Fresh water is a source of life for people and for their animals and crops. Over many centuries, people who traveled or hunted or settled along a section of the Manatee River took water from a spring, later named "Manatee Mineral Spring", now located at 14th Street East and 2nd Avenue in Bradenton, Florida, USA. The non-profit Reflections of Manatee, Inc. is hard at work preserving the history of the various people that have called Manatee home.
• mound-building indigenous tribes in a time before the Spanish arrived
• fisherman from Cuba who set up coastal fishing camps
• freedom-seeking African-Americans of the settlement of Angola
• 19th century Seminoles who fought a war of independence
• the first settlement of the town of Manatee
• Civil War era settlers and cattle ranchers
• descendants of Manatee County's early years
REFLECTIONS OF MANATEE is dedicated to the preservation of the Manatee Mineral Spring Historic Site, which includes the site of the Angola settlement, and the Curry Houses Historic District. Our goals include interpreting and sharing the histories of this unique area of Manatee County, Florida. History detectives have tracked down personal diaries and letters, military reports and naval log books, newspaper clippings, maps, and photographs that all reveal parts of the story. Archaeological excavations and management have already been undertaken.
September is International Underground Railroad Month, so check out this video about freedom seekers in the Tampa Bay area. Following up on our January excavations at the Angola site, a maroon community along the Manatee River that was destroyed in 1821, we have a virtual tour of the lab where we are currently doing the analysis. Plus, learn about Angola's connections to other freedom seekers in The Bahamas from Dr. Rosalyn Howard, professor emeritus from the University of Central Florida, who is lending her wisdom to the project. Thanks to Uzi Baram, who is leading the investigations, Jean Louise Lammie and Mary Maisel for being great lab partners, Becky O'Sullivan and Jeff Moates of FPAN for creating the video, and Vickie Oldham for contributing.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS 1997 - 2017
- Purchased the Manatee Mineral Spring and surrounding parkland and protected them from development.
- Registered the Manatee Mineral Spring as a Florida Natural Spring by the Department of Environmental Protection Agency, 2006.
- Listed the Black Bead-Cats Claw Tree, situated within the Manatee Mineral Spring Park, as a National Champion Native Tree, under the National Register of Big Trees, 2008.
- Signed agreement with City of Bradenton to protect the Manatee Mineral Spring and surrounding parkland as a city-owned Historic Park in perpetuity, 2016.
- Since 2001, Reflections has been designated, by the city of Bradenton, as a certified sponsor of the Community Contribution Tax Credit Program, allowing businesses to achieve state tax benefits with their donations.
- Purchased three historic Curry homes (1860 - 1925) to save from demolition.
- Successfully wrote the nomination to create the Curry Houses National Register Historic District, registered in 2015.
- Restored the Samuel George Curry House (1860), as a Living History Museum.
- Restored the (Mary) Amelia Curry House (1860), as an exhibit hall and museum office.
- Restored the Theresa Curry Lloyd House (1925), scheduled for completion 2017 as a Museum education and meeting center.
- Researched and added more than 40 neighborhood homes to the Florida Master Site File, preserving the knowledge of the architectural heritage of this area.
- Erected permanent, professional interpretive signs in the Manatee Mineral Spring Park and at the Curry houses that share the stories of the many different peoples who lived, worked, traveled, or explored along this stretch of the Manatee River: Native Americans, Spanish explorers, maroons, and pioneers.
- Provided on-site programming to over 1,700 students in field trips that introduced Manatee settlement history and archaeological concepts.
- Gave 266 tours to over 6,000 participants, educating the public about Manatee settlement history.
- Hosted scholars to deliver public lectures and provide outreach information on local history and archaeology at Pioneer Picnics.
- Delivered yearly living history demonstrations at Gamble Plantation, Collier County Old Florida Festival, Florida State Fair, and others.
- Volunteers worked with other non-profits, assisting in their historical interpretation of Florida Settlers.
- Uzi Baram, New College of Florida, conducted archaeological investigations to determine the various histories of the Manatee Mineral Spring and confirm the Spring use by the maroon community of Angola.
- Witten Technologies donated a full remote sensing survey of the Manatee Mineral Spring Park and surrounding fields.
- Volunteers have compiled more than 8,000 genealogies of Manatee County Pioneer families and have made these available to the General Public on Ancestry.com as the Manatee Pioneer Families Tree.
Information about our Visitors Center, the Underground Railroad Exhibit, major excavation projects, and more . . .