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Life In The Unity

Anyone driving down US-41 is bound to see the “New Store”, which is probably the most visible part of the Historic Site, at least from the outside.

One of the store’s most interesting occupants was Franklin Jacke. Franklin’s life has been chronicled on this website previously.

Here is a copy of a postcard that Franklin sent to his mother. Life was apparently good, both for Franklin and for the Unity. He says:

“Moved into this building Dec 8.’24. been in it a little over a year. Quite a relief. Tourists and northern people usually remark and say it is absolutely best kept store thy have seen. Man told me yesterday, best one he had seen south of Jax’Ville”.

Of course, Franklin was the caretaker of the store. However, over time, he began to lose his eyesight and as mentioned in the previous post he sank into depression and took his own life.

Here is his obituary (courtesy of Genealogy Trails

Franklin Jacke

FORT MYERS NEWS-PRESS, April 1, 1936–Franklin Jacke, 61-year-old store keeper at the Koreshan Unity, committed suicide by drowning early yesterday morning in the Estero river. In a note addressed to the Koreshans, Jacke gave approaching blindness as the reason for taking his life. “I am about blind and can’t stand it any longer,” he wrote. When Jacke was missed at the store, the Koreshans headed by Brother George Hunt, started a search and first found the note which also contained instructions wehre to find the body. The sheriff’s office was notified immediately, and the body was located in the river by Deputy E. P. McAuley and State Officer Homer Klay. Deputy McAuley said that deep scratches on Jacke’s face made it appear that he had tried to claw out his eyes either before of after jumping into the water. He was drowned in a comparatively shallow spot and the body was recovered by wading and dragging with a garden rake. Jacke had been a member of the Koreshan Unity for 33 years, coming to Lee county to join the Estero community from his native home in Wisconsin. He is said to have relatives in Wisconsin. The text of the note follows: “Dear Folks: I am about blind, cannot see to do my work today. With all the business cares which no one knows, I am unable to stand this. I have gone to the river. Look for my hat on the point. I am so blind cannot see people in the store; just a dim outline.” The hat was found by Brother Hunt and nearby he discovered Jacke’s coat and a handkerchief neatly folded on the bank. He also left his watch and chain with his clothes. For many years Jacke had operated a general store which belonged to the Koreshan unity. The Koreshans told Deputy McAuley they would take care of the body themselves.
Submitted by Norrita Shepherd Moss

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