http://www.thecrier.com Area lawyer Harvey E. Oyer III published his second history book for children and young teens May 1. The Adventures of Charlie Pierce: The Last Egret is a true story from the life of a young Florida pioneer and his experiences in one of America’s darkest environmental episodes. Oyer is a fifth-generation Floridian and the great-grand nephew of Charlie Pierce, the subject of the book series.
Oyer is a private practice attorney, author, lecturer and former archaeologist living in West Palm Beach. He served for eight years as chairman of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Oyer holds degrees in economics, archaeology and law, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and was a Rotary Foundation Scholar at the Australian National University. Oyer holds a master’s degree in archaeology from Cambridge University and has worked in various parts of the world as an underwater archaeologist.
The book, his second in “The Adventures of Charlie Pierce” series, will expose children and young teens to an exciting historical period through the eyes, experiences and adventures of a peer, while it also explores the emotional tug-of-war between the needs of man and respect for the environment.
During the late 19th century, the fashion rage throughout America and Europe was colorful bird feathers to adorn people’s hats and clothing. To meet the large demand for bird feathers, millions of birds were hunted and killed, primarily in the Florida Everglades. So many birds were killed that some species were left near extinction.
Charlie Pierce was a young teenager from one of the first pioneer families in South Florida. The Pierces settled on an island in the Lake Worth Lagoon, near present-day Palm Beach, and learned of the tremendous profit potential from the area’s native birds. “Plumes is the new gold,” a bird hunter passing through told them.
At the same time, the Pierces were in danger of losing their island home to a new threat: property taxes. Young Charlie convinced himself that he could combine a great adventure with an opportunity to help his family save their home. He gathered his friends, including a Seminole Indian boy who befriended him, and embarked on the Great Plume Bird Expedition.
The hunters’ travels took them deep into “Pa-Hay-Okee,” Seminole for “grassy waters,” later known as the Everglades, where they found colorful birds aplenty. Soon they were carrying sacks of bird plumes to market, but also the seeds of guilt as they left piles of bird carcasses in their path.
Eventually, young Charlie had to choose between right and riches — a choice that would influence him and his friends the rest of their lives.
The Adventures of Charlie Pierce: The Last Egret has received praise from the environmental community.