March 2023

"Embrace the Mandarin Experience"
Dear friends,

This is a month of

In February, at the Third Thursday Lecture, many of you got to meet Brittany Cohill, who presented a program about Manhattan Beach.

Today, March 1, Brittany takes the reins as Executive Director!

MMHS is so fortunate that she came to us at this specific time, as we start to finish the expansion and renovation project of the Mandarin Museum building. Brittany has the skills, experience and passion to take our organization to the next level of excellence. I won't repeat her credentials here because they were sent out by email to you in the official announcement on February 25. But let's just say "she's got what it takes!" So, please, introduce yourselves to her when you see her and thank her for making a commitment to continue making MMHS and Walter Jones Historical Park a "SPECIAL PLACE!"

As ya'll know, MMHS has not had a paid Executive Director since 2011. In the years since, the volunteer members of the board of directors have worked very hard and have had some really amazing accomplishments. To name a few: in 2014, we greatly increased the presence of the Maple Leaf exhibit permanently, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the ship's sinking; in 2015, we brought the community together in support of relocating the building that is now the 1898 St. Joseph's Schoolhouse for African-American Children, renovating the building and turning it into a powerful interpretive exhibit; in 2019, we honored the only man from Mandarin who died in WWI, Pvt. Marion Losco, by establishing a special exhibit in honor of him and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I; in 2020 we launched into a major expansion and complete renovation of the Mandarin Museum building. And, we have self-published two books: I Am a Full-Fledged Floridian Now by Bob Nay; and A Soldier's Story by Paul Ghiotto. We have also written a brand new book, Images of America: Mandarin, by Susan Ford and published by Arcadia Press.

The expansion/renovation project has been very prolonged due to the pandemic hurdles, but it is getting so close to the finish line. It will have: a dedicated Maple Leaf room; an Art Gallery with a special "Harriet's Corner;" an expanded Harriet Beecher Stowe exhibit; and for the first time ever - an exhibit titled The Untold Story of Black Mandarin....and much more!

The MMHS Board should certainly feel proud. But, we are so very grateful to finally get to a point that we can make this move to again hire and have a professional director to take back the day-to-day operational management. We will continue to do our jobs governing the organization and providing support to and working with Brittany.

We gratefully thank all of you who have supported the work of our board and donated to those special projects and also to the Directors Fund over these many years. Mandarin is a generous community.

We are grateful and give thanks for the hard work of our Volunteer Coordinator, Paula Suhey, who has recruited, trained, and organized our volunteer team for many years now. And, of course, to our army of volunteers who enable us to open the doors of history by their presence as docents.

And, we must also express our extreme gratitude to Mandarin's Frog Man, Donald Bowden, for making over 10,000 concrete frogs and turtles for 8 years - spending 50-70 hours/week molding and painting. Don did that to help MMHS fund the expansion and renovation of the Mandarin Museum. He was the LARGEST donor to that project. He has been a gift to MMHS and to the whole community of Mandarin in many ways.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past,
brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
– Melody Beattie

Sandy Arpen
Vice-President, MMHS Board of Directors - on behalf of the entire board
Orange Park Junior High School

It was a delight to have forty 8th graders from Orange Park Junior High come to Walter Jones Park on February 15 to learn about diversity in Jacksonville.

They took a tour of the schoolhouse, farmhouse and boardwalk in the park and then went to the Store and Post Office and also learned about Harriet Beecher Stowe in Mandarin.

The group was led by teacher Cindy Cheatwood, who is also the President of the Historical Society of Orange Park.
Volunteer Spotlight
Dale Rohlfing

by Paula Suhey
"The Mandarin community is so special with its history, natural beauty and wonderful people," said volunteer Dr. Dale Rohlfing.

"Dr. Dale," as he is often called, is a retired chiropractor who with his wife Cecilia has lived in Mandarin for three years. He is a native of Illinois and spent 35 years practicing in Rochester, Minnesota. Cecilia is a Mayo Clinic Lab employee and when it was time for them to leave the "Great White North" of snow and ice and move to the Sunshine State, she was able to transfer to Mayo Jacksonville.

The Rohlfings have always participated and want to be active within the community where they live. They have done things with their church, the Red Cross, Chamber of Commerce, Scouts, Little League etc.

"It's a labor of love to volunteer and paint frogs," he said.

As it happened, the Rohlfings had found a large cement frog in their yard and they brought it and painted it at a recent paint party.

Cecilia plays the violin and Dr. Dale is a drummer. Each month he can be found "keeping the beats" at Music Under the Oaks. They are also music and choir members at St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

As an additional volunteer activity, Dr. Dale has recently started a drum group named TheraDama. The mission is to promote physical, mental and spiritual health to participants of all ages allowing them to be a part of a group rhythm. Once a month, they volunteer at various assisted living and memory care facilities for a one hour activity.

Dr. Dale is a real asset to our volunteer cadre. We appreciate him!!!
What's new in our collection?
We recently received a gift from Tracey Arpen - a postcard of this yacht, Satilla. You can see the original downtown railroad bridge in the background, which was opened on January 20, 1890. We don't know when this photo was taken, but people were still coming out to Mandarin because of Harriet Beecher Stowe's legacy. Just as they still do today!
Third Thursday Lectures
Be sure to mark you calendars for upcoming Third Thursdays:

On May 18, Wayne Wood will be talk about his new book for the Jacksonville Historical Society, Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage. Wayne has held back some books to sell at the event. Also, if you have already purchased a book you can bring it with you to the lecture and he'll be happy to sign your copy. It is a fascinating, comprehensive and beautiful book.

On August 17, Greg Holbook, Executive Director of the New Smyrna Museum of History will present information about the Murray/Sheldon family. The Murrays were from Philadelphia, where George Murray was a well-known engraver. But they owned land grants in Mandarin and New Smyrna also. Mr. Murray died young, but his wife and children came to Mandarin alone and Jane Murray (daughter) married John Dwight Sheldon. They married on the property that is the Walter Jones Historical Park. They also buried three children on that land, but went on sell the property in 1840 and live in New Smyrna where they became very well- known and distinguished citizens.
Weed Wrangle at Walter Jones Park
Another successful Weed Wrangle on February 25th! A group consisting of the Late Bloomers Garden Club, MMHS Board members, and volunteers from the community focused on the area around the Losco Winery. They pulled out 18 bags of invasive coral ardesia and "miles of smilax vines."

Thanks to all who came out to help - what a difference it makes.
Thank you Satellite Evening Club of Southpoint Rotary
It was a pleasure to be the guest speaker and to share a PowerPoint presentation about Mandarin's rich history with the Satellite Evening Club of Southpoint Rotary on the evening of February 28.

Thank you to Mandarin residents and new members Byron and Marsha Peacock for the invitation. What a great group you have there.

As a former nurse, I was especially happy to know that my talk is going to help provide polio vaccinations to children that need them. The Rotary Foundation has been making great efforts for over 35 years to eradicate polio around the world.

Sandy Arpen
Happenings in March
In March, the historic buildings in Walter Jones Park will be open on the FIRST and THIRD Saturdays. The 1875 Webb/Jones farmhouse, 1876 Barn, 1898 St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children and Losco Winery log cabin will be open from 10 am - 2 pm on March 4 and March 18.

The "Under the Oaks" music jam plays again on the FIRST Sunday, March 5, from 2 - 4 pm. If you play an acoustic instrument, bring it and join in the song circle and jam. If you don't play, bring a lawn chair and be a "listener" - just sitting out under the oaks enjoying the music.

The Mandarin Museum remains closed for renovation, but the Gift Shop items ( Mandarin-related and authored books, Mandarin History Throws and Mandarin artist prints by Brenda Councill, Julie Fetzer, John Kenning and Lucinda Halsema) are available when the park buildings are open as listed above.
The Store and Post Office will be also open on March 18 from 10 am to 2 pm - at 12471 Mandarin Road, just a mile west of the park. This building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It takes you back to the mid-20th century and you won't want to miss it.

Mandarin Newsline

The March 2023 edition of the Mandarin Newsline is online now.

This free newspaper is our chief way of sharing history stories, events and programs with the public. They are able to publish free papers due to the robust local advertising. Please pay attention to the ads and shop and eat at those businesses that support the community in this way. To read the entire Newsline click HERE and then click Digital Editions at the top of the page and then the March 2023 "Mandarin Newsline" link.
Until next time...

When you see the flowers of Spring around you this week - stop and take a minute to admire them for their perfect beauty and fragrance.

This wonderful photo was taken by Olis Garber recently in the flower garden of Cheryl Cummer.

Thank you to our all of our community partners

MMHS is funded in part through the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and the
City of Jacksonville.

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.

Mandarin Museum & Historical Society