MMHS NEWS - July 2016
Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

July always makes us pause and appreciate our lives in America and the freedoms that we enjoy here. We celebrate Independence Day on July 4 as a way of remembering how this country began.

Mandarin Museum is proud to honor those who serve through the Navy, Army, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force by participating as a Blue Star Museum from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Just this week there was a message from First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, on behalf of Joining Forces in appreciation of Blue Star Museums. In the message, they write: "Throughout the summer, more than 2,000 museums will open their doors and welcome service members and military families to discover, explore, and create special memories together.  As Americans, each of us owes a debt of gratitude to those who serve, and this initiative is an excellent opportunity to show just how grateful we are for their sacrifices." (Blue Star Museums).

During this time, any active duty service person will receive a "member discount" on any Mandarin Museum Gift Shop purchases. Admission is already free, so tell your friends in the service that we welcome them with open arms and hope to see them this summer.

Sandy Arpen

Losco Winery finally has a sign 

Thanks to the generosity of the family and friends of volunteer Don Yocom, we were finally able to get a  sign for the Losco Winery. Sadly, Don passed away one year ago - we miss him greatly. His friends gave gifts to MMHS in his memory and we have been able to do several major things with these donations:
  • the 45-star (for 1898) flag and flagpole, which greet you at the front door of the schoolhouse.
  • the new and effective speaker system, which we have already used for the Grand Opening event, the Third Thursday Lecture in May and the Billy Barwald memorial program
  • this educational sign for the Winery


We will have a dedication of the sign and Winery in the fall with hopefully the Losco family,  the Bo Phillips family and Linda Yocom. The Loscos donated the log cabin winery to MMHS and Bo Phillips took it apart log by log, moved the pieces to Walter Jones Park and reassembled it. It contains original equipment from the winery operation. Please watch the newsletter for a date. 


Don Yocom, minding the Winery during Winter Celebration 2014


"Why I Love Mandarin"

Meet MMHS Board member, Bob Nay. Bob, retired from Florida Blu and has been very active in all museum events. In fact, in December, 2015, he wrote a book about the man who built this house.

I Am a Full-fledged Floridian Now - The Life and Times of Major William Wirt Webb of Mandarin Florida
Bob's wonderful book is available in the Mandarin Museum Gift shop. If you love Mandarin history, you will want to have this book for your library. Enjoy Bob's remarks about why this place means so much to him:

"The site of Major William Wirt Webb's farmhouse has been an appealing physical structure and place to me, but, more importantly, is the personal attraction I have had to Major Webb and his family. 

I really enjoy sitting on the porch steps of this 1875 farmhouse that Major Webb built, and taking myself back to the 1880s. Looking out toward the St. John River, one can imagine the orange trees and strawberry plants covering the farmland. And even better would be sitting there with friends sharing some strawberry shortcake, or peeling a fresh orange, and talking with friends and neighbors about the comings and goings in the village of Mandarin. These friends could even include Harriet Beecher Stowe and her husband Calvin, neighbors Leopold Parker and John Williams, carpenter/builder Bill Monson, Dr. Wright, Charles Read, the Brown family, and many more of the early Mandarin families. Our discussions could range from the next steamship scheduled to come into Webb's wharf, or Webb's own freight schooner, to the building of the Church of our Saviour just down Mandarin Road, to the weather, or just plain sharing of the latest news and stories (like what really happened to the Maple Leaf that was torpedoed in 1864).

Major Webb was a stranger to me, and is to many of today's Mandarin citizens. Being myself from the North, a military veteran, and having a strong interest in the Civil War, I became personally interested in this stranger - Major Webb. He himself was initially a Yankee stranger to Mandarin, well educated, served honorably as a Civil War cavalry officer, and became a well-respected Mandarin resident. Along with the Stowes and others in Mandarin, he was a significant factor in the building of the Church of our Saviour, and the Mandarin community.

In my research about Major Webb, I found a letter from Wirt Webb (as he was called) to his sister Lady Camilla van Havre in London in 1875. One of his sentences that struck me was: "I am a full-fledged Floridian now." Many times I think of my hometown as being in Pennsylvania and Ohio where I grew up many years ago. But after forty some years in the Mandarin area, I also feel like "I am a full-fledged Floridian now, and not a Yankee stranger." After personally discovering him, I thought in a way I had adopted Major William Wirt Webb, until someone told me that he most likely has adopted me!

Sitting on Webb's farmhouse porch and peeling an orange from a nearby tree, takes me back to the early Mandarin days, not necessarily easy times, but I hope many pleasant times also. Sitting on the porch today are pleasant times always for me"

Bob Nay

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.Thanks for the many hours he spent on this project and the wonderful photos he has given us.
Check  out his business at 
August Third Thursday Lecture

Connecting Mandarin and Jacksonville through Notable North Florida Women
SAVE THE DATE - August 18

We are so excited that Mandarin's own Emily Lisska is going to give the Third Thursday Lecture in August at the Mandarin Community Club. It promises to be fascinating in content and beautifully delivered by Emily, as always.

Emily will tell us 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 to this lecture and you will find out! 
Lisska, a Jacksonville native, is Executive Director of the Jacksonville Historical Society. She is a Past-President of the Mandarin Community Club, a Miss Aggie Award recipient and a member of the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society. She is also President-Elect of the Florida Historical Society. She lives with "lots of other suburbanites," including her husband Larry Lisska, on a portion of the old Scott Mill. Her home sits adjoining what was once the mill's dam.

We're having a frog painting!

Join us! 

Call for a reservation for a "Frog Painting" for "kids of all ages" (including adults)  on Saturday, July 16 at Mandarin Museum from 10-12 pm. Limit is 20, so you have to have a reservation. Costs $20. You get an unpainted frog made by the famous "Frogman" and access to paints to make your own special frog for your yard or pool. Bring a paint shirt. Paint and brushes will be provided. Email us at or call 268-0784 to make your reservation. Weather permitting, of course.
Thank you to the anonymous "Frogman" for making these wonderful frogs and donating them to Mandarin Museum to sell - 100% of the funds raised on the frogs is a donation to us to support our community programming and events. All he ever wanted to do was make people smile - and he certainly is doing that.
Don't miss 
 "Florida Frontiers"

The Florida Historical Society presents a weekly radio program every Monday at 6:30 on WJCT, FM 89.9. Each week you will hear several different stories of Florida's amazing events and people. 

Click here to see the entire catalogue of program topics, including #218 which included the Maple Leaf.
Bill and Mary Ellen Potter

It has been a rough month for Mandarin, with the deaths of several well-know residents. At the end of June, that list grew as Bill and Mary Ellen Potter passed away within a week of each other.


Bill, long-time owner of the Potter's House of Music in downtown Jacksonville, was also an accomplished musician, as was Mary Ellen. They met as players in the Jacksonville Symphony, married and lived in the historic Calvin Read home on Brady Road (just across from the Mandarin Community Club). They held music events at their home and Mary Ellen gave flute and piano lesson to thousands of students throughout her long teaching career. Many also remember Mary Ellen as a volunteer for MMHS in the Store and Post Office and as an active board member. The Potters hosted the Art Festival's Easter Egg hunt in their yard for many years.

They are survived by their sons: Bill, Jr., Harry, and Tom. They will be greatly missed
in the community.
Don't Forget our Regularly Scheduled Events
"Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Days" continue on the third Saturday of each month. This is dedication - Dr. Holland on the floor engaging  children from Girls Inc. They LOVED it!

Saturday, July 16 from 2-4
Mandarin Museum

"Under the Oaks" Music Jam at Walter Jones Park

Bring a lawn chair and a bottle of water and enjoy a day in the park listening to community members sharing traditional acoustic music. The Mandarin Museum and the 1898 St. Joseph's Schoolhouse for African-American Children will be open during this time.

Sunday, July 3 from 2-4. Don't miss it.

Billy's Last
"Front Porch Story"

Over 125 people attended a memorial service for long-time resident and "Front Porch" storyteller Billy Barwald on June 26. Stories were told about Billy's 97 years by several friends, family and his son Mike.

The pump in the photo below was gifted to Mandarin Museum about one year ago by Billy. It is an antique pump and was in rough shape. But Billy said "that little schoolhouse needs a pump - take it to Bo Phillips, he'll know what to do with it."

And, of course, Bo did know what to do to make it strong again and then he and his band of family and friends brought it out and secured it next to the schoolhouse.

Many thanks to Billy for this special gift and to Bo and his team for fixing and installing it.

Great Reads

The Mandarin Community Club asks that we share the following information and encourage all of our members and friends to  read about  local history this summer. The following is an announcement from the club.

Learn about Mandarin, its origins and history, as part of your summer reading with Mandarin on the St. Johns. Written by Mary B. Graff in 1953, this work includes early history of our area including Mandarin's role in the Seminole Indian and Civil Wars, details on early settlers and historic landmarks and buildings, and its progress into the 20th century. The book also contains several pages of historic photographs including the Mandarin "cottage" of Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Copies of Mandarin on the St. Johns are available for purchase through the Mandarin Community Club.  For more information, visit us online or call 268-1622.

Check out our additional titles with local and historical connections for your summer reading.

*Mandarin on the St. Johns  
Author: Mary B. Graff

*Palmetto Leaves  
Author: Harriet Beecher Stowe

**I am a Full-Fledged Florida Now - The Life and Times of Major William Wirt Webb  
Author: Bob Nay

**Calling Yankees to Florida - Harriet Beecher Stowe's Forgotten Tourist Articles  
Edited by John and Sarah Whitmer Foster

**Legendary Locals of Jacksonville  
Authors: Laura Jo and Kendall Brunson

***An American Beach for African Americans          
Author: Marsha Dean Phelts

***Jacksonville by the Wayside  
Author: Dorothy K. Fletcher

***Pilgrim in the Land of Alligators  
Author: Jeff Klinkenberg

Many of these books are available at the Mandarin Museum Gift Shop as well.
Memorial Day 2016

Thanks to MMHS volunteers and Sons of Union Veterans for kicking off the placement of flags in the Mandarin Cemetery. They are seen here at the grave of Union Major William W. Webb.

July 2 - Store and Post Office open from 12-4
July 3 - "Under the Oaks" Music jam 2-4
July 16 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Day 12-4
August 6 -  Store and Post Office Open 12-4
August 7 - "Under the Oaks" Music Jam 2-4
August 18 - Third Thursday Lecture - Emily Lisska
August 20 - Meet the Maple Leaf Divers Day - 12-4
September 24 - Smithsonian Magazine - "Museum Day Live"
November 17 - Third Thursday Lecture
December 3 - Winter Celebration

Mandarin Museum and the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children are open every Saturday (except Dec. 26) from 9-4 in Walter Jones Historical Park - (11964 Mandarin Road)

NOTE: The Mandarin Store and Post Office (12471 Mandarin Road) is open the 1st Saturday of every month from 12-4.

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Celebrate the 4th of July weekend

Bring your family and friends to learn about local history at the Mandarin Museum and the 1898 schoolhouse on Saturday, July 2 from 9-4 and Sunday, July 3 from 2-4 (during the music jam).

From the History Channel:

"Variously known as the Fourth of July and Independence Day, July 4th has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83). In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues." 


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