St Augustine Lighthouse 144 Years Later

An anniversary celebration took place on Saturday, October 13 from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M. featuring Meet-the-Lighthouse-Keeper photos, a cake cutting at 2 P.M., games on the front lawn, and self-guided tours of the historic tower and Museum exhibits. The celebration will launch a year-long observation culminating with the 145th anniversary on October 15, 2019.

A Film by Derek Hankerson

Gullah Geechee Corridor & the East Coast Greenways documentary features the rich culture of African Americans in St. John’s County, Florida while highlighting three cycling trails known as Rails to Trails, the SEA Island Loop, and the East Coat Greenways.  The national release of the full-length film is scheduled for October 2018 during Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Month.  An exclusive showing occurred on September 27th at the St Augustine Lighthouse at 6:00pm. Derek Hankerson the writer, producer and director of the film introduced the film to a packed house. After the film there was a question and answer session.

“Why We Went” Rabbis Letter Read in St Augustine

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.

Tolomato Cemetery 2018

Tolomato Cemetery is located in St Augustine, Florida, the oldest European-founded city in the United States, and was in use as a cemetery from the 18th century until 1884. This beautiful space is the last resting place of some 1,000 St. Augustinians, including many people important to the history of Florida and the United States.  It is a distillation of St Augustine history in less than one acre, starting with the First Spanish Period, when Tolomato was a Franciscan mission, and going through its use as a cemetery during the British Period and the Second Spanish Period and then on through Florida’s Territorial and early Statehood periods.

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 in St Augustine

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

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.

 

 

 

A Spanish Film Crew and The Minorcan Connection

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 Celebration Packs the House

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 lmccstaug@gmail.com.

Celebrate Emancipation Day at Lincolnville Museum

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 lmccstaug@gmail.com.

Dia de los Difuntos / The Day of The Deceased

All Souls’ Day is an annual celebration honoring deceased loved ones and is held on November 2. It is the final day and culmination of the three days of Allhallowtide, which include All Saints’ Day (November 1) and its vigil, All Hallows Eve (or “Halloween” – October 31). It is an ancient custom, officially dating to the end of the first millennium and almost certainly associated with much older traditions, such as the Roman Lemuralia. Over the centuries, many secular customs and traditions have become associated with this religious observance.
I. 11AM – 3PM – The first part of this new, day-long heritage Event will take place at the Tolomato Cemetery (14 Cordova St.). From 11AM to 3PM, docents from the Tolomato Cemetery Preservation Association will discuss the history of the cemetery, one of the oldest in the continental United States (founded c. 1737), as well as the traditions associated with this holiday. Florida Living History, Inc.’s, volunteer reenactors will be on hand to portray some of the famous Floridians who are buried at Tolomato, such as General Biassou (died 1801), Elizabeth Forrester (died 1798), Don Juan McQueen (died 1807), and Father Varela (died 1853).
II. 7PM – The second part of FLH’s Dia de los Difuntos Event begins at 7PM. La Marcha de la Santa Compaña (“The March of the Holy Company”) will begin at the south end of St. George Street, by the Plaza de la Constitucion and the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine. Proceeding north up St. George Street towards the City Gates, this torch-lit procession will include historical reenactors representing the souls of “The Noble and Loyal City’s” citizens over the past 450+ years. The public is encouraged to join in the procession and march behind the Faithful Dead as they parade through St. Augustine’s historic district before returning to the Tolomato Cemetery.
III. 7:45PM – Returning to the Tolomato Cemetery, FLH’s Dia de los Difuntos Event will conclude with its third part, an abbreviated, candle-lit production (in English) of Bernardo de Quirós’ classical Spanish play, El Muerto (“The Dead”), published in 1658 and now presented by FLH’s Theater with a Mission group from Tallahassee, illustrating the triumph of love over death.