A HERALD-TRIBUNE MEDIA GROUP NEWSPAPER-IN-EDUCATION PUBLICATION LOOKING FOR ANGOLA 15
ivers were one of the few permanent markers of the wild Florida terrain
crossed by freedom seekers in the early nineteenth century. And it
was permanence Dr. Coz Cozzi was looking for, in his survey of the
Manatee River this past spring. In spite of the passage of 186 years from the
abandonment of Angola after the raid of 1821, the “Looking for Angola” team
hoped to find some remnants of the people who made a living on the banks of
the Manatee River.
Allies from the War of 1812, British Filibusters most likely traded with the
people of Angola and therefore, sailed their ships down the Manatee River.
Likewise, the Spanish, the sovereign crown that offered freedom to escaped
slaves and Native Americans in return for their allegiance and conversion to
Christianity, would have had the same opportunity for commerce with Angola.
Cuban fishermen living in the same vicinity contributes to this theory of trade
activity. As a probable crossroads of exchange on the river, Angola would
have had to accommodate the docking of ships.
“A large trading ship drew ten to twelve feet of water so they could not
dock close to land,” Dr. Cozzi explained. Since underwater archaeology on the
Manatee River would be virgin territory, Dr. Cozzi hoped to find an anchor or
remnants of docks that were built there.
Adjacent to where “Looking for Angola” had searched on land the year
before (2006), Dr. Cozzi would comb the waters. The area surveyed was
defined by the results of historical research. Research conducted by the
project’s lead historian helped the Angola team
form a hypothesis of where along the river Angola
most likely was located.
In advance of the physical work to be done, Dr.
Cozzi described another part of the process, “We
spoke to a lot of people about things that they
knew about, things that we might find in the river.
It did not lead us any closer to Angola, but we
learned about a lot of interesting events that took
place on the river.” Keeping the public in the loop
creates good will, as well as providing potential
value for the “Looking for Angola” project.
Some of what was learned, however, is helping
other historical projects. Someone’s mention of
boatbuilding yards west of our survey area on the
river prompted the Florida Maritime Museum at
Cortez to apply for a grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources.
Dr. Cozzi and others on the “Looking for Angola” team pray that this type of
scenario will happen in kind for their project. “If evidence of Angola comes
up during their search, they won’t ignore it.”
May 2007 earmarks another active chapter in the story of “Looking for
Angola”. For twelve days during that month, Dr. Cozzi and his team split their
time on the river conducting remote sensing surveys and diving. Last year’s
wildfires, blowing in smoke on the west winds, delayed the project for a couple
of days. “You couldn’t see halfway across the river,” Dr. Cozzi noted.
“We surveyed a two mile stretch of the Manatee River from East of the
Desoto bridge to the mouth of the Braden River and then two miles up the
Braden River. We used a magnetometer and sidescan sonar. A magnetometer
finds ferrous anomalies (buried or subsurface objects made of iron). The sonar
finds things that stick up above the bottom.”
Excitement came along the way with a finding from the sonar survey. It
showed something that looked like what they had been looking for…pier
structures (remnants of docks).
What they found were pilings sticking up that supported the trestlework for
“Once we looked at maps, we realized that it was
evidence of the railroad bridge. Even though we did
not find evidence from Angola, we did find evidence
of the first bridge crossing the Manatee River.
In 1902, the Seaboard Airline Railroad Co.
connected Palmetto to Bradenton across the
Manatee River. Older people around the area
today will remember it, because it operated until
the late 1960’s.
From Google Earth’s satellite image you can see
it as clear as day…the berm that was built and where
the trestlework ran, is defined as a light colored line
running across where the railroad bridge had been.
It is angled in a southeast to northwest direction.”
hints about the
Large cast iron
stove plate is
the banks of
piece of the
interview of a
descendent on Andros
Island revealed her
family’s oral history
connection to ﬁghting
against Jackson in
the Battle of the
Suwannee in Florida.
1983 In her
Edge of Wilderness,
the land claim by
the Caldiz. The ﬁrst
evidence of a name
for the place where
the Black Seminoles
Brown, Jr., perceives
the existence of the
during research for his
book Florida’s Peace
River Frontier. His article
published in Tampa Bay
History in 1990 draws
ﬁrst public attention
to the community.
Looking for Angola
Looking out the Seaboard railway line as the swing bridge is
opening. PHOTO SOURCE: MANATEE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
CONTINUED ON PAGE 16
16 LOOKING FOR ANGOLA A HERALD-TRIBUNE MEDIA GROUP NEWSPAPER-IN-EDUCATION PUBLICATION16 LOOKING FOR ANGOLA A HERALD-TRIBUNE MEDIA GROUP NEWSPAPER-IN-EDUCATION PUBLICATION
“The Manatee library had it listed. We found
it in maps and also a few aerial photographs of it,
too. It had a swing bridge for boats to go through.
I included this information in my report to the
state…documenting the submerged cultural
resources that we did come across in this survey.”
Again not related to Angola, more history was
revealed from local people’s recall of this area’s
past. Dr. Cozzi commented, “There are other
stories about things that could be in the river.
Some are supported by historical documentation.
For example, there is a potential for finding one of
DeSoto’s boats somewhere in the Manatee River,
which was scuttled (intentionally sunk) because it
was no longer seaworthy.
Other possible finds in the river related to
historical documentation include Ambrister and
Arbuthnot’s British ship, The Chance and a
schooner belonging to the Gamble Family who
settled on the north shore of the Manatee River.
The vessels were wrecked by a mid-nineteenth
century hurricane, placing them both around the
time of Angola. Some sketchy stories include talk
about a pirate ship at the mouth of
stories that surface. The point is,
surveying of river will continue,
which is a positive outcome of the
project. Not only does it spur on
uncovering more history seemingly
unrelated to Angola, but also other
groups looking at the river could
find evidence of Angola in their
search for something else. Any of
these things could take place next
underwater in the Manatee River.”
Dr. Cozzi doesn’t rule out a
different survey of the same area
that was covered in May.
“Any place that ships come in
and anchor for a while you find things that sailors
threw overboard (i.e. bottles, etc.).” If there were
a bottle down there, the equipment used in the
survey would not have located it. Dr. Cozzi said
finding a bottle or other like objects would require
a diver’s survey, something that potentially could
be done. “Divers swim along transect lines and
feel around. We would work from shore and
run a tape measure out into the water, search
10 feet on either side of it, and then move the
tape measure over and repeat the process. If
you have enough divers, you can cover an
area of ground fairly well that way.”
Dr. Cozzi mentioned the possibility of
contacting the National Association of
Black Scuba divers (NABS) for help, since they’ve
done this kind of work before [Henrietta Marie, a
slave ship off the Dry Tortugas].
Dr. Cozzi is currently in discussions with CSX
Transportation (the people who bought out the
Seaboard Air Line Railway Company) to see if
they are interested in helping to document the
railway bridge site through their corporate gifting
program, which supports worthy projects in
communities served by them. Further survey work
might yet uncover something about Angola.
The precursor to the river survey involved
talking with the public, an intentional and
important element of the “Looking for Angola”
project. The process uncovered information that
could help the search for Angola, as well as for
other groups who may want to pursue those leads
for their archaeological interests. Layers of the
river bottom can tell many stories from different
time periods. Perhaps the renewed interest in
the Manatee River may bring a definitive lead
for Angola during another group’s search for
their story. Dr. Cozzi commented positively
about his colleagues in the field, “If evidence of
Angola comes up during their search, they won’t
ignore it.” As conveyed by the spirit of Angola
and reflected in the search for evidence of its
existence, cooperation among individuals and
between groups can produce great things.
Dr. Uzi Baram
arrives at New
College and learns
process of getting
involved in his
Seminoles in the
decides to make a
Angola. She reconnects
with Dr. Canter Brown,
Jr., and pulls in Dr.
Rosalyn Howard and
Dr. Uzi Baram. Grant
written and approved
for LFA project.
Jr., publishes an updated
and comprehensive essay
on Angola in Go Sound
the Trumpet!, a book that
he edited for the Florida
A&M University History
Department along with
Dr. David H. Jackson, Jr.
the basics of the
Angola story on her
Ground: A Tale of
2007Looking for Angola”
special section publishes
in the Herald-Tribune.
Research kicks off to
ﬁnd evidence of Angola
in the Braden and
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 15
Survey boat, Illys, leaving the dock with the sonar at the bottom of the
aluminum pole. The sonar was turned on so reporters could see the
signal coming from the modern dock. Dr. Cozzi would be looking for
a similar image of submerged dock remains.
PHOTO CREDIT: MARTHA WELLS/MOTE MARINE LABORATORY
An example of divers performing anunderwater archaeology survey usingtransect lines.
Aerial photo, circa 1970. The railroad bridge used to extend out from the land
and over the river. PHOTO SOURCE: MANATEE COUNTY LIBRARY
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