Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteers with the Fort Mose Historic Society

Fort Mose Historical Society

Citizen Support Organization of the Year Award for Historical Resources

Charles Ellis, Thomas Jackson, Mildred Williams and Viola White were founding members of the Fort Mose Historical Society in 1996. They continue to serve on the board of group and provide leadership for the organization.

As the site of the first legally sanctioned free Black settlement in what is now the United States, Fort Mose Historic State Park is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Fort Mose represented the southernmost destination of the original Underground Railroad, offering freedom to enslaved Africans fleeing from British plantations in the Carolinas and Georgia.

Since the organization was formed, these four individuals have worked passionately and diligently, supporting significant growth and development of the society and the park.

Although it’s difficult to imagine, for over 150 years the site of the first legally sanctioned free Black settlement in North America was lost to the world. This essential piece of American history was denied or commonly forgotten. In 1987, archaeologists and historians began the laborious process of site authentication. Soon thereafter, groups of concerned residents and legislators promoted purchase of the property.

In 2020, the Fort Mose Historical Society earned the Herschel E. Shepard Award for Historic Preservation, granted by the St. Augustine Historical Society. Countless hours of volunteer services donated by this group have contributed to park expansion and development, including the opening of the museum, landscaping enhancements, trail development, acquisition of needed tools and resources, and addition of important outdoor interpretive elements. 

2020 Florida State Parks Volunteer Recognition Award Winner

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