On Wednesday, October 23rd, fifteen members of the Jefferson Junior Historians gathered at Collins Academy to set out on an excursion to visit the historic African- American, Union Chapel and Cemetery at historic Smith’s Landing six river miles downstream of Jefferson. Collins Academy Director, Gary Endsley gave the students 5 tasks to complete while visiting the cemetery: To find the oldest marked grave, the earliest birth dated grave, the number of unknown graves, symbols inscribed on headstones and what those symbols may indicate, and lastly, to watch out for snakes.
The students were shown on a map an historic wagon cut road below the cemetery where area farmers drove heavy wagons laden with cotton and to old Smith’s Landing where the Black Cypress Bayou empties into the Big Cypress Bayou. The students enjoyed an afternoon snack before heading back into Jefferson.
Joshua Fultz and Eli Kendricks said they love getting to go out in the woods and look around. They enjoyed finding the very old grave sites and look forward to coming back to find more. They said, they suspect the open area of the cemetery to contain early enslaved people’s graves. Some were possibly without headstones while some were simply marked with rocks. “It was neat looking,” they said.
Collins Academy consultants Robert Haynes and Dr. Marnie Erin relieved our Park bee hive of about twelve pounds of honey last week. Summer Intern Cameron Gentile donned a beekeeper suit to help remove three frames from the active hive located along the Port Jefferson History & Nature Center trail in the area of the historic wharves of Jefferson.
Robert Haynes, a master beekeeper with B.M. Dooney Farms, led the operation to make repairs to the “live hive” and to remove honey. Dooney Farms is located in Grand Saline and provides beekeeping education, conservation, and outreach services across East Texas. Haynes can be reached at (903) 286-5254 to help with any bee issues.
Honey from the ‘live hive” is made by our bees from the nectar of crimson clover, wisteria, and native wildflowers located in the Park and maintained by Collins Academy. The “live hive” is provided to the public for educational purposes by Collins Academy and it is maintained by B.M. Dooney Farms. The hive has double doors whereby the visiting public may look inside to see exactly what the queen, worker bees, and the drones are doing at any given time.
Restoration of the 1800 square feet Union Missionary Baptist Church sanctuary is almost complete. The very careful crew led by Danny Hurt is working to “finish out” the interior features using the original materials and the original designs of the 1883 founders. “With the air conditioning running, our limited amount of new wood is drying and shrinking causing a few minor adjustments. That original wood is not going anywhere,” said Hurt as he installed new molding around the southeast corner.
The pulpit area of the UMBC sanctuary showing new versus old wood and Hurt in the corner on the ladder.
Annex Stubbed Out and In the Dry
The 900 square feet annex structure is in the dry, stubbed out for restrooms and catering, and the historic baptismal located inside has been expertly restored by Robert Capps.
Before & After view of the baptismal. Capps is shown doing the work.
Breezeway and Annex at rear of sanctuary. Plumbing stubs in one of two restrooms.
Summer interns Hannah Welch and Cam Gentile are with Landscaper Sara Griffin making Port Jefferson History & Nature Center shine today in Jefferson. Hannah is a recent graduate of Jefferson High School while Cam is a Junior there. Both were members of the Conservation Leadership Team from Alma Rivera’s Honors Chemistry Class at Jefferson High School this past school year.
Say “Hi” when you see them working there.