Tenant Farm Archaeologist L. Ross Morrell Passes

Ross Morrell spoke about the materials found at the Jones Tenant Farm dig site.

Staff, volunteers and former tenant family members at Tall Timbers were saddened to learn of the death of Ross Morrell on July 9, 2020. He had a long history of work with Tall Timbers as the State Historic Preservation Officer and later at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. It was after his retirement from the state that he became directly involved with Tall Timbers as the project archaeologist for the restoration and interpretation of the Jones Family Tenant Farm.

Ross Morrell and young folks who participated at the Jones Tenant Farm Dig Day in 2012

He didn’t just unearth materials from the site, but he got to know the former tenants in order to better understand just how certain tools and other house whole goods were used during the active days of the farm. The audio portion of the Syrup-Making operation features Ross and Alex Sloan discussing the steps from the harvesting of the sugar cane, until the final syrup was rendered and stored for either home consumption or sale. He made understanding the past through the study of artifacts and oral history interesting to all who worked with him. Long after his project survey reports were complete he returned several times for youth “archaeology days.” Those were always special days when Ross treated these young students with the same respect he had for his graduate students. He made learning about archaeology fascinating for all educational levels.

Volunteers and former tenants plan to hold a celebration of remembrance for Ross by planting a tree near the Jones Tenant Farm, after the property is again open to the public. For information about this event, contact Juanita Whiddon at 850.566.3390.

Ross Morrell and 2012 Dig Day participants at the Jones Family Tenant Farm dig site.


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