News Stories

The Notorious Edgar J. Watson

A community united in murder, deep in the heart of the Everglades, left a lasting legacy that tells the story of a mysterious visitor.

It was 1910 and one man, Edgar Watson, had angered the people of Chokoloskee, Florida so much that a group of men decided it was time to come together to kill him.

Watson came to Chokoloskee at a time when there were no roads and few people. Glenn Miller, President of the Southwest Florida Historical Society, said the area at the time had no roads and little access.

Well Hannah was about 300 pounds, and he didn’t put enough weight on her, so she floated

“It was as wild as the wild west,” Miller said.

Miller speculated that Watson had come to the area to hide out after committing murders around Oklahoma and allegedly killing one of the most famous women outlaws of the time, Belle Star.

When Watson arrived in Chokoloskee, he started a sugar plantation and quickly rose to be a powerful man. According to the local Museum Curator at the store turned museum (the sight of the murder of Watson), Gary Mcmillin, Watson would hire workers on his plantation, mostly black, then kill the workers if they wanted to leave, tie them up with window curtain sashes, and throw their bodies overboard from his boat, one of the first boats to be owned in the area.


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Mcmillin explained that Watson’s downfall came when he killed a white woman named Hannah in the area along with her husband.

“Well Hannah was about 300 pounds, and he didn’t put enough weight on her, so she floated,” Mcmillin said.

News of Watson’s misdeeds had reached the townspeople.

“They had had enough of Watson,” Miller said.

The townspeople met at Ted’s Smallwood Store (now a museum) where they knew Watson would show up once a week for supplies. Mcmillin said that as Watson approached he reached for his gun and tried to fire but the wet bullets wouldn’t fire and the crowd of men fired back hard.

“They let loose with their guns and Watson was dead before he hit the sand,” Miller Said.

Looking to visit this site? You can find it at Ted’s Smallwood store in Chokoloskee, Florida. Visitors can take a tour through the museum, and the store offers boat rides to tour the area. Mcmillin said the store had been visited several times by ghost hunters who have picked up evidence of ghostly presences for visitors looking for a thrill.

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