Mollie Johnson at Mound Key

A black and white photo of a Koreshan house.

After the death of the Calusa tribe, settlers moved into the area now known as Mound Key Archaeological State Park. Some notable settlers were Frank and Mollie Johnson who came to the island in 1891 from Europe. Their intention was to farm the land, taking advantage of the weather to grow a variety of crops. Molly was half-Cherokee and her husband was a farmer by trade, making them both very knowledgeable about farming.

Some years after arriving Frank left the island, leaving all the affairs to be handled by Mollie. It was around this time, she allowed other families to move onto the land, eventually creating a small community of about eight total families. Mollie was also instrumental in helping the Koreshan Unity Settlement in nearby Estero establish themselves. She taught them farming and fishing and how to construct shelters to help them survive the Florida weather. She also was midwife for the children born on the island.

She eventually sold her island land to the Koreshans. The land was donated to the state of Florida in 1961 by Hedwig Michel, the last Koreshan.    

Mollie Johnson is remembered as being an instrumental person in the survival of so many settlers who came to the area. Her immense knowledge and skill were invaluable to the people and she served in a variety of roles to make sure that everyone was taken care of when they arrived. Her legacy is still remembered today by her family and the descendants of families who lived in the area.