June 2019  
Dear MMHS Members and Friends,

This newsletter is a little different than usual. My husband Tracey and I were away for almost all of May, visiting France. May was a fairly quiet month at MMHS and there isn't a lot of new activity scheduled in June.

I do want to especially thank Ann Kenyon for her Third Thursday presentation on May 16 and to the Mandarin Community Club for hosting a special reception to honor Ann.

And, I'd like to update you that the Facilities Grant is still in the state budget and we should know for sure after the Governor returns from Israel and signs off or issues vetoes on the budget presented by the Legislature a month ago. We'll keep you informed.

Also, I'd like to recognize and congratulate one of our very special volunteers, Harleigh Murray, who recently graduated from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. Harleigh has quietly done so many wonderful things for MMHS including: creating a scavenger hunt for the children who visit; being in charge of the children's games for Winter Celebration and the  "Back to School" event; and helping with park clean-ups and office work. She has a beautiful spirit of giving, always offers to help anywhere she is needed, and does so with contagious joy. We wish Harleigh the very best as she moves on to college in her studies. We so appreciate her involvement and her contributions to MMHS during her middle and high school years. She is a bright and shining star in the world!


So.....this trip was one we had yearned to take for many years. And it was indeed a wonderful experience all the way around and we visited some amazingly beautiful and historic places.

We included three stops that were actually connected to Mandarin's history: 1. We visited the grave of Pvt. Marion Joseph Losco; 2.  We visited the French home of the Sisters of St. Joseph; 3. And, we visited the grave of Lt. William W. Webb.

So, I am going to take the opportunity to share those visits with you through this newsletter and hope that you enjoy seeing these places that have such a local connection

Sandy Arpen
Oisne-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial

Pvt. Marion Joseph Losco

You all know the story of Mandarin/Loretto's  Marion Losco by now. We have been honoring him with a special exhibit for the last 2 years and volunteer Paul Ghiotto wrote a book about him based on his letters home during World War I. We had to visit this cemetery to pay our respects on behalf of all of Mandarin.

Marion lies in a grave in the very front row, five markers in from the front gate! We were given a tour by Superintendent Bert Caloud. Bert was a wonderfully informative guy, retired military, and so interested in any information he could gain about any of the 6,012 known men and 597 unknowns that are buried here These soldiers were involved in the Aisne-Marne and Oisne-Aisne offensives which took place March - September, 1918. 310,000 American soldiers and Marines fought in these operations which helped end the war on November 11, 1918. Marion was killed on or around July 31. Bert told us that based on his date of death, Marion was killed just beyond the cemetery location. We gave him a copy of Paul's book, A Soldier's Story for his cemetery library.

As you can see, Marion's grave was photographed with some home-grown Mandarin frogs, thanks to the Frog Man, Don Bowden, who is friends with some of the Losco family. We could not leave them, but we placed them there temporarily for a photo.

The church in the photos is actually located in a small town west of the cemetery, Vincy- Manoeuvre. In a letter written to his mother on July 14 Marion says, "I went to church this morning and just came back. It was just across the street. We are still in a little town called Vincy, that we have been for quite awhile." This was two weeks before his death. The church has been there since 1580.

Le Puy-en-Valay

Home of the Sisters of St. Joseph

The second Mandarin-related stop we made was in LePuy, the town where the Sisters of St. Joseph were founded in 1650. What a stunning, ancient, historic city! With narrow cobble-stone streets and buildings dating back centuries (like the B&B we stayed in that was built in the 16th century!), one could actually imagine being here in 1866 when eight Sisters were called to come to Florida.

We attended a Mass at the Cathedral which blessed hikers who were beginning their pilgrimage  to Santiago de Compostela and hiked to the top of the volcanic needle to visit the chapel of Saint - Michel d'Aiguilhe, viewed the Virgin Mary on top of another outcropping, and  learned about the ancient craft of lace-making. We also had a personal guided tour of the Sisters of St. Joseph's original dwelling place and kitchen, the new SSJ museum and the current Centre Internationale St. Joseph. The staff at the Centre, Sister Eluiza Andrade and Associate Olga Bonifiglio were so informative and absolutely delightful. The mission there is: 

"Embracing the past, we study and deepen our awareness of our history, tradition, and spirituality to ensure the preservation of our "story" for future generations.
Nurturing the present, we engage Sisters of St. Joseph, associates, and lay partners in deepening their understanding of our mission and charism; we do this within an international setting and with a global focus."

We were grateful to them for a wonderful tour and a deeper understanding of the history of those Sisters who came to Mandarin in 1867 and started their mission of education that eventually led to the building of the schoolhouse.




Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial
Lt. William W. Webb

The third of our Mandarin stops was at the cemetery where Major Webb's (who built the farmhouse and barn) grandson and namesake is buried. Lt. Webb was killed in World War II during what many call the Second D-Day - Operation Dragoon, the southern invasion of France by the Allied Forces. According to Superintendent Andy Anderson,  Lt. Webb was killed during the landing in Ste. Maxime, on the first day. This year will be the 75th year anniversary. (Note: The Mandarin Cemetery also has a memorial stone for Lt. Webb.)

The cemetery is in Draguignan which was liberated by the Allies after several years of Italian and German occupation. It holds the remains of 861 American service men and women. It also has a beautiful chapel and listing of the missing.The area is spotted with beautiful native olive trees.

We do not have a photograph of Lt. Webb, however we do have his medals on display in the museum, including a Silver Star, which the Superintendent believes was earned while on duty in Italy or Africa. If any one reads this and is related or knows someone who is, please let us know at

Divers Lee Manley and Keith Holland
Mandarin Newsline  
 June edition
Continuing with the last story of the Maple Leaf series,  "Back in Time with Brett" by MMHS volunteer Brett Nolan features Part 3!   
Click HERE to see the story and the entire edition of the June 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 - June 1 - 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 - June 2 
The  "Under the Oaks" music jam will take place on Sunday, June 2 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 - June 15 
Keith Holland and SJAE divers are back in the museum June 15 from 12-4 to tell you all about their exploration of this National Historic Landmark shipwreck.
Maple Leaf divers and guests! 
    Mark your calendars

    • July13 - Frog Painting (June painting is already full)
    • July 20 - Special Blue Star Museum Day to honor Jacksonville's  military families
    • August 15 - Third Thursday Lecture - The St. Johns Riverkeeper
    • September 28 - Smithsonian Museum  Day
    • November 21 - Third Thursday Lecture - TBA
    • December 7 - Special 20th anniversary of the Winter Celebration in Mandarin - with special event honoring Pearl Harbor Day and WWII vets.
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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