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Saint Augustine, Northeast Florida
Going public with archaeology for outreach, assistance to local governments, and service to the citizens and state of Florida. Visit our website at: http://flpublicarchaeology.org/nerc/
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Archive for July 2009

Archaeology in Lincolnville - An Exhibit

Did you know that the City of St. Augustine has some of the best archaeology in the country? This is because there's a law, a City Ordinance, that says you can't dig in the ground in St. Augustine without first checking with the City Archaeologist. If you are in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the City (some of the City is over 400 years old), the City Archaeologist gets to test the history that's under the ground at the place where you want to dig, or build a house or anything else that will disturb what's underground. Oldest City + Lots of Archaeology = some of the best opportunities to learn about archaeology in the country! The FPAN staff thought it would be a great idea to create a museum exhibit around one neighborhood and one project done by the City Archaeologist.


Lincolnville is one of the older neighorhoods in the City. Over 30 archaeology projects have been conducted by the City Archaeologist in Lincolnville. There is also a wonderful museum in the heart of Linconville, the Excelsior Museum and Cultural Center. They just happened to have an empty exhibit case and liked the idea of selecting a Lincolnville archaeology project to highlight. So, with the help of Carl Halbirt, City Archaeologist, we identified a Lincolnville project, selected some artifacts excavated from that project site and did some archival research on the people who had lived on the site.


And now for the rest of the story. The neighborhood of Lincolnville was first settled by freed Black slaves after the Civil War. It was originally named Little Africa. Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it was the principle Black neighborhood in the City of St. Augustine with its own Black businesses, professional offices and schools. The Excelsior School was the Black High School, now the Excelsior Museum.


The archaeology site we selected was the home of the Kelton family. Four generations of the Kelton family had lived in a house built in the late 1800s. City archaeology excavated the site in 2002 after the home was demolished to make way for a new house. When we researched the house and the family at the Historical Society Research Library, we found an amazing coincidence. Two of the sisters who were raised in the house were actually teachers at the Excelsior School. We found pictures of Kelton family members in the library but none of the two teachers, Emily and Agnes. A friend, Barbara Vickers, who had grown up in the neighborhood, provided a picture of the two sisters.




We installed the exhibit in June after selecting some of our favorite items from the site. The artifacts represent the material culture of an early 20th century Black family in St. Augustine. They were excavated from a trash pit and a privy in the yard. We have artifacts that represent food ways, decorative items, personal items, and work related items. Three panels describing the archaeology and introducing the family, including family pictures, complete the exhibit.
Go by the Excelsior Museum and Cultural Center at 102 Dr. Martin Luther King Avenue. The museum is open Tuesday through Thursday, 12 noon to 5:00pm. There are many interesting exhibits on Lincolnville History, the African American Community in St. Augustine and the Excelsior School.


Toni Wallace

Field Trip Fridays!

So now that things have calmed down around the office after our cemetery conference, a few teacher trainings and getting into the swing of things with summer camps, we've started going out into the field on Fridays and enjoying some of the sights around our region.

Last Friday was our first trip. Unfortunately, it was just me and Rosalie. But we still packed up some cameras and headed to the Castillo de San Marcos. To my surprise, I found out this was Rosalie's first time exploring inside.

We wondered through some of the rooms including the barracks, a jail and a chapel. We also checked out some displays of weaponry as well as lots of cannons. We even got to watch one of them being fired. And of course, we did our duty as conservationists and helped out the National Park Service by asking a few visitors not to sit on or touch the coquina walls. When we went into the bookstore, we found so many great books that Rosalie had to make a wish list.

After a quick lunch, we headed over to the Old Quarry at Anastasia State Park. The hole from where a lot of the coquina around town was mined is now filled with mud and water most of the time. But evidence of its use years ago is still visible: a bank of fresh coquina was uncovered. They cut it to replace some of the worst preserved and crumbling stones at the Castillo.

It was a great first field trip. Next week, we're off to New Smryna for more adventures!



-Emily Jane

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