History Detectives
History Detective Internet Club
History Detectives are individuals who like to search out facts, learn about all kinds of thigs, study
groups of people or an individual life of a person. They search for clues, looking for any information that
might lead to more facts about the topic they are researching.

Each Detective can submit a research idea to the club.  Your idea may be a topic or fact that you cannot
find "anymore" information about and you need someone else's eyes to help you through the road block
you might be facing.

The Club Administrator (Reflections of Manatee) submits information monthly of topics of interest onto
the website. Club members take either a monthly topic, or another posted on the site and will report any
(or no) information found on that topic. The administrator posts the information found so everyone is
aware  of what has been found and where. Each monthly assignment helps our membership grow.   As
Detectives work continues and posts grow with information, membership grows enlarging the club one
by one.

Detectives can also work solo . Solo members can submit items through the administrator for
submission onto the website. Detectives can work "the old fashion way" submitting the information
gathered by mail to club administration.  That way their detective work can be shared online or at the
quarterly meetings at local libraries. Two of the quarterly meetings are planning meetings.

Members own the club, members plan the projects listed.
In today's busy world it is sometimes hard to attend group meetings

History Detectives allows you to interact with others, learn research skills, gain general
knowledge about common and uncommon things, and all these from your own home

Have Fun While Learning   
Gain Resume Experience
Volunteer From Home
Participate for School Service Hours or Scholarship Volunteer Recognition
Learn New Things About Life And People
Membership is free!  However we need each detective to fill out an
application with their name and email address.

Detectives work as a team. Each detective submits their topic, idea, or  project they
are working on.  More than one detective will be working on the same topic, this way
everyone knows what others are working on and then can correspond via the Internet
with other detectives as facts are discovered. Or "Solo Detectives" can work via the

Monthly Topics.  Club Administrators, (Reflections of Manatee) will post a monthly
topic.  It may correspond with a season, historical date like Black History Month or
the 4th of July, or it may just be a particular item of interest submitted by a member
like an antique or stamp.

How our club grows. As information is submitted and posted, more club members
will find their way to our site.  As the information grows so will the membership.

Student Volunteer Hours- Volunteer at Home.
Florida Law requires 200 service hours for graduation from high school.  They can
start in Middle School.  

Building your Resume: Volunteer hours also helps build your resume. Working from
home within your own time frame allows you to contribute to knowledge of those

Foundations: Earn points for grants and scholarships by volunteering for your
community. Foundation directors are searching for those for individuals who work
toward bettering their community and world.  Club members have a great opportunity
to shine on applications by accumulating large numbers of volunteer service hours.

and have experience with computers, and other office related skills.  Why not use
yours today by joining as a member and helping educate the world.
Artifacts are tangible remains from people in the past. Artifacts entice us, they
excite us, and spark our imagination. With archaeological context, they are
powerful informants. Without context, they may be pretty pieces with a price tag,
or simple curiosities filling a shoebox.

Material culture includes artifacts, documents, landscapes, and the built
environment. It includes ceramic dishes and bayonets, the front parlor and the
workshop and the wharf, all the things that are influenced by the culture that
created and used them.

“Why are we interested in knowing about cultural expression through artifacts? In
an age of global consumerism, it is reasonable to be interested in how people
choose and use things, how they impart meaning to them, and how they accept
or reject them... how, through material culture, they have shaped, expressed,
hidden, and celebrated their identities.” - Barbara Little, Historical Archaeology:
Why the Past Matters
An intriguing documentary record surrounds the settlement of the Manatee River area in the 1840s and continual use of the Mineral Spring and the Curry
properties into the present. We have land deeds and contracts, photographs and letters. But these documents only tell a small part of the fascinating story of
this settlement, this spring, and the people who lived near the Manatee River.

The hidden histories include:

  • Remnants of Native American mounds are evidence that peoples used this spring for generations. What did the landscapes look like and which
    plants and animals did different groups utilize?

  • In 1821, Lower Creek Indians, allies of Andrew Jackson, destroyed the community of free blacks and escaped slaves that historians call “Angola.”
    Where was this settlement? Did they cultivate fields around this spring?

  • When families staked claims here in the 1840s this area was wilderness: this was the frontier. What was life like? Were women's lives different than
    if they had lived in a more established community?

  • Prior to the Civil War, enslaved Africans and African-Americans made up about 30% of the population. We imagine the Gambles and Bradens owning
    100s of slaves on their plantations, but many individual households like the Currys and Branches also owned slaves. Who were they? What evidence
    might we find of their lives?

  • Dr. Franklin Branch offered his sanitarium to provide services to the United States troops during the Third Seminole War. A stockade was built and
    called “Branch Fort” or “Camp Manatee.” Settlers took refuge there, and even two babies were born at the fort. Can we find this spot?

  • A deed mentions the blacksmith shop being on the corner of the Curry lands. It was reputedly the favorite spot for the neighborhood “loafers” of the
    early settlement. What type of artifacts would support its reputation as the 1850s version of the neighborhood hangout?

  • During the Civil War, in 1864, the 2nd Regiment, United States Colored Infantry was stationed at Manatee to destroy the sugar mills. The officers
    occupied one of the Curry houses. Could it be one of the standing houses?
What Is It?
What are we looking for?
Glass bottles of various
sizes and time periods
Pottery pieces
Cut nail
Net weight
Civil War
Long dock remains at end of
15th Street East at Manatee
River, left side.
Long dock remains at end of
15th Street East at Manatee
River, right side.
Before the bridges were built across the Manatee
River, the only way to get supplies or send out  
crops was by boat or ship. This long dock was at
the end of 15th Street East, old Main Street.  The
larger boats could come to this dock because it
was way out into the Manatee River and they
wouldn't have to worry about hitting bottom. When
and why was the dock demolished?
Family History and Genealogy
Make History Come Alive
Be your own family ‘History Detective!’

When you begin your adventure into your own family history you begin to explore how your own life story fits into a larger whole. Children will be able to relate their own
personal history to the history they learn in school. The mysteries of other cultures will be unlocked and cultural traditions can be explored while learning about family
history.  When we spend time with parents and grandparents learning about our family history, hearing the stories, looking at the pictures, we grow closer as a family.

Start with your immediate family
List the names, birth dates, places, and marriage dates of you, your parents, brothers/sisters, and grandparents. Ask if there is a family tree that someone in your
family may have already completed. This adds more ‘clues’ to the information you have already gathered. You might be able to add your ‘branch’ to the already
completed tree.

Interview your relatives
Find out the names and marriage dates of your ancestors, and ask about interesting family stories. Take careful notes, or use a tape recorder or video camera.

Documentation is key
Accurate genealogy relies on documentation, so try to find copies of records to make sure these clues are accurate. Documents to search for are: census records;
birth, marriage and death certificates; deeds, wills and property records; religious papers and bibles; school and medical records; ship passenger records; and
naturalization papers. It is important to know exactly where your ancestors lived, because many records are filed by township, city, state, and country. Look for these
documents at the National Archives and Records Administration, libraries, historical societies, and religious institutions, as well as a number of websites.

Stay organized
Keeping organized helps you to be able to find exactly what you need when you need it. It also helps to be able to keep on track with just one person’s information until
you have all you need. It also helps you to be able to recall where and when you found this tidbit and what else you need to keep looking for.

Map your family’s movements
As you find a place that your ancestor was born, married, lived, had children, worked, and died, chart this on a map. This is a great way to make geography come to life,
and opens up ways to learn about other places and cultures.

Remember ‘History Detective,’ your mission is to have fun, connect to the people you love most, and expand to find out more about how your family left it’s footprint in
the world. Follow the clues you get from each person and document, because it leads you one of the most interesting histories you will ever read and see…

Some websites to point you in the right direction and put you in touch with others who share your interest or family name:
National Archives and Records Administration
National Genealogical Society
Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation
Cyndi's List of Genealogy
US GenWeb
Florida RootsWeb/GenWeb
Manatee County RootsWeb/GenWeb

Family Tree Magazine form downloads
Genealogy Toolkit (forms kit)

Trees and Forms for Children:
Interview Grandpa
Interview Grandma
Fan family tree 3-generations
Fan family tree 5-generations
Fun 3D Tree to make
Tree art project
A very fun tree to make for kids of all ages is found at Family Tree Magazine’s website.
techniques. We are still looking for information, documents, photographs, interviews, of the entire community that built this

All the information collected came from the perseverance of volunteers from Reflections' of Manatee's History Detectives.  
Their love of history and  passion for detail  made this educational project possible.

This website was created for the benefit of the general public to demonstrate the important contributions the citizens of the
Manatee River section made towards the development of our nation yesterday and today.
Conservation ● Protection ● Preservation ● Education ● History
How does History Detectives Work?
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