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Female Pioneers of Fort Myers – Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development

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OVERVIEW

 

New book tells forgotten stories about the women who helped settle Fort Myers (12-05-15)

Female Pioneers Book Cover 03The historical narrative about the founding of Fort Myers has always been all about the flamboyant and irrascable men who built our town – like Cow King and Civil War captain Francis Asbury Hendry, fellow cattleman “Wild Bill” Towles, battling bankers/developers Harvie Heitman and Walter Langford, and hardware magnate and hotelier W.P. Franklin. While the women of that era also played pivotal parts in the town’s early development, their roles, if mentioned at all, were generally relegated to footnotes or parentheticals in the exploits of their male counterparts. A new book now sets the record straight. But Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development does more than just give a fuller and more balanced Female Pioneers Book Cover 04version of our local history. It also provides inspirational stories at a time when girls and boys, young women and men of all ages are desperately searching for positive female role models. And what better role models are there for our local youth than the women from our collective past who were actually responsible for settling, saving and building our town?

The book is written by local authors Robin Tuthill and Tom Hall. It is published by Editorial Rx Press, which is owned and operated by North Fort Myers resident Deb Whippen. Southwest Florida author, essayist and Fort Myers News-Press senior writer Amy Bennett Williams has written the Foreward. Mayor Randy Henderson, author Female Pioneers Robin Tuthill 01and River Weekly local history columnist Gerri Reaves, Edison Ford CEO and President Chris Pendleton and Edison Ford Chief Curator Mike Cosden, Dared to Dream author Doris Weatherford and former Mound House director and local archaeologist/anthropologist/historian Theresa Schober have all read the manuscript and provided “back cover” endorsements for the book.

In Female Pioneers in Fort Myers, readers will learn how our founding females helped settle our town and transform it from a rough-and-tumble cow town into a modern cultural, commercial and tourist center. You may Tom Hall 03Sthink, at first blush, that the book is just another dry historical, but what makes Female Pioneers unique is that it shares the previously untold and all but forgotten tales of the women who saved Fort Myers from abandonment and influenced the town’s buildings, topography, culture and amenities from 1866 through the mid-1900s. Related in a clear, easy-to-read conversational style, each biography contained in the tome is supplemented by rare historical photographs and artwork rendered by three local artists.

 

HOW TO BUY

Female Pioneers Book Cover 09sThe books are available for purchase online at Editorial Rx Press and on Amazon, as well as in the gift shops at the Edison Ford Winter Estates and its Bell Tower location.

 

 

ENDORSEMENTS

 

Here’s what News-Press’ Amy Bennett Williams thinks about ‘Female Pioneers of Fort Myers’ 

abw1Amy Bennett Williams wrote the Foreward for Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development, which was released by publisher Editorial Rx Press on December 6. Here’s part of what she had to say about the book:

“They wrestled tarpon, started hospitals and bred hibiscus. Shopkeepers and beauticians, socialites and teachers, the women celebrated in Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development may have abw2had wildly different lives and times, but each helped forge this vibrant subtropical city.

“Some of their names are familiar to residents, who pass them daily on street signs or cultural centers. Others will likely be new to readers, no matter how versed they are in area history. One of the distinct pleasures of this book is discovering the ways this diverse corps of women contributed to the City of Palms. Authors Robin C. Tuthill and Thomas P. Hall sketch vivid biographies of more than 20 trailblazing women who left their mark on Fort Myers, weaving together a portrait of female achievement that completes the often male-centrically lopsided abw6versions of the region’s history.

“One of media’s most important duties is to make the past real – and riveting – for contemporary consumers. In the nearly three decades I’ve written for the Fort Myers News-Press, I’ve tried to contribute to that effort, and along the way, I’ve had the honor of knowing several of the women highlighted in these pages, and the pleasure of researching others. To have them gathered in one place as they are here is a gift to any student of the past and to generations to come.”

abw5Amy Bennett Williams touches our hearts each week with a special Essay heard on NPR affiliate WGCU. From the beauty found in Southwest Florida to heart-warming stories of family, friends and neighbors, her essays take us around our community and often into our past. Her commentaries extol the beauty found in the commonplace objects and places – and are delivered with a touch of tenderness.

Williams is a long-time writer for The News-Press. She came to the News-Press in 1988 as an ashtray-emptying, abw3obituary-writing clerk/reporter, and has gone on to cover everything from cake contests to tuberculosis outbreaks. In addition to writing features and news articles, Williams helped conceive the paper’s weekly Tropicalia magazine, where her column, Field Notes appears. She’s also author of the pictorial history book, Along the Caloosahatchee, and is at work on another. She and her husband, Roger, also a writer, live in rural Alva with their two sons and an ever-changing menagerie.

Given Amy’s dedication to and passion for local history, authors Robin Tuthill and Tom Hall together with Editorial Rx Press are honored that she agreed to write the Foreword for Female Pioneers of Fort Myers and her encouragement and support for this project.

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Here’s what Mayor Randy Henderson says about ‘Female Pioneers of Fort Myers’

Randy Henderson 03“In my world, I cannot imagine being denied the opportunity to work side by side with smart, dedicated women. Veronica Sapp Shoemaker served as a mentor and colleague in our work together on the Fort Myers City Council. So it is indeed fitting that in Female Pioneers of Fort Myers, Tuthill and Hall offer up to us all the example and legacy of our town’s outstanding early women leaders. Priceless.”

River Basin Dedication 01Mayor Henderson has been a Fort Myers resident for 36 years. He was born and raised in North Carolina, where he graduated from Mars Hill College in 1979 with a degree in business administration. After graduation, he embarked upon a career in banking and worked his way up to a vice president position.

Since 1986, he has served as CEO of the family-owned real estate firm Corbin Henderson Company. He is a board member of the Lee County Horizon Council, a private-public economic Mayor Henderson and Wife on Red Carpet 02development partnership seeking to improve the local business environment, retain and encourage the expansion of existing businesses, and attract new and diversified employers. Henderson was also appointed to the Board of Directors at Encore Bank in January of 2015.

He has been happily married to his wife Ginny for 36 years and has 3 adult children: sons, Marcus and Alex, and daughter, Laura Fraser and son-in-law, Jay Fraser with newest addition granddaughter, Virginia Ann Fraser. Mayor Henderson is a private pilot and enjoys flying both for business and personal pleasure. He enjoys time with family and is an avid fisherman.

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Here’s What Edison Ford President and Chief Curator have to say about ‘Female Pioneers of Fort Myers’

Pendleton“Mina Edison herself would have enjoyed this very readable book as it traces local history through the lives of a group of courageous and interesting women. Female Pioneers of Fort Myers offers many fresh perspectives and is a must read for any local history lover’s bookshelf.”

Chris Pendleton has been President/ CEO of Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida since 2001. Prior to that, Chris directed museums and historic sites in Florida, Virginia, North and South Carolina since 1977. She has been active in the museum profession for over 30 years, including various accrediting and assessment teams for the American Association of Museums, grant Chris Pendletonreview panels for the State of Florida and national agencies, and various statewide museum boards and organizations such as the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation and VISIT FLORIDA. Her professional expertise has been in institutional planning, construction, restoration and business expansion. Pendleton’s foremost concentration at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates has been directing the major restoration of the historic buildings, as well as transitioning from a publicly-managed city attraction to a private non-for-profit corporation. This focus has With Stephen Hayfordincluded professional standards, diversification of community and public programs, business analysis, grant and funding growth, restoration and master planning for site and operational expansion.

Chris is currently serving on the VISIT FLORIDA’S Cultural, Heritage, Rural and Nature (CHRN) Committee through June 30, 2016. This Mike and Chriscommittee works with VISIT FLORIDA to develop and promote the growing segments of nature-based tourism, cultural heritage and rural tourism to increase Florida visitors and promote extended stays for greater economic benefit and quality of life for all areas of the state.

Mike Cosden is the Chief Curator at the Edison &Ford Winter Estates and is responsible for managing the archival collections and research library. He has spent the last three years conducting primary research on Thomas Edison’s Botanical Pendleton 101Laboratory, which recently received National Historic Chemical Landmark status. Mr. Cosden is currently assisting with the development of a new exhibit about Edison’s quest to find a natural source of rubber. Prior to his work at the Estates, Mike earned his Masters degree in Library & Information Science from the University of South Florida.

Like Tuthill and Hall, Pendleton and Cosden are Pendleton 100recent authors. They have teamed up with fellow Edison Ford Curator Brent Newman to publish a book that contributes to our understanding of local history. Released in November of 2015, Edison and Ford in Florida provides a comprehensive look at the impact of the two friends, inventors and entrepreneurs in Florida. The book contains previously-unseen photographs from the Edison Ford archives and other historic sites, artifacts from both the Edison and Ford families, as well as newly uncovered information about the history of both Estates and restoration work. The book’s introduction traces the inventors from birth through important dates in their lives, such as Edison’s arrival in Fort Myers in 1885. Published by Arcadia Edison, Burroughs and FordPress, Edison and Ford in Florida is available for purchase in the Edison Ford Winter Estates’ Museum Store, the Ford Cottage Shoppe, the Edison Ford Shop at Bell Tower Shops and many other retail outlets.

Given the foregoing, authors Robin Tuthill and Tom Hall together with Editorial Rx Press are honored to have the endorsement of Pendleton and Cosden and have included their kind words on the back cover of Female Pioneers of Fort Myers.

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Here’s what local historian, author and River Weekly columnist Gerri Reaves has to say about ‘Female Pioneers of Fort Myrs’ book

Gerri 02Female Pioneers of Fort Myers introduces readers to deserving women who have been all but overlooked in local history accounts and reveals new information about the better known historical figures. Packed with facts and employing an engaging storytelling style, it both teaches and entertains. Local history buffs and newcomers to history will value Tuthill and Hall’s research and appreciate the accessible style too.”

Gerri Reaves is a local historian, published author and weekly contributor to the popular Fort Myers publication, The River Weekly News. She has served Gerri 06as Board President of the Southwest Florida Historical Society. Her books include Legendary Locals of Fort Myers (Arcadia Press, 2013), Fort Myers: Then and Now (Arcadia Press, 2008) and Mapping the Private Geography: Autobiography, Identity and America (2000). All three books are available on Amazon and her two latest publications can be found in area bookstores.

Authors Robin Tuthill and Tom Hall together with Editorial Rx Press are honored to have Gerri’s endorsement and have included her kind words on the back cover of Female Pioneers of Fort Myers.

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Archaeologist Theresa Schober weighs in on ‘Female Pioneers of Fort Myers’

Theresa Schober 01“In Female Pioneers of Fort Myers, Robin Tuthill and Tom Hall glean the dusty shelves of archives and pull out old family albums to show us that community histories are far from static or concrete, but continue to emerge. They chisel away at the foundations of this city, giving voice to a new set of trailblazers, who happen to be women, and craft a more intricate narrative of Fort Myers than the tales so often told.”

Theresa Schober is an archaeologist, anthropologist, cultural resource consultant and local historian. In the latter capacity, she has played an instrumental role in familiarizing area residents and visitors with the Schober at Mt Elizabethculture and societal structure of Theresa Schober 05the Calusa Indians, who reigned supreme in the lands of present-day Southwest Florida between 1,100 and 1,700 A.D.  but whose settlements in this area date back as far as 4,000 B.C. She is best known in Southwest Florida for her groundbreaking efforts to restore and develop the exhibitions at Mound House and Newton Park on Fort Myers Beach from 1998 to 2005. During her seven-year tenure as the director of Mound House, she secured $4 million for educational, exhibit and historic preservation initiatives and received two awards from the Florida Trust for Historic Theresa Schober 02Preservation. She presented much of the research she did and data that she obtained in a multi-media art exhibition titled ArtCalusa: Reflections on Representation, which opened in the City Pier Building in the downtown Fort Myers River District on November 1, 2013, and traveled throughout the State of Florida during much of 2014.

Canadian born, Theresa spent her childhood visiting ghost towns across the United States and Canada with her father, Frank Schober. She received archaeology and anthropology degrees from the Universities of Calgary and Illinois, and has just completed work on her Ph.D. at the University of Group Photo 03Florida. Before coming to Florida in 1998, Schober participated in or directed archaeological excavations in Canada, Mexico and Panama.

Schober has served as Vice President of the Florida Anthropological Society and of the Archaeological Research Cooperative, a member of the Lee County Historical Preservation Board, and a member and vice-president of the Trail of Florida’s Indian Heritage. Most recently, she has coordinated a two-year programming partnership between the Lee Trust for Historic Preservation and the Florida Humanities Council that explored representations of the past entitled Making History Memorable Theresa Schober 11and she is in the process of completing work as Executive Producer of a documentary film about the capital of the Calusa nation on Mound Key for the Friends of Koreshan State Historic Site.

Given her illustrious background and impressive credentials, authors Robin Tuthill and Tom Hall together with publisher Deb Whippen of Editorial Rx Press, are thrilled to have Ms. Schober’s encouragement, support and endorsement of Female Pioneers of Fort Myers.

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Here’s what women’s author Doris Weatherford says about ‘Female Pioneers of Fort Myers’

weatherford 03Female Pioneers of Fort Myers is an excellent addition to modern attempts to correct a lapse of legacy in Florida’s past. Authors Tuthill and Hall bring alive the courage and ambition of some two dozen women who settled Fort Myers when it was a wilderness. Their prose is lively, and their facts are accurate. I highly recommend this book.”

Doris Weatherford is a recognized expert and acclaimed author in the field of women’s history. An adjunct professor at the University of South Florida, she is active in the political arena and has been extensively recognized for her contributions to the field of women’s studies. In 1995, she received one of five weatherford 04awards conferred by the Florida Commission on Human Relations at Florida’s Annual Civil Rights Conference, and in 1994, she received the National Order of Women Legislators Hall of Fame Award. She is listed in The World Who’s Who of Women, 1996, Who’s Who of American Women, 1990 plus future editions, and Who’s Who in America, 46th Edition, 1990.

weatherford 01Her credits include They Dared to Dream: Florida Women Who Shaped History (published by the University Press of Florida), A History of the American Suffragist Movement and Milestones: A Chronology of American Women’s History (Facts On File, 1997, now in its second printing), American Women’s History: An A-Z of People, Organizations, Issues and Events (Prentice-Hall, 1994), Weatherford’s American Women in World War II (published by Facts On File in 1990 and currently being translated into Japanese), Foreign and Female: Immigrant Women in America, 1840-1920 and entries in Scribner’s Dictionary of American Biography, 1994 and 1995.

Authors Robin Tuthill and Tom Hall together with Editorial Rx Press are humbled to have Ms. Weatherford’s endorsement of Female Pioneers of Fort Myers.

 

PRESENTATIONS AND BOOK SIGNING EVENTS

fmwwc 07In Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development, Tuthill and Hall bring to the forefront the everyday female leaders who helped settle Fort Myers in the months following the end of the Civil War and then worked to transform the rough-and-tumble cow town that it became in the last third of the 19th century into a modern-day cultural and tourist robin book signing 04destination. The book shares the rich personal stories of a group of exceptional women who suffered and overcame rigorous hardships, incomprehensible loss and numbing tragedies to create dynamic legacies. Their collective contributions and impact on their contemporaries and future generations demonstrate that anyone is capable of great things, regardless of gender, race, Reading Fest 01or any other personal attribute that falls outside the culturally perceived “norm.”

To help popularize their previoiusly-untold stories, Tuthill and Hall will be giving presentations and appearing at book signings throughout Southwest Florida in 2017. Here’s what they have scheduled so far:

Monday, January 2, 2017 at the Crown Colony Reading Fest 10Garden & Book Club. (For more information, please contact Mary Ann Lougee at 508-4988060 or malougee42@gmail.com.

Saturday, January 21, 2017:  Tom & Robin will be speaking at a philanthropic educational organization consisting of approximately 150 women. For information, please contact Sharon Smith at 239-561-8655.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017:  Covenant Presbyterian Church; 9:30 breakfast, 10:00 program. For more information, please contact Mary Lee Mann at 239-694-1901 or MannFarmGirl@aol.com.

Edison Ford Book Signing CFriday, February 10, 2017 at the Lakes Regional Library on Gladiolus and Bass in Fort Myers, where Tuthill and Hall will give a presentation and sign books for the Friends of Lakes Regional Library beginning at 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017  Breckenridge, 1:00 pm. Presentation with Powerpoint by Robin and Tom. For more information, please contact: Colleen Brady at 618-581-6732 or chawkinsbrady@gmail.com

Edison Ford Book Signing BAdditional events and venues are in the planning stages, so refer back to Art Southwest Florida periodically for new places, dates and times. And if you would like to schedule a presentation and book signing event, please contact Editorial Rx Press Editor and Publisher Deb Whippen. You may reach her by telephone at 239-217-0704 or leave her message on Editorial Rx Press’ website.

 

PORTION OF BOOK SALES BEING DONATED TO PACE CENTER FOR GIRLS

Pace 02jpegFemale Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Make a Difference in the City’s Development is on sale on Amazon, through publisher Editorial Rx Press and in the Edison Ford Estates gift shops. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book is being donated to PACE Center for Girls.

PACE Center for Girls is a non-residential, gender-specific program for girls aged 11 to 17 who are Pace 04jpegfailing in school, burdened by unhealthy relationships, combatting histories of abuse, and facing a wide range of other serious risks, including involvement in the juvenile justice system. Since opening in Jacksonville in 1985, PACE has changed the life trajectory of more than 37,000 girls. Today, it operates 19 centers throughout Florida that serve over 2,000 girls each year. PACE values all girls and young women, Pace 07jpegbelieving each one deserves an opportunity to find her voice, achieve her potential, and celebrate a life defined by responsibility, dignity, serenity and grace.

The organization attributes its success to a researched-based counseling and support model that provides each participant with an individually-tailored mix of social services and academic instruction that takes into account how girls actually learn and develop. This model emphasizes goal-setting with an ongoing assessment and improvement process designed to identify each girl’s strengths and challenges. Community volunteer and service-learning opportunities help girls develop a Pace 06jpegstrong connection with their local community, and individual and group counseling services provide each girl with the tools she needs to respond to the specific obstacles she faces, including peer pressure, family conflict, boy drama and victimization or abuse.

With a demonstrated record of success, the PACE model is now regarded as an effective alternative to institutionalization or incarceration for girls. In fact, PACE is today recognized by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children’s Defense Fund, National Mental Health Association, National Council on Crime and Delinquency, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention as a national model for reducing recidivism and Pace 09jpegimproving school success, employment and self-sufficiency among girls. Referrals are made by parents, other agencies, zoned schools, and the Department of Juvenile Justice, and the average length of stay is just 9-15 months.

For more information about PACE Center for Girls, please visit http://www.pacecenter.org.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

 

Robin Tuthill

Female Pioneers Robin Tuthill 02Robin Tuthill has been a writer and editor since 1980, working primarily in newspaper and magazine feature writing, medical writing/editing, and academic writing/editing. Five years after completing a 7-day “Life and Career Renewal” Outward Bound in her late 30s, Robin earned a master’s degree in religious studies at the University of South Florida. She taught classes in comparative religion; created the inaugural issue of The Journal of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion (JSSMR), an international academic journal; and authored four editions of the Instructor’s Manual robin book signing 04and Test Questions that accompanied World Religions Today, a college textbook published by Oxford University Press.

Robin facilitated “Freeing the Writer Within” classes and ongoing writing groups from 1995-2015. In the creative writing workshop that she developed, she witnessed over and over again the strength and confidence that come from self-robin book signing 02discovery as participants wrote and shared their stories. She believes that the power of the written word to achieve self-transformation cannot be over-estimated.

Robin holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Purdue University and master’s degrees in education and religious studies from the robin book signing 01University of South Florida. She was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida into a family that spent weekends boating and fishing in the waters of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Robin lives in North Fort Myers, where she continues to write and enjoy Florida’s natural beauty.

 

 

PUBLISHER DEB WHIPPEN AND EDITORIAL RX PRESS

Whippen 02Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development is published by Editorial Rx Press. Deb Whippen is the publisher/editor. She is a North Fort Myers resident.

Whippen got her first taste of historical publishing when she teamed up in 2010 with author Gertrude Petersen Winne and editor Patricia Winne Adams to publish the popular and highly successful tome, Memoirs of an Everglades Pioneer. So she was receptive and motivated when Tuthill pitched the idea for a book about the gritty women who helped settle Fort Myers and transform it from a rough-and-tumble cow town into an inviting winter retreat for late 19th century industrialists, inventors and tourists.

While Whippen sees a bright future when it comes to historical and niche biographical offerings, her expertise is actually in the field of medical writing and education. Since 1984, she has been at the forefront of medical publishing and association management. In this regard, she has served as managing editor and executive editor of the leading peer-reviewed journal for oncologists, the Journal of Clinical Oncology. She is currently the Managaing Editor for the Society of Surgical Oncology. A results-oriented publishing professional with proven accomplishments in supporting scientific-techncial-medical publications, programs and products, Deborah was also instrumental in the stratetic planning, development and marketing of curricula, self-study projects and other educational products at ASCO, where she was employed for 18 years.

In 2005, Deborah established Whippen Consulting. Two years later, she merged Whippen Consulting with Editorial Rx, Inc., assuming the position of Vice President to help provide a broader range of services to clients. Deborah also oversees Editorial Rx’s affilated publishing company, Editorial Rx Press, as publisher and editor.

Whippen enthusiastically embraces new technology and routinely uses social media, including Twitter and Facebook, to network within the health care, medical communication and publishing communities, and has managed the development of applications to bring print publications to mobile device users. Deborah is an engaging speaker and has been invited to share her knowledge of publishing and social media at local events.

Deborah earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and English, graduating cum laude from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and completed postgraduate coursework in the Master of Science in Publications program at New York University in New York City.

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NEWS

 

Tuthill and Hall to give talk and book signing at Edison Ford Shoppe at Bell Tower today (04-16-16)

Bell Tower (3)Authors Tom Hall and Robin Tuthill will talk about their book, Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development at the Edison Ford Bell Tower Shoppe 03Shoppe in Bell Tower Shops from 1:30-3:30 p.m. today. They will also be available to sign copies of the book, which can be purchased at the Edison Ford Shoppe in Bell Tower or the Museum Store at Edison & Ford Winter Estates.  The book includes “short bios and all kinds of interesting facts and vignettes about the 24 women who helped settle our town, keep it from being abandoned, and transform it from a crude, rough-and-tumble cow town of the late 19th century into a modern-day commercial, cultural and tourist destination,” Edison Ford Book Signing Bsaid Hall. “For myriad reasons, the names and accomplishments of these female visionaries were largely relegated to footnotes and parentheticals in the annals that recounted the achievements of their male counterparts.”

Coinciding with the book signing is the Founding Females Portrait Exhibit running through May 27 Female Pioneers Book Cover 03at the estates. The portrait show commemorates National Women’s History Month, celebrated in March. The exhibit “puts a face with the names of the women who settled Fort Myers in the years following the end of the Civil War,” said Hall, who collaborated with 18 local artists to put together the show.

Edison Ford is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Edison Ford was awarded the 2009 National Stewardship Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is an official project of “Save America’s Treasures,” a Florida Historic Landmark and a National Register Historic Site. In 2014 the Edison Botanical Laboratory was designated as a National Historic Chemical Landmark. For additional information, please call 239-334-7419 or visit the website at www.EdisonFordWinterEstates.org.

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Tuthill and Hall to address Southwest Florida Historical Society about ‘Female Pioneers of Fort Myers’ tonight (04-14-16)

Female Pioneers Book Cover 03Authors Robin Tuthill and Tom Hall will give a presentation and sign copies of their book for members of the Southwest Florida Historical Society tonight. This presentation will focus on the role played by Christiana Stirrup Vivas and Evalina Gonzalez in the settling of Fort Myers 150 years ago, and how Jane L. Hendry made a decision seven years later that not only saved the town from being deserted, but led to it becoming the hub for Capt. F.A. Hendry’s cattle operations. With members of the Historical Society in attendance, the ensuing Q&A promises to be in-depth and lively.

The event will take place at the Southwest Florida Museum of History, which is located at 2031 Jackson Street in the downtown Fort Myers SWFL Museum of History Building 1River District (across from the bus station). The presentation is free and open to the public. So if you have an interest in how our town was settled and the role played by our early female pioneers, be sure to attend. Tuthill and Hall will have copies of their book for sale and will be pleased to autograph them for you. Please click here for more on Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development, Founding Females Now Open Aincluding endorsements, other speaking engagements, the authors’ bios and other news. And click here for all the details about the related Fort Myers Founding Females portrait show that is on display now through May 27, 2016 in the historic Caretaker’s Cottage at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates.

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Tuthill and Hall to give talk and book signing at Edison Ford Shoppe at Bell Tower on March 23 (03-22-16)

Bell Tower (3)Authors Tom Hall and Robin Tuthill will talk about their book, Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development at the Edison Ford Bell Tower Shoppe 03Shoppe in Bell Tower Shops from 5:00-7:00 p.m. tomorrow evening. They will also be available to sign copies of the book, which can be purchased at the Edison Ford Shoppe in Bell Tower or the Museum Store at Edison & Ford Winter Estates.  The book includes “short bios and all kinds of interesting facts and vignettes about the 24 women who helped settle our town, keep it from being abandoned, and transform it from a crude, rough-and-tumble cow town of the late 19th century into a modern-day commercial, cultural and tourist destination,” Edison Ford Book Signing Bsaid Hall. “For myriad reasons, the names and accomplishments of these female visionaries were largely relegated to footnotes and parentheticals in the annals that recounted the achievements of their male counterparts.”

Coinciding with the book signing is the Founding Females Portrait Exhibit running through May 27 Female Pioneers Book Cover 03at the estates. The portrait show commemorates National Women’s History Month, celebrated in March. The exhibit “puts a face with the names of the women who settled Fort Myers in the years following the end of the Civil War,” said Hall, who collaborated with 18 local artists to put together the show.

Edison Ford is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Edison Ford was awarded the 2009 National Stewardship Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is an official project of “Save America’s Treasures,” a Florida Historic Landmark and a National Register Historic Site. In 2014 the Edison Botanical Laboratory was designated as a National Historic Chemical Landmark. For additional information, please call 239-334-7419 or visit the website at www.EdisonFordWinterEstates.org.

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Tuthill and Hall to discuss ‘Female Pioneers of Fort Myers’ at Punta Gorda’s Copperfish Books at 2 p.m. (03-20-16)

Copperfish 01Authors Robin Tuthill and Tom Hall will give a 2:00 p.m. talk and sign copies of their book at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda today. Located at the corner of U.S. 41 and Marion Avenue in downtown Punta Gorda, Florida, Copperfish Books offers new, used, and antique and collectible books, greeting cards, and gifts. Copperfish also has a booth in Alley Cat Antiques in Arcadia, FL. Please RSVP to 941-205-2560 or copperfishbooks@comcast.net.

Female Pioneers Book Cover 03Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development shares rich personal stories of a group of exceptional women who suffered and overcame rigorous hardships, incomprehensible loss and numbing tragedies to settle Fort Myers in the years following the end of the Civil War and transform it into a modern-day city. Their collective contributions and impact on their contemporaries and future generations are particularly noteworthy given that March is National Women’s History Month. Tuthill and Hall’s appearance at the Reading Festival and Copperfish follow on the heels of their presentation at the opening of the Fort Myers Founding Females Portrait Exhibition at the Edison Ford Winter Estates on Gulf Coast Times 01March 6 and Hall’s speech at the Fort Myers Woman’s Community Club’s white tea at the White Orchid at the Oasis on March 10, where he regaled the members with stories about the life, times and achievements of the group’s very first president in 1927, Olive Elizabeth Stout.

The book has garnered favorable reviews in the River Weekly News, Tropicalia and most recently, Gulf Coast Times Magazine.

The book is available for purchase online at Editorial Rx Press and on Amazon, as well as in the gift shops at the Edison Ford Winter Estates, its Bell Tower location, and Copperfish Books.

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Tuthill and Hall among 90 authors taking part in Exhibitor Marketplace at yesterday’s Southwest Florida Reading Festival (03-20-16)

Reading Fest 09The Southwest Florida Reading Festival took place in Centennial Park and at the Harborside Event Center yesterday. In spite of gray clouds and the threat of late afternoon thunderstorms, thousands turned out to hear authors speak, buy newly-released books and get inspired. And in the middle of the Exhibitor Marketplace were first-time Reading Fest 01authors Robin Tuthill and Tom Hall, who were there to promote their book, Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development.

Female Pioneers of Fort Myers shares the rich personal stories of a group of exceptional women who suffered and overcame rigorous hardships, incomprehensible loss and numbing tragedies to settle Fort Myers in the years following the end of Reading Fest 02the Civil War and transform it into a modern-day city. The book has garnered favorable reviews in the River Weekly News, Tropicalia and most recently, Gulf Coast Times Magazine.

The Lee County Library System produces the Reading Festival to inform the community about the resources and services available at their local Reading Fest 03libraries and remind them that these resources and services are free with a library card. Lee County libraries play an important and contemporary role in the community as dynamic centers for learning and knowledge for all ages. Today’s library program is just as likely to be hands-on computer instruction as it is to be a book discussion. Today’s reference questions are just as likely to be answered via telephone, email or online chat as by a librarian at the reference desk. The Lee County Library System adds resources every day. These resources include Reading Fest 04books, e-magazines, music, streaming movies, e-books and audio e-books, cultural and literary events, educational classes, databases, research tools, business resources and new technology. The Library continuously researches and anticipates the informational needs of the community. The Reading Festival is an opportunity to take programs and resources outside the library’s walls Reading Fest 07to inform existing users about available services and to entice new users to think of their local library whenever they need information of any kind. The Lee County Library System thanks the hundreds of volunteers, local media, Festival donors and sponsors whose support is critical in maintaining the level of excellence for which the Reading Festival is known.

The Festival’s allure is the annual line-up of more Reading Fest 08than two dozen nationally acclaimed best-selling authors representing a diverse array of reading interests. The festival has hosted literary celebrities like David Baldacci, Sandra Brown, Sue Monk Kidd, Erik Larson, Nelson DeMille, James Grippando, Steve Berry, Michael Palmer, Jeffery Deaver, Linda Fairstein, Dennis Lehane, Carl Hiaasen, R.L. Stein, Jeff Kinney and Ridley Pearson. One of the more popular novelists in Reading Fest 10attendance yesterday was Debbie Macomber.

At yesterday’s event, thousands of adults, teens and children celebrated the power of reading and learned about the latest and greatest in books and accessories as authors gave presentations, took questions from audiences and signed books for fans. In addition to the big name authors, there were simultaneous programs occurring on nine stages, teen and children’s arts and craft activities, and giveaways to every child and teenager attending the Festival. In addition, there were e-library demonstrations, lots of food vendors and more than 90 Marketplace exhibitors. Tuthill and Hall were part of Female Pioneers Book Cover 03the latter group.

Tuthill and Hall were in Punta Gorda earlier today for a presentation and book signing, and will appear from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Edison Ford Shoppe at Bell Tower on Wednesday, March 27 for a free presentation and book signing. Scores of local residents and visitors are buying and reading Female Pioneers of Fort Myers in observance of National Women’s History Month. Others are interested because 2016 is the 150th anniversary of the town’s settlement, and two of the women profiled in the book, Christiana Vivas and Evalina Gonzalez, who among the initial group of settlers who arrived on the shore of the Caloosahatchee River some 150 years ago to build homes and create a town from the remnants of the old Seminole Indian and Civil War fort from which the town claims its name.

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Tuthill and Hall participating in Southwest Florida Reading Festival & book signing in Punta Gorda March 19 & 20 (03-16-16)

Local authors Robin C. Tuthill and Tom Hall will be among 90 authors taking part in the 2016 Reading Festival 03Southwest Florida Reading Festival Exhibitors Marketplace on Saturday, March 19. The day-long event takes place inside the Harborside Event Center. Both Tuthill and Hall will be in the Editorial Rx Press booth (Table 22) in the Room B Indoor Marketplace from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., where they will happily discuss and autograph copies of their recently-released book, Female Pioneers of Fort Reading Festival 01Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development (2015). The Southwest Florida Reading Festival celebrates the importance of reading, brings the finest literary talent to the community and fosters an interest in, and love of, literature among adults, teens and children by providing quality events featuring popular authors in multiple venues. It is produced by the Lee County Library System to inform the community Reading Festival 04about the resources and services available at their local libraries and remind them that these resources and services are free with a library card.

On Sunday, March 20, Tuthill and Hall will give a 2:00 p.m. talk and sign copies of their book at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda. Located at the corner of U.S. 41 and Marion Avenue in downtown Punta Gorda, Florida, Copperfish Books offers new, used, and Copperfish 01antique and collectible books, greeting cards, and gifts. Copperfish also has a booth in Alley Cat Antiques in Arcadia, FL. Please RSVP to 941-205-2560 or copperfishbooks@comcast.net.

Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development shares rich personal stories of a group of exceptional women who suffered and overcame Female Pioneers Book Cover 03rigorous hardships, incomprehensible loss and numbing tragedies to settle Fort Myers in the years following the end of the Civil War and transform it into a modern-day city. Their collective contributions and impact on their contemporaries and future generations are particularly noteworthy given that March is National Women’s History Month. Tuthill and Hall’s appearance at the Reading Festival and Copperfish follow on the heels of their presentation at the opening of the Fort Myers Founding Females Portrait Exhibition at the Edison Ford Winter Estates on March 6 and Hall’s speech at the Fort Myers Woman’s Community Club’s white tea at the White Orchid at the Oasis on March 10, where he regaled the members with stories about the Gulf Coast Times 01life, times and achievements of the group’s very first president in 1927, Olive Elizabeth Stout.

The book has garnered favorable reviews in the River Weekly News, Tropicalia and most recently, Gulf Coast Times Magazine.

The book is available for purchase online at Editorial Rx Press and on Amazon, as well as in the gift shops at the Edison Ford Winter Estates, its Bell Tower location, and Copperfish Books.

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Fort Myers Woman’s Community Club honors past presidents at White Orchid white tea event (03-11-16)

fmwwc 04The Fort Myers Woman’s Community Club was incorporated in 1927 with the objective to meet for mutual improvement, social entertainment, promote better understanding among its members, and advance the civic welfare of the City of Fort Myers. The organization met yesterday at the White Orchid at Oasis for a White Tea honoring its past presidents. The group’s very first fmwwc 05president was Olive Elizabeth Stout and the members were regaled with an account of her life, accomplishments and contributions to the town’s early development in a presentation that also commemorated National Women’s History Month.

Tom Hall, who co-authored the recently-released Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development with fmwwc 06North Fort Myers writer Robin C. Tuthill, noted that it was 130 years ago March 6 that Olive Stout first set foot on the wharf of the historic Caloosa Hotel (formerly known as the Keystone). “She arrived on the same steamer as Fort Myers’ most famous honeymooners, one Thomas A. Edison and his bride Mina Miller.” The Edisons had come to fmwwc 07celebrate their nuptials, and eagerly await the completion of Seminole Lodge on a 13-acre tract that the inventor had purchased following his first visit to the crude, rough-and-tumble cow town the previous year. While Edison had been inspired to make Fort Myers his winter residence and botanical laboratory by the area’s subtropical weather and the town’s friendly citizenry, Stout’s Olive Stoutvisit was strictly business.

“A newspaperman by the name of Stafford Cleveland had established the Fort Myers Press in 1884, but had died unexpectedly just 15 months later of Bright’s Disease and now his widow was desperately seeking someone to take over the publication. Although Olive was not a newspaper person herself, her husband, Frank, was and he was in the market for a circulation he could call his own. Olive had arrived at the tail end of a wave of influential pioneers and purchased the Press on the spot. “Over the next 27 years, Olive worked with her husband to build the Fort Myers Press into the successful Collageoperation it is today,” said Hall.

But Olive also made time to pursue a number of her own civic, charitable and political causes. Among them was partnering with Flossie Hill, Florida Shultz Heitman and Julia Allen Hanson to found the Fort Myers’ Woman’s Club, which was responsible for giving Fort Myers its first library. “Olive Stout served as the town’s first librarian, a position she held off and on over the ensuing years,” said Hall. “She also served for 12 years as the town’s postmaster, being appointed to that position first by President William McKinley and then by Theodore Roosevelt.”

fmwwc 02But of special significance to those who’d gathered on a clear, comfortable day on the lawn and verandah of the White Orchid to honor their past presidents was what Olive Stout did next. “In 1907, she banded together with nine other women to form a civic league for the express purpose of ridding Fort Myers’ sand, shell and weed-strewn streets of free-ranging cows and hogs,” Hall recounted. “It was something her fmwwc 01husband, Frank, had tried to do 20 years earlier, but he’d almost been run out of town by the powerful cattlemen who ran Fort Myers at the time. But Olive succeeded where Frank had failed, and her success played a role in inducing Tootie McGregor Terry to make her now-famous offer to pave Riverside Drive from Whiskey Creek to Punta Rassa at her own expense if the city and Lee County would pave the road from Whiskey Creek to Monroe Street. Once started, the town went on to hard surface all of its roads, ushering Fort Myers into the modern era.”

fmwwc 03The Civic League went on to plant trees along the roadways, hire workers to clean the streets and install park benches, selling advertising on the benches to help pay for them, Hall told the members. “It was the Civic League that was incorporated in 1927 as the Fort Myers’ Woman’s Community Club,” Hall told the group. “So your organization’s roots actually trace back in time to 1907.”

Stout’s efforts to advance the civic welfare of Fort Myers were far from done. She brought in Carrie Nation and the Women’s Christian Temperance fmwwc 09Union to rid First Street of its row of rowdy saloons, where drunken fights and gun play often spilled out into the streets, and in 1912, she was on the steering committee that succeeded four years later in giving the community its first hospital.

“When the women who organized the National Women’s History Project met in 1980 to lobby for greater recognition of women’s contributions to the history of our nation and the Female Pioneers Book Cover 03communities in which they lived, they found that less than three percent of children’s textbooks was devoted to women. Most girls and many adults simply assumed from this that women did nothing of significance,” Hall pointed out. “And until Robin and I wrote our book, that was also true here in Fort Myers. In fact, two local historians scoffed at the idea of a book paying tribute to the achievements of our early female pioneers. One even said that it was a waste of time as women of that era did nothing important. And so it is not surprising that Fort Myers’ most famous boulevard is named ‘Cleveland Avenue’ even though Stafford Cleveland died only 15 months after arriving in Fort Myers while no road of any kind has been named for Olive Stout in spite of her public Female Pioneers Book Cover 04service to the town for more than 45 years.”

“It’s not that women didn’t do anything important,” Hall concluded. “It’s that they were typically not given due credit for their achievements by the male historians of their day. Robin and I wrote Female Pioneers of Fort Myers not only to set the record straight, but to give our children positive role models. And Olive Stout, the Fort Myers Woman’s Community Club’s first president, is one of the town’s best and most accomplished role models.”

Membership in the Fort Myers Woman’s Community Club is open to women 16 years old and up who share the organization’s goals and objectives. It is not necessary to be a resident of Fort Myers.

Africa Valdez FFor more information, please telephone 239-560-6762 or email fmwccmailbox@gmail.com.

[N.B.: Olive Elizabeth Stout is an Art Southwest Florida 2016 National Women’s History Month honoree.]

[N.B.2:  The painting of Olive Stout included above was rendered by local artist Africa Valdez, and is one of more than 20 portraits of Fort Myers’ female pioneers that is on display in the historic caretaker’s cottage at the Edison Ford Winter Estates through May 27. The portrait show, which opened on March 6, commemorates National Women’s History Month and Mother’s Day.]

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Gulf Coast Times draws attention to Fort Myers’ female pioneers in honor of National Women’s History Month (03-02-16)

Gulf Coast Times 01In honor of National Women’s History Month, Gulf Coast Times Magazine’s March cover story draws attention to Fort Myers’ female pioneers, a group of exceptional women who suffered and overcame rigorous hardships, incomprehensible loss and numbing tragedies to save the town from desertion and fire and transform it from a rough-and-tumble cow town into a modern-day city. Gulf Coast Times is an alternative, 32-page publication that includes a vital combination of news, local arts, entertainment, music and films, health and wellness, sports and the culinary world. Distributing Terry, Tootie McGregor SWFL Historical Socmonthly throughout Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Pine Island, the paper can be found in select Publix Supermarkets, Subway Restaurants, the AAA, restaurants and bars, hotels, welcome centers, colleges and universities, fitness clubs, hospitals and doctors’ offices, salons and spa’s, and many more locations. The full publication is also available 24-7 on the web with links to its client’s homepages. Just click here.

The March edition also includes stories on author Lorelei James and the 17th Annual SWFL Reading Festival, local artist Alina Eydel and her upcoming solo exhibition at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, and the 10th Anniversary Bonita Blues Festival.

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New book tells story of Fort Myers’ first female pioneers on 150th anniversary of town’s settlement (02-21-16)

Evalina GonzalezJust in time to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Fort Myers’ settlement and National Women’s History Month in March, a new book published by Editorial Rx Press shares the previously-untold stories of the town’s first female settlers, Evalina Gonzalez and Christiana Stirrup Vivas. It was Evalina and Manuel Gonzalez who decided to build their home from the remnants of the old Seminole Indian and Civil War outpost from which the town now claims its name. And it was Christiana and Joe Vivas who opted to remain in the town after Evalina, Manuel and the town’s other three settlers decided to leave in order to homestead acreage west of the fort and north of the Caloosahatchee River. Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Edison Ford Portrait Show Invite 01Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development by Robin C. Tuthill and Tom Hall provides biographies of both Evalina Gonzalez and Christiana Vivas, as well as 22 other women who played key roles in settling Fort Myers and transforming the rough-and-tumble cow town it became in the last third of the 19th century into Vicki Baker 02Stoday’s commercial, cultural and tourist center. And a portrait of Evalina Gonzalez will anchor the return of the Fort Myers Founding Females Portrait Show to the historic Caretaker’s Cottage at the Edison Ford Winter Estates during National Women’s History Month, which opens with an artists’ reception, presentation and books signing from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, March 6 that is free and open to the public.

You can buy your copy on Amazon, from the publisher or any of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates’ gift shops, and you can have them autographed by the authors at a number of book signing events in March and April. Please see above for details.

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‘Female Pioneers’ author Tuthill presents slide show and lecture to 100 Carefree residents at December 11 book signing (12-16-15) 

robin book signing 02Female Pioneers of Fort Myers: Women Who Made a Difference in the City’s Development is available right now on Amazon and the publisher’s website. Additional copies will be delivered soon to area bookstores. But the women at The Resort on Carefree Boulevard in North Fort Myers got a jump on everyone. About 100 Carefree residents were treated to a slide show presentation, lecture robin book signing 01and book signing by co-author Robin Tuthill on Friday, December 11. “The book signing line took me about 45 minutes to get through because everybody wanted to talk, sharing anecdotes about relatives who lived during those times or telling me their favorite story that I covered in the talk,” reports Robin, who resides at Carefree herself.

robin book signing 04Tuthill read excerpts from the chapters on Flossie Hill, Olive Stout, Dr. Ella Mae Piper and Veronica Shoemaker. So it was appropriate that Carefree’s Event Coordinator had Veronica Shoemaker’s floral shop on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard supply the two dozen yellow roses she ordered to celebrate publication of the book. “One for each of the 24 women in the book,” Robin robin book signing 05explains. In fact, it was V’s niece who made the delivery.

The authors are currently in the process of scheduling other lectures and book signings. If you are interested in attending one or scheduling a book signing of your own, please contact publisher/editor Deb Whippen at Editorial Rx Press. You may reach Deb by email at info@editorialrxpress.com or by telephone at 239-217-0704.

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