In 1906, Ted Smallwood established a store in the small town of Chokoloskee. The store officially closed in 1982, but was reopened as a museum in 1989 by Smallwood’s granddaughter.
The museum offers a unique look into the daily lives of some of southwest Florida’s earliest pioneers. However, what Chokoloskee and The Smallwood Store are most remembered for is murder and hauntings!
Edgar J. Watson was an outlaw notorious for killing the outlaw Belle Starr. In Chokoloskee, Watson was suspected of many murders in the area. Watson was famous for hiring migrant workers on his farm and then murdering them to avoid paying their wages. In 1910, Chokoloskee residents took the matter into their own hands, and gunned Watson down at Ted Smallwood’s store.
Since the store reopened as a museum, there have been several reports of strange happenings. Interestingly, the haunting doesn’t appear to be connected to the murder. Numerous patrons have reported seeing the image of a woman in the dresser mirror on their way to the restroom, and shadowy figures moving throughout the room. Locals report hearing and seeing people moving around inside the store at night long after the museum has closed, yet no one is ever discovered inside.