Local author, Pine Island resident and 17-year volunteer at Randell Research Center, Denege Patterson has released her newest book entitled, "A Tour of the Islands of Pine Island Sound, Florida: Their Geology, Arch-aeology, and History." The release of the book is accompanied by informative "talks" at the Randell Research Center the final two discussions are this Saturday.
The book began as a series of articles about the islands written over the last five years for the Randell Research Center newsletter.
"At some point, about 3 years ago, we thought this would make as interesting book," center director Cindy Bear said.
Author Denege Patterson during one of her “talks” about her new book at the Randall Research Center.
"The book is about 24 islands of Pine Island Sound, 21 of which have archeological sites on them," Patterson said. "These islands have an amazing story with thousands of years of human habitation. This first-of-its-kind book includes information which has not been readily available to the general public."
Patterson spent three years researching the 160-page full-color book. The very high quality photographs were taken by local photographer Ron Mayhew and the book was edited by William H. Marquardt, Ph.D., Florida Museum of Natural History and director of the Randell Research Center.
In this expansive book, readers will find previously unknown history, geology and archaeology of 24 islands in Pine Island Sound through the many illustrations, maps, index and extensive bibliography.
The Charlotte Harbor estuary provided a rich environment for the Calusa Indians, Cuban fishermen and European settlers for thousands of years. Fish, shellfish, turtles and oysters provided food.
"This is a place where the indigenous people were wealthy without having any money," Patterson said.
Each island has its own chapter.
"Chapter 1 is 'The Greater Charlotte Harbor Ecosystem' so it's important to read Chapter 1 first," Patterson said. "This will give the reader an overview for the rest of the book. After you read chapter 1 you can read the rest of the chapters in any order you choose."
Patterson covers many of the lesser known islands such as Part Island, Josslyn Island, Buck Key, Gasparilla Island, Punta Blanca, Mondongo and Patricio.
There were a number of things Patterson learned about the islands in her research.
"One of the most amazing things I learned was how the indigenous people used each of these islands for a specific purpose," Patterson said. "For example, some islands that are uninhabited today once had entire villages on them. Some islands were just food collection islands and people didn't live there. Some islands had manufacturing and some had burial mounds and others did not."
Patterson has donated all proceeds from the $29.95 book to benefit the endowment for the Randell Research Center. The property the center sits on was once a Calusa settlement.
The Randell Research Center is at 13810 Waterfront Drive, Pineland. The final "talks" will be held Saturday, March 4, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The events are free but those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP to 239-283-2062 or firstname.lastname@example.org