History Fort Lauderdale, celebrating 60 years of stewardship of our community’s past by making our heritage accessible and engaging to residents and visitors, will present a free book signing and meet & greet with Donn R. Colee, Jr., author of “Legends & Lore of Fort Lauderdale’s New River” (Arcadia Publishing/The History Press), on Tuesday, January 17, from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Colee’s appearance is part of History Fort Lauderdale’s “Florida Scribes & Stories,” a meet the author monthly series that offers literary and history enthusiasts a chance to speak with local authors, purchase their latest releases and have them signed.
Colee Jr. is a seventh-generation Floridian and a direct descendent of George Colee, who immigrated to the St. Augustine area from England in 1821. Donn grew up in Orlando but frequently visited relatives in the ancient city, where his curiosity was piqued by stories about a massacre of long-ago family members at Fort Lauderdale’s New River. While the “Colee Massacre” story was later debunked, it refused to die. His “Legends & Lore of Fort Lauderdale’s New River” began as an attempt to finally resolve the last vestiges of that myth, but the power of New River quickly propelled the book to become a history of the river, its fascinating people, and the transformation of its wilderness into a metropolis. This is his second book. His first, “Towers in the Sand,” is the history of radio and television stations in Florida and the people who brought them to life. His family has been engaged in Florida broadcasting for three generations.
Colee is a member of the Florida Historical Society, History Fort Lauderdale, St. Augustine Historical Society and Historical Society of Palm Beach County. He is a former commissioner of the Florida Inland Navigation District, the state agency responsible for maintenance and improvements of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway from Fernandina Beach to Key Biscayne. It was built by a company that was cofounded in 1881 by his great-great-great-grandfather, who became its civil engineer. Donn and his wife, Martha, reside in Palm Beach Gardens.
Upcoming authors in the “Florida Scribes & Stories” series include Mike McGinnis and Jeff Davies on February 11. Additional novelists and dates will be announced. Guests may RSVP at bit.ly/HFLFloridaScribesColee2023.
History Fort Lauderdale is proud to host a variety of engaging multicultural experiences, year-round. Permanent exhibits include “From Dugouts to Dream Yachts,” a visual narrative weaving the story of the ever-changing use of Fort Lauderdale’s waterways by following the strokes of the first people to today’s sightseers, “The Bryans of Fort Lauderdale” which allows visitors to experience the story of the City of Fort Lauderdale as told through the pioneer family that shaped its development from an agricultural outpost in 1896 to a bustling city in the 1920s to its current status as a leading Metropolis, “Juliette Lange: A Portrait of a Mezzo Soprano,” a fashion and lifestyle glimpse of the socially prominent Fort Lauderdale resident with a lauded career as a star vocalist of musical comedy, plus “Archaeology of the New River” and a multitude of stories and photos sharing the history of other founding families of Fort Lauderdale. The nonprofit museum also hosts an artists’ collective collaborative space.
For more information about History Fort Lauderdale, please call (954) 463-4431 or visit historyfortlauderdale.org. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/ftlhistory, on Instagram @ftlhistory and on Twitter @FTLHistory. Subscribe to us on YouTube at youtube.com/user/FTLhistory.