Fort Mose in St. Augustine is the site of the first legally sanctioned free African American settlement. While the fort itself no longer stands, the site it stood on still feels full of the groundbreaking history that was made there. In 1738, the Spanish governor of Florida chartered the settlement of Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mosa, or Fort Mose. This was the very first of its kind, because it was built specifically for those people fleeing slavery from the English colonies in the Carolinas. The 1740 Spanish victory at the Battle of Bloody Mose is reenacted annually in St. Augustine. This was the 277th anniversary of the battle, and the event was presented by Florida Living History, Inc., and the Fort Mose Historical Society from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 15, 2019, at Fort Mose, just north of historic St. Augustine. Visitors could participate in the commemoration of the battle and enjoy reenactments of the 1740 battle that forced the British to retreat from Spanish Florida. Reenactments of the battle itself took place at 12:00 noon and at 2:00 p.m. Other activities occurred throughout the day, with musket demonstrations and colonial Florida craft-making stations, including blacksmithing, 18th-century foods, finger weaving, and pine needle basket weaving. There were also a variety of free children’s activities, plus food and craft vendors. Before and after the battle, visitors could enjoy interacting with volunteers in period dress while they step back in time and experience what it was like on the fateful day before the big battle between the British, who were occupying Fort Mose, and the Spanish from the Castillo. Scenes include Yamassee natives preparing for battle, British soldiers planning the surprise attack of the Castillo de San Marcos, and British General Oglethorpe and his forces encamped at Fort Mose.
The tall ship Nao Santa María, a replica of one of the most famous ships in all of human exploration, arrived into harbor in St. Augustine at midday on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. The historic ship will remain here for a limited engagement, from April 24 through May 5, 2019. The Santa María was one of the three Spanish vessels that made the journey of discovery, captained by Christopher Columbus, in 1492. The ship will be open for tours during this visit from 10:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m. each day. Guests will be able to roam through all five of the ship’s decks and browse the informative panels on the history of the Santa María and imagine what it was like to be a Spanish sailor 500 years ago.
The Military Officers Association of America – Ancient City Chapter and Veterans Council of St. Johns County hosted this event at Anastasia Baptist Church. There were atrium displays from 9:30-11 a.m., and the main event began at 11:11 a.m. The displays included the Traveling Vietnam Wall and Agent Orange Quilt of Tears. Admission was free.
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.
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.
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..