Newsletter – January 2012

Vol. 2 No. 1

Welcome to the Inaugural William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway Newsletter!

The New Year, 2012 will be another year of progress for the William Bartram Scenic Highway organization. 2011 was a year of great achievements, thanks to the hard work of all the members of our organization AND the many others who have taken an interest in our accomplishments, awards, and ongoing activities.

In the last edition of this newsletter I mentioned all the things we’ve accomplished and since then we’ve won an award for our creative work, including a ten (10) minute video titled, “UP FROM THE ROOTS – Remembering Rural St. Johns County “.

The video will be featured at the February 7, 2012, meeting of the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) — so, if you have some time on February 7, 2012, around 9 AM you can see the video on the county’s web site where you can view the meeting “on-line.”

You can also have your own copy of this wonderful video by e-mailing me at Your price for the video is only $8:00 including shipping and handling. Limited quantities are available so please order your video as soon as possible.

We also completed our View Shed Analysis that will help in our future efforts with St. Johns County related to development and the scenic and historic venues along the Scenic Highway . Along the way we helped save a 250 year old tree from getting destroyed simply because it was in the way of a proposed turn lane to make traffic flow a little faster. Cutting down stately, canopy oaks to simple accommodate more traffic is not something we condone.

The newsletter tried to bring special features and articles reflecting the activities of our group and dedication to ensuring the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway remains just that – Scenic and Historic Highway . Our group is made up of volunteers dedicated to keeping Northwest St. Johns County a beautiful place to live and enjoy.

The newsletter is also intended to bring more public insight into the efforts and contributions of individual members of our to the community as presented in our write up under “Meet Your Neighbor” feature. It is also intended to recognize people and events that make this part of Old Florida a special place to live and work.

Our “Meet Your Neighbor” feature for this newsletter edition is – Claire Fioriti. Claire is one of our high achievers and we’ re proud to tell you more of her accomplishments — please read on to learn more about Claire’s contributions to our Scenic Highway organization and the community at large. Thank you Claire (and the Garden Club of Switzerland) for your efforts on behalf of our Scenic Highway .

This edition could never be complete without a special tribute to one of our beloved founding members and past Scenic Highway , President – the late Myrtice Holmes. Myrtice and her husband Daniel worked tirelessly within the group to help the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Scenic Highway organization become officially designed as a State of Florida , Scenic Highway . Thank you Myrtice and Dan you are both sorely missed.

The last newsletter edition mentioned the passing of another legend of our time – Stetson Kennedy. A brief review of Stetson’s life was in the last edition BUT on Oct. 1, 2011, a memorial was held for Kennedy, at his Beluthahatchee estate. On the following pages you will find a number of special guests shared their stories about Stetson’s life. We also learned that a well known and young film director is creating a film about Stetson Kennedy’s life story.

There’s also a brief review of the oral history party wherein we honored the 34 people who gave us their historical perspective of growing up in rural St. Johns County . The transcripts of these personal histories were transcribed and beautifully bound by the St. Johns County Public Library. They are now available to the public in the Reference Section of the Bartram Trails Library on SR 13. A complete set will also be given to the St. Johns County Historical Society sometime in February.

Of interest in this issue is a brief discussion on a sister organization – The Bartram Trail Conference and their most recent biennial conference in Georgia and their ongoing work bringing the life and works of William Bartram to the general public. We are proud to be a member of the Bartram Trail Conference and encourage you to learn more by visiting their website

Remember our coming Annual cultural event coming in April – The Bartram Bash will once again bring the community together at Alpine Groves Park on April 21 and we’re planning to have a bicycle tour event on April 22, — plans for this bike tour are ongoing at this writing.

Enjoy this edition of your newsletter and feel free to e-mail me at with your comments and suggestions.

News members are always appreciated and we look forward to your participation.

— Al Abbatiello, Chairman of the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway.

Meet Your Neighbors

Meet Your Neighbors

Claire Fioriti and her husband Andrew moved to St. Johns County fourteen (14) years ago from Dayton , Ohio . Claire graduated from Marywood University and is a retired registered nurse. Her husband, Andrew is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who retired as Professor Emeritus from the University of Dayton where he taught in the School of Business . The Fioritis’ have three (3) children: Carol, Janet and Greg and six (6) grand children.
Mrs. Fioriti is the past (2003 – 2007) Garden Club of the Switzerland President and the past (2007 – 2011) Assistant Director of District IV Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. In 2011 the Garden Club of Switzerland celebrated its 50th Anniversary. To celebrate this occasion, the Garden Club of Switzerland members decided to have a raffle ticket drive and donate all their proceeds to the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway (WBSH). Under Mrs. Fioriti’s administrative leadership, the Garden Club of Switzerland raised a total of $1,000 dollars. On November 10, 2011, these funds were donated to the WBSH for corridor beautification projects, such as planting flowering trees in the County Parks and along the scenic highway.

Special thanks to Claire Fioriti for all her efforts in taking the lead in promoting the Garden Club of Switzerland 50th Anniversary raffle ticket drive.

Special Tributes

The William Bartram Scenic Highway (WBSH) Corridor Management Council (CMC) lost one of its long time original and devoted Scenic Highway members, Myrtice S. Holmes who passed away on December 9, 2011, at the age of 81.
She was an active participant of the William Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway since its inception in 1997 and served as the WBSH Secretary for many years.

As the Garden Club of Switzerland was developing the Freedom Butterfly Garden at Alpine Groves Park, Myrtice became an active participant. Her love and devotion to maintaining the garden lasted the rest of her life. Myrtice won several awards from the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs (FFGC) for her work on the Freedom Butterfly Garden . Myrtice was the past President of the Garden Club of Switzerland and a Life Member of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs.

Prior to moving to St Johns County , Myrtice Holmes lived in Lexington Kentucky where she was a teacher, administrator and devoted wife and mother. Mrs. Holms had one child, Carl F. Holmes. Originally, Myrtice S. Holmes was born in Plattsburg , NY to Festus and Helen Smith. She graduated from Russell Sage College in Troy , N.J. and at the young age of twenty-three (23) she married the love of your life Daniel Holmes whom she remained married to for a total of fifty-four (54) years. Mytice Holmes son, Carl F. Holmes; her brother Howard Smith and his wife Sue Smith and their grandsons, Malcolm and Adam Holmes, as well as other family and friends survive her.

Mytice S. Holme’s community service and spirit lives on today through the foundation she and her husband laid at the Freedom Butterfly Garden , enjoyed by so many Alpine Groves Park goers.

If you would like to express your thoughts about Myrtice Holmes life, please feel free to go to

Recent Events

Canoe At Trout Creek

Stetson Kennedy Memorial

Stetson Kennedy’s memorial was held on October 1, 2011. For those who are not familiar with Stetson Kennedy, he was a human rights activist who infiltrated Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and exposed the KKK to the FBI. He also was a writer, author, folklorist and environmentalist. His life’s work was honored at his Beluthahatchee estate, know by Stetson and his friends, as Shangri-La. This secluded estate is hidden by the massive centennial oak trees draping over the William Bartram Scenic & Historic Highway (WBSH).

The weather for Kennedy’s memorial could not have been nicer. It was a cool fall day with the light glimmering through the dense centennial old oak trees and the breeze was blowing off the Beluthahatchee Lake while the guests were transported back in time, as folklorist sang about Kennedy’s life work and professional associates paid tribute to his life. All of Kennedy’s professional folklore artist friends gave those who did not know him well, insight into his unique life. Pictures from this event can be viewed on the WBSH website and for additional information about Kennedy and his memorial go to

Stetson Kennedy movie by Mark Moormann, Film Director

In your own back yard, one of your neighbors, Kennedy’s life story will be coming to a movie theater near you! Such are the aspirations of the talented award winning film Director, Mark Moormann who has produced a film of Kennedy’s life story entitled KLANDESTINE MAN. This film will be shown at the Florida Film festival on April 13-22, 2012 and tickets will be available on March 21, 2012

Mark Moormann’s passion is producing films that tell stories of people’s lives who otherwise would not receive recognition they deserve. Mark Moormann has a talent for capturing the true essence of a person’s being and his documentaries have a certain intensity which is emotionally captivating. His films either, “Inspire or incite, or infuriate” the viewer. It is his desire to inspire, motivate and to get audiences to think about issues from a different perspective. Mark Moormann is a 1986 Florida State graduate and is a Florida-based filmmaker (from Miami ) who won numerous awards at various film festivals throughout the United States ; but, his biggest documentary success includes Tom Dowd and the Language of Music, nominated for a Grammy in 2005. His other films and awards are listed below:


  • Independent Lens
  • 2010

  • For Once in My Life
  • Multi-Audience Awards at various Film Festivals
  • International Documentary Association Music Award
  • Premiered Nationally on PBS
  • 2009

  • Electric Revolution: Gage Brewer
  • 2008

  • I see the Music: Baron Walman
  • The Rolling Stones Years
  • 2008

  • Electric Revolution
  • 2005

  • Nominated for a Grammy
  • 2003

  • Tom Dowd & the Language of Music
  • Mark Moormann feels so strongly about Stetson Kennedy’s life he has been working with another filming company from Washington DC on this project for the past five years.

    You can view a clip of the Klandestine Man on Mark Moormann’s web site by going to, click on documentary and then go to Klandestine Man. In addition, there is another web site which has different film clip of Klandestine Man which you will enjoy. View trailer.

    WBSH Oral History Party
    On October 15, 2011, the WBSH members had an Oral History party for thirty-four (34) Oral History participants. At least ten (10) of the Oral History participants (Macey Wiles, Sarah Bailey, Frances Howard, William Barwald, Latrell Mickler, Jimmy Shine, Bernice Richartz, Marian Kimrey, Linda Barnes, Linda and Pinkham Pacetti and Peggy Saz) and at least ten (10) WBSH members (Al and Phyllis Abbatiello, Robert Fitzgerald, Claire Fioriti Ellen Whitmer, Dick Hanley and his wife, Luis Caballero, Frank Baltez, Fred and Anne Hall, Beverly Fleming and Vickie Renna) attended the party. Oral History party participants listed to music, socialized and enjoyed the low country boil lunch. Charley Philips, Sr Oral Historian and Jeff Gardener, Vice President of Brockington and Assoc. shared their stories about working on the oral history transcripts and the WBSH timeline historical video projects. Then they helped the WBSH Chairman, Al Abbatiello hand out the oral history transcripts. The debut of the WBSH historical timeline video – Up from the Roots, Remembering Rural St. Johns County was viewed by participants at this party. Extra copies of this WBSH historical timeline video were made available to oral history participants and all twenty (20) of the videos sold out. Pictures from the Oral History party can be viewed here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the most recent event pictures.

    Oral History Award

    The First Coast Chapter (FCC) of the Florida Planning and Zoning Association (FPZA) honored the WBSH Oral History project with an Outstanding Public Participation Award at their annual award banquet held at the Casa Marina, 691 North 1st Street in Jacksonville Beach on November 17, 2011. Al and Phyllis Abbattiello, Robert Fitzgerald, Vickie Renna and Charlie Philips attended the award ceremony and graciously accepted the award for the WBSH Corridor Management Council (CMC) members.

    Charlie Philips, Sr Historian with Brockington and Associates interviewed, summarized and had transcribed 34 oral histories of residents who have lived along the Scenic Highway for at least 50 years, or more and whose adult lives span from the 1920s to the 1970s. Jeff Gardener, Vice President of Brockington and Associates was the Project Manager for the WBSH historical timeline video. The WBSH historical timeline video introduces the viewer to the recent changes that have occurred along the Scenic Highway and briefly transports the viewer back in time, beginning with the American Indians, the first European settlers and of course, the famous William Bartram, who traveled entensively along the St. Johns River. The video gradually ends with excerpts from some of the oral history participants. Collectively the all the oral histories and the WBSH historical timeline vide help communiate the WBSH’s unique story.

    Biennial Bartram Trail Conference

    On October 21, 2011the Bartram organization held its biennial Bartram Trails conference. Intellectuals, scholars, scientist, biologist, botanist, environmental preservationist, educators, historians, archaeologist, naturalist, nature lovers, gardeners and hikers from several different southern states (Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North and South Carolina) all gathered at the Macon State University’s Professional Science Conference Center to enjoy the professional lectures, participate in a field trip and enjoy the festivities of a ribbon cutting ceremony at the newly created William Bartram native gardens.

    The conference lectures included, Learning from Experience: A Roundtable Discussion and Literary and Art Responses to Bartram’s Travels which gave attendees an opportunity to learn and interpretate Bartram’s life’s work from a new perspective.

    After lunch conference attendees traveled in Bartram’s footsteps exploring the ancient Creek Indians archaeology Ocmulgee Mound. Ice age hunters arrived in southeast United States , leaving one of their distinctive, “Clovis” spear points on the Macon Plateau and in 1930 this became the first artifact found from this civilization. In the eighteenth (18th) century, William Bartram followed the lower Creek trading path from Augusta through the area and recorded his siting of the “Ocmulgee Old Field”. William Bartram recognized the Ocmulgee Mound and several miles of terraced planted fields as, “Visible monuments of an ancient town.”

    On December 12, 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt signed a Proclamation establishing Ocmulgee National Monument and directed the National Park Service to protect 2,000 acres known as the “Old Ocmulgee Fields”.

    Saturday evening Bartram Trails conference attendees enjoy a gallery reception of Philip Jura’s paintings of rural landscapes where William Bartram once traveled. In 1791 William Bartram published his book the Travels, an account of the epic journey through the southeastern United States . His writings capture the landscape and ecology of colonial America . Philip Jura’ s landscape pantings reflect some of the same places William Bartram traveled back in the eighteenth (18th) century. The paintings displayed at the Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences consisted of mountains, woodlands, waterways and rivers of the South before they were altered by modern development. Philip Juras’s paintings are published in a book entitled The Southern Frontier and can be viewed online.

    The next Bartram Trails Conference will beheld on the third weekend in October as usual; but, the conference will be held in 2014 in Western North Carolina . To learn more about the Bartram Trails Conference go to their web site at

    Ongoing Projects

    Dan Manley, WBSH Project Manager with AECOM is in the process of completing the WBSH – Master Plan and having 5,000 copies of the new membership brochure printed.

    WBSH – CMC members are in the process of working on their five (5) year strategic plan and deciding which projects, products and events they want to work on over the next few years.

    Wrap up

    We hope the you enjoyed our stories from this past Fall 2011 events, Vickie Renna, Reporting Author, Beverly Fleming, Editor and Al Abbatiello, WBSH Chairman. If you have any news you would like to share with the other members of the NW St. Johns Community, that live along the 17.3 mile designated portion of the WBSH, please contact Al Abbatiello at or Beverly Fleming at (904) 522 – 1573. Thank You for your interest…