On June 20th 2018 the public joined the Jewish Historical Society in the Ponce de Leon Ballroom at Flagler College, where Lee Weaver (playwright & actor) read the letter written by the Rabbis caught up in the largest mass arrest of Rabbis in US history on June 18, 1964 in St Augustine, Florida. The Rabbi’s were in St Augustine to support Martin Luther King in the struggle for civil rights. The letter details on why they came to St Augustine.
It is an evocative place about which there are many legends and tales, but which also reveals the real stories of the real people. It reminds us of the connections of this tiny place, on what was once a strategic point but is now a vacation coast, with people throughout the world. Burials include those of people from Spain, Cuba, Ireland, Minorca, Italy, Greece, Africa, Haiti, France and the American South and Northeast – as well as the graves of soldiers from both sides of the Civil War, and even the burial place of a man important in the history of Cuba, who may one day be declared a saint, Fr. Felix Varela. There is no place in St Augustine that is a richer distillation of our history, which is the story of lives lived in rural poverty or in town comfort, soldiers and militia and battles fought or not fought, political and personal conflicts, faith and – even holiness – all on this tiny peninsula.
The cemetery is open to the public once a month. Visit it, learn about it and feel yourself surrounded by the past of this historic city.
Searle’s Sack, the annual event that re-creates the famous bloody pirate raid on St. Augustine in 1668, took place on Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3, 2018. This deadly raid was led by Robert Searle when he and his crew laid siege upon the city and its inhabitants.
This living history event, presented by Searle’s Buccaneers and the Men of Menéndez (both members of Historic Florida Militia), is made up of three parts: a historic procession of participants on St. George Street on Friday evening, a historic encampment on Saturday at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, followed by the reenactment of the battle at 4:30 p.m. in the city’s historic district.
The reenactment of the battle between the freebooters and the city’s Spanish defenders took place in St. Augustine’s historic district at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, beginning at the Plaza de la Constitución and ending at the Old City Gate. The English brigade headed up St. George Street from the Plaza toward the city gates, and the battle started when the English try to invade the Spanish defenders who were stationed at the Santo Domingo Redoubt off Orange Street across from Potter’s Wax Museum. Living history got real when the period re-enactors demonstrated how the Spanish settlers had to fight off Searle and his pirates.
Background on Searle’s Raid – In 1668, Captain Robert Searle and his privateers sailed from Jamaica to loot the silver ingots (metals that can be shaped into various things) held in the royal coffers (small chests) at St. Augustine. Under the cover of night, they slipped into the harbor and attacked the sleeping town, killing sixty people and pillaging government buildings, churches and homes. The devastation wrought by these pirates prompted Spain’s Council of the Indies to issue money to build a massive stone fortress on Matanzas Bay to protect the city. The Castillo de San Marcos still stands as an enduring reminder of Florida’s gripping heritage.
The Minorcan Heritage Celebration 2018 marks the 250th Anniversary of the arrival of the Minorcan colonists in St. Augustine. This heritage event took place on Saturday, March 3, 2018, from 10am to 3pm, at The Llambias House located at 31 St. Francis Street. The event featured engaging activities, traditional foods, music, dancing and more. Admission was free.
This celebration includes descendants from the original Minorcans in St. Augustine, all sharing traditional dances, songs, stories, family photos, Minorcan family crests, and traditional crafts, as well as demonstrations of mullet net making by Mike Usina. There were also programs in the downstairs room of the Llambias House featuring speakers. Food at this event included delicious variations of pilau, Minorcan chowder, fromajadas and different baked goods were also available.
The term “Minorcan” describes the group of Mediterranean people (about 1400 in all) who came to British East Florida in the late 18th century to work as indentured servants on a plantation settlement in New Smyrna. Many of these were actually from the island of Minorca, but they were joined by many others who were from other Mediterranean towns and regions, including Greeks, Italians, Corsicans, French and Spanish. Their first several years in Florida were harsh and their numbers decreased, but in 1777 they were granted a space to settle in the northwest section of the fledgling port town of St. Augustine. They have been an integral part of the community of the nation’s oldest city ever since.
First Coast.TV got the chance to sit down with two members (Celia and Luis) of a film crew from Spain. They are filming a documentary on the Minorcans here in the St Augustine area and their history and connection to Minorca. Menorca or Minorca is one of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to Spain. Its name derives from its size, contrasting it with nearby island of Majorca. The film crew shared some of their thoughts related to this project and the goals they hope to achieve through it..
Emancipation Day was Jan. 1, 1863. Emancipation freed 3.1 million of the country’s 4 million slaves. This historic event was observed Jan. 1 beginning at 2 p.m. at the Lincolnville Museum, 102 MLK Ave. There were historical re-enactors, story tellers, music and soul food tasting. A short play about the document was presented to the public, some of the public had to stand because a full capacity attendance. Before the play people were able to walk through the ever changing Lincolnville Museum. The Buffalo Soldiers from Orlando were also at attendance, educating and answering questions to the public. Despite the chilly weather the museum was full of people and positive energy.
For more information about this and other events at the Lincolnville Museum, call 904-824-1191 or email email@example.com.
Emancipation Day was Jan. 1, 1863. Emancipation freed 3.1 million of the country’s 4 million slaves. This historic event will be observed Jan. 1 beginning at 2 p.m. at the Lincolnville Museum, 102 MLK Ave. There will be historical re-enactors, story tellers, music and soul food tasting. Come out and celebrate this historical event. For more information about this and other events at the Lincolnville Museum, call 904-824-1191 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.