The archeological discovery of Fort Mose in the 1980s
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"The village of Mose, close to this city, is habitated by the fugitive Negroes from the English colonies who arrived here to be baptized and were freed … and have organized a company with a Captain, Lieutenant, and Sargant."
-- Don Alonso Fernandez of St. Augustine, 1756
Fort Mose was in actuality two forts, an original built in 1738 and a second fortress built in 1752, both situated near a community of black residents, Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose. The existence of the Mose settlement was meticulously documented in Spanish colonial records, but until recently, very little was known about the two forts.
The developer Henry Flagler used the site of the original fort as fill for the foundation of his grand hotel in St. Augustine (now the site of Flagler College). With road construction and the sprawling development of the early 20th century, the site of the original fort disappeared from modern
Archeologists rediscovered the site of the second fort in 1984
when they spotted a subtle but unusual rise of trees surrounded by marsh
grass on the coastline just north of St. Augustine. When they explored the site,
the researchers located traces of the 18th-century inhabitants -- buttons, shards of liquor bottles, utensils, a cannon ball, and markings that delineated the perimeter of the settlement.
Since then, Mose has begun to gain widespread local and national attention. The Fort Mose Historical Society sponsors educational activities, a Web site, and archeological research, and is currently raising funds to build a living history museum.
For more information, visit the Historical Society's Fort
Mose Web site or consult
Fort Mose: Colonial America's Black Fortress of Freedom, a book by Kathleen Deagan and Darcie MacMahon describing the history and archeology of the fort.
Wright "Dispatches" 193 (translation by Twyman 42), Bulliard, Fort Mose.