|Legenday Locals of Fort Myers by Gerri Reaves
Local historian and author Gerri Reaves presents images from historical archives, family collections, and her own photographs of contemporary Fort Myers local legends.
From its beginning as a military installation in the Second Seminole War through the postwar booms of the 20th century, Fort Myers has had its share of famous residents and heroes, from Thomas A. Edison to Olympian Al Oerter, from musician Billy Nalle and football Hall-of-Famer Deion Sanders to world-renowned artist Robert Rauschenberg. But beyond being the winter home of such famous residents as the Edisons and Fords, the City of Palms has been fertile ground for local legends, both admirable and notorious. County commissioner "Wild Bill" Towles burned down the county courthouse so he could build a modern one--and got lots of help. Plucky 10-year-old Margaret Mickle set out in a rowboat and got a private meeting with a former president of the United States on demand. Nurse LaVeta Allen defied Jim Crow laws to save the life of a black woman, knowing it would get her fired. Such are the raucous, comical, and touching histories of those who made a difference in Fort Myers.