PokemonGo Lures Trainers into Local History

No Comments

Are you a fan of PokemonGo? Well, so are we! We took a ride around Tallahassee and discovered that there are quite a few historic sites in town that offer numerous poke stops and gyms. You may have seen us at one of our Lures and Legends events over the summer. We were setting up our booth at some of the various locations around town and dropping lures. We have discovered that PokemonGo gives folks a reason and incentive to go out and explore new places they may have never been before. At our Lures and Legends event at Mission San Luis we  had a few people come up to us and tell us that they have never been there before until we “lured” them there! Maybe you are a parent who’s child is obsessed with PokemonGo, and you are looking for a way to engage you child’s interest in the game in a meaningful way. Well, we hear you and we get it! Perhaps you are a huge PokemonGo fan and you have been wanting to explore your community to get to know it better. Well, we hear you, and again, we get it! One of our goals here at FPAN is to promote heritage tourism. So we figured we would use PokemonGo as a public outreach tool  to get folks out and about exploring some of our local heritage sites. So, with that intention, below is a map we have created with the locations of heritage sites in our community with the number of gyms and stops at each location. We hope you will use this to get out, get moving and to learn about Tallahassee’s rich history. With that in mind, please remember that these sites are not renewable. You can’t grow another historic Spanish mission or another antebellum plantation. So please, be respectful of these sites and mind all the rules. They are there for your safety and to protect the historic resource. Additionally, a few of these sites require a fee to enter. Please do not try to get out of paying this fee. The money they collect goes towards preserving and protecting the site and providing you with a unique and educational experience. So, with that being said, we hope you will get out and explore Tallahassee while catching pokemon! And while you are out there, if you see something cool, learn something new or catch a rare pokemon, we would like to hear from you! Feel free to post about your discoveries in the comments below!


Lures and Legends: Learn about Tallahassee’s History while Playing Pokemon Go

No Comments

So I know that we have a bunch of Pokemon Go fans out there, so we have decided to have some fun with it to help promote heritage tourism and hopefully make our followers aware of some places they may not have

Follow us on Facebook to see where we will be dropping the next lure!

Follow us on Facebook to see where we will be dropping the next lure!

visited before. According to a study published in 2010 by the State of Florida, Department of State, heritage tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry. Here in Tallahassee we have a wealth of heritage sites. So get out your phone, open up your Pokemon Go app and get ready to explore some of them! Many sites in the area have poke stops and gyms! Mission San Luis, for example, has 17 stops and two gyms! If you haven’t been to Mission San Luis yet, then what are you waiting for?! It is an amazing living history museum and now you have one more reason to visit.

Saturday, July 23 2016, from 9am-1pm we will be dropping lures near The Edison in Cascades Park. Stop by our table to learn about all the various historic sites in Tallahassee that have stops and gyms. While there you can explore Cascades Park, which has a very rich history, and perhaps stop in at The Edison for a delicious brunch!  You can follow us on our facebook page to learn of other places we will be dropping lures in the coming weeks. There is a good chance that you will learn of places you didn’t know existed!


The DeSoto Winter Encampment Site is the location of a Pokemon Go gym.

With that being said, we need to caution you. All historic sites are non-renewable resources. While searching for stops and gyms is harmless, we urge you to be aware of your surroundings and to be respectful of the sites you are visiting. The Old City Cemetery in downtown Tallahassee has six stops and we encourage you to go check out this amazing historic cemetery, but keep in mind that it is a place of rest for some of our most notable residents from history and is deserving of respect. Likewise, some places are only open at certain hours or require a minimal entrance fee. Please be respectful of that. In the case of entrance fees, those fees are used to help support that site. As for hours of operation,  they are in place not only for the safety and security of the site, but also for your safety as well. So go out and enjoy, but please be respectful of our communities wonderful (and non-renewable) historic resources!

As a side note, our office at the DeSoto Winter Encampment is the site of a gym. If you stop by, come on into our office and say hi! If you are visiting during office hours, M-F 8-5 there is more information about the site inside the Governor Martin House/Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research.


Heritage Site of the Month: Letchworth-Love Mounds

No Comments

Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park is located in eastern Tallahassee (almost to Monticello) off of U.S. 90. This site boasts the state’s largest Native American mound, spanning almost 300 feet in width and

Photo of large mound from the viewing platform.

approximately 46 feet tall.  There are a total of five mounds that have been identified at this site, however, in the 1970s one of them was destroyed. The age of the site is a much debated topic among archaeologists. Some archaeologists believe that it dates to the Ft. Walton Period (AD 1000- 1500), while others argue that the site dates to the older Weeden Island Period (AD 300-100).  Since 2003 the State Archaeologist and Florida State University’s Anthropology Department have conducted intermittent archaeological investigations at this site. Based on evidence gathered during these investigations the current body of research indicates that the site likely dates to the early Weeden Island period (AD 300-700). The Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research is currently conducting research at Letchworth in order to learn more and to assist the Florida Park Service with further interpretation of the site to the public.

Artistic rendering showing what the mounds would have looked like during the period of time they were constructed and occupied by Native Americans. This is part of the interpretive display at the park.

When you visit the park, you will note that the large mound currently has trees growing on it. When originally built, the earthwork mound would have been clear of vegetation, with smooth sides and a flat top. Many Native American laborers would have brought soil by baskets to the site to construct the mound. They would have had to have knowledge about the different variety of soils to use in order to create a stable structure. The mound would have risen from a flat plaza area, or common area, which would have been used for games and gatherings. Dwellings and agricultural fields would have also surrounded the area. Lake Miccosukee is nearby, which may have been one of the primary reasons the Native Americans chose this site. The lake would have provided them with fresh potable water and food resources.

The site is managed by the Florida Park Service and is open to the public from 8am to sunset year-round. The park offers picnicking, wildlife viewing and hiking. An interpretive trail starts at the base of the large mound and leads visitors past several smaller mounds. The picnic area and platform viewing area for the mound are wheelchair-accessible. The Park Service even offers guided tours upon request! The picnic pavilion houses several interpretive exhibits about the site. When visiting this site please pay attention to signs and please stay on the marked trail. This is a Native American ceremonial site, and the Florida Park Service has designed the walkways in such a  manner that they do not disturb or endanger the site. Also, as always, please remember that it is against the law to remove artifacts and plant material from Florida State Parks-take only pictures and leave only foot prints.


The Munree Cemetery Project: An Update on Our Progress

No Comments

You may remember our previous post about the Munree Cemetery. We used Human Remain Detection Dogs (or cadaver dogs) and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to help us located unmarked burials in this cemetery located in East Tallahassee. We wanted to compare the results of the dogs with that of the GPR. Well, or preliminary results are in and we wanted to share them with you. You may remember that this is a joint project with FPAN and the Southeast Archaeological Center (SEAC), which is part of the National Park Service. Well, a big thanks to SEAC for allowing us to use their GPR equipment for this project!

So, here is the skinny on how GPR works! These types of surveys have grown in popularity over the past 30 years. Despite the relatively commonplace use of GPR, imaging of buried features can be somewhat difficult. To detect archaeological features (or anomalies, as we call them) they must contrast electromagnetically with the surrounding soil matrix. Unfortunately, these types of instruments respond to archaeological anomalies and natural disturbances (tree roots, rocks, etc…). Therefore, the interpretation of GPR results depends greatly on the recognition of patterns in the data that correspond to the expected form of an archaeological feature (in this case, a pattern of burials like you would expect to find in a cemetery). GPR units operate by transmitting distinct pulses of radio energy from a surface antenna. This energy is reflected off of buried objects, features or soil structures. A second receiving antenna detects reflected pulses of energy. Using this data, GPR systems are capable of producing reliable images of subsurface anomalies. The survey at Munree Cemetery used a Geophysical Survey Systems SIR-3000 data acquisition system with a 400 MHz antenna, capable of resolving features measuring approximately 50 cm in diameter to a maximum depth of 3 meters. However, in practice, the depth of penetration is sually more limited because of varying electrical properties of the soil. The maximum depth of radar penetration during this survey was about 240 cm.


The GPR image from one of our grids, indicating anomalies identified by the GPR and possible burials as indicated by the canines.

As you may remember, the dogs were allowed to do a loose grid search of their assigned areas. If the dogs exhibited a final response the area was marked with a survey flag. Using dogs to identify human remains old enough to be considered archaeological in nature is a relatively new practice and dog handlers and trainers are still fine tuning their training techniques. As part of this survey, we are providing our data to the handlers so that they can use it in their training. Soil, humidity and air temperature can affect how the dogs perform. Large trees, such as live oak, can actually “drop” scent from their leaves. This is caused by the scent of the human remains running up the trunk from the soil and into the leaves. In the morning these large trees “drop” the scent, which can sometimes cause the dog to exhibit their final response at the drip line of the tree. Rodent holes can also vent scent, sometimes a distance from the actual burial. Dogs are best at indicating if a burial is present, but it can be a challenge for them to identify a single burials exact location.

It is important to note that thus far our findings are preliminary and additional work is necessary to determine the efficacy of using cadaver dogs to identify historic burials. At this stage, it is difficult to ascertain with any degree of certainty if burials are present in the areas that we tested. The discovery of several unique anomalies with geometry similar to burials suggests that unmarked graves are possible and perhaps likely in these areas. In total, the dogs identified sixteen targets that may represent unmarked graves. Four of those targets were within the GPR grids; and of those four, three were found to be associated with burial like anomalies. The dogs also actively targeted areas with known burials as evidenced by headstones and slumping. The dogs missed one possible burial in Area A and a possible cluster of burials in Area B. Future work at Munree Cemetery may include expanding the GPR survey area and ground truthing the anomalies corresponding to the targets identified by the canines. Still, the available data suggests that as a tool to expediently investigate an area for unmarked graves, GPR and cadaver dogs provide an effective means to guide research with comparable results.

“Blended Lives” Pieces Together History in Tallahassee

No Comments

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a program called “Blended Lives”. It took  place at Goodwood Museum and Gardens and the Riley House Museum, both located in Tallahassee. Last week all the forth grade

Prehistoric artifacts recovered from the Goodwood property. From left to right, an Archaic stemmed projectile point (arrowhead) and a Ft. Walton period decorated ceramic sherd.

students in Leon County had the opportunity to visit both historic sites and learn about all the different people of various backgrounds who lived at those sites and contributed to the history of these two historic homes in Tallahassee. This year the organizers brought FPAN into the mix to teach the students about an archaeological site that was excavated at Goodwood. When you see an old house or another type of existing structure from long ago it is easy to forget that there were most likely  people that were living on that piece of land before that structure existed.  The Goodwood plantation house was constructed in the 1830s, but some artifacts from the excavation date as far back as the Ft. Walton period (A.D. 1200 to A.D. 1500). While the archaeologists were excavating at this site they found both historic and prehistoric artifacts. In other words, they found artifacts that came from the people living in the 1830s plantation house and other

Historic artifacts, probably associated with the Goodwood house, recovered at the Goodwood site. Bottom Left: etched glass fragment, Top Left: Whieldon ware ceramic sherd, Right: small clay marble.

artifacts from the people living there during the Ft. Walton culture period all at the same site. Archaeologists sometimes refer to these types of sites as multi-component sites. This, as you can probably imagine, is a fairly common occurrence at archaeological sites. The students learned briefly about Florida’s prehistory – from the Paleoindian time period to when the Spanish arrived in the 1500s. Then I had the opportunity to share with them actual artifacts that were recovered from the Goodwood property during the excavation. All in all, I had a wonderful time, and I think the students, teachers and parent chaperones did as well! My hope is that now when the students look at a site they will think about all the different groups of people that were there before them and will have a new found appreciation for Florida’s rich and diverse cultural history.

To learn more about Goodwood Museum and Gardens please visit their website at GoodwoodMuseum.org. To learn more about the Riley House Museum you can visit their website at rileymuseum.org.

The Tallahassee Old City Cemetery

No Comments

Yellow fever victims are buried in these graves.

This past Saturday, as many of you know, we hosted a tour of the Old City Cemetery in Tallahassee. It was a great success, due in large part to our great tour guide, Erik Robinson!

We had about 35 people attend and I have received a ton of good reviews! I like to think of historic cemeteries as outdoor museums. There is so much history to be learned at these sites, and this cemetery is no exception. This cemetery is the oldest public cemetery in Tallahassee, established in 1829 during Florida’s Territorial Period. It was later acquired by the city in 1840 and in 1841 it twas laid out in a system of squares and lots when a yellow fever epidemic swept through the city. During the time of it’s establishment it was actually located outside of the city, although now it is located downtown. The cemetery was bordered on its far side y a 200  foot wide clearing that surrounded the town to protect it from Indian attacks. The cemetery was segregated, the whites buried in the eastern sections and the African Americans buried in the western sections. Originally various religious denominations had their own plots, but there are few indications today of the Presbyterian and Catholic areas. The majority of the Jewish burials have since been moved to other cemeteries.

This is the final resting place for many men and women who contributed to the development of Tallahassee and the State of Florida. For a long time it was Tallahassee’s only

Constructed in 1890s, this platform is still used for memorial services.

public burial ground it represents a cross section of Tallahassee residents during the 19th century. As you walk through the cemetery you will recognize many names from Tallahassee and Florida’s rich history – James D. Wescott (Wescott Building at Florida State University), John G. Riley (his house is now a museum and the headquarters for the Tallahassee chapter of the NAACP), Thomas Vann Gibbs (founder of Florida State Normal Industrial School, now Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University)…well, you get the picture! I could go on and on. The graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers that fought in the Battles of Natural Bridge and Olustee are also buried in this cemetery. A platform was constructed next to the Confederate graves by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) in the 1890s. Today that same platform is still used to for commemorations and memorial services by the UDC.

Memorial Service at the Old City Cemetery in the early 1900s.

Early Tallahassee was small and frontier-like. People had to make do with what they had and what was locally available. Many of the earliest graves were marked with wood head and footboards, which have since degraded and disappeared. The last plot was sold in 1902 and the cemetery is full, although many graves have no marker above ground anymore. During the Territorial Period there are newspaper accounts of hogs and cattle roaming through the cemetery and running over the graves. There are also articles complaining about the unkept appearance of the cemetery. Today there is a fence around the cemetery and it underwent a major restoration in 1991, with financial support from the Florida Department of State. This project was sponsored and administered by the Historic Tallahassee Preservation Board. Unfortunately, due to limited funding not all of the gravemarkers in the cemetery were restored. They were able to restore the majority of those that had been badly damaged by vandalism and weathering. Unfortunately since the time of the restoration many of the monuments have been victims of vandalism once again! The cemetery is open to the public for visitation during daylight hours.

The marker for the oldest marked grave in the cemetery now lays face down in the dirt because of vandalism.

Another cemetery, located immediately north of this one, the St. Johns Episcopal Cemetery is also open to the public. We encourage you to visit these historic sites, however, please be aware that they are non-renewable historic resources that provide much valuable historical information about their community. They also provide valuable green space for both people and wildlife. Please be respectful and be sure not to damage any of the monuments. Although they are constructed of stone and metal and other very durable material, they are very old and very fragile.

If you are not able to make a trip to this cemetery, we have posted a photo tour on our Facebook page !

Mission San Luis to Host Winter Solstice Celebration on December 16th

No Comments

On December 16th from 10 am to 8pm Mission San Luis will host a two-part celebration for the Winter Solstice. During the day, there will be a market fair in the plaza. Visitors can see Spanish dramas of the 17th century. Those looking to participate can learn to stomp dance and partake in a drum circle as well.  Hands-on craft activities will be available for children. There will also be storytelling and living history as well as food vendors. When the sun goes down, visitors will be able to learn more about drumming and storytelling while exploring the spectacular Council House. The Tallahassee Astronomical Society will be present and will provide telescopes to the attendees. This is a great opportunity to learn about the stars, the planets, and how it all ties in with the solstice. So take some time and join the Mission in this wonderful celebration full of fun and learning!

Mission San Luis: Giving Thanks with the Apalachee and Spanish

No Comments

Mission San Luis will host a thanksgiving celebration the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The harvest was an important time to the Apalachee and Spanish people. The site of Mission San Luis was a remarkable melting pot of cuisine influenced by both Spanish and Apalachee preferences.

An important staple in the Apalachee diet was known as the “three sisters”. The three sisters were made up of squash, corn, and climbing beans. These crops were not only able to co-exist but actually supported each other’s life. The corn formed the structure for the beans to climb. The squash grew along the ground eliminating weed growth and maintaining soil moisture by blocking sunlight. The beans added nitrogen to the soil, which benefited both corn and squash. Moreover, the nutrition gained from the three sisters provided a balanced diet for the Apalachee people. They also grew and gathered other native plants to the area, such as pumpkins, sunflowers, persimmons, and wild strawberries. Additionally, the yaupon holly, or ilex vomitoria, was fundamental to their culture; the leaves of this holly were used to make a tea, called “cassina” or the “black drink”, that was drunk the night before the ball game.

The Spanish people brought a variety of things with them from Europe. Religion was a major aspect of their influence on the Apalachee; however, they also altered the Apalachee diet. They brought domesticated chickens, hogs, cattle, horses, and sheep to Mission San Luis. The Spanish also added olive oil and wheat as common staples of food. In addition, Spanish impact inserted many new fruits and spices in the cuisine.

The event at Mission San Luis will be Saturday, November 24, 2012 from 10 am to 4 pm. Historical interpreters will be dressed in time appropriate garb and preparing meat and fish on the barbacoa. They will also be using crops gathered from the gardens to demonstrate cuisine from the Apalachee and Spanish.


Join Us for a Tour of the Tallahassee Old City Cemetery on December 8th

No Comments

Many people drive b y the Old City Cemetery every day on their way to or from work, but have never taken the time to explore it. Historic cemeteries are wonderful outdoor museums that provide a unique look at a communities history. The Old City Cemetery is located between Call Street and Park Avenue in downtown Tallahassee. It is the oldest public cemetery in the city. It was created in 1829  and acquired by the city in 1840. The ground was laid out in its system of squares and lots in 1841 when a violent yellow fever epidemic swept through the city and regulations were required to assure order and sanitation to protect the public. This cemetery is the final resting place for many of the men and women who contributed to both local and state history. We will be offering a FREE  tour of the cemetery on December 8th at 2pm.  We hope that you will consider joining us in taking time to explore and learn about this local historic landmark.



Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park

No Comments

Over 100 people joined us at Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park for National Archaeology Day!

This past Saturday, as many of you know, was National Archaeology Day. I was lucky enough to join the Southeast Archaeological Center/National Park Service and the Florida Park Service at Lake Jackson MoundsArchaeological State Park to celebrate! Archaeologists around the area came together to educate the public about Florida’s great archaeological heritage. Lake Jackson Mounds was a superb location for such an event! It was then that I realized that some folks may not know of this site, so I decided it was time for a Lake Jackson Mounds blog post!

Before I even get into discussing Lake Jackson Mounds, I just want to briefly give kudos to the Florida Park Service. Within the state of Florida there are over 160 state parks. That is a phenomenal amount of natural land that has been set aside for preservation, conservation and of course, for public enjoyment! Many of these parks contain archaeological or historical sites that have provided archaeologists and historians with important knowledge of the state’s history. Plus, these parks are open to the public, and thus you have access to this knowledge as well! Many of the parks have interpretive programs to provide the public with information about the natural and cultural areas of the park. You can find a park near you by visiting their website, http://www.floridastateparks.org/.

So that being said, one of those really amazing parks located in Tallahassee is Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park. The Lake Jackson Mounds site originally included

Dr. Rochelle Marrinan, Archaeology Professor at FSU, gave a talk on the Lake Jackson Mounds site during the National Archaeology Day celebration.

seven mounds that were constructed by a group of Native Americans belonging to the Fort Walton Culture. The Fort Walton Culture is a southern variant of the Mississippian Culture (also known as the Mound Builders). This group of people inhabited these mounds from about A.D. 1050 to A.D. 1500. The number of mounds and the large size of this site led archaeologists to believe that this site was a religious and political center for those that lived in the region. The mounds were skillfully planned and constructed. Those that built them had to have knowledge of the soils in the area. These mounds are the result of the organization of numerous workers over a period of many years. Not only does the site contain the mounds, but it also contains remains of a village plaza and numerous residences. The plaza would have been a large flat area where ritual games and gatherings took place. The individual residences were found to be located around this central plaza. Surrounding the site would have been communal agricultural fields. One of the major crops that would have probably been cultivated was maize, known today as corn. Agriculture is probably one of the main reasons such a dense and sedentary population was possible. The site could easily be considered one of the more important archaeological sites in Florida and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

You can actually hike up to the top of one of the mounds overlooking Lake Jackson!

Only a few of the mounds have been systematically excavated by archaeologists. While excavating one of the mounds, post holes were found at the summit. This indicates that a building of some sort was at one time constructed atop the mound. Unfortunately, this mound was located on private property and was leveled to the ground at some point. The remains of important individuals have been found at the site in association with burial objects, including elaborate items such as copper breast plates, shell beaded necklaces, bracelets, anklets and cloaks still in place. These types of artifacts indicate religious and trading ties with other pre-historic Indian communities in the southeastern United States. Some of the artifacts recovered from this site link it to the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. Some of the artifacts, including various copper items, exhibited motifs (decorations) that are usually associated with this complex. The Southeastern Ceremonial Complex is a name given to a stylistic component of the Mississippian culture that coincided with their adoption of maize agriculture and chiefdom social organization. This complex is also known as the “Southern Cult” and flourished around A.D. 1200. Many people assume that this complex has some link to Mesoamerican culture, but there is no evidence of this, instead, they seem to have developed independent of one another.

This is a lot of information to digest, but I hope that I peeked your curiosity about this and other sites located in Florida’s great state parks! This park is located north of Tallahassee, very close to I-10. So even if you are just passing through, pull in for a quick visit. There are picnic tables and a covered pavilion, hiking trails and interpretive signage. For location and hours of operation visit http://www.floridastateparks.org/lakejackson/default.cfm


Older Entries