Spanish Mission Period

Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve


Good afternoon and welcome to the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve in beautiful Jacksonville Florida. Today I'm coming to you from our museum curatorial facility and because this is federal property I will be wearing my mask throughout this presentation this facility houses thousands of artifacts related to our preserve including many artifacts that are related to one of the more important and interesting aspects of Fort George island's history the Spanish mission period. (wind) Native American people lived on what we know today as Fort George island for thousands of years they established their own life ways their own culture their own linguistic traits. Those began to change in the mid 16th century with European contact in 1565 the Spanish established Saint Augustine just down the coast from us here soon thereafter the catholic church and the Spanish government made it a priority to begin to missionize the indigenous people in this region. In 1587 the Franciscan order of the catholic church established the mission doctrina San Juan del Puerto on the western banks of Fort George island it was a rather large mission system it served up to nine smaller missions called visitas in the region at any given time spanish records have told us that there were as many as 500 native americans being served by this mission on Fort George island uh it was uh it lasted until 1702 when it was attacked and destroyed by British militia on their way to lay siege to Saint Augustine this makes it one of the longest lasting and largest missions within the Spanish system in North America. We are now inside the museum curatorial facility here at Timucuan Preserve this is the room that stores and curates thousands of artifacts that are related to the Timucuan Preserve many of these artifacts are related to the mission San Juan del Puerto throughout the years lots of archaeology has been conducted on Fort George island to determine the whereabouts and the precise location of San Juan del Puerto some of that was avocational archaeology meaning amateur some of it was professional archaeology being conducted by the national park service or the University of Florida or the state of Florida we can learn from all of it though and we have several artifacts that really do demonstrate the cultural change that the mission represented perhaps the most interesting artifact we have here in the collection is a collection of lenten sermons that was published in 1474. this particular book was found buried in a shell midden on Fort George island it is almost certainly associated with San Juan del Puerto it certainly fits the time frame of interest is a handwritten inscription of the marginalia uh dated 25 October 1579 it is in Latin uh we had it sort of roughly translated and roughly what this Latin phrase says is live as if you will die tomorrow love as if you will live forever dated 25 October 1579 the fact that it was found at Fort George island on the site of San Juan del Puerto buried in a shell midden is remarkable but it is a a great story and uh and a very interesting artifact next we have a representation of a war club that was found in 1955 by William Jones uh an avocational archaeologist it's about two feet long and represents the Alimacani or Timucua culture of the site at the mission period. One of the primary missions of the National Park Service is to protect and preserve artifacts such as these as well as to interpret the history of these sites the San Juan del Puerto mission represents a clash of cultures between the indigenous Native Americans and the colonial catholic missions it's one of the sites that makes the Timucuan Preserve and Fort George island so interesting.


A ranger presentation about the Spanish Mission San Juan del Puerto on Fort George island, and some of the artifacts associated with the archaeological site.


4 minutes, 33 seconds



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