The History of Estero, Florida

1958 Aerial Photo of the Koreshan Unity, Hwy 41 and Estero Florida

Above image is an aerial photo of the Koreshan Unity, Hwy. 41 and Estero Florida, ca. 1958.

In early Estero, author Quentin Quesnell wrote that when the Spanish came to Mound Key near the mouth of the Estero River in 1567, they found the thriving capital of the native Calusa Indians. By the 1700s, the dwindling Calusa had fled to Key West, then Cuba, leaving the area to Cuban fisherman, outlaws, and pirates.

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The Koreshan Unity Old and New Stores

The Old Store, built by the Koreshan Unity in 1902-1903, faced the Estero River, the best and likely only means of travel there. Going would have been slow. The fifteen-mile trip from Estero to Fort Myers on horseback would have taken all day, depending on the time of year. In the summer rainy season, the trail could be covered with water and muddy. During the dry winter, wagon wheels would sink in the sugar sand.

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The First Time Estero Became a Village

Back in the early 20th century, most of the south and especially Florida, was hardcore Democrat. In the 1904 presidential election, the Koreshan Unity voted for Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican. This angered the politicians of Fort Myers, and they threw out all the Koreshans’ ballots. After that, the Koreshans filed with the state of Florida to become their own municipality, and Florida granted their petition. The Koreshans created a town seal: the sun rising over a waterscape with a swan floating on the water. At the top, a six-pointed star representing the Seal of Solomon.

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