Friday, September 24, 2021

7 Questions with Melissa Sullebarger, Curator of Education at the Henry B. Plant Museum, Tampa


    Melissa Sullebarger considers herself a native of Tampa, FL, despite the minor detail of having spent the first several months of her life in upstate New York. She began working in informal education at 15 years old, teaching children about nature and history as a counselor at local summer camps. She has been working in the museum field since graduating college, when she took on a part-time position at a living history museum and fell in love with museum work. Eight years and a MA in Museum Studies later, Melissa is the Curator of Education at the Henry B. Plant Museum of Tampa, FL. ( )


1.            How and when did you get hooked on history?


My parents were both big advocates for education both in traditional academia and as a form of casual entertainment. Every family vacation from a very young age included museums, historic sites, botanical gardens, aquariums… all kinds of informal education. My parents made a particular point of traveling around different parts of Florida as my brother and I were growing up—neither of my parents is originally from Florida, but after moving here when I was less than a year old they wanted us to grow up knowledgeable about our new home.

Growing up as the talkative youngest child in a family full of well-educated lively conversationalists may have also been a contributing factor. I wanted to participate! It was a strong early motivator both to learn and to get good at communication.

I didn’t truly recognize how much interest I had developed in history until I was working toward my undergraduate degree—initially an English major, I added History and became a double major due to the influence of several excellent history professors.


2.            What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?


A shared interest in history connects me to my family as well as my closest friends. My partner and I initially bonded as friends by watching documentaries together and discussing history as filtered through the lenses created by our respective experiences.


3.            How does history play a part of your professional life/career?


As a current Curator of Education and in my previous roles in museums, history has played an extremely prominent role in my work. Communicating history to the public via planned exhibits and programming, training docents, and writing physical signage and online content has made up a large portion of my work.

In a less direct sense, as someone who works inside a National Historic Landmark, I am surrounded by history both in the sense that the walls of my office are lined with books and binders full of research, and in the sense that 100 years ago, my office was a part of a suite of guest rooms in the Tampa Bay Hotel that served as temporary home to countless prominent people throughout the years of the Hotel’s operation.


4.            Why is studying/knowing history important ?


We all benefit from larger context and broader understanding of the world we live in, and we all benefit from more of us having that understanding. No moment is an island, every event or development in our modern world has roots throughout historical events, which in turn have their own genealogies through history. Knowing history, and continuously broadening our knowledge of history from multiple perspectives gives each of us a stronger understanding of the world we live in, and better prepares us to create a positive future.


5.            What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?


This question is a real challenge—the answer changes constantly. My work over the past decade both in my current and previous positions has been very focused on Reconstruction Era-1910s Florida, and it is a region and era that I have loved studying and bringing to the public. In many way it is an era in which Florida accelerated rapidly into “modernity.”

My first historic love was ancient and classical Mediterranean history, in my case with a particular interest in Egypt and the Phoenicians. I also have a strong interest in 20th century American sociocultural history, I’m fascinated by the shifted forms of Americana throughout the decades.


6.            What is the history of the Henry B. Plant Museum?


The Henry B Plant Museum occupies the first-floor south hallway of the enormous minaret-topped brick building in downtown Tampa. The structure and 150 acres of the land surrounding it (most of which is now the University of Tampa campus) were once the rail and steam tycoon Henry Plant’s most elaborate all-inclusive winter hotel—the Tampa Bay Hotel. The Hotel opened in 1891 and in 1898 became the staging point for US military forces fighting in the Caribbean theaters of the Spanish-American War. The hotel was purchased by the City of Tampa in 1905 and continued operating as a hotel until 1932, when the costs of operation became too high in the face of the Great Depression.


7.            What do you hope visitors to the Plant Museum learn and take away with them?


The Henry B. Plant Museum holds the distinction of accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. Its mission is to interpret the Tampa Bay Hotel and the experiences of the diverse individuals who contributed to its success. The Museum ignites thought and transports visitors to another era through exhibits and innovative programs, so that they may be educated and inspired by the lifestyles, times and experiences of Florida’s early tourist industry. Visitors are immersed in the opulence of the 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel and its rich history.


Friday, September 17, 2021

7 Questions with Jonathan R. Allen of


    Jonathan R. Allen is an Ohioan who lives in the Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina where he spends creative time reading, learning, researching, writing, and publishing content about the Civil War. He wants to help people learn Civil War history.

501 Civil War Quotes and Notes eBook & Paperback:

    1. How and when did you get  hooked on history?

For me, it began early in life. History is in my roots.

I am an Ohioan who now lives in North Carolina, my family heritage is in Northeast Ohio, the Akron area. My grandfather Carl Cranz was an Ohio State University graduate with a degree in Agriculture. Among other jobs, he worked for many years as a tenant farmer for the Jonathan Hale Farm in Bath, Ohio. Hale was an early settler of the Connecticut Western Reserve, a raw wilderness at the time, in the northeast part of what would become the state of Ohio. Hale settled in the Cuyahoga River Valley in 1810. Over time, Hale built a three-story brick house in the Cuyahoga River Valley and three generations of Hales farmed the land and lived in the brick house. Hale's sprawling farm benefited from its location near the rich flood plain of the Cuyahoga River. The Hale Farm and Village exists today as a historic site run by the Western Reserve Historical Society. It is located in Bath Township and is within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. My grandfather worked for C.O. Hale, a descendant of Jonathan Hale.

As a child I lived near the Hale Farm and Village, a historic property devoted to telling what life was like in the Cuyahoga River Valley in the early years of the Western Reserve and Ohio. My grandfather Cranz was a docent in the big red barn museum of the Hale Farm and Village. The museum displays farm tools of the 19th century. My grandfather knew about all the tools and various farm implements, he was a modern farmer but had used some 19th century tools himself. As his grandson, I had free access to the red barn museum and would listen to my grandfather explain to paying visitors how the farm tools and implements were used. As a young boy, I found it fascinating. The Hale, Hammond, and Cranz families had close ties in the early years of Bath Township. The Ira Cemetery has been called the Cranz-Hale-Hammond Cemetery and it can be found near the Hale Farm and Village. My grandfather Cranz and other forebears are buried there. I guess that early in my life I was sort of growing up in both the 19th and 20th centuries at the same time.

I should mention too, that Native Americans had a strong presence in, and predated the Western Reserve. I have a metal box full of arrowheads that my grandfather Cranz found as he worked the soil. Native American mounds and old camps, and the remains of the Erie Canal, were all part of the Cuyahoga River Valley. As a Boy Scout, I hiked to these sites and sometimes camped nearby them. Nearby Bath is Hudson, Ohio. Hudson was part of the Western Reserve and it was settled by David Hudson, preceding and coinciding with Jonathan Hale's time. Hudson was an abolitionist town, the Underground Railroad ran through it, and John Brown's family moved to Hudson when he was a young man. History was all around me when I was a young boy. It caught my attention then, and continues to now.

2. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

I think it plays an important role. I like to learn about the history of the Civil War and life in the 19th century. Besides my Hale Farm experiences as a boy, my family also visited Gettysburg, the two seemed to mesh together in my head. Same time period but two very different settings and stories. Bloody war vs. peaceful farming, quite a contrast. I understood the basics of the Battle of Gettysburg, but it was a huge topic for me to absorb as a seven-year-old. I'd caught the Civil War bug. I still have the book my Dad bought for me at the Gettysburg gift shop. Its title is, "GETTYSBURG" by MacKinlay Kantor. HA! That fact ought to date me. My late father, Richard F. Allen, and I toured Civil War battlefields together when I was an adult and we had a ton of fun. He always encouraged me with my Civil War endeavours. I owe him everything.

I blog, Tweet, and self-publish books about the Civil War. As a boy, I recall having a desk in the basement of my home. I had notebooks and pencils and sat and began writing about what I saw and learned at the Hale Farm. I have no idea what I wrote, I was just a kid messing around, but I enjoyed it. We moved and a new life began for me, my writing desk went away. Now, decades later I'm back at a desk with a computer and writing again. I still have notebooks and pencils next to me. What goes around comes around.

3. How does history play  a part of your professional life/career?

In my various jobs and work I'm afraid history played no part in my life. I have a couple of Business degrees from the University of Akron and my career efforts were in business. I was not a teacher, but I've often wished that I had been. Teaching students about the Civil War would have made me happy. I suppose that's what I'm doing now with my Civil War content creation. I'm attempting to help people learn about the Civil War.

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?

I'll go with a common explanation. We need to learn from history, so we don't repeat mistakes and also to repeat the things we did well. I know that's a simple answer, but I think it's true and has value. Beyond that, I think that for me it involves personal satisfaction and enjoyment. Maybe learning about history helps me to subconsciously make decisions in life. Maybe too, that's going a tad too deep.

5.  What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

The Civil War and the 19th century. I want to know enough about those times so I can feel like I lived then. That I knew Jonathan Hale, that I helped to settle an area, that I farmed like my grandfather Cranz did, or that I was on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863, taking aim at those men in gray coming toward me (Yup, I'd have been an Ohio Yankee in Mr. Lincoln's Army.). The more you learn the better your imagination will be when you daydream about living in another time. I geek out on that.

(Jonathan R. Allen on left, his father on the right)

6.  How did you come to start the Learn Civil War History site and blog?

I started it all just for fun on a free blogspot account, a long time ago. My whole idea was to share what I learned about the Civil War, I don't claim to be an expert. I was only doing it as a hobby, as an amusement. Then, I was surprised to find that people were visiting my blog and reading my posts. More people were coming to my blog than I ever imagined. I've been a website developer and I became a WordPress developer, so I migrated the blogspot blog over to my own WordPress self-hosted blog. It's name is:

Plus, I instinctively knew that blogging and writing about the Civil War was the path to great fame and fortune, that it's where the big bucks are. Uh huh. Cough-cough-cough. It's all a labor of love for me.

7. What can viewers expect to find on your website and what does the future hold for your website?

I am now completing my second self-published book about the Civil War. It has 125 Civil War stories/facts and will be on Amazon ASAP as a Kindle eBook and a paperback. I love the freedom of self-publishing books, blog posts, and Tweets. Each one of those 125 stories/facts in my new book is a topic that I can expand on for a blog post and for many Tweets. This book will give me a head-start on blog posts and Tweets. I will also blog and Tweet about anything about the Civil War that happens to catch my attention and curiosity, that's been my main strategy all along with my Civil War content. I have more self-published books planned. Abolitionist John Brown is probably the subject of my next book, unless I change my mind! I would also like to begin a podcast, but that's on a back-burner for now.

I read-learn-research, then write, and then publish. That's the formula I follow and will continue to do so as long as God wants me to.

Friday, September 10, 2021

7 Questions with Jason Fegadel of Youtube Channel Byztory


Jason Fegadel runs Byztory, a YouTube channel featuring animated videos about the Byzantine Empire ( He works as an Archive Specialist in the Electronic Records Division at the National Archives and Records Administration. A native of Rochester, New York, he currently lives in the Washington, DC area with his wife and three children. 

1.          How and when did you get  hooked on history?

Fun story! When I was about 7 years old, my family visited Boston and while we were there, we attended a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party. For whatever reason, this just fascinated me. I had all kinds of questions for my parents afterwards and wanted to learn everything about it, why it happened, and what happened afterwards. I soon started looking for books in the school library about that era and then I started to move into whatever other history-related media I could find. As I got older and studied more, my primary interests moved away from early American history but that was the beginning of my life long interest.

2.          What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

We live in the Washington, DC area so there are plenty of museums, parks, and sites that we can take our kids to. When we visit these places I get to talk their ears off explaining all about the history that they are seeing.

3.          How does history play  a part of your professional life/career?

I'm very lucky to have had a lot of hands-on experience working with historical materials. In 2011 I started working at the National Archives and Records Administration on a digitization project. I stayed there until 2015 when I moved over to the Library of Congress to work on digitization of their holdings. Then in 2018 I went back to NARA as an Archives Specialist working with electronic records and I'm still in that position today.

4.          Why is studying/knowing history important?

The world of today doesn't exist on it's own. We got here because of everything that happened before us. It's important to know where we came from and what brought us to this point. The foundations of the modern world can be found in the ancient and medieval world.

5.          What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

Anything related to the Eastern Roman Empire/Byzantine Empire is fascinating to me but I'm particularly interested in late antiquity, the period from roughly the beginning of the 4th century to the end of the 7th century. I'm fascinated by the causes and effects of the decline and fall of the western Roman Empire, both internally and externally.... what actually happened as the western empire declined, why the eastern empire was able to continue, and how Europe moved into the Medieval period in the aftermath of the fall of the western empire.

6.         How did Byztory get started?

There is a lot of good history content on YouTube, but I noticed that there wasn't a ton of stuff out there about the Byzantine Empire. There are a lot of important events that occurred in the Byzantine Empire and there are some interesting stories that can be told, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to produce some educational content. I took some inspiration from some other channels that are out there and adapted some things to fit my vision. I'm still trying to improve things but I'm happy with how it's coming along.

7.      What can viewers expect to find on your YouTube channel?

I make animated videos about Eastern Roman/Byzantine history. I try to produce videos that are roughly 10-15 minutes long, but I try to go into depth on the topics that I'm covering. As a result I have several videos in a series, with each video covering only a somewhat short period of time, or in some cases only one major event or battle. I'm currently working on a series about the Gothic War, part of Justinian's attempt to reconquer territories that were once a part of Rome's western empire. I have a lot of topics that I plan to do series on in the future, including the Schism of 1054 and the Byzantine Empire's role in the crusades.

Friday, September 3, 2021

7 Questions with Hermann Trappman, Artist


Artist and storyteller Hermann Trappman has devoted his life to telling the story of Florida's natural and cultural history. Trained in fine art and sculpting, he uses those skills in his digital art to express his fascination with the world around him. As an environmental educator, he's explored the way ancient Native Americans related to their world, to tease out ideas that can be used in our lives today. By design, his artwork draws you in, asking you to question and to explore ideas. Because of the hours of research he puts in, an individual painting can take up to 500 hours to complete. Find his work here . For more artwork and stories go to this website (All art used with the permission of the artist.)

The Caciqua, copyright Neily Trappman Studio

1. How and when did you get hooked on history?

Twice, the world has opened up for me. Once when I found my first fossils and again when I first read the works of Sigmund Freud. For me, fossils were never curios. Instead, they were literally touchstones to the environments of a lost world. As a child, my surroundings were solid and permanent. In my view, everything had always been the same and would remain the same. When I was 9 years old, with the discovery of my first fossils, that paradigm was forever changed. The planet I lived on was in a constant state of flux, unfolding as I strolled through my lifetime. Myself, my family, and acquaintances were all part of an unfurling process, history. The fossils I found in dragline trailings, the fill from dredges, or washed out of the shorelines along the Gulf, were my inheritance, a portion of time and space that I was now a part of. They opened the door to this magnificent world and the greater Universe beyond.

When I was 17 years old, Freud opened a vista to my psychological world, a unique dimension of history that we all share. Translations of his works in paperback had just been published. I stepped into an amazing tangle of neurons, flowing with electro-chemical exchanges, based in internal and external stimuli. Some folks want to criticize Freud. He was just a pioneer on the way to discovering a world that opened the environment of neuroscience and modern philosophy. It has allowed us to see all humans as a part of the life process, putting extreme privilege and grinding poverty into a grim perspective.

For my others fellow travelers there were different doors opening. For those willing to step into that magnificent space, they become part of that experience, a truly incredible journey. The wonder of discovery and learning are extremely seductive. The ecstasy of sudden insight totally fills the body and the mind.

When I was nine years old (1954) I found some bones. It was a brisk, late December, morning. My friends and I were out of school for Christmas vacation and our bikes made us as free as birds. We were packets of pure energy, reveling with the cool wind in our faces. Our legs pumped that energy into the peddles almost without effort. Thin cirrus clouds streaked the blue Florida winter sky. We ran out of paved road, but the world was ours to explore and most of South St. Petersburg was still just wilderness. We must have peddled west on Lakeview Avenue. Whatever road it was, it was freshly watered and readied for paving, making the surface firm enough for bikes. Thirty-fourth Street South was a construction site then. From 22nd Avenue South, 34th Street South was a great earthen scar through the South Pinellas scrublands. Bulldozers and grading equipment roared up and down its length. To the south, the original Sunshine Skyway Bridge (the William Dean Bridge) was under construction. Along the west side of 34th Street mounds of earth had been heaped up. A trench had been dug to bury drainage pipes. The piles of earth were like a magnet for us. We parked our bikes, using the kickstands, and rushed for the nearest mound. The dirt was soft and our feet sank in. Still, we climbed to the top of the nearest mound. The hills of fresh earth ran into the distance.

Of course there was some jostling and shoving. We ran down one side and rushed up the next side. Someone found a dirt clod and tossed it at a friend. The clod busted into a spray of sand. The war was on. Dirt clod wars were always fun for a while. But, they invariably ended the same way. Some kid would get a grain of sand in their eye and then there was a sudden break. “Hey,” one of the kids would shout, “Bobby’s got sand in his eye.” Everyone would crowd around. Tall and lanky, short and stocky, everyone had to look and offer an opinion. As if by magic, one of the boys would produce a clean handkerchief, and try to pick the sand out of the offended eye. Crowding in to watch the delicate operation, they all offered advise.

The boy ahead of me was kicking up sand as he climbed. Becoming the kid with sand in his eye was unappealing. I dropped back and looked for a good lump of earth. What I picked up had a little too much weight and substance. I dusted it off. Instantly I recognized it as bone. It looked like the stuff I had occasionally seen on my dinner plate or in a pot, adding its flavor to green beans. But, this things color was a tawny gray and it felt heavy like stone.

My breath caught. ‘My God,’ I thought, ‘I’ve found a dinosaur bone!’ I looked around and found several more chunks. Standing up straight, I viewed the area. The war had moved on to the south. I gathered up what I could immediately find and carried the chunks to my bike. I had saddlebag baskets as well as a basket in front.

Now, I find it odd that I didn’t look around more carefully in order to find the source. Instead, I just grabbed what was obvious, threw it into one of my baskets, and rode for home. By the time I opened my front door, it was already afternoon. The winter shadows of the cabbage palms were creeping across the patio on the south side of our home. In my excitement, I had barely dusted off the earth clinging to the fossils. I showed my parents my incredible treasure form the past. My mother was a little upset by the sand. She spread a newspaper to lay them on. “How much money are they worth,” she asked? I shrugged. After that, she lost interest. My father, was a little disgusted and refused to handle them.

“Hermann,” his voice was emphatic. Normally I was called Hermie. “This is just the garbage of someone’s picnic. We don’t want you to bring this kind of garbage home.”

Dad folded them up in the newspaper, carried them out, and tossed them into the flowerbed. Then he folded up the newspaper and took it out to the garbage. He was squeamish about dead things. In the next few days I retrieved all of those stones. Stored in a cigar box, they took up residence in the shadows beneath my bed. For me, they opened up a world of adventure and discovery. When my parents traveled back to Rochester, New York, I hauled them to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and the Museum Of Natural History in New York City. It was summer, and the big museums never had staff present who could identify them. But I kept asking.

In the museum of Natural History, I rode the elevator up to the 4th floor. I wandered around the offices trying to find someone. I met a woman, who I believed to be a receptionist. I explained my interest. She suggested that I leave the box of fossils on her desk, go down and explore the museum for a couple of hours and then come back up and try again. I went to the Hayden Planetarium for the star show. When I returned, the elevator operator told me that visitors were not allowed up on the 4th floor. Of course I was indignant. I had left my fossils up there. He had to call somebody.

I was greeted by a nice, serious looking, young man. “What’ve you got there,” he questioned? “I think that they’re dinosaur bones,” I replied. “Well, lets have a look,” he studied them. “Nope, they’re mammal bones.” My heart sank. “They’re ancient,” he went on. “Turned to stone all right. Thanks for sharing your discovery,” he smiled. “But, I don’t have a clue what animals they belong to. The people who really know about these kinds of fossils are out in the field right now and won’t be back for months. I’d suggest that you take them downstairs and look at some of the fossil critters in our displays. See if you can find bones that match.” Those fossils introduced me to a lot of interesting folks. Slowly over the years, Florida’s ancient story began to unfold for me.

One of those bones turned out to be a mammoth’s toe bone, modified into a grinding tool by a woman living with our ancient people, more than 12,900 years ago.

2. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life? 

History was already there before the origin of our Universe. There never was an all unifying energy or cause. The Universe has always been the sum of its parts moving through time, creating the opportunities that probabilities provided. If the Periodic Table of Elements is indeed prevalent through out our Universe, then probabilities plus opportunity creates repeating patterns and cycles of circumstance. Those repeating circumstances generate coincidence which humans personalize into meaningful determinations. We all actually come out of that moment of creative energy, flowing through a past which always extends back a nanosecond from where we are now. We are all tumbling through time toward unknown possibilities. The Universe is made out of history.

3. How does history play a part of your professional life/career? 

For 28 years I was a park ranger and an environmental educator for the City of St. Petersburg at Boyd Hill Nature Park. I use my art to explore historical situations and concepts.

4. Why is studying/knowing history important? 

I see history as the study of cause and effect. Everything which is known is made out of history. Everything is the product of history. Without history we wouldn’t even be inert matter floating in a vacuum.

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

 Geologic history, the history of life on this planet, cultural history (anthropology & archaeology) are all precious to me. I truly appreciate Florida’s amazing Ice Age environments in which the first people wandered, the nature of their challenges, and the fabulous adaptations that those first Americans went through. They became the only truly human adapted to America’s environments.

Jaguar Hunts Capybara, copyright Neily Trappman Studio


6. What makes Florida history so unique and inspirational to you? 

Florida was born out of the collision of continents. My research suggests that Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico, and Florida were at the heart of Pangaea. When Pangaea broke apart to form the global map of continents that we know today, it occurred from the Gulf of Mexico, along side the massive rifting zone ripping along the western coast of Africa. All deep Florida geology seems to be African in origin.

7. How does your art tell Florida’s story? 

Since the break up of Pangaea, the broken fragments of Florida drifted through time toward North America. Starting out below the equator, Florida wandered north northwestward. It bumped into a clumsy fit, below the Gulf waters, with the DeSoto Canyon on its northwest and the Okefenokee Swamp along the Florida Georgia border. During that time, Florida went through some amazing environmental changes. Just over the horizon, Florida witnessed the explosive asteroid impact with the Yucatan 66 million years ago. That impact sent massive waves crashing across Florida, ripping at widespread coral reefs. On its surface, it left the remnants of Florida as shattered rubble. Again, 36 million years ago, this landscape was effected by great waves form the asteroid impact in Chesapeake Bay. This time, great chunks of rock tumbled across the idyllic tropical islands which made up this place. Hung up against the edge of the Caribbean plate’s eastward migration, Cuba crashed into south Florida creating the Islands of the Bahamas.

It was only around 21 million years ago that Florida finally reconnected with North America again. A strange menagerie of critters from the north came to Florida. After the Isthmus of Panama closed off the Atlantic’s North Equatorial current from the Pacific Ocean, 2.5 million years ago, the Gulf Stream was formed and a new Ice Age began. Growing glaciers swept up water out of the oceans dropping the sea level over 300 feet. Florida grew to over twice its present size. There is clear evidence of people living in Florida 14,500 years ago. With the melting of the Ice sheets, vast lakes were formed. Between 12,560 and 11,690 BPE, massive break-out floods from Lake Agassiz would have caused a rapid sea level rise, infusing the Gulf with cold fresh water. I like describing some of those events with my artwork.

Eventually American Indians, Tunica speaking people, arrived to make their home along the gulf coast. Using Archaeological studies and historical accounts, I like to paint my interpretations of their cultures. Like the Aztec and the Maya, Florida’s people were a high culture. Without stone to build with, they relied on shell as their foundational building material. Recycling the shell waste from joyful feasts, they built tall temple mounds, plazas, ball courts, and causeways. The other wonderful resource they had was Pinus elliottii - Slash Pine and Pinus palustris - Longleaf Pine. These trees can produce 40 feet of clean lumber before they spread into their crowns. With plentiful wood, our original people built great buildings. Their wooden supports would have been covered with carvings. Their cities spread along the coastline, where incredible marine resources fed large populations. Beginning in autumn, clouds of ducks and geese arrived to fill our bays and bayous with a din of noise and a flash of color. Rivers of mullet and mackerel flooded the coastal areas.

Our people had brought the Mississippian Ceremonial Culture from the core of North America to these shores. Using thousands of beautifully built dugout canoes, they visited and traded both north and south into the Caribbean. Spanish Conquistadors were attracted to Florida’s Gulf coast by the population density and apparent wealth. But, for our people, that wealth was dependent on the good life and not gold. The Spanish were disappointed. Our environmentally intricate culture was vulnerable to Spanish slaughter and European disease. In the end, the wooden structures would evaporate like fog caught by the morning sun, leaving only the shell works behind. Everywhere I traveled in Pinellas during my youth, I witnessed environments recovering from ancient human habitation, covered with pioneering plant communities, not climax communities. The first people loved these environments and their population had an effect. I like to paint and tell the story of their lost world and the incredible landscape which produced it. I find Florida to be one of the most incredible pieces of property on the planet Earth.