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Going public with archaeology for outreach, assistance to local governments, and service to the citizens and state of Florida. Visit our website at: http://flpublicarchaeology.org/nerc/
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Archive for July 2010

City Commission Workshop on First America 450th Commemoration

The City of St. Augustine is well on its way to pulling off a grand celebration for the Nation. The First America - 450th Commemoration of the founding of the City and other important events will be happening in the next few years. This morning the City Commission held its third workshop to discuss a program to commemorate the following historical events: Ponce de Leon's first sighting of Florida in 1513, almost 500 years ago; Pedro Menendez' founding of St. Augustine in 1565, almost 450 years ago; the Civil Rights Act passed by Congress in 1964 almost 50 years ago. All of these important St. Augustine commemorations will be celebrated over three years in St. Augustine between 2013 and 2015.

City Commissioners and a full room of interested citizens in the Alcazar Room of City Hall listened to six presentations by people helping the City plan the commemorations. Dana St. Claire and Jamie Alvarez, the City's 450th point people on staff, discussed the new 450th website, the strategic plan and First America programs, and national, state and local organizations interested in participating in the events.

Don Wallace, on the City's 450th Steering Committee, discussed creating the First America Foundation, a non-profit corporation to undertake financing, program development, and marketing of the Commemoration under a contract with the City.

John Regan, City Manager, discussed development of a commemorative coin, stamp, Florida license plate and a merchandising campaign as well as assessment of facilities for exhibition space for local and national exhibitors.

Bill Leary, covering government affairs for the Steering Committee, reported on appointments to the Federal 450th Commission. The head of the Department of the Interior, Secretary Salizar, is expected to come to St. Augustine for the roll out and announcement of appointments in September. Leary also recommended that the City Commission or its Foundation develop business plans for each of the major programs and activities.

The City Commissioners had many questions for the presenters. Input from the public will take place at the next workshop immediately preceeding the next City Commission meeting. Be there and be a part of this important and exciting time for our City, the oldest continuously occupied European City in the country, something definately to celebrate on a national scale!

Written by Toni Wallace, FPAN NE

Battle of San Mateo 1580

Florida Living History is a great organization to follow if you're interested in Florida history. Just take a look at their mission and purpose:

FLH strives for high standards in historical interpretation and supports educational initiatives that promote a greater understanding and appreciation of Florida's rich and diverse history.

The purpose of FLH is to:
  • Foster an understanding of Florida’s history through programs, events, demonstrations, portrayals, media relations, and publications;

  • Encourage the study of Florida’s colonial and territorial history from the time of Don Juan Ponce de Leon’s first landing in 1513 to the time of Florida’s statehood in 1845;

  • Develop living history programs that interpret, portray, and demonstrate the Native American, military, and civilian aspects of that history;

  • Present such programs to students and members of the general public;

  • Operate exclusively for charitable and educational purposes.

They send out these wonderful enewsblasts from time to time and have a website (http://www.floridalivinghistory.org/). The posts are always well researched and breath life into primary and secondary resources. Davis Walker has generously allowed us to repost his eblast here on our blog so we can help get the word out.

For more information check out their website, or to get the eblasts sent directly to you, contact info@floridalivinghistory.org

Photos from their website:

Battle of San Mateo 1580
by Davis Walker

July 20, 1580: The Battle of San Mateo – In 1577, a French ship, Le Prince, is wrecked in Port Royal Sound, SC. The survivors include a true prince, Nicolas Strozzi, cousin of the queen mother of France, Catherine de Medici. In the summer of 1580, 20 French privateering ships are sighted in the harbors of Guale (the present-day SE Georgia coast), a province of Spanish Florida. These interlopers are engaged in “illicit” trading with the natives and searching for castaways from Le Prince.
One corsair captain has anchored his galeaceta at the bar of San Mateo (the mouth of today’s St. Johns River), trading and gathering intelligence on San Agustín, capitol of colonial Florida. Learning that there is an enemy vessel within striking range of San Agustín, General Don Pedro Menéndez Marqués, the colony’s first royal governor and nephew of Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the founder of the colony, mans two fragatas and sails north. On July 20, the Spanish encounter the French vessel amid the shoals at the mouth of the Rio de San Juan, near Fort San Mateo (today’s St. Johns River, at Jacksonville, FL). After an exchange of broadsides, the Spaniards grapple the French ship and hand-to-hand fighting ensues.

Seeing all is lost, the French run their ship onto the shoals, hoping to take the Spaniards down with them. One of the Spanish fragatas is destroyed along with the French galeaceta, but Menéndez Marqués disengages his flagship in time. Eighteen Spaniards and 54 Frenchmen (including two black sailors, the Spanish narrator noting one of whom “fought very well”) die in this engagement.

After the fight, the victors learn that the French vessel had been commanded by a Captain Gilberto Gil, a Corsican. He had fought “cased from head to foot in armor which was arquebus-proof, and he died of an arquebus shot which struck him through the visor in the temple, for in any other manner it was impossible to kill him.” French ships continue to menace the Guale coast throughout the rest of the year.


Bushnell, Amy Turner; Situado and Sabana: Spain’s Support System for the Presidio and Mission Provinces of Florida; American Museum of Natural History, New York; ISBN: 0820317128; 1994.

Chang-Rodriguez, Raquel; Beyond Books and Borders: Garcilaso de la Vega and La Florida Del Inca; Bucknell University Press, Lewisburg, PA; ISBN: 0838756514; 2006.

Chatelain, Verne E.; The Defenses of Spanish Florida: 1565 to 1763; Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC; 1941.

Connor, Jeanette Thurber, transl. and ed.; Colonial Records of Spanish Florida, Vol. 2; Florida State Historical Society; DeLand, FL; 1925-1930.

Hann, John H.; A History of the Timucua Indians and Missions; University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL; ISBN: 0813014247; 1996.

Hoffman, Paul E.; A New Andalucia and a Way to the Orient: The American Southeast during the Sixteenth Century; Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA; ISBN: 0807115525; 1990.

Marshall, Bill; France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History; ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA; ISBN: 1851094113; 2005.

Written by Davis Walker and posted courtesy of Florida Living History, Inc. (http://www.floridalivinghistory.org/ )


St. Augustine, after August, 1580.]

[f. 1] On the eighteenth of July of this year, General Pedro Menendez Marques being in this guard house, speaking with the soldiers, at three o’clock in the afternoon there arrived an Indian, perspiring and very tired, who said to the general that he brought him a piece of news; that Contreras, the interpreter, should be called to him at once. The general, seeing this, ordered him to be called immediately, and when he had come, the Indian said: “Sir General, inside the harbor of San Mateo there are a French vessel and a launch, with many people.” The general, on hearing this news, asked the Indian when it had entered, if he had spoken with the Frenchmen, and how many of them there were. He said that they had entered the day before, which was the seventeenth of July, during the night, and that he had not counted the men because he could not; but that he had spoken with them, and been aboard their ship, and that the French asked him how many people there were in this fort, and if there were any vessels in the fort [i.e., harbor]. And the Indian said that he answered them that there were no ships whatever in the harbor, except two launches, and that there were few people in the harbor [i.e., fort], and those were sick. The general asked the Indian why he had told them that the people were few and sick, since he knew that there were many, and that there were two large frigates in the harbor. The Indian replied that he and the others thought they would deceive the French, so that they would land, and there they would kill and despoil them. The general, hearing this, ordered a man who is known as Manuel Alvarez, to go on horseback that night to San Mateo, a distance of twelve leagues, arriving there at dawn, when he could look and see if there were more than that ship, of what size it was, and how many men in his opinion; and he was to endeavor that they should not see either him or his horse, and he was to return here early the next day. The said Manuel Alvarez went, and returned next day, the nineteenth of the said month, at the time of the Ave Maria; and he said that the vessel was a new and small galleass of two sails, of about eighty or ninety tons burden; and that during the morning he saw a crowd of people on deck, but he could not count them; that it seemed to him there were about fifty men, more or less, and a small launch. Hearing this, it appeared to the general that it would be well to go in search of it with the two frigates he had, and he ordered the masters and pilots thereof to mast them and put them in readiness that night, for they were dismasted and not equipped. And thus that night they worked, and on the twentieth of the said month, when the day broke, they were ready, and at eight o’clock in the morning they already had the artillery and munitions on board, and they set sail.

The general went in person, with fifty soldiers, ten sailors and three pieces of artillery in the two frigates; and he arrived that very day, the twentieth of the said month, at the bar of San Mateo, three hours before dark, and found the French vessel in danger of foundering at the bar, amid the shoals, that it was trying to get out of. The general decided to close with it, so that it might not get away that night, and so he attacked it with the two frigates. With the first discharge they [i.e., the French] killed three soldiers and wounded eight on the flagship, and on the other frigate they killed Captain Hernando de Quiros and two others. From the flagship at the first discharge they struck down twenty-six Frenchmen, nine killed and seventeen wounded; from the other frigate they struck down three Frenchmen killed and six wounded. The French vessel was boarded for a long hour, until little by little we went on reducing the Frenchmen, only six of whom remained; and they, on seeing this, and that already there was no help for them, and the tide was running out, loosened the cable whereby they were anchored, and let themselves go on the shoals, so that we might all be lost. The general, seeing this, and that now all the vessels were running aground, disengaged himself from the French ship after it had already surrendered and [those aboard] were begging for mercy; placed himself in the channel, anchored near it with one anchor, and later, as the tide rose, the French ship and the other frigate were shattered to a thousand pieces. The general saved the men with three boats he had, and he cut off the heads of the Frenchmen although there was little to cut, for they were in a thousand pieces from their wounds. This done, the general returned to this fort on the next day, the twenty-first of the said month. On our side, the slain numbered [f. 1v] eighteen, among them Captain Hernando de Quiros, and the wounded fourteen. The French lost fifty-four, including two negroes they brought, one of whom fought very well. There only remained alive a surgeon and three boys. This, in truth, is what happened, for I was present at all of it.

The captain, who died at San Mateo, was called Captain Gil. He was a native of Corsica, married in Marseilles. He was cased from head to foot in armor, which was arquebus proof, and he died of an arquebus shot which struck him through the visor in the temple, for in any other manner it was impossible to kill him.

The rest [of the story] is that with that vessel came another, which remained outside [the bar]. We know not where it went. Two other ships entered a harbor they call Gualequeni*, and they made a great show of friendship with the Indians, and took soundings on the bars. On the twenty-eighth of the said month of July, five ships appeared at the bar of Guale and tried to cross the bar. The sea was rough and they could not enter. On the seventh of August, three others appeared at the bar of Çapala**; one crossed it, the other two remained outside. On the twenty-eighth day of the said month of August, two other ships appeared at the same bar of Çapala, which is the best there is on this coast. One of them, a patache, crossed it and took soundings at the bar, and on the rivers within it, and returned outside without speaking to the Indians. Two days after the skirmish at San Mateo, another vessel appeared at the bar of San Pedro***. In such wise, there are, of corsair ships that arrived in these provinces in the months of July and August of this year eighty, fifteen ships. This is known to be a fact, because the general sent Anton Martin[ez], a pilot****, to range along the coast in a launch. And he knew it for certain in the district of Guale, for a Spaniard was there who saw them; because when the first vessels were seen in Guale by the Indians, they immediately gave notice to the captain at Santa Elena, and the captain sent that Spaniard so that he should remain there and see what happened, and keep the general advised of everything by land, through the Indians, since they were all friendly. We cannot understand the corsairs’ designs. May God provide in this as He may best be pleased.

[f. 2, blank] [Rubric]

[f. 2v, as follows:] †

News of Florida, in the year MDLXXX.

*Gualequeni was Jekyll Island. See Juan López de Velasco, Geografía y Descripción de las Indias, 1571-1574 (Madrid, 1894), pp. 168-169; John Gilmary Shea, The Catholic Church in Colonial Days (New York, 1886), pp. 142-143, note 1, and 178, note 1; Woodbury Lowery, The Spanish Settlements within the Present Limits of the United States, 1562-1574 (New York, 1905), Appendix AA, p. 543.

**The bar of Çapala (Zapala, Sapala) was Sapelo Sound, which lies a little to the north of that of Gualequeni.

***The bar of San Pedro, or Seña, was Cumberland Sound, at the mouth of the St. Marys River. The latter was the stream called Seine by the French, which became Seña to the Spaniards.
****Antonio Martínez Carvajal. See his letter, ante, Document No. XXXVIII, pp. 247-251.

Connor, Jeanette Thurber, transl. and ed.; Colonial Records of Spanish Florida, Vol. 2; Florida State Historical Society; DeLand, FL; 1925-1930; pp. 319-23.

"What is it?" Wednesday!

Back for more? Let's try another, and this one is for a prize (best guess gets an FPAN travel mug, keep it clean though!)

This artifact was found in someone's yard in Clay County just southwest of Jacksonville. The homeowner reported finding it by a tree in her housing development (very new, very large development I should add). She imagined a Timucuan warrior resting beneath the tree who left this object. I did go out to take a look in person and aimed to fill out a site form. I have a pretty good working theory but before I share I want to hear from you:


(It was hard to see in the photographs he sent, but in person the top of the object did look like a man's bearded face.)

Bonus points if you can figure out why I didn't fill out a site form!!

"What is it?" Wednesdays!

Added close up, as big as I could get it:

Alright, we need help. From time to time, and more often than most archaeologists would like to admit, we don't know exactly what we're looking at.

The St. Johns River Management District called us to come take a look at possible cemetery sites and get them recorded on the state's master site file. We got out in rural Putnam County when we found this first candidate for "What is it?" Wednesdays.


We have a guess but want to hear from you!

Here's my field notes for more details:

Feature found in rural Putnam county on SJRWMD land, not associated with any known historic site. "Cross" is different material, softer sandstone and broken off on the ends. In the back there are three bricks propped behind it and the cement is set across the entire back. Slab is roughly 60 x 75 cm and headstone height is also 60 cm. Feature was oriented E-W on the dot, and we found more letters. "M" at the top as you can see, "Colob" in situ, and then we found a "U" and an "N". Short slab could probably just what they were able to "borrow", but land manager also asked if it could be an infant or a pet. No Colobun's listed at Putnam historical society.

Ghost Economy

Has the summer heat gotten to us? Have we abandoned our post to take the newest ghost tour in town? Nah, just preparing my annual report for the year and found a small bullet that might be lost in the FPAN northeast chronicals that's worth mentioning.

Last year former intern Matt Armstrong (now with the St. Augustine Lighthouse) and I set out to better understand the impact of ghost tourism on archaeological sites. It seemed site after site that ghost hunters were showing up to make use of historic sites after dark, or a new ghost tour from cars to bars was captializing on archaeological resources in the Oldest City. Our results are preliminary and I'll disclose our return rate on surveys was 10% (or n=13). However, as a result we became more literate in discussing the economic impacts of the trend on heritage sites and met some wonderful participants who allowed us to observe.
Dustin from Ghost Hunters International preps a group I was allowed to observe before their investigation of the lighthouse:
Text from the "Ghost Economy" poster we presented at the Society for Economic Anthropology can be found below:

Walking downtown St. Augustine it is hard to miss the burgeoning trend in heritage tourism of ghost tours. The trend is fueled by the popularity of the Ghost Hunters television show, with the frequent airing of the St. Augustine Lighthouse episode, and increased interest in ghost hunting measured by the rise of ghost destination packages (walking tour, trolley, hearse, carriage, boat…) and paranormal investigations at regional historic sites (including the Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine Lighthouse, and Olustee Battlefield).

How do we, as heritage professionals, stay true to our ethical responsibilities to provide public reliable information without ostracizing audiences and limiting the stewardship potential of historic sites?

Our main goal was to understand the impact of paranormal activities on archaeological sites in St. Augustine’s historic district. Questions that guided our research include:
- Do paranormal offerings increase visitation to historic sites?
- Do paranormal destinations encourage stewardship of archeological sites?
- Who benefits from the ghost economy, and what form do those benefits take?
Photo from a Dark of the Moon participant showing what they belive to be an apparition of a child on the stairs:


For this project we collected several forms of data. First, we inventoried ghost destinations and offerings in St. Augustine. When appropriate, we observed several ghost tours and paranormal investigations of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Second, we collected informant interviews, which included tour operators, tour attendees and paranormal investigators. We also collected mediator interviews that included tour creators, promoters of events, site directors, resource managers, and gift shop managers. Last, we conducted a survey of ghost destination consumers to better understand the impact of one specific product on local historic resources.

See results from the Dark of the Moon ghost tour survey done to see how consumers are getting information about paranormal topics in St. Augustine (represents 10% response rate from group surveyed):

This graph below demonstrates that those who partake in paranormal tourism of historic sites do follow-up by visiting authentic sites, some times as many as four or more.

Preliminary Results

- Ghost tourism is a highly mediated industry in St. Augustine. Mediators include, but are not limited to: St. Augustine Department of Heritage Tourism, St. Johns County Tourism Development Council, Historic Tours of America and other heritage franchises, advertisers, historic site staff, and down the line to bloggers and social media networkers.

- Similar to historic sites, like Colonial Williamsburg (Handler and Gable, 1997), the ghost industry is a complex social arena where the triadic mode of cultural producer—cultural product—cultural consumer needs to be modified as practitioners of ghost destinations are both producers and consumers of the product.

- The irony of ghost tours is that the phenomenon of ghosts transcends time and space; the niche is not unique to St. Augustine. If people want historic information on St. Augustine, that is already provided in copious amounts, and is often free. Ghost destination consumers are not after historical information as much as an experience. Therefore, the true commodity is a memory of St. Augustine.


If sincere stewardship can be one of the results of participation in ghost destinations, then we should not dismiss the industry. Our research has shown that 85% of Dark of the Moon respondents did follow up by visiting at least one historic site, with 15% visiting four or more sites. As heritage professionals, we must understand the complex social arena of niche tourism and inventory the mediators involved to inform our decision making processes.


Chambers, Erve
2000 Native Tours: The Anthropology of Travel and Tourism. Waveland Press Inc., Long Grove (IL).

Feder, Kenneth L.
1990 Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology. Mayfield Publishing Company, Mountain View (CA)

Handler, Richard and Eric Gable
1997 The New History in and Old Musem: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg. Duke University Press, Durham.

Osif, John
2002 “Ghosts: North Florida Legends.” Documentary on WJCT, Public Television,

Pine II, B. Joseph and James H. Gilmore
1999 The Experience Economy: Work is Theater and Every Business is a Stage. Harvard Business School Press, Boston.

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