October 2019   

Dear Friends,
September was such an exciting month - with an amazing amount of good news that overwhelms our hearts with gratitude and joy. It was like we were on a runaway train that just wouldn't stop... all good though! I honestly don't know where to start, so I'll go chronologically in my messages about each of these unusual (for us) and really big happenings - because each one was very exciting and valuable and there is just no way to rank their importance.
So hang in there with me and I will begin to share with you all......
 Sandy Arpen 
September 7
"Art of Giving" Award Won by Mandarin's Beloved Frog Man
Donald Bowden

In the September newsletter we told our readers that the Board of Directors had nominated Don for this prestigious award and that he was a finalist. So, on September 7 Sandy and Tracey Arpen escorted him to the Cultural Council's 43rd Annual Arts Awards event. It was a beautiful and fun evening and we did not know until it was announced there, that Don had actually won!

I hope you all feel as happy for him as we at MMHS do. This gentleman has done so much for the museum through his generosity of time and resources, raising a record amount as a gift to the museum programs and expansion project. But he also has done so much for the community because of the generosity of his heart. He started the frog paintings on the lawn so kids could become artists. And it has grown into something that is a "happening" once a month and we often see several generations of a family painting together.  His painting parties are like a community gathering, with everyone smiling, laughing and taking home a beautiful frog at the end of the day. It definitely has brought the community together. He also hides goodies in the park for children to find and he tells our guests some of the most interesting stories of his memories of life in Mandarin. He is one of kind, that's for sure!

Please congratulate him for these gifts to us the next time you see him.

To view all of the award winners in all cartegories, CLICK HERE.
September 14
Live Radio Broadcast from the Front Porch Of Mandarin Museum
This was a first for us, at least in recent times. Station 1010XL 92.5 FM is primarily a sports channel. However, every Saturday morning from 11 am to noon they have a live program called "All Things Jacksonville - Your City, Its People and You."   
This program is hosted by Bruce Armes and Chris Wayne and they cover all kinds of history, events and people from throughout the city. In August, thanks to Mandarin Middle School teacher Catherine Hager,  Bruce invited Dr. Keith Holland to his program to talk about the Maple Leaf. As a follow-up, he wanted to come to Mandarin Museum where many of the artifacts of the Maple Leaf reside, and the show was done live right on the front porch - during a Frog Painting Party! The interview was very interesting, with Dr. Holland talking about aspects of the Maple Leaf story that aren't as well-known as others.
You can hear the interview from the 14th with this link - the history program starts at about 15 minutes in: thing leads to another in this world and Bruce then asked MMHS to do an episode about MMHS and the park. So, please tune in THIS SATURDAY, October 5 at 11 AM to hear Karen Roumillat and Sandy Arpen talk in the studio with Bruce about MMHS history,  programs and events. If you miss it, you can always hear it on the podcasts listed at
This is a great opportunity for us to get the word out about our "little museum that could" and all the important work we do here - for all of Jacksonville. Our deepest gratitude to all who were involved in making this happen.

September 25
Cultural Service Grant Program Results
We are proud to be eligible to apply for the City of Jacksonville's Cultural Service Grant Program (CSGP), administered through the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville.

The CSGP has offered public support to arts and cultural organizations so we can contribute even more to the quality of life of Jacksonville's residents.  
On September 25, the CSGP hearing occurred to make funding decisions for Fiscal Year 2019-20. We were so grateful to have been awarded  $8697 in funding to support our program operations from this grant, an increase of $2515 from last year's grant of $6182!

Thank you to: the City of Jacksonville and our City Council for increasing funding for arts and culture in this year's budget; to the volunteers who serve on the panel (a huge time commitment) - and specifically to Dr. Ellen Williams who visited MMHS this year; to the Cultural Council Board;  and to the staff  at the Cultural Council for administering the grant so smoothly.

Dr. Meridith Hardy (National Park Service archaeologist), Michael Myers (MMHS Board member), Lynn Marlowe (MMHS volunteer researcher), Henry Davis (MMHS Board member), Karen Roumillat (MMHS Board member), Heather Hodges (GGCHCC Executive Director), Ted Johnson (National Park Service)
September 26

Site visit by the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission (GGCHCC) 
 We were honored to have a visit to Walter Jones Park by four Commissioners of the GGCHCC. They were in north Florida visiting sites that have Gullah Geechee heritage.

From their website: "The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is a federal National Heritage Area.  The National Heritage Area program is managed by the U.S. National Park Service.  National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. The purpose of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor NHA is to preserve, share and interpret the history, traditional cultural practices, heritage sites, and natural resources associated with Gullah Geechee people of coastal North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida."

MMHS is continuing to do research so we will able to tell the stories of Gullah Geechee heritage  throughout Mandarin. This visit will help us greatly with resources and connections to help us do that.

September 28

Walter Anderson Memorial Park Celebration
Lat month we told the story of the Walter Anderson Memorial Park . On September 28, a celebration by the Anderson family and friends, an unveiling of the new sign and a picnic on the grounds took place in the park. It was a joyous occasion!  
The bill for a name change put forward by Councilman Boylan was passed by the City Council on August 27. A new sign was erected and a special historical sign will also be made which will tell the story of Walter Anderson and the prior names of the park.   

The park was renamed to reflect the fact that it was given to the County in 1955 for $1 for Mandarin's African-American citizens to have a place to play baseball - this was during the time of segregation. The original name was Joe James Park, then Flynn Park in the 80s, but neither family had any connection to the property. It is the first public place in Mandarin to bear the name of an African-American resident. Mr. Anderson was well-known and beloved in the community. He was a kind and generous man who served his country in World War II. He is well-deserving of this recognition.

HOT OFF THE PRESS: Just as this newsletter was about to be released, Mark Wood's column for the Florida Times Union came on-line. It will be published in the newspaper on Oct. 2. Click HERE to read it.
September 30

And on the last day of the month we received notification that we had won the JAX BEST award for "Local History Museum!" What a wonderful way to end September.

MMHS will be showcased in the Jax Best Guide, which will have a permanent home on as a lasting and continuously evolving directory for Jacksonville residents and visitors to consult. Click HERE to see the online guide.

We are proud to be a part of this community outreach. We congratulate all other organizations who received this award, including Alpine Groves Park in Switzerland for receiving the "Best Family Friendly Park." And we thank all who voted for us.
Accessions Corner
What is in our Collection?

This agricultural piece just showed up on the museum doorstep one day - a blast from Mandarin's deep citrus past. Do you know what it is? You can find it in the barn.

This object, a small smudge pot, would have been used for the times the temperature of the winter would drop low enough to worry about frost on the fruit trees. It was oil burning and they would be placed throughout the grove. Most were much larger versions with tall smoke stacks. This one may have been used for young trees or as a road flare in the days before flashing Bob's Barricades.

Fall and winter are our citrus seasons. The blossoms of spring are bearing nice green fruit with some early birds even starting to become orange in color. We can almost taste the satsumas that will come as the earliest of the crop. Be sure to watch the progress of the fruit in our Memorial Citrus Grove next to the schoolhouse.

WELCOME to our three new Board members
During the summer, we were pleased to add three new members to our Board of Directors. All come with wonderful backgrounds and experiences that will help us as move MMHS to the next level. Please welcome them when you see them. Each will be featured in upcoming newsletters. 
Pictured left to right: Michael Myers, Bruce Vacca and Henry Davis.
Mike, retired military and teacher,  has been connected to MMHS since the grand opening of the schoolhouse, when his wife Dana spoke to the crowd as a member of the Anderson family.  He and Dana led the Walter Anderson Memorial Park efforts on behalf of the Anderson family. 
Bruce, a retired HS history teacher has served as the MMHS Director of Education for 10 years, booking and leading all our school and adult tours. He will be heading a new committee to review our curriculum and outreach to the schools. 
Henry, after retiring from a long career as an attorney and  Circuit Court judge, has decided to lend his personal history and expertise to MMHS, with a special interest in helping us develop our African-American history stories. 

Sandy and Tracey Arpen
"Super Volunteers"
The Mandarin Museum loves its volunteers - we couldn't get along without them.   In fact,  every member of the  Board of Directors is a volunteer.  Sandy Arpen has served as President and acting Executive Director for many years, and her energetic and enthusiastic leadership has been instrumental in shaping the institution we know and enjoy today. Sandy contributes endless volunteer hours to the continuing tasks of keeping the museum going both as a physical plant and as an institution committed to recording and preserving the Mandarin story for future generations.
As anyone who knows her can testify, Sandy is not alone in her commitment to the museum and the Mandarin community. Tracey Arpen, Sandy's husband and partner, has been a mainstay of the museum, Mandarin, and the larger community of Jacksonville. His record in the areas of environmental protection, beautification, and historical protection reflects more than forty years of effective activism. At the museum, Tracey is a "behind the scenes" person, rarely calling attention to the significant amount of effort he contributes to the success of events and activities large and small. It is hard to imagine how the museum could function as well as it does without Tracey's many skills and "devotion to the cause."
In addition to acknowledging the time and effort Tracey has dedicated to the success of the MMHS, the newsletter is pleased to report that Tracey's many contributions to the whole Jacksonville community have been recognized by the Environmental Protection Board of the City of Jacksonville. Tracey was selected as the recipient of the 2019 Charles E. Bennett Champion of the Environment Award.   This is the JEPB's highest honor, and one that is well-deserved. Tracey received his award at the 2019 JEPB/UNF Environmental Symposium held at UNF on September 13, 2019.
The Mandarin Museum congratulates Tracey on his receipt of this significant award, and the recognition of his continuing efforts to environmental protection in Jacksonville. The museum is fortunate to have him and Sandy working together in so many ways to advance the mission of MMHS. They exemplify the highest ideals of volunteerism, and are a continuing inspiration to all of those who dedicate time and effort on behalf of the Mandarin Museum.

Gabriele Dempsey and Patrick Plumlee  
for the Board of Directors 
Looking Back on other September events 
Hurricane Dorian  
September started with a scare - Hurricane Dorian was bearing down on us and we made a decision to close the facilities on the 7th. We were all grateful for the near miss, but we were well prepared.
  Smithsonian Museum Day
This annual event went very well with lots of activities and a nice crowd of visitors. Thanks to North Florida Folk Network for having an old fashioned music event, to Dennis Short and his reenactors for telling stories of Civil War soldiers in the field, and the to the Maple Leaf divers. Also to the many, many MMHS volunteers who had all of the buildings open to some  
great tours. And, of course, to our visitors. 
Brownie Troop  63004 Visit 
On September 19 we were visited by Brownie Troop 63004  who came to learn about Mandarin's history and to do a service project for the museum. Their project was to get the schoolhouse all cleaned up for Smithsonian Day - so they swept floors and porches, dusted, cleaned windows and chalk boards. At the end they all wrote a message on a chalkboard so our visitors on Saturday would have a greeting from them when they came in the schoolhouse. What a pleasure it was to have them visit. It was especially fun for me (Sandy) because one of the leaders was a Brownie in the troop (Troop 656) I led  at Loretto School so many years ago! 
Mandarin Newsline  
October 1 edition
 "Back in Time with Brett" by MMHS volunteer Brett Nolan features the Mandarin Cemetery on Mandarin Road this month.    
The front page tells the story of a trip to France with three Mandarin connections.
And, Don Bowden was interviewed by Editor Martie Thompson and is featured in the "Get to Know...." monthly article. 
Also, of course, it holds all the news of Mandarin. Click  HERE to see the story and the entire edition of the May 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.

Interesting offerings in the community in the next couple months:
Mandarin Community Club

On October 6 the MCC will host a Gourd Painting Class from 1-4 PM.

The club will observe Veterans Day with a program and wreath-laying ceremony on Sunday, November 10. Scheduled to start at 1PM, the program will be held within the Billard Park (adjacent to the MCC building). In the event of inclement weather, activities will be moved inside the Club building.

Historical Society of Orange Park has lots of Fall events planned

  Saturday, October 19 - Fall Festival   
Sunday October, 20 - Moonlight on Magnolia
Saturday, October 26 - Veterans Day
Monday, November 11 Hometown Holiday
Friday, December 6 - Saturday, December 7

Fort Mose Historical Society - African-American  Community of Freedom Inc.
will hold their annual meeting on Thursday October 17 at 6 PM.
The guest speaker will be Dr. J. Michael Francis.
For details:

Mandarin Garden Club
October 26 - Annual Craft Festival
For details:


First Saturday - October 5 - 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 is BACK!!!!
October 6 
Come on out on Sunday afternoon, October 6 from 2-4,  to enjoy some good music played by members of the community in an old fashioned circle jam. If you play an acoustic instrument, you are welcome to join in the  circle. If you are a "listener, please bring a lawn chair and just enjoy this wonderful day. Note: it is weather dependent, of course, since it is an outside event. The Mandarin Museum and the St. Joseph's Mission Schoolhouse for African-American Children will both be open during this event.  
This event is co-sponsored by our friends at the North Florida Folk Network
Frog Painting - October 12
The Frog Man tells us he still has LOTS of sea turtles for this one - if you'd like to paint, 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.  
"Meet the Maple Leaf Divers"
October 19
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 Archeological Expeditions divers want to meet you and invite you aboard. They are in-house at the museum from 12- 4 pm this day.  
    Mark your calendars for these special events

    • November 21 - Third Thursday Lecture - Dr. John Foster - discussing his new book At the Dawn of Tourism in Florid: Abolitionists, Print Media, and Images for Early Vacationers.
    • 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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