Timucuan Indians hunt alligators.

The Early People
Archaeological research tells us that at least 12,000 years ago, long before Europeans came to Florida, wandering hunter-gatherer people arrived. They lived a simple life, folowing the great herds of mammoths and other megafauna and gathering the wild grains, nuts, and berries they found in their seasonal wanderings. No one knows what these people called themselves, but to archaeologists, they are known as Paleo-Indians, the earliest people. Read More . . .

Artist's conception of the massacre of the French Huguenots at Matanzas in 1565.

The Massacre of the French
In 1564 a group of French Protestants known as Huguenots settled in Spanish-claimed territory near present-day Jacksonville. When the king of Spain found out about them, he sent an army under Don Pedro Menéndez to get rid of the French and to establish a Spanish colony in La Florida. This was the beginning of St. Augustine. Read More . . .

Soldiers of the First Spanish Period
The First Spanish Period (1565-1763)
The founding of St. Augustine in 1565 began 235 years of Spanish control of Florida. The most significant factor of the First Spanish Period was the threat of the British in the Carolina and Georgia Colonies which led to the building of the Castillo de San Marcos in 1672-1695, and after two failed sieges by the British, the building of Fort Matanzas in 1740-1742 to guard the southern approaches to the city. Read More. . .
The British controled Florida for twenty years.
The British Period (1763-1784)
During the Seven Years War (French and Indian War), the British captured Spanish Cuba and the Philippines. In order to get these valuable colonies back, Spain was forced to give up Florida. England held Florida for a mere twenty years, however. At the end of the American Revolution, the Second Treaty of Paris returned Florida to Spain. Read More . . .
The garita at Fort Matanzas
The Second Spanish Period (1784-1821)
Spain's aid to the American colonies during the Revolutionary War was to be her last act as a great power. By 1800 Spain's fortune was waning. There was little money to maintain her Florida colony, let alone the outpost fort at Matanzas. Erosion and rainwater took their toll. Fort Matanzas was already in poor condition by 1821 when Florida was purchased by the United States through the Adams-Onís Treaty. Read More . . .
The Seminole Leader, Osceola, as painted by George Catlin.

The American Period (1821 to the Present)
The American Period in Florida was a time of conflict-- the Seminole Wars, the Civil War, the Spanish American War. It is also a time of change as Henry Flagler's railroad and luxury hotels brought wealthy tourists to St. Augustine, people who began the preservation of the historic Spanish forts which led to their protection as national monuments. Read More . . .



An account of events described in the Officer’s Logs of Fort Matanzas

Many know the story of why Fort Matanzas was constructed. What most don’t realize is the men at this outpost had much more going on. The records are limited, but documentation from the 2ndSpanish period (1784-1821) list many accounts of Matanzas soldiers patrolling the beaches, assisting victims of various shipwrecks on the Florida coast and dealing with pirates and fugitives on the beaches as well. Listed here are brief summaries of some of these logs. Evidence in the Officer’s logs of Fort Matanzas also show that the fort did indeed fire more than one shot throughout its military service.
The events listed here were taken from the Fort Matanzas Historic Structure Report and the Second Spanish Period Correspondence from the East Florida Papers. Information on the 1st and 2nd Spanish period and British years is incomplete. It is likely that more happened than what is listed here.

Illustration of Antonia Avero from 1700s.

Women's History in St. Augustine

Explore the stories of women who were mothers, wives, business owners, activists, and more.

Last updated: July 1, 2020

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