March 2020   
Dear Friends,

Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee and the Florida Department of State announced the fourth annual "March of Museums" celebrating the variety and versatility of museums in Florida and the important services those museums provide to their communities. The initiative includes partner museums and cultural institutions throughout Florida that showcase the vast and diverse array of museums that populate the Sunshine State.

"Florida's museums enhance the quality of life in our state by providing opportunities for learning and cultural enrichment," said Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee. "I encourage all Floridians to plan their own March of Museums by visiting and supporting the museums in their area and throughout the state this month."

The department is hosting, which offers a listing and map of museums by region, including Mandarin Museum & Historical Society and other statewide partner museums. The website also highlights the mission, collections and/or events of each institution during the month of March. The department encourages visitors and Floridians to take advantage of March of Museums initiative to spend some time at one of their favorite museums, or to discover a new museum, and to share their pictures on social media using #MarchOfMuseums."

We at Mandarin Museum are proud to be a partner once again. We encourage you to visit us, visit other museums and bring a friend.

  Sandy Arpen  
 March 7 
Weed Wrangle is a statewide volunteer effort to help public parks get rid of invasive plant species. Walter Jones Park has lots of invasive camphor, Chinese privet, ferns and smilax vines that are trying to take over! It will be held at Walter Jones Historical Park on Saturday, March 7 from 9-12.
Please come out and help MMHS volunteers and volunteers from the Late Bloomers Garden Club as they tackle some of these problems. We can use all the help we can get. Just wear long pants and long sleeves, bring a pair of hand clippers, garden gloves and sunscreen. COJ will supply us with some larger clippers and shovels. Hope to see you then.

Special History Lecture in Mandarin 
Presented on March 28 
Author Dr. Michele C. Navakas
"Scrub-Palmetto and Orange: Harriet Beecher Stowe's Florida" 
No one today would describe the land between Mandarin and Jacksonville as "thousands of acres of good land, near to a market, near to a great river on which three or four steamboats are daily plying, that can be had for five dollars per acre, and for even less than that." But that is how Harriet Beecher Stowe described it in Palmetto-Leaves (1872), her book of letters from Florida. Mrs. Stowe purchased thirty of those acres and a small "cottage" at Mandarin in 1867, and for seventeen years she made it a winter home for herself, her husband Calvin and two of her daughters. The geography, climate, and way of life in Florida were very different from the New England that the Stowe family knew, and Stowe described her Florida experience as a "tumble-down, wild, picnicky" existence. But she also learned to appreciate Florida for all of the ways it differed from more familiar parts of the country. 

Many say that Harriet Beecher Stowe was the most famous woman in America at the time she came south after the Civil War. Her anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) was still being read all over the world. She could have come to Florida to rest on her laurels - to relax and get away from the cold and the attention. Instead, she came to make an impact on Florida's future growth and development as a state.
You are invited to "hear the rest of the story" and see rare images of Stowe's Florida at this special talk, which is hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Florida, Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, Mandarin Museum & Historical Society, and Jacksonville Historical Society. You will learn why Stowe came to Florida, what she thought about it, and how she impacted Mandarin and beyond in the areas of religion, education, environmental appreciation, and tourism at a critical time in Florida history.
Dr. Michele Navakas is Associate Professor of English at Miami University of Ohio where she teaches early American literature, culture, and environment. Dr. Navakas is the author of Liquid Landscape: Geography and Settlement at the Edge of Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), which tells the story of Florida's early settlement through the maps, short stories, novels, and letters of literary figures from William Bartram to Harriet Beecher Stowe. Liquid Landscape won the 2019 Rembert Patrick Award and the 2019 Stetson Kennedy Award from the Florida Historical Society.  
This public lecture takes place on Saturday, March 28th from 10 until 11:30 AM at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, 12236 Mandarin Road, Jacksonville 32223. It is free and all are welcome to attend. For more information, please contact Mandarin Museum & Historical Society at 268-0784 or email

They Will Be Missed

The museum lost two friends in January, both long-time Mandarin residents.

On January 19, David Arnold passed away in St. Augustine at the age of 72. David's parents (Elizabeth and Horace L. Arnold) owned a plant nursery on Loretto Road, just west of Loretto School, which is where he grew up with his brothers Jim and Robin - in rural Mandarin. Their homestead is now "Red's Gait" subdivision, named after their horse "Red", who happens to be buried on the property. He graduated from duPont High School, served in the US Navy and then became a tax expert with service in both the public and private sector. He is survived by his wife, five children, his brothers and lots of family members. In 2018 David shared some of his memories about growing up in Mandarin with MMHS, as an oral history. We are indeed grateful to him for sharing some of his stories.

Just two days later, also at the age of 72, David G. Neumann passed. Dave's wife, Pam Arpen Neumann, heads the MMHS Archive Team - volunteers who manage our collection of art, objects and documents. Pam and Dave were married for 44 years and lived in Mandarin most of that time. They were long-term members of MMHS. He worked in the field of transportation/logistics and was a huge fan of the Gators and golf. He is survived by Pam, his sister and many Arpen family members.

In honor of Dave and his love of Mandarin, Pam asked that donations be made in his memory to MMHS, designated to the Archive Room expansion needs. Thus far, $2000.00 has been donated and for that we are also very grateful.

Accessions Corner
What is in our Collection?
Long-time resident and MMHS member, Walter Hargraves, wrote this poem in 1980 and gave a copy to the museum. It is an especially interesting and touching picture of Mandarin in a time gone by. Enjoy! 

Flashes and smells of Spring Are in the Air Around the Park
When you walk the Walter Jones Historical Park, keep an eye out for: orange blossoms, the orchid tree, Jessamine and Cherokee Rose - all in bloom.


An interesting read 
This article was published in the Abbeville, SC Press and Banner newspaper on May 27, 1846 - author unknown. It is a pretty sad and ironic view of Mandarin's future. And, we know that Mandarin did not "go down."
Keep in mind this was written one year after Florida's statehood, four years after the end of the Second Seminole War and 21 years before the Stowes arrived. The war had
created much unrest and many families fled
the area. 

Looking Back on February Events 
Visit by Marilyn Beecher 

Yes, "Beecher" as in Harriet Beecher Stowe. Rev. Beecher is a recently retired Methodist minister. She called and expressed an interest in seeing Mandarin, about which her ancestor had written so much. Sandy Arpen, Anne Morrow and Emily Lisska were happy to take her and two friends on a tour of the Mandarin Museum, Episcopal Church of Our Saviour and the Mandarin Community Club. Seen here are: Pastors Clare Chance (Avondale Methodist Church), Marilyn Beecher, and Deborah McLeod (Mandarin United Methodist Church).
Lecture on Edisto
The Community Club was packed with folks who were happy to hear of the history of Edisto, SC and it's connection to Mandarin. Thanks to Greg Estevez for writing the book and for giving a fascinating history and for inviting residents of the Edisto community on Old St. Augustine Road to attend. Mandarin Museum will have this book available starting March 7.  
Other Special Tours: all on February 29!
Board member Mike Myers speaking with Wells Fargo Black History Month group who came especially to see the schoolhouse and learn about Mandarin's Black history.  
Vicky and David Zuckerman (on the right) invited friends to join them on one of their "Jacksonville 20 for '20 Challenge" outings. They decided to explore Duval County places in 2020 - places they had never been before - like Walter Jones Historical Park. What a GREAT idea. Read Mark Woods' column from January 31 about their plan. They were delightful and we had a great time with them. 

  The Fort San Nicholas Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) came for a tour of the schoolhouse, but also pulled off a BIG surprise before the tour. They presented an "Excellence in Community Service" Certificate of Award and a flag that had flown over the U.S.Capitol to MMHS Board President Sandy Arpen. Seen here are: DAR member Elena Kennedy; DAR Regent Brenda Onur; Sandy Arpen and DAR member Molly Knight. Sandy was deeply touched to receive this honor from the DAR.  And the presentation was even more special because Elena and Brenda had both taught Sandy's daughter at Loretto Elementary in the late 1980s AND Molly is a member of the
Walter Jones family! 
First Saturday - all buildings open
March 7  
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.


Frog Painting
March 14 
If you'd like to paint a concrete frog or a sea turtle, please reserve in advance to (Weather permitting of course - this is an outside event in front of the museum.)
Event is from 10 am to noon.  
Thanks a million to Don Bowden, who makes every single one of the thousands of frogs and turtles that have been sold at MMHS! 
These three faithful volunteers will be awaiting our painters and will help them have a great time crating their own frogs. From left to right: Kaye Hartley, Wendy Short and Susan Cason.
"Meet the Maple Leaf Divers" 
March 21 
The story of the Civil War steamship Maple Leaf will live forever in Mandarin and American history. This National Historic Landmark shipwreck has unveiled many a story about her life and the lives of the thousands of Union soldiers she transported up and down the East Coast.
Dr. Keith Holland and his team of St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions divers want to meet you and invite you aboard. They are at the museum from 12-4 pm this day. 
Check out events by our friends in the community

Carrie Clarke Day
Historical Society of Orange Park

The society participates in the annual Carrie Clarke Day festival. The Clarkes were one of the early families in Orange Park and Carrie Clarke was involved in many social activities in the town. The Clarke home and surrounding property was purchased by the Town of Orange Park and now serves as a community park.

March 14, 2020
11 AM - 4 PM
Clarke House
1039 Kingsley Avenue
Orange Park, Florida 32073
April 1 is "Census Day"

By April 1 everyone should have received their Census papers in the mail. The  City of Jacksonville has asked nonprofit partners to help get the word out to Duval County residents about the importance of participating in the 2020 Census.

The census affects our federal funding and representation in congress, so getting an accurate count is critical.

Prepare for it by learning more and getting your questions answered in advance. Click HERE.
    Mark your calendars for these special events

    • April 4 - Smithsonian Museum Day - to include Maple Leaf Divers, all buildings open in the park and more TBA
    • April 4 - Miss Aggie Day - at the historic Mandarin Store and Post Office from 10-2 with presentation to the 2020 recipient at noon
    • April 11 - Mandarin Community Club's Annual Art Festival - MMHS will have the historic Mandarin Store and Post Office open during Art Festival hours - 10-5.
    • April 12 - Mandarin Community Club's Annual Art Festival - MMHS will have the historic Mandarin Store and Post Office open during Art Festival hours - 10-4.
    • April 18 - Frog Painting 10-12. 
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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