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CIHS announces season’s programs

By Staff | Nov 26, 2019

With its first event of the season behind it, the Captiva Island Historical Society has released its schedule for the 2019-2020 year and it promises to offer something of interest for everyone.

Board President Tom Libonate explained that the aim of every season is to foster the mission of the CIHS – to gather, preserve, interpret and share the island’s history and to provide education about the remarkable people and events that have shaped its past – through a lineup of interesting programs.

“It’s probably the most ambitious schedule that we’ve had,” he said of what is planned.

Libonate noted that nearly every program sold out last season.

With the November kickoff event in the books, “Celebrating Historic ‘Tween Waters Inn,” the next program on the schedule will be “Homage to History” on Jan. 13 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Captiva Island Yacht Club. The CIHS will present the first-ever Betty Anholt “Guardian of History” Award.

Board President Tom Libonate

A standing-ovation tribute to Anholt, an island historian, the event will include an intimate dinner and unique opportunity to learn about the award’s inspiring namesake, who will be the first recipient.

“Betty, I think, is without a doubt the most accomplished and longstanding living island historian,” Libonate said, adding that she has helped to provide commentary for the CIHS’ documentaries. “It’s a lifetime achievement award for folks who helped to foster and perpetuate and share island history.”

A tribute video highlighting Anholt’s body of work will be shown.

Tickets are $75 and include dinner, wine, beer and soft drinks. The $200 value for the evening is being partially underwritten by the CIHS and a grant awarded by the Charitable Foundation of the Islands.

On Jan. 25, “Two Much Fun!” is planned from 10 a.m. to noon at the Captiva Civic Association.

The program will consists of two components: a personalized reveal of the History Gallery’s new makeover inside the Captiva Memorial Library and an introduction of the self-guided Walking Tour.

Admission is free, with participation first come, first served.

“Double Feature Movie Night” will follow on Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. at The Community House on Sanibel. Two documentaries will be shown, “Buck Key: Island of History & Mystery” and “Blind Pass: The Bridge That Connects.” The CIHS collaborated with the Sanibel Historical Museum on “Blind Pass.”

“It’s the Sanibel premiere of our two documentaries that haven’t been shown on Sanibel before,” Libonate said.

Tickets are $10 and include refreshments and soft drinks; a cash bar will be available.

Next up on the schedule will be “Black Bart: From Bullets to Books” on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Captiva Civic Association. The CIHS will present the forgotten notorious life of Captiva loner Reimund Holzhey (1866-1952). His life is the subject of a book, and the writers will be present.

“This is a really intriguing story,” he said.

Holzhey arrived on the island about 1930 and lived the last 20-plus years of his life in peace. Before that, he robbed stagecoaches and trains and in 1889 he became the most notorious villain in Wisconsin and Michigan. After killing a man in his last robbery, he was arrested and sentenced to life in prison.

It was in prison that Holzhey made a transformation, turning into a model prisoner. He became the prison photographer, librarian and writer, plus an investor. In 1913, he was pardoned and released. His life attracted the attention of newspapers nationwide, even newspapers in Europe wrote about him.

Holzhey passed away on Captiva in 1952.

“A book is being written about his life,” Libonate said.

Professor Gabri van Tussenbroek, an author and historian with the city of Amsterdam, and historian Tanja Holzhey are collaborating on the book project and will be in attendance at the CIHS event.

“We will have the two authors speaking about that,” he said.

Tickets are $10 and include refreshments and soft drinks; a cash bar will be available.

On March 3, the “‘Sands of Time’ Documentary Premiere” is scheduled to debut at 7 p.m. in the Ballroom at the South Seas Island Resort. Currently in production and slated to be a full-length film, the newest documentary by the CIHS will explore the history and future of erosion on the island.

“Erosion on Captiva is a topic that is as relevant today as it has been over the past 100 years,” Libonate said. “Our documentary will chronicle and document the impact of erosion and its effect on the changes to our coastline.”

Tickets are $10 and include refreshments and soft drinks; a cash bar will be available.

“Sentimental Journey (The War Years): Captiva Island 1941-1945” will wrap up the season on April 6 at 7 p.m. at the Captiva Civic Association. The program will serve as a moving salute to the island’s wartime memories, which will be expressed to the audience through visual image, narrative and song.

“We have a number of memories, a lot of letters, and bits and pieces of people’s recollections of life on the island during the war years,” he said. “We have accounts of offshore submarine sitings, romance with the troops, and some interesting uses of exhausted parachute materials.”

Another story is about an islander contributing a yacht to the U.S. Coast Guard for military use.

“It’s an intriguing timeframe,” Libonate said.

Tickets are $10 and include refreshments and soft drinks; a cash bar will be available.

The CIHS had one more program planned for the season, the “Island Store Commemoration” on Dec. 7. However, the event has been postponed for the time being due to construction delays at the store.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to reserve their tickets.

“We have varied and diverse events covering many different topics,” he said. “We think we have a very colorful history, and I think our events reflect that.”

The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company is the presenting sponsor for the season.

“Their support helps us to underwrite our programs,” Libonate said.

To buy tickets, visit www.captivaislandhistoricalsociety.org or www.eventbrite.com.

For more information, visit the CIHS Website or call 239-472-2323.