Margie's father, Silas Kelly,
built this homestead house on their 160-acres at Fort Denaud,
east of Fort Myers between Alva and LaBelle in 1926.
Margie is a native Floridian. Her father
Silas Kelly came down from northern Florida and had claimed a
160-acre homestead at Fort Denaud, Florida. Silas built a house
on the property for his wife and baby daughter, Margie. Margie
was only six months old when she and her mother came down to live
in their newly constructed home.
In that same year,
this young family was nearly destroyed by the flood from
Lake Okeechobee’s overflow as a result of a fierce hurricane
that came through the area. They lost the roof off of
their house. Because the floodwaters rose, it was
necessary for Silas to get his family to higher ground.
He carried baby Margie and
led his then pregnant wife into the woods where they would be
safe. They returned to their home a couple of weeks later to
find their mule and chickens dead and their crops wiped out.
In 1927 after Silas had repaired and rebuilt
the homestead house, Margie’s brother James was born. The family
stayed on the claimed homestead long enough to obtain titled
ownership and then they relocated to Fort Myers.
Silas was business minded and was successful
managing a hotel, service station, and a fish market while they
lived on a houseboat at the foot of the old wooden Caloosahatchee
bridge. The Edison bridge had not yet been built. This was the
bridge at Freemont and Riverside. This was also prior to the
Yacht Basin being built.
Margie got to see Fort Myers grow. She
remembers much about the way the area was and how it grew. Silas’
fish market became known as Kelly Seafood.
She attended elementary school at Gwynne
Institute, then Fort Myers Jr. High, and Fort Myers High School.
After graduation from high school, she moved to Miami where she
worked as training supervisor for computing, radio dispatching,
and 911 calls. Right after she retired (1986), she met her
husband Willie Johnson. After they were married they lived aboard
Willie’s sailboat in Marathon, Florida. And spent time boating in
the local waters.
Margie found her way back to Fort Myers in
2000 and now lives at Shell Point which is very close (within 9
miles) to where she originally lived on the river. She is a
docent at the Southwest Florida Historical Museum and a proctor at
the Genealogy Computer Lab at Shell Point.
Click on photos below
to view larger image
Click on photos above to view larger
Margie Kelly Johnson, Jewfish, and Billy the
Pelican at foot of old wooden Caloosahatchee Bridge in East Fort
Myers (Freemont and Riverside) circa 1928.
Website Design (theme, graphics, layout, etc.)
created 02/05/07 (Rev.
©2007 Denrig, Inc., All rights reserved.
photos, text, captions, etc.)
©2007 Marjorie Kelly Johnson, All rights reserved.