«»«» 16 JUNE 2009«»«»
by Terrell William "Terry" Proctor, J.D.
2009 President of Houston Gem & Mineral Society and
Curator of Proctor Museum of Natural Science, Inc. 1989 to present

The Leisey Shell Pit Fossils

My name is Terry Proctor, as you know. I have been asked to put on a program in lieu of the scheduled program for this evening, which had to be canceled. While I have a number of interesting trips, places and fascinating fossil gathering locations, one of the most interesting and fossiliferous is the Leisey Shell Pit, at Ruskin, Florida.

I have collected there only twice I believe, but for the quality of fossils, of which one may well be my favorite collected fossil ever, these were wonderful trips.

Tonight I am going to tell you about a location of only a few acres, in Ruskin, Florida, which held one of the World's greatest finds and treasure of vertebrate fossils, of all times. I have with me tonight, a few remaining autographed copies of 'Miracle at Cockroach Bay.... The Leisey Shell Fossils". This is a book written by Frank A. Garcia, one of the two men who took me into the Leisey Shell Pit.

As a result, I joined the Tampa Bay Fossil Club and have belonged for many years. I can tell y that I haven't been able to go back and collect there, like I want to, for a number of years. It is a long drive from Houston to the Tampa Bay are, but it was well worth it.

Frank A. Garcia
(l.) and
Dr. Robert W. Sinibaldi (r.)
showing fossils at TBFC meeting
Both are Past Presidents of Tampa Bay Fossil Club Dr. ROBERT W. SINIBALDI
in diving gear

Frank doesn't have a Dr. degree in Paleontology, but his record as a self-made Paleontologist is an envy of many who do have such degree.
Frank was the man who discovered what the Leisey Shell Pit held, then made the arrangements with the owners to protect and preserve this wonderful find from just becoming construction fill, which is the material for which this pit was excavating. Frank had wonderful cooperation from the Leisey family, the Casey family and the Hunter family, who over time owned the Leisey Shell Pit or managed it.
The is truly a story of how one of us, i.e. a person interested in fossils, who can recognize the value of fossil finds, of significant value as Frank did, can then by properly approaching the property owners, and gaining their attention and cooperation, can provide a significant scientific find to the World. This is the story of the preservation of such a valuable collection of fossils of such large and great importance to the World, for the public to see, study and be inspired by, instead of winding up as part of a Florida highway, as it well may have, if it had not been for Frank Garcia and his curiosity.
Frank was a Research Collaborator on several National Science Foundation Grants, which resulted in the Smithsonian Institution receiving one of the largest collections of Sea Cow material in the World. Frank has written several books, and co-authored one or more others. One which I have a few copies of at this meeting is 'Discovering Fossils'; another is 'Miracle at Cockroach Bay'; and yet another is the 'Illustrated Guide to Fossil Vertebrate'.
Dr. Sinibaldi has been President of the Tampa Bay Fossil Club and a member for many years, after it was founded by Frank Garcia and other founders.
Robert lives in St. Petersburg and has been very supportive since the first time I met him. The first time I went to Ruskin, Florida to meet Robert and Frank, he presented me with a great collection of Pleistocene Florida fossils which I have treasured ever since.
Dr. Sinibaldi has written a number of books, including 'Fossil Diving', a book about diving in Florida's Waters and other places which contain prehistoric treasurers. I have a few of these books at this meeting for anyone interested . Bob writes a monthly column for the Tampa Bay Fossil Chronicles, in which he reviews new books out on fossils and natural science publications.
These reviews are enlightening and allow one to determine if they are interested in acquiring the book reviewed. Bob has served as an officer of the Tampa Bay Fossil Club a number of times. He and Frank Garcia have also both served on the Board of the Proctor Museum of Natural Science for a number of years.
I have brought with me the great collection which Dr. Sinibaldi presented me with about 10 years ago. I want you to have chance to see this most interesting collection of Pleistocene Florida fossils.

As part of my presentation, along with the above, I have attached a print-out of the 'Leisey Shell Pit' web pages from the Proctor Museum of Natural Science, which pages you can find on that website at:https://proctormuseum.us/Florida/Leisey%20Shell%20Pit-Fla/LeiseyShellPit.htm.