Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 20, 2015

** I’m taking a hiatus beginning on Monday. Next post will be Friday, April 10TH**

Fountain of Youth

The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park has a lot more to offer than a fabled spring that is probably not the key to eternal youth. Over the past decade a great many projects have been completed, including a variety of Timucuan Indian structures that show how Native Americans lived before the Spaniards arrived in 1565. Walk inside, touch, look, and smell, and you’ll get a better feel for ancient life. As a bonus, there are often costumed interpreters in the area to answer your questions. These folks are friendly and very knowledgeable. (And you might even happen to find someone wandering around in the rain willing to engage tourists, which I believe shows a high degree of dedication :-)

Huguenot Cemetery

Ah, the mysterious, oft-neglected Protestant Burying Ground. If you know St. Augustine’s history, you’ll know it was a Spanish town for its first two hundred years, which meant Catholic, which meant "no Protestants allowed." Those who were allowed were actually buried on adjacent Anastasia Island. Really. But in 1821 after the United States took over, the Protestant Burying Ground, later known as the Huguenot Cemetery though there's no direct connection, was created during a yellow fever epidemic. The term “Huguenot” pays tribute to French soldiers murdered at nearby Matanzas Inlet. Their crime? They were French and Calvinist. Not a good combination in 1565, at least to a Spaniard.

Well, after years of visiting Gettysburg, St. Augustine, and other historic sites, I’m a self-proclaimed taphophile (interesting word, isn’t it? Means “cemetery enthusiast”) who loves to check out the folks mentioned on gravestones. I noticed a few stones on this photo that I wanted to explore further. For instance, the stone at far right is that of Joseph Lord. It reads, “In memory of Joseph Lord. Born in New York March 1832. Died in St. Augustine Jan. 12, 1880. He lived a life of loving-kindness.” Further research reveals that Joseph was the son of George William and Ellen (Wait) Lord. He married Mary Ann Archer in 1865 and they had 8 children, Ernest (1866), George (born and died 1867), Sidney (1869), Frederick (1871), Josephine (1872), Archer (1875), Genevieve (1876), and Harriet (1879). The 1870 New York census lists him as a wool merchant.

(c) 2015 St. Augustine Fridays

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March 13, 2015

Castillo de San Marcos 

The Water Battery at Castillo de San Marcos was placed in the early 1840s and the seawall also dates from around this period of time, though it’s been repaired over the years. These particular guns are Howitzers. Check out Vilano Point at far left (supposedly named for the Spanish word for villain, concerning pirates and a host of other undesirable characters) and Conch Island / Anastasia Island at far right. You can always find sailboats and larger pleasure boats of all sizes on tranquil Matanzas Bay.

City Gates

St. Augustine’s quaint old City Gates, survivor of a not-so-distant era, prove how serious Spanish folks were about keeping civilians in and hostile foreigners out. I just read a few days ago about the gate’s original design, complete with an impregnable wooden door and a moat. There’s no moat there nowadays, but as you walk through the gates to visit St. George Street and other nearby locations, you can imagine the misfortune of anyone unlucky enough to be caught outside the gates after curfew. These old coquina pillars date from 1808. 

(c) 2015 St. Augustine Fridays

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 06, 2015

Mission Nombre de Dios

This is just a sampling of the scenery you’ll encounter at the Mission of Nombre de Dios. The large piles of stones hold religious statuary, and each has a bench dedicated by mission patrons. The large fenced-in tombstone seen beside the monument to the right (click for larger image) is that of Josephine Noda Yates, born April 12, 1861 and died February 18, 1891.Further research reveals that Josephine St. Victor de Noda was the daughter of Antonio José Miguel de Noda and Antonia or Agatha Rogero. The wife of A. E. Yates at the time of her death, it looks as if she may have also been married to a C. C. Fuller at some time.

Fountain of Youth

A few years back, the folks at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park built a 600-foot boardwalk over the marsh. Being chicken, I haven’t yet gone out the whole way, but the views I did enjoy were breathtaking. Take away the bridge to Vilano Beach and a few modern structures and you’ve got pretty much the view ancient Native Americans and their Spanish counterparts would have had. In case you’re wondering, those mounds in the mud are clams! The Fountain of Youth is a great place to experience natural beauty without all the hustle and bustle of busier, kid-oriented attractions.

(c) 2015 St. Augustine Fridays