Convocation of Seminole War Historians in St. Augustine
was organized by the Seminole Wars Foundation, this event was a gathering of organizations and individuals throughout Florida interested in the Seminole War era. On Friday at 5 p.m., there was a social at the St. Augustine Officers Club at the St. Francis Barracks, 82 Marine St. On Saturday and Sunday there were workshops and lectures presented each day by some of the foremost experts on the Seminole Wars in Florida at the St. Augustine Officers Club, Trinity Hall at the Trinity Episcopal Parish, 215 St. George St., Ringhaver Student Union Theater at Flagler College, 50 Seville St., and Mark Lance National Guard Armory, 190 San Marco Ave. Also on Saturday at 10:30 a.m., there was a parade featuring more than 40 re-enactors followed by a commemoration ceremony of the 1842 funeral of Major Francis Dade at the St. Augustine National Cemetery, 104 Marine St. Public was welcomed.
It’s been there for 75 years now after a German Submarine U-123 put a torpedo into the stern of the SS Gulfamerica and then raked its hull with gunfire to make sure the ship would never float again. Nineteen of the 48 onboard were killed.The shoreline was packed on a busy Friday night when the torpedo hit on April 10, 1942. Many people watched the flames fill the sky about four miles off shore. Others who didn’t see the explosion flocked to the beach over the weekend to catch a glimpse of the wreckage. The bow of the ship bobbed on the surface for six days before finally sinking below the waves.
First Coast.Tv sat down with Scott Grant, who is a wealth of information concerning that dreadful day for the SS Gulfamerica on April 10, 1942. He went into detail on the events of that day, and the German Captain who carried out the attack.
When Rick Hernandez was hired to restore the plaster work on the walls of the fourth floor Alcazar Hotel staff bedrooms, he did not expect it to reveal secrets of an age past. To prepare for the Upstairs/Downstairs Tours, debuting in October with the arrival of the Dressing Downton™ exhibition, staff worked to clean and restore the upstairs bedrooms, and they found something unexpected: pencil writing on the walls.
“The hotel staff wrote notes to themselves on the walls of the rooms marking restaurant hours and prices and even complaining about annoying customers,” Curator Barry Myers said about the staff of the former Alcazar Hotel. “They were more polite than we are today, so the rudest comments described customers as ‘a pain in the neck’ or ‘a pain in the back.’”
The pencil writings included the date 1917, exactly 100 years ago. Staff is currently working to translate them from Italian. During the Lightner’s time as the Alcazar Hotel, from 1888 to 1932, the rooms served as part of the staff quarters. Today they provide storage space for the many items in the collection that Myers cannot squeeze into the displays on the floors below. First Coast.TV got a chance to speak with some of the people involved with this project.
The discovery of human remains beneath a hurricane-damaged floor at 1 King Street is another step toward determining the location and size of St. Augustine’s first parish church, Nuestra Senora de Los Remedios. Architectural Historian Elsbeth ‘Buff’ Gordon says, “The mission churches across Florida buried everybody in the church floor. It was consecrated ground, of course.”
City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt, who made the discovery beneath a retail space in the mall at King Street and Avenida Menendez, says based on pottery and ceramics found near the bones, these people were probably buried between 1572 and 1586 – just 20 years after St. Augustine was founded in 1565. They could have possibly been on Spanish ships which first came over with St. Augustine’s founder, Pedro Menendez.
“So you may be looking at some of the early colonists in St. Augustine’s history,” Halbirt told First Coast News’ Jessica Clark who, as an archaeological volunteer, participated in this dig. “What you’re dealing with are people who made St. Augustine what it is. You’re in total awe. You want to treat everything with respect, and we are,” Halbirt added.
Halbirt and his volunteers had earlier excavated articulated (in the same position as when buried) burials in adjacent Charlotte Street. First Coast.TV got a chance to speak with City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt at the scene of the dig.
No Asylum: The Untold Chapter of Anne Frank’s Story – A Documentary Film
Anne Frank’s father, Otto’s recently discovered letters reveal new information about the family’s struggle to obtain visas to save themselves from the clutches of the Nazis. The world turned its back on the Franks and millions of others. Leonard Berney, who liberated Bergen Belsen where Anne and her sister Margot perished, relates the harrowing story. Something of a prequel to Anne’s iconic diary, No Asylum shares unknown details of the Frank family’s story before they went into hiding in the attic, and is a call to action for tolerance and respect.
The Gamache-Koger Theatre at Flagler was packed to see this film, which was made possible by Compassionate St. Augustine, Compassion in Action and the Golden Way Films.
Dr. John Young gave an introduction to the film and a Q & A after.
Four hundred and fifty-one years ago, on September 16, 1565, Admiral Don Bartolomé Menéndez de Avilés, Don Pedro’s older brother and San Agustín’s first mayor, mustered the first militia troops in the continental United States to defend the newly founded Spanish pueblo of San Agustín de la Florida (present-day St. Augustine, FL) against pending attack by the French.
On Friday, September 16th, 2016, Florida Living History, Inc. ( www.floridalivinghistory.org ), in partnership with the Florida National Guard ( www.floridaguard.army.mil/ ) and Florida Department of Military Affairs, commemorated the 451st anniversary of the first mustering of America’s original citizen-soldiers and the 451st “birthday” of the National Guard of the United States.
This year’s heritage Event will took be place on the 451st anniversary – to the very day – of the first muster of America’s first militia in September 1565!
In conjunction with National Hispanic Heritage Month, the First Muster heritage Event took place at 4PM on the parade ground in front of the Florida National Guard’s headquarters in the St. Francis Barracks, at 82 Marine St., in St. Augustine, Florida. The speaker at this year’s Event was the Honorable Adam Putnam, Florida State Commissioner. Admission to this heritage Event and to the St. Francis Barracks Museum was free.
This year’s Event was the seventh to commemorate that initial muster of America’s first militia, the “ancestor” of today’s Florida National Guard. Florida Living History, Inc., was invited to provide living-historians dressed in the garb, and bearing the weapons, of the 16th-century, Spanish citizen-soldiers who formed America’s first militia, as well as to discuss and demonstrate the military arts of the period.
THE FOUNDING OF ST. AUGUSTINE 2016 HISTORICAL RE-ENACTMENT
Four hundred and fifty-one years ago, on September 8, 1565, Capitán-General Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés stepped ashore at Matanzas Bay and founded St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously occupied, European city, port, and parish in the continental United States.
On Saturday, September 10, 2016, the annual, historical re-enactment of Menéndez’ landing and anniversary commemoration was presented by the volunteers of non-profit Florida Living History, Inc. ( www.floridalivinghistory.org ), at the traditional site of Menéndez’ landing – Mission Nombre de Dios ( www.missionandshrine.org ) – the Birthplace of America and Cradle of Christianity in the continental United States, in St. Augustine, Florida.