Discovery of Florida.
Juan Ponce de Leon, in search of the Fountain of Youth sighted Florida on March 27,
1512 by some of the earliest histories called Palm Sunday, by others "The Day of
Ressurection". He kept on the same course, north, until Wednesday when he turned
more to the west and He kept on the same course, north, until Wednesday when he
turned more to the west and Saturday morning April 2nd, he anchored in nine fathoms
of water off the shore at 30 degrees 8 min. and sought a haven, where he anchored
that night in 8 fathoms of water and landed the next day April 3rd and took formal
possession of the country. This would make the day of landing on Easter-day. The
name of Florida was given as it was the feast of Pasque Florida. The exact site is
not known, but was possibly near the deep water channel next Fort Marion. Ponce de
Leon remained in this harbor until Friday April 8th when he resumed his course
north, met adverse winds and Saturday 9th turned south. Pedro Ponce de Leon of Cuba,
in a letter to the Society, writes that the Spanish Government after consulting the
oldest records, state that Florida was discovered in 1512, and the use of the date
of 1513 by some modern historians is incorrect.
Washington Irving in his "Spanish Voyages" gives many details of the life of Ponce
de Leon taken from the old Spanish histories. In the "Ensayo Chronicles Province of
Cadiz" there is an account of the Ponce de Leon family in Spain, for centuries.
Juan Ponce de Leon, first Marquis of Cadiz, and owner of the palace in Seville from
which Miss Brooks obtained the knocker on the Oldest House, was the father of the
famous Roderigo Marquis of Cadiz, called the Achilles of Spain, of whom Irving
writes so much in the "Conquest of Granada". The discoverer of Florida was a page
in those wars. The Ponce de Leon family was one of the greatest in Spain, mentioned
in Froissart's "Chronicles" and one of their various titles was that of Count of
Marchena, where there is a famous sulphur spring to which invalids go from all over
FOUNDING OF ST. AUGUSTINE.
The first permanent settlement, on what is now the territory of the United States,
was established by Pedro Menendez de Aviles on August 28th, 1565, on the spot where
St. Augustine now stands. His expedition which sailed from Cadiz, Spain, in July of
that year, consisted of 2600 souls, embarked on board 34 vessels, the largest of
which was of 1000 tons burden.
They at once fortified the house of the cacique of the village of Seloy, probably a
large communal house built of logs. Ditches were dug and cannons landed. This house
was destroyed by fire in October and the Spaniards built a fort of wood on an islet
about three miles south of the bar of the inlet, fifteen miles north of Matanzas
bar; bounded west by a part of the Sebastian River, east by the Matanzas River and
Anastasia Island. From a study of the old maps, this first fort was south of the
National Cemetery, and the islet later was joined to the site of St. Augustine, by
filling up the marsh and the stream that separated them. Dr. Carceres of Havana in
a report of St. Augustine 1574 writes, "On the other islet Dr. Carceres of Havana in
a report of St. Augustine 1574 writes, "On the other islet where the fort was at
first, and which is close to where it is now, there are as many as fifty head of
cattle—there are about fifty pigs—no use is made of them unless the Governor causes
one of them to be killed for himself".
For a full account of the landing of the Spanish, the destruction of the French; or
as an old book calls it, "their miserable exit", see Fairbanks Histories, Parkman's
"Pioneers of France" that give the old reports from the original sources.
The Franciscan Friars who founded the convent of St. Helena of St. Augustine came
from the convent of Pedroso, diocese of Palmata, in Spain. A small body of them
were present at the founding of St. Augustine in 1565, and continued to be very few
till the year 1592 when we find Father Francis Marron, Custos in Florida.
(Torquemado Monarquia Indiana Vol. 3, C. XX P. 550) . In 1610 the King chartered
this convent as a capitular house. In 1599 this convent burned and the friars took
refuge in the Hermitage and Chapel of Nostra Senora de la Soledad, then being used
as a hospital ; where they remained until their church and cells were rebuilt. At
this time several of the friars were killed by the Indians, church and cells were
rebuilt. At this time several of the friars were killed by the Indians, one in the
chapel of Tolomato (where the Old Spanish Cemetery of that name is on Cordova