Capturing History: Claire J Kendrick’s Tribute to Fort Mose Through Art.

Capturing History: Claire J Kendrick’s Tribute to Fort Mose Through Art.

Earth Day Weekend – April 20th & 21st. Lullaby of the Rivers Festival takes place and is held in Vilano Beach at North Shores Community Park, 120 Meadow Avenue, St Augustine, FL 32084. Participants learn about the environment and connect with nature through live, educational experiences provided by volunteers and nonprofit organizations.

Bob Patterson is a professional songwriter, musician and storyteller. His songs and stories, poetic and evocative, often reveal a deep connection to nature and concern for the environment. His award-winning song, “Lullaby of the Rivers”, is the inspiration for the festival. Bob is also a founder, artistic director and past president of the Gamble Rogers Music Festival. He uses his extensive expertise to line up uniquely talented local and regional performers.

Carol Kramer is an activist, educator and organizer. She organized her first Earth Day event in 1980, inspired by a connection to nature that began as a child playing in the woods and camping with Girl Scouts. She is conscious about the food she eats, the products she buys, and the place where she lives. She draws on experiences like teaching solar energy and practicing permaculture to enrich the festival.


In the realm of art, certain places transcend mere aesthetic beauty to become poignant reflections of history through song and art. One such location is depicted in a painting by Claire J Kendrick that pays homage to the historic landmark of Fort Mose. Set against the backdrop of the marshlands, Kendrick’s work transports viewers to a time when this site was not just a picturesque locale, but a beacon of hope and freedom for many.

Fort Mose holds a significant place in American history as the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what would later become the United States. Established in 1738, it served as a refuge for escaped slaves from the British colonies and was a crucial stop along the Underground Railroad. Looking out across the marsh, one can imagine the courage and resilience of those who sought sanctuary within its walls, including legendary figures like Harriet Tubman.

“I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.”

“Harriet Tubman was a deeply spiritual woman who lived her ideals and dedicated her life to freedom.“ – NPS.GOV

Kendrick’s oil painting captures the essence of the southern views from Fort Mose historic site, St Augustine, Florida preserving its memory for generations to come. Through careful brushstrokes and subtle nuances of color, she evokes the spirit of Fort Mose, where the promise of liberty loomed large amidst the vast expanse of the marshlands.

But Kendrick’s tribute extends beyond mere representation; it delves into the emotional fabric of the place. In her portrayal, we sense the anticipation and apprehension of those who sought refuge here, their hopes buoyed by the possibility of a better life. The painting serves as a testament to their resilience and determination in the face of adversity.

Moreover, Kendrick’s choice of subject matter is particularly resonant given its connection to the iconic spiritual song “Wade in the Water.” Sung by one Claire’s favorite artists, Eva Cassidy, this haunting melody speaks of the struggles and triumphs of the African-American community, including their efforts to evade capture and find freedom. By incorporating elements of this song into her work, Kendrick adds another layer of meaning, further enriching the narrative surrounding Fort Mose.

In essence, Claire J Kendrick’s painting not only commemorates a significant historical site but also invites viewers to contemplate the enduring legacy of the past. It prompts us to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who came before us and to honor their memory through art and remembrance. As we gaze upon the tranquil waters of Fort Mose, we are reminded of the indomitable human spirit and the timeless quest for freedom that continues to inspire us today.

The song “Wade in the Water” has deep roots in African-American history, dating back to the era of slavery in the United States. While the exact origins of the song are unclear, it is believed to have emerged as a spiritual among enslaved African Americans in the 19th century.

The lyrics of “Wade in the Water” contain veiled references to biblical stories, including the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt led by Moses. The line “God’s gonna trouble the water” alludes to the biblical account of the parting of the Red Sea, where God’s intervention allowed the Israelites to cross to safety while drowning pursuing Egyptian soldiers.

Enslaved people drew inspiration from biblical narratives of liberation and freedom, finding parallels between their own plight and the stories of Exodus. “Wade in the Water” became not only a means of spiritual expression but also a coded message for escaping slaves, offering guidance and hope for those seeking freedom. The reference to “wading in the water” was a practical suggestion for fugitives to avoid leaving tracks and scent dogs off their trail as they fled to safety.

Over time, “Wade in the Water” evolved into a symbol of resistance and resilience within the African-American community, its message of perseverance resonating with generations of people fighting against oppression. The song has since been recorded and performed by numerous artists, including gospel singers, folk musicians, and jazz performers, each adding their own interpretation to its timeless message of hope and liberation.

10 famous artists who have performed “Wade in the Water”:

1. Ella Jenkins

2. Mahalia Jackson

3. The Staple Singers

4. Sweet Honey in the Rock

5. The Blind Boys of Alabama

6. Ramsey Lewis

7. Odetta

8. Eva Cassidy

9. The Golden Gate Quartet

10. Mavis Staples

#ClaireJKendrick #FortMose #ArtHistory #UndergroundRailroad #Resilience #FreedomFighters #EvaCassidy #WadeInTheWater #ArtInspiration #HarrietTubman #FortMosehistoricalSociety #StAugustine #Florida #FirstCoastfortnose #historicstatepark #fortmosestory #freedomtrail #staug #visitstaug #statepark #visitstaug #historic coast #firstcoast

The painting, loaned to Fort Mose Historical Society, June 3rd 2023, with a collection of limited edition prints as part of the fundraising efforts to rebuild the historic landmark. Waterworks Building, St Augustine, FL

2024 – The original painting is part of the artists personal collection.

Prints are available on request.

Claire Kendrick has painted “en plein air” views from Fort Mose, North and South Boardwalks. Two limited edition prints are available.

Fort Mose – View from South Boardwalk “Walk to Freedom” original 36×48

Original Oil Painting Available Limited Edition Print 18×21 (25 available)

View from North Boardwalk – “Baya Creek” Limited Edition Print 18×18 (25 available)

Fort Mose Historical Society was founded in 1996, to serve as a Citizen Support Organization (CSO) for the Fort Mose Historic State Park. The Society’s mission is to ‘tell the Fort Mose story.’