Okay, so what was life like here for early settlers? The obvious come to mind: hot and wet in the summers and beautiful during the winters. Food was abundant on land in the form of wild animals, and in the sea for the taking. And the land was conducive for farming. Travel to the general store in St. James City for supplies and the occasional mail would have been a journey for those settlers living on the north end of the island, for if they early in the morning they would return early the next morning. But they chose to live “out in the country” to be away from it all. It certainly was not overcrowded with approximately 100 people living on the entire island in the early 1900s.
I contend the worst thing for the about living on Pine Island in early days was the mosquitoes. There was a reason the Calusa Indians were seafood gathers and not farmers: they were not venturing 10 feet from the shoreline with the little clothing they traditionally wore. We all know how bad the mosquitoes are in the summers now, even with Lee County Mosquito Control constantly spraying. Now imagine how bad it was back in the days of our earlier settlers. From Elaine Jordan book Pine Island-Forgotten Island she talks about how anyone working in the garden had to wear a bee veil and gloves for protection. She also mentions that people would wrap newspapers around their legs and always wear long sleeve shirts to protect against the mosquitoes. And of course there were the ever present smudge pots burning at all building entrances day and night to repel the bugs. It should be pointed out that these smudge pots were responsible for most of the building fires in those early years, including the San Carlos Hotel.