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Gavin-Walker Historical Marker unveiled

By Staff | Aug 17, 2017

Ken, Eugene and Eric Gavin reveal the Gavin-Walker Historical Marker during a special ceremony Friday. MEGHAN MCCOY

The first marker was revealed about a quarter mile west of Tarpon Bay Road on the City of Sanibel Heritage Trail Friday to celebrate the Gavin and Walker family’s centennial celebration.

“I am proud and honored to be the location of the marker,” J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Manager Paul Tritaik said of the marker at the “Gavin Site” of the refuge. “Thousands of people will learn and appreciate this pioneer family forever more.”

The “Sanibel Pioneers” Gavin-Walker Historical Marker was the first of 20 markers to be installed. The remaining markers will be located throughout the island, all carrying a different theme.

Tritaik said the suggestion regarding the marker was initially brought up about six years ago and proposed in May of this year. Since it was not proposed until this year, the marker was not budgeted for the overall project. When it was suggested to add one more panel to the Heritage Trail, it was agreed that it was an exception that deserved the recognition, resulting in fast tracking the marker.

The “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, Tritaik said stepped up and provided the funds for the Gavin-Walker Historical Marker.

“You’ve been on the island for a long time. Thanks for all you’ve done on Sanibel,” Councilman Chauncey Goss said.

Once the marker was revealed, a round of applause erupted from the audience from many members of the Gavin and Walker family, who were attending the 100th reunion.

The “Sanibel Pioneers” panel includes background information about the family, as well as photographs depicting their story.

“The Gavin and Walker families were the first black families to settle on Sanibel and were among the island’s early pioneers. Hannah and Isaiah Gavin arrived on Sanibel in 1917 from Wakulla County, near Tallahassee, with their four children. Harry and Pearl Alice Walker moved to Sanibel in 1927 from Freeman Grove, Georgia to raise five girls and two boys,” states the panel.

The location of the marker was where the Gavin and Walker family, among others lived for more than 50 years in a 100 square foot, tin roofed structure. Over the years it had numerous modifications and eventually abandoned and later destroyed in a prescribed burn in 1992.