LaBelle Heritage Museum presents award winning author Andrew Frank

The speaker with the door prize winners. [L-R] Eddie Rennolds, Add Austin, Tanya Dunaway, Linda Kay, Lori Shula, Dr. Andrew Frank, Danika Hopper, and Edward Radtke.

LaBelle Heritage Museum’s January Special Speaker program featured an award-winning author and teacher, Andrew K. Frank, Ph.D., Allen Morris Associate Professor of History at Florida State University. Dr. Frank is an ethnohistorian who often travels across the country giving lectures on the history of Florida and the American South. He presented a wonderfully energetic and interesting presentation titled, “Before the Pioneers: Connecting Ancient and Modern Indians of Florida.”

Dr. Frank talked about the history of the different indigenous people that have lived and continue to live throughout Florida and their origins. He told of a common misconception that there were not ancient indigenous people here long ago. During his presentation, Dr. Frank showed a photo, taken of a city block in downtown Miami, from atop a neighboring hotel. This photo showed carved post holes that were made by Tequesta Indians, some 2,000 years ago, where they placed and bent sapling trees into, to make homes. This city block eventually becomes a Spanish mission in 1560, a slave plantation, a U.S. military fort in the 1830’s, the home of Julia Tuttle (an American business woman who is known as “the mother of Miami,’’) and even the site of the Royal Palm in 1897, the first hotel in Miami. This incredible, historic site is soon to become a large condominium, a Whole Foods, movie theater, and a Miami history museum. Dr. Frank went on to discuss that Florida has such a long history, still rife with unanswered questions, but that there is much evidence that it has been continuously occupied for thousands of years.

Dr. Frank was certainly a lively, captivating speaker. He also stayed to answer questions from the crowd, and as is tradition, door prizes were given away at the end of the presentation. If you missed this lecture, don’t fret, he has written quite a few books including “Before the Pioneers: Indians, Settlers, Slaves, and the Founding of Miami,” which explores and connects the ancient and modern history of Miami.

LaBelle Heritage Museum’s next Special Speaker Program for February is “The Sweetheart State: Great Romances in Florida” by Caren Neile. Neile is a popular returning speaker and if you like entertaining and educational Florida lore, this time filled with exotic stories of couples both heroic and criminal, you won’t want to miss it! The public is invited to attend this free program at the Dallas B. Townsend Agricultural Center, 1085 Pratt Boulevard, on Wednesday, February 13, at 7 p.m. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Special Speaker Program has been made possible by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council.

Danika can be reached at

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment