Cuban fisherfolk. The protected back bays and expansive sea grass flats of our area lent themselves to the simple
fishing technology of the day. Using handmade woven nets and shallow draft sailboats,
these Cuban fishermen harvested up to two million pounds of fish a year from our waters.
Without refrigeration, fish had to be smoked ,or dried and salted before being packed for
shipment to market.

For centuries, South Florida was more closely tied to Havana than to any other port or
capitol in North America. It is roughly one hundred miles by water from Estero Island
to Key West, and another 90 miles to Havana. As a Spanish possession, "La Florida"
had no gold or silver for the conquistadors, but Florida is rich in natural resources, and
in the long run provided many colonial benefits to Spain.

With the ascendancy of Spanish influence in the western hemisphere, Havana became
a populous port city and soon the  productive fishing grounds along the north coast of
Cuba had become depleted. Feeding the growing colony of Cuba was a lucrative enterprise
for the commercial fishing industries of the day. The Spanish Crown leased exclusive
fishing rights to Cuban businessmen who set up seasonal, and sometimes permanent,
ranchos upon the old Calusa shell mounds. In the fall, fishermen would target species
such as redfish ,snapper, trout, pompano ,and particularly the mullet which begin to
fatten up in the fall in preparation for the winter spawn in which vast schools of mullet
assemble in the tidal creeks  and back bays of our estuaries, making them  accessible to the
Cuban nets. As these fish were harvested,they were smoked or dried upon racks, salted and
packed for shipment to Cuba. Around March, at the end of the fishing season, these fishermen
would then sail to the Bahamas to harvest salt collected from seawater evaporation pools. 
This salt was then brought back to the fishing ranchos in preparation for another season.
As trade became more established, many Cuban fishermen ended up marrying local Indian
women. Historians and other observers of the day referred to the descendants of these people
as "Spanish Indians". These families often  joined the Catholic church and sent their children
back to Cuba for education.

For 200 years Cuban fishing ranchos operated along the coast of Southwest Florida, many
of them, like the Mound House site, established atop ancient Calusa mounds .Ultimately,
Spain ceded control of Florida to the United States in 1821, and in 1835 the Second Seminole
War ended the era of Cuban fishing ranchos in Florida as the United sought to end foreign
settlement of its new territory.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Jack DeLysle and Rum smuggling

While the Mound House has had a variety of interesting resdients, one of the most colorful was a British promoter named Jack DeLysle. DeLysle came to Southwest Florida amid charges of smuggling rum from Cuba to the United States during the alcohol free era of Prohibition. The following narrative describes the event and is pulled from newspaper accounts from the time.
Jack DeLysle in front of a Ft. Myers home

The Uralia, a schooner containing a ship load of whiskey was wrecked on a sand bar below Naples during heavy northeast gale Saturday, the fifteenth of January 1921. Three days before the ship had set anchor off the coast of Naples and when the storm hit the crew attempted to secure the boat in Gordon’s Pass and became grounded on a sand bar. A large number of cases of alcohol washed ashore and were then salvaged and were either hidden in mangroves or stolen and changed hands.  The vessel originated in Mobile several weeks before the incident under the name Frank M. and sailed under an American flag. It then sailed to Tampa, Naples, and Key West before it anchored in Havana. It was here that the boat was loaded with alcohol and changed its name to Uralia and its flag to British. Its destination was meant to be Pensacola but the Uralia was forced to drop anchor off of Fort Myers due to the storm.

The crew originally consisted of Jack and John Delyse, Captain Brindley L. Coats, a Spaniard, and a black deck hand named Cleveland Bodden or Bedden. Jack DeLysle, had previously served in World War I as a captain in the air service and “acted as one of the official air photographers for the British government.” DeLysle met his wife and two year old son in Havana and sailed back to Fort Myers with his family on a separate ship. At the time of the shipwreck DeLysle and his family were living in a suite at a Naples hotel and “apparently caring little for expense. Among the incidentals added to the furnishings of the suite was a handsome piano.” When police arrived at the shipwreck, the crew consisted of John Delysle, the Spaniard, and Cleveland, John claimed that he was merely the engineer and that the captain had fled the ship.

Major William, federal prohibition enforcement officer, arrived in Fort Myers from Tampa and worked alongside Sheriff Frank B. Tippins and Officer John Barnhill to investigate the illegal alcohol aboard the ship. They estimated that originally the Uralia held close to 995 cases. The cases were labeled “Soap” and marked in blue chalk with the number “12.” While most of these cases disappeared, the officials were able to find a couple of cases labeled “Country Club” whiskey. The alcohol in these branded boxes appeared to have originated from New Hope Kentucky before Prohibition was enacted, at that time it was shipped out of the country to Cuba. The officers stated that the liquor is a very poor grade, at least the bottles discovered by them. The investigators discovereed Cleveland’s diary and found that he was employed by Captain Coats three months prior to the incident; he and the captain met the DeLysles in Mobile Alabama and chartered them for this trip. They then sailed to St. Andrews Bay and then down to Tampa where the DeLysles came aboard. It appears that on the cruise down south between Key West and Cuba Capt. Coats and DeLysle had a quarrel “over whether they should bring back with them a load of Chinamen or a load of booze, the former claiming it was more profitable to smuggle in Chinamen to the United State.” Once they arrived in Havana Coats registered the boat as the Uralia under Cleveland’s name since he was a British subject.

The DeLysle brothers were taken to Tampa for a trial before Walter O. Sheppard, the United States Commissioner. The two brothers were represented by their attorney R.A. Henderson. Cleveland was called as a witness during the trial as was Will Tomlinson and J.O. Whidden.
Both brothers were declared innocent after it was found that a number of the witnesses had been caught with liquor and one of them at least had been convicted several times previously for illegal sale of liquor. The testimony of one man, that he purchased illegal liquor from Jack DeLysle, was thrown out after several witnesses proved that Jack DeLysle was not in Fort Myers on the day the witness said, nor for two days prior to that time.  The jury acquitted the DeLysle brothers after only ten minutes of deliberation and with not a single dissenting vote. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

CREATURE FEATURE #25 - American Oystercatcher

 AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (Haematopus palliatus) 

A wide variety of shorebirds inhabit the Florida coastline, each filling a unique ecological niche between land and sea. And of course, that is where human encroachment is at  its greatest along the Gulf Coast. As such, many of these species are listed as threatened or endangered, or, as in the case of the American Oystercatcher, listed as a “Species of Special Concern” by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The FWC estimates that there are only about 1,000 of these individuals living in the State. But little is known about the movement, migration, or the population of these birds.

 The Oystercatcher, with their dark brown back and white underside and a bright red bill, is one of the largest and heaviest of our shorebirds. In flight, a diagonal white stripe on each wing forms a “V”pattern.
These birds need extensive sandbars and mudflats in which to forage and nest. They are very sensitive to human disturbance and require remote locations to thrive, which is very hard to find on the coast of Florida. Oystercatchers usually nest in shallow depressions scraped out of sand and surrounded by water.This makes them subject to predators such as raccoons, foxes, dogs, and cats.

 According to the FWC, Oystercatchers get their name for their habit of snatching oysters from slightly open shells. They use their powerful bills to open mollusks and sort through shells on the beach in search of food.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

PLANTS IN PROFILE #26 - THRYALLIS (Galphimia glauca)

Summer rains bring back a vibrant and colorful element to the vegetation at Mound House. Many species who wait out the dry weather of late spring return more robust and vigorous than ever. In the scientific and medicinal gardens portion of our site, be sure to check out the beautiful golden flowers of the thryallis, in full bloom just in time for summer.

A medium sized, evergreen shrub, these hardy low maintenance plants have become popular in Florida as landscaping hedges and for adding color to lawns.

A native of the tropical regions of southern Mexico and Central America, thryallis does well here on Estero Island and can tolerate the sometimes tough conditions that come with growing on a 2,000 year old shell mound. 

Traditionally, thryallis is used to treat asthma and allergies in Latin America, and is even employed in the treatment of mental disorders.     

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

CREATURE FEATURE #25 - American Avocet

AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra Americana)

This remarkable wading bird is a migratory resident of Estero Island, but occasionally  turns up on our beaches in its magnificent breeding season plumage. Usually found in grey and black plumage, the striking coloration and elegant profile of the American Avocet stands out among our shorebirds. Standing on the longest of legs they feed on invertebrates with wide sweeps of their delicate upturned bill. When nesting, the Avocet is remarkably aggressive towards predators, sometimes, physically striking crows and hawks. American Avocets may lay eggs in their own nests or use the nest of other shore birds. This also occurs with other species of shorebirds who leave their own eggs to be raised by Avocets.  The young can leave the nest after only one day, feeding, walking and even diving on their own.

The birds shown in these photographs were observed feeding in the surf on the south end of Estero Island.

(Photos courtesy of Ellen Fernandez)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

PLANTS IN PROFILE #25 - Saltwort

 Saltwort (Salicornia spp.)

There are several species of saltwort present on Estero Island and several of them can be found growing naturally along the shoreline at Mound House. These low growing fleshy plants are extremely salt tolerant and can even spend hours at a time immersed in salt water. These plants are able to retain the sodium found in salt water. As such, the genus Salicornia includes many varieties also known as glasswort. This name taken from the ancient practice of using the ashes of Salicornia to make soda ash, a component in glass making as well as in the manufacture of soap. Also known as “sea beans,” these plants are edible and are used in salads and can be steamed or sautéed.    

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Volunteer Spotlight

Mound House staff would like to take this opportunity to thank volunteer Geri Biggs for her invaluable service as a kayak tour volunteer. Her experience and patience in teaching kayaking skills and making visitors feel comfortable is a major contribution to our kayaking programs. Quietly sharing knowledge and understanding of our islands’ back bays and tidal creeks with inexperienced nervous visitors in wobbly kayaks requires a unique talent that Geri graciously provides.

Geri comes to us from the Chicago area. She has taught at all levels, from 2nd grade to High School, and it shows in her patient and outstanding lessons while kayaking. She also coached high school Track & Field, Cross Country, Soccer, and Girls Basketball.  After Geri and her husband retired 10 years ago, they began enjoying winters on beautiful Ft. Myers Beach. They have 5 children and 14 grandchildren.  Nine years ago the Biggs sold their house to one of their daughters and now enjoy the freedom of living and traveling in their motorhome. They have visited 48 states, most provinces of Canada, and Mexico. Some of her many hobbies include nature photography, kayaking, and any sport or physical activity. Recently, Geri donated dozens of stunning, matted and sealed images of native wading birds, shorebirds, and birds of prey in our area for use as reference. This resource has already come in useful as we give kayakers a close up view of the birds they may have seen only far in the distance. This valuable addition of images is deeply appreciated by staff and visitors alike. Geri shared with us, “This area of Florida is an excellent place to explore nature especially in a kayak. I enjoy volunteering at the Mound House because I meet interesting people and share my love to the water.”

Thanks again to Geri and all of our amazing volunteers that help keep Mound House running!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Moment of Zen

It is this time of year the beautiful jacaranda tree explodes in purple blooms. If you have a chance, stop by and see our jacaranda tree's stunning flowers. If you have any pictures of jacaranda trees you have taken in Southwest Florida or our trees here at Mound House you would like to share please send them to and we will share them here in our Moments of Zen.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Calusa Neighbors

 Visitors to the Mound House are offered an opportunity to learn about the Calusa culture and those who built and lived on this site so long ago. As a distinct culture, the Calusa are described as a having a well-organized and stratified society who traded extensively and collected tribute from tribes from as far away as the east coast of Florida and the Kissimmee River basin. One of the groups with whom the Calusa interacted, traded with, and may have battled, were their neighbors to the north, known by archaeologists as the “Manasota People."

 Among the various groups of people to inhabit Florida, the Manasota lived along the coast just north of here. The Manasota culture extended from Sarasota County north to Tampa Bay.  Like the Calusa, the Manasota culture evolved from the earlier Archaic cultures of mobile hunters and gatherers that settled along the west coast as far back as 4000 BC. Also, like their neighbors to the south, the Manasota developed an extensive array of settlements along the coast. They lived on mounds located in hammocks near the estuaries and derived their subsistence from fish and shellfish as well as hunting and gathering plants from the inland.
Early on, the Manasota did not have a hierarchical society, and leadership was based on individual ability, rather than inherited status. This is inferred due to the absence of artifacts in graves and there not being any indication of differential treatment in death suggests an egalitarian society.

 Later in their history, the Manasota appear to have adopted some of the religious and ceremonial practices of other cultures to the north.  Archaeological evidence of these adaptations is found in the use of sand burial mounds and the placement of ornate pottery in graves. Evidence from around 900 AD on suggests a change in political and religious practices as a result of an increasing population. At this point in history, there was a distinct change in the culture of the Manasota, perhaps as a result of the influence of other Mississippian tribes to the north, the Manasota culture as distinct entity in the historical record ceased to exist.  A new culture emerged, called the Safety Harbor culture, and practices such as division of labor and the management of resources to protect against famine and warfare became established.  The unequal status of people can be seen in the importance of flat topped temple mounds in which the most influential people, including political, religious and military leaders, lived atop the mounds with most of the rest of the population living below. A similar type of social structure and living conditions can also be found in the archaeological record here at Mound House.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Creature Feature #24 - Yellow-rumped Warbler

Creature Feature #24 

YELLOW- RUMPED WARBLER (Stetophaga coronata)

 Winter is the time of year when Mound House becomes a stopover for dozens of species of hungry migratory birds. Our rich and diverse native landscaping serves up a natural buffet where traveling birds find winter fruiting species such wax myrtle, bird pepper, white indigo berry, marlberry, beautyberry, wild coffee, dahoon holly, and annatto among others. To attract birds these berries are often bright and colorful, thereby enhancing our landscape. One of the most notable winter visitors to seek our abundant natural food source is the yellow-rumped warbler. These beautiful birds winter throughout of the central and southeastern United States and make Estero Island a regular winter destination.

Affectionately referred to as “butter butt” by birdwatchers, this is a full bodied warbler with a sturdy bill and long, narrow tail. During the spring migration, the formerly subdued colors of this warbler become a dazzling mix of bright yellow, charcoal black, and white.

Yellow-rumped warblers are often found in the outer fringes and mid-story of trees. They spend much of the day eating berries from shrubs and mid-story trees. They often travel in large flocks in winter, moving into shrubby habitats including coastal vegetation, such as here at Mound House. Look for them this winter feeding in the native coastal strand vegetation that grows along the sloping perimeter of our shell mound.   


Friday, April 26, 2013

Plants in Profile #24 - Society Garlic

SOCIETY GARLIC (Tulbaghia violacea)

This attractive and useful plant can be found in the scientific and medicinal gardens at Mound House. It comes to us from South Africa. A favorite food and medicine of the Zulu, society garlic was cultivated by Dutch colonists as far back as the 1600’s. The genus name “Tulbaghia” is in honor of Ryk Tulbagh, a governor of the Cape of Good Hope back in the 1700s. “Violacea” comes from the violet like blossom. From the Dutch colonists of South Africa, society garlic found its way into the Dutch possessions of the Caribbean and ultimately, here to Florida. The flowers and leaves are eaten raw or added to salads and other dishes. The bulbs are primarily used for medicinal purposes such as treating intestinal, stomach disorders, and joint pain. The name “society garlic” comes from the Dutch practice of serving this less potent and more polite variety of garlic at social functions!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


            In 2009, I was living in Chicago when my cousin Jimmy died in Kansas City.  His funeral luncheon was at his sister’s house. His brother Bob had been house sitting for some friends in Kansas City who had just returned from a Florida vacation. They gave Bob a gorgeous Florida avocado, large, shiny bright and smooth skinned. When Bob brought that sunny avocado to the luncheon, it was agreed by all to be the best avocado any of us remembered tasting. I asked if I could have the pit to attempt to grow it.

            While I have attempted to grow many avocados, they have never survived a harsh Chicago winter even when they are brought indoors. Nevertheless, I figured I would try if for no other reason than it is a handsome plant with its' coppery leaves when it is happy. To my surprise, the pit sprouted not one, but two strong shoots! I began reporting its progress with pictures to all my cousins in Kansas City. But winter was coming! What to do!? A friend told me of a nursery about 45 miles west of Chicago where they would overwinter houseplants or patio plants of fragile nature for a nominal charge. So, off to the Spa went Jimmy's avocado!

            The next Spring when I went to retrieve Jimmy's avocado, I could not believe how well it had done! Pictures of its progress continued to be sent to Kansas. But when I picked it up in the Spring of 2012, I knew I would never get it back to the nursery and home again at the rate it was growing.

Jimmy's avocado's new home

            At the same time, I began making plans to spend the cold half of the Chicago year in Florida where my brother lived. If Jimmy’s avocado could thrive by being reprieved of the bitter, dry winter, I should pay attention and consider following its example! So in the Fall of 2012 I packed up everything AND Jimmy's avocado and drove down to Fort Myers Beach. We were intrepid travelers and arrived safe and sound where my brother has hosted Jimmy's avocado on his pool deck until I could find a suitable place for this prodigal pear.

            A perfect spot became evident at the historical, cultural, ethnobotanical site on Fort Myers Beach, the Mound House. Earliest archeological evidence showed the mighty Calusa Indians inhabited and built a shell mound on this site starting 2000 years ago where they thrived. They were gone by the 1800s, victims of warfare and diseases, but many of their resources were utilized by the early white settlers. The Mound house is the oldest structure on Fort Myers Beach and is in the process of being restored to its 1920s glory. Already the plants that people have relied on for centuries here are once again thriving. Papaya, mango, banana, avocado, pineapple, coconut, cabbage palm, orange and grapefruit trees all blossom there.

            Jimmy's avocado is starting a new life back in its homeland and besides beautifying the yard, it will provide a graphic learning experience to the visitors and schoolchildren who visit the Mound House. Thank you, Jimmy!
Jimmy's avocado with the Case House in the background

Monday, April 15, 2013


 Visitors to the Mound House are offered an opportunity to learn about the Calusa culture and those who built and lived on this site so long ago. As a distinct culture, the Calusa are described as a having a well-organized and stratified society who traded extensively and collected tribute from tribes from as far away as the east coast of Florida and the Kissimmee River basin. One of the groups with whom the Calusa interacted, traded with, and collected tribute from, were their neighbors to the east, known by archaeologists as the “Belle Glade People.” Like the Calusa to the west, these folks were also mound builders. Belle Glade people shared many of the same technologies and cultural structures as the Calusa, but are given a distinct identity based on historical accounts and archaeological evidence.

 While the Calusa lived primarily along the coast of Florida, from Charlotte Harbor to the 10,000 Islands, are known as the “Shell People,” the Glades Indians might be considered their “Freshwater” neighbors. The forests, hammocks, swamps, and ponds of the south Florida interior were, and still are, rich in fish and wildlife. The Belle Glade people harvested, ate, and utilized most everything, including alligators, frogs, turtles, and snakes. They fished for largemouth bass, catfish, bream, and garfish. They hunted deer, turkeys, bears, ducks, wading birds, and numerous small mammals such as raccoons, opossums and rabbits. As noted above, the Glades People were mound builders. However, their mounds were constructed of earth and sand rather than shell. In addition, unlike the Calusa, there is some evidence that the Glades people may have grown crops, including maize.

 The most notable of the Belle Glade archaeological sites is Fort Center, in Glades County. Here archaeologists have discovered extensive earthworks and a series of circular canal systems. Bundles of human remains and beautiful, intricate, wooden carvings of wildlife including birds, cats, bears foxes and eagles have been uncovered.  Centuries later, a cabbage palm palisade, Fort Center, was constructed by the United States army during the Third Seminole War in 1855.

 Today you can visit the Fisheating Creek Wildlife Management Area and enjoy the beautiful area the Belle Glades people once occupied. Visitors can fish, hunt, bike, canoe, and camp while taking in the natural splendor.    

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Salute to Bill Grace

Please help us in honoring our outstanding volunteer Bill Grace. Bill has been involved with Mound House even before it was Mound House! He is also the great grandson of William and Milia Case who began the construction of the historic house on our property (the Case House) back in 1906.

We ask you to help us by logging on to the Salute to Senior Service website:
searching for "William Grace" and voting for him starting on April 15. So when you finish your taxes, cruise on over and give Bill a vote. But, you're not done yet! You can vote for Bill each and every day from April 15 to April 30. Not only will this reward Bill for his incredible efforts on the part of Mound House and many other organizations throughout Southwest Florida, but it has the opportunity to reward Mound House with funds to help us to continue performing quality public programming. Also, we encourage you to leave testimonials attesting to Bill's great service, I know we are always impressed by his willingness to fight through beach traffic to reach us!

Below we have reproduced Bill's nomination and don't worry we will remind you to vote as we get closer!

Bill Grace, a board member for Lee Trust for Historic Preservation, was alerted that the Mound House property was up for sale and the historic home was threatened with demolition in 1995. With his help the Town of Fort Myers Beach acquired the Mound House property, containing the oldest standing home on the beach, started in 1906 and called the Case House, which was built atop a 2,000 year old Calusa shell mound. A portion of the mound has since been excavated to create an underground exhibit, enabling visitors to see the strata, or layers, of shell that were built up by the Calusa over hundreds of years. Bill was instrumental in developing the plan for the exhibit and the Case House, which is now in the process of being renovated into a museum space and educational facility.
Bill is the great-grandson of William and Milia Case who began the construction of the Case House. He has been an amazing asset in educating the volunteers and docents about the families who have lived at the site. He continues to help with volunteer education as well as leading weekly tours of the site. Bill is also writing the application for Mound House to be designated on the National Register of Historic Places, a very prestigious honor. As the Historic Advisor for the Town of Fort Myers Beach's Cultural and Environmental Learning Center Advisory Board, he has given vital advice and insight into the value of preservation and the procedure needed to restore the historical integrity of the building.
He is also a founding and current member of the Friends of the Koreshan State Historical Site, another amazing treasure in our community. The Lee Trust for Historical Preservation is another organization that relies on Bill. The Lee Trust searches out important and historic sites worthy of preservation in the City of Fort Myers as well as the greater Lee County area. His presence on the board and service to this organization has been of great importance.
Bill feels that the preservation of our history, both in written form and the physical structures, is important; knowledge of the past affects what we do today and what we will do in the future. Bills invaluable work in preserving our past in today's fast paced, forward looking society deserves all the accolades we can give him and we hope you join us in recognizing all his incredible efforts.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bocce Courts have been repaired!

We are happy to announce our bocce ball courts at Newton Park have been repaired and are now open!

These free ball courts are open to the public on a first come basis. You bring the equipment and we will provide the playing surface. So come throw some balls and enjoy the beautiful view. Paid parking is available at Newton Park.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Creature Feature #24 - Zebra Longwing

ZEBRA LONGWING (Helliconius charitonius)

Soon, the weather will warm and the gusty winds of winter will dissipate and spring will be upon us here at Mound House. It is then that we find so many of the numerous species of butterflies that make their home here on the Mound.

Our State butterfly, the Zebra Longwing is found throughout Florida and adults may live for several months. The female lays her eggs on the young leaves and tendrils of the purple passion flower, which will provide food for the caterpillars that emerge. They may produce numerous generations each year and these butterflies can be easily distinguished by the yellow bands on their wide black wings. Mound House has a wide variety of flowering “host” plants that provide food for several species of butterflies.      

Friday, February 22, 2013

Love Lites

This year Valentine’s Day came a week late. Well, the Friends of the Mound House's fundraiser “Love Lites” did due to thunderstorms last Thursday. Folks who wanted to honor loved ones, two legged or four!, purchased luminaries and had the opportunity to stroll the beautiful grounds at Mound House bathed in candle glow. It was a special evening enjoyed by all. The Friends hope to continue the tradition yearly, so contact Mound House in early February of next year if you would like to honor someone special in your life.

Creature Feature # 23 - Sailfin Molly

Creature Feature # 23
SAILFIN MOLLY (Poecilia latipinna)


The sailfin molly is one of the most prolific and beautiful of our forage fishes. Growing to about four or five inches, sailfin mollies are found throughout coastal waters from the Carolinas to Florida and Texas as well as the Yucatan. They are able to survive in a wide variety of conditions from salty to brackish and even fresh water. Here at Mound House, you can find sailfin mollies schooling in the shallows of  the kayak and canoe launch, amongst the rocks along our shoreline ,and even in the culvert pipes under our entrance. They are easily recognized by their flattened heads and spotted bodies. On the males,  large and colorful blue dorsal fins and tails make these species easily distinguishable. Like other species of forage fishes in our region, the sailfin molly finds its way into tidal marshes and salt flats as well as ponds and ditches where it feeds on mosquito larvae. In fact, one  method of mosquito control used here in Lee County decades ago was to excavate a series of ditches from tidal waters and  into areas of marsh or standing water so that native fishes, including the sailfin molly could find their way in and feed on the mosquito larvae growing in the formerly stagnant water.

But life is rough for the sailfin molly, they are the target of numerous species of predator fish as well as wading birds and may live less than a year after reaching maturity.   

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Creature Feature 22 - Sheepshead

SHEEPSHEAD (Archosargus probatocephalus)

If you were to spend the day here at Mound House, fishing our rocky, historic shoreline with shrimp or crabs for bait, there’s a very good chance that you would wind up with several of these tasty fish on your stringer. Winter is the time when sheepshead congregate in our cold inshore waters feeding on oysters ,crabs and other crustaceans around the rocks and pilings of the back bay.

The prisoner stripes are a dead giveaway, and the sheepshead’s unique, stubby teeth, made for crushing shells give this fish its name. While they may grow to over 15 pounds, most sheepshead found in our waters are between 2 and 5 pounds.   

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Plants in Profile #22 - Nickerbean

 #22 NICKERBEAN (Caesalpinta bonduc) 

One of the most interesting facets of exploring the mangrove coastlines of Southwest Florida is the dramatic change in vegetation that occurs with only the slightest change in topography. What would constitute a barely noticeable rise in elevation in northern habitats, will abruptly provide a completely different ecosystem in our own back bay here on Estero Island. Among the islands and along the landward of the edge of the mangrove forests , you will often find a  narrow shell ridge, perhaps only a foot or two higher than  the surrounding muck. These shell ridges are formed by wave action depositing shell onto the shore. And here on Estero Bay, sometimes the higher ground is manmade, the result of mound building activity by the Calusa centuries ago. Either way, this high ground is often guarded by thickets of the formidable nickerbean. A vine like tropical shrub covered in sharp thorns, clothes tearing, skin ripping, miserable thorns. Even the seed pods are covered in thorns.
On the plus side, the smooth grey seeds inside the pod are brilliantly shiny and waterproof. Often they can be found floating or washed up on the shore. These attractive and unusual seeds are popular in the Caribbean where they are formed into necklaces. In addition, nickerbean has historically been used to treat malaria and the shoots and young leaves can be chewed to treat toothaches, so, there’s that.      

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Historically, the Calusa have been referred to as the “Shell People” for centuries. Their extensive use of ,and trade, in shells , crafting them into tools, utensils ,weapons, ornaments and even building material is well documented in the archaeological record and in abundant evidence here at Mound House. Shell is a readily available resource on the southern Gulf coast of Florida, but “chert” commonly known as flint, suitable for making edged cutting tools or weapons is almost non existent this far down the peninsula.  However, the Calusa were an organized and prosperous people who maintained extensive  trade networks with other indigenous people and as such, limestone chert from as far as the panhandle of Florida and even Georgia can be found at Calusa sites. When carefully struck from their naturally occurring nodules, flint forms a razor sharp edged flake that can even be notched into an even sharper serrated edge. Examples of flint being utilized by humans for tens of thousands of years is in evidence at archaeological sites throughout the world.    

The photo above shows several examples of flint spear and arrow points, as well as cutting tools made from limestone chert. These artifacts were recovered in north central Florida and  are on loan from the Silver River Museum in Ocala. These beautiful  examples of pre historic technology will be included as teaching implements in our educational programs here at Mound House.