April 2017 

April is Volunteer Month and we choose this time to  publicly recognize and thank every single one of our volunteers. for their faithful service to the Mandarin community through their service to the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society.

It is no exaggeration when we say that we would not exist without the commitment of all of you who give so generously of your time and your talents and your resources. MMHS is a volunteer-based and volunteer-driven organization and every single person's contribution counts...a lot!

Did you know that we logged 6608 "reported" volunteer hours in the last fiscal year?   At the $23.00/hour rate that is accepted for volunteer service, our volunteers donated the equivalent of $152,000 to MMHS through their time alone!

You all serve as docents, lead school tours, conduct research, manage our archival collections, scan documents, care for the natural beauty of the park, serve on the board and committees, grow vegetable and butterfly gardens, clean the facilities, help at special events, work on exhibits, educate visitors about Maple Leaf and make and sell Mandarin Frogs!

There are no words that can truly express the depth of gratitude that we and the Board of Directors has for the work every one of you does to support our mission. Please know that every thing you do is deeply appreciated. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Paula Suhey and Sandy Arpen

Remember Maple Leaf - lost 153 years ago on April 1, 1864

The ship was returning in darkness to Jacksonville from Palatka.

The following quotes are selections from the testimony of Romeo Murray, the pilot that night:

"I was holding the wheel on the starboard side when we came off Mandarin Point.The moon rose about 3 and one-half o'clock, and it was a right clear night. The river was still and perfectly smooth and I could see the shore well and make the channel easy, and if there had been anything as big as my hat on the water, I could have seen it.

"There was a loud noise under the boat and the pilot house lifted right up. I was lifted up and my head struck the top of the pilot house and I fell down and lost my cap.The floor sunk right down. When I got up the wire had stretched and set the whistle blowing. When it blew up the boat took a sheer to starboard and sunk a little athwart of the stream."

And there she still lies today - in the St. Johns River at Mandarin Point - her Civil War cultural treasure buried under 8 feet of river mud - a National Historic Landmark shipwreck site. But we are still learning about this ship and her artifacts every month when Keith Holland and the St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions divers come to Mandarin Museum to meet individually with people as they tour the Maple Leaf exhibit and artifacts. Join them on April 15 from noon to 4. Their presence is a very special opportunity for our visitors.

But today, April 1, 2017, just take a minute to think of the four freed black men who served as crew, and died:that night:
  • Simeon Field
  • Eli Foster
  • Benjamin Wiggin
  • Charles Sumner
Historic Preservation Commission Awards!

We are so proud for the whole community of Mandarin to announce that we have been selected to receive  a Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission's Preservation Award in May.

This award  acknowledges the restoration of the St Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children and the creation of the exhibit within the schoolhouse highlighting one of the education experiences of African Americans in Mandarin. It will be awarded to MMHS, Mandarin Community Club,  Rotary Club of Mandarin, R. G. White Construction, Councilman Matt Schellenberg, and the City of Jacksonville Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

This project was nominated to honor the ongoing and combined efforts of the public/private partnerships and commitments of generous individuals and organizations that made it possible to save, preserve and interpret this building and its stories for the public.
It now stands as a physical symbol that will reveal life in our community over a century ago. As a stand-alone museum that is part of a larger historical park, it will be an educational jewel that reaches out into the community and teaches visitors about several very important stories: the background of this historic building itself, the educational mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph and the opportunities and challenges facing African-American children and adults in obtaining an education from the post-Civil War time period until the early 20th Century.

In 2016, the building received an Honorable Mention Award from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation for restoration and rehabilitation. Do you remember the day it was moved - January 13, 2015? What an exciting day it was. 


We are also honored to receive a second award  -  the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission's Preservation Award for the City Hall historic window displays. These windows are on the west side of the entrance to City Hall were part of a project of Council President Lori Boyer, the Jacksonville Historical Society and the Jacksonville History Consortium. We were pleased and grateful to be asked to be part of the first series of historic places shown in the windows. The next time you are downtown, please go by City Hall and take a look. All of the windows are very interesting.

Al Poindexter playing at an early jam.
Sign-up NOW for a special class 
that starts April 27 

North Florida Folk Music: History and Tradition,  a book written  by Ron Johnson will be the subject of a class offered by Mandarin Museum & Historical Society starting on April 27.  The class, taught by local singer/songwriter Al Poindexter, will be a discussion of the material in Johnson's book. Ron, a popular folk artist himself, started the "Music Under the Oaks" music jam at Mandarin Museum in 2013 when he was President of North Florida Folk Network. Sadly, he passed away in 2014, just months after his book was published. He has left us a treasure, as he "shares some of the stories and insights into the folk music of North Florida and those who define the tradition."
Enhance your knowledge through an exploration of North Florida's folk music and its history. Gather to learn about the songs, songwriters and performers heard at festivals, folk clubs, campfires and living rooms. Enrich your appreciation of music of the heart and soul that reveal truths about life, joy and struggle. Enjoy music and video clips as well as some live music. You'll be invited to sing along.  Recommended Reading : Ron Johnson, North Florida Folk Music: History and Tradition, which is available at the Mandarin Museum Gift Shop.
The class will meet for three Thursday evenings from 6:30 - 8 pm at the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children, next to Mandarin Museum in Walter Jones Historical Park, 11964 Mandarin Rd. Dates: April 27, May 4 and May 11. The cost for class is a $30 donation. Please register by calling 268-0784 or emailing . There is limited seating, so reservations are required.Please let us know ASAP.

Ron Johnson at one of the jams he started at Walter Jones Park. 
Click here to see a trailer about the brand new three-part  PBS documentary about World War I, which starts April 10 at 9 pm on PBS, WJCT, Channel 7.

New exhibit and book coming:
Pvt. Marion J. Losco
"A Soldier's Story" 

Most of our readers have seen the little log cabin in the park, the Losco Winery. This building belonged to the Francis and Dometilla Danese Losco family and was eventually given to Mandarin Museum to place in the park to preserve it's  history

But did you know that a son from this farming family served and died in France in World War I?

War had been declared with Germany on April 2, 1917. Marion Joseph Losco did his duty and  registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. He was 24 years old.  His registration papers were signed by none other than Walter Jones, the Postmaster of Mandarin. Marion reported for duty on March 29, 1918. On July 31, 1918, this young Army private had been killed in action on the battlefield of France - two weeks after his birthday. He is buried at the American Military Cemetery of Oise-Aisne, France.

Marion's mother  kept all of his letters and  postcards as well as the notices and personal items she received from the Army after his death. They were placed in a trunk, said to be the one in which his personal possessions came home. This trunk ended up with David Losco, who asked MMHS if we would like to see them. The items and his story were so compelling and we knew we had to create a way to honor this brave soldier and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.

Sandy Arpen asked Paul Ghiotto (former Executive Director of the Jacksonville Maritime Museum) if he would like to work on a special project for MMHS. She told him the story of the letters. Paul was silent. Unbelievably, Paul then stated, "My father was named for Marion Losco!" Who better to take on this special project? How fortunate we are.

Since this initial conversation, Paul has transcribed every letter, written a book about Marion and his experiences and is designing a special exhibit to share this material with the public. The exhibit is planned to open in June.

There are three names mentioned in Marion's letters about whom we have no information: Annie Reel, Marie Plummer and Amelia Stolee. PLEASE, if you know, or you know someone who might know, anything at all about any of these women, please call us at 268-0784 or email us at 
Mandarin Art Festival - Easter weekend

Don't forget to visit the wonderful art festival, presented by the Mandarin Community Club - for the 49th year! This high-quality  fine art show will be held on the MCC grounds at 12447 Mandarin Rd. Hours are Saturday, April 15 from 10-5 and Sunday, April 16 from 10-4. Parking is best at Alberts Field (corner of Orange Picker and Brady Rd.) and then taking the free shuttle to the event.

MMHS volunteers will be there to welcome you to the historic Mandarin Store and Post Office (located on the grounds of Mandarin Community Club) during festival hours on both days. Come on in to learn about your local history, pick up a local book or print or just get out of the crowd and sit a spell while playing a slow game of checkers or holding court with your friends on the front porch. We will  look forward to seeing you.

The Mandarin Museum and the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children at Walter Jones Historical Park will be open Saturday only - from 9 to 4 as usual - 11964 Mandarin Rd. And, the Maple Leaf divers will be at the museum from 12-4 to talk with people one-on-one about the Civil War shipwreck and her artifacts. If you come to Mandarin you must soak in our history all you can.

As a special treat, we will have the brand new book The Wilderness of North Florida's Parks at the Store and Post Office for sale both days. Walter Jones Historical Park is one of the featured locations in the book. You will want to own one of these beautiful and informative books.

And, the Frog Man has been busy making some beautiful creatures for the festival - a new selection of Mandarin Frogs will be available at both places - the museum and the Store and Post Office.

Volunteers Lynn MacEwen and Heather Benfield. 
Just "hangin out" like in the old days! 

Looking Back on March

Lots of exciting things happened in March and we'd like to share them with you.

Brownie Troop 116 came all the way from the Westside of Jacksonville to work on their My Community badge. They visited the museum, schoolhouse and the farmhouse....and enjoyed the beautiful blooming trees in the park.  A delightful group of girls.

2017 Miss Aggie Award recipient Susie Scott is seen here with her husband Bruce after the Miss Aggie Day presentation was made at The Store and Post Office. Congratulations to Susie and thank you for all the many things you do to make our community a better place for all.
St. Johns River Celebration clean-up took place on March 25. MMHS members formed a five- man crew that did a TREMENDOUS amount of work clearing invasive camphor trees and storm debris from the shore line. Thanks to Patrick Plumlee, Gabriele Dempsey, Tracey Arpen, Mike Woodward and Jim Waler  (not seen here), you can actually see the river from the boardwalk. What a major accomplishment!

Walter Jones Park included in new book

We are so pleased that Mandarin Museum and the Walter Jones Historical Park were included in the paintings and newly released book by Kathy Stark - The Wilderness of North Florida's Parks.

This book was a huge project that took several years to complete.  You can view  the beautiful large water colors right now at a special exhibit at MOSH (through May 28).  You can also read much more about it in the excellent article  in ARBUS  Magazine Click here to read "Watercolor Windows", published in the March/April issue.

It is a wonderful guide to the hidden gems right here in our own backyards. Northeast Florida's parks are really special and this book will inspire you to visit every one of them.

We will have this book for sale at the Store and Post Office during Art Festival. There will be a special display and both hardback and softback versions will be offered. And Kathy, might be there in person on Saturday, if she can. Watch our Facebook page for updates on this. 
Public Art Week in Jacksonville
April 3-7

Public Art Week is a week-long celebration of public art in Jacksonville. It is curated to encourage residents to explore and encounter public art throughout all of Jacksonville, with concentrated efforts in the urban core and coincides with new streetscape art installations. This event is provided by the Cultural Council.

WJXT's River City Live

We were honored to be included, on March 31, on WJXT's River City Live program. March was Women's History Month and Harriet Beecher Stowe was featured. Abagail, a producer of the program,  visited with Sandy Arpen at Mandarin Museum for this feature.

She used several views in her video that were from drawings that were done by Mandarin native Brenda Council. The museum Gift Shop features Brenda's "Mandarin Series" prints. We also have for sale a very special framed oil painting of Harriet's home. Brenda recently painted this piece for the museum to sell. She rarely does small scale paintings any more, as she is well known for her large murals and public art. Brenda now lives in N.C. If you have an interest in this piece, please call Sandy for an appointment - 268-0784.

Remember our regularly scheduled programs

"Under the Oaks" Music Jam - April 2, 2-4 pm

The monthly music event that takes place under the majestic oaks in front of Mandarin Museum  on the first Sunday of every month. This event is co-sponsored by the North Florida Folk Network.
You are invited to bring your acoustic instrument and join in this open community jam in the round. It is a wonderful opportunity to have some fun playing with other musicians in a naturally beautiful setting. If you don't play an instrument you are invited to bring your lawn chair and relax and enjoy the music and the natural beauty of the park. It has become a tradition that artists are sometimes there painting a scene of the day, and you are also welcome to bring your easel and paints.
Mandarin Museum and the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children will be open during this time, so please pay a visit to see the amazing historical reflection of Mandarin's history.Then finish up your day with a stroll through the beautiful 10-acre park and along the St. Johns River. Please bring your own chair. Water and restrooms are available inside the museum.
"Meet the Maple Leaf Divers   
 April 15, 12-4 pm

Since the 150th anniversary event in 2014, Keith Holland and many of his St. Johns Archaeological Expedition divers have given their time to meet and greet visitors and tell them the amazing Civil War story of the Union steamship that was sunk by Confederate mines on April 1, 1864 - at Mandarin Point.

There is nothing better than learning from those men who found the ship, dived in total darkness in eight feet of mud below the St. Johns River and excavated 4000 artifacts belonging to the U.S.Army and two regiments of Union soldiers. These men are keeping the amazing stories related to this National Historic Landmark shipwreck alive for new generations to learn from. It is a unique opportunity - don't miss it. 

April 1- Historic Store and Post Office open 12-4
April 2 - "Under the Oaks" Music Jam - 2-4
April 15 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers 12-4
April 15 - Historic Store and PO open for the Mandarin Art Festival 10-5
April 16 - Historic Store and PO open for Mandarin Art Festival 10-4
April 27, May 4, May 11 - three-session class on North Florida Folk Music 6:30 - 8 at the schoolhouse
May 6 - Historic Store and Post Office Open
May 18 - Third Thursday Lecture - Mark Woods, FTU columnist and author of  Lassoing the Sun. Book signing.  May 20 - Frog painting for kids of all ages 10-4
May 20 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers 12-4
June 3 - Historic Store and Post Office Open
June 3 - Class for children - "All About Bees" - 10 am at the schoolhouse - George DeMarino, Master Gardener and beekeeper

Mandarin Museum and the 1898 St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children are open every Saturday  from 9-4 in Walter Jones Historical Park - (11964 Mandarin Road)
The Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Road) is open monthly from 12-4 on the 1st Saturday of the month. 

Sign your kids up now for a special class
 in June

"All About Honey Bees"

MMHS volunteer George DeMarino has been planting and caring for our Harriet Beecher Stowe Kitchen Garden for many years as a Master Gardener. But on June 3, he will be wearing his beekeeper hat and will teach a class to children about the importance of bees to our environment. They will learn about what bees do and how they live and they will have activities to take home to enhance their learning. This is a program that George developed for Scouts and we are happy that he is willing to share it here in the park

The class will take place on Saturday, June 3 from 10-11 am in the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children (right next to the museum). The program is best for 2nd through 8th graders. Parents must stay with their children and it is free.

Please email us or call 268-0784 to reserve your space. Reservations are required due to limited space.  
Photo credit - Cristina Danielle Photography

Enjoy viewing the doors of the 25 arts and cultural organizations who are recipients of city funds through the competitive Cultural Service Grant Program, managed by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville.

In 2016-17, MMHS will receive $6107, for which we are very grateful.

Can you find the door that represents Mandarin Museum & Historical Society?

Our mission: Mandarin Museum & Historical Society preserves and shares the stories of Mandarin's history, culture and natural resources by providing engaging programs that educate, entertain and inspire.


Mandarin Museum & Historical Society,
a volunteer based non-profit 501C3 organization which is located in the Walter Jones Historical Park, 11964 Mandarin Road. Jacksonville, Florida.

Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved.