UWF Digging For The Past In Molino; 2,000 Year Old Artifacts Found

June 29, 2009


Archaeologists from the University of West Florida are hard at work this summer uncovering the past in Molino, looking hard for a mission settlement dating back to the 1750’s. So far, they have not found definitive evidence of the village, but they have uncovered evidence of prehistoric life in Molino.

The Pensacola Colonial Frontiers Survey Field School, led by archaeologist John Worth, centers on the search for outlying communities associated with Pensacola’s three Spanish presidios including Native American villages and farmsteads. The students are searching an area along and near the Escambia River in Molino for a missions settlement that is believed to have included a Spanish missionary church and a small Apalachee Indian village.

molino-dig-map-small.jpgThe Mission San Joseph De Escambe was established upriver along the Escambia River — which actually took its later name from the mission near Molino. The Apalachee Indian settlement with about 75 residents is well documented, according to archaeologist John Worth. It was established in the 1740’s. A Franciscan missionary was stationed by the Spanish at the village along with 15 members of a Spanish cavalry unit until about 1757.

The village was led by Apalachee Chief Juan Marcos Fant until it was destroyed during a Creek Indian raid on April 9, 1761. The village and the church were at least partially burned during the raid. Following the raid, the residents moved down the Escambia River to what is now downtown Pensacola.

The Apalachee Indians created pottery for trade with the Spanish in Pensacola, and Worth would like nothing more than to find some of that pottery. If he’s lucky, Worth also hopes to find evidence that the Apalachee Indians also traded with the Upper Creek Indians of Alabama and directly, or indirectly with the French, even though the French and Indian War (1756-1763) was underway.

“Historical documents have narrowed our search for Pensacola’s lost Spanish missions, but now our students are conducting the archaeological fieldwork designed to locate them on the ground and learn more about this chapter of our local history,” said Worth.

Worth is fairly certain that he knows where the mission was located along the Escambia River in Molino, and his field school students have spent most of the last month digging meticulously for the evidence. That evidence will likely be period pottery, Worth said, created by the Apalachee Indians. If he finds the pottery, or perhaps the remains of the burned out mission church, it will be an important link in colonial Florida history.

molino-dig-hole-small.jpgThere have been several historic pieces discovered. The first day of the project uncovered a piece of Brown Salt Glazed stoneware pre-dating 1775 and fragments of free-blown olive green glass possibly also from the colonial period.

“All these are tantalizing signs of the missing chapters of early colonial history in this region, but much more work remains,” Worth said.

Worth hopes to find remains of the village fairly intact; he said that evidence indicates that the immediate area he is searching has never been plowed or farmed. His students dig small test holes, noting their exact location via GPS and logging the contents, if any, found in the hole. It’s a slow careful process, with small scoops of dirt shaken through a screen to collect any items that might be hidden.

Last week, as the students moved from residential backyards into a thickly wooded area closer to the river, shovel tests found small pottery fragments believed to have dated between 1,000 and 2,500 years ago — the first ever prehistoric evidence of occupation in North Escambia.

molino-dig-pottery-small.jpgThis past Friday,  the UWF students uncovered a small concentration of Native American pottery sherds that appear to be from the 18th-century, several lead shot pellets consistent with those found at Spanish presidios in that period, more lead shot pellets and other items including a melted lump of copper or brass.

They also found more prehistoric pottery, evidence dating to the first millennium A.D., of settlements along the modern-day Escambia River in Molino.

NorthEscambia.com will continue to follow the search for Mission San Joseph De Escambe near Molino, and we will keep you updated over the next few weeks. We will have more photos from the site, and we will let you know what the archaeologists find.

Click here for more photos from the dig site.

Editor’s Note: While we have mentioned that the archaeological dig is in the Molino area of North Escambia, we are not revealing the exact location at this point. It is all on private property (public access would be trespassing), and UWF wishes to protect the area until their work is done and to not compromise the integrity of any artifacts that might be in the area. Once the project is complete, we will publish an article with the exact location of the dig.

Pictured above: UWF Archeology students carefully sift through soil while search for artifacts near Molino. Pictured below: A piece of possibly 19th century pottery that was found during our visit. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.


Woman Found Sleeping In Stolen Vehicle Says She’s Not Guilty

June 29, 2009

A Jay woman found sleeping in a car stolen in Century has entered a not guilty plea in Escambia Count Circuit Court.

ricerachelk.jpgRachel K. Rice, 30, of Jay, was found by an Escambia County Sheriff’s Department deputy asleep in a vehicle at the south end of Fairfield Drive on Bayou Grande. The vehicle had a busted rear window, according to the ECSO report. A check of the vehicle’s tag revealed it has been stolen a few days before from North Freedom Road in Century.

Rice was booked into the Escambia County Jail on a grand theft auto, a third degree felony. She remains the jail on $1,500 bail.

Rice has entered a not guilty plea on the charge,  and she was appointed a public defender due to her indigent status. Her next court appearance is scheduled for July 9.

Gulf Power Bills To See Small Decrease In July

June 29, 2009

If you are a Gulf Power customer, look for a small decrease on your power bill. A surcharge used for hurricane repairs will be dropped from Gulf Power bills starting in July.

The electric utility will stop collecting the $2.57 per 1,000 kilowatt-hours fee that was approved by the Florida Public Service Commission after Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and extended after hurricanes Dennis and Katrina. Combined, those hurricanes did almost $200 million in damages to Northwest Florida’s electric system.

“These hurricanes did a tremendous amount of damage to our system and we worked with the state to soften the impact on customer bills by spreading the repair costs out over the last 5 years,” Sandy Sims, Gulf Power spokeswoman, said. “The surcharge also helped us to rebuild our storm reserve fund which is critical to keep future storms from causing large increases.”

Gulf Power’s charge for 1,000 kilowatt-hours will decrease to $121.53 — down from $124.10.

“We prepare for storm season every year, but when you have back to back hurricanes it carries a tremendous price tag,” Sims said. “We know our customers expect us to work as hard and as fast as possible after a hurricane and to bring in thousands of extra workers and materials. That costs money, but it’s a small price to pay to help get the power on much quicker.”

Sims said lowering the price of electricity is always positive and noted that Gulf Power offers energy and money saving tips on the company’s Web site at www.gulfpower.com. Storm preparation tips and safety information is also available on the Web site.

NWE & Tri-County To Play As All-Star Tourney Begins In Jay

June 29, 2009

The 11-12 year old All-Stars Tournament will being tonight in Jay, with both Northwest Escamba and Tri-County in action.

Northwest Escambia will play Niceville-American at 7:30, and Tri-County will play Niceville-National also at 7:30.

The winners from each game will advance to play Tuesday night at 7:30, and the losers will play Wednesday evening.

The tournament is being hosted by the Jay Recreation Association  at Jay City Park located off Booker Street behind Jay City Hall.

A complete bracket is below. Click to download as a pdf.


Tri-County Advances In 9-10 Baseball Tourney

June 29, 2009

The Tri-County All-Stars advanced in 9-10 year old baseball tournament action over the weekend.

Tri-County beat R.L. Turner of Panama City 12-2.

Tri-County, which includes players from Century, Jay, Chumuckla and Fidelis, will play again Monday night against Freeport in Panama City.

If Tri-County wins Monday night, they will advance to play the winner of Destin versus Niceville-American on Thursday night. If they lose, they will play again Wednesday night against the winner of Tuesday night’s Defuniak Springs versus Shalimar game.

Pensacola Man Dies In North Escambia Crash Early Sunday Morning

June 28, 2009

A Pensacola man died in an early Sunday morning accident on Highway 29 near McDavid.

The Florida Highway Patrol says Anthony Bernard Johnson, 44, of Pensacola, was killed in the single vehicle accident on Highway 29 just south of Cox Road about 1:10 Sunday morning.

Johnson was headed south on Highway 29 when he ran off the road, overcorrected and lost control of his 2001 GMC Yukon. The Yukon continued across the median and overturned as it crossed over the northbound lanes of Highway 29. The vehicle continued to roll as it traveled down a steep embankment on the east side of the highway.

Johnson was not wearing his seat belt and was ejected in the crash, according the FHP. He was pronounced dead at the scene by an Escambia County EMS paramedic. He was the only occupant of the vehicle.

Alcohol test results in the crash are pending, according to the FHP.

Jeff Miller: Oppose Energy Bill, Will Be Costly For Rural NW Florida

June 28, 2009

On June 26th, Democrats in Congress passed one of the largest tax increases in history, and did it without even changing the tax code. With the passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), or the “cap and trade” bill, every American family will pay more for their energy costs. Electric and heating bills will climb, we will pay more for gas at the pump, farmers will pay more to grow our food, and the price for consumer goods will unavoidably rise. In an economic climate like the one we currently face, forcing Americans to spend more of their disposable income on energy costs is outrageous and dangerous. That is why I strongly opposed this legislation and sincerely hope that it does not make it through the Senate.

miller.jpgWhile the estimates on the exact cost to American taxpayers vary, no one disputes the fact that consumers will pay more for their energy. President Obama has admitted that a cap and tax system like the Waxman-Markey legislation would cause electricity rates to “necessarily skyrocket.” The costs skyrocket because that is the very point of cap and trade. When electricity prices are drastically increased, consumers are forced to make cuts in order to meet their budgets. These cuts in electricity use cause a similar decrease in emissions.

The goal of reducing pollution is one I strongly support, but a cap and trade system is not the way to reach this objective. Not only will Americans pay more every year for energy, but the bill will result in a huge net loss of American jobs. According to the independent Charles River Associates International, H.R. 2454 would result in a “net reduction in U.S. employment of 2.3 million to 2.7 million jobs each year of the policy through 2030,” even after the creation of the promised new green jobs. National unemployment hovers near 10 percent, and any bill that results in millions of American job losses is completely unacceptable.

The residents in Northwest Florida will be hit particularly hard by this bill’s tremendous negative consequences because it unfairly targets farmers and rural America . Rural residents spend 58 percent more on fuel and travel 25 percent further to work than those living in urbanized areas. A Heritage Foundation study found that the cap and trade bill would cause a Gross Domestic Product loss in our district alone of $782 million each year for the next 20 years. The people I represent refuse to accept such remarkable economic losses in our area in exchange for a misguided policy that reportedly will have little positive impact on the world’s environment.

There is a better solution to America ’s energy and emissions problems. I support an “all of the above” approach as a comprehensive energy solution. Let’s focus on developing clean and renewable energy, exploring new domestic sources for oil and natural gas, and building nuclear power plants. These are the solutions that Americans deserve, and I will continue working to ensure that energy reform is not achieved on the backs of hardworking taxpayers and American small businesses.

Church’s VBS Signs Are All Stolen – Including Sign At Church

June 28, 2009

The members at Highland Baptist Church are puzzled that someone would steal all of the signs the church had put out to advertise this week’s Vacation Bible School — even going as far as taking a sign from the church.

hbcvbs2.jpgThursday night, church members placed 10 signs, valued at a total of $250, at locations from Highway 97 to Barrineau Park Road — including signs in private yards and at the church. Friday night, someone stole all of the signs. The signs were removed from their stands; the thief left behind empty stands at all ten locations.

Despite the missing signs, church members are still hoping to reach their goal of 200 enrolled in their “Boomerang Express” Vacation Bible School this week.

A witness did see the vehicle and person that took the signs, but the church is looking for anyone else with information to come forward and report it. Anyone with information on this crime is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 433-STOP or the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at 436-9620.

The Highland Baptist Vacation Bible School will take place Monday through Friday evenings from 5:30 until 8:30 this week at the church on Highway 95A in Molino. The VBS is for children four years old to fifth grade.

If the church has 200 children to enroll in their VBS, they are planning to have a 50-foot banana split for the kids.

Editor’s Note: NorthEscambia.com is providing Highland Baptist Church with free advertising rotating on our front page this week to help them advertise their Vacation Bible School since their signs were stolen.

Pictured: One of the Highland Baptist Church Vacation Bible School ads that is currently running on NorthEscambia.com.

Escambia (Ala.) Sheriff’s Deputy Tommy America Laid To Rest

June 28, 2009



Funeral services were held Saturday afternoon for Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Department Major Tommy America. Scores of law enforcement officers from across the area participated in the service, including a 21-gun salute from the Escambia County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard.

As part of the service, Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff Grover Smith called the department’s radio dispatcher, announcing over the frequency that America was “10-42″ — the dispatch code for “ending tour of duty”. The flag draped over America’s casket was then carefully folded by the honor guard and presented to America’s widow, Audrey America.

Survivors include his wife of 27 years, Audrey America; four children, Martesha Lee, Shatoyeria America, Talia Wright III and Tommy America Jr.; and his parents, William America and Pauline America, all of Atmore; two brothers, William America Jr. of Atmore and James America of Birmingham; three sisters, Shirley Williams, Cynthia Williams and Ellen Valenzuela, all of Atmore; and three grandchildren.

America passed away Tuesday after enduring a long battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his family at his home as he passed away.


America graduated from Escambia County High School in Atmore. After graduation, he was hired by the Atmore Police Department as a dispatcher from 1979-1982. In 1982, Tim Hawsey was elected sheriff and hired America. He joined the department in 1983 and attended the police academy to become a deputy. From 1983 until 1994, he worked his way up to sergeant and was supervisor over the west end of the county. In 1994, he left the sheriff’s office and went to work as the environmental officer for the county until 1997.

In 1997, he returned to the sheriff’s office as a sergeant and took over west end operations. America remained in this position and worked his way through the ranks of lieutenant and captain. After Sheriff Grover Smith came into office in 2003, America remained in his position until 2007 when he was promoted to the rank of major.

“Tommy America dedicated his life to Law Enforcement. He had a direct effect on people’s lives during his entire career. He was a role model for many people in the community and will be sadly missed by all who knew him,” a statement from the Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Department reads.

America was pastor of the Saints with a Vision AFM Church on Carver Avenue in Atmore.

Pictured above: Member of the Escambia County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard give Major Tommy America a 21-gun salute Saturday afternoon. Pictured inset: America’s funeral proceeds under a giant American flag at Oak Hill Cemetary in Atmore. Pictured below: An Escambia County (Fla.) Honor Guard member bows his head during the service. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.


Almost Time: NWE Football Registration In July

June 28, 2009


Football is just around the corner, and registration for the 2009 season of Northwest Escambia Football begins in July.

Football registration begins July 11, and continues July 18 and July 25 at the Ernest Ward football field.

Charles Williams, NWE president, said that it is important for all age groups to register before August.

“With all the preparation involved for the upcoming season, we must know how many kids to provide equipment and uniforms for prior to August 6th,” Williams said. “NWE will being playing games earlier this year.”

The first NWE Football practice will be August 3. The Jamboree is August 22, and the first game is August 29.

For more information about NWE Football, call Charles Williams at 327-4603.

Pictured above: Chase Gifford dives for  a touchdown for the NWE Mini-Mite Eagles with 1.2 seconds to go in their game against East Milton last season. Pictured below: Andrew Edward scores for the NWE Eagles in Mite action against East Milton last year. NorthEscambia.com file photos, click to enlarge. 


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