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PAGE OF HISTORY PAINTED ON WALL

It's a "wonderful day" for one of the Hernando's oldest black families.

With tears welling in her eyes, an emotional Mable Sims hugged artist Ellen Snyder and glanced up at the giant portrait of her great-great-uncle Lem St. Clair, sitting atop a horse-drawn buckboard.

"You did a wonderful job," Sims told her.

Snyder corrected her.

"No, we both did it," Snyder said. "I couldn't have done it without your help."

Indeed, the dedication of the Brooksville Mural Society's seventh offering Saturday brought more than just a bit of Brooksville history to the south wall of the Antique Sampler Mall at Main and Liberty streets. The mural, which recognizes the heritage of African-Americans in Hernando County, gave one of the county's oldest black families a strong sense of pride.

Sims, who successfully lobbied the Brooksville City Council last year to recognize her great-great-uncle Arthur St. Clair with its Great Brooksvillian award, was thrilled to see another member of her family prominently honored.

"I know my family is shadowed with joy," she told a Founders Week gathering at the Saturday dedication of the mural, titled Livery Stable. "This is a wonderful day for all of us."

Sims said she was surprised when she learned that Snyder's mural would feature Lem St. Clair, who lost an arm as a slave and who later was a sharecropper. He was the brother of Arthur St. Clair.

Snyder said she began painting the mural in July, shortly after it was approved by the City Council. With the help of her daughter, Michale Beal, she rushed to get the mural as close to finished as possible in time for the city's 152nd anniversary celebration.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1435.

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