Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Turner Family Indian Canoe

Turner Family Lake
Last week we got a call from the Turners,a local Florida family.  They contacted Sarah Miller, our center's Director, with tales of an Indian canoe.  The canoe was exposed on the shore of the family’s lake, which was shrinking drastically in the current drought. The Turner family wanted to record a canoe on the Florida Master Site File (FMSF) and they were concerned about preservation as it was no longer protected by the lake water.
Turner dock now high and dry - formerly used when the lake level was much higher


Turner Family

The Turners, a large extended family, were following a tradition of spending Thanksgiving at the family camp near Putnam Hall in Central Florida.  Sarah referred them to Donna Ruhl, Florida Museum of Natural History at UF and Kevin Porter at the State Division of Historic Resources. Together they arrived at a plan to visit the camp the day before Thanksgiving to assess and record the canoe.

Donna Ruhl, Florida Museum of Natural History and Turner Family dogs
Robin and Donna assess canoe
Donna Ruhl, our state expert on Florida’s Indian canoes, met with the family on Monday at the museum and determined from photos and family descriptions, that it was very possibly a prehistoric canoe. Recording and preserving such rare finds is a priority for us all, and the Turner family has a love of Florida’s history and a commitment to doing the right thing with ancient artifacts.

Toni Wallace, FPAN Site Specialist

So Wednesday of Thanksgiving week Donna Ruhl and Toni Wallace, FPAN Site Specialist, met with  the entire wonderful Turner family and pets at the Turner camp to measure, photo and record the canoe on the FMSF. Donna measured, took a small sample for radio carbon dating and photographed the canoe. Toni recorded the info on the site form. All of the Turner family helped us, providing tools, help with recording and showing us old photos of the lake when it was much larger and deeper.  Even the family dogs got into the act. We also were given a great tour of the family compound which is composed of several houses on 60 acres, purchased by their grandfather more than 60 years ago.

Donna photographs canoe

Donna measures canoe

Donna measures Canoe

Donna takes a sample for radio carbon dating and wood analysis

Sample taken

Canoe bottom
canoe bow

It is truly heartening to encounter Floridians who are conservationists and preservationists, committed to saving Florida's history for future generations. Thank you Turner family. Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, Turner Family and thank you for being great Florida preservationists!

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