155 Magnolia Avenue at William Street, St. Augustine, Florida.

This is a 21-acre tropical setting thought to be the first recorded North American landmark. Indian burial grounds; planetarium and discovery globe (both continuous shows); museum, swan pool, Ponce de Leon statue. (Daily, closed Dec 25).

Their literature says that Ponce de Leon and his men are believed to have landed in the vicinity of what is now St. Augustine in 1513 to fill their casks with water from a local spring.

Ponce de Leon was governor of Puerto Rico, taking that post in 1509. Facing a shortage of labor, he searched for slaves in surrounding areas. News traveled fast and in what was to become Florida the first Spanish slaving ships were met by a group of fighting people.

Ponce de Leon found himself removed from office by the powerful Admiral Diego Columbus who wanted his own man in the job. In order to maintain his wealth, he decided on a venture to find gold and treasure on another island. He was definitely not searching for a fountain of youth. They set out in March 1513. He probably landed on the Florida coast, perhaps a little north or south of Cape Canaveral. They sailed south to Indian River Inlet and there met resistance from hostile Indians. So they sailed south to Jupiter Inlet. Meeting more resistance, they kept sailing south, stopping at the Indian village where Miami now stands. They then ran along the Florida Keys and searched among the Caribbean Islands. They sailed home for Puerto Rico on September 23.

He was then sent to fight the Caribs of Dominica and Guadeloupe, in which process after three years his money was gone. Returning to Puerto Rico, he found most of the Spanish inhabitants gone to seek gold in Mexico.

1519 Florida governor is Juan Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda

Pineda was the agent of the governor of Jamaica.

In 1520 Juan Bono Quexo discovered the St. Johns River.

Ponce's sovereign sent him on a mission to subdue the Carib Indians in the Lower Antilles, and it was 1521 before he could return to Florida. He set sail for Florida in two ships. When he landed a fight developed and an arrow struck deep in a joint in his armor. He was taken ashore at Havana, and there in a few days more he was dead.

Governors of Florida:

1524 Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon

1527 Panfilo de Narvaez

1539 Hernando de Soto

With 600 men De Soto pushed through the western Timucuan territory wintering in Apalache in 1539-1540.  They went on to the Mississippi River where de Soto died and was buried. The survivors wandered around until 311 of them reached Mexico.

1549 Luis Cancer de Barbastro

1558 Tristan de Luna y Arellano

1561 Angel de Villafane

Spanish efforts to occupy and settle Florida seemed doomed to defeat. Ponce de Leon, Narvaez, de Soto, de Lunda, and Villafane had tried in vain only to lose fortunes and reputations. Perhaps 2,000 lives, and more ships and property than New Spain could well afford, had been lost. Possibly nobody could establish a base there.


It is just down the road a short ways on the right from the entrance road to Kingsley Plantation.

There are Atlantic beaches and dunes, the jetty near the mouth of the St. Johns River, and a long spit of sand jutting out into the Fort George inlet. This area is known as Ward's Bank by the local birders. Thousands of terns and gulls congregate at the northern tip of the spit.

In the winter, at the interior lagoon, you can see such birds as dunlins, black-bellied plovers, western sandpipers, willets, ruddy turnstones, sanderlings, and American oystercatchers. Offshore you may catch a glimpse of northern gannets, horned grebes, red-breasted mergansers, and common loons.

Take Interstate 95 in Jacksonville north to Heckscher Drive. Go east for about 19 miles (1.5 miles past the Mayport Ferry slip) and turn right at the blinking yellow light.

First Spanish Period 1565-1763


13 miles east of Jacksonville on Florida 10, then north on Monument Road, then east on Fort Caroline Road. (Daily; closed Dec 25).

A scale model of the fort has been constructed along 280 feet of riverfront. Descriptions of the fort by its commander and sketches by Jacques Le Moyne, artist and mapmaker, both of whom escaped the early attacks, served as a blueprint. A visitor center overlooks the St. Johns River near the former site of the fort.

1562 Jean Ribault

1564 Rene de Laudonniere

1565 Jean Ribault

In 1562 the French landed in Florida and claimed it for France.

Fort Caroline, a triangular, wood and earthen fortress, once stood at this site. In June, 1564, Rene de Laudonniere established a short-lived foothold for France in the battle for supremacy in the New World. Unfortunately for France, the group of 300 colonists, mostly Huguenots, spent more time searching for treasure than growing food.

Saturiba, king of the Timucuan Indians in the mid-sixteenth century, ruled the area that includes what is now Florida's St. Johns River valley. He headed an alliance of thirty other chieftains that included ten of his brothers.  Saturiba and his people were loyal to the French cause.

Saturiba's enemies were Olata Ouae Outina and the Thimogona Indians. Outina had 40 subordinate ally or vassal Indian kings against Saturiba's thirty.

French decided not to punish Outina. This made Saturiba mad. He showed up at the fort with the 1500 warriors he had gathered for his war on Outina.

He decided not to give the French any food during the winter. Famine and failure created great dissension among the colonists. . . several mutinies occurred.

Driven by famine and futility, the colonists were about to abandon the outpost in August 1565, when reinforcements arrived from France.  Jean Ribault finally arrived from France with reinforcements and supplies.

1565-1574 Governor Pedro Menendez de Aviles

Almost at the same time, Spanish Captain-General Pedro Menendez de Aviles was ordered by King Philip II to clear Florida for Spanish colonization. On June 20, 1565, Menendez sailed from Cadiz leading 19 ships with 1,000 persons on board. After different adventures, the ships reached Florida at about Cape Canaveral on June 28 and sailed northward to the French- named River of Dolphins, which Menendez renamed Saint Augustine because he had reached Florida on the day of the festival of San Augustin.

He sailed on Sept 4 to the mouth of the Saint Johns to assess the situation of the French. He challenged the French ships who cut their chains and sailed away.

Sept. 8 -- On that day in 1565, Saint Augustine was officially born in an impressive ceremony beginning with the saying of mass.  Foiled in his initial efforts to destroy Fort Caroline, Menendez sailed thirty miles south and established a settlement known today as St. Augustine.

The French tried to attack, but their fleet was destroyed in a storm.

Menendez took 500 men overland to Fort Caroline.  They attacked Fort Caroline. The French ships were wrecked in a storm. After four days of marching through swamps and water so deep that it sometimes required swimming, 400 of the men reached the fort, rested through the night, and attacked at daybreak September 20, taking the French completely by surprise. The Spanish killed about 140 of the French and took approximately 70 women and children prisoner.

Menendez renamed the fort San Mateo. Indians brought word of a body of Frenchmen on the shore below the mouth of the Matanzas Inlet, which they were unable to cross in their attempted march along the shore. Menendez with 50 men marched down to the river, parleyed with the destitute and shipwrecked men, and ferried them across the river ten at a time to await an uncertain fate. All but 10 of the 208, who proved to be Catholic, were slain. (See Fort Matanzas below.)

On Oct 10, word came that Ribault and the remainder of his men had also arrived at the mouth of the Matanzas. After a parley, Ribault and 150 of his men (which was all but 170 of his party), were ferried across as the first group. Only 16 were spared, 4 of them professed Catholics and a dozen fifers, drummers, and trumpeters.

The 170 who had refused "rescue" made their way southward to about Cape Canaveral.

Menendez learned French sailors were stranded on the south bank of the Matanzas Inlet. The French placed themselves at the mercy of Menendez. All but sixteen of the 140 Frenchmen were killed by the Spanish in the sand dunes of Anastasia Island. Ribault arrived and tried to negotiate the ransom and safe passage of 350 more Frenchmen. Two hundred of these left to take their chances with the Timucua. The remainder were put to death. Ribault was stabbed in the stomach with a sword, run through the chest with a pike, and beheaded.

In 1568, a French expedition attacked and burned the former Fort Caroline, by then in Spanish hands, killing most of it occupants in vengeance. But Florida was to remain in Spain's control almost continuously for the next 250 years. Nearby St. Johns Bluff was the scene of later British and Spanish fortifications. Gun batteries were raised on this site during both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.

Dominique de Gorgues came from France on a punitive expedition in June of 1567. Saturiba and his people were still loyal to the French cause. Together they raided and destroyed San Mateo (former Fort Caroline), hanging in retaliation any Spaniards they captured.

Saturiba did not welcome the Spanish as he had the French. Perhaps he resented the massacre of his sometime allies, perhaps in view of the Spanish habit of taking Indians as slaves he grew nostalgic for the comparatively democratic Laudonniere. Whatever his motives, the Indian king and his Timucuans declared war on the Spanish.

Menendez died in 1574, at the age of 57.

1575-1577 Governor Hernando de Miranda

1577-1578 Pedro Menendez Marques (interim)

1578-1589 Pedro Menendez Marques

1586 --   Sir Francis Drake paid St. Augustine a visit. It was a minor incident. Before departing he had the village burned.

1587  --  Mission San Juan del Puerto established on Fort George Island. (Do not know who was the founder.  Jaime Gómez-González, M.D. e-mailed the following: "Pedro Martinez, SJ died in 1566 and there was no town or mission there.  In 1586 the first group of Franciscans came to Florida and one of them was assigned to San Juan del Puerto, ergo the little town was already there, possibly founded by some Spaniard from that city in Huelva, Spain. Father Francisco Pareja came only in 1595.")

1589-1592 Gutierre de Miranda

1592 Rodrigo de Junco

1594-1595 Domingo Martinez de Avendano

1596-1603 Gonzalo Mendez de Canzo

1598  --  there were more than 120 houses in St. Augustine, but they were mainly huts made of palmetto.

1603-1609 Pedro de Ybarra

1609-1612 Juan Fernandez de Olivera

1613-1618 Juan Fernandez de Olivera

1618-1623 Juan de Tribino Guillamas

Juan de Salinas

1624-1629 Luis de Rojas y Borja

Age of Missions

In 1656, in the midst of the most successful period of mission activity, Chief San Martin de Ayococuto and 11 other chiefs in Timucua and Apalachee rose in revolt against the combination of pressure and persuasion being applied by the Franciscan fathers and killed three of them.

The golden age of mission activity reached its high water mark in 1674 with the visit to Florida of Bishop Don Gabriel Diaz Vara Calderon.

The mission San Juan del Puerto was established in 1587.  Missions were commonly placed in existing indian villages such as the one on this island, which housed members of the Saturiwa tribe of the Timucuan Indians at the time of Ribault's landing.  In 1595 Franciscan Father Francisco Pareja described the mission as very ornate with a bell tower and organ. Guale Indians destroyed the mission in 1597.  It was rebuilt.  In 1696 the Quaker missionary Jonathan Dickinson visited San Juan del Puerto.  It was destroyed in 1702 by British Governor James Moore of South Carolina.  It was located just south on the dirt road that leads into the Kingsley Plantation on Fort George Island.

In Georgia the Spanish ran missions among the Guale Indians.  These native Americans lived from the mouth of the Ogeechee River south to Newport River (including the islands of Ossabaw and St. Catherines).  Their capital was located on St. Catherines.  They were a Muskogean people related to those who became the Creek confederation.  

There were Spanish missions on St. Simons, Sapelo, and St. Catherines.  The 17th century Franciscan mission, Santa Catalina de Guale, was located on St. Catherines.  The missions originated out of St. Augustine in the 1570s.

Mission Nombre de Dios de  Nuestra Senora de la Leche y Parto (Our Nursing Mother of Happy Delivery)

Menendez landed near here on September 8, 1565 and built the first Spanish fort in Florida by fortifying the Chief's house at nearby Timucua Indian town of Seloy.  Along with Menendez was Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, the fleet chaplain.  September 8, 1665 they built a rustic altar.  

The founding of this mission marked the beginning of missionary work in the 16th century by Spanish diocesan priests, Jesuits, and Franciscans along the Atlantic coast and west to Pensacola.

The mission known as "Nombre de Dios" (means the name of God in Spanish) was built here.  The present shrine is actually the fourth building on the site, the first falling to war, the second to pirates, and the third to storm.  The present shrine was constructed in 1915.  This area has been called "America's most sacred acre."  Tradition holds that the first mass in the new colony was celebrated here.

The chapel here was erected in 1615 to house the shrine of our lady of La Leche.  (The literal translation from Spanish means "Our Lady of  Milk and Pregnancy," but Americans, being much more puritanical, translate it to the less "offensive"  Our Nursing Mother of Happy Delivery).   The mission church here served 200 Timucuan Indians.  

There is a large religious gift shop here.  

San Luis State Archeological and Historic Site

The National Park Service says:  From 1656 to 1704, San Luis de Talimali was the capital of the Spanish missions among the Apalachee Indians. One of the largest of the missions in La Florida, the town had 1,400 inhabitants in 1675. At one time, the village included a Spanish fort, a church complex, an Apalachee council house, residential areas, and a large central plaza. Threatened by hostile forces in 1704, residents burned San Luis and fled to St. Augustine and Pensacola. Fifty acres of the original townsite were purchased by the State of Florida in 1983; historical and archaeological research and public education programs followed soon after.

San Luis Archeological and Historic Site.  2020 W Mission Rd. Tallahassee, FL 32304.  Tele: (904) 487-3711.  Hours: 9 AM to 4:30 AM Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 4:30 PM Saturday, 12 PM to 4:30 PM Sunday, closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

San Luis is located just off of U.S. 90 ,at the intersection of Mission Rd. and Ocala Rd., approximately 2 miles west of downtown Tallahassee. From U.S. 90 follow signs to the park.

International Rivalry in Florida, 1670-1763

Two years before the English established a base at Charleston, South Carolina (1670), the English under Robert Searles, alias Davis, made a spectacular raid on Saint Augustine. He attacked the sleeping town, killing 60 people and plundering the buildings. Nearly a fourth of the resident population died.

Spain decides to build a stone fort at Saint Augustine. Ground-breaking ceremonies were October 2, 1672. The basic structure was complete in 15 years.

There had been nine wooden forts at Saint Augustine, six of them on approximately the site chosen for the stone fort. Coquina stone was the principal building material, but substantial amounts of rough-hewn timber and lumber went into the structure too. The stone came from a quarry on Anastasia Island about a mile away.


Overlooking Matanzas Bay at Jct of Castillo Drive and Avenida Menendez (both are Fl A1A), St. Augustine, Florida.

Grim but venerable, Castillo de San Marcos is the symbol of Spain's ubiquitous presence in St. Augustine and the rest of Florida. This massive, masonry structure, constructed between 1672-95, was built to permanently replace a succession of nine wooden fortifications. It was made of coquina, a natural rock of shells and sand. Hispanic artisans and convicts, Indian laborers, black royal slaves and English prisoners erected walls twenty-five feet high, fourteen feet thick at the base, nine feet at the top and, four feet at the parapet. In 1683, before completion, the fort served as the city's citadel during a pirate raid.

The fort was never conquered. It withstood a 50-day siege when St. Augustine was captured by the South Carolinians in 1702, and another siege under Oglethorpe of 38 days in 1740. (See below.) During the American Revolution, the British imprisoned "rebels" in the Castillo and felt confident the structure could repulse an American or a Spanish attack. The US used the fort as a battery in the coastal defense system, as a military prison, and as a magazine. Wildcat, the Seminole leader, led an escape from Castillo; Confederate and Union troops occupied it during the Civil War; and American deserters were imprisoned here during the Spanish-American War.

As Fort Marion, the fort became a national monument in 1924. It was the principal fortification in a regional defense system that reached north to the St. Mary's River, south to Matanzas Inlet and west to St. Mark's. It is a unique specimen of a vanished style of military architecture and engineering.


Restoration of 18th-century Spanish colonial village.

The community was started in 1738. In 1740 English forces under Oglethrope captured Ft. Mosa. The English were then defeated at the fort they captured. The community became abandoned for twelve years.

In 1752 the town and fort were rebuilt at a slightly different location and former residents moved back.

In 1763 the site was abandoned, when Florida became an English colony. In 1812 Fort Mosa was destroyed.

Other St. Augustine Sites

There are a number of options available to experience St. Augustine attractions. Various walking, bus, and horse and buggy tours are available. A good place to start is to visit the St. Augustine and St. Johns County Visitor Information Center, located at 10 Castillo Drive.

The National Park Service says:  

Today St. Augustine's historic district retains the distinctive plan typical of a 16th century Spanish Colonial walled town. The colonial buildings in the district date from 1703 to 1821 period. Among the most noted buildings in the district are the Plaza de la Constitución, the colonial community's focal point (King Street), the Oldest House, a traditional Spanish Colonial residence built circa 1706 and the oldest surviving residence in St. Augustine (14 St. Francis Street), the Basilica Cathedral of St. Augustine, which incorporates the 1797 parish church and is one of the oldest Catholic religious buildings in the U.S. (36 Cathedral Place), the 1883 Villa Zorayda, an exotic Moorish Revival residence with courtyards and towers (King Street), and the Gothic Revival style Stanbury Cottage (St. George Street).

Government House
On the Plaza in downtown St. Augustine, corner of King  Street and Cathedral Place. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except Christmas.

This museum explores St. Augustine's history from early native settlements through European to Flagler's Golden era.  There are exhibits illustrating the early explorers of Florida.  There are gold and silver pieces from Spanish shipwrecks off the coast of Florida.

Spanish Quarter Museum
At the north end of historic St. George Street.

On the great shopping street of St. George is this living history museum.  There are staff in period costume engaging in such activities as cooking meals over a charcoal fire, shaping handles and repairing furniture, and shaping nails.

Spanish Military Hospital
3 Aviles Street, off  King Street

This museum represents Spanish military hospital life of 1791.  The Apothecary, Administrative Office, Herbarium and Ward give an insight into the care and treatment provided soldiers.  

Oldest House
The St. Augustine Historical Society is located in the "Oldest House" (the Gonazlez-Alvarez House) at 14 St. Francis Street. The house is a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public.

Tomas Gonzalez y Hernandez lived here with his family.  He was an artilleryman at the fort. When the British took over St. Augustine, the house was owned by Major Joseph Peavett, paymaster for the English military.  

After his death, his widow, Maria, remarried and continued to live in the house.  She remarried and continued to live in the house.  Here new husbands was such a gambler and spendthrift that he ran up enough debt that the house had to be sold at auction in 1790.  

A Spaniard, Geronimo Alvarez, purchased the house.  He and his descendants occupied it for almost 100 years.  In 1882 the house passed into other hands and then had a series of occupants.  

The St. Augustine Historical Society acquired the property in 1918.

Various rooms in the house are set up to represent different periods in the life of the house.  It also has a museum that presents the 400-year history of St. Augustine. 

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