In the early 1880’s, Edgar J. Watson built an impressive homestead and sugarcane plantation in the middle of the 10,000 Islands on Chatham Bend River. Watson was a man of great reputation: pioneer, business man, entrepreneur, and serial killer.
Watson moved to north Florida from South Carolina with his parents at an early age. After becoming a suspect in a murder, Watson fled to the Oklahoma territories where he was arrested for the murder of famous female outlaw, Belle Starr.
After being released for Belle’s murder, he fled back to Florida, leaving a trail of bodies all the way from Oklahoma to Key West. History indicates that Watson would travel to Key West to hire workers for his plantation, and then on payday, he would gun down his entire crew and dump their bodies in the bay. He would then travel back to Key West to hire new workers.
After years of living in fear of E.J. Watson, the local residents of Chokoloskee gunned him down at the historic Smallwood Store. His remains were buried in the 10,000 Islands, but his family eventually retrieved his remains and had them buried in the Fort Myers Cemetery. The legend of Edgar Watson became the subject of Peter Matthiessen’s “Watson Trilogy”.
You will notice 2 separate headstones pictured below. One is the actual headstone for E.J. Watson, and the other is a larger “family headstone” located nearby.