Historic Society Speaker Woody Hanson


“Finding Utopia: Estero, A Dream or an Ideal”

 Join the Estero Island Historic Society on Monday, March 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the Fort Myers Beach Public Library, 2755 Estero Blvd., in the Community Room, 3rd floor to hear 5th generation Floridian Woody Hanson speak about Southwest Florida’s newest municipality and Koreshan efforts to incorporate in 1904. Free of charge and open to the public. Donations are welcome.

For centuries, Florida – a land of endless possibilities – has been the destination of choice for those in search of utopia and immortality. During the late-1800s and the early-1900s, the U.S. witnessed the emergence of utopian societies – places characterized by communal living, alternative lifestyles, immortality, and oftentimes, charismatic leaders. Estero, Florida – home to the Koreshan Unity Settlement – was no exception.

Focusing on the Unity’s efforts to incorporate in 1904, and contrasting them to the Village of Estero’s pathway to incorporation in 2014, Hanson argues that little has changed, although much is different. Hoping to find alternative lifestyles, seekers left their northern homes and came to southwest Florida. Did they find what they had set out to find?

Woody Hanson, a fifth-generation resident of Fort Myers and southwest Florida, is the great-great-grandson of the Gonzalez family who arrived in Fort Myers in February 1866 and are recognized as Fort Myers’ first permanent settlers.

Hanson’s grandfather, W. Stanley Hanson, is well known for his work among Florida’s Seminole and Miccosukee Indians. Recognized by tribal members as their “most trusted friend and ally,” he was given the title of “White Medicine Man.”

Continuing in his grandfather’s footsteps, Woody Hanson maintains a close alliance with the Seminoles as well as the Miccosukee Indians. Familiar with their culture, folklore and sacred ceremonies, Hanson provides support to the tribes and is a close friend to many of today’s medicine men.

Call the EIHS at 239-463-0435 for details, or Fort Myers Beach Public Library at 239-765-8162.