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St. Augustine, Florida

A History of Florida


Forts Rebuilt. At the time of De Gourgues's attack upon the forts, Menendez was in Spain, but he soon returned with supplies and reenforcements. He rebuilt San Mateo and the other forts with little loss of time, and explored the country to a great distance north and west.

Menendez attempts to Christianize the Indians. He was anxious to bring about the religious conversion of the natives, and had brought with then missionaries and a young Indian educated by the Spaniards in Cuba. This Indian offered to lead a party of missionaries to the province where his brother was chief. Trusting to his guidance, the party set out, sailing north along the coast as far as Chesapeake Bay. Here they landed and went a little into the country when they were betrayed by their guide and killed. Another party that came the next year shared the same fate. Then Menendez went to the region himself and severely punished the Indians of the province. But he won no converts and made no settlement there.

Where was Menendez at the time of De Gourgues's attack? What did he do on his return? How were his missionaries treated?

Death of Menendez. After a few years Menendez left government of Florida to his nephew and returned to Spain. There he was treated with great honor, and the king placed him in command of the Armada, or fleet, which he expected would destroy the power of England. But his days of fighting were done; just as the fleet was about to sail Menendez died.

Oldest Houses
Oldest Houses of St. Augustine

St. Augustine Burned. In 1586 the bold English sailor Sir Francis Drake, returning from a voyage to the West Indies, sighted St. Augustine. He had not known that there was a Spanish settlement in that part of the world. But learning it now, he was well pleased to land and burn the little town, founded just twenty years before.

What did he inflict upon the Indians? Tell of his great honor and death.

St. Augustine Rebuilt. St. Augustine was rebuilt, but very slowly, for in Spain there was little interest in the colony. But there was interest in the conversion of the Indians and in 1593 twelve missionaries of the order of St. Francis came to Florida and labored at villages on the coast not far from St. Augustine. These good men taught and converted a great many Indians.

Conversion of Indians. One of these converts was a son of the chief of the province, and he had great influence over his companions. It happened that the priest at the mission, after reproving him privately several times for some misconduct, rebuked him publicly. This made the young warrior very angry. He went away, and persuading a large number of his friends to join him, hurried back with them to the mission. He arrived there at night, and rushing into the chapel where the priest was at prayer, killed him instantly.

Murder of Priests. There was great excitement in the village, for most of the people had loved the priest, and all feared the Spaniards. The young warrior told them that since one priest had been killed, the Spaniards would be as angry as if all had been put to death, and that this was the time for the Indians to show they had not lost their old valor, but were still to be feared. So they followed while he led the way to the neighboring mission of good Father Montes. He went to the priest, and told him he must now die, for it had been decided to kill all the missionaries. The priest implored them to give up their wicked plan. But they brandished their weapons and cried out again that he must die. He then asked to be allowed to celebrate the mass, and this they granted.

Who burned St. Augustine? When? What new effort was made to convert the Indians? What success was had? What caused the murder of the priests?

So he stood in his white robes at the altar, while his enemies pressed about him. The service ended, he knelt before the altar in silent prayer. His foes rushed upon him, and he fell dead.

In this way the Indians went from mission to mission on their merciless course, killing the priests and destroying the chapels until they reached the island of San Pedro. There the chief who governed it met them as they were landing, and forced them to seek their own safety in flight.

Further Missionary Work. Other missionaries came. In a few years the chapels were rebuilt, and many more missions were established, not only on the coast, but even as far west as middle Florida. A great many Indians became Christians, and their children were baptized and taught by the priests, who won the trust and affection of them all. One of the first books ever printed in the Indian language was a catechism in the language of the Timiquies—a tribe living on the coast below St. Augustine.

Fort Marion Built. Unfortunately a war broke out in 1638 between the Spaniards at St. Augustine and the Apalachee Indians, who lived in the interior. Though the Spanish garrison was very small, it succeeded in driving the Indians back into their own territory. A great many of the Indians were captured, and they and their descendants were kept at work for sixty years on the fort at St. Augustine. This fort, which we call Fort Marion, was called by the Spaniards San Marco. It was built of coquina from Anastasia Island, and remains to-day just as it was two hundred years ago. It is a very strong fortress. Though twice besieged and many times attacked, it has never been taken.

The Sea Wall. It was feared that the force of the sea might destroy the town, and the next public work undertaken after the building of the fort was a sea wall to pro tect the town from the destructive waves. This old sea wall served its purpose until after Florida became a territory of the United States. Then the present sea wall, much more substantial than the old, was built by our government.

What was done with captive Indians? Give the Spanish and the present names of the fort built. Of what is it built? Where was the material secured? What checked the murderous career of the Indians? How was the mission work resumed? With what success? What was one of the first books in the Indian language? When was the next war with the Indians?

Excerpt from Part One, Chapter Eight, "More about St. Augustine" A History of Florida, 1904. Next Section; Table of Contents.


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