A Phase I Archaeological Survey at 33 Prado Avenue: Evaluating Cultural Resources Near Fort Mose


Material Information

A Phase I Archaeological Survey at 33 Prado Avenue: Evaluating Cultural Resources Near Fort Mose
Series Title:
Fort Mose Site, Archaeological Excavations
Physical Description:
Mixed Material
Carl Halbirt
City of St. Augustine Archaeological Program, Planning and Building Department, City of St. Augustine, Florida
Publication Date:
Physical Location:
Folder: 33 Prado (Fort Mose) 06-482 - reports


Subjects / Keywords:
Saint Augustine (Fla.)
33 Prado Avenue (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Fort Mose (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage:
North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 33 Prado Avenue


General Note:
BDAC#: 02-0672; 06-0482

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
Fort Mose
System ID:

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City of St. Augustine Florida

A Phase I Archaeological Survey at 33 Prado Avenue:
Evaluating Cultural Resources Near Fort Mose

Carl D. Halbirt City Archaeologist

Site File (BDAC 02-0672) Planning and Building Department
City of St. Augustine, Florida

January 2003



This report provides the results of a Phase I archaeological survey conducted at 33 Prado Avenue prior to the proposed development of the area for single-family residences. The investigation was conducted under the auspices of the City of St. Augustine's Archaeological Preservation Ordinance (Ordinance 89-38) and is intended to provide information that can be used by St. Augustine Reserve, Inc., for management purposes. Ordinance 89-38 is a regulation that mandates that archaeological review be part of the City's permitting process for all new construction. Those projects found to occur within areas containing potentially significant archaeological deposits and involving groundpenetrating activities require an investigation (Halbirt 1993; Piatek et al. 1989). The project area for 33 Prado Avenue, which is listed under the City's site file system as BDAC 02-0672, occurs in Archaeological Zone IE. This zone is recognized as containing potentially significant archaeological deposits associated with historic Fort Mose as well as prehistoric Native American deposits (Halbirt and Carver 1992).

Fort Mose was the first Free Black settlement established in what is now the
continental United States. The history of the fort consists of two occupations (Deagan and McMahon 1995; Landers 1990): Fort Mose I (1738 to 1740) and Fort Mose II (1752 to 1763). Both fort locations are within State owned wetland areas and, therefore, are not subject to direct adverse impacts resulting from construction activities (Figure 1). The proposed-project-area does, however, occur near that area distinguished on the Pablo Castell6 Map (1763) as being under cultivation during the occupation of Fort Mose II (Figure 2). These fields were west of Fort Mose II on either side of a defensive line-ofentrenchment, with built in bastions, referred to as the Mose Line. Thus, the possibility exists that the project area will contain archaeological deposits associated with farming activities (e.g., outbuildings and agricultural ditches). It is unlikely that the 100 or so occupants of Fort Mose resided outside the confines of the fort given the violent and tumultuous events that were symptomatic of the era (Halbirt 2002). Fort Mose is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is registered on the Florida Master Site File as 8SJ40.


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Figure 1. Project Location of 33 Prado Avenue in St. Augustine, Florida. Illustrated are
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some of the historical sites and properties mentioned in the text.


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Figure 2. Project location (hatched area) on that potion of the Pablo Castello Map of
1763 showing Fort Mose IL.


Numerous prehistoric Native American sites are known to occur along the
Intracoastal Waterway (Deagan 1981; Madry, Smith and Whitehill 2001). These sites primarily date from the Late Archaic (ca. 5,000 to 2,500 B.P.) into the historic era, which commences with the founding of St. Augustine in 1565 by Don Pedro Men6ndez de Avil6s. Early to Middle Archaic sites (ca. 9,000 to 5,000 B.P) occur in the region, although not as frequently as later occupations especially those that date during the St. Johns Period, ca. 500 B.C. to A.D. 1565 (White and Halbirt 2001; Marby, Smith, and Whitehall 2001). Most Native American sites in the immediate project are found on small, dispersed marsh islands, a result of rising sea levels that inundate low-lying areas (cf. Milanich 1994). The site of Fort Mose II is one example of this pattern.' The historic site rests atop earlier prehistoric deposits that date from the Orange Period and St. Johns Period (Deagan and MacMahon 1995).

Due to the proximity of the proposed development to both Fort Mose I and Fort Mose II and corresponding historical agricultural activities, a Phase 1 survey of the property was initiated by the City of St. Augustine's Archaeology Division. The intent of the survey was to determine whether any subsurface archaeological deposits were present and whether these deposits were significant to warrant additional archaeological efforts on the property as specified in the City's archaeological ordinance. The survey also provides the basis for determining whether any archaeological deposits are potentially eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, as specified in Section 106 of the -National --Historic-Preservation-Act-of 1966;,-amended--1992,.- --..


The 7.8-acre parcel at 33 Prado Avenue was investigated by means of a
systematic shovel survey. To facilitate this survey, a 25-meter grid system was laid out across that area of the parcel not within wetland locations (Figure 3). This entailed most of the area around the existing house. The grid system was established along true

i Whether Fort Mose I was situated atop prehistoric Native American midden deposits has not been determined, although it is unlikely given that the site is presently inundated by tidal marsh wetlands (Deagan and McMahon 1995). The site is approximately two-tenths of a mile southwest of Fort Mose II.

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magnetic north. Shovel pits measured 30 cm in diameter and were excavated along each 25 meter east-west transect line to a depth of one meter. These pits were spaced at 12.5meter intervals for a total of 39 excavated shovel pits. Soil deposits below the humic gray sands, which represents the modem ground surface, were screened through onequarter inch mesh.

During the course of the survey an area of buried, low-density shell debris was found, albeit without any associated artifacts. To determine the extent and nature of this shell scatter, 11 additional shovel pits were placed at 12.5 m intervals between the original 25-meter east-west transect lines in one area of the parcel. This resulted in a total of 50 excavated shovel pits on the property.


Of the 50 shovel pits excavated, 27 (54%) contained evidence of shell and/or charcoal debris (Table 1). Shell debris was found within brownish gray sand (Zone A), approximately 15 cm to 35 cm below the present ground surface. The modem ground surface is composed of humic gray sand with abundant rootlets. Similarly, charcoal was found to occur within the brownish gray sand, although the humic soil horizon also was observed to contain some charcoal. Most of the artifacts recovered were post-Civil War in origin, primarily dating to late 19h century occupation of the property (Table 1), and or.....iginated-in-either-the-humi-soil-horizon-or-inanarea-ofpotential fill deposits
distinguished by light gray to white fine sands (Zone B). Both the humic and Zone B soil deposits overlay the brownish-gray sand (Zone A) that contained the bulk of the shell and charcoal debris.

Of the 50 shovel pits excavated, 14 (28%) contained historic debris (e.g., bottle and window glass, white ware ceramics, and iron nail fragments). Most of this material was found west of the existing house in either humic or Zone B soil deposits. Only one shovel pit (No. 9) contained artifacts that are associated with a prehistoric Native American presence on the property. The two artifacts were identified as Fiber-Tempered


Table 1. Shovel Pits Containing Shell and Charcoal Debris and Artifacts. (Shell weight is in grams.)

Shovel Pit Shell Charcoal Artifacts Number Weight Present

1 +
2 2000
3 350
4 75 + nail (1), aqua glass (1)
5 200 + white ware (1), UID metal (1)
6 nails (8), white ware (1), bone (1)
7 - white ware (1), bottle glass (4), UID metal (1)
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9 20 Fiber-Tempered Orange Ware (1)*
12 350 + UID metal (1)
13 + 16 +
18 - white ware (3), bottle glass (1)
19 20
20 20 + 21 250 + 22 - white ware (2), bottle glass (3) 25 + 26 + white ware (2) 29 + 30 + 31 + 32 + white ware 1), nai),bottle glass(335 50 + white ware (1), window pane glass (2) 36 -+ 40 + 42 -+ 43 50 44 75 + 45 50 + white ware (1), transfer print (1), window pane (1) 46 50 + porcelain (1), white ware (1) 47 - porcelain (1) 50 - white ware (1)
*two cross-mended fragments

Orange Ware dating to the Orange Period (ca. 4,000 to 2,500 years ago) in Florida (Milanich 1994) and are from the same pottery vessel based on cross-mends.


The archaeological investigation at 33 Prado Avenue, St. Augustine, Florida, did not document any significant archaeological deposits that could be considered significant for further archaeological testing or inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places. Uncovered were scattered shell deposits (primarily oyster shell with some clam), trace amounts of charcoal, and a light scatter of modern historical artifacts. This cultural material does, however, reflect different uses of the property. The following addresses each of these separately.

Shell and Charcoal Deposits
Although the cultural and temporal affiliation of the shell and charcoal
deposits is unknown, given the absence of diagnostic ceramic or lithic material, their presence is suggestive of agricultural activities. Ethnographic information from various locations around the world indicates that both shell and charcoal were used to enrich soil deposits in environments with low nutrient content. Charcoal can be associated with slash-and-burn (swidden) agriculture. Small charcoal fragments were found in 44 percent of the shovel pits and were scattered throughout the property (Figure 4). The integration
--of shell-fr-agments in-soil-deposits-has been-documented-inprehistori itches daingto the St. Johns Period in St. Augustine (Jerome 2000) and within garden locations in the colonial downtown area (Deagan 1983) to enhance crop or garden productivity. Shell fragments were found in 28 percent of the excavated shovel pits, with the majority of shell recovered along the southern portion of an elevated area that bisected the property (Figure 5). The median weight for the shell debris is 50 grams.

Two possible explanations exist for the presence of shell and charcoal debris in the project area prior to the modern activities, provided that both are the result of

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human activity.2 First, both shell and charcoal fragments may be part of agricultural activities associated with the residents of Fort Mose II given that the fort is roughly onethird mile east of the project area. The Pablo Castell6 Map of 1763 (Figure 2) illustrates the location of agricultural fields in relation to the fort. Evident is that the field system shown on the map Atw borders on the project area. The possibility exists that the scattered charcoal debris represents the initial deforestation that occurred around the fort not only for initiating agricultural activities, but also as a method of creating a defensive buffer around the fort that limited surprise attacks." This would be similar to the mily quincientos, a defensive zone established during the Second Spanish Period (1784-1821). This zone extended 1,500 varas (about 1,500 yards) north of Castillo de San Marcos and was land granted by the Spanish government on the condition that it be cleared and planted with low crops for defensive reasons (Adams et al. 1980). Shell deposits may represent a location where farming actually took place. The location of the shell deposit is of interest for it is on high ground closest to the fort (Figure 5).

The second possibility to account for the presence of shell and charcoal debris in the project area is a prehistoric affiliation. Agriculture was a component of prehistoric subsistence patterns along coastal environments, especially during the St. Johns II Period (ca. A. D. 750 to A.D. 1 ). Similar to the preceding scenario, the area was initially cleared of vegetation. Shell eventually was used to enrich the soil as nutrients were depleted by agricultural pursuits. The only evidence for Native American use of the
-propertyis-the-preseneeof-Fiber-Tempered-Orange Ware pottery. The subsistencepractices of this temporal designation, however, revolved around hunting-gathering activities and not agriculture (Milanich 1994).

Modern Material Culture
In addition to shell and charcoal debris, 19th- and 20th-century artifacts were recovered from the project area. Although these artifacts were found scattered across the

2 Although the presence of shell beyond the limits of tidal systems is a certainty for human activity, the possibility exists that charcoal may be a result of natural burns caused by lighting strikes.
It is estimated that the agricultural fields associated with Fort Mose formed a protective barrier, which extended roughly 400 varas west of the fort. Marsh lands protected the fort on the east.


parcel, a majority was recovered in shovel pits situated in low-lying areas. These locations occur primarily to the west of the existing single-family residence and are characterized by soil deposits of fine gray to white sands (Zone B). This soil deposit is stratigraphically above the brown to brownish gray sand, which contained the shell and charcoal debris and overlaid the culturally sterile yellow sands. A profile of the property abstracted from the shovel-pit data shows the relationship of the various soil strata present at the property (Figure 5). Apparent is that the gray to white fine sands occur where the culturally sterile yellow sand deposits drop in elevation, thus creating a swale in the historical topography of the property. Organically rich silty clays are found at the bottom of the lowest Zone B deposits, which suggests that this low-lying stratum historically may have been a wetland area.

The presence of modern artifacts and the stratigraphic position of Zone B
suggest the possibility that low-lying areas had been filled in the early 20th century. The cause of this filling is presently unknown, although one explanation is that it is a consequence of Henry Flagler's hotel construction activities in the mid-1880s. Flagler purchased the Batewell farm, which was in the vicinity of Fort Mose, and "used the dirt ... in filling up the remainder of the Maria Sanchez Creek, south of Bridge Street" (Florida Times Union, February 1, 1887). The possibility exists that gray-white sand deposits found on the property are a result of that activity.

. -- -Although-the-evidene-iseireumspect-there-are-some-data-to-support thepremise that Henry Flagler's activities altered the historical topography within and around the project area. An examination of the F.W. Dorr Map (1860) shows that the project area, which was forested at the time, was adjacent to cleared fields with structures (Figure 6) owned by the Baya family of Minorcan heritage. An overlay of a current U.S.G.S. topographic map onto the Dorr map shows that the location of the historic Baya farm is presently within the tidal marsh environment directly south of the project area--a location where a boardwalk overlooking the site of Fort Mose II exists. Furthermore, ceramic and glass artifact fragments found within the gray-white fine sand date to the


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Flagler era (ca. 1885 to 1913).4 How Flagler's activities affected the project area is unknown, but if major dredging or soil removing operations took place, then it undoubtedly impacted adjacent properties. The possibility exists that topsoil was removed from the Batewell farm and placed into low-lying areas, such as that encountered in the project area, in order to get a fill dirt that was uncontaminated by organic debris (e.g., trees and roots) or historic rubbish associated with the farm.

Archaeological investigations conducted by the City of St. Augustine at 33 Prado Avenue (BDAC 02-0672) did not uncover any archaeological deposits that suggest human habitation and/or intensive occupation prior to the present single-family residence. Those deposits documented (i.e., shell and charcoal debris as well as modern refuse within probable fill deposits) do represent human activities that occurred on or adjacent to the property. This does not mean that potentially important isolated archaeological features are not present, only that the general project area does not contain any deposits that could be eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. As such, it is recommended that no further investigation of the property beyond that of monitoring construction activities is necessary. Monitoring will ensure that isolated archaeological features, if present, are documented.

4 Henry Flagler's activities in obtaining fill deposits for construction projects along the Maria Sanchez Creek in the 1880s has recently been addressed in relation to the proposed construction of a parking garage behind City Hall/Lightner Museum (Nolan 2002). It has been proposed that the Batewell farm was the site of Fort Mose I. Based on physical descriptions of the farm's location in St. Johns County Deed Records (Book II, page 160-161 [18871; Book CC, pages 620-621 [18841) and the F. W. Dorr Map of 1860, it is evident that Fort Mose I is roughly 1,000 feet east of the Batewell farm (Figure 1).


References Cited

Adams, William R., Robert Steinbach, and Michael Scardaville 1980 Historic Sites and Buildings Survey of St. Augustine, Florida. MS on file, City of
St. Augustine, Department of Historical Preservation and Heritage Tourism, St.

Deagan, Kathleen
1981 Phase I Background Research and Assessment of Historic and Prehistoric
Archaeological Resources in St. Johns County, Florida. MS on file, City of St.
Augustine, Department of Historical Preservation and Heritage Tourism, St.
1983 Spanish St. Augustine, The Archaeology of a Colonial Creole Community.
Academic Press, New York.

Deagan, Kathleen, and Darcie MacMahon 1995 Fort Mose, Colonial America's Black Fortress of Freedom. University Press of
Florida, Gainesville.

Halbirt, Carl D.
1993 The City of St. Augustine's Archaeology Program. The Florida Anthropologist
2002 Conflagration and Exchange: The Impact of the Carolina Colony on the
Development of the Eighteenth Century Presidio de San Agustin, Florida. Paper
presented at the 28th Annual Conference on South Carolina Archaeology,

Halbirt, Carl D., and Linnea J. Carver 1992 Documented Archaeological Projects in St. Augustine: An Inventory of the City's
Archaeological Resources. MS on file, City of St. Augustine Planning and
Building Department, St. Augustine.

Jerome, Jocelyn
1999 Site Report, 89 Magnolia Avenue, Williams Subdivision. MS on file, City of St.
Augustine Planning and Building Department, St. Augustine.

Landers, Jane
1990 Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose: A Free Black Town in Spanish Colonial
Florida. The American Historical Review 95(1):9-30.

Madry, Scott, Greg C. Smith, and Carrie Whitehill 2001 Archaeological Survey and Development of a GIS-Based Site Probability Model,
St. Johns County, Florida. ESIReport oflnvestigations No. 249, Jacksonville,


Milanich, Jerald T.
1994 Archaeology ofPrecolumbian Florida. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

Nolan, David
2002 Fort Mose and City Hall. Fort Mose Society Newsletter 6(1):3.

Piatek, Bruce J., Stanley C. Bond Jr., and Christine L. Newman 1989 St. Augustine Under Siege: St. Augustine's Archaeological Preservation
Ordinance. The Florida Anthropologist 42:134-152.

White, Andrea P., and Carl D. Halbirt 2001 A Preliminary Cultural Resource Assessment of Fish Island: The 18th-Century
Plantation Home of Jesse Fish (8SJ62). MS on file, City of St. Augustine
Planning and Building Department, St. Augustine.