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Title: The History of Saint Augustine, Florida
Author: Dewhurst, William W.
Language: English
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                              THE HISTORY


                   SAINT AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA


                              OF FLORIDA

                             TOGETHER WITH


                           TO WHICH IS ADDED

                          AS A HEALTH RESORT


                          WILLIAM W. DEWHURST

                               NEW YORK
                          G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
                       182 FIFTH AVENUE

                        BY WILLIAM W. DEWHURST


This brief outline of the history of one of the most interesting
portions of our country, together with the sketches of the celebrated
characters and memorable events which have rendered the town of St.
Augustine famous throughout the world, is offered to the public in the
hope and expectation that the information herein contained may supply
the desire, felt by an ever-increasing number of its citizens and
visitors, to be better informed as to the early history of a place so
justly celebrated.

The desire of the author has been to condense and render accessible to
the general reader the very interesting but elaborate accounts of the
early writers concerning some of the more notable events connected with
the early settlement and defense of St. Augustine.

Copious quotations have been borrowed, and the quaint language of the
early historians has been retained as peculiarly appropriate to the
subject and locality described.

The traditions and chronicles in possession of the descendants of the
early settlers have been sought with a desire to preserve these
fragments of history before it shall be too late. Already those
conversant with the events of the early years of the century have passed
from the stage of life.

The reader who desires to become better informed as to the events
noticed in this volume should consult the narrative of De Soto, by a
Knight of Elvas, the works of Cabeça de Vaca, Garcilasa de la Vega,
Laudonnère, Bartram, Romans, Vignoles, Roberts, De Brahm, Stork, Forbes,
Darby, Williams, and Fairbanks, to all of whom the author is under

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA, _November, 1880_.


CHAPTER I.                                                          PAGE

Introductory.                                                          1


The Discovery of Florida.                                              3


Expeditions of Muruelo, Cordova, Alminos, Ayllon, and Narvaez.         7


Hernando De Soto.--An Account of his March through Florida.           18


Huguenot Settlement under Ribault.                                    26


Second Huguenot Settlement under Laudonnère.                          29


The Unfortunate Expedition under Ribault.--Founding of St. Augustine
by Menendez, 1565.--Attack upon the French Settlement on
the St. Johns River.                                                  37


Shipwreck of Ribault’s Fleet.--Massacre by Menendez.                  46


Expedition and Retaliation of De Gourges.                             57


Return of Menendez.--Attempt to Christianize the Indians.--Attack
upon St. Augustine by Sir Francis Drake.--Murder of the Friars.       66


Plunder of the Town by Captain Davis.--Removal of the Yemassee
Indians.--Construction of the Fort.--Building of the First Sea-wall.--Attacks
of Governor Moore and Colonel Palmer.                                 79


Oglethorpe’s Attack.--Bombardment of the Fort and Town.--Capture
of the Highlanders at Fort Mosa.--Old Fort at Matanzas.--Monteano’s
Invasion of Georgia.                                                  89


The Town when delivered to the English.--Fort San Juan De Pinos.--St.
Augustine as described by the English Writers in 1765 to 1775.       100


The Settlement of New Smyrna by the Ancestors of a Majority of the
Present Population of St. Augustine.--The Hardships endured by
these Minorcan and Greek Colonists.--Their Removal to St. Augustine
under the Protection of the English Governor.                        113


Administration of Lieut.-Governor Moultrie.--Demand of the People for
the Rights of Englishmen.--Governor Tonyn burning the Effigies
of Adams and Hancock.--Colonial Insurgents confined in the
Fort.--Assembling of the First Legislature.--Commerce of St. Augustine
under the English.--Recession of the Province to Spain.              122


Return of the Spaniards.--Completion of the Cathedral.--The Oldest
Church Bell in America.--The Governor’s Desire to People the
Province with Irish Catholics.--Some Official Orders exhibiting
the Customs of the Spaniards.--Unjustifiable Interference of the
United States, during the “Patriot War.”--Florida an Unprofitable
Possession.--Erection of the Monument to the Spanish Constitution.   129


Florida Ceded to the United States.--Attempt of the Spanish Governor
to carry away the Records.--Description of St. Augustine when
Transferred.--Population in 1830.--Town during the Indian
War.--Osceola and Coa-cou-che.--A True Account of the Dungeon
in the Old Fort, and the Iron Cages.--The Indians brought to St.
Augustine in 1875.                                                   143


St. Augustine as it used to be.--Customs.--The Oldest Structure in the
United States.--Present Population.--Objects of Interest.--Buildings
Ancient and Modern.--St. Augustine during the Rebellion.--Climate.--Advantages
as a Health Resort.                                                  161




A universal desire exists to learn the origin and history of our
ancestors. Even before the art of writing was perfected, bards
perpetuated the traditions of the early races of men by recitations of
mingled facts and fables at the periodical assemblies. These
peripatetics were ever welcomed and supported by the people, and
doubtless preserved many of the facts of history.

Unfortunately, among the Spanish knights, who at various times essayed
the conquest of Florida, few were found to desert the shrine of Mars for
that of Clio. While there are several valuable accounts of the Spanish
occupation, the scope of the histories is narrow and unreliable on many
most interesting subjects, and on others of no importance they are often
most diffuse. Owing to the vicissitudes of the occupation of St.
Augustine, there are few traditions. It is possible that the Spanish
antiquarian may at some future day develop a rich mine of history in
searching the ancient archives of that nation and of the Catholic
Church. Valuable acquisitions have been made in this field of literature
by the labors of the learned and genial Buckingham Smith, a resident of
St. Augustine.

Two impulses prompted the early Spanish explorers in Florida. The first
was a hope of finding gold, as it had been found in Mexico and South
America. A second and probably more ostensible motive, was the desire
and hope of extending the Catholic faith among the inhabitants of the
New World.

The result of all their hardships and labors has proved so barren that
even in our day it is impossible to contemplate the slaughters and
disappointments of the brave men who invaded and who defended these
ancient homes, without a pang of regret.




The honor of having discovered Florida has been assigned by different
writers to Columbus, Cabot, and De Leon.

In 1492, Columbus terminated his venturesome voyage across the Atlantic
by landing at the island of St. Salvador, so called by the great Genoese
explorer in remembrance of his salvation. It is said that from this
island his people, on his return from Europe, ventured with him to the
shores of Florida, being impressed, as were the Aborigines, with a
belief that the continent possessed waters calculated to invigorate and
perpetuate youth and vitality.

The date 1497 is assigned as the year in which Amerigo Vespucci
discovered the western continent. Vespucci was encouraged by Emanuel,
King of Portugal, and, though probably lacking the inspiring genius and
sublime courage of Columbus, through the accident of fortune he has
perpetuated his name in the designation of half a hemisphere. Doubtless,
Vespucci was the first to reach the mainland of the western continent,
as Columbus did not touch the mainland until his third voyage in 1498,
when he landed at the mouth of the Orinoco in South America. So entirely
unsuspicious was the world at this time of a second continent, that the
transcendent genius of Columbus never suspected the magnitude of his
discovery, and he died in the belief that he had landed on the eastern
shore of Asia.

The next to essay a voyage to the New World was also a native of
Southern Europe. John Cabot, the son of Giovanni Gabota, a native of
Venice, who had settled in Bristol, was commissioned by Henry the
Seventh of England to sail on a voyage of discovery and conquest. Though
the inception and authority for the expedition antedated the sailing of
Columbus by a year, Cabot did not leave England until May, 1498. His
landing on America was at or near the river St. Lawrence, from whence he
sailed southward along the coast, landing only for observation, and
making no attempt to form a settlement. It is doubtful if Cabot ever
sailed as far south as Florida, though it is claimed that to him belongs
the honor of its discovery.

Fourteen years afterward, the first landing was made on the sandy shores
of Florida, and possession claimed in the name of the King of Spain.

The mystic fountain of youth, first pictured in the days of mythology,
whose waters would stay the devastating march of time, endow perpetual
youth, even restore vigor to the decrepitude of age, was said to exist
in the New World.

This fable, with which the European had become familiar from an Egyptian
or Hellenic source, found confirmation in the traditions of the Indians
of the Caribbean Islands. To the mind of the Spanish knight, eager to
continue his youthful prowess and the enjoyment of the adjuncts of power
and authority already achieved, the belief, thus strengthened by
concurrence of a tradition in the New World, seemed an authentic
reality, and the sufficient foundation for great labor and sacrifice.

In this materialistic age we may laugh at the credulousness of the
Spanish chevalier, whose faith in the story of an Indian girl led him to
expend his wealth and sacrifice his life in such a chimerical search;
yet the history of our own day will recount equal faith and as fruitless

Juan Ponce de Leon seems to have been a person of influence in Spain,
possessed of a unique character, a chivalrous nature, and a
comprehensive and trained mind. Born in an age when personal valor and
knightly habits were the surest paths to distinction and authority, his
career seems to have been that of an adventurer. When past the meridian
of life, he landed in the Bahamas seeking for the spring of youth. In
vain was his search, but his hopes and his ardor were undaunted. “Upon
the mainland the wished-for waters flowed as a river, on whose banks
lived the rejuvenated races in serene idleness and untold luxuriance.”
Leaving the Bahamas he steered northwest for the coast. While some
accounts make his first landing at a spot north of St. Augustine, it is
more probable that his course was to the west of the Bahama Islands, and
that he first disembarked at or near the southernmost part of Florida,
at a place called Punta Tanchi, now Cape Sable.

It was on March 27th, 1512, Palm Sunday (Pasqua Florida), and from this
accidental date of discovery did the country receive its name, and not
from its abundance of flowers. While the Latin adjective _floridus_
signifies “full of flowers,” soldiers of fortune like De Leon did not
make a practice of using the Latin tongue except in their litany. After
erecting a cross, celebrating a solemn mass, and proclaiming the
sovereignty of the Spanish crown, De Leon coasted along the Florida
shore into the Gulf of Mexico, making various attempts to penetrate the
interior of the country. In this he was unable to succeed, owing to the
swampy nature of the land, and its barrenness of food products. After
the loss of many of his men, the rest, greatly suffering for food,
re-embarked. According to some historians De Leon returned to Spain,
and demanded to be made governor of the new dominions; while others
declare that he withdrew only to the islands, from whence he sent a
description of the newly-discovered province, and begged a grant of the
same. His request was acceded to by the Spanish crown on condition that
he should colonize the country.

Accordingly, in 1516 he returned with two vessels, but his occupancy
being disputed by the Indians, De Leon was mortally wounded in the first
encounter. His followers, being dispirited by the loss of their leader
in a strange and uninviting land, returned on board their vessels and
sailed for Cuba. Here a monument was erected to the memory of Juan Ponce
de Leon, on which is inscribed the following eloquent and deserved
epitaph: “Mole sub hac, fortis requiescunt, ossa Leonis qui vicit factis
nomina magna suis.”

Though De Leon died in disappointment, never having tasted the fabled
waters of which he came in search, his name will ever be associated with
the country he christened, and many a wasted consumptive who has
regained a lost vigor and health under the assuasive influences of
Florida’s climate will give a kindly thought of remembrance and regret
as he recalls him who first visited Florida, a seeker after healing




In the next twenty years there were many captains who undertook voyages
for the exploration and subjugation of Florida.

It must be remembered that at this time, and until the beginning of the
eighteenth century, the grand divisions of North America were known only
as Florida and Canada.

Diego Muruelo, a Spanish adventurer, by profession a pilot, is said to
have sailed from Cuba, and returning with gold and precious stones
obtained from the Florida Indians, spread glowing reports of the
country. These reports may have influenced the home government, as about
this time a Dominican, “Bernardo de Mesa,” was chosen Bishop of Cuba
“including Florida.”

Fernandez de Cordova landed on the coast, but was driven off by the
Indians, and returned to Cuba, where he died of his wounds. The famous
Bernal Diaz was a member of this expedition.

One De Alminos, a member of Cordova’s party, made such a favorable
report of the country and the advantages to be derived from a possession
of the same that he induced Francisco de Geray, the governor of Jamaica,
to furnish him with three vessels, with which he returned to the coast;
but was unsuccessful in his attempts to make any acquisition of wealth
or power in Florida, though slight progress was made in the survey of
its coast. De Geray, however, trusting in the reports given him, applied
to the home government to be made Adelantado of Florida, though his
request is said to have been denied.

Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, an auditor of St. Domingo, a rich and learned
man, formed a company with six other inhabitants of the island of
Hispaniola, for the purpose of securing Indians to work as slaves in the
mines of Mexico.

In the humane laws decreed by the Spanish crown against the enslaving of
its Indian subjects, an exception had been made against the Caribs, or
Cannibals; these Indians being considered especially barbarous and
deserving of castigation.

De Ayllon falsely declaring that the inhabitants of the mainland were
Caribs, set sail in 1520 with two vessels, and directed his course to
the east coast of Florida. He landed in the province of Chicora in South
Carolina, where the Indians were ruled by a chief named Datha who was a
giant. His gigantic stature had been attained by a process of stretching
which elongated the bones while a child. This practice was applied only
to those of royal race.

The simple Floridians at first fled from the vessels and their
pale-faced occupants. The Spaniards, however, by kind treatment
succeeded in assuring the Indians, and, finally, induced the cacique and
a hundred and thirty attendants on board the ships. These were at once
secured, and the ships set sail for Hispaniola. It is also said that, as
a parting salute, De Ayllon fired the cannon of the ships into the crowd
assembled on the shores; but this inhuman act is not authenticated, and
the treachery of which he certainly was guilty is sufficiently execrable
to account for that remorse which he is said to have suffered afterward.
One vessel was lost on the voyage, and the cargo of the other was sold
upon their arrival at St. Domingo. The North American Indians, however,
have never submitted like the African to the servile yoke. The
Christianizing and civilizing blessings of slavery have never been
appreciated by these Indians. This body of North American captives, the
first which history mentions, set an example which has been followed by
their unfortunate descendants. No promises nor hopes could influence
these to forget their heritage of freedom. Refusing all sustenance,
borne down by sorrow and home-sickness, to a man they chose death rather
than slavery.

Charles the Fifth had been so affected by the eloquent and earnest
appeals of that humane and nobly pious Bishop of Chiapa, Bartholomi de
las Casas, that he issued decrees visiting his anger and the severest
penalties upon the Spanish governors who, by their barbarous tyranny,
had made the Indians of the New World to detest Christianity, and
tremble at the very name of Christian. Though these ordinances appear
often to have been disregarded, Vasquez’s perfidious treatment of the
natives seems to have been disapproved at Court; for when he applied to
the Spanish Crown for the governorship of the province, his request was
granted on condition that he should not enslave the Indians.

Tempted by the profit of his first venture, he disregarded this
provision of his grant, and returned to secure a second cargo. The
Indians were equal to the occasion, and met the whites with their own
methods. Having decoyed the Spaniards away from the shore, the Indians
fell upon them and killed two hundred. The Spaniards after this attack
put to sea, and soon after encountering a severe storm were shipwrecked,
and are all reported to have perished except Vasquez himself, who was
picked up and saved, only to pass the remainder of his life in misery
and remorse. His unhappiness may have had for its cause his disgrace and
the displeasure of the king, which he is said to have incurred. Another
account says he was among the killed.

Despising the ignorant and untrained races of Indians and overweeningly
confident in the mighty influence of the name of his king and the power
of the Spanish arms, Pamphilo de Narvaez, having obtained from Charles
the Fifth a grant of all the lands from Cape Florida to the River of
Palms in Mexico, determined to extend the Spanish rule and the Catholic
faith. Narvaez was also actuated by a desire to retrieve his own
disgrace. Having been sent to Mexico by Valasquez, the Governor of Cuba,
to supersede Cortez, the latter had by a sudden attack seized Narvaez
and assumed the command of his forces, who were doubtless only too
willing to serve under so gallant and successful a commander.

Returning to Spain, Narvaez was unable to obtain redress for the
injuries sustained at the hands of Cortez, but was placated by the
Commission of Adelantado of Florida.

On the 12th day of April, 1528, he sailed from St. Jago de Cuba, with
four hundred men and forty horses. Landing near what is now Charlotte
Harbor, he took formal possession of the country in the name of the King
of Spain.

The houses of the Indians, already evacuated, were in sight of the bay.
Proceeding inland, he came upon a town located on another and larger bay
(Tampa Bay), where the Indians offered him corn.

Here was promulgated a manifesto prepared by Narvaez, in the Spanish
language, abounding in arrogant assumption of power and superiority,
intended to awe the Indians, and secure at once their allegiance and

This curious document is still extant among the Archives of the Seville
Chamber of Commerce. The proclamation throws such a light upon the
estimate which the Spaniards had of the rights and condition of the
Indians, of their own authority, its source, and the purposes for which
it was to be exercised, that a considerable extract is quoted.

“A summons to be made to the inhabitants of the countries which extend
between the River of Palms and Cape Florida:

“In the name of his Catholic and Imperial Majesty, ever august King, and
Emperor of all the Romans; in the name of Dona Juana, his mother; King
of Spain; Defender of the Church, always victorious, and always
invincible, the conqueror of barbarous nations; I, Pamphilo de Narvaez,
their servant, and Ambassador and Captain, cause to be known to you in
the best manner I am able.” How God created the world and charged St.
Peter to be sovereign of all men in whatever country they might be born,
God gave him the whole world for his inheritance. One of his successors
made a gift of all these lands to the Imperial Sovereigns, the King and
Queen of Spain, so that the Indians are their subjects. After claiming
their allegiance he closes with the following invitation to embrace the
Catholic faith, which is more after the pagan than Christian order:

“You will not be compelled to accept Christianity, but when you shall be
well informed of the truth you will be made Christians. If you refuse,
and delay agreeing to what I have proposed to you, I testify to you
that, with God’s assistance, I will march against you, arms in hand. I
will make war upon you from all sides, and by every possible means. I
will subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and His
Majesty. I will obtain possession of your wives and children; I will
reduce you to slavery. I notify you that neither His Majesty, nor
myself, nor the gentlemen who accompany me will be the cause of this,
but yourselves only.” That the Indians gave little heed to the claims
and threats of this haughty knight is evident from the sad result of his
expedition. While resting at the village about Tampa, Narvaez was shown
some wooden burial cases, containing the remains of chiefs, and
ornamented with deerskins elaborately painted and adorned with sprigs of
gold. Learning that the gold came from farther north, at a place called
Appalache, Narvaez immediately ordered his men to march thither. With
more judgment or prophetic wisdom his treasurer, Cabeça de Vaca,
endeavored in vain to dissuade him. Having distributed a small quantity
of biscuit and pork as rations, he set out on the 1st of May with three
hundred men and forty horses. They marched through a desolate country,
crossing one large river and meeting only one settlement of Indians
until the 17th of June, when they fell in with a settlement, where they
were well received and supplied with corn and venison. The Spaniards
learning that this tribe were enemies of the Appalacheans, exchanged
presents and obtained guides to direct them to the Appalachean town.
This they reached on the 25th, after a fatiguing march through swamps
and marshes, and at once attacked the inhabitants without warning, and
put them all to the sword.

The town consisted of comfortable houses well stocked with corn, skins,
and garments made from bark cloth. Not finding the wealth he had
expected, and being subject to the repeated attacks of the Indians,
Narvaez, after a month’s rest at Appalache, divided his command into
three companies, and ordered them to scour the country.

These companies returning, after an unsuccessful search for gold or
food, the Spaniards continued their march toward the north and west,
carrying with them in chains the Indian chief captured at Appalache.
This plan of securing the chief of an Indian nation or tribe, and
forcing him to march with the troops as a guide and hostage, seems to
have been adopted by each of the Spanish commanders, and always with
disastrous results. The sight of an Indian chief in chains aroused a
feeling of outraged friendship wherever they passed, and gave a
premonition of the servile fate that would be assigned to their race
whenever the Spaniards obtained the dominion. This captive urged on the
Indians to harass and persistently follow up the marching army,
influencing even tribes that were inimical to himself.

The march of Narvaez through the western part of Florida continued until
fall, with an unvarying succession of attacks and skirmishes at every
halt, and often pitched battles at the towns that lay in his path.
Little progress was made on their journey, owing to the uncertainty of
their course, the unproductive and difficult nature of the country
traversed, and the unremitting attacks and obstacles opposed by the wily
Indians, who were ever on the watch to pick off man or beast, and
prevent the collection of supplies.

Disheartened at the continued losses sustained by his army, and
despairing of ever reaching by land the Spanish settlements in Mexico,
Narvaez, having reached the banks of a large river, determined to follow
it to its mouth, and take to the sea.

Slowly they moved down the river, and arrived at its mouth in a sadly
distressed condition. Despair lent them an energy that was fanned to a
burning zeal by the hopes of being able to reach their friends and
salvation on the shores of the same waters before their view. A smith in
their party declared that he could build a forge, and with bellows made
of hides, and the charcoal they could supply abundantly, he forged from
their swords and accoutrements bolts and nails for building boats.

Diligently they worked, incited by the memory of all their hardships and
perils, and the joyous hope of safe delivery. Such was their energy and
determination, that in six weeks they constructed from the material at
hand, five large boats capable of holding fifty men each. For cordage
they twisted ropes from the manes and tails of their horses, together
with the fiber of plants; their sails were made from their clothing, and
from the hides of their horses they made sacks to hold water.

With these frail and clumsily constructed crafts, open boats loaded
almost to the water’s edge, and without a navigator in the party, or
provisions for a single week did this little army of desperate men set
out on the open sea. Narvaez commanded one boat. The others were under
the command of his captains, one of whom, Cabeça de Vaca, has preserved
to us the account of this fatal expedition.

De Vaca gives a long and minute account of their voyage, and the
hardships and misfortunes they underwent until they were all
shipwrecked, and out of the two hundred and forty who started on the
return only fifteen were alive. Narvaez himself was blown off from the
shore while almost alone in his boat and never again heard of. Only
these four are known certainly to have been saved, Cabeça de Vaca, the
treasurer of the expedition, Captain Alonzo Castillo, Captain Andreas
Orantes, and a negro or Turk, named Estevanico.

These managed to preserve their lives, and attain an influence among the
Indians by pretending to a knowledge of physic, and a supernatural
origin. Their method of practice was unique, and as universal in its
application to every form of disease as that of the celebrated Dr.
Sangrado. It consisted in marking the patient with the sign of the
cross, repeating over him a paternoster or Ave Maria, and then calling
upon him to assure his comrades that he was entirely healed. The fee for
this skillful treatment was the customary reward among the Indians for
the services of the Medicine Man, the transfer of all the worldly
possessions of the patient to the physician in exchange for restored
health. The Indians thus despoiled by Cabeça de Vaca and his companions
begged them not to be distressed about it, assuring them that they held
the loss of their goods as naught in comparison with the pleasure of
having beheld the children of the sun, who had the power to heal the
sick and take away life. They declared they should hide nothing from
them, because everything was known to these divinities. So great was the
terror which their presence inspired, that for the first few days upon
their arrival in any new place, the inhabitants never stood before them
without trembling, and did not dare to speak nor lift up their eyes. De
Vaca says: “We kept up much state and gravity with them, and in order to
maintain this we spoke but seldom to them. The negro who was with us
talked often to them, informed himself of the roads we wished to take,
of the villages we should come upon, and of other things which we
desired to know. Although we knew six languages we could not in all
parts make use of them, as we found more than a thousand different
languages. If we had had an interpreter so that we could have made
ourselves perfectly understood we should have left them all

Thus did Cabeça de Vaca and his companions for nearly six years pursue
their journey among the Indians. During all this long period they never
once abandoned their hope and design of reaching Mexico. Finally after
many other strange adventures De Vaca arrived at the Spanish settlements
in Mexico, and was received by his countrymen with the greatest
consideration and rejoicing.

Having been sent over to Spain, he presented to the crown a narrative of
the unfortunate expedition of Narvaez, representing that the country
contained great wealth that he alone was able to secure, and begging
that he be made the governor. In this he was disappointed, however, but
was placated by the government of La Plata, in South America. The
narrative of De Vaca has been received by historians and antiquarians as
in the main veracious, though describing some wonderful customs and
people. It is the earliest account of Florida which we possess, having
been published in 1555, and is of inestimable value.

Among the sailors in the ill-starred expedition of Narvaez was one Juan
Ortiz, who has attained a celebrity on account of his connection with
the later expedition of De Soto. Ortiz was among those who returned to
Cuba at the beginning of the expedition. It is said that the wife of
Narvaez, by a great reward, induced him to accept the command of a small
vessel which she fitted out to go in search of her husband. Ortiz,
having returned to the shores of Florida, was decoyed by the Indians to
put himself in their power, and was then seized and brought before the
chief named Hiriga, or Hirrihigua, who, feeling inflamed at the
treatment he had received at the hands of Narvaez, ordered the captive
to be stretched out on a pile and burned to death. Then history relates
an episode similar to that of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas, only
more romantic. In this case not only did the beautiful Indian maiden
supplicate an angry father, and clothe the quality of mercy in such
attractive garb as to melt the flinty heart of a stern old savage; but,
having procured the release of Ortiz from his imminent peril, she, with
her equally noble and heroic affianced husband, sacrificed their love on
the altar of humanity. Ortiz having been set to watch a burying-ground,
allowed a wolf to drag off the body of a lately-buried chief, and though
he pursued and killed the wolf, he was again sentenced to death to
appease the outraged spirit. In despair of saving a life that was so
justly forfeited, the daughter of the chief sent Ortiz to her lover, a
neighboring chief named Macaco, who protected him for a period of twelve
years until the arrival of De Soto. He thus incurred the enmity of
Hiriga, who refused to consent to the alliance with his daughter unless
the white man was sacrificed to placate the wrath of the spirit he had
failed to protect. Unfortunately history has failed to preserve the name
of this remarkable girl, and still more unfortunate is it that there is
no reason to believe that after the arrival of De Soto, any return was
made the chief’s daughter, which would show an appreciation by the white
men of conduct so worthy of the highest encomiums and reward.



Misled by the fabulous stories told of the wealth of Florida, and by the
still more deceptive innuendoes in the account of De Vaca, and having
before their eyes continually the immense treasures actually secured in
Peru and Mexico, the Spaniards were satisfied that it only needed a
force sufficiently large and ably commanded to secure to the conquerors
even greater treasures in their northern possessions. They were,
moreover, convinced that the Indian tribes would not defend, with such
persistent valor and great sacrifices, a worthless country, when the
incalculable wealth of the Aztec had been so feebly defended.

At this favorable moment there appeared at court a man who was
acknowledged to be eminently qualified to inspire confidence in any
undertaking he might enter upon. No knight stood higher in the esteem of
his sovereign, or enjoyed greater popularity with the cavaliers than
Hernando de Soto. Born of a good family in the northern part of Spain,
he had early entered the service of D’Avilas, the governor of the West
Indies, by whom he was put in command of a detachment sent to Peru to
reinforce Pizarro.

Here he exhibited remarkable courage and capacities, and soon rose to
be second in command. Having gained a valuable experience and a splendid
reputation in the conquest of Peru, he was induced by Pizarro to seek
his pleasure or glory in another field, lest his own achievements should
be rivaled by those of his lieutenant. A million and a half of dollars
was the sum which he received on relinquishing the field. This, in those
days, princely fortune was but a small portion of the exorbitant ransom
paid by the captured Inca.

Returning to Spain, his wealth and achievements seem to have excited
genuine admiration rather than envy, and he at once became the favorite
of the court. His martial spirit craved adventures, and could not remain
content with the dullness of court life. He therefore petitioned the
king to be allowed to fit out an expedition to occupy and settle the
Spanish northern possessions. The country at that time designated as
Florida extended from the Chesapeake Bay to Mexico, and, as was thought,
embraced the richest portion of the world, full of all things good.

De Soto’s request having been granted, he was at once commissioned
Adelantado and Marquis of Florida. A fleet of seven ships and three
cutters was at once purchased, and armed and equipped for the
expedition, and, as it was De Soto’s intention to colonize the country,
much attention was given to providing a supply of such seeds and animals
as were desirable to introduce. It is possible that some of the seeds
scattered by the followers of De Soto may to-day be reproducing
themselves in Florida. The origin of the wild horses of America has also
been assigned to the Spanish introduction at this time. So great was the
desire to accompany De Soto, and so certain seemed the rich recompense
of wealth and honor to be achieved under such a leader, that the
complement of a thousand chosen men was recruited with ease. Of this
number more than three hundred were gentlemen of rank, knights and
hidalgoes of the best blood of Spain, who lavished their means in the
purchase of arms and equipments, thinking that with these they would
procure wealth in plenty. With this brilliant corps were twelve priests,
to minister to the spiritual welfare of the Spaniards, or Indians, or

Leaving Spain in the spring, the fleet proceeded as far as Cuba, where
it was delayed a while in completing the arrangements. Here De Soto
married the lady Isabella, a sister of the famous Bovadilla. The
enjoyment of the society of his new wife, however, could not detain him
from the pursuit of honor. In May, 1539, he left Cuba and landed in
Florida on Whitsunday, in the same month. The bay in which they landed,
now called Tampa Bay, was named by them “Espiritu Santo,” in honor of
the day on which they arrived. A detailed account of the march of De
Soto would be too long to introduce in a work like this. There were two
reports published in the sixteenth century, both of which have been
translated into English. While of great value and interest, they both
contain much that is fabulous and exaggerated. Soon after beginning the
march northward, the advance guard of the Spaniards fell in with a body
of Indians, who advanced apparently to oppose them. The Spanish captain,
thinking it was an assault, ordered a charge, when, greatly to their
surprise, they heard the Spanish tongue in a supplication not to kill
one of their own countrymen. The speaker proved to be the captive Ortiz,
before mentioned. Having acquired a knowledge of the Indian language he
was a great acquisition to the command, though unable, from his
restricted confinement, to give a satisfactory reply to the first
question asked him by his countrymen, “Where was there any gold to be
found?” By the advice of Ortiz, or from motives of policy, De Soto
pursued a pacific policy at first, and met with friendly treatment and
generous supplies of provisions at the various Indian towns. The
Indians, at that time, seemed to have paid considerable attention to
agriculture, and to have lived in towns that were rudely fortified, and
built with very considerable dwelling houses and barns. Some of the
houses of the chiefs are described as more than a hundred feet long,
containing many rooms, and set upon artificial mounds. They were built
of palings, sometimes plastered with clay, and covered with thatch. At
nearly every town the Spaniards found provisions stored, consisting of
walnuts, dried grapes, beans, millet, and corn, besides growing
vegetables, among which are mentioned beets. Some of the towns must have
been very large, as many as six thousand inhabitants dwelling in and
around several mentioned. At one town called Mabila, the baggage and
valuables of the Spaniards were carried within the palisades by the
Indians forced to transport them. There an attack was made upon the
town, and twenty-five hundred of the savages were slain. The chief and a
company of natives to transport the baggage were seized at every town,
unless packmen were offered voluntarily. After marching a short distance
away from their homes, the women were allowed their freedom, but the men
were led by a chain attached to a Spanish soldier. Arriving at a town,
these bondsmen were released, and new captives taken, to be in turn
exchanged further on.

In this manner did De Soto march through what is now Florida, thence
north-easterly through Georgia into South Carolina, thence back to the
vicinity of Pensacola.

While in South Carolina De Soto fell in with an intelligent race of
Indians, whose sovereign was a woman. Here he secured a large store of
pearls, nearly three hundred pounds, some of which were said to be worth
their weight in gold. These, however, were all lost, together with the
other valuables and the baggage, in the burning of the town Mabila.

W. Gilmore Simms, the novelist, has seized upon the fables connected
with this Indian queen, in his romance of “Andres Vasconselos.”

Trusting to the disingenuous tales of the Indians, and ever led on by
his overweening faith in the existence of vast stores of gold, De Soto
had marched on and ever further on until, consuming a year’s time, he
had made a complete circuit of the country, and found himself
empty-handed within six days’ march of Pensacola, then called Ochuse.
Here he had ordered his lieutenant, Maldonado, to await his arrival with
the ships he had sent back to Cuba for a supply of provisions and mining

De Soto at this time exhibited that masterly force of character which
had secured his former success and his great influence. Unwilling to
endure the disgrace that would attach to an unsuccessful issue of the
expedition, a disaster which, with the unfortunate results of former
expeditions, he feared would preclude any future attempts to settle the
Spanish domains in Florida, he resolved to conceal from his followers
their location and the nearness of the fleet, lest, being disheartened
by their want of success and worse than uncertain prospect of the
future, they would refuse to continue on, and taking possession of the
ships, set sail for the West Indies. He therefore forbade Ortiz to
mention to the troops the arrival of Maldonado, which had been learned
from the Indians. Recruiting his men and horses by a short rest, he
marched on again into the unknown wilderness, and turned his back
forever upon home, friends, and all that makes life worth living. Still
searching for gold he marched from region to region, ever meeting and
overcoming difficulties and opposition, and yet unsuccessful. He
proceeded as high as the Cumberland River, then turned west, crossed the
Mississippi, and reached the Red River. In that region the Spaniards
wintered, and in the spring De Soto retraced his steps to the
Mississippi, having determined to reach the mouth of that river, from
whence he could send to Mexico and Cuba for further supplies. The
disappointment and mortification which his gallant nature had so long
opposed was eating like a cancer into his heart, and unsustained by a
hope, which in other circumstances would have thrown off disease, his
body at last gave way to fatigue and malaria, and he began to sink under
a wasting fever. Deep despondency settled down upon him as he thought of
home, his young wife, and all the comforts and prospects he had put so
far from his reach. Calling his followers about him, he thanked them for
their courage and devotion, and besought them to accept of his
appointment of a successor to lead them after his death, which he
assured them was near at hand. His followers tried to afford him the
regulation comfort at such times, depicting this life as so full of
misery that he was most happy who was soonest relieved of its burden.
They finally received from him the appointment of Louis Moscoza as their

Shortly after, on the 21st day of May, 1542, died that chivalrous
knight, Don Hernando de Soto, Governor of Cuba, and Adelantado of
Florida, far from his native land, in the wilderness on the banks of
that great Father of Waters, whose vast and turbid flow ever recalls his
great name and deeds, and whose discovery has proved his most enduring

Desirous of impressing the Indians with the supernatural origin of De
Soto, his followers declared that his father, the Sun God, had taken him
to himself, and lest their deception should be manifested by the sight
of his dead body, the corpse of their illustrious and beloved leader was
placed in a canoe, and in the darkness of the night consigned to the
waters of the mighty river.

Immediately after the death of De Soto, the Spaniards began to build
boats and collect provisions in preparation for their long voyage. They
continued thus employed until the annual floods had subsided, when they
descended to the gulf. Though continuously receiving attacks from the
Indians, they at last reached the Spanish settlement of Panuco, in
Mexico. Here they were received with joy, and every kindness proffered
them. Three hundred and eleven men kneeled before the altar in
thanksgiving to God for their safe deliverance from those distresses and
perils which had swept away more than two-thirds of the gallant army
that four years before had landed in Florida, an army that had overrun a
country containing thousands of brave inhabitants, subsisted for more
than three years on the country through which it passed, ever maintained
the unity of its command and devotion to its valorous leader while he
lived, and executed his wishes after his death.

In 1559 the Spaniards made another attempt to explore Florida. Mendoza,
the governor of Mexico, under advices from Spain, ordered the equipment
of a larger and more complete expedition than ever had landed in

Fifteen hundred soldiers and many of the religious orders set sail from
Vera Cruz in the spring of 1559, under the command of a soldier of some
reputation, Don Tristan de Luna. Landing near Pensacola, the Spaniards
underwent an experience similar to that encountered by their countrymen
in the previous expeditions, and after being distressed by hunger,
weakened by losses, and divided by mutiny, finally returned without
having accomplished more than to view the desolation wrought by De Soto
and Narvaez in the country through which they had passed.



The Spaniards having thus far been unsuccessful in making a settlement
upon the shores of Florida, the country was left open to any nation
which should enter upon and colonize the territory. The Admiral Gaspard
de Coligni, then at the head of the Protestant party in France,
perceived with the sagacity of a statesman, the advantage of a colony in
America composed of French Protestants. While increasing the dominion of
France, and thus gaining its promoters honor and patronage, it would
afford a refuge, in case the result of the bitter contest with the
Guises should prove disastrous to the Protestant party.

Charles the Ninth, then monarch of France, approved of the admiral’s
purpose, and furnished him with two ships. These were readily manned
with zealous Huguenots, under the command of Jean Ribault, who sailed on
the 18th of February, 1562, intending to enter the river Santee.
Arriving on the coast in about the latitude of St. Augustine, they
proceeded north, and entered a large river on the first of May, which
they called the river of May. Here Ribault erected a stone monument on
which was engraved the arms of France.

Continuing their exploration of the coast, they sailed north about
“ninety leagues,” until they finally disembarked near Port Royal, South
Carolina, where they concluded to plant the colony. The site selected
for their new city was a favorable one, being in a fertile and pleasant
country, “abounding in mulberry and persimmon trees, and inhabited by a
race of hospitable Indians, who supplied them with food for the merest
trifles.” Though the prime object of the expedition had been to
establish a colony in America, when the moment arrived to decide who
should remain in the new settlement so far from home, and who return in
the ships to France, it seems that it was necessary to appeal to the
honor and the patriotism of the company to secure volunteers to retain
possession of the territory which they had christened New France.
Twenty-six of Ribault’s followers, however, agreed to remain, under the
command of Albert, one of his lieutenants.

A field, sixteen rods long and thirteen wide, was stockaded, and within
this they built a fort, which they named in honor of their sovereign,
Fort Charles. We shall see that this honor paid to their king was
reciprocated on the part of that vacillating monarch by a total neglect
of the rights and interests of his loyal subjects.

Leaving provisions and ammunition for the little colony, Ribault sailed
away in the middle of July, trusting to soon return with a large
company, who should be the pioneers of a great branch of the French
nation on this continent. Having arrived in France, he found the
government so divided by civil discord and confusion that he was unable
to secure any attention for the settlement of New France.

Meanwhile Captain Albert visited the Indian chiefs in the vicinity,
cultivating their friendships, and exchanging simple presents for their
gifts of pearls and some silver ore, which the Indians reported as
having been dug from the ground on certain high hills by a tribe who
lived ten days’ journey to the west.

The colonists seem to have expected to live on the provisions left
within the fort until the return of the fleet from France. When the
weeks passed by and their supplies began to be exhausted, with no sign
of relief from France, the colonists began to be disobedient,
quarrelsome, and unmanageable. In the company was one Laclerc, a
licentious demagogue. This Laclerc, being opposed by Albert in his
attempt to reduce certain of the Indians to slavery, raised a mutiny, in
which the captain lost his life. After the death of Albert, the Indians
refused to supply the colony with provisions, and their situation became
so serious that they resolved to desert the country, and if possible
return to France. Choosing one of their number as captain, they set to
work to build a small ship and collect a store of provisions.

Having succeeded in constructing a small vessel, calked with moss and
rigged with cordage made from fibrous plants, they set the sails made
from their garments, and embarked to cross the wide ocean in a craft
that had neither the capacity nor equipment for a coasting voyage. Soon
after putting to sea they became becalmed, and continued so for twenty
days, by which time they had been reduced to a starving condition.

So great was their necessity that they were about to cast lots for a
victim, whose flesh should support life in the rest, when Laclerc the
mutineer, offered himself as the victim. So desperate was their strait
that his offer was accepted and his flesh distributed among the company.
Life being sustained, they were soon after relieved from the repetition
of such a shocking tragedy, being picked up by a passing vessel and
taken to England. Having been brought before Queen Elizabeth, they gave
such an account of Florida as to excite in her a great interest in the



Coligni and the Protestants had not forgotten the forsaken colony, nor
relinquished their intention of providing a refuge in America.

After two years Coligni succeeded in obtaining authority to send three
ships to the succor of the colony in Florida. A company equal to the
capacity of the ships quickly volunteered for the enterprise, of whom a
large number belonged to families of good blood.

Having been well equipped with arms, provisions, tools, and seeds for
agriculture, the fleet sailed under the command of Captain Renè
Laudonnère, who had accompanied Ribault on the former expedition.

It is greatly to be regretted that the astute Coligni had not assumed in
person the command of this expedition intended to establish in America a
New France, forty-three years before the first settlement of the English
at Jamestown, and sixty-six years before the Puritans on the _Mayflower_
landed at Plymouth. His counsels would doubtless have preserved the weak
colony who were so cruelly exterminated, and he himself would have
escaped his untimely end. Coligni was one of the first victims of the
horrid massacre of Paris on the eve of St. Bartholomew’s Day, in 1572,
being assassinated by one of the servants of the Duke of Guise.

Laudonnère came upon the coast at St. Augustine, but, stopping only for
a reconnoisance, he sailed to the site of the former colony and Fort
Charles, with the hope of relieving his countrymen. Finding the fort
deserted, and learning of the time that had elapsed since the departure
of the colony, he determined to return to the river May (now the St.
Johns), and found his settlement on its banks, where, as he says, the
“means of subsistence seemed to abound,” and the signs of gold and
silver observed on the former voyage had been very encouraging. These
signs must have been the possession by the Indians of some pieces of
quartz, which seems to have been very general, and to have led the
French like the Spaniards from tribe to tribe like a very ignis-fatuus.

Laudonnère’s account of his landing at the harbor of St. Augustine is
extremely interesting, and by his description the location is readily
recognized. He says: “We arrived on Thursday, the 22d of June (1564),
about three o’clock in the afternoon, and landed at a little river which
is thirty degrees distant from the equator. After we had struck sail and
cast anchor athwart the river, I determined to go on shore to discover
the same. Therefore, being accompanied by Mons. de Ottigni, with Mons.
d’Arlac, mine Ensign, and a certain number of gentlemen and soldiers, I
embarked myself about three or four o’clock in the evening, and being
arrived at the mouth of the river, I caused the channel to be sounded,
which was found to be very shallow, although that further within the
same the water was there found reasonably deep, which separateth itself
into two great arms, whereof one runneth toward the south, and the
other toward the north. Having thus searched the river, I went on land
to speak with the Indians, which waited for us upon the shore, which at
our coming on land came before us crying with a loud voice in their
Indian language ‘Antipola Bonassou,’ which is as much as to say,
brother, friend, or some such like thing. After they had made much of
us, they showed us their paracoussy, that is to say, their king or
governor, to whom I presented certain toys wherewith he was well pleased
and for mine own part I praised God continually for the great love I
found in these savages, which were sorry for nothing but that the night
approached and made us retire into our ships. Howbeit before my
departure I named the river the River of Dolphins, because at mine
arrival I saw there a great number of dolphins which were playing at the
mouth thereof.”[2] The dolphins or porpoises still continue to play in
the river and harbor at St. Augustine, especially during the summer
season. Throughout the greater part of the year rare sport could be
obtained by good shots who had the skill to lodge a rifle ball in the
head of the porpoise as he rises to “blow.”

The Indian town located on the present site of St. Augustine was Seloy,
and the same name seems to have been given to both of the rivers which
unite to form the harbor. From the narration it would seem probable that
the point where Laudonnère landed was upon Anastatia Island, the Indians
having come over from the mainland on seeing the French ships in the

Laudonnère having left Fort Charles, entered the river May, and
selecting a favorable site, about six leagues distant from the mouth,
built a small settlement, which he fortified with palisades and an
embankment of earth in the shape of a triangle, and named it Carolus,
still doing honor to the king who so little deserved esteem. With a
religious fervor characteristic of the age, and probably heightened by
their isolation, and proximity to the vast ocean which they had just
passed in safety, and solemnly impressed by their surroundings on a vast
and unexplored continent, the little band of strangers assembled and
dedicated their work and themselves to the glory of God and the
advancement of his holy faith.

The site of the Huguenot settlement is now known as St. John’s Bluff,
the first point of high land on the south after entering the St. Johns
River from the ocean. It is a sightly hill, probably formed by sand
dunes at an early period when the shore was far to the west of its
present coast line. The bluff rises some forty feet above the river, and
is covered with a thick growth of oaks and other hard woods. At the foot
of the hill on the east lay the broad marshes stretching for four or
five miles toward the sea, and reaching to the narrow ridge of sands and
woods adjoining the beach. The channel of the river here approaches the
southern bank, and the strong current sweeping in against the mobile
sands at each tide has greatly abraded the hill until probably the site
of Laudonnère’s fort has become the channel of the river. The site has
been fortified several times since. During the rebellion a considerable
earthwork was erected there by Florida troops, but the encroachments of
the river have already swept away the site.

Laudonnère had found the Indians very friendly, and this peaceable
disposition was by him assiduously cultivated. Trinkets and small
presents were exchanged for the provisions which they liberally
provided, and on several occasions the French lent their aid in making
war on the enemies of the friendly tribes about them.

The chief or cacique of the tribe which inhabited the country between
the mouth of the St. Johns River and St. Augustine was named Satourioua,
or Satouriva, and in his intercourse with the French and Spanish he
exhibited a remarkable sagacity and fidelity, as well as a dignity
unlooked for in a savage.

Laudonnère describes his first meeting with this chief in these words:
“We found the Paracoussy Satourioua under an arbor, accompanied by
fourscore Indians at the least, and appareled at that time after the
Indian fashion, to wit: with a great hart’s skin, dressed like chamois
and painted with devices of strange and divers colors, but of so lively
a portraiture and representing antiquity with rules so justly compassed
that there is no painter so exquisite that could find fault therewith.
The natural disposition of this strange people is so perfect and so well
guided that without any aid and favor of arts they are able by the help
of nature only, to content the eye of artisans; yet even of those which
by their industry are able to aspire unto things most absolute.

“The paracoussy now brought us to his father’s lodging, one of the
oldest men that lived upon the earth. Our men regarding his age began to
make much of him, using this speech, Ami--ami--that is to say friend,
whereat the old sire showed himself very glad. Afterwards they
questioned with him concerning the course of his age; whereunto he made
answer showing that he was the first living original from whence five
generations were descended. M. de Ottigni having seen so strange a thing
turned to the man praying him to vouchsafe to answer him to that which
he demanded touching his age. Then the old man called a company of
Indians, and striking twice upon his thigh, and laying his hand upon
two of them, he showed him by signs that these two were his sons; again,
smiting upon their thighs, he showed him others not so old who were the
children of the first two; which he continued in the same manner until
the fifth generation. But this old man had his father alive, more old
than himself, and this man, which seemed to be rather a dead carcass
than a live body, for his sinews, his veins, his arteries, his bones and
other parts appeared so clearly that a man might easily tell them and
discern them one from another, and both of them did wear their hair very
long, and as white as possible, yet it was told us that they might yet
live thirty or forty years more by the course of nature, although the
younger of them both was not less than two hundred and fifty years

Laudonnère employed the Indians to assist him in finding gold, and sent
various boat expeditions to the head-waters of the St. Johns River. It
is reported, though unlikely, that one of his officers penetrated the
interior as far as the Mississippi.

Some of his men appear to have been dissatisfied with the position
assumed by their leader. They accused him of setting up a regal state,
and also of having obtained a knowledge of the location of gold which he
concealed from the rest of the company. Through the influence of these
disaffected ones a conspiracy was organized to depose Laudonnère. He got
rid of several of the disaffected ones, however, by sending them back to
France in a vessel which was returned for supplies at this period.
Subsequently the discontent increased, and Laudonnère was confined for
fifteen days upon one of the vessels in the river, while the mutineers
set about equipping two small vessels which he had built for
exploration. After rifling the fort of such supplies as they needed,
they set sail in these two ships on a piratical expedition. One of these
vessels, having been separated by a gale from its consort, captured a
Spanish ship, and after various adventures was finally captured and the
crew destroyed. The other, after having exhausted its supplies, returned
to the colony, and four of the leaders were tried and shot for mutiny.

Hearing that there were white captives among the Indians who resided
further south, Laudonnère sent word that he would pay a considerable
ransom for their delivery. Soon after there appeared two Spaniards who
had been wrecked fifteen years before. They had adopted the costume of
the natives--long hair, _et preteria nihil_. They reported that there
had also been saved several women who had married and consented to live
among the Indians.

The vessel sent to France for supplies not having returned, the garrison
were threatened with an exhaustion of their stores. During all this time
the French seem to have made no effort to cultivate the ground,
expecting either that they would be supplied from home or that the
Indians would furnish all that was required for subsistence. Their store
of presents having become exhausted, however, the Indians became very
niggardly and exacting, and finally declared that they were unable to
supply any sort of provisions. At this Laudonnère seized a chief of one
of the tribes inhabiting the territory to the south, and demanded of the
Indians a large amount of provisions as a ransom. This he did not
succeed in securing, and only engendered in the Indians an unfriendly
spirit, which prompted them later to give to Menendez information of the
location and condition of the French forces. He finally obtained
supplies from some of the tribes to the north, among which was one
inhabiting the sea islands, whose ruler was a beautiful queen. Finding
themselves in danger of starvation, the French set about constructing a
vessel to return home. They were diligently pushing on the work of
construction when there appeared off the coast an English fleet under
the command of Sir John Hawkins, who put into May River for water.
Laudonnère entertained the English with the best he had, even killing
sheep and poultry that he had been saving to stock the country. This
hospitality was reciprocated by Sir John, who, seeing their desperate
condition, offered to transport the whole company to France. Though he
pledged his word to land them on the shores of France before touching
England, Laudonnère refused his offer, fearing, as he said, “least he
should attempt somewhat in Florida in the name of his mistress.”

Sir John Hawkins, however, with a generous humanity, consented to sell
to the French one of his vessels, and suffered them to assess its value.
With the vessel the English admiral delivered to them a thousand rounds
of ammunition, twenty barrels of flour, five barrels of beans, a
hogshead of salt, with wax for candles, and, as he saw the Frenchmen
were barefooted, fifty pairs of shoes. Having delivered these things to
the French, Sir John sailed away bearing with him the blessings of these
forsaken Frenchmen. Alas! their enjoyment of the fruits of the
Englishman’s humanity was destined to be short-lived.



The Huguenots in France had not forgotten their friends in Florida,
though the dissensions at home had turned their attention away from all
but the plottings and schemings about them. Desiring to succor and
strengthen the colony, Coligni had secured a fleet of seven vessels,
four being of considerable size. These he placed in command of Captain
Ribault, who had taken out the first expedition. Ribault quickly
recruited a company of six hundred and fifty persons, among whom were
said to be many representatives of good families, about five hundred
being soldiers.

The fleet sailed from Dieppe in May, 1565, and after a long but
uneventful voyage reached Florida in safety.

By some means information had been sent to the Spanish Court that an
expedition was fitting out for the succor of the Huguenot colony in
Florida. It has been said that this knowledge emanated from those about
the French sovereign, though it is by no means necessary that it must
have come from such a source. The enemies of the Protestants were
numerous and bitter all over France, and the recruiting and equipment of
the expedition could have been no secret.

Philip II. determined not to allow any encroachment on the territory,
which he claimed by the right of his subjects’ former expeditions of
discovery and by gift from the Holy See. Not only was he unwilling to
see Florida occupied by foreigners, but of all persons none were more
objectionable than Protestants, upon whom he looked as upon those
without the pale of Christianity, who only lived as enemies of God, to
disseminate a wicked creed, and war upon His holy faith. The very
instrument for the execution of the plans of this bigoted monarch seems
to have been at hand. Don Pedro Menendez de Avilla, had acquired wealth
and distinction as a naval officer. This knight was now desirous of the
honor of driving the French from Florida. Menendez was of aristocratic
birth, a man of great firmness of will and tenacity of purpose; a brave
commander, with a superior sagacity and knowledge of human nature, and
withal a most zealous and devoted Catholic. The name of Menendez has
been held up to the world as the symbol of all that is malignant,
heartless, and cruel. If we are to judge of men’s actions in the past by
the motives that prompted them, as we are asked and expected to do in
all things which happen in our own day, then by such a test the actions
of Menendez must be less harshly considered. That he believed the
rooting out of the Protestant colonization and their faith from the
shores of the New World was God’s work, there can be no doubt. His
devotion to the propagation of the Catholic religion in Florida, and the
sacrifices which he made to extend and continue the teachings of that
faith, prove beyond a doubt his sincerity and fervent zeal. His
conciliatory measures toward the savages so entirely within his power,
and his efforts to instruct the tribes all over Florida, which met with
such marked success, will go far to prove that his nature was not
wantonly cruel. The purpose of his expedition, the object for which he
had enlisted nearly three thousand persons, transporting them into an
unknown continent, and, as is said, investing of his own means nearly
five million dollars, was to prevent the propagation of heretical
doctrines on the shores of the New World. As Menendez expressed it, it
was “to prevent the Lutherans from establishing their abominable and
unreasonable sect among the Indians.” It should also be remembered that
an edict of Ribault’s had been published when he undertook his
expedition, “that no Catholic at the peril of his life should go in his
fleet, nor any Catholic books be taken.”

Besides it is not improbable that the French prisoners, who were nearly
all put to death by Menendez, were destroyed in the belief that by this
course alone could his own position in his isolated location be made

The little band with Laudonnère were waiting for fair winds to sail away
from Florida in the ship they had purchased of the English when the
fleet under Ribault arrived off the mouth of the river May, on the 29th
of August, 1565. Four of the seven vessels were too large to enter the
river, but the other three were brought up to the settlement, and at
once began to land the supplies. Ribault now assumed the command, and
all thought of departure was dismissed. This course was most acceptable
to Laudonnère, who had only consented to abandon the plan of
colonization from the force of his straitened circumstances and the
demands of his company. He had declared that it made his heart grieve to
leave “a place so pleasant that those who are melancholic would be
forced to change their humor,” and to possess which they had given up
home, and friends, and fortune, and undergone perils of land and water.

While the fleet of Ribault was making its long voyage across the
Atlantic, Menendez was pushing forward his equipment of a fleet to
follow and expel the French from Florida. If he succeeded he was to have
the title of marquis, a large tract of land, and the freedom of all the
ports of New Spain. A salary of ten thousand dollars and the title of
Adelantado was conferred upon him at the outset. He secured a fleet of
thirty-four vessels, which he fully equipped, providing the means from
his private fortune. But one vessel, with two hundred and fifty soldiers
and their equipment, was provided by the crown. Learning the object of
the expedition, volunteers flocked to his standard until he soon had a
force of nearly three thousand men, including a party of twenty-six
monks and priests. Impatient of delay Menendez put to sea on the 1st of
July, with his flag-ship the _El Pelayo_ and about two-thirds of his
fleet, ordering the remainder to rendezvous at Porto Rico as soon as
their equipment was completed. Scarcely had the fleet of Menendez left
the port of Cadiz before a severe storm was encountered that separated
the vessels, and sank and disabled so many that on his arrival at Porto
Rico, on the 9th of August, he found but six ships under his command.
The courage of their leader was undaunted, though a general despair
pervaded the fleet. In the destruction wrought by the mighty elements he
pictured the hand of God, and revived the spirits of his followers by
the assurance that the Almighty had reduced their numbers that “His own
arm might achieve the victory, and His glory be exalted.” Learning that
a Spanish vessel bearing letters to himself had been intercepted by the
French fleet, he determined to sail for Florida at once, without waiting
for the remainder of the fleet. On the 28th of August, the day set in
the calendar of the Romish Church to the honor of St. Augustine, the
fleet came in sight of the Florida coast, probably near Cape Canaveral.
Here they learned the location of the French colony, and sailing
northward, on the 4th of September came in sight of the four French
ships, which lay off the mouth of the river May (St. Johns). During the
night a council was held on board the vessel of the Spanish admiral, in
which the majority of the captains urged a delay until the remainder of
the fleet could arrive from Spain. Menendez courageously refused to
listen to such a plan, and gave orders for an attack at daybreak. The
Frenchmen, however, displayed more of discretion than boldness, and upon
the approach of the Spanish fleet, put out to sea. According to
Laudonnère’s account, “the Spaniards seeing that they could not reach
them by reason that the French ships were better of sail than theirs,
and also because they wou’d not leave the coast, turned back and went on
shore in the river Seloy, which we call the river of Dolphins, eight or
ten leagues from where we were. Our ships returned and reported that
they had seen three Spanish ships enter the river of Dolphins, and the
other three remained in the road; further, that they had put their
soldiers, their victuals, and munitions on land.... And we understood by
King Emola, one of our neighbors, which arrived upon the handling of
these matters, that the Spaniards in great numbers were gone on shore,
which had taken possession of the houses of Seloy, in the most part
whereof they had placed their negroes, which they had brought to labor,
and also lodged themselves and had cast divers trenches about them.”[4]

The Spanish priest Mendoza gives the following account of the foundation
of St. Augustine: “On Saturday, the 8th day of September, the day of the
Nativity of our Lady, the general disembarked with numerous banners
displayed, trumpets and other martial music resounding, and amid salvos
of artillery. Carrying a cross I proceeded at the head, chanting the
hymn Te Deum Laudamus. The general marched straight up to the cross,
together with all those who accompanied him; and kneeling they all
kissed the cross. A great number of Indians looked upon these
ceremonies, and imitated whatever they saw done. Thereupon the general
took possession of the country in the name of his Majesty. All the
officers then took an oath of allegiance to him as their general, and as
Adelantado of the whole country.”

Near the site of the Indian village of Seloy was thus laid the
foundation of the first town built by the Caucasian in America. At this
time and place was also introduced that curse and blight upon the
fairest portion of our country, African slavery, whose train of evils
has not been confined to the Southern negroes, but has extended to the
white race, and throughout the length and breadth of our common country.

Especially to Florida has this iniquitous system been the cause of
unnumbered woes. For an account of the misfortunes which slavery wrought
upon this State prior to the rebellion of 1861, the reader has only to
consult Gidding’s “Exiles of Florida.” It is certain that African
slavery was at this time introduced into North America, though several
writers have evinced a desire to overlook this important fact of
history. The evidence, however, is too plain for denial, the original
agreement with Philip the Second having granted to Menendez the right to
take with him five hundred negro slaves. Whether or not he took this
number is not material.

In commemoration of the day on which he arrived off the coast, Menendez
gave to the new town the name of St. Augustine, which it has continued
to bear for more than three hundred years. The precise spot where the
Spaniards landed is uncertain, though it is not unlikely that it was
near the ground on which the Franciscans erected their house, now the
United States barrack.

While Menendez was making haste to fortify his position at St.
Augustine, Ribault was preparing to descend the coast, and by a sudden
attack capture the Spanish fleet and cut off the settlement. This plan
was ineffectually opposed by Laudonnère. His opposition to the plan of
action adopted may have been the cause of his failure to accompany the
expedition. Removing the artillery and garrison to his fleet, and
leaving in the fort the noncombatants, including women, children, and
invalids, to the number of two hundred and forty under the command of
Laudonnère, Ribault set sail to attack the Spaniards on the 10th of

They bore rapidly down until in sight of the Spanish vessels anchored
off the bar of St. Augustine. Before the enemy were reached, and the
fleet collected for action, Ribault found himself in the midst of one of
those gales which occur with suddenness and violence on the coast of
Florida at different periods of every fall. The tempest rendered his
ships unmanageable, and finally wrecked them all at different points on
the coast south of Matanzas Inlet.

Menendez had watched the French ships as they approached St. Augustine.
Observing the severity of the storm he was satisfied that the fleet
could not beat back in its teeth should they escape shipwreck, and
therefore their return was impossible for several days after the storm
should cease. Determined to seize the favorable opportunity to attack
the fort on the St. Johns, he gathered a picked force, and with eight
days’ provisions began a march across the country under the guidance of
two Indians who were unfriendly to the French. The march proved
difficult on account of the pouring rains and their ignorance of the
country. The swamps and “baygalls,” many of them waist-deep with water,
proved so embarrassing that it took three days of laborious marching
amidst great discomforts to cover the distance of fifty miles between
the two posts. Immediately on the departure of the ships, Laudonnère had
set to work with the force at his command to repair the breeches in the
fort. These had been made when they expected to return to France. He
also began to so discipline his men as to be a guard to the post. For
several days the regular watches were kept up by the captains who had
been appointed, but as the gale continued they began to feel confident
that no attack would be made while the weather was so inclement, and
therefore ceased to be vigilant. On the night of September 19th the gale
had been very severe, and at daybreak, finding the captain of the watch
was in his quarters, the sentinels went under shelter. At this very
moment the soldiers under Menendez were in sight, kneeling in prayer.
From prayers they rushed to the attack; gaining entrance into the fort
without much opposition, they began an indiscriminate slaughter.
Laudonnère with twenty men sprang from the walls and escaped into the
woods, from whence he made his way across the marshes to a small vessel
in the river, which had been left in charge of Captain Jaques Ribault, a
son of the admiral. From thence they proceeded directly to France
without making an effort to find their companions of Ribault’s fleet or
to learn their fate.

An order from Menendez to spare the women, children, and cripples, put a
stop to the massacre, though it is said, “to escape death they were
forced to submit to slavery.” The French account says that all the men
who escaped instant death were hung to the limbs of neighboring trees.
This may be exaggerated, but it is certain that the Spaniards suspended
the bodies of some of the Frenchmen, and set up this inscription, “No
por Franceses, sino por Luteranos” (we do not do this as unto Frenchmen,
but as unto Lutherans). Menendez found in the fort six trunks filled
“with books well bound and gilt, from which they did not say mass, but
preached their Lutheran doctrines every evening; all of which books he
directed to be burned.”



Fearing lest Ribault should have escaped destruction in the storm, and
returning, should make an attack during his absence, Menendez hurried
back to St. Augustine. He took with him only fifty men, the rest being
left under the command of his son-in-law, De Valdez, who was ordered to
build a church on the site selected by Menendez, and marked by the
erection of crosses. After the completion of the church, De Valdez was
to use every effort to strengthen the captured fort.

Arriving at St. Augustine, Menendez was hailed as conqueror, and having
been escorted into the place by the priests and people who had been left
behind, a solemn mass was repeated, and a Te Deum chanted to celebrate
the victory.

Several of Ribault’s vessels were wrecked between Mosquito and Matanzas
inlets. Strange as it may appear, in the destruction of the whole fleet
but one life was lost from drowning. It now often happens on the sandy
portion of the Florida coast, that vessels will be driven high upon the
beach by the force of the swell, and there left by the receding tide in
a sound condition.

About two hundred men had collected on the southern barrier at Matanzas
Inlet, while a larger party with Ribault were gathered on the same
barrier, further to the south. The Indians soon after reported to
Menendez a large body of men at an inlet four leagues south which they
were unable to cross. He therefore marched with a body of forty men for
the inlet, and arrived at Matanzas the same evening. His course was
probably down the beach on Anastatia Island, as the account speaks of
his ordering the boats to keep abreast of him on the march.

Having come to the mouth of the inlet one of the Frenchmen swam across,
and reported that the party there assembled belonged to one of the
vessels of Ribault’s fleet. Menendez returned the man in a boat, and
offered a pledge of safety to the French captain and four or five of his
lieutenants who might choose to cross over and hold an interview. Upon
this pledge the captain crossed over in the boat with four of his
companions. These begged of Menendez that he would provide them with
boats that they might cross that inlet and the one at St. Augustine, and
return to their fort, twenty leagues to the north. Upon this Menendez
informed them of the capture of the fort and the destruction of the
garrison. The captain thereupon besought that they be furnished with a
vessel to return to France, observing that the French and Spanish kings
were loving brothers and the two nations at peace. Menendez, in reply,
asked if they were Catholics; to which it was answered that they were of
the New Religion. Then Menendez answered that if they had been Catholics
he would feel that he was serving his king in doing them kindness, but
Protestants he considered as enemies against which he should wage war
unceasingly, both against them, and against all that should come into
the territory of which he was adelantado, having come to these shores in
the service of his king, to plant the Holy Faith, in order that the
savages might be brought to a knowledge of the Holy Catholic religion.

Upon hearing this, the captain and his men desired to return and report
the same to their companions, and were accordingly sent back in the
boat. Soon after observing signals or signs from the opposite shore, the
boat was sent over to know what was their pleasure.

The French then endeavored to make some terms for a surrender, with the
privilege of ransom. There being many members of noble and wealthy
families among them, as much as fifty thousand ducats was offered for a
pledge of safety. Menendez would make no pledge, simply sending word
that if they desired they could surrender their arms and yield
themselves to his mercy, “in order that he might do unto them what
should be dictated to him by the grace of God.” The French seem to have
had an instinctive feeling that it would fare hard with them should they
yield themselves to the Spaniards; yet they were so wholly demoralized
and disheartened by the misfortune that had befallen them, that after
much delay and parley they finally sent word to Menendez that they were
willing to yield themselves to be dealt with as he willed. The French
were therefore transported across the sound in parties of ten at a time.
As each boat-load was landed, Menendez directed that the prisoners be
led behind “the scrub,” and their hands pinioned behind their backs.
This course he declared to them to be necessary, as he had but a small
number of men in his command, and if left free it would be an easy
matter for the French to turn upon him and revenge themselves for the
destruction of their fort and Laudonnère’s command. In this manner was
secured the whole body of the French who had collected on the southern
shore of Matanzas Inlet, to the number of two hundred and eight men. Of
this number eight in response to an inquiry declared themselves to be
Catholics, and were sent to St. Augustine in the boat. The remainder
were ordered to march with the Spanish soldiers on their path back to
the settlement. Menendez had sent on in advance an officer and a file of
soldiers with orders to wait at a designated spot on the road, and as
the parties of Frenchmen came up, to take them aside into the woods and
put them to death. In this manner the whole party were killed, and their
bodies left on the sands to feed the buzzards.

Menendez had hardly returned to St. Augustine before he learned that
there was a larger body of Frenchmen assembled at the spot where he had
found the first party, who were constructing a raft on which to cross
the inlet. Hurrying back with his troops he sent across a boat with a
message to the commander, whom he rightly conjectured was Ribault
himself, that he had destroyed the fort on the St. Johns, and a body of
those who were shipwrecked, and promising him a safe conduct if he
wished to cross over and satisfy himself as to the truth of this report.
Ribault availed himself of this offer, and was shown the dead bodies of
his men who had been so cruelly murdered. He was allowed to converse
with one of the prisoners who had been brought in the company of the
Spaniards. This man was one of the eight who were Catholics and were
spared from the former company.

Ribault endeavored to negotiate for the ransom of himself and his men,
offering double the sum before named by the French captain, but Menendez
refused to listen to any terms except an unconditional surrender. After
ineffectually offering a ransom of 200,000 ducats, the French admiral
returned to his party, and informed them of the demands of the Spaniard.
In spite of the terrible fate of their comrades, which should have
served as a warning of what awaited themselves, one hundred and fifty of
the company, including Ribault, decided to surrender to the Spanish

These were transported to the island and disposed of in the same manner
as the former body of prisoners, saving only a few musicians, and four
soldiers who claimed to be Catholics--in all, sixteen persons. Two
hundred of the French refused to trust themselves to the Spaniards,
preferring the chances of preserving their lives on the inhospitable
beach until they could find a way to escape to a more friendly country.
These retreated back to their wrecked ships, and began to construct a
fort and a small vessel to return to France, or at least to leave the
fatal shores of Florida.

Menendez soon after determined to break up their camp, fearing the
presence of so large a body of his enemies in his midst. Having fitted
out a fleet of three vessels to co-operate by water, Menendez marched
his soldiers a journey of eight days from St. Augustine. Here he found
the fugitives encamped and prepared to resist an attack. Without delay,
the Spaniards were led to battle. The French, being poorly equipped,
fought at a disadvantage, and were soon forced to retire beyond the
reach of the cannon of the fleet. Having captured the fortification,
Menendez sent word to the French that if they would surrender he would
spare their lives. A portion of the French refused to trust the pledge
of the Spanish captain, and withdrew to the woods. These were never
heard of more. The remainder came to the Spanish camp and surrendered.

After destroying the fort and setting fire to the wrecked vessels and
the ship the French had begun to build, the Spaniards sailed back to St.
Augustine, bringing with them one hundred and fifty of the Frenchmen. To
this remnant of the proud army of Ribault the pledges given by Menendez
were faithfully kept.

It is difficult to believe that the unfortunate condition of these
shipwrecked Frenchmen, far from their kindred or race, thrown destitute
upon desolate shores, and begging so earnestly for life, did not move
the heart of Menendez to feelings of pity. Doubtless a regard for his
own safety united with a furious fanaticism to effectually seal up the
springs of charity in his breast.

The earlier experiences of Menendez in his wars against the Protestants
of the Netherlands, had been in a fallow field for the cultivation of
humanity. In those struggles Pope Pius V. is said to have commanded
Count Santafiore to take no Huguenot prisoners, but instantly to kill
every one who should fall into his hands.[5]

Let us hope that the sands of Florida will never again be reddened by
blood spilled by the hand of the bigot or partisan.

The results achieved by Menendez occasioned great rejoicing at the court
of Spain. Letters of gratitude and commendation were sent to him by
Philip II. and the Pontiff Pius V. The pope’s letter is an able and
dispassionate epistle. After lauding the virtues of Menendez, he
declares to him that the key-note to his inspiration and the motive of
his labors, should be to prevent the “Indian idolaters” from being
scandalized by the vices and bad habits of the Europeans.

As the exaggerated reports of the cruelties practiced by Menendez spread
through Europe, an intense and bitter feeling was excited. Indignation
pervaded the breasts of the French nation at the destruction of their
fellow-countrymen, although the king, Charles IX., failed, in fact even
refused, to take notice of the slaughter of his faithful subjects. A
petition from nine hundred widows and orphans of those who had sailed
on the fatal expedition with Ribault, was unheeded by this sovereign.
That the fate of the Huguenots was merited as the common enemies of
Spain, France, and the Catholic religion, was the openly avowed
sentiment of this unnatural and unpatriotic king.

Feeling the insecurity of his position, from which there was no place of
retreat in case of a successful attack from a foreign foe or the
neighboring Indians, Menendez applied himself, with the utmost
diligence, to strengthening the defense of his new town. At the same
time he instituted such measures as should insure a permanent
settlement, and the establishment of civil rights and privileges.

I have stated that the place where Menendez landed was probably near the
present United States barracks. While I have been unable to discover any
authentic records bearing upon this point, the weight of Spanish
testimony confirms the belief that the Spaniards first landed near the
point stated. On the other hand, Romans, in his history of Florida,
published in 1775, says: “After leaving St. Sebastian River, going
south, we next meet the mouth of St. Nicholas Creek, on the point to the
north of which the first town was built by the Spaniards, but they soon
removed it, for convenience sake, to its present site.”

This St. Nicholas is now called Moultrie Creek, in honor of a
lieutenant-governor of the province during the British occupancy, who
built at its mouth an elegant country residence, which he called Bella
Vista. It is situated six miles south of St. Augustine, and empties into
the Matanzas River. Besides the explicit testimony of Romans, there is a
certain amount of negative testimony to discredit the statement that an
Indian town was located on the present site of St. Augustine.

First, the location at the mouth of Moultrie Creek would have been a
more desirable location for an Indian town than the site of St.
Augustine, because the land at St. Augustine was low ground (by some
writers said to have been a marsh, though others say it was an oak
hummock). It must have been subject to overflow at the periods of very
high tides, and always exposed to the force of gales. There is also good
reason to believe that there was water or low ground between the
southern end of the town and the fort, and, moreover, there are no signs
of Indian occupation within the city proper. There are many traces of an
Indian settlement to the north of the city, on the lands of Mr. Williams
and in that vicinity, and all accounts agree that there was an Indian
town there in the early Spanish times. There are acres of Mr. Williams’s
land that are so thickly strewn with oyster shells as to render its
cultivation difficult.

However the facts may be as to the location of the first landing of
Menendez and the attendant ceremonies, it is certain that, soon after,
the foundations of the town were laid on its present site, and the town,
with its fortifications, regularly laid out. The city was originally
planned to be three squares one way by four the other. At this time a
stockade or fortification was built upon or near the site of the present
fort. At about the same period a parish church and hall of justice were
erected, and civil officers appointed.

During the winter succeeding the settlement of the Spaniards at St.
Augustine, there was a great scarcity of provisions in the colony, so
that the settlers were forced to forage upon the neighboring Indians,
and to depend upon such supplies of fish and game as they might secure.
The danger which attended any expeditions for hunting rendered this but
a meager source of supply. Satouriva, the chief of the Indians, who
inhabited the territory to the north, between St. Augustine and the St.
Johns River, had been a friend of Laudonnère, and from the time of the
destruction of the French he continued unceasingly to wage war on the
Spaniards. His method of warfare exhibited the same bravery and cunning
that has since become characteristic of the Indians, never being found
when looked for--ever present when unexpected. By the constant harassing
attacks, encouraged by this chief, the Spaniards lost many valuable
lives, among them Juan Menendez, nephew of the governor.

To obtain supplies to relieve the distress of his colony, Menendez
undertook a voyage to Cuba. The governor of the island was through
jealousy unwilling to render him any assistance, and he would have fared
badly had he not found there four of his vessels, which had been left in
Spain with orders to follow him, but, meeting with many delays, had but
lately arrived in Cuba.

With these vessels he returned to his colony, only to find that during
his absence a portion of the troops had mutinied. The mutineers had
imprisoned the master of the camp, who had been left in command, seized
upon what provisions were remaining, and taking possession of a small
vessel arriving with stores, had set sail for Cuba.

Menendez with consummate tact succeeded in rousing the flagging interest
of his colony in the extension of the true religion, and managed by his
courage and presence to remove the causes of dissension. Desiring to be
rid of a portion of his colony who had proved querulous, lazy, and
inimical to his interest, he sent a body of them, numbering one hundred,
back to Cuba in one of the vessels going for supplies. The return of
this vessel was anxiously looked for, as the colony had again begun to
suffer from a scarcity of provisions and from sickness. Without waiting
for affairs to become desperate, Menendez sailed for Cuba to obtain the
needed supplies. Upon his arrival he found the governor of Mexico there,
but so disparaging had been the reports of those who had deserted his
standard, that he was advised to give up his unprofitable enterprise,
and the succor he requested was refused. His courage but rose as his
circumstances became more adverse, and, determined not to relinquish his
undertaking nor return empty-handed to his famishing colony, he pawned
his jewels and the badge of his order for a sum of five hundred ducats,
with which he purchased the necessary provisions, and hastened back to
Florida. Upon his return he was rejoiced to find that the distress of
his colony had already been relieved. Admiral Juan de Avila had arrived
from Spain with fifteen vessels and a thousand men, a large quantity of
supplies, and what was most gratifying to Menendez, a letter of
commendation from his sovereign.

Availing himself of the force now at his command, Menendez set out on an
expedition to establish forts and missionary stations at different
points along the coast, as had been his intention since his first
landing in Florida. Several of these posts were at this time established
by him in the territory then embraced in Florida, the most northerly
station being on the Chesapeake Bay, which was the northern boundary of
the possessions claimed by Spain. Priests or friars were left at each of
these stations to instruct the Indians. While establishing these
missionary posts for introducing Christianity among the Indians,
Menendez became convinced that if the establishments were to be
maintained, and the most important work of teaching the natives
continued, he must have larger means and greater forces at his command.
Hoping to obtain this aid from his sovereign, he set out for Spain in
the spring of 1567. Upon his arrival he was welcomed by the king with
many flattering attentions and assurances of aid in the furtherance of
his plans for propagating the Catholic faith.



While Menendez was occupied in Spain in forwarding the interests of his
colony, in France plans were being formed and a secret enterprise
undertaken for an attack on the Spanish posts in Florida.

Most inflammatory and exaggerated accounts of the massacre at Fort
Carolin had been published throughout France.

One account says of the Spaniards that, after taking the fort, “and
finding no more men, they assailed the poor women, and after having by
force and violence abused the greater part, they destroyed them, and cut
the throats of the little children indiscriminately, ... they took as
many of them alive as they could, and having kept them for three days
without giving them anything to eat, and having made them undergo all
the tortures and all the mockings that could be devised, they hung them
up to some trees that were near the fort. They even flayed the king’s
lieutenant and sent his skin to the King of Spain, and having torn out
his eyes, blackened with their blows, they fastened them on the points
of their daggers, and tried who could throw them the greatest

The French king had refused to listen to the appeals of the relatives
and friends of the Huguenots who had been exterminated 57 in Florida;
but, distressed by the destruction of their countrymen and the harrowing
accounts of the massacre, many of the nation had long felt it a
mortification that an outrage so gross should have received neither
redress nor rebuke.

Among those whose jealous regard for the national honor was touched by
the conduct of the French king, and in whose breast burned fiercely the
fires of revenge, was the Chevalier Dominique de Gourges. Appearing as
he does in history as the avenger of the sad destruction of his
countrymen, in an expedition undertaken without solicitation, at his own
expense, and at the risk of forfeiting his life by the command of his
king, even if he should be successful, it is but natural that his
character should have been extolled and his virtues exalted by all
writers who have admired his chivalrous courage.

De Gourges was born of noble parentage, at Mount Marsan in Guienne, and
was said to have been a Catholic, though this is denied by the Spanish
historians. His life had been spent in arms in the service of his king
in Scotland, Piedmont, and Italy. His career was that of an adventurer,
ever ready to risk life to acquire honor and reputation, and having
little desire to amass riches. While serving in Italy against the
Spaniards, he was taken prisoner and consigned to labor as a galley
slave. This ignominious treatment of a soldier of his birth and rank
left in his mind an unappeasable hatred of the Spaniards. His period of
servitude was cut short by the capture of the Spanish galley upon which
he served by Turkish pirates, from whom in turn he was liberated by
Romeguas, the French commander at Malta. His experience during his
imprisonment and escape seems to have opened his eyes to the
opportunities for plunder upon the seas. Soon after his release he
entered upon a marauding expedition to the South Seas, in which he
secured considerable plunder. He had but recently returned home, and
retired to enjoy in quiet the property acquired in his ventures, when
the news of the destruction of Ribault’s colony reached France. Eager to
retaliate by a severe punishment this outrage upon his countrymen, De
Gourges sold his property, and with the sum realized and what he could
borrow on the credit of an alleged commercial venture, purchased and
equipped a fleet of three small vessels, one of which was nothing more
than a launch.

Deeming it impolitic to make known the object of his voyage, he obtained
a license to trade and procure slaves on the coast of Africa. He
enlisted for a cruise of twelve months a force of one hundred and eighty
picked men, many of whom were gentlemen adventurers. He had been careful
to secure one at least of the men who had escaped with Laudonnère from
Fort Carolin. M. de Montluc, the king’s lieutenant in Guienne, a friend
of De Gourges, rendered him valuable assistance in securing his
equipment. On the 2d of August, 1567, he left Bordeaux, but was delayed
by a storm eight days at the mouth of the river Garonne. Afterward,
having put to sea he was driven by stress of weather far out of his
course, and encountered so severe a gale as to nearly wreck the fleet on
Cape Finisterre.

One vessel, in which was his lieutenant, was blown so far out of its
course that for fifteen days it was supposed to be lost, which caused
him all “the trouble in the world,” as his people earnestly besought him
to return. The missing vessel, however, met him off the coast of Africa.
Land was then kept in sight until they reached Cape Verde; “thence
taking the direct route to the Indies, he sailed before the wind upon
the high seas, and having crossed over, the first land which he made was
the island of Dominica.” From thence proceeding he stopped in the
island of St. Domingo to weather a gale, and at the island of Cuba for
water, which he had to take by force, for he says: “The Spaniards are
enraged as soon as they see a Frenchman in the Indies. For although a
hundred Spains could not furnish men enough to hold the hundredth part
of a land so vast and capacious, nevertheless it is the mind of the
Spaniards that this New World was never created except for them, and
that it belongs to no man living to step on it, or breathe in it save to
themselves alone.”

De Gourges had not revealed the real object of the expedition until,
after leaving the island of Cuba, he assembled all his men, and declared
to them his purpose of going to Florida to avenge on the Spaniards the
injury which had been done to the king and to all France. He set before
them the treachery and cruelty of those who had massacred Frenchmen, and
the shame that it was to have left so long unpunished an action so
wicked and so humiliating, and the honor and satisfaction that would
redound to them in removing from the escutcheon of France this foul
blot. The spirit of the address was suited to the French temper, and
they professed themselves ready to fight for the honor of France
wherever the captain should lead. Proceeding on the voyage the fleet
passed the bar of the St. Johns River in sight of the forts which
Menendez had constructed at the mouth of the river. The Spaniards,
mistaking them for their own vessels, fired two guns as a salute, which
was returned by the French, desiring to continue the deception. The
fleet sailed north and entered the St. Mary’s River, where they found a
large body of Indians prepared to dispute any attempt to land. Seeing
this, De Gourges made friendly demonstrations, and sent out the man who
had been with Laudonnère. The Indians readily recognized the Frenchman,
and were delighted to find that the strangers were of that nation, and
enemies of the Spaniards. The chief proved to be Satouriva, the firm
friend to Laudonnère. After learning the purpose of the expedition,
Satouriva promised to join the command at the end of three days with his
whole force of warriors, declaring himself eager to revenge the many
injuries he had himself received as well as the wrongs inflicted on the

Among Satouriva’s tribe was a white child, a refugee from Laudonnère’s
colony, who had escaped at the massacre at Fort Carolin, and been
protected and reared as a son by the old chief, though the Spaniards had
made strenuous efforts to secure possession of him or compass his death.
This child, named Peter de Bré, whom Satouriva had so faithfully
defended, he now brought to the French ships together with his warriors
as he had agreed. Being joined by the Indians, De Gourges set out across
the country under the guidance of the chief, Helecopile, to attack the
two forts at the mouth of the river. The Indians had promised to bring
the command to the fort on the north side of the river by daybreak, but,
owing to the difficulty in following the intricate paths and fording
deep creeks, they were nine hours marching four leagues, and the sun was
rising as they reached the vicinity of the Spanish fort. This fort was
built on Batton Island, near what is now Pilot-town. The other fort was
nearly opposite, in the vicinity of the present village of Mayport. Both
were armed with the cannon taken from the French at the capture of Fort

The Spaniards, not fearing a land attack upon the fort on Batton Island,
had neglected to clear away the woods in the vicinity, so that the
French were concealed until they were close upon the fort. As they
rushed from their cover the Spanish sentinel fired twice, when he was
pierced by the pike of Olotoraca, an Indian chief, nephew of Satouriva.
The Spanish garrison were at breakfast, and before they could be
summoned the fort was filled with the French and Indians. So complete
was the surprise that there was but little resistance. “As many as
possible were taken alive by command of Captain Gourges, in order to do
to them as they had done to the French.”

As soon as the Spaniards whose lives were spared in the attack could be
secured, De Gourges embarked as large a portion of his soldiers as the
boats at his disposal would carry, and hurried to cross the river and
attack the fort at Mayport. The Indians, now wild with excitement, threw
themselves into the water and kept alongside of the boats, swimming with
their bows and arrows held above their heads. The Spaniards in the fort
had by this time begun to realize the situation, and directed the fire
of their guns upon the boats and Indians. Their excitement and alarm
were so great that they did not perceive a difference between the French
and Indians, and seeing so great a multitude approaching, they broke in
terror and fled from the fort before the French reached its walls. The
garrison of the two forts was near a hundred and forty men, all but
fifteen of whom were either killed in the attacks or slain by the
Indians as they attempted to reach the mainland.

The capture of these two forts occurred on the eve of the first “Sunday
after Easter, 1568.” Crossing to the fort first taken, De Gourges rested
on Sunday and Monday. Scaling ladders and other preparations for an
attack on the main fort were in the meantime being prepared. While here,
a Spanish spy disguised as an Indian was recognized by Olotoraca, and
brought to De Gourges. From him it was learned that the French force
was estimated at quite two thousand men, and that the garrison of Fort
Matteo (formerly Fort Carolin) was two hundred and sixty men.

Hearing this report, De Gourges was more anxious than ever to make an
immediate attack. He directed the Indians to advance, some on each side
of the river, and to take up a position in the vicinity of the fort.
Early on the morning of the next day he moved his forces up the river,
and, as he says, “gained a mountain covered with forests, at the foot of
which was built the fort.” He had not intended to attack the fort until
the day after his arrival, but, while posting his men and the Indian
forces, it happened “that the Spaniards made a sally with sixty
arquebusiers[7] to reconnoiter his forces.”

This body he succeeded in cutting off from the fort and totally
destroying. Seeing the fate of so large a portion of their garrison, the
remainder of the Spaniards left the fort in the hopes that they might
make their way to St. Augustine. Entering the woods they were everywhere
met by the Indians. None escaped, and but few were taken alive. Entering
the fort, the French found a number of fine cannon beside a great
quantity of arms, “such as arquebuses, corslets, shields and pikes.”

The Frenchmen were now upon the scene of the massacre of their
countrymen, and the taunting irony of the tablet erected by Menendez was
before their eyes. The spirit of vengeance was aroused. Ordering all the
Spaniards who had been taken alive to be led to the place where they had
hung the Frenchmen, De Gourges rebuked them in scathing terms. He
declared they could never undergo the punishment which they deserved,
but it was necessary to make an example of them that others might learn
to keep the peace which they had so wickedly violated.

“This said, they were tied up to the same trees where they had hung the
Frenchmen, and in the place of the inscription which Peter Menendez had
put over them containing these words in the Spanish language: ‘I do this
not as to Frenchmen, but as to Lutherans;’ Captain Gourges caused to be
graven on a pine tablet with a hot iron: ‘I do this not as to Spaniards
or mariners, but as to traitors, robbers, and murderers.’”

One of the Spaniards is said to have confessed that he had hung up five
Frenchmen with his own hand, and acknowledged that God had brought him
to the punishment he deserved. The next day while frying fish an Indian
set fire to a train of powder laid by the Spaniards which had not been
discovered, and the whole interior of the fort was thereby destroyed.
Being aware that his forces were too weak to hold the country, and
having accomplished all that he had crossed the ocean to perform, De
Gourges completed the destruction of the forts, and, bidding adieu to
the Indians, sailed away for France. The fleet arrived at La Rochelle on
the 6th of June, after a voyage of thirty-four days. The loss of life in
the enterprise had been but “a few gentlemen of good birth,” a few
soldiers in the attacks, and eight men on the patache or launch, which
was lost at sea. Being received “with all honor, courtesy, and kind
treatment,” by the citizens of La Rochelle, where he remained a few
days, De Gourges then sailed for Bordeaux. The Spaniards being advised
of his arrival and what he had done in Florida, sent a large ship and
eighteen launches to surprise and capture him. This formidable fleet
arrived in the roadstead of La Rochelle the very day of his departure.

The head of De Gourges was demanded and a price set upon it by the King
of Spain, but, though his acts were repudiated by the French king, he
was protected and concealed by Marigny, President of the Council, and by
the Receiver of Vacquieulx, until, after a time, he was the recipient of
marked honors at the French court and died in 1582, “to the great grief
of such as knew him.”

“That De Gourges deserves censure, cannot be denied; but there will
always exist an admiration for his courage and intrepid valor, with a
sympathy for the bitter provocation under which he acted, both personal
and national; a sympathy not shared with Menendez, who visited his wrath
upon the religious opinions of men, while De Gourges was the
unauthorized avenger of undoubted crime and inhumanity. Both acted in
violation of the pure spirit of that Christianity which they alike
professed to revere under the same form.”[8]



While these events were transpiring Menendez had completed his
equipment, and sailed with a fresh supply of men and means for his
colonies in Florida. His first information of the disaster which had
overtaken his posts on the St. Johns was received after he arrived at
St. Augustine. So humiliating a disaster as the capture of three of his
forts well fortified and garrisoned with four hundred trained men, was
the occasion of no little mortification and vexation to this gallant
knight, especially since the victors were the avengers of the former
colonists, and the forces that accomplished the affair were so greatly
outnumbered by his soldiers, who were also well defended by strong
forts. To add to the discouragement the condition of the colony at St.
Augustine was found to be most distressing. The garrison was nearly
naked, the colonists half starved, and the attacks of the Indians
growing more frequent and reckless as the weakness and despondency of
the Spaniards became more apparent. The intrepid and indomitable spirit
of Menendez did not bend under these obstacles and reverses which would
have crushed a nature of ordinary mold. His extraordinary and
comprehensive genius opened a way, in the midst of almost superhuman
difficulties, for the maintenance of his colony and the extension of
the Catholic faith, the objects to which his life was now devoted.
Perceiving the insecurity of the garrisons at a distance from each other
and the principal post, he wisely concluded to preserve his forces
entire at St. Augustine, and thus maintain the colony and a base of
operations. The spread of the Catholic faith he determined to secure by
inducing the different tribes of Indians to receive and support one or
more missionaries or teachers. At the earnest solicitation of Menendez
large numbers of priests, friars, and brothers of the various religious
orders of the Catholic Church had been sent to Florida by the King of
Spain. Mission-houses were built all over the country from the Florida
capes on the south to the Chesapeake on the north and the Mississippi on
the west, to which these teachers, being mostly Franciscans, were sent.
By the mildness of their manners, the promises of future joys and
rewards which their teachings declared, and the interest excited by the
introduction of the arts of civilized life, they gained a powerful
ascendency over the native tribes, that promised at one period the
conversion of the whole North American Indian race to the religion and
customs of their Christian teachers. This would have been an achievement
that would have amply compensated for all the efforts, treasure, and
lives expended by the Europeans in the conquest of the New World. In
fact it would have been a wonderful revolution that might well have been
considered a miraculous dispensation of Providence.

It is due to the grandly comprehensive conception of Menendez that there
was initiated this plan of mission stations through the Floridas, which
so nearly accomplished this happy result. That the ultimate success of
the efforts to Christianize the Indians was not attained was probably
owing to the political changes that occurred in Europe in the
eighteenth century. In both France and Spain the Jesuits fell into
disgrace, and the most rigorous measures of suppression and banishment
were adopted against them. The Jesuit missions in Florida shared the
fate of their order in the Old World, and thus was the encouraging
prospect of Christianizing the Indians swept away forever.

Under Menendez and his immediate successors whom he named and who
followed his counsels were founded those missionary establishments,
whose ruins have been at a late period a subject of curious
investigation throughout Middle Florida. Romans (“History of Florida,”
New York, 1775) states that in his time there was an old bell of one of
these mission houses lying in the fields near Alachua. Hon. Wilkinson
Call, United States Senator from Florida, who is somewhat of an
antiquarian, has informed the writer that near his birthplace in Leon
County are to be found the ruins of another of these Spanish missions.
The early inhabitants of the region being filled with superstition and a
belief that the ruins were the remains of an establishment of the
buccaneers, threw the bell into a neighboring pond, from which it has
been rescued within a late period.

Menendez, finding that the interests of the colony were neglected at the
Spanish Court, and that the maintenance of the colony was daily
impoverishing himself, resolved to return permanently to Spain, where he
hoped that his influence would be able to accomplish more benefit to the
undertaking in Florida than could be expected to accrue from his
presence in the territory. Leaving the province under the command of his
nephew, Don Pedro Menendez, he sailed for Spain in 1572. Upon his
arrival all the honors of the court were lavished upon him, and his
counsels were eagerly sought in the various affairs of state. He was
not destined to enjoy his honors long, nor to reap new laurels in the
European wars of the Spanish crown. In the midst of his glory his career
was suddenly ended by his death from a fever, in 1574. His rank and
memory are perpetuated in the Church of St. Nicholas, at Avilès, by a
monument, on which is inscribed the following epitaph:

“Here lies buried the illustrious Captain Pedro Menendez de Avilès, a
native of this City, Adelantado of the Province of Florida, Knight
Commander of Santa Cruz, of the Order of Santiago, and Captain General
of the Oceanic Seas, and of the Armada which his Royal Highness
collected at Santander in the year 1574, where he died on the 17th of
September, of that year, in the fifty-fifth year of his age.”

Following out the instructions of Menendez, De las Alas, now governor of
Florida, assembled a council from the different missions in the province
for the purpose of considering methods of extending the Catholic faith.
In pursuance of the advice of this council embassies were sent to all
the tribes of Indians for several hundred miles around St. Augustine.

Spanish garrisons and many Spanish monks to teach the Indians had
already been received into the towns east of the Appalachicola River. In
1583 the Chickasaws, Tocoposcas, Apacas, Tamaicas, Apiscas and Alabamas,
received the missionaries. At this period the Catholic faith was
recognized as far west as the Mississippi, and as far north as the
mountains of Georgia.

The Franciscans and Dominicans had been the first to represent the monks
in the New World. Afterward came the Fathers of Mercy, the Augustines,
and the Jesuits.

Although Florida was included in the diocese of the Bishop of Cuba, it
was decided to establish a convent of the Order of St. Francis at St.
Augustine. I find the name originally given this convent was the
“Conception of Our Lady,” though it is generally referred to as St.

This name St. Helena was applied to all the establishments throughout
the province, of which the great Franciscan house at St. Augustine was
to be the center.

Sailing in September, 1585, there arrived soon after in the West Indies
a fleet of twenty-six vessels which had been fitted out by private
persons in England to cruise against the Spanish commerce, and placed
under the command of Sir Francis Drake, with the vice-admirals Frobisher
and Knolles. After sacking St. Jago, raising a contribution of
twenty-five thousand ducats on St. Domingo, and doing great injury to
the Spanish shipping in the Caribbean Seas, they steered for Florida on
their homeward voyage. Passing up the coast when abreast Anastatia
Island, on the 8th of May, 1586, they sighted a tower or look-out
station on the shore. Satisfied that it was some Spanish station the
admiral ordered the boats manned and landed a body of troops on the
island. Advancing toward the look-out, they perceived across the bay a
fort, and further up a town built of wood.

In defiance of King Philip’s order prohibiting foreigners, on pain of
death, from setting foot in the province of Florida, the admiral sent
General Carlisle, of the land forces, with a small body of soldiers to
enter the town.

The sentinel on the island had probably retreated to the fort, as the
Spaniards, without parley, opened fire upon the English boat as soon as
it came within range of their guns. Perceiving that the Spaniards
intended to oppose his landing, and having too small a force to make an
attack upon the fort, General Carlisle withdrew to the vessels which
were anchored off the bar. That evening a small boat was observed
approaching the fleet from across the bay. As the boat came near, the
music of a fife was heard, and the breeze bore to the ears of the
English the familiar notes of the Prince of Orange’s march. The fifer
proved to be a French musician who had been captured, probably with
Ribault’s men, and who had taken advantage of the panic which the
presence of the English fleet was then causing, to make his escape. He
reported that the fort had been abandoned, and offered to conduct the
English to the town. In the morning Sir Francis crossed the bay, and
finding the fort deserted, as the Frenchman had reported, he took
possession of the same and hoisted the English flag. The fort at that
time was called San Juan de Pinos, and was but a rude structure built of
logs and earth, and without a ditch. The palisades were built of cabbage
palmettoes driven in the ground. The platforms were constructed by
laying the bodies of pine trees horizontally on each other, and filling
an intervening space with earth well rammed. Upon these platforms were
mounted fourteen brass cannon, of what caliber is not mentioned.

The garrison numbered one hundred and fifty soldiers. Their retreat had
been so precipitous that they neglected to remove the paymaster’s funds,
and a chest containing ten thousand dollars in silver fell into the
hands of the English. It is to be hoped that this unsoldierly conduct
met with exemplary correction at the hands of the _corregidors_, after
the British sailed away.

“Whether the massive, iron-bound mahogany chest still (1858) preserved
in the old fort is the same which fell into the hands of Drake, is a
question for antiquarians to decide; its ancient appearance might well
justify the supposition.”[9]

The next day the English marched toward the town; but it is said that
they were unable to proceed by land, owing to heavy rains having lately
fallen, and therefore returned to the fort and embarked in boats.
Proceeding up the sound, as the boats approached the town, the Spaniards
made a show of resistance; but, on the first discharge from the British
marines, they fled into the country, leaving the town at the mercy of
the invader. After pillaging the town and destroying the gardens, Sir
Francis Drake made no further delay, but continued on his voyage to
England. The Spanish account says he burned the town in revenge for the
killing of his sergeant-major. The place and this attack were considered
of so much importance, that after the arrival of Sir Francis in England,
an engraving of “Drake’s descent upon St. Augustine” was made, which
“represents an octagonal fort between two streams; at the distance of
half a mile, another stream; beyond that the town with a look-out and
two religious houses, one of which is a church and the other probably
the house of the Franciscans, who had shortly before established a house
of their order there. The town contains three squares lengthwise and
four in width, with gardens on the west side.

“Some doubt has been thrown on the actual site of the first settlement
by this account; but I think it probably stood considerably to the south
of the present public square, between the barracks and the
powder-house. Perhaps Maria Sanchez (Santa Maria) Creek may have then
communicated with the bay near its present head, in wet weather and at
high tides isolating the fort from the town. The present north ditch may
have been the bed of a tide creek, and thus would correspond to the
appearance presented by the sketch. It is well known that the north end
of the city has been built at a much later period than the southern, and
that the now vacant space below the barracks was once occupied with
buildings. Buildings and fields are shown on Anastatia Island, opposite
the town. The relative position of the town, with reference to the
entrance of the harbor, is correctly shown on the plan, and there seems
no sufficient ground to doubt the identity of the present town with the
ancient locality.”[10]

I have thought that the first town may have been built on the more
western of the two peninsulas lying between Santa Maria Creek and St.
Sebastian River. This would correspond with the plan published by Drake,
and if we assume that the town, being built of wood, was entirely
destroyed by Drake, and afterward rebuilt on its present site, the
statement of Romans finds confirmation, that the first site, having been
found ineligible, the location was changed to its present situation. At
the time of Drake’s invasion the town was said to be rapidly growing,
and to have contained a church, a hall for the judges of Residencia, and
other public buildings.

The Spanish governor (Don Pedro Menendez, a nephew of the founder) set
himself diligently to work to rebuild the town. In the prosecution of
this work, a considerable pecuniary assistance was received from Spain
and Cuba, and it is probable that the first stone buildings were
erected about this period.

Much attention was at this time devoted to the temporal and spiritual
welfare of the Indians. Father Rogel, who had come to Florida with the
Adelantado Pedro Menendez, had learned the Indian language, and at least
one of the Indians had been taken to Spain, and instructed in the
Spanish language and the tenets of the Church. The Indians were
considered desirable neighbors, and were encouraged to dwell near the
castle, and even within the city. On a map drawn as early as 1638 the
spot now occupied by the old Catholic cemetery near the head of Tolomato
Street is marked “Hermitage of our Lady of Guadalupe, with the territory
occupied by the Indians of the town Tolomato.” Large numbers of
Franciscan missionaries continued to arrive at St. Augustine, and
adventurous monks, who had pined in their convents in the Old World for
more work to do, found room for their energies in Florida, as the
adventurous soldiers had done before them.

Early in the seventeenth century one of these Franciscans wrote a book
called “La Doctrina Cristiana” in the Yemassee dialect. This volume,
which is said to have been the first book written in the language of any
of the North American Indians, has received an extended notice at the
hands of Buckingham Smith, Esq. The labors of the missionaries were not
without difficulties and discouragements, nor free from dangers. Toward
the close of the sixteenth and at the beginning of the seventeenth
century there were several of the worthy fathers who sacrificed their
lives in noble efforts to instruct the Indians.

Padre Martinez, accompanied by two other learned and pious priests,
arrived off the coast in a small vessel from Spain. Father Martinez,
being blown ashore while reconnoitering the coast in a small boat, was
murdered by the Indians of Fort George Island. His companions taking
alarm at the fate of their brother returned at once to Cuba.

In 1598 a most cruel and unprovoked assault was made by the Indians upon
two pious fathers within sight of the castle at St. Augustine. Besides
the Indian village near the gates there was another Indian town about a
quarter of a mile north of the castle, situated on the creek called Cano
de la Leche. The Spaniards called the place Nombre de Dios, and until
after the English possession of Florida (1763-1784) there stood a stone
chapel on the spot called “Nostra Senora de la Leche.” This chapel was
used by the English as a hospital, and fell into disuse and neglect
after the Indian tribes ceased to reside peacefully in the vicinity of
the town. As it was neither safe nor convenient for the inhabitants of
the city to worship there, the vestments which had been given to the
chapel by the King of Spain were removed. The crucifix taken from it is
yet preserved in the cathedral at St. Augustine. The ground on which
this chapel stood is still owned by the Catholic Church, and a new
chapel was built in 1874 by Bishop Verot on the ruins of the old church;
but the severe gale of 1878 unroofed this, and at present only two of
the coquina walls are standing. The location is immediately adjoining on
the east the grounds of General Dent’s cottage and young orange grove on
the right, as you go out of the city gates by the shell road. The name
of the Indian village here located was called Topiqui.

Father Pedro de Corpa had established a chapel and mission at Tolomato,
and Father Bias Rodriguez another at Topiqui. Among the pupils at
Tolomato was the son of the chief of Guale, a province embraced by what
is now called Amelia Island. This young chief was too full of animal
spirits and the wild Indian nature to readily adopt habits required by
the Franciscans. Having repeatedly offended against the proprieties of
the mission, Father Corpa was compelled to publicly censure his conduct.
The high spirit of the young chief rebelled at this reproof, and he at
once withdrew from the mission. The good priest anticipated no evil and
sought no protection. Not so the young chief. His heart was full of
bitterness. Gathering a band of warriors from his own nation, he
returned to St. Augustine determined on revenge. Approaching Tolomato in
the dusk of evening, he burst into the chapel, and murdered Father Corpa
at the altar. The Indians then cut off the worthy father’s head and set
it upon a pole, while his body was cast into the woods and never found.
The young chief urged that an end should be made of all the missionaries
in the province, saying that the friars had heaped upon the Indians
injuries, and robbed them of their liberty and customs, while promising
them all manner of good things, of which none were as yet received; and
thus they were compelled to labor and be deprived of all the pleasures
which their ancestors enjoyed, in the hopes of receiving heaven.

The Indians of Tolomato were grieved at the death of their teacher, and
urged the young chief to fly from the punishment which the Spanish
governor would surely inflict. He replied that the Spaniards desired to
make them all slaves, and that the penalty for the death of one priest
was as severe as for the destruction of the whole body. Thus urged, they
followed their leader to the village of Topiqui, where they seized
Father Rodriguez, and informing him of the death of Father Corpa,
declared that the same fate awaited him. In vain did the pious friar
reason, in vain did he supplicate them not to commit so foolish a sin.
The arguments and tears of the priest were of no avail. Finding the
Indians determined to take his life, he begged the privilege of saying a
last mass. “The permission was given, and there for the last time the
worthy father put on his robes, which might well be termed his robes of
sacrifice. The wild and savage crowd, thirsting for his blood, reclined
upon the floor, and looked on in sullen silence, awaiting the conclusion
of the rites. The priest alone, standing before the altar, proceeded
with this most sad and solemn mass, then cast his eyes to heaven and
knelt in private supplication, where the next moment he fell under the
blows of his cruel foes, bespattering the altar at which he ministered
with his own life’s blood. His crushed remains were thrown into the
fields, that they might serve for the fowls of the air or the beasts of
the forests; but not one would approach them except a dog, which,
rushing forward to lay hold upon the body, fell dead upon the spot, says
the ancient chronicle; and an old Christian Indian, recognizing it, gave
it sepulture in the forest.”[11]

Other missions also were destroyed by this mad band of savages, but the
zeal of the Franciscans was unabated, and they continued for several
years to make many converts among the Indians.

In 1611 the prelate St. Francisco Marroz, “custodio from the convent of
St. Francisco of the Havanna, together with the St. Helena,” Fr. Miguel
de Annon, and Fr. Pedro de Chocas, fell martyrs by the hands of the
Indians, who are said to have pillaged the town after having driven the
inhabitants to seek protection under the guns of the fort or stockade.

The now-apparent danger of a total destruction of the settlement by the
Indians, who had begun to learn their own strength and the weakness of
the Spaniards, opened the eyes of the governor to the necessity of more
effective defense of the town. The plan of defense, embracing the castle
and lines of stockades at both ends of the town with stone bastions, was
initiated in the early part of the seventeenth century, though not
completed for many years.

In 1640 many Apalachian Indians were brought to St. Augustine, and
compelled to labor on the fort and at other works of defense. These
Indians were nominally hostages for the allegiance of a very numerous
tribe who lived in Middle Florida, and had made numerous ravages on the
Spanish missions between 1635 and 1638. Finding peaceful measures of no
avail, the Spaniards marched against them, and, after several victories,
brought away a large number of captives. These were kept steadily at
work until 1702, when they were released through the efforts of the
Franciscan friars. This remission, however, was granted by the Spanish
crown only during the peaceful conduct of their tribe, and until their
services should again be required. It does not appear that the
Apalachians ever again labored on the fort.




The town of St. Augustine had continued to grow, and ninety years after
its foundation was said to contain three hundred householders. This
statement may be correct, as the town was afterward partly burned
(1702), though Romans, more than a hundred years later, says there were
not three hundred houses in his time.

The parish church at this period (1655) was said to have been built of
wood, as the bishop of the diocese (Cuba and Florida) was unable to
provide a better structure, his income being less than five hundred
dollars per annum. In 1771 De Brahm says the churches were all built of
stone. The city was allowed during the latter part of the seventeenth
century a vicar, a parochial curate, and a superior sacristan, and a
chaplain was attached to the fort. The convent of St. Francis was in a
prosperous condition, having under its charge fifty brethren, greatly
respected and very zealous for the conversion of the Indians.

In 1665 Captain Davis, an English buccaneer, sailed from the West Indies
along the Florida coast for the purpose of intercepting the Spanish
treasure fleet returning from Mexico. While waiting their coming he
plundered St. Augustine as a diversion, no opposition being made by the
inhabitants, who retired into the fort to assist the garrison of two
hundred men in defending this structure. The castle was at that time an
octagon flanked by two round towers.

In 1584 Captains Barlow and Armada, by the authority of Sir Walter
Raleigh, had taken possession of the rivers and lands of the northern
coast of Florida (South Carolina). As late as 1663 England claimed
Florida as a part of the Carolinas, and in the right acquired by Henry
VII. from its discovery by Cabot. In 1670 an English colony was
established near Beaufort, South Carolina. The Spaniards resented this
encroachment upon their territory, and in 1675 projected an attack upon
the South Carolina colony, which was unsuccessful. These attacks and
counter-attacks between the Spanish and English continued until the
Spanish evacuation in 1763.

In 1680 Don Juan Marquez de Cabrera, having been appointed governor,
entered vigorously upon the work of strengthening the defenses of the
town and extending the work of the missions.

Soon after entering upon his duties the governor became annoyed at the
hostile conduct, either real or fancied, of Chief Nichosatly of the
Yemassees. This tribe of Indians was very powerful, and possessed many
flourishing towns in Florida, lying adjacent to the English settlements
on the north.

Cabrera accused him of rendering aid to the British settlers, contrary
to his duties as a subject of the King of Spain.

Nichosatly denied having assisted the English, and professed loyalty to
the Spaniards and the Catholic religion.

Cabrera was unwilling to trust his assurances, and condemned him to be
publicly executed as a traitor. This conduct was as extraordinary as was
that of the Indian; for it is said that he exhibited a remarkable
Christian temper, forgiving his enemies, and exhorting his friends not
to avenge his death. This advice was not followed, unfortunately for the
Spanish interests. The English used this injury to excite the Yemassees
to a fierce war, and the Spaniards were soon driven from all their
settlements north of the St. Johns River. Cabrera was soon after
recalled in disgrace by the King of Spain, but the evil he had done was
irreparable, and from this time the Spanish influence among the Indians
began to decline.

Governor Cabrera had accumulated a large quantity of material,
consisting of stone, oyster-shell lime, cement, timber, and iron for the
prosecution of the work on the fort. His successors continued to collect
supplies as fast as their means would allow. From 1693 to 1701 the
governor, Laureano de Torrez-y-Ayala, kept constantly in operation two
lime-kilns. He also had thirty stone-cutters employed in getting out the
stone from the quarries on Anastatia Island, and eight yokes of oxen
hauling the coquina to the landing on Quarry Creek.

In 1687 Don Juan de Aila volunteered to go to Spain and procure for the
colony the assistance of men and supplies, of which it stood in great
need. This he did, providing his own vessel, and, as a reward for his
efforts, the Spanish crown granted him a permit to import merchandise
free of duty, and also to carry with him twelve negro slaves. “By a
mischance, he was only able to carry one negro there, with the troops
and other cargo, and was received in the city with universal joy. This
was the first occasion of the reception of African slaves.”[12]

The Count de Galvez, Viceroy of New Spain (Mexico including Florida)
seems to have felt great interest in the Spanish settlement of St.
Augustine. Upon his recommendation the council of the Indies
appropriated in 1691 ten thousand dollars for building a sea-wall from
the castle to the city, and two years after a further sum of six
thousand dollars for building a look-out.

The work upon the sea-wall had already been begun by the governor, Don
Diego de Quiroga-y-Lozada, with what means the local authorities and
citizens could supply.

In 1690, finding the sea was making great encroachments, and threatened
to undermine the houses, having washed with great force and effect upon
the light sands of the water-front, and even up to the very dwellings,
the governor called a meeting of the chief citizens of the town to take
the subject under consideration. It was decided by the chief men that,
in order to prevent the total loss of the great sums that had already
been invested in the fort and other defenses of the town, and to protect
the place from gradual destruction, and being unfitted for habitation,
it was necessary to build a wall from the glacis of the fort to the
public square on the north of the city, which should be a defense
against the force of the sea. Two thousand dollars were contributed, of
which the soldiers are said to have donated seventeen hundred, although
their wages were six years in arrears.

The wall, which was begun at this time, was a slight structure, and
extended only to the present basin in front of the plaza. To one who has
seen the water, in severe north-easters, dashing over the present
sea-wall, it seems strange that the Spaniards had not built a more
extensive and efficacious protection against the sea for their
metropolitan town in North America. One of the old citizens informs me
that the tide rose so high during a severe storm in the fall of 1811,
that boats passed freely over the streets, and the inhabitants were all
obliged to withdraw from the lower story of the houses.

In 1693, Governor Don Laureano de Torrez received another thousand
dollars contributed out of their wages by the soldiers, and also further
assistance from the home government, with which he continued the
building of the sea-wall, and the work on the fort. It is probably about
this time that the Mexican convicts were employed in the construction of
the castle. At one time there was said to have been one hundred and
forty of these convicts in service at St. Augustine.

For several years the Spaniards had greatly harassed the English
settlers in the Carolinas, having made incursions in 1675, and again in
1681, and, as a fixed policy, incited the Indians to make inroads to
ravage the unprotected settlements, and carry off plunder, especially
negroes. Many demands were made on the Spanish authorities for the
negroes thus carried away, and also those who escaped; but the Spaniards
invariably refused to surrender the slaves, alleging that the King of
Spain felt it his duty to keep the negroes under the influence of the
Catholic religion.

In 1702 Governor Moore of South Carolina determined to retaliate upon
the Spaniards for their conduct toward the English, by the capture of
the town of St. Augustine. He induced the legislature to vote him aid to
the extent of two thousand pounds sterling, and to authorize the
enlistment of six hundred volunteers, and an equal number of Creek and
Yemassee Indians. Impressing a number of merchant ships into service as
transports, the troops were taken to Port Royal as a rendezvous, where
Governor Moore joined them in September of the same year. Colonel
Daniel, who is described as the life of the expedition, was made second
in command, and ordered to proceed through the inland passages of the
St. Johns River, and thence to attack St. Augustine by land, while the
governor should enter the harbor and attack the city from his ships. The
Spaniards, having notice of the advance, retired into the castle with
their valuables, and a store of provisions to maintain them for four
months. Colonel Daniel arrived behind the town before Governor Moore’s
fleet came to the harbor, and meeting with no resistance, entered at
once and secured a considerable plunder which the inhabitants had been
unable to remove. The next day Governor Moore arrived and entered upon a
regular siege, so that the Spaniards were obliged to lie quietly within
the walls of the castle. Moore, finding that his cannon were too light
to effect a breach in the walls of the fort, sent a vessel to Jamaica
for guns of a larger caliber. This vessel not returning, he sent Colonel
Daniel in a second on the same errand. While his lieutenant was thus
absent there appeared in sight two Spanish vessels, one of twenty-two
and the other of sixteen guns. At sight of these Moore was stricken with
such a panic that he abandoned his ships and fled across the country to
Charleston. He is said, however, to have first burned the town (in part
only, it is most likely), and to have previously sent to Jamaica the
church plate and other costly church ornaments and utensils. This is
quite likely, as the English troops occupied the parish church
immediately on their entrance into the town.

Colonel Daniel secured the munitions for which he was sent, and promptly
returned to St. Augustine, rejoicing in the thought that the place was
now in their power. Entering the harbor he first learned of Moore’s
retreat upon being chased by the Spanish ships, from which he narrowly

This expedition cost the English colony six thousand pounds, for which
they received only disgrace, having accomplished nothing but the
imprisonment of the Spaniards for a period of three months. At the
termination of the siege, the inhabitants at once applied themselves to
repairing and rebuilding their houses, and the governor, Don Joseph de
Zuñiga, received liberal aid from Spain in rebuilding and strengthening
the town.

In 1706 the French and Spaniards under Mons. La Febour entered the
harbor of St. Augustine on their way to attack Charleston. Taking a part
of the garrison of the fort they proceeded on their voyage, but were
obliged to retreat without accomplishing anything.

In 1717 the Spanish governor, Don Juan de Ayola y Escobar, procured a
general combination of the Yemassee, Creek, Apalache, Congaree, Catauba,
and Cherokee Indians, against the English settlements in Carolina.

A year after Don Antonio de Benavuedi y Malina, having been appointed
governor, put a stop to the Indian hostilities against the English.

He seems to have entertained a very unfavorable opinion of the Indians,
which he exhibited in an unreasonable decree against the Yemassees,
exiling this tribe to a distance six leagues south of St. Augustine. The
Yemassees remonstrated with the new governor against this order; stating
to him that although at one time they had joined the English, after the
execution of their Chief Nichosatly, yet they had since repented of that
fault, and fought against them in behalf of the Spaniards; that it would
be a grievous act to drive them from their fields of corn, and their
houses, while the English were their enemies; that they revered the
Catholic king and the holy Church, and desired to have its rites
administered to them, and wished to live in peace.

The governor was obdurate, and ordered Captain Ortagas to execute his
order with the troops. Thus this powerful nation, abandoning their
fields almost ripe for harvest, and many cattle and hogs, were compelled
to make new homes in the wilderness. It is said that many women,
children, and infirm persons were left on Amelia Island; that the
English killed four hundred when they found that the Indians were
abandoning the country; and that of the three thousand who had resided
between St. Augustine and the St. Mary’s River, at the end of a year
from their removal, not one-third had survived the vengeance of their
enemies and hunger and disease. The removal of this tribe of Indians was
impolitic on the part of the Spaniards, as the English soon after took
possession of their lands, which lay between the English and Spanish

In 1725 the disputes between the English and Spaniards culminated in
hostilities. The Spaniards charged the English with intruding on their
lands, and the English retorted that the Spaniards had enticed away
their negroes and incited the Indians against their settlements. The
Spanish governor recalled the Yemassees, and having armed and equipped a
body of warriors under their chief Mocano, sent them into Georgia, where
they committed a general massacre.

Colonel Palmer of that colony raised a body of three hundred militia,
and entered Florida, burning and destroying every Spanish and Indian
settlement to the very gates of St. Augustine. The Spanish inhabitants
of the country and town fled into the fort for safety; but, with
execrable meanness, excluded the poor Indians, who were nearly all
killed or made prisoners. The Spaniards saved only what could be
protected by the guns of the fort, which was then quite a formidable

The chapel of Nostra Senora de la Leche, the location of which has been
described, was plundered by some of the soldiers. They stripped it of
the gold and silver vessels, and taking the infant image from the arms
of the figure of the Virgin Mary, brought it to Colonel Palmer, who was
encamped two miles north of the city gates. This piece of sacrilege,
however, was displeasing to the commander, who told the soldiers that
the Spaniards would one day be revenged upon them. Having accomplished
all he could hope from his small force, Colonel Palmer retired with a
great booty of cattle and other plunder.

In 1737 Governor Don Manuel de Monteano, soon after taking command of
the province, made the following report to the Governor-general of Cuba:
“The fort of this place is its only defense; it has no casemates for the
shelter of the men, nor the necessary elevation of the counter-scarp,
nor covert ways, nor ravelins to the curtains, nor other exterior works,
that could give time for a long defense; but it is thus naked outside,
as it is without soul within, for there are no cannon that could be
fired twenty-four hours.” The representations of the governor received
prompt attention at the Spanish Court, where it had now become
recognized that the Spanish possessions in America were endangered, and
unless St. Augustine was maintained, they would be irrecoverably lost.

Large appropriations of money were sent, and a garrison of seven hundred
regular troops, and a number of new cannon assigned to the castle. With
the means thus provided, the governor applied himself with great energy
and skill in putting the fort in an excellent state of defense. The
superintendence of the work was assigned to Don Antonio de Arredondo,
an officer who ranked well among engineers. Bomb-proofs were
constructed, a covered way made, the ramparts heightened and casemated,
and redoubts extended across either end of the town, in which there were
ten salient angles.[13]

Romans states that two of these salient angles or bastions, built of
stone, stood in the southern line of redoubts, but were broken down by
the English, and the material used for the foundation of the new
barracks. From the statements of old residents, I am satisfied that one
or more stood near the present saw-mills, and commanded the approach by
the old road across the marshes of the St. Sebastian.

It is probable that the credit is due Don Arredondo for the symmetry and
beauty of outline in the general design of the fort, and also for the
perfection of the lines, curves, and angles in the masonry. The noble
conception and perfection of detail throughout the work demonstrates the
engineer to have been a man of excellent abilities, and proficient in
the higher mathematics, “one of the sublimest realms of human thought.”

Some of the curves in the masonry within the casemates are beautiful
pieces of design. The compound circular and elliptic arch, or
three-centered circular arch, which supports the incline leading from
the terre-plein to the court, is said to have presented a problem too
difficult for the United States engineer in charge of the repairs after
the change of flags. It will be seen that the north side of the arch
having fallen has been patched with a rectilinear wall, and the symmetry
of the elegant lines destroyed.



In 1740 Governor Oglethorpe of Georgia, being encouraged by King George
II., determined to capture St. Augustine, and thus drive the Spaniards
from Florida. At his request the Carolina colonies sent him a body of
four hundred troops under Colonel Vanderdussen. He also equipped a body
of Creek Indians, and in May had rendezvoused at the mouth of the St.
Johns River a force of two thousand men. With a portion of this force he
attacked a small fort called Diego, situated on what is now known as
Diego Plains (called by the inhabitants Dago), twenty-five miles north
of St. Augustine, then the estate of Don Diego de Spinosa. The remains
of this fort and several cannon were to be seen until a late date.

Having taken the fort after a slight resistance, he left the same in
charge of Lieutenant Dunbar, and returned to the St. Johns River to
await the arrival of more troops, and to allow Commodore Price, R. N.,
to blockade the harbor of St. Augustine with his fleet, consisting of
four vessels of twenty guns each.

From the prisoners captured at Diego it was learned that the Spaniards
had lately received a reinforcement of six half galleys, armed with
several long brass nine-pounders, and two sloops loaded with
provisions, besides which all the cattle in the neighborhood had been
driven into town. The prisoners, he says, “agree that there are fifty
pieces of cannon in the castle, several of which are of brass, from
twelve to forty-eight pounds. It has four bastions. The walls are of
stone and casemated. The internal square is sixty yards. The ditch is
forty feet wide and twelve feet deep, six of which are sometimes filled
with water. The counter-scarp is faced with stone. They have lately made
a covered way by embanking four thousand posts. The town is fortified
with an intrenchment, salient angles, and redoubts, which inclose about
half a mile in length and a quarter of a mile in width. The inhabitants
and garrison, men, women, and children amount to above two thousand five
hundred. For the garrison the king pays eight companies, sent from Spain
two years since, fifty-three men each; three companies of foot and one
of artillery of the old garrison, and one troop of horse, one hundred

This estimate would make the garrison about nine hundred and twenty-four
men, which was probably within the whole number of fighting men, as
another account says there were in the town at the time, the seven
hundred regulars assigned from Spain, two companies of horse, and four
companies of negroes, besides Indians. These negroes were probably free
men, as it is elsewhere stated that they had their own officers, and
though armed, by the governor, provided themselves.

Oglethorpe having been joined by more troops marched across the country,
ordering the forces at Diego to advance as far as Fort Mosa, two miles
north of St. Augustine, while he made an attack on the fort at Picolata.
This fort was called St. Francis de Poppa, and commanded the approaches
from West Florida and Mexico, and the ferry across the St. Johns River.
Its remains existed until a short time since, and even yet the ditch
can be traced upon the grounds of Mr. Michael Usina. If the testimony of
the old residents can be relied upon, Forbes and Vignoles in their
histories have fallen into error as to the location of this old Spanish
fortification, describing it as on the west side of the river, while the
old citizens call the fort at Picolata “Fort Poppa.”

Forbes says Picolata’s ancient fort was built by the “Spaniards with
square towers thirty feet high and a deep ditch about it, which is now
partly filled up. The stone was brought from Anastatia Island. On the
opposite side is Fort Poppa, with shallow intrenchments twenty yards
square and as many from the river. A small distance back is another
turret of the same size, and some groves of orange trees and oaks.”

Vignoles’ description (1823) is as follows: “Of the old blockhouse of
Picolata nothing remains except two of the shattered walls, through
which loop-holes and _meutrières_ are pierced. It stands on a low bluff,
and is half concealed by the luxuriant branches of surrounding trees. It
reminds the visitor who views it from the river of the deserted
castellated residence of some ancient feudal lord. Opposite is Fort
Poppa, of which scarce a vestige remains.”

William Bartram, in his “Travels through Florida,” published in
Philadelphia, 1791, gives an interesting description of this fort which
I will also quote, as I find all knowledge of these old relics is fast
being effaced from memory and accessible records. Describing his sail up
the St. Johns River, he says: “At noon I came abreast of Fort Picolata,
where, being desirous of gaining yet further intelligence [about it], I
landed, but to my disappointment found the fort dismantled. This
fortress is very ancient and was built by the Spaniards. It is a square
tower, thirty feet high, pierced with loop-holes and surrounded with a
deep ditch. The upper story is open on each side, with battlements
supporting a cupola or roof. These battlements were formerly mounted
with eight four-pounders, two on each side.

“The work was constructed with hewn stone, cemented with lime. The stone
was cut out of the quarries on St. Anastatia Island, opposite St.
Augustine.” Williams calls the fort on the west side of the river Fort
“San Fernando.”

Oglethorpe captured the Fort at Picolata without difficulty, and after
considerable delay advanced his whole force upon St. Augustine. The
fleet, which had by this time arrived, was moored across the harbor, and
one vessel stationed off the mouth of Matanzas River, to prevent the
arrival of supplies from that quarter. A company of eighty Scotch
settlers from Georgia, all dressed in Highland costume, together with
forty Indians, were stationed at Fort Mosa, under Colonel Palmer, with
orders to avoid a battle, but to be vigilant in scouring the country, to
intercept all supplies, and to encamp every night at a different place.
Colonel Vanderdussen, who had marched from the St. Johns River by the
beach, was ordered to build a battery at Point Quartell (north beach),
while Oglethorpe, with a regiment of Georgians and the main body of the
Indians, landed on Anastatia Island, and began the construction of a
battery at the north end of the main island. Aware that his force was
too small to carry an assault on the castle, to which the inhabitants
and forces had all retired, Oglethorpe determined to reduce the fort by
bombardment, while he cut off all supplies by a blockade. The site of
the first battery constructed on the island has long since become the
channel of the river. The high ridge to the west of the lighthouse, on
which Mr. Aspinwall has lately built a small building, probably
extended at least half a mile north of the present shore line. It was
on this ridge that Oglethorpe built his first battery, and having
mounted in it several eighteen-pound cannon, he sent a message to the
Spanish governor summoning him to surrender.

The governor, Don Manuel de Monteano, a very brave and efficient
officer, replied that he would be pleased to shake hands with General
Oglethorpe in the fort. The general, being indignant at such a reply,
opened fire upon the place, which was kept up with spirit, and many
shells were thrown into the town, causing the citizens to seek shelter
within the walls of the castle. The Spaniards replied with the cannon in
the fort, and also diverted the attention of the British with the
maneuvers of the six galleys with their batteries of nine-pounders.
Captain Warren, a brave officer from the fleet, offered to lead an
attack on these galleys in the night; but it was decided that the plan
was too dangerous, as the galleys lay at night under the guns of the
fort, where the water was too shoal to bring up any large vessels to
cover the attacking party. Finding the distance too great for his fire
to injure the fort, Oglethorpe began the construction of a second
battery on the marsh of the island, nearer the town. This battery was
called Battery Poza, and mounted four eighteen-pound cannon. The remains
of this battery are still to be seen. It is located on an island in the
marsh, and reached from the bay by ascending a small creek, navigable
for boats at half tide. Oglethorpe is said to have buried an
eighteen-pound cannon in this battery when the siege was raised, which
may yet be beneath the sand of the redoubts.

While engaged in the construction of Battery Poza, the fire of the
British was somewhat relaxed. Observing this, Governor Monteano sent out
a detachment of three hundred men and a party of Yemassee Indians, to
attack Colonel Palmer at Fort Mosa. It is said the sally was made on the
night of the king’s birthday, and that the British were found drinking
and carousing. The former statement is incorrect, though the latter may
be true. Colonel Palmer was a brave and able officer, but he seems to
have had Scotch obstinacy, united with undisciplined men, to render his
authority nugatory.

The camp was surprised and the Highlanders quickly overcome after
Colonel Palmer was slain and the soldiers who were vigilant had been
killed or made their escape. There was a tradition that Colonel Palmer
was killed by Wakona, the Yemassee chief, on the spot where the soldiers
had brought him the infant image fifteen years before.

This loss was a severe blow to the expedition, not so much from the loss
of the men, but its effect was to depress the spirits of the command and
to greatly discourage the Indians, who soon after found an excuse to
withdraw. A Cherokee having killed a Spaniard, cut off his head and
brought it to Oglethorpe, who spurned the Indian and called him a
barbarous dog. This rebuff was made a pretext by the Indians for their
desertion, and, without making known their intentions, soon after they
were gone.

Meantime the bombardment continued; but it was found that, even from the
nearest battery, the shot produced little effect upon the walls of the
castle. The siege, which was commenced on the 13th of June, had now
continued into July, with only disastrous results. The soldiers began to
wilt under the extreme heat, and complain of the annoyance of the
sandflies and mosquitoes. To add to the difficulty sickness appeared,
and the men, never under very good control, began to desert in squads,
and return across the country to their homes. The commodore, finding his
provisions becoming short, and fearing the autumn gales, was unwilling
to remain longer on the station. The ship at Matanzas had already
withdrawn. The inlet being unguarded, the Spaniards soon succeeded in
bringing in a large supply of provisions, of which they now stood in
great need. Learning that the Spaniards had received succor, the troops
lost all hope, and the siege was soon after raised.

It would seem, from the accounts of this blockade and the fact that
supplies were brought in at Matanzas Inlet, that the old fort at
Matanzas was not then standing. If this is the case, it must have been
constructed immediately after Oglethorpe’s departure, as the Spaniards
had had a garrison in it before the English occupation, as will be seen
from the following extract from Romans: “Twenty miles south [of St.
Augustine] is the look-out or fort of Matanca, on a marshy island
commanding the entrance of Matanca, which lays opposite to it. This fort
is to be seen at a distance of about five leagues. It is of very little
strength, nor need it be otherwise, as there is scarce eight feet of
water on this bar at the best of times. The Spaniards kept a lieutenant
in command here; the English a sergeant. Between two or three miles from
this inlet or bar is another of still less note, called El Penon.
Matanca Bar is known from the sea by the fort, which shows white in a
clear day, when the inlet bears west, three leagues off.”

I have been unable to find out at what date this fort was constructed.
The natural features have greatly changed since the time of Romans even.
The island has been very much washed away by the current, and will soon
cease to exist at all. The bar, which must have been nearly opposite the
island, has gradually worked south until now it is nearly half a mile
below the fort, and a high sand ridge, a part of Anastatia Island, is
between the fort and the ocean, so that, instead of being visible three
leagues at sea, the fort, probably, would not be seen from the ocean at
all.[14] Soundings on Matanzas Bar are now given as one fathom. Fort
Mosa, where Colonel Palmer was killed, was built by the negro refugees
from the British colonies, and was often called the Negro Fort. It was a
square earthwork with four bastions, containing a well and a house with
a look-out, and surrounded with a ditch. The walls of a stone house are
still standing near the location of this fort, at a place called by the
town’s people “Moses,” north of Mr. Hildreth’s grounds.

Oglethorpe was greatly blamed at the time for his failure to take St.
Augustine, but it is evident that the town was well protected. The north
side of the peninsula, on which the town is built, was defended by the
fort, about which, for a space of fifteen hundred yards, a clear space
was maintained by the Spanish governors, and also by the ditch and
redoubt with salient angles running from the fort to the St. Sebastian
River; upon the east side of the town the galleys and the guns of the
fort could prevent a landing, as the water upon the bar was too shoal to
admit the passage of the English ships; upon the south was a line of
redoubts again with cannon, and a water front for the approach of the
galleys, while upon the west was the long stretch of boggy marshes
extending for a quarter of a mile to the St. Sebastian River. No place
could be better situated for defense. Had the blockade been efficient
and long-continued the town must have surrendered as there was a large
population to feed besides the garrison, and the very advantages of the
place for defense rendered it difficult to bring in supplies.

Governor Monteano was constantly sending messages to Cuba, by the way of
West Florida and the Keys, for succor of provisions, and was said to
have received supplies from a vessel which arrived at Mosquito Inlet,
while the harbor of Matanzas was yet blockaded.

The siege was abandoned on the 10th of July. During the bombardment one
hundred and fifty-three shells fell in the town, but occasioned no loss
of life, and did very little damage. That the fire from the batteries
was very ineffectual is evident from an inspection of the shot-holes in
the walls of the old fort made by the guns of Oglethorpe’s batteries
which are still visible. I have counted eight indentations on the
eastern face of the main fort, and two on the south-east bastion. Their
penetration was barely sufficient to bury the solid shot, while the
shell do not appear to have done any injury, thus exhibiting an
ineffectiveness of the artillery which seems remarkable, as there were
said to have been thirty mortars large and small, and ten eighteen-pound
cannon in the different batteries erected by Oglethorpe, of which the
farthest was not more than three-quarters of a mile distant.

This attack of Oglethorpe seems to have demonstrated to the Spanish
crown the likelihood of an English occupation of their possessions in
Florida. The following year large reinforcements were sent to Governor
Monteano, with instructions to improve the defenses of the town in every
possible way.

Finding the British colonists did not renew their attack on the town as
he had anticipated, Monteano advised an invasion of Georgia and South
Carolina. Accordingly an army of two thousand men was raised in Cuba,
which, being dispatched to St. Augustine, was placed under the command
of Governor Monteano. To this force the governor added one thousand men
from the garrison of the town, including a regiment of negroes, whose
officers are said to have dressed, ranked, and associated with the
Spanish officers without reserve.[15]

With this force Monteano entered upon the invasion of Georgia; but,
being opposed by Oglethorpe with great energy and skill, was entirely
unsuccessful, and the expedition retired to St. Augustine. From thence
the forces returned to Cuba, where the governor was imprisoned and tried
for misconduct, though acquitted of the charges.

In the next year Oglethorpe endeavored to retaliate upon the Spaniards,
and get possession of St. Augustine by a sudden attack which should take
the town by surprise. He is said to have approached with such celerity
and secresy that he arrived within sight of the town without exciting an
alarm. Here he captured a small body of troops acting as a guard to the
king’s workmen. This capture defeated the success of his surprise, for,
the absence of the guard being noticed, a body of horsemen were sent out
to learn the cause of their detention, and the forces of Oglethorpe were
discovered in time to close the city gates and prepare the garrison.
Oglethorpe was unwilling to risk an assault on the town, and retired
into Georgia, after spending two months in attempting to provoke the
Spaniards to a fight without the walls of the town. During this time his
troops completely devastated the surrounding country.

Up to about this period there had existed an Indian village near the
site of Fort Mosa (or Moosa) called Macarizi. It was probably located on
a creek now called “Baya’s Creek,” about two miles north of the city,
though the Franciscan Father Ayeta, in his “La Verdad Defendida,” p.
215, says that Macarizi and Nombre de Dios (Topiqui) were the same.

Soon after Oglethorpe retired Governor Monteano furnished arms and
ammunition to one Pedro Christano, a Spanish Indian chief among the
Yemassees, and incited incursions against the British colonists in
Georgia. These were continued under the encouragement of the Spaniards
until the settlements south of St. Simonds Island were entirely broken
up. These hostilities, which had continued since 1725, were mutually
suspended under the treaty which was concluded between England and Spain
in 1748, but marauding expeditions were again entered upon in 1755. The
Spanish ambassador at London, having obtained from the court of St.
James an order commanding the English settlers to retire from the
territory of Florida, the new governor, Don Alonzo Fernandez de Herreda,
sent a company of dragoons to hasten the obedience of the English
colonists. Upon a summons the English agreed to retire, but they never
did so, and the next year, 1763, the provinces of the Floridas were
ceded to Great Britain in exchange for Havana and the western portion of
Cuba, which had been captured from the Spanish. This treaty was
concluded on the 3d of November, 1762, and ratified February 10th,



Before the cession of the province, the fort had been completed, and
presented, at the time it was delivered to the English, very much the
same appearance as now. Many of the casemates had platforms about seven
feet from the floor for sleeping apartments. The moat was about four
feet deeper than at present, and the water battery was built in such a
manner that the guns were mounted upon it instead of behind it, as at
present. The high banks of sand on the north, west, and south sides of
the fort have been placed there in recent times as a protection from the
shot of modern guns, which would soon make a breach through almost any
thickness of coquina wall. The fortress occupies about four acres of
ground, and mounts one hundred guns, requiring a garrison of a thousand
soldiers, though a much larger number have, on several occasions, been
its garrison. Its site was well chosen for the protection of the town in
the days when it was built, as its guns command the whole harbor and
inlet from the sea, as also the whole peninsula to the south, upon which
the town is built, the land approach from the north, and the marshes
west of the town. Various dates have been assigned as the period at
which the work on this fort was commenced, but of this date there is no
record in this country, if there is in Spain. At the time of Drake’s
attack, 1586, there was an octagonal fort on or about the site of the
present structure, which was built of logs and earth. In 1638, or
thereabouts, the Apalachians were set to work on the fortifications of
the town, and, as Menendez had applied himself to strengthening the
defenses of the town after the attack of De Gourges, 1567, it is
probable that this fort had been commenced before the beginning of the
seventeenth century. That the Spaniards had then begun to use coquina as
a building stone is to be inferred from a statement of Romans, that, in
his time, one of the old houses of the town bore the date 1571. The name
of the wooden fort was San Juan de Pinos, and the present fort bore the
name St. John for many years. It is supposed that the old wooden
structure stood near the north-west bastion, which was probably called
St. John, while the south-east was named for St. Peter, the south-west
was called St. Augustine, and the north-east St. Paul.

It is uncertain when the name St. Mark’s was first applied to the
castle, though probably during the English occupation, 1663-1684. The
fort, doubtless, acquired the name from that applied to the present
north river, which was called by the Spaniards St. Mark’s River, at the
mouth of which the fort is located. It is probably the oldest
fortification now standing in the United States, and certainly the
oldest which is yet in a good state of preservation. From the date at
which the Apalachians began work, until the year in which the
fortification was declared finished and the commemorative tablet
erected, the period during which it was being built is one hundred and
eighteen years. It has now been a century and a quarter since this
magnificent old structure, representing the grandest military
architecture of the middle ages, was completed, and two centuries and a
half since its inception.

What a strange and eventful history is connected with its stone walls,
its deep ditch, its frowning battlements, its dismal dungeon, and damp
casemates, in the midst of which, on the north side, is its chapel with
raised altar, built into the masonry, and holy water niches in the walls
of the casemates.

Those who have read this history thus far will have noted the laying of
its foundations by the hands of those zealous and bigoted Catholics who
had exterminated a settlement of the subjects of a friendly nation, lest
they should spread among the barbarous Indians heretical doctrines; the
accretion of its rising walls under the hands of the unfortunate
Indians, who had been loath to accept the Christian teachers and
doctrine that had been forced upon them by these expungers of heresy,
until, with the aid of convicts and king’s workmen, the work was
completed, to stand the defense of the Spanish possessions in Florida,
the protection of fugitive slaves, depredating Indians, Spanish
pensioners and adventurers, and the prison of many wretched Indians and
whites who had fallen under the displeasure of a Spanish autocrat. For
almost two hundred years the Spanish ensign had been uninterruptedly
displayed from the site of this fort, when, by the treaty of 1762, it
was yielded to the British, and the cross of St. George displayed from
its battlements.

The year after his arrival in Florida, Governor Hereda sculptured, in
alto-relievo, the Spanish coat of arms over the entrance of the fort.
The tablet upon which the design is impressed is made of cement, and let
into the walls of the fort. The inscription on the tablet beneath the
coat of arms is as follows:



     “_Don Ferdinand the VI, being King of Spain, and the Field Marshal
     Don Alonzo Fernando Hereda being Governor and Captain General of
     this place, St. Augustine of Florida, and its province, this Fort
     was finished in the year 1756. The works were directed by the
     Captain Engineer, Don Pedro de Brazas Y Garay._”[16]

An alto-relievo coat of arms, upon a cement tablet, was also placed upon
the lunette, but vandal relic hunters have disfigured this tablet most
aggravatingly. In the top of this tablet there is an oval-shaped hollow,
which looks as if it might have been worn by the handle of a spear, or
small staff of a standard. It is possible that the sentry has stood upon
this wall, resting his lance on the top of this tablet for years, until
this hollow has been worn three inches or more in depth, and so
perfectly smooth as to have a polish over the surface of the depression.

Every part of this old work should be protected and preserved by the
United States, whose property it is. With proper care, and moderate
repairs from time to time, this old structure will yet remain for ages a
grand old relic of medieval architecture, and a monument of the first
settlement of this country by our European ancestors. The sum of thirty
millions of dollars is said to have been expended by the Spaniards in
the construction of this fortification; a sum so vast that, when the
amount was read to King Ferdinand VI., he is reported to have turned to
his secretary, and exclaimed, “What! Is the fort built of solid

“Of its legends connected with the dark chambers and prison vaults, the
chains, the instruments of torture, the skeletons walled in, its closed
and hidden recesses, of Coacouchee’s escape, and many another tale,
there is much to say; but it is better said within the grim walls, where
the eye and the imagination can go together in weaving a web of mystery
and awe over its sad associations, to the music of the grating bolt, the
echoing tread, and the clanking chain.”[17]

I have heard from native residents that tales of skeletons, etc., were
never heard until after the late war; which assertion the above
quotation from Fairbanks’ History, published in 1858, will disprove.[18]

The appearance and condition of the town at the time of the English
possession has been described by several writers, whose quaintness of
style adds to the inherent interest of the subject.

The English surveyor-general, De Brahm, describes the place as follows:

“At the time the Spaniards left the town, all the gardens were well
stocked with fruit trees, viz.: figs, guavas, plantain, pomegranates,
lemons, limes, citrons, shadock, bergamot, China and Seville oranges,
the latter full of fruit throughout the whole winter season. The town is
three quarters of a mile in length, but not a quarter wide; had four
churches ornamentally built with stone in the Spanish taste, of which
one within and one without the town exist. One is pulled down; that is
the German church, but the steeple is preserved as an ornament to the
town; and the other, viz., the convent-church and convent in town, is
taken in the body of the barracks. All the houses are built of masonry;
their entrances are shaded by piazzas, supported by Tuscan pillars or
pilasters against the south sun. The houses have to the east windows
projecting sixteen or eighteen inches into the street, very wide and
proportionally high. On the west side, their windows are commonly very
small, and no opening of any kind on the north, on which side they have
double walls six or eight feet asunder, forming a kind of gallery which
answers for cellars and pantries. Before most of the entrances were
arbors of vines, producing plenty and very good grapes. No house has any
chimney or fireplace; the Spaniards made use of stone urns, filled them
with coals left in their kitchens in the afternoon, and set them at
sunset in their bedrooms to defend themselves against those winter
seasons which required such care. The governor’s residence has on both
sides piazzas, viz., a double one on the south, and a single one to the
north; also a Belvidere and a grand portico decorated with Doric pillars
and entablatures. On the north end of the town is a casemated fort, with
four bastions, a ravelin, counterscarp, and a glacis built with quarried
shell-stones, and constructed according to the rudiments of Marechal de
Vauban. This fort commands the road of the bay, the town, its environs,
and both Tolomato Stream and Matanzas Creek. The soil in the gardens and
environs of the town is chiefly sandy and marshy. The Spaniards seem to
have had a notion of manuring their land with shells one foot deep.”

In 1770, according to De Brahm, the inhabitants of St. Augustine and
vicinity numbered 288 householders exclusive of women and children, of
whom 31 were storekeepers and traders; 3 haberdashers, 15 innkeepers, 45
artificers and mechanics, 110 planters, 4 hunters, 6 cow-keepers, 11
overseers, 12 draftsmen in the employ of the government, besides
mathematicians; 58 had left the province, and 28 had died, of whom 4
were killed acting as constables, and two hanged for piracy.[19]

Another account says that at the time of the evacuation by the
Spaniards, the town contained a garrison of 2,500 men, and a population
of 3,200, who were of all colors, whites, negroes, mulattoes, Indians,
etc. This estimate probably included the surrounding country as well as
the town, as Romans a few years later made the number residing within
the city much smaller. He says: “The town has, by all writers, till Dr.
Stork’s time, been said to lay at the foot of a hill; so far from the
truth is this, that it is almost surrounded by water, and the remains of
the line drawn from the harbor to St. Sebastian Creek, a fourth of a
mile north of the fort, in which line stands a fortified gate called the
Barrier Gate, is the only rising ground near it; this line had a ditch,
and its fortification was pretty regular; about a mile and a half beyond
this are the remains of another fortified line, which had a kind of
look-out or advanced guard of stoccadoes at its western extremity on St.
Sebastian Creek, and Fort Mossa at its eastern end; besides these the
town has been fortified with a slight but regular line of
circumvallation and a ditch. The town is half a mile in length, and its
southern line had two bastions of stone, one of which (if not both) are
broken down, and the materials used for the building of the foundation
of the barracks; the ditch and parapet are planted with a species of
agave, which by its points is well fitted to keep out cattle.[20] Dr.
Stork has raised this into a fortification against the savages, and
magnified it into a chevaux de frize. The town is very ill built, the
streets being all, except one, crooked and narrow. The date on one of
the houses I remember to be 1571; these are of stone, mostly
flat-roofed, heavy, and look badly. Till the arrival of the English,
neither glass windows nor chimneys were known here, the lower windows
had all a projecting frame of wooden rails before them. The governor’s
house is a heavy, unsightly pile, but well contrived for the climate; at
its north-west side it has a kind of tower; this serves for a look-out.
There were three suburbs in the time of the Spaniards, but all destroyed
before my acquaintance with the place, except the church of the Indian
town to the north, now converted into an hospital. Dr. Stork says the
steeple of this church is of good workmanship, though built by the
Indians, neither of which assertions is true. The steeple of the German
chapel to the west of the town likewise remains.[21]

“The parish church in the town is a wretched building, and now almost a
heap of ruins; the parade before the governor’s house is nearly in the
middle of the town, and has a very fine effect; there are two rows of
orange trees planted by order of Governor Grant, which make a fine walk
on each side of it; the sandy streets are hardened by lime and oyster
shells. Dr. Stork says there were nine hundred houses at the time of the
Spanish evacuation, and 3,200 inhabitants. In my time there were not
three hundred houses, and at most a thousand inhabitants; these, a few
excepted, I found to be a kind of outcast and scum of the earth; to keep
them such their ill form of government does not a little contribute. A
letter dated May 27th, 1774, says this town is now truly become a heap
of ruins--a fit receptacle for the wretches of inhabitants.”[22]

This sweeping condemnation of the whole population of the town would
seem to be exceedingly unjust and unbecoming a historian.

Major Ogilvie of the British army received the town from the Spaniards,
and immediately entered upon an administration of the affairs of the
province which was most unreasonable and impolitic. “Major Ogilvie, in
taking possession of the eastern province, by his impolitic behavior
caused all the Spaniards to remove to Havana, which was a deadly wound
to the province, never to be cured again.”

So oppressive was the course of this commander, that it was said that
not more than five of the Spanish inhabitants consented to remain in the
province, and only by the efforts of the officer in command were the
Spaniards prevented from destroying every house and building in the
town. The governor did destroy his garden, which had been stocked with
rare ornamental plants, trees, and flowers.

By the articles of peace the King of Great Britain guaranteed “the
liberty of the Catholic religion,” but the prejudices of the Spaniards
were deeply rooted, and the transfer of the territory was distasteful
beyond measure. Governor James Grant was sent out from England to take
charge of the province, and immediately, upon relieving Major Ogilvie,
issued a proclamation dated October 7th, 1763, intended to conciliate
and retain those Spaniards who had not withdrawn, and recall those who
had, as well as to encourage persons in England to remove to Florida.

Governor Grant had been high in command at the capture of Havana. His
administration of a country hitherto the seat of war between the
aborigines, the original settlers, and their British neighbors, was not
without many difficulties; but his management of affairs was generally
very satisfactory, and showed much policy and executive ability. It was
said of him that, hearing of any coolness between those about him, they
were brought together at his table (always well provided) and reconciled
before they were allowed to leave it. His conduct was not exempt from
unfriendly criticism, however, and it was charged that he would not
allow the transfer of Spanish landed interest to be good, although
mentioned in the treaty; “that he reigned supreme without control, even
in peace, notwithstanding the frequent murmurs of the people and the
presentments of the grand juries, occasioned by his not calling an
assembly, which they thought was a duty incumbent upon him. There was
also a complaint of the contingent money, of five thousand pounds per
annum for seven years, not being so very visibly expended on highways,
bridges, ferries, and such other necessary things as the people would
have wished.”[23]

The Spaniards attempted to illegally transfer, and, in fact, did sell
the whole of their property in St. Augustine to a few British subjects
for a nominal sum. It was probably this class of conveyances that
Governor Grant refused to recognize. The complaint as to the building of
roads, etc., must have been without foundation, as under Governor Grant
were constructed all those public roads, since known as the King’s
Roads, running from New Smyrna to St. Augustine, and thence to
Jacksonville and the St. Mary’s River. These roads were all turnpiked
upon the line of surveyed routes, and are to-day the best roads in the

Under Governor Grant the British built at St. Augustine very extensive
barracks, which were soon afterward burned. Romans thus criticises the
policy of the governor in expending so large sums on military works:
“The bar of this harbor is a perpetual obstruction to St. Augustine
becoming a place of any great trade, and alone is security enough
against enemies; so that I see but little occasion for so much
fortification as the Spaniards had here, especially as a little look-out
called Mossa, at a small distance north of the town, proved sufficient
to repel General Oglethorpe with the most formidable armament ever
intended against St. Augustine. However, there was much more propriety
in the Spaniards having a fort in the modern taste of military
architecture--of a regular quadrilateral form, with four bastions, a
wide ditch, a covered way, a glacis, a ravelin to defend the gate,
places of arms and bomb-proofs, with a casemating all round, etc., etc.,
for a defense against savages--than there was in raising such a
stupendous pile of buildings as the new barracks by the English, which
are large enough to contain five regiments, when it is a matter of grave
doubt whether it will ever be a necessity to keep one whole regiment
here. To mend this matter, the great barrack was built with materials
brought to St. Augustine from New York, far inferior in value to those
found on the spot, yet the freight alone amounted to more than their
value when landed, so that people can hardly help thinking that the
contrivers of all this, having a sum of money to throw away, found it
necessary to fill some parasite’s pockets. This fort and barrack,
however, add not a little to the beauty of the prospect,” as one
approaches the town from the water.

When the old light-house was built I have been unable to discover. Under
Governor Grant it was raised by a timber construction, and had a cannon
planted on it, which was fired as soon as the flag was hoisted to notify
the inhabitants and pilots that a vessel was approaching. It had two
flagstaffs, one to the north and one to the south, on either of which
the flag was hoisted as the vessel was approaching from the north or

It is possible that the old light-house was constructed in 1693, with
the proceeds of the six thousand dollars appropriated by the Council of
the Indies, for “building a tower as a look-out.” The Spaniards kept a
detachment of troops stationed there, and the tower and adjoining chapel
were inclosed with a high and thick stone wall, pierced with loop-holes,
and having a salient angle to protect the gate. Romans describes it, in
his time, as follows: “About half a mile from the north end of the
island [Anastatia] is a heavy stone building serving for a look-out. A
small detachment of troops is kept here, and by signals from hence the
inhabitants are given to understand what kind of, and how many vessels
are approaching the harbor, either from the north or from the south. In
the year 1770, fifty feet of timber framework were added to its former
height, as was likewise a mast or flagstaff forty-seven feet long; but
this last, proving too weighty, endangered the building, and was soon
taken down.”[24] This old structure was repaired and a house for the
light-keeper built in 1823, by Elias Wallen, a contractor, who was also
employed upon the repairs made to the old “Governor’s House.”

The coquina ledge upon which it was built has of late years been rapidly
washing away by the action of the tides, and dashing of the waves, which
during the annual north-east storms are sometimes of considerable force.
A storm washed away the foundations of the tower, and it fell with a
crash on Sunday, the 20th of June, 1880. Thus has gone forever one of
St. Augustine’s most interesting old landmarks.[25]

The English built a bridge across the St. Sebastian River upon the old
road leading over the marshes, which approached the town near the
saw-mills. From some defect in construction, this bridge did not remain
long. They then established a ferry, and appointed a ferry-keeper with a
salary of fifty pounds sterling per annum. The inhabitants paid nothing
for crossing except after dark.



The proclamation of Governor Grant, and the accounts which had gone
abroad of the advantages of the province, and the liberal policy adopted
by the British in the treatment of colonists, induced some wealthy
planters from the Carolinas to remove to Florida, and several noblemen
of England also solicited grants of land in the province. Among the
noblemen who secured grants of land in Florida were Lords Hawke, Egmont,
Grenville, and Hillsborough, Sir William Duncan, and Dennys Rolle, the
father of Lord Rolle. Sir William Duncan was a partner with Dr. Turnbull
in importing a large number of Europeans for the cultivation of their
lands south of St. Augustine, on the Halifax River. The persons whom
these two gentlemen then induced to come to Florida are the ancestors of
a large majority of the resident population of St. Augustine at the
present day. In the early accounts of the place I am satisfied that
gross injustice was done to these people in a reckless condemnation of
the whole community. I have myself heard their descendants unreasonably
censured, and their characters severely criticised. These unfavorable
opinions were doubtless generated by the unfortunate position in which
these immigrants found themselves. Friendless in a strange land,
speaking a different language from the remainder of the inhabitants, and
of a different religious belief, it was but natural that they should
mingle but little with the English residents, especially after they had
experienced such unjust treatment at the hands of one of the most
influential of the principal men of the colony. The reader will
understand the position of these Minorcans and Greeks, and the feelings
they must have entertained toward the great men of the colony, after
reading Romans’s account of the hardships they were forced to undergo,
and the difficulty they had in breaking their onerous contract. Romans
says: “The situation of the town, or settlement, made by Dr. Turnbull is
called New Smyrna from the place of the doctor’s lady’s nativity. About
fifteen hundred people, men, women, and children, were deluded away from
their native country, where they lived at home in the plentiful
corn-fields and vineyards of Greece and Italy, to this place, where,
instead of plenty, they found want in the last degree; instead of
promised fields, a dreary wilderness; instead of a grateful, fertile
soil, a barren, arid sand, and in addition to their misery were obliged
to indent themselves, their wives and children for many years to a man
who had the most sanguine expectations of transplanting bashawship from
the Levant. The better to effect his purpose, he granted them a pitiful
portion of land for ten years upon the plan of the feudal system. This
being improved, and just rendered fit for cultivation, at the end of
that term it again reverts to the original grantor, and the grantee may,
if he chooses, begin a new state of vassalage for ten years more. Many
were denied even such grants as these, and were obliged to work at tasks
in the field. Their provisions were, at the best of times, only a quart
of maize per day, and two ounces of pork per week. This might have
sufficed with the help of fish, which abounded in this lagoon; but they
were denied the liberty of fishing, and, lest they should not labor
enough, inhuman taskmasters were set over them, and instead of allowing
each family to do with their homely fare as they pleased, they were
forced to join altogether in one mess, and at the beat of a vile drum to
come to one common copper, from whence their hominy was ladled out to
them; even this coarse and scanty meal was, through careless management,
rendered still more coarse, and, through the knavery of a providetor and
the pilfering of a hungry cook, still more scanty. Masters of vessels
were forewarned from giving any of them a piece of bread or meat.
Imagine to yourself an African--one of a class of men whose hearts are
generally callous against the softer feelings--melted with the wants of
these wretches, giving them a piece of venison, of which he caught what
he pleased, and for this charitable act disgraced, and, in course of
time, used so severely that the unusual servitude soon released him to a
happier state. Again, behold a man obliged to whip his own wife for
pilfering bread to relieve his helpless family; then think of a time
when the small allowance was reduced to half, and see some brave,
generous seamen charitably sharing their own allowance with some of
these wretches, the merciful tars suffering abuse for their generosity,
and the miserable objects of their ill-timed pity undergoing bodily
punishment for satisfying the cravings of a long-disappointed appetite,
and you may form some judgment of the manner in which New Smyrna was
settled. Before I leave this subject I will relate the insurrection to
which those unhappy people at New Smyrna were obliged to have recourse,
and which the great ones styled rebellion. In the year 1769, at a time
when the unparalleled severities of their taskmasters, particularly one
Cutter (who had been made a justice of the peace, with no other view
than to enable him to execute his barbarities on a larger extent and
with greater appearance of authority) had drove these wretches to
despair, they resolved to escape to the Havannah. To execute this they
broke into the provision stores and seized on some craft lying in the
harbor, but were prevented from taking others by the care of the
misters. Destitute of any man fit for the important post of leader,
their proceedings were all confused, and an Italian of very bad
principles, but of so much note that he had formerly been admitted to
the overseer’s table, assumed a kind of command; they thought themselves
secure where they were, and this occasioned a delay till a detachment of
the Ninth Regiment had time to arrive, to whom they submitted, except
one boatful, which escaped to the Florida Keys and were taken up by a
Providence man. Many were the victims destined to punishment; as I was
one of the grand jury which sat fifteen days on this business, I had an
opportunity of canvassing it well; but the accusations were of so small
account that we found only five bills: one of these was against a man
for maiming the above said Cutter, whom it seems they had pitched upon
as the principal object of their resentment, _and curtailed his ear and
two of his fingers_; another for shooting a cow, which, being a capital
crime in England, the law making it such was here extended to this
province; the others were against the leader and two more for the
burglary committed on the provision store. The distress of the sufferers
touched us so that we almost unanimously wished for some happy
circumstances that might justify our rejecting all the bills, except
that against the chief who was a villain. One man was brought before us
three or four times, and, at last, was joined in one accusation with the
person who maimed Cutter; yet, no evidence of weight appearing against
him, I had an opportunity to remark, by the appearance of some faces in
court, that he had been marked, and that the grand jury disappointed the
expectations of more than one great man. Governor Grant pardoned two,
and a third was obliged to be the executioner of the remaining two. On
this occasion I saw one of the most moving scenes I ever experienced;
long and obstinate was the struggle of this man’s mind, who repeatedly
called out that he chose to die rather than be the executioner of his
friends in distress; this not a little perplexed Mr. Woolridge, the
sheriff, till at length the entreaties of the victims themselves put an
end to the conflict in his breast, by encouraging him to act. Now we
beheld a man thus compelled to mount the ladder, take leave of his
friends in the most moving manner, kissing them the moment before he
committed them to an ignominious death. Cutter some time after died a
lingering death, having experienced besides his wounds the terrors of a
coward in power overtaken by vengeance.”[26]

The original agreement made with the immigrants before leaving the
Mediterranean was much more favorable to them than Romans describes it.
At the end of three years each head of a family was to have fifty acres
of land and twenty-five for each child of his family. This contract was
not adhered to on the part of the proprietors, and it was not until, by
the authority of the courts, they had secured their freedom from the
exactions imposed upon them that any disposition was shown to deed them
lands in severalty. After the suppression of this attempt to escape,
these people continued to cultivate the lands as before, and large crops
of indigo were produced by their labor. Meantime the hardships and
injustice practiced against them continued, until, in 1776, nine years
from their landing in Florida, their number had been reduced by
sickness, exposure, and cruel treatment from fourteen hundred to six

At that time it happened that some gentlemen visiting New Smyrna from
St. Augustine were heard to remark that if these people knew their
rights they never would submit to such treatment, and that the governor
ought to protect them. This remark was noted by an intelligent boy who
told it to his mother, upon whom it made such an impression that she
could not cease to think and plan how, in some way, their condition
might be represented to the governor. Finally, she decided to call a
council of the leading men among her people. They assembled soon after
in the night, and devised a plan of reaching the governor. Three of the
most resolute and competent of their number were selected to make the
attempt to reach St. Augustine and lay before the governor a report of
their condition. In order to account for their absence they asked to be
given a long task, or an extra amount of work to be done in a specified
time, and if they should complete the work in advance, the intervening
time should be their own to go down the coast and catch turtle. This was
granted them as a special favor. Having finished their task by the
assistance of their friends so as to have several days at their
disposal, the three brave men set out along the beach for St. Augustine.
The names of these men, most worthy of remembrance, were Pellicier,
Llambias, and Genopley. Starting at night they reached and swam Matanzas
Inlet the next morning, and arrived at St. Augustine by sundown of the
same day. After inquiry they decided to make a statement of their case
to Mr. Young, the attorney-general of the province. No better man could
have been selected to represent the cause of the oppressed. They made
known to him their condition, the terms of their original contract, and
the manner in which they had been treated. Mr. Young promised to present
their case to the governor, and assured them if their statements could
be proved, the governor would at once release them from the indentures
by which Turnbull claimed to control them. He advised them to return to
Smyrna and bring to St. Augustine all who wished to leave New Smyrna,
and the service of Turnbull. “The envoys returned with the glad tidings
that their chains were broken and that protection awaited them. Turnbull
was absent, but they feared the overseers, whose cruelty they dreaded.
They met in secret and chose for their leader Mr. Pellicier, who was
head carpenter. The women and children with the old men were placed in
the center, and the stoutest men armed with wooden spears were placed in
front and rear. In this order they set off, like the children of Israel,
from a place that had proved an Egypt to them. So secretly had they
conducted the transaction, that they proceeded some miles before the
overseer discovered that the place was deserted. He rode after the
fugitives and overtook them before they reached St. Augustine, and used
every exertion to persuade them to return, but in vain. On the third day
they reached St. Augustine, where provisions were served out to them by
order of the governor. Their case was tried before the judges, where
they were honestly defended by their friend the attorney-general.
Turnbull could show no cause for detaining them, and their freedom was
fully established. Lands were offered them at New Smyrna, but they
suspected some trick was on foot to get them into Turnbull’s hands, and
besides they detested the place where they had suffered so much. Lands
were therefore assigned them in the north part of the city, where they
have built houses and cultivated their gardens to this day. Some by
industry have acquired large estates: they at this time form a
respectable part of the population of the city.”[27]

It will be seen by the date of their removal to St. Augustine that the
unfavorable comments of Romans and the Englishman whose letter he quotes
upon the population of the town at the cession to Great Britain, could
not have referred to the immigrants who came over under contract with
Turnbull. It will also be seen that Williams speaks in very
complimentary terms of these people and their descendants. I am pleased
to quote from an earlier account a very favorable, and, as I believe, a
very just tribute to the worth of these Minorcan and Greek settlers and
their children. Forbes, in his sketches, says: “They settled in St.
Augustine, where their descendants form a numerous, industrious, and
virtuous body of people, distinct alike from the indolent character of
the Spaniards and the rapacious habits of some of the strangers who have
visited the city since the exchange of flags. In their duties as small
farmers, hunters, fishermen, and other laborious but useful occupations,
they contribute more to the real stability of society than any other
class of people: generally temperate in their mode of life and strict in
their moral integrity, they do not yield the palm to the denizens of the
land of steady habits. Crime is almost unknown among them; speaking
their native tongue, they move about distinguished by a primitive
simplicity and purity as remarkable as their speech.”[28]

Many of the older citizens now living remember the palmetto houses which
used to stand in the northern part of the town, built by the people who
came up from Smyrna. By their frugality and industry the descendants of
those who settled at Smyrna have replaced these palmetto huts with
comfortable cottages, and many among them have acquired considerable
wealth, and taken rank among the most respected and successful citizens
of the town.




Governor Grant’s administration lasted until 1771, when he returned to
England suffering in health. Upon his departure the province was under
the authority of Hon. John Moultrie, the lieut.-governor, for a period
of three years. The spirit of liberty, which was making itself felt
throughout the British provinces at the North at this time, was here in
Florida exciting in the breasts of those born under the British flag a
determination to demand the rights granted by the Magna Charta. Urged by
leading men in the council, the grand jury made presentments setting
forth the rights of the inhabitants of the province to a representative
government. These presentments the lieut.-governor disregarded, but
finally yielded so far as to consent to the formation of a legislature
which should be elected and meet every three years. The freeholders were
inflexible in their determination to have annual sessions of their
representatives, and continued without representation rather than to
yield. The chief justice, William Drayton, a gentleman of talents and
great professional knowledge, being unwilling to yield to the
pretensions of the lieut.-governor, was suspended from his office, and
the Rev. John Forbes, an assistant judge, was appointed to the vacancy
by Lieut.-Governor Moultrie. It was charged against Mr. Forbes that his
sympathies were with the Americans of the northern colonies. The
confirmation of his appointment was therefore rejected and a chief
justice sent from England.

In March, 1774, a new governor arrived from England. This gentleman was
Colonel Patrick Tonyn, a _protegé_ of Lord Marchmont, and very zealous
for the royal cause. He at once issued a proclamation inviting the
inhabitants of the provinces to the North, who were attached to the
crown, to remove with their property to Florida. This invitation was
accepted by a considerable number of royalists. In 1776 Governor Tonyn
issued another proclamation inviting the inhabitants of the towns on the
St. Johns, and of the Musquitoes, to assemble and co-operate with the
king’s troops in resisting the “perfidious insinuations” of the
neighboring colonists, and to prevent any more men from joining their
“traitorous neighbors.” This was met by a counter proclamation by
President Batton Gwinnet, of Georgia, who encouraged the belief that the
God of “armies had appeared so remarkably in favor of liberty, that the
period could not be far distant when the enemies of America would be
clothed with everlasting shame and dishonor.” Governor Tonyn issued
commissions to privateers, and held a council of the Indians to secure
their alliance against the patriots of the neighboring colonies.

Upon the receipt of news of the Declaration of Independence of the
American colonies, the royalists showed their zeal for the king by
burning the effigies of John Hancock and Samuel Adams on the plaza,
near where the constitutional monument now stands. In 1775 some
privateers from Carolina captured the brig _Betsy_ off the bar, and
unloaded her in sight of the garrison, giving to the captain a bill
signed “Clement Lamprière,” and drawn on Miles Brewton, at Charleston,
for one thousand pounds sterling. The cargo consisted of one hundred and
eleven barrels of powder sent from London, and the capture was a great
mortification to the new governor.

During the early years of the struggle between the American colonies and
the mother country, St. Augustine was the British point of rendezvous
and an asylum for the royalists. From Georgia and Carolina there were
said to have been seven thousand royalists and slaves who moved to
Florida during these years. So hazardous to the colonial interests had
the British possession of St. Augustine become, that Governor Houston,
of Georgia, urged upon General Howe to attack the place in the spring of
1778. This expedition was never undertaken, though Colonel Fuser, of the
Sixtieth Regiment, issued a proclamation on June 27th, 1778, commanding
all those who had not entered the militia to join him, as “the rebels
might be expected every instant.”

The inhabitants of the province, while willing to fight for the king,
still demanded the establishment of a representative government.
Governor Tonyn, in a letter to Lord George St. German, Secretary of
State, says: “I perceive the cry for a provincial legislature to remedy
local inconveniences is as loud as ever, and suggestions are thrown out
that, without it, people’s property is not secure, and that they must
live in a country where they can enjoy to their utmost extent the
advantages of the British Constitution and laws formed with their
consent. But mention the expediency, propriety, reasonableness,
justice, and gratitude of imposing taxes for the expenses of the
government, they are all silent, or so exceedingly poor as not to be
able to pay the least farthing.”

In 1780 Governor Tonyn repaired both lines of defense about the town,
strengthened the fortifications, and added several new works. The
inhabitants complained bitterly that the burdens of the public defense
fell upon them, as their negroes were kept for several months employed
upon the king’s works. The governor seems to have considered that
loyalty to the king was not to be expected from his new subjects in
Florida, or at least was to be found only among Protestants. Writing of
the militia, he says: “There are several Minorcans, and I have my doubts
as to their loyalty, being of Spanish and French extraction, and of the
Roman Catholic religion.”

About this time the British, having captured Charleston, seized a number
of the most influential men of South Carolina, in violation of their
parole, and sent them to St. Augustine, where they remained until
exchanged in 1781. All of the number, except General Gadsden, accepted a
second parole, after arriving at St. Augustine. Gadsden, refusing to
receive pledges at the hands of those who had already broken them, was
confined for nearly a year in the fort. These prisoners were often
threatened with the fate due to defeated rebels, and perhaps were taken
to view the gallows at the north-east corner of the court-yard in the
fort, said to have been erected by the British.[29]

The pressure upon the governor, urging him to permit the enjoyment of
the rights of representation granted by the king’s charter, had now
become so forcible that, in 1781, a General Assembly was called,
consisting of an Upper and a Lower House. The former was probably
composed of the crown officers, and the latter of those elected by the

March 17th, 1781, the first Assembly met. Though Florida had been
settled more than two hundred years, never before had the citizens been
allowed to assemble and enact a law. The governor, in his address upon
the assembling of the two Houses, was inclined to be sarcastic. He
announced that the “king and Parliament,” with astonishing “and
unprecedented condescension,” relinquished their right of taxation,
provided the Legislature made due provision for defraying the expenses
of the government, and this when the whole sum raised by taxation did
not amount to the salary of the king’s treasurer. The principal source
of revenue was said to be from licenses to sell liquors.

In 1781 an event occurred most damaging to the material advancement of
the province. This was an order from Sir Guy Carleton, H. B. M.,
Commander-in-chief in America, to General Leslie, in Carolina, to
evacuate the province of East Florida with all his troops and such
loyalists as wished. The inhabitants at once sent the most urgent
protests against this harsh and unreasonable order, appealing to the
governor and the king, by whom it was soon after revoked.

It was at the hands of an expedition fitted out at St. Augustine that
Great Britain obtained possession of the Bahama Islands, which she still
holds. In 1783, Colonel Devereux, with two twelve-gun vessels, and a
small force of men, made a sudden attack and captured the town of
Nassau, with the Spanish garrison and governor.

During the latter part of the British possession the exports of rum,
sugar, molasses, indigo, and lumber had become considerable. As early as
1770 the records of the Custom-House showed the entry of fifty schooners
and sloops from the northern provinces and the West Indies, beside
several square-rigged vessels from London and Liverpool. In 1771 the
imports were: 54 pipes of Madeira wine, 170 puncheons of rum, 1,660
barrels of flour, 1,000 barrels of beef and pork, 339 firkins of butter,
and 11,000 pounds of loaf sugar. These cargoes were brought in
twenty-nine vessels, of which five were from London. There were also
imported about 1,000 negroes, of whom 119 were from Africa.

The average annual expenses of East Florida, while under the British
flag, were £122,660 sterling, without including the pay of the army or
navy. In 1778, a period of the greatest prosperity reached under the
British flag, the whole value of the exports was only £48,000 sterling,
or a little more than one-third of the expenses of the province.

Through the exertions of the Anglo-Saxon settlers, who had brought to
the province their advanced ideas of government, agriculture, and
commerce, Florida was just entering upon a career of prosperity, when it
was again ceded to Spain. These constant changes, necessitating the
transfer of property to the subjects of the ruling sovereign, would, of
themselves, have prevented any considerable improvement in the material
wealth of the province; but the treaty between Great Britain and Spain
so far neglected to provide for the interests of the British subjects
who had settled in Florida, that the only stipulation relating to them
was one allowing them the privilege of removing within eighteen months
from the time of the ratification. Whatever real property was not sold
to Spanish subjects, at the end of this period, was to become the
property of the Spanish Crown. Under the British there had settled in
the town of St. Augustine a large number of half-pay officers of the
British Government, who, with others possessing certain incomes, had
greatly improved the place. It is said that those conversant with the
place in 1784, spoke highly of the beauty of the gardens, the neatness
of the houses, and the air of cheerfulness and comfort that seemed
during the preceding period to have been thrown over the town. Florida
was literally deserted by its British subjects upon the change of flags.
Vignoles says: “Perhaps no such other general emigration of the
inhabitants of a country, amicably transferred to another government,
ever occurred.” Among the British subjects, who remained and transferred
their allegiance to Spain, were several families whose descendants are
still living in Florida.



In June, 1784, Governor Zespedes took possession of St. Augustine, in
the name of “his most Catholic Majesty.” The British Government had
provided a fleet of transports to convey its subjects, and from the St.
Johns River and the St. Mary’s they sailed for the American colonies and
the British dominions.

With the Spanish flag returned to St. Augustine the numerous company of
salaried officials and crown-pensioners holding sinecure offices, and
contributing nothing to the improvement of the place, and nothing to its
existence but their presence. This large portion of the inhabitants,
dependent upon the crown, did not always receive punctual payment of
their salaries; but, with their daily allowance of rations in kind, they
were enabled to exist. They generally occupied the houses belonging to
the crown, which were numerous, and the rent required was but nominal.
In 1764, a large number of lots in the town had been sold in confidence
to Jesse Fish, a British subject, to prevent their being forfeited to
the crown at the expiration of the period allowed by the treaty between
Great Britain and Spain for the disposal of private property. This sale
was not recognized as valid by the Spanish authorities upon their
return, and one hundred and eighty-five lots were thus forfeited to the
King of Spain. These lots were soon after sold at auction, on terms very
favorable to the purchasers.

Upon the return of the Spaniards they at once devoted their energies to
completing their house of worship. At the change of flags (1763) the
walls of the present cathedral had been erected, and, to prevent the
property from becoming forfeited to the British Government, the lot and
unfinished structure were deeded to Jesse Fish for one hundred dollars.
The deed was a trust deed, and, upon the return of the Spaniards, the
property was reconveyed by Mr. Fish to the Rev. Thomas Hassett,
Vicar-General of Florida. The old parish church, which stood on the lot
now belonging to the Episcopal parish, and west of their church edifice,
had during the English possession been used as a courthouse. This old
church was called “Our Lady of the Angels,” and was built of stone,
being probably the second church erected in the town by the Spaniards.
The Spanish governor, immediately on taking possession, had fitted up
this old church for worship, for which the second story was assigned,
while on the first floor were rooms used for a guard, a temporary jail,
and for storing provisions, all of which uses would seem more
appropriate to the castle. Where the first wooden church stood I have
been unable to learn, though there is some rather obscure evidence that
it was near the present residence of Mr. Howard, on St. George Street.
How long the walls of the cathedral had been standing, before the change
of flags, is unknown. In 1703 the king decreed an appropriation of
$20,000 for the repair of the churches of St. Augustine injured by
Colonel Daniel. In 1720 the crown sent $20,000 more, and in 1723 issued
a decree to procure at once workmen and repair the convent, the church,
and the walls of the city. In 1790 the king decreed the application of
the rent from ten lots in Havana to finish the church. The inhabitants
were urged to contribute in work or money; and it is said that they
brought in poultry, which was very scarce, and donated the proceeds of
the sales of their chickens, which then sold at a dollar apiece. The two
old churches--“Nostra Senora de la Leche,” and “Our Lady of the
Angels”--were torn down, and the materials sold for the benefit of the
new church, as well as such ornaments as were salable. From these
sources it was reported to the Bishop of Cuba that the following amounts
had been obtained: From the ornaments of the old churches, $3,978; from
donations offered by “these wretched inhabitants,” $850; the value of
the stone in the two old and dilapidated churches, $800--a total of
$5,628. To this amount the government applied revenues which amounted to
$11,000. It was not long after the means were secured before the edifice
was completed. It was blessed Dec. 8th, 1791. This new church, now
called the cathedral, was constructed under the supervision of Don
Mariana de la Roque, and presents a very pleasing architectural aspect.
The front wall is carried above the roof, making a section of a
bell-shaped cone, in excellent proportion and graceful curvature. The
front entrance is supported by a circular arch, and upon each side stand
two massive Doric columns supporting the entablature. The roof is
supported by trusses, so that the whole auditorium is free from columns
except two large stone pillars, which support the gallery immediately
over the entrance, and thus form the vestibule. From the center of the
ceiling hangs a unique chandelier, in which has been kept burning the
sacred flame almost without intermission for nearly a hundred years.
Near the vestibule, upon the left as you enter the church, is the sacred
crucifix belonging to the early chapel of Nra. Sra. de la Leche. It is
said that another ornament of this early chapel, a statue representing
the blessed Virgin watching from the church over the camp of the new
believers in her Son’s divinity, is in the convent of St. Teresa, at
Havana. A very interesting document is probably in the possession of the
church in Cuba, which is an inventory taken under a decree, issued Feb
6, 1764, by Morel, Bishop of Santa Cruz, enumerating all the ornaments,
altars, effigies, bells, and jewels belonging to the churches and
religious associations of St. Augustine. This inventory and much of the
property was taken to Cuba in a schooner called _Our Lady of the Light_.
From this record it might be possible to learn something of the history
of the bells in the belfry of the cathedral. Of these there are four
hanging in separate niches cut in the wall of the elevated front, three
in niches having their floors upon the same plane, but the two outer
ones are constructed of a less height than the center niche in which
hangs the largest bell; the fourth is a small bell in a corresponding
niche above the other three. I have always thought that one of these
bells might have been used in the English church, though there is no
record of it. The bell in the westerly niche, though the best in
appearance, and having the brightest color, is probably the oldest bell
upon this continent. The following inscription is cast upon its exterior


                             SANCTE JOSEPH

                             ORA PRO NOBIS

                                D 1682

The other bells have inscriptions cast upon them, but no date. The small
bell in the upper niche was placed there about fifty years ago, having
been presented to the church by Don Geronimo Alverez, the same who was
alcalde (mayor) when the monument was built. An interesting anecdote is
told of this man, showing the power he possessed in the town. It is said
that, soon after the change of flags, a funeral procession approached
the church followed by pall-bearers decorated with a white sash, a
custom then first introduced, which is still retained. At the entrance
to the church they were met by this valiant but ignorant don, who
fiercely brandished a staff, and declared that not one of the impious
Freemasons should cross the threshold of the church except over his dead
body. Argument was unavailing, and the ceremony at the church was
necessarily dispensed with on that occasion, though the precaution was
taken to inform the old gentleman, before the next funeral, that the
sash was but a badge of mourning, and not the trappings of the devil.

The cathedral is one of the most ornamental and interesting structures
in the town, and it is to be hoped that the revenues of the church may
be sufficient to keep it in perfect preservation. At present it needs

May 15th, 1792, the large barracks built by the British were burned. The
lower story, only, was built of brick, the upper being of wood, while
the porches on all sides were supported by stone pillars. After the
destruction of these barracks, the Spanish governor made use of the
convent of “The Conception of Our Lady,” or St. Francis, as it was
afterward called, for the accommodation of his troops. It has ever since
been used for military purposes, though it still bears the canonized
name Francis.

Finding that the Minorcans were unable to receive the full benefit from
the teachings of the priests because of their inability to understand
the Spanish language, the Vicar-General asked that there might be sent
to St. Augustine a priest conversant with the language of this large
proportion of his flock. In 1795, agreeably to this request, Friar
McAfry Catalan, an Irish priest speaking the Minorcan language, arrived
in St. Augustine. The Spanish governor, Don Juan Nepomuseno Quesada,
made great efforts to settle the province, and allowed many
extraordinary privileges, such as were not enjoyed in any other part of
the Spanish dominions. In 1792 Florida was opened to general emigration
without exception of country or creed. It was rapidly progressing to
importance under this wise policy, when the Spanish Minister, growing
jealous of the republican spirit of the new colonists, closed the gates
against American citizens about the year 1804. Quesada, however,
endeavored to procure a large Irish emigration, and wrote to Las Casas,
Governor of Cuba, asking that the government would aid those of Irish
nationality and Catholic faith to settle in the province. The governor
replied that no settlers should be admitted to Florida unless they paid
their own transportation and maintained themselves. He instructed
Quesada to afford no other assistance than “lands, protection, good
treatment, and no molestation in matters of religion, although there
shall be no other public worship but Catholic.” He also referred him to
the “Law of the Indies.” By this law lands were granted to new settlers,
“making a distinction between gentlemen and peasants.” A peasant’s
portion was a town lot fifty by one hundred feet--arable land, capable
of producing one hundred fanegas (bushels) of wheat and ten of Indian
corn, with as much land as two oxen can plow in a day for the raising of
esculent roots; also pasture-land for eight breeding sows, twenty cows,
five mares, one hundred sheep, and twenty goats.

A gentleman’s portion was a lot in town one hundred by two hundred feet,
and, of all the remainder, five times a peasant’s portion. Many grants
were made under this law by Governor Quesada, and the patents issued by
him are the foundation of many titles of lands in the vicinity of St.

At this time there were many customs, ordinances, and habits of life
existing in this old town of which no record or chronicle now remains.
One most respectable gentleman of the place has mentioned to the author
that his mother was married to three different husbands in the space of
two years. This would seem a very strange proceeding at the present day,
but can be readily understood when we learn that, a hundred years ago,
the women of this town were obliged to marry for protection. The
following are some of the orders issued September 2d, 1790, by the
Spanish governor: Order No. 12 prohibits all women under the age of
forty (whether widows or single) from living otherwise than under the
immediate protection of their parents or relations. Order No. 23
forbidding masters or supercargoes of vessels from selling their cargoes
by wholesale without having first exposed the same for sale at retail
eight days previously to the public. Order No. 25 prohibiting persons
from galloping horses through the streets, and dogs from going at large
except hounds and pointers. Order No. 27 prohibiting persons from
walking the streets after nine o’clock at night without a lantern with a
light therein. Another order prohibited the owners of billiard tables
from admitting tradesmen, laborers, domestics, and boys on working days.

There were few events worth recording which happened under the Spanish
rule after 1800, or at least that are of interest to the general reader.
Just after the recession the Indians attacked the settlements, and
burned Bella Vista, the country seat of Governor Moultrie, seven miles
south of St. Augustine. These Indian contests continued during the whole
succeeding period up to the change of flags, and were then transferred
to the Americans. The Indians were in almost every instance incited by
white men, or goaded to desperation by the deceptions of their white
neighbors, who were ever attempting to either make slaves of the Indians
or procure what negro slaves were owned by them. Just before the cession
of Florida to the United States, there were said to be about a thousand
Indians in the vicinity of St. Augustine. These obtained a living by
hunting, raising herds of cattle, and crops of corn, and bringing wood
into St. Augustine. This they were said to carry in bundles on their
backs. About this time they were all nearly starved by the trickery of
some unprincipled residents of St. Augustine. At the period when the
attention of themselves and their negro slaves was directed to the
cultivation of their crops a few worthless wretches, for the purpose of
alarming the Indians, and inducing them to sell their slaves for almost
nothing, went among the nation and spread the report that two thousand
men under General Jackson were coming to expel them from their lands and
carry away their slaves and cattle. This form of imposition had before
proved successful, and did in this case. The Indians upon this abandoned
their lands and sold their slaves, but before the next season
experienced great suffering from want, while the unprincipled
speculators having gratified their avarice were indifferent to the needs
of the poor savages.

In January, 1811, President Monroe appointed George Matthews and John
McKee commissioners, with power to occupy the Floridas with force,
“should there be room to entertain a suspicion that a design existed in
any other power to occupy the provinces.” In pursuance of these
instructions, which at this day must be considered simply extraordinary,
one of the commissioners came to St. Augustine, and made a proposition
to the Spanish governor to surrender the province to the United States,
which was of course refused. Thereupon it was given out that the United
States intended to occupy the province, and those whose interest would
be served endeavored to bring such a result about by every means in
their power. This was the period of the embargo in the United States.
The port of Fernandina affording deep water, and a convenient point for
shipping American productions, and being under the Spanish flag, became
the resort for a large fleet of vessels. This was of course obnoxious to
the United States authorities, who offered every encouragement to a
large class of citizens who were anxious to escape from the Spanish

In March, 1812, a large number of these individuals organized a
provisional government, and soon after, with the help of Commodore
Campbell, United States Navy, obtained the capitulation of the town and
fort on Amelia Island. Still encouraged, and led by citizens and
officers of the United States, these men, styling themselves patriots,
began a march toward St. Augustine, and taking possession of the old
Fort Mosa, invested the place. From this place they were dislodged by a
Spanish gun-boat, but they still hovered about the town and cut off all
supplies. It is said that the courage and activity of a company of
negroes commanded by a free black, named Prince, alone saved the people
of the town from starvation. At this period a barrel of corn sold for
sixteen dollars. At the same time the Indians were urged to attack the
Americans and “patriots,” and for the space of a year there was a
constant strife between these parties throughout Florida. In May, 1813,
President Monroe, seeing that he had gone too far in incroaching upon
the territory of a friendly nation, withdrew the American troops from
Florida. These incursions under American protection in East Florida,
like General Jackson’s unhesitating course in attacking the British on
Spanish territory in West Florida, plainly showed the King of Spain how
precarious and unreliable was the tenure of his sovereignty. The Spanish
nation had held the territory of Florida for two hundred and fifty
years, constantly yielding to the French and English portions adjacent
originally claimed by Spain. The great hopes of wealth and a vast
revenue from the province had never been realized; but, on the contrary,
vast outlays had constantly been required, which were supplied by the
more prosperous provinces and the home government. In 1811, Governor
Estrada writes to the Captain-General of Cuba, that the $140,013 and 4
reals allowed annually for salaries was urgently needed; also that
there were no funds wherewith to pay “the annual presents of the
Indians, the payments due invalids, Florida pensioners and settlers, who
receive a daily pension and charity, whose outcries are so continual
that the most obdurate heart would melt at them with compassion.”

Under these circumstances it was but natural that the King of Spain
should be willing to rid himself of this so very unprofitable province.
The United States, upon the other hand, were anxious to obtain the
possession of the peninsula to complete their coast line.

In 1819 a treaty of amity was concluded between his Catholic Majesty and
the United States, whereby the two Floridas were ceded to the latter
power as an indemnity for damages estimated at five million dollars.
This treaty was dated February 22d, 1819, and ratified February 22d,

Seven years before the cession the Spanish Cortes had issued an order to
the authorities of all the Spanish colonies to erect in some public
place of their principal town a monument as a memorial of the liberal
constitution which had been granted to Spain and her provinces.
Accordingly, the City Council of St. Augustine, probably with the
crown’s funds, erected upon the public square a monument to commemorate
a grant of the privilege of representation, which the people of the
province never even asked for, much less enjoyed. At the east end of the
public square, or “Plaza de la Constitucion,” as it is now called, there
stood, in Spanish times, the government drug store, two private houses
used as dwellings, a bar-room, and the town market. Adjoining the market
was a bell-tower, and the guard in front of the public jail, which stood
where the St Augustine Hotel now is, used to strike the bell in the
tower to mark the hours, which were counted with the old-fashioned
sand-glass standing within the tower under the supervision of the guard.
As these buildings occupied about a fourth part of the present plaza,
the monument, though now situated toward the western side of the square,
then stood in the center of the inclosure. Soon after its completion,
the Spanish government issued orders that all monuments erected to the
constitution throughout its realms should be razed. The citizens of St.
Augustine were much grieved to think of losing their monument, which was
considered a great ornament to the public park, and appealed to the
governor and principal men to allow the decree to be disregarded. It was
finally decided to allow the monument to stand without the inscription.
The citizens accordingly removed the marble tablets upon which the
inscriptions had been engraved, and placed them in concealment, where
they remained until 1818, when they were restored without opposition.
This monument is the only one in existence commemorative of the Spanish
constitution of 1812. It is twenty feet high, standing upon a foundation
of granite with a square pedestal, from which the shaft rises in a
curve, and thence tapers with rectilinear surfaces to its top, which is
surmounted by a cannon-ball. It is constructed of coquina, and its
surface is cemented and kept whitewashed, except the ball upon the
summit, which is painted black. Don Geronimo Alvarez was alcalde at the
time it was erected. Upon three of the four sides there is set in the
masonry a small marble tablet bearing the inscription, “Plaza de la
Constitucion.” Upon the east side is the large marble tablet upon which
is engraved the following:

                             _Plaza de la
                        Promulga en esta Ciudad
                     de San Agustin de la Florida
                     Oriental en 17 de Octubre de
                       1812 siendo Gobernador el
                        Brigadier Don Sebastian
                          Kindalem Cuba Here
                        del order de Santiago.
                         Peira eterna memoria
                    El Ayuntamiento Constitucional
                          Erigioeste Obelisco
                       dirigido por Don Fernando
                           de la Plaza_[31]
                          _Arredondo el Joven
                           Regidor De cano y
                         Don Franciscor Robira
                          Procurador Sindico.
                             Año de 1813_


Plaza of the Constitution, promulgated in the city of St. Augustine,
East Florida, on the 17th day of October, the year 1812. Being then
Governor the Brigadier Don Sebastian Kindalem, Knight of the order of
San Diego.

                       FOR ETERNAL REMEMBRANCE,

the Constitutional City Council erected this monument under the
supervision of Don Fernando de la Maza Arredondo, the young municipal
officer, oldest member of the corporation, and Don Franciscor Robira,
Attorney and Recorder.

Immediately under the date there is cut in the marble tablet the Masonic
emblem of the square and compass. The reader can readily believe that
the City Council of St. Augustine in 1813 were all too good Catholics to
be responsible for this symbol of Masonry. The history of that piece of
vandalism is said to be as follows: Soon after the close of the war of
the Rebellion, the “young bloods” amused themselves by endeavoring to
create an alarm in the mind of the United States commandant, and, by
executing a series of cabalistic marks at different localities
throughout the town, to convey the impression that a secret society was
in existence, and about to do some act contrary to the peace and dignity
of the United States. Besides other marks and notices posted upon
private and public buildings about the town this square and compass was
one night cut upon the tablet of the Spanish monument, where it will
remain as long as the tablet exists, an anomaly, without this


     AUGUSTINE IN 1875.

East Florida was delivered by Governor Coppinger to Lieut. Rob. Butler,
U. S. A., on the 10th of July, 1821. It had been intended to have the
transfer take place on the anniversary of the declaration of American
Independence; but the Spaniards, feeling no particular regard for the
4th of July, made no efforts to hasten the settlement of the
preliminaries, and were therefore unprepared to turn over the province
until the tenth of the month.

On the 30th of March, 1822, Congress passed an act incorporating into a
territory the two Floridas, and authorizing a legislative council and a
superior court, which were to meet alternately at Pensacola and St.
Augustine. William P. Duval was appointed the first governor, to hold
his office for three years. It is an interesting fact that among those
who were saved with Laudonnère at the massacre of the French Huguenots
was one “Francis Duval of Rouen, son of him of the Iron Crown of Rouen.”

General Jackson had been compelled to imprison the Spanish governor of
West Florida for refusing to deliver certain papers that were considered
indispensable. Fearing that the attempt would be made by the Governor
of East Florida to carry away papers which should be delivered with the
territory, General Jackson sent Captain J. R. Hanham from Pensacola to
demand such papers and records as properly belonged to the Americans
after the change of flags. Captain Hanham made the journey across the
State--a distance of 600 miles--in seventeen days. He arrived none too
soon, as the vessel was then in the harbor upon which it was intended to
send papers and archives sufficient to fill eleven large boxes. After
Governor Coppinger had refused to deliver these, Captain Hanham forced a
room in the government house and seized the boxes, which had already
been packed with the papers ready for shipment. Other valuable papers
were shipped and lost on the passage to Havana, some say destroyed by
pirates, others by the wreck of the vessel.

In 1823 St. Augustine witnessed for the second time the assembly of a
legislative body, the second session of the territorial council being
held that year in the government house. In the same year a treaty was
concluded at Moultrie Creek, seven miles south of the city, with the
Indian tribes of Florida, in which they agreed to surrender all their
lands in the territory. It is needless to say that this treaty was never

Forbes’s “Sketches,” published the year of the cession, gives an
interesting account of the condition of St. Augustine at the end of the
Spanish possession. It is related in these words: “The town, built in
Spanish manner, forms an oblong square, or parallelogram; the streets
are regularly laid out, but the buildings have not been put up to
conform strictly to that rule. The streets are generally so narrow as to
admit with difficulty carriages to pass each other. To make up for this
inconvenience they have a terrace foundation, and, being shaded, renders
the walking very agreeable. The houses are built generally of a
freestone peculiar to the country, which, with the aid of an outer coat
of plaster, has a handsome and durable effect. They are only two stories
high, thick walls with spacious entries, large doors, windows, and
balconies, and a garden lot to each, more commonly stocked with orange
and fig trees, interspersed with grape-vines and flowers. On entering
this old town from the sea, the grandeur of the Castle of Fort St.
Mark’s presents itself, and imposes a degree of respect upon travelers
upon seeing a fort forty feet high, in the modern taste of military
architecture, commanding the entrance. The works are bronzed and
squamated by age, but will, with some American ingenuity, be justly
deemed one of the handsomest in the western hemisphere. It mounts sixty
guns of twenty-four pounds, of which sixteen are bronze, and is
calculated to contain one thousand men for action; with which, and the
courage such a fort should inspire, it is capable of a noble defense,
having in old times resisted some formidable attacks. It is not liable
to be shattered by balls, nor does it expose its defenders to the fatal
effects of storms [stormings]. From the castle, southward, are the
remains of a stone wall trenching its glacis, built to prevent the
incroachment of the sea; along this is a very pleasant walk as far as
the market-place, which is opposite the old Government House in the
center of the town, and separated from it by an oblong square called the
parade, on which there is a Roman Catholic church of modern construction
and quite ornamental. In front of this there formerly stood a handsome
and spacious edifice, built in modern style by Lieut.-Governor Moultrie
for a State-house, which was not completed. For want of an exterior coat
of plaster it has crumbled to pieces, leaving not a single vestige of
its former splendor.

“The old Government House, now much decayed, is occupied as a barrack
for the Royal Artillery. It leaves the marks of a heavy pile of
buildings in the Spanish style, having balconies in front, galleries and
areas on both sides, with several irregular additions well contrived for
the climate. Among these was an outlook built by Governor Grant, on the
western summit of the main building, which commanded a full view of the
sea-coast and surrounding country. The garden attached to the Government
House is surrounded by a stone wall; it was formerly laid out with great
taste, and stocked with most of the exotic and indigenous plants common
to the tropics and the Middle States, such as the pomegranate, plantain,
pineapple, papau, olive, and sugar-cane. The orange and lemon trees here
grow to large size, and produce better fruit than they do in Spain and

“From the square environed by orange trees the streets extend
southwardly to some stone buildings, one of which was formerly a
Franciscan convent, now converted into a jail, but under the British was
used as barracks. In addition they constructed the very large and
handsome buildings, four stories high, of wood, with materials brought
from New York and intended for Pensacola, but detained by Governor
Grant. These barracks at the southern extremity of the peninsula in
which the town is built formed an elegant appendage to it, but were
burned and now exhibit only the stack of chimneys. In a course westward
from these vestiges of royalty are streets leading to a bridge formerly
of wood but now of stone, crossing a small creek running parallel with
the sea, on the east side, and St. Sebastian on the west. Over this are
several valuable and highly improved orange groves and several redoubts,
forming the south and western lines of fortification. Near the bridge,
in the same street as the Government House, is the burying-ground of
the Protestants, where stood an Episcopal church with a handsome
steeple, not a vestige of which remains.

“Before the entrance of some of the houses built by the Spaniards rises
a portico of stone arches, the roofs of which are commonly flat. There
are nearly one thousand houses of all descriptions in the town, which is
about three-quarters of a mile in length by one-quarter in breadth. As
it is built upon a point of land it is in some degree insulated by the
conflux of Matanzas River and St. Sebastian Creek, by which means the
egress by land must be by the northern gates, and by a bridge and
causeway in a western direction. The whole forms a very picturesque
piece of scenery, being surrounded by orange groves and kitchen gardens.
Within the first line [of redoubts upon the north] was a small
settlement of Germans, with a church of their own, on St. Mark’s River:
within the same was an Indian town, with a church also; but it must be
regretted that nothing of these remains, as they serve if not as temples
certainly as ornamental relics.

“The governor has given the land belonging to this township as glebe
land to the parish church, which will no doubt be confirmed by the
American Government in its liberal appropriations for religious
purposes. The harbor of St. Augustine would be one of the best in the
world were it not for the bar, which admits vessels drawing not more
than six feet with safety. It is surrounded by breakers which are not as
dangerous as they appear. There is a roadstead on the north side of the
bar with good anchorage for vessels drawing too much water to enter the
harbor. [A part of Anastatia Island] is known as Fish’s Island, and from
the hospitality of Mr. Jesse Fish, one of the oldest inhabitants of the
province, is remarkable for the date and olive trees, the flavor of the
oranges, and the cultivation of his garden.”[32]

The location of the Protestant cemetery as here described is confusing,
being located near “this bridge, in the same street as the Government
House.” Probably the text should read, in the same street as the Convent
House, which would place the Episcopal church and cemetery near the
southern end of St. George Street.

Another account, published about the same period as Forbes’s, gives the
following picture of the town: “Somewhat more than half way between the
fort and the south end of the western peninsula a stone causeway and
wooden bridge crosses Mari-Sanchez (Santa Maria) Creek, and connects the
two portions or precincts of the town. It is to the north of this
causeway that the principal part of the buildings are placed, forming a
parallelogram somewhat more than a quarter of a mile wide from east to
west, and three-quarters in length from north to south. The neck of land
(on which the town is built) is divided into two peninsulas by
Mari-Sanchez (Santa Maria) Creek, running parallel to the harbor, but
heading in some low lands within the lines. It is on the eastern
peninsula alone that the town is built, the western one being occupied
by kitchen gardens, corn fields, orange groves, and pasture grounds. The
houses on the side of the harbor are chiefly of stone, having only one
story above the ground floor: these latter are invariably laid with a
coat of tabia, a mixture of sand and shells, and are scarcely ever used
but as store rooms, the families living in the upper stories.[33]

“The dwellings on the back streets with few exceptions, particularly in
the north-west quarter, have but the ground floor, and are generally
built of wood, though stone ones are common, but almost all are laid
with tabia flooring.”[34]

At the census of 1830 St. Augustine and environs contained four thousand
inhabitants, of whom eight hundred and forty-four were free blacks. The
large number of free persons of color is accounted for by the fact that
St. Augustine under the Spanish had been an asylum for all the runaway
slaves from the neighboring colonies. They had been formed into a
military company, and after the “patriot war” of 1812 to 1816 lands had
been donated to them for their services. It was also said that those
born in the province were registered from their birth, and a severe
penalty imposed upon any master of a vessel who should attempt to carry
any of them away.

In 1822 an attempt was made to deprive the Roman Catholics of the
cathedral. A petition of the inhabitants was thereupon presented to
Congress, and that body passed an act on February 8, 1827, granting and
confirming to the Catholic society of St. Augustine the building and
grounds where they now worship.

In 1821 Rev. Andrew Fowler, a missionary from Charleston, South
Carolina, organized the present Episcopal parish. The corner-stone of
the present church edifice was laid by the Rev. Edward Phillips on the
23d of June, 1825, and the building was consecrated by Bishop Bowen of
South Carolina in the year 1833. The church is a small and plain
structure, but in very good taste, and ornamented with a steeple. It is
built of coquina, and from its location fronting the plaza, is one of
the most noticeable buildings in the city.

The Presbyterian church, though built later, 1830, has a less modern
appearance. This church, which was fitted in quite the old-fashioned
style, with high-backed pews facing the entrance doors between which was
the pulpit, underwent a remodeling of the interior in 1879.

By act of Congress dated March 30, 1823, East and West Florida were
united as one territory. Florida was admitted into the Union as a State,
March 3d, 1845.

In 1830 there was quite a spirit of speculation rife in the old city. A
canal into the St. Johns River and another between the Halifax and
Matanzas rivers, also a railway to Picolata were projected, and sanguine
people fully expected to see these projects completed immediately. To
this day the railway alone has been completed, and is barely able to pay
a dividend to its stockholders with a tariff of two dollars for a
carriage of fifteen miles. All the other projects are still being talked

One of the bubbles of the speculation of this period was a new and large
city to be built north of the fort. Peter Sken Smith, a gentleman of
some means, erected the frame of a large hotel on grounds outside of the
city gate, and there were also built there several houses and stores, a
market, and a wharf. Judge Douglass, the first judge of the territory,
entered largely into the business of raising the silk-worm. He set out a
large number of mulberry trees and built a large building on his
plantation called Macarasi, or more commonly Macariz, situated just
beyond the end of the shell road, which gave to the place the general
appellation of the “Cocoonery.” Judge Douglass has been ridiculed for
yielding to the “silk-growing fever,” but the enterprise which was so
disastrous to him and others will one day become a lucrative business
for many in the mild climate of Florida.

The large and handsome residence on the lot adjoining the Episcopal
church, now owned by L. H. Tyler, Esq., was built by Peter Sken Smith,
in 1833. The artisans and much of the materials were brought from the
North, and the sum of forty thousand dollars was said to have been
invested on the house and furniture. Shortly after the house was for
sale at less than two thousand dollars.

The plaza was inclosed about this time, and the cannon placed at the
corners. The old guns yet to be seen about the city were used by several
private citizens to ornament the corners of the streets upon which their
lots fronted. In a cut published thirty years ago showing the plaza,
etc., the date-palms in Mr. Tyler’s yard appear to reach to an altitude
almost the same as at present, showing the extreme slowness of their
upward growth.

St. Augustine, immediately after it came under the jurisdiction of the
United States, began to receive a most desirable addition to its
population in a class of Americans of culture and means, who had long
desired to avail themselves of the benefits and delights of its climate,
but had hesitated about becoming citizens of the place under Spanish
rule. I have heard old citizens say that there was no town of its size
in the country where there were so many persons of refined tastes and
independent means as in St. Augustine at that time. The Indian war soon
after brought to St. Augustine a large addition to its population. This
consisted mostly of the military, both regulars and militia, of Florida
and the neighboring States, and the many officers, agents, and attachés
of the government. It was the government headquarters and a depot of
supplies, and for a season was full of bustle, excitement, and more
activity than it has ever experienced since.

The incidents of that war would be out of place in a history of St.
Augustine. Two of the principal characters of that exciting time were,
however, brought to St. Augustine, and, with about three hundred other
Creeks and Seminoles, confined in Fort Marion. Osceola, a young chief of
the Mickasookie tribe, of great daring, considerable education, and
great natural abilities, inherited with the Caucasian blood derived from
his father, was for some time confined at St. Augustine, and afterwards
removed to Fort Moultrie, in Charleston Harbor, where his body is now
buried. Though captured through a base trick, Osceola had, through a
sullen sense of honor, refused to escape from Fort Marion with Wild Cat.
It was said that he died of a broken heart when he learned the fate of
his nation, and the intention of the government to remove the remnant of
the Seminoles west of the Mississippi.

The casemate in the south-west bastion of the fort has been rendered
famous by the escape of a body of Indians, including the famous
Coa-cou-che. This Indian, also called Wild Cat, was the youngest son of
Philip, a great chief among the Seminoles. He was a man of great
courage, of an adventurous disposition, and savage nature, lacking the
intellectual abilities of Osceola, but possessing great influence among
his nation. Like most of the young chiefs, he was bitterly opposed to
the execution of the treaty signed by the older chiefs, by which the
Seminoles agreed to remove west of the Mississippi. At an interview
immediately before the breaking out of hostilities, Colonel Harney
observed to him that unless the Seminoles removed according to the
treaty the whites would exterminate them. To this Coa-cou-che replied,
that Iste-chatte (the Indian) did not understand that word. The Great
Spirit he knew might exterminate them, but the pale-faces could not;
else, why had they not done it before?

During the war this young chief was captured and placed under guard in
Fort Marion. It is reported that he was at first confined in one of the
close cells, and, in order to be removed to a casemate which had an
embrasure through which he had planned to escape, he complained of the
dampness of his cell and feigned sickness. This, like many other
incidents connected with his escape, is probably fictitious. There were
at the time a considerable number of Indians confined in the fort, and
unless they showed themselves querulous and dangerous, they were all
allowed the freedom of the court during the day, and confined at night
in the several casemates. It is probable that Coa-cou-che chose the
casemate in the south-west bastion from which to make his escape,
because of a platform which is in that casemate. This platform is raised
some five feet from the floor, and built of masonry directly under the
embrasure through which he escaped. This opening had been constructed
high up in the outer wall of the casemate to admit light and air. It is
thirteen feet above the floor, and eight feet above the platform, which
had probably been constructed for the convenience and dignity of the
judges, who doubtless used this casemate as a judgment room. The
aperture is about two feet high by nine inches wide, and some eighteen
feet above the surface of the ground at the foot of the wall within the
moat. It is said that as he took his airing upon the terre-plein the
evening before his escape, Coa-cou-che lingered longer than usual,
gazing far out into the west as the sun went down, probably thinking
that ere another sunset he would be beyond the limit of his farthest
vision, enjoying the freedom of his native forests. That night he
squeezed his body, said to have been attenuated by voluntary abstinence
from food, through the embrasure in the wall, and silently dropped into
the moat at the foot of the bastion. The moat was dry, and the station
of every guard was well known to the Indian, so that escape was no
longer difficult. Coa-cou-che immediately joined his nation, but was
afterwards captured and sent west. He was recalled by General Worth, and
used to secure the submission of his tribe. General Worth declared to
him that if his people were not at Tampa on a certain day he would hang
from the yard of the vessel on which he had returned, and was then
confined. This message he was ordered to send to his people by Indian
runners furnished by the general. He was directed to deliver to the
messengers twenty twigs, one for each day, and to make it known to his
people that when the last twig in the hands of the messenger was broken,
so would the cords which bound his life to earth be snapped asunder
unless they were all at the general’s camp prepared to depart to the
reservation provided for them at the west. The struggle in the mind of
Coa-cou-che was severe, but his love of life was strong. He sent by the
messenger his entreaties that his people should appear at the time and
place designated, and take up their abode in the prairies of the west.
Desiring to impress upon his people that this was the will of the Great
Spirit, with consummate policy he directed the messenger to relate to
them this, Coa-cou-che’s dream: “The day and manner of my death are
given out so that whatever I may encounter, I fear nothing. The spirits
of the Seminoles protect me; and the spirit of my twin-sister who died
many years ago watches over me; when I am laid in the earth I shall go
to live with her. She died suddenly. I was out hunting, and when seated
by my campfire alone I heard a strange noise--a voice that told me to go
to her. The camp was some distance off, but I took my wife and started.
The night was dark and gloomy; the wolves howled about me. I went from
hommock to hommock, sounds came often to my ear. I thought she was
speaking to me. At daylight I reached the camp, but she was dead. I sat
down alone under the long gray moss of the trees, when I heard strange
sounds again. I felt myself moving, and went along into a new country
where all was bright and beautiful. I saw clear water ponds, rivers, and
prairies upon which the sun never set. All was green; the grass grew
high, and the deer stood in the midst looking at me. I then saw a small
white cloud approaching, and when just before me, out of it came my
twin-sister dressed in white, and covered with bright silver ornaments.
Her long black hair which I had often braided fell down upon her back.
She clasped me around the neck and said, ‘Coa-cou-che, Coa-cou-che.’ I
shook with fear; I knew her voice, but could not speak. With one hand
she gave me a string of white beads; in the other she held a cup
sparkling with pure water; as I drank she sang the peace song of the
Seminoles, and danced around me. She had silver bells upon her feet
which made a loud sweet noise. Taking from her bosom something, she laid
it before me, when a bright blaze streamed above us. She took me by the
hand and said, ‘All is peace.’ I wanted to ask for others, but she shook
her head, stepped into the cloud, and was gone. All was silent. I felt
myself sinking until I reached the earth when I met my brother,

Coa-cou-che’s appeal was successful. The messengers returned with the
whole remnant of the tribe three days before the expiration of the time.
They all embarked and took up their residence on the prairies, where the
sun never sets and the grass grows high. It was not a field in which
Coa-cou-che could distinguish himself, and from this time his name was
never heard, except in connection with his past exploits in Florida.

Soon after the United States took possession of St. Augustine, the
government began to make extensive improvements in and about the town.
The barracks were immediately remodeled, and built as they are at
present. The fort, which had become much dilapidated, was repaired and
fitted for a garrison. It was while this work was being prosecuted that
the cell under the north-east bastion was discovered, which has ever
since been associated with the Huguenot massacre and the Spanish
Inquisition, in annual editions of guide-books and tourists’ letters. It
is constantly designated as “the Dungeon,” and, lest I should not be
understood in referring to it as a cell, I shall also call it a dungeon,
in explaining how it was found and what it did not contain. For some
reason unexplained by any record left by the Spaniards, the terre-plein,
near the north-east bastion, had been built upon large wooden beams. At
the time the Americans took possession of the fort they found the last
casemate, fronting on the court on the east side, filled with the
coquina floor of the terre-plein, which had fallen in, as the timbers
supporting it had rotted. Naturally, this half-filled casemate had
become the place of deposit for all rubbish accumulated upon any part of
the works. In the course of repairs the rubbish was cleared out of the
casemate, and the entrance into the adjoining cell exposed. Entering
this cell, and examining the masonry for anticipated repairs, the
engineer in charge, said to be Lieutenant Tuttle, U. S. A., discovered a
newness of appearance about a small portion of the masonry of the north
wall. Under his instruction a mason cut out this newer stone-work and
found that the small arch, under which those who now enter the “dungeon”
crawl, had been walled up. Why the entrance had thus been filled with
masonry is unknown, but it is extremely unlikely that it was done to
insure the perpetual captivity and death of a human being. The engineer
and mason entered the cell, and made an examination of the interior with
the light of a candle. Near the entrance were the remains of a fire, the
ashes and bits of pine wood burned off toward the center of the pile in
which they had been consumed. Upon the side of the cell was a rusty
staple, with about three links of chain attached thereto. Near the wall,
on the west side of the cell, were a few bones. Finding these very
rotten, and crumbling to pieces under his touch, the engineer spread his
handkerchief upon the floor and brushed very gently the few fragments of
bone into it. These were shown the surgeon then stationed at the post,
who said they might be human bones, but were so badly crumbled and
decayed he could not determine definitely. Nothing else was found in the
cell.[36] The iron cages, which have been described as a part of the
fixtures of this terrible dungeon, and which it has been said contained
human bones, appear upon the united testimony of old inhabitants to have
been found outside of the city gates entirely empty. It is said that, in
1822, a Mr. Deever, a butcher, while digging post holes on the grounds
opposite to those now owned by Mr. Kingsland, just north of the city
gates, came upon the cages and dug them up. One of them was made use of
in his workshop by Mr. Bartolo Oliveros, a locksmith. The other one was
allowed by Mr. Deever to lie near the city gate until it was
appropriated by some unknown party. The cages are described as having
had much the shape of a coffin; and the tradition is, that a human
being had been placed in each, the solid bands of iron riveted about his
body, and, after life had been extinguished by the horrible torture of
starvation, cages and corpses had been buried in the “scrub” then
covering the ground north of the gate. Doubtless these cages were used
for the punishment of criminals condemned for some heinous crime; but
whether they were introduced by the Spaniards or English is not known.
An old gentleman, Mr. Christobal Bravo, tells me his mother has related
to him that she had seen, during the English possession, these cages, or
similar ones, suspended at the gates of the city, with criminals
incarcerated therein. In the face of the facts it is feared that St.
Augustine must lose much of the romance and melancholy interest excited
by the stories of Spanish cruelty and torture. It is very probable that
this inner cell at the fort was used as a place of confinement for
criminals, and it is possible that some may have died therein. In fact,
it was so reported and generally believed at the time the poet Bryant
visited St. Augustine in 1843. Fairbanks, on page 157 of his “History
and Antiquities of St. Augustine,” published in 1858, refers to the
instruments of torture and skeletons walled in the old fort.

The account, as recited by the “Old Sergeant,” Mr. McGuire,
ordnance-sergeant, U. S. A., gives the current legend connected with the
dungeon. The sergeant alone can do justice to the narrative, in presence
of an appreciative audience clustered around his smoking torch under the
vaulted arch of the grim, damp cell. No pen can transcribe the
sergeant’s Irish brogue, or his periods, his tones, and his inimitable
expression of countenance, which seems to evince a combination of honest
doubt and wishful credence in the melancholy tale of Spanish barbarity,
which has proved so remunerative to himself, and so acceptable to the
novelty hunting tourist. While the sergeant’s lamp holds out to burn, no
visitor to St. Augustine should fail to hear his tale, “Just as it was
told to me,” as he is particular to explain.

In the spring of 1875 a body of Comanche, Kiowa, and Cheyenne chiefs
were removed from the West by order of the government, and sent to St.
Augustine. These Indians were, at first, confined within the old fort,
under a guard furnished from the post at St. Francis Barracks. They had
been sent under the charge of Captain Pratt, of the Tenth U. S. Cavalry.
The selection of this officer was a most fortunate choice. Through his
indubitable faith in the possibility of developing the better nature of
the Indian, together with his unwearied perseverance under difficulties
that none but a missionary among the depraved races of men can realize,
by his great tact and his patience he succeeded in demonstrating that,
by proper methods and efforts, the Indian problem is capable of a
satisfactory solution. Under the system adopted by Captain Pratt the
guard was soon dispensed with, and the Indians treated very much as if
they were a company of enlisted soldiers. They walked the streets,
attended the churches, and had their school, with no other restraint or
hindrance than is imposed upon soldiers. They soon acted as their own
guard day and night, assumed the dress of a soldier, and many of the
manners and habits of the white man. After remaining at St. Augustine
for about two years, a portion of the company were sent to the Hampton,
Va. school, and the remainder were returned to their native tribes,
where they must yet exert a powerful influence for the advance of

It is a remarkable coincidence that the first practical demonstration
of the ability of the government to elevate and civilize the Indian, and
the first advance in a rational method of making citizens of the remnant
of our aboriginal population, was inaugurated at St. Augustine. The evil
in the nature of the Caucasian who first landed in America, upon the
shores of Florida, has proved a curse and a blight to the red man. The
gratifying success that crowned the philanthropic policy inaugurated by
the government among the representatives of the Indian race, while
prisoners at St. Augustine, will, it is to be hoped, be the harbinger of
the speedy civilization of the whole of the Indian race existing in



In February, 1835, an unprecedented depression of temperature destroyed
the orange trees which embosomed the town and rendered the place
exceedingly attractive. The deep green foliage concealed the dingy and
often unsightly buildings. The fragrance of the blossoms in spring was
almost overpowering, and was said to be perceptible far out to sea. The
income of the people of the town derived from the sale of their oranges
was not far from seventy-five thousand dollars annually, and the crop
that was yearly sent from St. Augustine in sailing vessels exceeded
three million oranges. One orange tree upon the plaza is reported to
have borne twelve thousand oranges. In 1829, Mr. A. Alverez picked from
one tree in his garden six thousand five hundred oranges, and it is
recorded that “an old citizen picked from one tree eight thousand of the
golden apples. The Minorcan population of St. Augustine had been
accustomed to depend on the produce of their little groves of eight or
ten trees, to purchase their coffee, sugar, and other necessaries from
the stores; they were left without resource. The wild groves suffered
equally with those cultivated. The town of St. Augustine, that
heretofore appeared like a rustic village, its white houses peeping
from the clustered boughs and golden fruit of their favorite tree,
beneath whose shade the foreign invalid cooled his fevered limbs, and
imbibed health from the fragrant air, how is she fallen! Dry, unsightly
poles, with ragged bark, stick up around her dwellings, and where the
mocking bird once delighted to build her nest, and tune her lovely song,
owls now hoot at night, and sterile winds whistle through the leafless
branches. Never was a place more desolate.”[37]

Many of the trees had attained a very large size and great age. A large
number sent out sprouts from the roots, and if undisturbed, many groves
would have borne profitable crops in a few years. The scale insect,
however, made its appearance in 1842 in countless multitudes, blighting
the groves throughout Florida. For twenty years it was a constant
struggle, on the part of the few who retained their faith in the success
of orange culture, to rid their groves of this destructive insect.
Finally, nature provided in some way an exterminator of the insect, and
from that time there has been no serious drawback to the culture of
oranges in Florida. Williams describes the inhabitants at this time as
“a temperate, quiet, and rather indolent people; affectionate and
friendly to each other, and kind to the few slaves they held. They
mostly kept little stores, cultivated small groves or gardens, and
followed fishing and hunting.” Posey balls, masquerades, and sherivarees
were their principal diversions.

The posey dance of St. Augustine was introduced in the following manner:
“The females of a family, no matter what their rank or station in life
may be, erect in a room of their house a neat little altar, lit up with
candles, and dressed with pots and festoons of flowers. This is
understood by the gentlemen as a polite invitation to call and admire
the taste of the fair architects. It is continued for several successive
evenings; in the meantime the lady selects from her visitors some happy
beau, whom she delights to honor, and presents him with a bouquet of
choice flowers. His gallantry is then put to the test; should he choose
to decline the proffered honor, he has only to pay the expenses of
lighting up the altar. But if he accepts the full dignity offered him,
he is king of the ball, which shortly succeeds, and the posey lass
becomes queen, as a matter of course. The posey ball is a mixed
assembly. People of all ranks meet here on a level, yet they are
conducted with the nicest decorum, and even with politeness and grace.

“Sherivarees are parties of idle people, who dress themselves in
grotesque masquerade, whenever a widow or widower is married. They often
parade about the streets and play buffoon tricks for two or three days;
haunting the residence of the new married pair, and disturbing the whole
city with noise and riot.

“The carnival is a scene of masquerading, which was formerly celebrated
by the Spanish and Minorcan populations with much taste and gayety; but
since the introduction of an American population, it has during the
whole winter season been prostituted to cover drunken revels, and to
pass the basest objects of society into the abodes of respectable
people, to the great annoyance of the civil part of the community.”[38]

These and other customs have long since ceased to exist, and many are
already forgotten. One of these was “shooting the Jews,” originally a
religious ceremony, but afterwards a diversion. For many years it was
the custom to hang effigies at the street corners and upon the plaza on
the evening of Good Friday. When the bells in the cathedral, which are
never rung during Good Friday, began on Saturday morning at ten o’clock
to ring the Hallelujah, crowds of men in the streets commenced to shoot
with guns and pistols at the hanging effigies. This was continued until
some unerring marksman severed the cord about the neck of the image, or
perhaps it was riddled and shredded by the fusilade.

The Spanish veil was until a late period the only covering for the head
worn by the ladies of the town. A lady now living has described the
disapproval manifested at the appearance of the first bonnet in church.
Great indignation was expressed, and loud protests against the insult
offered to the church and congregation by this supposed exhibition of
ill-breeding and irreverence.

In the memory of those now living wheeled vehicles within the gates were
first allowed. Before that time all moving of goods was done in packs.
The narrow streets without sidewalks evidently were not intended for the
passage of carts and carriages. Saddle-horses were common, but their
path was the center of the street, which was rendered hard and smooth
with pounded coquina, and kept so neat that the ladies wore on their
feet only the thinnest of slippers.

One of the ancient customs brought from the island of Minorca is yet

On the night before Easter Sunday the young men go about the city in
parties serenading. Approaching the dwelling of some one whom they wish
to favor with their song, or from whom they expect the favors asked in
their rhyme, they knock gently upon the window. If their visit is
welcome they are answered by a knock from within, and at once begin the
following song said to be in the Mahonese dialect:

    “US GOIS.

    “Disciarem lu dol
    Cantarem aub’ alagria,
    Y n’arem a dá
    Las pascuas a Maria.
        O Maria!

    “San Gabriel
    Qui portaba la ambasciada
    Des nostro rey del cel,
    Estaran vos preñada.
    Ya omitiada
    Tuao vais aqui serventa,
    Fia del Deo contenta,
    Para fa lo que el vol.
        Disciarem lu dol, etc.

    “Y a milla nit
    Pariguero vos regina--
    A un Deo infinit--
    Dintra una establina.
    Y a milla dia,
    Que los angels von cantant
    Par y abondant,
    De la gloria de Deo sol.
        Disciarem lu dol, etc.

    “Y a Libalem,
    Alla la terra santa,
    Nus nat Jesus,
    Aub’ alagria tanta;
    Infant petit
    Que tot lu mon salvaria.
    Y ningu y bastaria
    Nu mes un Deo sol.
        Disciarem lu dol, etc.

    “Cuant de Orion lus
    Tres reys la stralla veran,
    Deo omnipotent
    Adora lo vingaran.
    Un present inferan
    De mil encens y or,
    A lu benuit seño,
    Que conesce cual se vol.
        Disciarem lu dol, etc.

    “Tot fu gayant
    Para cumplé la prumas,
    Y lu Esperit sant
    De un angel fau gramas,
    Gran foc ences,
    Que crama lu curagia.
    Damos da lenguagia
    Para fe lo que Deo vol.
        Disciarem lu dol, etc.

    “Cuant trespasá
    De quest mon nostra Señora,
    Al cel s’ empugia.
    Sun fil la matescia ora,
    O, Emperadora!
    Que del cel san eligida,
    Lu rosa florida,
    Mé resplenden que un sol.
        Disciarem lu dol, etc.

    “Y el tercer groin
    Que Jesus resunta,
    Deo y aboroma,
    Que la mort triumfa.
    De alli se ballá
    Para perldra Lucife
    An tot a sen pendá,
    Que de nostro ser al sol.
        Disciarem lu dol,” etc.


    “Let us leave off mourning,
    Let us sing with joy,
    Let us go and give
    Our salutation to Mary.
        O Mary!

    “Saint Gabriel
    Brought the tidings
    That the King of Heaven
    Thou hadst conceived.
    Thou wert humble.
    Behold, here is the handmaid,
    Daughter of God, content
    To do what he will!
        CHORUS.--Let us leave off mourning, etc.

    “And at midnight
    She gave birth to the child--
    The infinite God--
    In a stable.
    At mid-day,
    The angels go singing
    Peace and abundance,
    And glory to God alone.

    “In Bethlehem,
    In the Holy Land,
    Was born the Saviour,
    With great joy;
    The little child
    Who all the world would save,
    Which no one could accomplish
    But God alone.

    “When in the East
    Three kings the star did see,
    God omnipotent
    To adore they came.
    A present they made him
    Of myrrh and gold,
    To the blessed Saviour,
    Who knows every one.

    “All burning with zeal
    To accomplish the promises,
    The Holy Spirit
    From an angel was sent forth.
    A great fire was kindled,
    And courage inflamed him.
    God give us language
    To do thy will.

    “When we have passed
    From this world, our Lady,
    To heaven we are raised.
    Your Son, at the same hour,
    O Queen,
    Who art of Heaven the choicest
    Blooming rose!
    More brilliant than the sun.

    On the third day
    Our Jesus arose,
    The celestial God
    Over death triumphant.
    From hence he has gone
    To overcome Satan
    Throughout the whole world.
    Our protector and guide.

After this hymn the following stanzas, soliciting the customary gifts of
cakes or eggs, are sung:

     *       *       *

    “Lu cet gois vam cantant,
    Regina celestial.
    Damos pan y alagria!
    Yabonas festas tingan;
    Y vos da sus bonas festas,
    Damos dinés de sus nous,
    Sempre tarem lus neans Uestas
    Para recibi un grapat de nes.
    Y, el giorn de pascua florida
    Alagramos y, giuntament.
    As qui es mort par dar nos vida;
    Y via glorosiamente,
    A questa casa está empedrada,
    Bien halla que la empedro.
    San amo de aquesta casa
    Baldria duná un do,
    Formagiada o empanada.
    Cucutta a flao,
    Cual se val casa sue grada,
    Sol que no rue digas que no.”

     *       *       *

    “These seven stanzas sung,
    Celestial queen
    Give us peace and joy!
    May you enjoy a good feast;
    We wish a happy time,
    Give us of your bounty.
    We always have our hands ready
    Thy bounty to receive.
    Let us now the Easter feast
    Together enjoy.
    He died to save us;
    Let us be joyful.
    This house is walled round,
    Blessed be he who walled it about.
    The owner of this house
    Ought to give us a token,
    Either a cake or a tart.
    We like anything,
    So you say not no.”

 *       *       *

The shutters are then opened by the people within, and a supply of cakes
or other pastry is dropped into a bag carried by one of the party, who
acknowledge the gift in the following lines, and then depart:

    “Aquesta casa reta empedrada,
    Empedrada de cuastro vens,
    Sun amo de aquesta casa,
    Es omo de compliment.”

    “This house is walled round,
    Walled round on four sides.
    The owner of this house
    Is a polite gentleman.”

If nothing is given, the last line reads thus:

“No es homo de compliment.”

“Is not a polite gentleman.”

This song is repeated throughout the city until midnight. To the
listener it has a peculiar fascination like some of the tunes from
popular operas, keeping one awake to listen to its strains, even after
many repetitions have rendered the singing monotonous.

The walls of the United States barracks are probably the oldest
structures in the place. An old house on Hospital Street, torn down in
1871, when Mr. Pendleton built a very pretty cottage upon the same
ground, was said by old residents to have been the oldest house in the
town. The former residence of the attorney-general during the English
possession stood just south of the Worth House on the corner of Bay and
Green Streets. This was a very old structure, though built in too costly
a manner to have been one of the earliest buildings, one of which in
English times still bore the date 1571. The house was built by a
Spaniard named Ysnada. Its beams were made of a wood brought from Cuba,
which resembled our royal palm in being susceptible of taking a high
polish. The staircases, wainscoting, and panels were of lignum vitæ. For
many years the house stood in too dilapidated a condition for occupancy.
Finally the wood was torn out by curiosity hunters and dealers, and made
into canes and other mementoes of “the oldest house in St. Augustine.”

The present sea-wall was built between 1835 and 1843, under the
superintendence of Colonel Dancey, now living at his orange grove called
Buena Vista, on the St. Johns River. He was then a captain in the U. S.
Army. The wall is ten feet above low-water mark, seven feet thick at the
base, and three feet wide on top, capped with granite, and extends along
the whole front of the city, from the old fort on the north to the
barracks on the south, about three-quarters of a mile in length.
Opposite the plaza the wall forms a basin for small boats. Under Colonel
Dancey the government spent three appropriations of fifty thousand
dollars each, having spent twenty thousand dollars previously in
preparation for the work. Captain Benham spent two appropriations of
fifty thousand dollars each in covering the wall with granite slabs, as
it was found that the coquina was rapidly wearing away under the tread
of pedestrians using the wall as a promenade. Much of the pleasure of
this otherwise delightful promenade is marred by the narrowness of the
curbing, making the passing difficult. This feature is said to be
unobjectionable to lovers, who are credited with the opinion that to see
St. Augustine aright it is necessary to promenade the sea-wall by
moonlight, viewing the rippling waters of the bay, with the roar of the
surf on the neighboring beach as an interlude to the sweeter music of
their own voices. Colonel Dancey built the present causeway leading to
the depot in 1837 at the expense of the United States. His successor,
Captain Benham, superintended the construction of the water battery at
the fort, and other repairs made to the property of the United States
within the city.

Under the dominion of the United States, St. Augustine soon became a
health and pleasure resort. Without manufactures, with, as yet, no
products of agriculture for export, its fine port is destitute of
commerce, and its easy-going population have ever since depended upon
the attractions offered by their city to invalids and persons of
fortune, for the means with which to procure the necessaries and
luxuries which its inhabitants enjoy in a fair measure. Strangers often
wonder how the town is supported, but upon investigation it is found
that the frugality of the people is remarkable. Their independence comes
from what they save rather than from what they earn. While there is
little wealth among its citizens, there is little actual want. The many
girls and young ladies always dress with neatness and taste, and many
earn the means to support themselves by braiding palmetto for hats and
baskets, making feather flowers, shell, and fish-scale ornaments, and
bouquets of the native grasses. The town has long been noted for the
number and health of its young children.

In 1834 the city contained 1,739 inhabitants, of whom 498 were males,
519 females, 151 free colored persons, and 571 slaves. Of these, 10 were
lawyers, 3 doctors, 1 printer, 7 dry-goods dealers, 6 keepers of
boarding-houses, 13 grocers, 1 painter, 7 carpenters, 4 masons, 2
blacksmiths, 1 gunsmith, 2 shoemakers, 1 baker, 2 tailors, 1 tanner, and
5 cigar-makers. The present population of the city is, by the census of
1880, about 2,300, of which about the same number follow the above
callings as in 1834, with the exception of lawyers and grocers, of whom
there are not more than half the former number. There is no bank in the
city, its place being supplied by the money-order department of the
post-office. The colored population are much more intelligent, better
educated, and generally superior to the individuals of that unfortunate
race found in other parts of the South. This is partly owing to the
large number of free negroes here before the Emancipation, and also to
the advantages they have derived from contact with the visitors and
residents coming from all parts of the country. In 1843 the poet Bryant
remarked the fact above stated, saying, “In the colored people whom I
saw in the Catholic church I remarked a more agreeable, open, and gentle
physiognomy than I have been accustomed to see in that class.”[39]

Many of the most interesting old structures have, unfortunately, been
torn down. As these attractive old relics of antiquity are swept away,
some ignorant iconoclast bids the people rejoice over a new “city
improvement,” forgetting that there are many modern cities in America,
and but one “ancient city.” The building now used as a post-office has,
in this way, been remodeled from a quaint and interesting old Spanish
structure, with its court-yard and balconies, into a commonplace modern
structure. Even the old coquina lunette standing in the same yard on the
corner of King and Tolomato Streets had to succumb to personal interest
and the demand for “improvements,” and was swept away, thus depriving
the city of one of its most attractive mementoes.

The fort, the Spanish monument, the cathedral, and the city gates yet
remain, preserved from the hands of vandals. The city has lately
repaired the sentry-boxes, constructed in the pilasters of the city
gate, and doubtless from this time on there will be an effort made to
preserve all of the old relics yet remaining.

In 1879 the Ladies’ Memorial Association obtained permission of the city
to remove to the plaza a monument that had been erected on St. George
Street to the memory of the soldiers of St. Augustine and vicinity who
died in the late “war between the States.” This monument now stands near
the east end of the plaza, and preserves the names of those whose memory
it is intended to perpetuate, engraved upon two marble slabs set into
the masonry. Its inscriptions are as follows:

                              “Our dead.”

     “Erected by the Ladies’ Memorial Association of St. Augustine,
     Fla., A.D. 1872.”

     “In Memoriam. Our loved ones who gave their lives in the service of
     the Confederate States.”

In the military cemetery near the barracks are three small pyramids
built of masonry and whitewashed, marking the place where are interred
the remains of Major Dade and his one hundred and seven comrades
massacred by the Indians near the Withlacoochee River, on the 28th of
December, 1835. They were buried on the battle-field by a detachment
that was sent out for their succor, but arrived too late. Upon the
removal of their remains to St. Augustine, these pyramids were erected,
and also a handsome monument. The monument is of marble, a broken pillar
or shaft upon a square pedestal, with inscriptions on the four faces.

On the first we read:

     “This monument, in token of respectful and affectionate remembrance
     by their comrades of all grades, is committed to the care and
     preservation of the garrison of St. Augustine.”

On another the following:

     “A mute record of all the officers who perished, and are here and
     elsewhere deposited, as also a portion of the soldiers, has been
     prepared and placed in the office of the adjutant of the post,
     where it is hoped it will be carefully and perpetually preserved.”

On another:

     “The conflict in which so many perished in battle, and by disease,
     commenced 25th December, 1835, and terminated 14th August, 1842.”

On the last:

     “Sacred to the memory of the officers and soldiers killed in battle
     and died in service during the Florida War.”

Near this cemetery is the post hospital, a convenient and airy building.
A large building on St. George Street, erected in 1874, is occupied by
the society of nuns called Sisters of St. Joseph. Many of the female
children of the city are taught by the sisters in this building, and
children from abroad are also received, and lodge in the building. The
nuns of St. Augustine have always had the reputation of making fine
lace-work, and much of their work is purchased by visitors.

A large and comfortable building was erected a few years since as a home
for aged and infirm colored persons. It stands back from King Street
just west of Santa Maria Creek. Doctor Bronson and Mr. Buckingham Smith
were chiefly instrumental in erecting the building and furnishing the
endowment, which is managed by a board of trustees. The general
management of the Home and its inmates is given to a matron chosen by
the ladies of the different church parishes, subject to the approval of
the board of trustees.

The wooden building upon a circular foundation of coquina standing in
the bay north of the basin is the bath-house. In the winter it is kept
heated, and warm salt-water baths are furnished to visitors. During the
summer it is liberally patronized for swimming baths by the citizens of
the place and many summer visitors, who come from the interior of the
State to spend the hot months at the seaside. Probably a larger
proportion of the ladies of St. Augustine know how to swim than of any
other place in the country.

Within the last few years there have been a number of handsome houses
built in the city by wealthy gentlemen who occupy them during the winter
season. Mr. H. P. Kingsland of New York has a fine residence north of
the gates upon the shell road. This is probably the most expensive of
the houses built by nonresidents, though the fine house built by the
late Hy. Ball upon his estate on Tolomato Street is said to have cost a
large sum of money. The grounds and orange grove on this place were very
attractive during the life of Mr. Ball, and it is a place much
frequented by visitors.

Mr. Geo. L. Lorillard has lately purchased the “Stone” mansion on St.
George Street, and is ornamenting the grounds, and otherwise making the
place more attractive.

Mr. Tyler, Mr. Ammidown, Mr. Howard, Mr. Bronson, Mr. Alexander, and Mr.
Wilson each have fine residences on St. George Street south of the
plaza. Mr. Edgar has a handsome coquina house on the bay, while the
residence of ex-Senator Gilbert on the south, and the residence and
orange grove of Dr. Anderson on the north, are sure to attract the
notice of the stranger entering the city from the causeway. All of these
residences have attractive grounds, ornamentally laid out, and
artistically adorned, containing a great variety of most beautiful roses
and ornamental plants and flowers. The roses especially are congenial to
the soil and climate, and are in the early winter months most attractive
in their wealth of bloom. This shrub in some of its varieties, here
attains the proportions of a tree. The rose tree in the garden of Mr.
Oliveros was fifteen feet high, rising from a stock twenty-one inches in
circumference, and its branches covered a space eighteen feet in
diameter. The tree is dead, but the stump is still to be seen.

The shell road extends for about a mile north of the city, and is much
used during the winter season. Carriages, buggies, and saddle-horses for
hire are usually standing at all hours in front of the hotels or near
the plaza, and on fair days are well patronized. Mr. Williams and Mr.
Hildreth, north of the city, have attractive places which are much
visited by tourists. When the tide is low there is a short but quite
hard drive along the edge of the St. Sebastian River. There is an
interesting drive to a suburb west of the city called Ravenswood, where
is a spring called from the famous Ponce de Leon. A great natural
curiosity is a large spring in the ocean about three miles off the coast
near Matanzas Inlet, eighteen miles south of St. Augustine. This spring
has been described in the publications of the U. S. Coast Survey. There
is a comfortable hotel kept by Mr. Darius Allen at Matanzas, which is
often filled with hunting and fishing parties. The house stands on the
narrow sand reef between the Matanzas River and the ocean.

At the outbreak of the war of the Rebellion the Union sentiment, which
existed among a considerable portion of the community, was stifled by
the taunts of cowardice and the popular frenzy for secession. A number
of the inhabitants, being unable to make their influence felt at the
election of delegates, prepared and had presented to the convention that
passed the ordinance of secession a letter of protest against such a
course. The only effect of this letter was to place the signers in such
a position that they were advised to volunteer at once to serve in the
Confederate army.

In March, 1862, the United States forces took possession of the town,
which they held until the close of the war. The city was taken by a
naval force under command of Lieut. S. F. Du Pont, afterward Admiral Du

In his report to the Secretary of the Navy, Flag-Officer Du Pont speaks
of the occupation of the place in a tone exhibiting less of exultation
than sadness, that a place which had enjoyed so many favors at the hands
of the government should have taken part in an attempt at its overthrow.

It is perhaps too soon after the close of the struggle to discuss the
events of that period. As a matter of history, however, I give the
report of Commander Rodgers, who received the surrender of the town. In
transmitting the report, Flag-Officer Du Pont adds: “The American flag
is flying once more over that old city, raised by the hands of its own

The following is Commander Rodgers’s report:

“OFF ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA, _March 12, 1862_.

     “SIR: Having crossed the bar with some difficulty, in obedience to
     your orders, I approached St. Augustine under a flag of truce, and
     as I drew near the city a white flag was hoisted upon one of the
     bastions of Fort Marion.

     “Landing at the wharf and inquiring for the chief authorities I was
     soon joined by the mayor, and conducted to the City Hall, where the
     municipal authorities were assembled.

     “I informed them that having come to restore the authority of the
     United States, you had deemed it more kind to send an unarmed boat
     to inform the citizens of your determination than to occupy the
     town at once by force of arms; that you were desirous to calm any
     apprehension of harsh treatment that might exist in their minds,
     and that you should carefully respect the persons and property of
     all citizens who submitted to the authority of the United States;
     that you had a single purpose--to restore the state of affairs
     which existed before the Rebellion. I informed the municipal
     authorities that so long as they respected the authority of the
     government we serve, and acted in good faith, municipal affairs
     would be left in their own hands, so far as might be consistent
     with the exigencies of the times.

     “The mayor and council then informed me that the place had been
     evacuated the preceding night by two companies of Florida troops,
     and that they gladly received the assurance I gave them, and placed
     the city in my hands. I recommended them to hoist the flag of the
     Union at once, and in prompt accordance with the advice, by order
     of the mayor the national ensign was displayed from the flagstaff
     of the fort. * * * *

     “I called upon the clergymen of the city requesting them to
     reassure the people, and to confide in our kind intentions toward

     “About fifteen hundred people remain in St. Augustine, about
     one-fifth of the inhabitants having fled. I believe that there are
     many citizens who are earnestly attached to the Union, a large
     number who are silently opposed to it, and a still larger number
     who care very little about the matter.

     “I think that nearly all of the men acquiesce in the condition of
     affairs we are now establishing.

     “There is much violent and pestilent feeling among the women. They
     seem to mistake treason for courage, and have a theatrical desire
     to figure as heroines. Their minds have doubtless been filled with
     the falsehoods so industriously circulated in regard to the lust
     and hatred of our troops. On the night before our arrival, a party
     of women assembled in front of the barracks and cut down the
     flag-staff, in order that it might not be used to support the old
     flag. The men seemed anxious to conciliate in every way. There is a
     great scarcity of provisions in the place. There seems to be no
     money, except the wretched paper currency of the Rebellion, and
     much poverty exists. In the water-battery at the fort are three
     fine army thirty-two-pounders, of 7,000 pounds, and two eight-inch
     seacoast howitzers, of 5,600 pounds, with shot and some powder.
     There are a number of very old guns in the fort, useless and not

            *       *       *       *       *

“I have the honor to be very respectfully,
“C. R. P. RODGERS, _Commander_.

“_Flag Officer_, S. F. DU PONT,
“Commanding S. Atlantic Blockading Station.”

Mr. Christobal Bravo, an old and much-respected citizen of the place,
who is still alive, was the mayor who surrendered the town.

Immediately after the close of the Rebellion, real estate in the city
possessed very little value. Within a short time, however, as a few
wealthy men began to secure sites for winter residences, the prices
suddenly leaped to the full value, and, in many cases, fictitious
values, which they have since maintained.

The climate of St. Augustine is unsurpassed by that of any location in
the world. The mass of testimony to its healthfulness and agreeableness
is constantly accumulating, and dates from its first settlement.

The extreme old age attained by the aborigines in Florida has been
referred to in the extract from Laudonnère. Romans mentions a man,
eighty-five years old, who had gone five miles on foot to catch fish,
while his mother was meantime busy preparing bread.

The following quaint testimony is from “Romans’s History”:

“Before I quit this subject of the air, I cannot help taking notice of a
remark, which I have read somewhere, made by Dr. James McKenzie, which
is, ‘The soon molding of the bread, moistness of sponge, dissolution of
loaf sugar, and rusting of metals, are marks of a bad air.’ Now every
one of those marks are more to be seen at St. Augustine than in any
place I ever was at. And yet I do not think that on all the continent
there is a more healthy spot. Burials have been less frequent here than
anywhere else, where an equal number of inhabitants are found; and it
was remarked, during my stay there, that, when a detachment of the royal
regiment of artillery once arrived there in a sickly state, none of the
inhabitants caught the contagion, and the troops themselves soon
recruited. The Spanish inhabitants lived here to a great age, and
certain it is, that the people of the Havannah looked on it as their
Montpellier, frequenting it for the sake of health.”

Forbes remarks that the Ninth Regiment of British troops never lost a
man by natural death during the eight months they were quartered in the
town. The undeviating salubrity “of St. Augustine, under the British
flag, was certainly augmented by the perfect cleanliness and neatness
which was the characteristic of the town during that epoch, and that it
continued so while the buildings crumbled into ruins over the heads of
the indolent Spaniards, and the dirt and nuisance augmented in every lot
is an additional proof of the natural healthfulness of the place.”[40]

From October to June the weather is temperate, the thermometer having a
mean of fifty-eight degrees in the winter, and sixty-eight degrees in
the spring. During the winter months there are frequent cloudy days, and
usually several cold storms in a season. From twenty-five years’
observations Dr. Baldwin, of Jacksonville, prepared a table showing the
average of clear days in January to be 20-3/10; February, 19-5/10;
March, 20-4/10; April, 25. For the whole year, 235 clear days.

The climate of St. Augustine is sufficiently cold in winter to brace up
the constitution, after being relaxed by summer heats. On the other
hand, it is sufficiently warm to entice the invalid to be out of doors,
and to present opportunities for open-air exercises. The east winds that
prevail are tempered by the proximity of the Gulf Stream, a vast volume
of warm water moving along the coast of Florida, whose effect is felt
thousands of miles farther north in modifying the temperature of the
British Isles.

The peculiar location of St. Augustine, upon a narrow peninsula,
provides a natural drainage that renders the place particularly
desirable as a health resort. Through the winter rains are infrequent,
that being the dry season in Florida; whatever rain falls, however, is
immediately absorbed by the sandy soil, and, in many parts of the city,
the slope of the surface carries the rain-fall immediately into the
tide-water environing the city, before it has time to be absorbed by the

The mean relative humidity for the five winter months of several
localities, recommended as health resorts, is shown in a table compiled
by C. J. Kenworthy, M.D., of Jacksonville, Fla., and published by him in
his work on “The Climatology of Florida.” I take the liberty of using
his data. The humidity of St. Augustine during the winter months is
nearly the same as that of Jacksonville. At Mentone and Cannes the mean
relative humidity for the five months, beginning in November, is ...

                                                      72-4/10 per cent.
    Breckenridge, Minn.                               79-6/10    “
    Bismark, Dak.                                     76-5/10    “
    Nassau, N. P.                                     73-2/10    “
    Punta Rassa, Fla. (on the Gulf coast)             72-7/10    “
    Jacksonville, “                                   68-8/10    “

Thus it will be seen that, although we sometimes have fogs and cloudy
weather, the humidity of the atmosphere is less than that of several
noted health resorts, some of which are at a considerable elevation.
Finally, the medical attendance and supply of nourishing and appetizing
food available at St. Augustine are all that could be desired. The
hotels and boarding-houses are excellent; while the opportunities and
inducements for open-air recreations and exercises are superior.

With the close connections furnished by the lines of railway lately
completed to Jacksonville, that city will doubtless become the objective
point of the Florida-bound tourist. At that place time-tables can be
obtained of the river steamers and the railway from Tocoi, on the St.
Johns River, to St. Augustine; and, by correspondence, accommodations
can be secured in advance, during the season, when the hotels and
boarding-houses of St. Augustine are likely to be crowded.

All visitors to Florida, and especially those who come for recreation,
should be sure to spend a portion of the season, at least, in St.

       *       *       *       *       *


                            SOUVENIR ALBUM


                        VIEWS IN ST. AUGUSTINE.

                      PREPARED BY THE CELEBRATED
                       LOUIS GLASER, OF LEIPSIC,
                           And Copyrighted.

                         SCENES AND STRUCTURES
                                IN THE
                            “ANCIENT CITY;”



  A most acceptable present, and a memento of the oldest town in the
                            United States.

              Sent, post-paid, on receipt of one dollar.


                            W. W. DEWHURST,

                        St. Augustine, Florida.


 [1] Naufragios de Alvar Nuñez Cabeça de Vaca, cap. 31. Barcia,
 Historiadores, tom. ii.

 [2] Hakluyt’s translation. French’s Historical Collections, p. 223.

 [3] Laudonnère’s Narrative, translated by Hakluyt.

 [4] Laudonnère’s Narrative, French’s Historical Collections, p. 332.

 [5] Catena, Vita de Pio V., p. 85. “He complained of the count for not
 having obeyed his command to slay instantly whatever heretic fell into
 his hands.”

 [6] Hakluyt’s translation.

 [7] The arquebuse was a rude musket exploded with a slow match.

 [8] Fairbanks’ History of St. Augustine, p. 107.

 [9] Fairbanks’ History of St. Augustine, p. 112. This chest has since
 been broken into fragments and sold to visitors as souvenirs of the
 old Spanish occupation. After the last chips had been disposed of,
 any old pieces of mahogany were substituted, until the memory of the
 chest had faded away, and the trade in mahogany splinters became

 [10] Fairbanks, pp. 113, 114.

 [11] Fairbanks, p. 119.

 [12] Fairbanks, p. 128. This statement is evidently in error, as I
 have shown from Laudonnère’s account that Menendez brought negro
 slaves; moreover, the residents of the asylum of all slaves escaping
 from the British colonies, and those captured by the Indians under a
 standing reward, would hardly rejoice over the arrival of one negro.

 [13] See Souvenir Album of St. Augustine for a view of the old
 lighthouse, which exhibits a salient angle protecting the gate of the
 inclosing wall.

 [14] For an excellent view of this old fort, see Souvenir Album of
 Views in St. Augustine.

 [15] Williams’ Florida, p. 185.

 [16] For an excellent view of the tablet over the entrance to the
 fort, on which is sculptured the Spanish coat of arms and the above
 inscription, see Souvenir Album of Views in St. Augustine.

 [17] Fairbanks’ History and Antiquities, p. 157.

 [18] For several views of the old fort, see Souvenir Album of Views in
 St. Augustine.

 [19] History of the Three Provinces, by Wm. Gerard de Brahm, His
 Majesty’s Survr. Gen. for the Southern District of North America, from
 1751 to 1771. A manuscript work purchased in London, in 1848, for
 Harvard College library, for £12 10s. The portion relating to Florida
 comprises 173 pages with 14 maps.

 [20] Spanish bayonet (Yucca Gloriosa). It bears a pyramid of white
 flowers, and, as also the prickly pear, by its appearance suggests the
 rural scenery of the tropics.

 [21] I have been unable to find any record of the time or manner in
 which any German colony settled in St. Augustine.

 [22] Romans’s History of Florida, New York, 1775.

 [23] Romans’s History of Florida.

 [24] Romans’s History of Florida.

 [25] A very good view of this old structure is published in the
 Souvenir Album of Views in St. Augustine.

 [26] Romans’s History of Florida, N. Y., 1775.

 [27] Williams’ Florida, page 190, A.D. 1837.

 [28] Forbes’ Sketches, etc., N. Y., 1821.

 [29] See Souvenir Album of Views in St. Augustine.

 [30] A fine view of the cathedral, showing the four bells in the
 tower, and the ornamental front, is given in the Souvenir Album of
 Views in St. Augustine.

 [31] Maza, engraver’s mistake.

 [32] Forbes’s Sketches, pp. 85 to 89.

 [33] From inquiry of the old inhabitants I do not find this statement
 confirmed. Perhaps the richer class of people made no use of the
 ground floors, but the general custom was to use them as is still done.

 [34] Vignole’s History.

 [35] Sprague’s History of the Seminole War.

 [36] The finding of any bones is denied by Major H. W. Benham, U. S.
 A., on the authority of a Mr. Ridgely, Lieutenant Tuttle’s overseer.
 Major Benham took charge of the work upon the fort in January, 1839.

 [37] Williams’s History, page 18.

 [38] Williams’s History, pp. 115 et seq.

 [39] Fairbanks’s History, p. 197.

 [40] Forbes’s Sketches.

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