Historic Fort Mose
Some pottery, buttons, trinkets and rusty tools are just some of the artifacts that remain from the settlement that was once Fort Mose. Yet these small items tell a much bigger story of the people who lived together and fought for freedom in the early years of the nation. It was here where, by 1738, more than 100 enslaved Africans escaped the British colonies in Georgia and South Carolina. These courageous people risked it all heading southward, on foot, through swamps and dense forests, seeking assistance along the way from Native American, creating the first Underground Railroad. And it lead directly to what is today a National Historic landmark, Fort Mose Historic State Park.
Fort Mose became the site of the first legally sanctioned free African community in the U.S. The Africans who survived the arduous 300-mile journey south were granted asylum by the Spanish in exchange for conversion to Catholicism and a term of military service in defense of the fortified town named Gracia Real de Santa Teresa. And while the original Fort Mose has been swallowed by marsh, visitors can still view the land where it once stood and where archeological digs are still being conducted to retrieve what is left of the settlement.
The museum at the park offers a glimpse into this world with its collection of artifacts and interactive displays that tell the story of the first freedom seekers that arrived in 1687, a group that included eight men, two women and a three-year-old nursing child. Visitors will learn how these early African settlers were given land to build their homes, farm and raise families as free men, women and children.