Monday, March 12, 2018

Last month a crowd gathered at City Hall to celebrate Carl Halbir's induction into the Order of La Florida.

From the City of St. Augustine website, details of the award are as follows:

The Order of La Florida was created by the city commission in 1975 to recognize a person “who over a long period of time has unselfishly devoted his or her time and talent to the welfare and betterment of St. Augustine’s citizens and heritage, who has exemplified the finest qualities of citizenship, and has contributed extraordinary services to the community.”  Recipients must be 55 years of age and there may not be more than nine living recipients at any one time. A nomination originates with a member of the city commission and is presented to the city manager who then puts it before the entire commission for confirmation. Halbirt was nominated by Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline.

Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Cline's comments read at the ceremony:

Good afternoon and thank you for joining us for this presentation.

And thank you Mayor Shaver, for sharing the background of the Order of La
Florida and especially for reading the names of all the previous recipients so that
we might recall the wide and varied and contributions each brought to our city.
And today we add the name of Carl D. Halbirt to that list.

Carl served as the city’s archaeologist from 1990 to 2017 after having worked in
various locations in the American Southwest for 16 years. During his time with
the city, Carl conducted more than 800 archaeological projects as part of the
city’s Archaeological Preservation Ordinance. A much sought after speaker and
a prolific writer, Carl has published his research in professional journals and has
presented research and findings at conferences nearly a hundred times during his
four decades as an archaeologist.

Although the majority of Halbirt’s work in St. Augustine were projects that dealt
with materials dating to the historic era, 1565 to the early 20th century, some
projects have delved into the prehistoric era. The data literally unearthed enabled
Carl to gain a unique perspective of St. Augustine’s archaeological landscape.
The many awards and recognitions Carl has earned include the Individual
Carl’s leadership, the city’s archaeology program was recognized by the
Advisory Council for Historic Preservation as a Preservation America Steward
in 2015.

Carl’s active role interpreting St. Augustine’s unique cultural heritage through
public outreach programs and civic organizations served to popularize
archaeology in St. Augustine. It seems every new discovery was embraced by
the media whose coverage served to remind our community and others across
Northeast Florida of St. Augustine’s long and important history.
When projects were taking place in any highly visible part of the city, Carl
always took time to explain his work to interested visitors who eagerly listened.
It was not uncommon to see Carl, standing knee deep in a pit working to clear
the way for a new waterline, to stop and point out to tourists a thin line of black
soil running along the side of the pit and say “See this? That is from the time Sir
Francis Drake burned St. Augustine in 1586.”

Onlookers would invariably ooh and aah a little and walk away knowing they
had experienced an authentic piece of the Nation’s Oldest City’s history.
Carl’s enthusiasm for his work and his willingness to share information has gone
a long way to educate the public that the wealth gleaned from archaeology is not
gold or silver, but rather knowledge gained from pottery shards, rusty nails and
the occasional pipe stem or plain necklace. What some would consider trash,
Carl has taught us that this is our treasure…simply knowing more about those
who walked our streets long before us.

Carl, on behalf of my fellow Commissioners and the entire community we thank
you for all you have done to increase not only our knowledge and understanding
of St. Augustine, but the extraordinary efforts you have taken to to share that
knowledge with others.

Award inscription:

The City of St. Augustine awards the highest honor within its power to bestow,
The Historic Order of La Florida to Carl D. Halbirt in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to St. Augustine’s historical record from his 27 years as city archaeologist, the inspiration he has instilled in others as a teacher, historical archaeologist and author, and his commitment to the greater understanding of the city’s primacy in the settlement and development of Florida and the United States.

Presented in the name of a grateful citizenry by the City Commission of St. Augustine, Florida this 12th day of February, Two Thousand Eighteen in the four-hundredth and fifty-second year of the founding of St. Augustine, the Nation’s Oldest City.

Carl is the 20th person to receive the award (City of St. Augustine website):

  • Henry W. McMillan, 1975,
  • Herbert E. Wolfe, 1977,
  • John D. Bailey, 1977,
  • Albert C. Manucy, 1983,
  • Lawrence Lewis, Jr., 1984,
  • Eleanor Phillips Barnes, 1986,
  • Xavier Lopez Pellicer, Sr., 1987,
  • Clarissa Anderson Gibbs, 1987,
  • Luis Rafael Arana, 1988,
  • Eugene Lyon, 1988,
  • Edward G. Mussallem, 1994,
  • Jerome George Kass, 1997,
  • Kenneth Beeson, 2001,
  • William L. Proctor, 2001,
  • Michael Gannon, 2007,
  • Kathleen Deagan, 2007,
  • Frank D. Usina & Elizabeth K. Usina, 2009,
  • H. L. “Herbie” Wiles, 2013, and
  • Robert B. Hayling, 2013.
Special thanks to St. Augustine City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline for sharing opening comments prepared for the ceremony on Monday! 


Text: Nancy Silkes-Kline comments, press release from City of St. Augustine Website, with additional text by Sarah Miller, FPAN staff
Images: City invitation, all other images Sarah Miller, FPAN staff

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