By Brett Nolan
mail@floridanewsline.com

Last month, we learned about the last voyage of the Union steamship “Maple Leaf.” For nearly 125 years, the “Maple Leaf” was just a story lingering in the depths of Father Time’s mind.

By 1984, Dr. Keith Holland, a local Jacksonville dentist, and the St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions, Inc., located what was left of the “Maple Leaf,” confirming the contents inside the vessel’s hull in near excellent condition. With the technology of yesteryear, Holland used navigational river charts from 1884 and layered them with modern day maps. He was able to use his findings to begin years of legal negotiations — including filing a lawsuit against the United States — finally receiving access into the ship’s muddy hull.

Dont Forget to vote for John Turner School Board member

Beneath the pitch-black, tannin river water, lights were useless. Divers could not see their hands in front of them. While not even 30 feet below the surface, diving to the boat was not a hard task, but scary would be an understatement. They were the first human contact the ship had longed for since the Union boots paraded her decks to and fro, loading the 800,000 pounds of luggage in preparation for her terminal voyage. By 1994, the St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions, Inc. concluded expeditions to the wreckage and the site received National Historic Landmark status. By then, more than 6,500 artifacts had been excavated from the muck; however, this representative sample was only a mere 0.01 percent of what was in the cargo hold.

The tragedy of the Union Transport Ship “Maple Leaf,” though small in the scheme of the battle amid the North and South, paints a picture of the cultural significance behind the life of a soldier during the Civil War. It tells the stories of men who have lost their voices to history, those who never wrote letters or journals — but the contents in their trunks talked to us. The artifacts detail what troops valued enough to take with them on the battlefield, things looted out of abandoned plantation homes — fine china, window panes, door knobs — even seashells collected along the shore of Folly Island to take home to their families as souvenirs (some never imagined traveling that far south had it not been for the call for service). Ambrotypes depicting loved ones, musical instruments, ceremonial military items, pipes and buttons — thousands of things still sit in the river waiting for their chance to see the light again. The “Maple Leaf” provides a world of cultural artifacts that are imperative to understanding the history of one of the darkest times in America.

You can view about 70 of these recovered “Maple Leaf” artifacts on any Saturday at the Mandarin Museum in Walter Jones Historical Park, 11964 Mandarin Road. And, you may actually meet and talk with Dr. Holland and his team of divers on the third Saturday of most months from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Brett Nolan is a volunteer with the Mandarin Museum & Historical Society. Visit www.mandarinmuseum.net for more information about Mandarin’s history and schedules.

 

Photo courtesy of Keith Holland.

Lee Manley and Keith Holland examining a recovered “Maple Leaf” artifact.

 

  • Ackerman Urology We specialize in Prostate health, sexual health, bladder health, and Kidney health
  • Smiles by Glenos & Hadfic Orthodontists
  • Pavers concrete and more Free estimates
  • Snip's Tree and stump service over 25 years experience
  • Quality Eye care 25+ years of experience
  • Staverman Hearing Centers Hear loud and clear
  • Westminster Woods on Julington creek. Live well. Be Happy
  • Ackerman cancer center. We're here for your cancer treatment
  • Have questions about your medicare benefits? Call a SHINE volunteer.
  • Prudential Financial Planning Services with Andrew Laino
  • Vote for Dr. Erick Aguilar Republican candidate U.S. House Fl 4th district
  • Academy of Dance Open House & Registration August 19th and 20th 3pm to 6pm Classes start August 24th! Ballet, Pointem Jazz, Hip Hop Contemporary, Modern, Lyrical, Music Theatre, Vocal
  • Affordable Water
  • DIscount up to 30% Jim Register state farm agent
  • Nemetz Dental Associates! Your new smile awaits!
  • Havana Printing and office supply Call us today for all your cutome printing needs
  • Future home loans. North Florida's Premier Mortgage Expert Ryan Proffitt
  • Wild Birds Unlimited Nature shop. Have you watered your birds lately?
  • Legends of Real Estate call Kim Kessler
  • Harbor Chase Independent & Assisted living Memory Care Mandarin. Immerse yourself in a rewarding community that enriches your body, mind, and soul.
  • Dont Forget to vote for John Turner School Board member
  • Lori Hershey for School Board, District 7. A school system we can all believe in.
  • Matt Schellenberg. Dependable Leadership for these challenging Times. School Board District 7
  • Concrete Works! Free Estimates, driveways, Patios, Walkways, Concrete removal, Driveway extension, Pavers
  • Family Remodeling Contractors! Bath, Kitchen &ADA Remodeling
  • Mobile Notary Service. 15 years experience, 24 hour services
  • River Garden Senior Services, However and whenever you need us we're here
  • Starlight Gymnastics! Our #1 priority is your children!
  • Sugar Bear Antique Mall Summer spectacular sale July 10th-12th
  • Baptist Health, Great tools for motherhood
  • A Green Cleaner, Free pickup and delivery to your home!
  • Luxury living and compassionate care come together at starling. Welcome Home.
  • Alive Credit Union Start banking healthier today!
  • Clara's Tidbits Now in Mandarin!
  • Brian E. Floro DMD, PA Dental services
  • JR Dental General, Specialty and Dental lab
  • Support community journalism! Subscribe to the Mandarin Newsline today!
  • Railing Chiropractic & Acupuncture
  • Let them know you are open for business! Advertise in our may issue!
  • HarborChase independent & assisted living Memory Care Mandarin. Your safety and peace of mind is always our Top Priority
  • Smart Choice Medical healthcare membership! No VoPay, No Deductibles, No Hassles
  • Havana Printing 904-447-5021