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Indian River
Anthropological Society

CLIFTON SCHOOLHOUSE
Archaeological Project


Click on photo or text to go to a gallery with enlargements.
Click for photos of the field and doing fieldwork
Photos of the field and doing fieldwork.
Click for photos of the dismanteling of the Clifton Schoolhouse.
Photos of dismantling the building
Click for photos of the Clifton cemetary
The Clifton cemetery.
Click for photos of the Clifton cemetary
Clifton settlement maps and the road/trail
Click for photos of the Clifton Schoolhouse.
Old photos of and the highway marker for the Clifton Schoolhouse.

Introduction

The Indian River Anthropological Society contributed hundreds of volunteer hours to help the North Brevard Heritage Foundation (NBHF) preserve the Clifton Schoolhouse. IRAS conducted a Phase I Cultural Resource Assessment Survey (CRAS) of the area around the previously recorded historic Clifton Schoolhouse. The project was conducted under an Archaeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA) permit issued by the Southeast Archeological Center, National Park Service (SEAC-NPS), Tallahassee, Florida. The NBHF is working to preserve and reconstruct the Clifton Schoolhouse. There is very little evidence left of the community of Clifton and activities related to the schoolhouse. Testing was conducted to identify the distribution of artifacts across the property and or to locate any possible subsurface features associated with the historic structure. The work was conducted in September and October 2006.

Dismantling Clifton Schoolhouse

The NBHF was given permission by NASA, NPS, and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge to dismantle the schoolhouse so it could be restored and eventually reconstructed at the proposed Heritage Village near the Brevard Community College Titusville campus. It will serve as a museum within the proposed park. While the building was dismantled, a surface collection was conducted in and around the house location. During the dismantling, several artifacts were recovered including paper and cloth objects. The collapse of the house appears to have preserved some of these items from the elements.

Phase I Archaeological Survey

The IRAS was told the project area was mowed and clear for sampling. Upon arrival at the site, the area was completely overgrown by cogon grass (a pervasive exotic plant species) and native vegetation to the point that landmarks visible during the structure removal were no longer visible. In fact, it took members over an hour just to locate the site of the structure. A detailed surface reconnaissance of the parcel using a grid pattern was impossible. There was too much ground cover. To conduct subsurface testing a grid was established at 10 m (32.83 ft) intervals across the site. A random survey was conducted as the transects were being established for subsurface testing. Despite the difficult conditions, a total of 34 shovel tests (STs) were excavated in three field days. Of the 34 STs, eight contained cultural material. The distribution of the artifacts suggested a diffuse scatter of prehistoric and historic artifacts.

The Sites

Mt Zion /Campbell-Jackson Cemetery (8BR1676)

Individuals buried within the cemetery include:

Butler Campbell, who was born October 26, 1848, at Anderson, South Carolina. Mr. Campbell, a former slave, came to Florida in 1872 to start a new life. In 1875, Mr. Campbell purchased 118 acres (47.8 ha) on North Merritt Island from the State of Florida under the Internal Improvement Fund. Mr. Campbell built his home on the edge of a little cove of Mosquito Lagoon, which was named "Laughing Waters" by his daughter, Florida. Eleven children were born to Butler and Lucy Campbell between 1878 and 1899, five that attended the Clifton School.

Andrew Jackson, a former slave who worked for Douglas Dummett in his citrus grove that was located south of the community of Clifton. Jackson married one of Dummett's daughters, Katie (who is also buried here) in 1872, and in 1881 bought 60 acres (24.3 ha) from Butler Campbell. They had four children who went to school at the Clifton School.

Wade Holmes arrived in 1883 and purchased approximately 39 acres (15.8 ha) located on the south side of Campbell's property. He grew onions and vegetables for the northern markets, and sometimes the Campbell and Jackson children would work for him. He donated the one-acre lot for the school to be built on.

Clifton Schoolhouse (8BR1927)

The land where the schoolhouse was built was originally owned by Hamilton Disston and was purchased by Wade Holmes in 1883. Mr. Holmes developed the land into citrus groves. In 1890-1891, Mr. Holmes donated a one-acre lot for the construction of a schoolhouse for the children of the Campbell and Jackson families and others of the Clifton community. Mr. Holmes, Mr. Campbell and Mr. Jackson built the structure by hand from pine lumber. The school sessions were held during the summer months after the citrus picking season was completed so children could help in the groves. The first school year was held in 1892. By 1910, most of the children were of age to be out of school or attending school in Titusville and the school was closed. The Board of Education deeded the land and schoolhouse back to Wade Holmes in 1910. It was thought that Eugenia Campbell returned to the area and lived in the former schoolhouse starting in 1924 (Stiner and Foster 2005). However, fragments of cancelled checks found at the site indicate she lived at the schoolhouse site by 1912. Research on the check fragments found the Indian River State Bank and Bank of New Smyrna did not exist before 1912. The Indian River State Bank failed in the late 1920s and the Bank of New Smyrna existed into the 1940s.

Clifton Schoolhouse Archaeological Site (8BR2229)

Testing was severely limited by the amount and thickness of the cogon grass and the health hazard from tick bites. Of the 34 shovel tests excavated, only eight contained artifacts. The site does have the potential for yielding additional cultural material. There had to be a privy and outbuildings within close proximity to the schoolhouse and the material found in the shovel tests N510/E490 and N500/E480 supports the theory of additional structures. The prehistoric ceramics from the site were not unexpected. There are several prehistoric sites in the area. The fact that the project area sits on a sand ridge midway between the Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River would also make a prehistoric site in this locality expected. At this time the Clifton Schoolhouse Archaeological Site can be described as a 7200 sq meter (23622 sq ft) diffuse artifact scatter containing Malabar Period (St. Johns Period) and American nineteenth and twentieth century components. It encompasses both the Clifton Schoolhouse structure site (8BR1927) and the Mt. Zion/Campbell-Jackson Cemetery (8BR1676). The exact boundaries should be considered tentative until a more thorough investigation can be conducted.

New Smyrna to Haulover Canal Road (8BR2230/8VO8880)

Through historic maps, nineteenth century surveyor notes, and a sketch map drawn by Weona Cleveland, it is apparent that SR 3 from US 1 to the old Haulover Canal site is oriented on the approximate alignment of a road that appears to have existed at least by 1823. It is unclear if this was actually an extension of the Kings Highway which ran down the east coast from St. Augustine to New Smyrna. It is the opinion of the IRAS that the road was more than likely used as a military trail from New Smyrna to the old Haulover Canal and site of Ft. Ann. We do know from historic accounts that during the Second Seminole Indian War, troops marched down and established Ft. Anne. In his first-hand account of the Seminole Indian Wars, Army surgeon Jacob Motte described going by boat and camping at Fort Anne where General Hernandez apparently had already set up camp after marching from New Smyrna. At that time this location was referred to as "Camp Haulover". General Hernandez then marched around the headwaters of the Indian River and set up Camp Hernandez on the west bank of the Indian River opposite of Camp Haulover. That same month, Ft. Ann was constructed. The trail can be clearly seen in several historic maps. The trail played a role in the Second Seminole Indian War and was a major transportation route for early settlement in the area and the establishment of the communities of Shiloh, Allenhurst, and Clifton.

The entire length of the trail was subjected to windshield and pedestrian surveys over the course of two months While the original trail is now under SR 3, the paved road follows the approximate alignment of the original trail.

Community of Clifton

A full-scale study of the community of Clifton was beyond the scope of the ARPA permit issued to the IRAS. However, this small African-American community is important to the history of Brevard County. Further research would be needed to fully understand the community that was Clifton. It is safe from development by being part of the land owned by NASA and as part of a federal wildlife refuge. Today, a historic plaque marks the site of the school.

Photos to follow.


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