April 2019 
Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

Before I started volunteering at Mandarin Museum, I always thought of April Fools Day when April 1 rolled around. However, it didn't take long until I started thinking of the Union steamship Maple Leaf instead on this date. Today, April 1, 2019, marks 155 years since she became part of history!

My thinking changed because the sinking of the Maple Leaf on April 1,1864, at Mandarin Point is such a fascinating and important national and Mandarin story. And because I have had the honor and  pleasure of spending time with the Maple Leaf experts -  Dr. Keith Holland and his merry band of divers - those men who found the wreckage and dived in black waters and through mud to retrieve Civil War artifacts from the cargo hold. Also because of Jim Towart, former President of the MMHS Board and official Maple Leaf historian.

We owe it to Jim's vision to have such a significant exhibit honoring this ship in our museum and we thank him so much for that. We also thank Keith and the divers for getting involved with our 150th Anniversary of the sinking in 2016 and being here almost every month since to personally meet with our visitors. Their involvement has kept this story alive, relevant and fascinating and is the reason we are expanding the museum to have a special Maple Leaf gallery!

Maple Leaf has been a National Historic Landmark Shipwreck site since 1994 - the fourth ship to receive that designation. It is also the greatest repository of Civil War artifacts ever. We continue to learn about her and are proud to have a permanent exhibit and are working hard to enhance and enlarge it.

But today, please  pause for a minute and remember the only souls to die that day, four free African-Americans, working for the Union Army to help end the horrible war:

Simeon Field

Eli Foster

Benjamin Wiggin

Charles Sumner

Painting by Donald G. Ingram

Sandy Arpen 
Don't Miss the Mandarin Art Festival!

This April includes Easter and that means the Mandarin Community Club will host their 51st Annual Mandarin Art Festival on Easter Weekend, April 20th and 21st. It has become a much- anticipated Mandarin event since 1968 and you will not want to miss it. Please see all the details, including parking /shuttle information at

Mandarin Museum & Historical Society is always honored and proud to be involved by opening the historic 1911 Mandarin Store and Post Office during the festival hours both days.
Visitors can learn about Mandarin's history and view a major part of our archival collection - objects that came from this store when it closed in 1964.

Special guest Brenda Councill at the Store and Post Office 
We are delighted that Brenda Councill will be in town over the Easter holidays, visiting family,  and has offered to be present in the Store and Post Office on Saturday, April 20th from 10AM to 1 PM to visit with visitors and old friends. MMHS will have the prints of Brenda's that we have at the Museum Gift Shop available in the Store that day. Proceeds from these are designated by Brenda for the Museum Expansion Project. Brenda will also have on display an amazing piece - a large framed (20X24) oil on linen piece called "Historic Mandarin  - After the Rain" which features Mandarin Road and the horse trough. This would be a very special and unique piece for a serious collector to have in their home. 
Brenda moved to Mandarin at age 6 and grew up here. She began painting at an early age when she was only 7 years old she already had an exhibition of her paintings featured at the Jacksonville Museum of Arts and Sciences (now MOSH.) At 11 years of age she designed and supervised the installation of her first piece of outdoor sculpture.

Brenda's interest in historic preservation led to a series of award winning drawings featuring historic landmarks, including many in Mandarin called the "Mandarin Series." In the early 1980s, she published limited edition prints of Mandarin scenes, which were extremely popular with residents in the area and are still frequently seen in professional office buildings in Mandarin, as well as in private homes..

She currently resides in North Carolina, where she focuses on large-scale murals, particularly domed ceilings and sculpture. Her massive murals may be found at Appalachian State University in North Carolina and Presbyterian College in South Carolina. To learn more about Brenda's current projects:
Brenda at Mandarin Museum in 2016 

April is National Volunteer Month - "dedicated to honoring all of the volunteers in our communities as well as encouraging volunteerism throughout the month."

So, we are happy to  publicly recognize and thank every single one of our volunteers for their faithful service to the Mandarin community through their help at the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society (MMHS). AND, we invite any one who is interested in volunteering with us to join our team of amazing people.

We say this all the time -  "we would not exist without the commitment of our volunteers."  It probably sounds trite by now, but it is just SO true. We couldn't open the doors to share our history with  visitors, have a Board of Directors, have frogs to sell or painting parties, conduct field trips and tours, manage our growing archival collection, plant gardens or keep the park so clean without every single MMHS volunteer who gives so generously of  time,  talents and  resources. Every person contributes and EVERYBODY COUNTS!

We (Paula and Sandy) and  the entire  Board of Directors value you and have deep gratitude to each of you for all you do to support our mission here at MMHS and for your contribution to making Mandarin a special place to live and visit.

Please mark your calendars for Sunday, April 28 from 5-6:30PM when we look forward to welcoming all of our volunteers to our annual gathering at the schoolhouse. Watch for more information.

And, if you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities, view our website by clicking HERE our give Paula a call at 403-5024 or

Sandy Arpen and Paula Suhey

Frog Painting Event
Sign-up now!
April 13
How fun to have FOUR generations painting frogs together!
In April the Frog Man is providing frogs of many sizes (you can paint a whole family of frogs) as well as a few turtles and squirrels. There will also be some Spring surprises. 
Please join us in the front yard of the museum for a fun-filled morning of creativity and community spirit. We do ask that you please make a reservation so we'll know what to expect  - the best way to do that is to email us at and tell us how many critters you'd like to paint. If you can't email, please call and leave a message at 268-0784. And please, if you sign up and can not come, call us and let us know so we can release your critter to a walk-up person.   
Please check in between 9:30 and 10 to avoid a line. The painting lasts until about noon. It happens as planned unless it is raining, about to rain or too cold. If you are unsure, call us that morning at 268-0784. 
Frogs and squirrels are $20 and turtles are $24. We provide the paint, brushes, etc. Wear old clothes. It is lots of fun. Our tremendous gratitude to the Mandarin Frog Man - all proceeds are for the support of  Mandarin Museum programs and expansion.  
2019 Miss Aggie Award 
We were so pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2019 Miss Aggie Award was Mrs. Lynn Cuda. Lynn has been a very active and non-stop volunteer ever since moving to Mandarin over 30 years ago. She has been involved consistently with the Mandarin Community Club and the Ramsgate Homeowners Association, serving in a wide variety of positions. In earlier days, she instilled the volunteer spirit into her children by having them volunteer at the Art Festival by serving lunches to the artists so they wouldn't have to leave their booths. In her spare time she is very busy painting and hiding some of the most beautiful rocks in Mandarin. You never know where you will find one, but you will be lucky when you do.  
Our congratulations and gratitude to Lynn for her faithful and long-term service to the entire community, just as Miss Aggie Jones did.  
NOTE: you can always find Lynn and her husband Kevin at the Community Club table during Art Festival - selling T-Shirts and  raffle tickets. So when you go this year, please stop by and tell her thank you for all that she does to make Mandarin better place.
Lynn was congratulated by eight previous recipients - left to rt: Virginia Barker, Karen Roumillat, Susie Scott, Emily Lisska, Lynn Cuda, Donald Bowden, Sandy Arpen: front row - Sarah Bailey and Betty Wolfe. 
Mark Your Calendars  
Third Thursday Lecture
May 16 
Ann Manry Kenyon - "A Life in Art"

Did you know that a nationally recognized portrait artist resides right here under the live oaks of old Mandarin? Tucked away at her home, steadily working her craft in her studio, Ann Manry Kenyon is an award-winning artist who has painted portraits for the likes of Congressman Ander Crenshaw, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, former Florida First Lady Columba Bush and, recently, Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama. She works in oil, watercolor and pastels, is sought after as a teacher in these media and is a faculty member of the Portrait Society of America.
Ann's work hangs in private collections and galleries around the country, including a wonderful portrait of Harriet Beecher Stowe that hangs proudly in the Mandarin Community Club, a historic structure that Mrs. Stowe helped build. She has also written a beautifully illustrated memoir about her fascinating life and her art, Memories, Method, and Mastery, which will be available for purchase at this event.
Her images are stunning and her story is fascinating. She sums up some thoughts about her work: "What a joy it is to capture the likeness of another human being. It has been said that the eyes are the window through which we glimpse the soul. That's my favorite thing to paint - souls!"
Don't miss this evening - it promises to be visually dynamic, entertaining and informative.
This Third Thursday Lecture is on May 16, presented by the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society in partnership with and held at the Mandarin Community Club, located at 12447 Mandarin Rd. Refreshments begin at 6:30 pm with the lecture at 7 pm. It is free and all are invited and encouraged to attend.
 To learn more about Ann Kenyon, click HERE
Accessions Corner
What is in our Collection?

We were SO excited last month when Earline Burney Garrison and Eloyce Burney, nieces of Sam Burney, came to Mandarin Museum with this treasured gift. This is a watercolor painting of well-known and loved Mandarin resident, Sam Burney,  when he was 12 years old.

Sam's  Burney and Forrester families go way back into the 1800s here in Mandarin. As you might recall, he rang the school bell for the Grand Opening of the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children in 2016. BOTH of his parents attended that very school and his mother's photo is part of the exhibit.

The plaque reads:

In Memory of
Samuel R. Burney
"Young Sam Burney"
Artist - James Baare Turnbull

James Turnbull, was a nationally recognized artist doing a wide variety of work, including combat scenes from World War II for the Army. He visited family in Mandarin often and painted various scenes of the area. In fact, he died here in 1976 at the age of 67. We are so very grateful to the Burney family for this special and beautiful gift. It is hanging in the museum.
In Memory
We were saddened to lose two MMHS members recently.
Firmin Southwell
Firmin and Mary Ann were part of the organization from the very early days when Mary Ann was serving on City Council. He was a lifelong Jacksonville resident, a Gator and a professional engineer.
Dinah Kossoff
Dinah and Dan transplanted to Jacksonville in 1968. Originally a teacher, she was well-known as the founding director of Youth Leadership Jacksonville. Dinah dedicated herself to community service and the arts throughout her life.
We honor them and their lives well-served and are grateful for their support of our mission and their love of Mandarin and its history. They will be greatly missed.
Looking Back on March 
We started out the month with a nice turnout for the Weed Wrangler event - a statewide effort to remove invasive species from Florida's parks. Included in this hard-working crew were MMHS Board members and members of the Late Bloomers Garden Club. They did an amazing amount of beautification to Walter Jones Park. Thanks to Gabriele Dempsey for organizing this effort. 
On March 16, we participated in a statewide "March of Museums Day" - an effort by the Florida Department of State to get people out to visit their own local museums. We honored the 155th anniversary of the sinking of the Maple Leaf this Day - and had a great turnout. Thanks to Keith Holland, the SJAE divers and Dennis Short and all the reenactors Civil War for their contributions to making this a special day for our visitors.

The Spring flowers were amazing all month long.

Thanks to Master Gardener volunteers George DeMarino and Candace Barone and a volunteer three-generation Busuttil and Nath family, the Spring Garden has been planted! Thanks to all who helped!

The only photo known of the Maple Leaf.
Mandarin Newsline  
April edition
The story is  "Back in Time with Brett" by MMHS volunteer Brett Nolan. This month he features Part 1 of the Maple Leaf story (before her sinking) in honor of the April 1, 1864 sinking at Mandarin Point.
Click HERE to see the story and the entire edition of the April Newsline
The Newsline allows us to share our events with the community. They are supported by advertisements, so please support those who support this wonderful free local paper.

First Saturday - April 6 - All Buildings Open- READ TIMES
In Walter Jones Historical Park - 1875 farmhouse, 1876 barn, Losco Winery  
are open from 10-2. 
ALSO - the historic Mandarin Store and Post Office will  be open at 12471 Mandarin Road (next to the Mandarin Community Club) from 10-2.
Mandarin Museum and the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children will be open  from 9-4 as usual.

 "Under the Oaks" Music Jam - April 7 
The  "Under the Oaks" music jam will take place on Sunday, April 7 from 2-4 in front of the Mandarin Museum, weather permitting. Players of all levels are invited to join in the song circle. Listeners are welcome as well. - just please bring a lawn chair.
The museum and schoolhouse will be open during this time for visitation.   
This event is co-sponsored by the North Florida Folk Network. - "Connecting Artists, Fans and venues in North Florida." CLICK HERE to view their website.   
Meet the Maple Leaf  Divers take a break- No divers in April - Easter weekend 
Keith Holland and SJAE divers will be back in the museum May 18 from 9-4 to tell you all about their exploration of this National Historic Landmark shipwreck.
Maple Leaf divers and guests! 
    Mark your calendars

    • April 6 and May 4 - Historic 1911 Mandarin Store and Post Office open at 12471 Mandarin Rd. from 10 am - 2 pm; 1875 farmhouse, 1876 barn, and Losco Winery open in Walter Jones Historical Park, 10 am - 2 pm; Mandarin Museum and the schoolhouse  open from 9 am - 4 pm
    • April 7 - Under the Oaks music jam, 2 pm - 4 pm
    • April 13 - Frog Painting - 10-12 at Mandarin Museum
    • April 20 - Art Festival at Mandarin Community Club - MMHS will have the Store and Post Office open - from 10-5.
    • April 21 - Art Festival at Mandarin Community Club - MMHS will have the Store and Post Office open - from 10-4.
    • May 16 - Third Thursday Lecture - Mandarin resident  Ann Kenyon, renowned portrait artist and author.
    • July 20 - Special Blue Star Museum Day to honor Jacksonville's  military families
    • August 15 - Third Thursday Lecture - The Riverkeeper
    • September 28 - Smithsonian Museum  Day
The Mandarin Museum and the Schoolhouse are open on Saturdays from 9-4. All other historic buildings in Walter Jones Historical Park (11964 Mandarin Rd.) AND the Mandarin Store and PO (12471 Mandarin Rd.), are open from 10-2 on the first Saturday. Exceptions to this schedule are listed in the calendar above.

School field trips and youth or adult group tours are scheduled mostly during the week - by appointment. Call 268-0784 or email us at   to make a reservation.   
We always need more volunteers, as they are the backbone of our organization. If you would like more information CLICK HERE to email Paula Suhey, Volunteer Coordinator and she will give you a call and tell you all about the opportunities we have.  Information is also available by clicking HERE
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MISSION: Mandarin Museum & Historical Society shares the stories of Mandarin's history, culture and natural resources by providing engaging programs that educate, entertain and inspire.

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