MMHS NEWS - November 2016
Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

We are grateful to have survived Hurricane Matthew with no damage to any of our buildings and no loss of any large trees. The absence of power for almost a week was tough, but as everyone is saying, "it sure could have been a lot worse."

So we are moving on into an exciting fall and will soon have our biggest event of every year, the annual Winter Celebration. This year marks 17 years hosting an old-fashioned family event which highlights our history and culture here in Mandarin. This day brings together scores of volunteers from MMHS and community non-profits who are here to share their talents, their stories, their art and music and their knowledge. It is always a fun day and the children have come to look forward to it as a tradition that they will always remember. This event especially embraces the Mandarin Experience and our mission statement:

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

CLASS OF 2020! 

One week after Hurricane Matthew, we had the good fortune to host a fine group pf Freshmen from the Bolles School.  October 19 was the annual "Make a Difference Day" for Freshmen. Bolles Freshmen went out all over town to do special volunteer projects to help the community. This was the first year Mandarin Museum and Walter Jones Park was selected.

It was a great morning, starting of with a tour of the schoolhouse and the museum and then a couple of hours of picking up branches, moss and other debris left from the storm. COJ had already done the major clean-up of the big stuff, but there were plenty of smaller limbs and storm junk that still needed to be removed. So this group was a great help by removing a huge pile of debris.

We are indeed grateful to them for their service and hope they will make MMHS one of their locations again next year.
Having some fun after the job was done!
Third Thursday Lecture - November 17

Connecting Mandarin and Jacksonville through Notable North Florida Women

We are so happy that Emily Lisska was able to reschedule her August lecture to November as many of you were looking forward to hearing her tales of these exceptional women.

Emily says that "Harriet Beecher Stowe was not the only notable North Florida female face who moved between Jacksonville and Mandarin with impact. Other women, if not physically, were emotionally tied to the two St. Johns River villages. Stowe, along with Jacksonville Founding Mother Nancy Hart, Commodore Rose, Eleanor Pritchard and Hester James McClendon are other names of interest in the early North Florida story."

 Who were these women who firmly had their feet or at least an interest in both communities? Come out November 17 and you will discover the answers to that question. 

Emily Lisska, a Mandarin resident and Jacksonville native, is Executive Director of the Jacksonville Historical Society. She is  a Past-President of the Mandarin Community Club and a member of the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society.  Emily is also President-Elect of the Florida Historical Society.

Our Third Thursday Lectures are held in partnership with the Mandarin Community Club. This event will be presented on Thursday, November 17 at the Mandarin Community Club, which is located at 12447 Mandarin Road. Refreshments are at 6:30 pm with the presentation at 7:00 pm. It is free and all are invited and encouraged to attend. For more information, call 268-0784. 

Learn about Mandarin Museum activities at Also visit the Mandarin Community Club website at

Why I Love Mandarin

This month, we introduce MMHS Board member Dr. Patrick Plumee. Patrick came to us when he retired after a long and distinguished career as a Professor at UNF. One of the early faculty members at UNF, he served in many leadership positions as well as being a classroom instructor and now Professor Emeritus. We are SO fortunate to have him on the board - bringing his his knowledge, his wisdom, his wit, his talent and his enthusiasm. Here is his story:

"I should start with full disclosure: I don't actually live in old Mandarin. My family resides at the Loretto Elementary end of Loretto Road, which is in greater Mandarin, but not part of the historic Mandarin peninsula.   Nor was I brought up in the Mandarin area, as many of our board members and volunteers were. I am an expatriate from Texas and, since coming to Jacksonville in 1983, have lived in several neighborhoods around the city. Like many people who live in other areas of Jacksonville, I appreciated the ancient trees and the country-like feel of the peninsula, but really did not know much else about the area. I may have had a vague sense of the history layered there, but I couldn't have told you much about that either.
So, it was the beginning of a substantial set of learning experiences when I encountered Sandy and Tracey Arpen in connection with the establishment of the North Florida Folk Network. Sandy, of course, is a natural enthusiast for the Mandarin community, particularly the Walter Jones Historical Park and the Mandarin Museum. To make a long story short, she persuaded me to become active in some of the activities of the Museum, and, as so often happens, one thing led to another. After a year or two of what I think of as a kind of apprenticeship, I found myself on the board of the Museum and involved in a number of other ways. Along the way, I discovered a great deal more about what makes the Mandarin area, well, special.
Part of discovering old Mandarin, once you get past the gorgeous old trees and the beauty of the St. Johns, is becoming familiar with its colorful past. Habitation in this area goes back thousands of years, and Europeans have been here since the 18th century. To say that the trees and the river and the old homesteads are rich in history would be an understatement. However, one has to keep in mind that Mandarin was, until a few decades ago, a somewhat remote and semi-isolated community.   Accessing stories about its past was difficult unless you were born there, or were otherwise an "old-timer."
That is why I was so taken with the Museum, when I finally found my way there. I was amazed at the quality of the facilities, and how the displays brought into focus the interesting things that have happened in the area. I gained a much better sense of how Mandarin developed over time, and how local stories intertwine with significant national events.   Just as important, I became aware of the unending hard work and dedication of those volunteers who had brought the organization into existence, and sustained it through times good and bad. All in all, I was impressed in ways that I had not expected to be. And, if anything, I been even more impressed as the years have rolled by, as I have seen more and more of what has been accomplished through entirely voluntary effort.
Now, you might be wondering why my picture up there has me with the banjo. One of the ways I came to the Museum was by participating the what became known as the "Jam Under the Oaks," which was an informal get-together of acoustic musicians out on the front lawn of the Museum. Initially, these sessions (co-sponsored by the North Florida Folk Network) were led by noted Florida singer-songwriter Ron Johnson. We started small, sometimes with only three or four participants. But, persistence paid off. Although Ron sadly passed away after the first year, we continued the sessions, and over time these have grown into substantial community events. One of my responsibilities on the Board is to lead the jams, and, since I am an acoustic musician myself, this is certainly something I am proud to do, and enjoy doing.
Since we do primarily acoustic music, our jams tend to be rooted in the folk tradition, and it is not unusual to hear traditional songs that tell the stories or voice the aspirations of the kind of diverse population that was always a feature of life in Mandarin (although sometimes not as appreciated as it should be). Having folks participate as players or listeners is a way of serving a community and continuing to maintain traditions that have been part of our country for a long time.   I am pleased to be able to say that we do have some very good musicians who show up for the jams, and, if nothing else, our sessions in the park are an entertainment bargain (that is, free!). Obviously, our hope is that through the jams we can get people out who might not otherwise come to the park. Come for the music, but visit the Museum and the Schoolhouse, and begin to learn about the Maple Leaf, Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Jones family, and so on. As I noted above, one thing leads to another. In other words, I hope that our jams offer an avenue for further exploration of the Museum and all of its components.
I often say to people that the Museum and the Walter Jones Park are hidden gems in Jacksonville. Visitors who find their way to us tend to agree. I can't say how many times I have had people respond with some variation of "I had no idea this was here. . . " That was my reaction as well. I am not much of a joiner, so it probably says a lot that my initial visit to the park and Museum led to a much deeper engagement and a continuing relationship. Whatever that relationship has been worth to the Museum, I can say with confidence that it has been worth a lot to me."

Photographer Olis Garber gave us the gift of professional portraits of our board members for us to use to promote the work of the museum. We are grateful for the many hours he and his wife Jo spent on this project, and for  the wonderful photos he has given us.
Check out his business at

MMHS volunteers and members of Boy Scout Troop 473 will be placing flags in Mandarin Cemetery at the graves of those identified on their markers as veterans. If you know someone who served and does not have this indicated on their stone, please let us know at and we will be sure to include them as well.

Thank you to Bob Nay, Board member for heading this up.


Lynn MacEwen and Pheenie Dahl
It takes A LOT of dedicated people to make Winter Celebration happen.

PLEASE if you can spare a few hours on Dec. 3, we need you to help us have a wonderful day for about 1000 visitors, mostly young families with children. We have plenty of jobs you can do....and you can do them even if you are not a regular volunteer.

Just email Paula Suhey at or call her at 403-5024 and she will find the perfect job for you. And you WILL enjoy doing it, as it is always a fun-filled day.  

"The Tide - The Thrill of Discovery" is a must-read. Jim Alabiso wrote a great story about Keith Holland and the courageous men who spent years diving in the St. Johns to bring Civil War artifacts into the public view for people to enjoy now and for generations to come.

You will find this to be a very interesting article about these men who still give their time by telling Maple Leaf's story once a month when they are at Mandarin Museum for "Meet the Divers Day." These guys are heroes and we are extremely grateful to them for being part of our MMHS family. They deserved to be noticed in such a nice way through this featured article.

You can access it on-line by clicking here or by purchasing a copy in any store that sells magazines. 
Stein Mart Family Support Foundation recognizes 
 Carl Davis

We were so saddened at the passing of Carl Davis, a founding member of MMHS last month. Carl was a such a generous man, volunteering hundreds (probably thousand, actually) of hours to make Mandarin Museum a reality. His memorial service was scheduled for the day after Hurricane Matthew hit Jacksonville.

On October 28, Carl was honored by the Stein Mart Foundation for his service to the community of Mandarin. Pictured here are Carl's wife Inge and Lyle Ramsay from Stein Mart Family Support Foundation. A plaque was presented to MMHS in Carl's honor and it will be placed by the front door of the museum. Thank you to the Foundation for this remembrance of one of Mandarin Museum & Historical Society's great leaders. We owe our very presence to Carl and others who had the vision to build a museum dedicated to Mandarin's history. We are truly grateful to him and also to Inge for their dedication and hard work over many, many years time. 

We at MMHS have taken numerous videos of events and oral histories over the last several years. BUT, we are not proficient at all in getting these documents off the video camera card, organized on our computer and burned onto a DVD. Is there anybody out there that has these skills and can help us get caught up? We would be forever grateful.

Please email us at or call 268-0784. Thank you.


So many folks like to buy local and you can't get much more local than our gift shop. We have original art from local artists Lucinda Halsema, John Kenning, Julie Fetzer, Brenda Councill, Paul Garfinkel and Gary Garrett. We have books on all kinds of subjects, mostly written by local authors. And, we will have a brand new collector's ornament and a whole new batch of gorgeous Mandarin frogs!

Also, if you are a MMHS member, you receive a discounted price on many things in the shop. 

A sample of what we have available:


Rev. Roger Willams and Rev. Joe Gibbes
Philip R. Cousin AME Church and Episcopal Church of Our Saviour  - shared service, October 26

MMHS Board member and Philip R. Cousin Pastor, Reverend Roger Williams and Rev. Joe Gibbes are seen here. This service was a shared service  that included open dialogue  between the two Pastors. Over 200 people attended at the historic Church of Our Saviour. Calvin and Harriet Beecher Stowe would have been very pleased, as they were involved in the founding of this church.

It is hoped that more such opportunities for community dialogue will exist in the future. We will let you know of any that are scheduled
Don't forget our regularly scheduled activities in November

"Music Under the Oaks"

A community jam  - all are invited to play, listen, paint, or dance. Bring a chair and water. The museum and schoolhouse will be open for viewing and restrooms. Held at Walter Jones Park.

Sunday, November 6
from 2-4

"Meet the Maple Leaf Divers"

The divers are taking a break in November, but will be at Winter Celebration all day from 11-4.


Third Thursday Lecture - November 17  
November - NO Meet the Divers this month
December 3 - Winter Celebration, including Dec. music jam and Meet the Divers, all-in-one 11-4
January  23, 2017 Special Fundraiser night at Julington Creek Fish Camp 

Mandarin Museum and the 1898 St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children are open every Saturday (except Dec. 24 and Dec. 31) from 9-4 in Walter Jones Historical Park - (11964 Mandarin Road)

NOTE: The Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Road) will be closed for some repairs in November and December. 

County Dock will have to be replaced.

Remembering Hurricane Matthew...and grateful it was not worse.


Mandarin Museum & Historical Society 

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