Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings
Archeological study suggests that a Spanish missionthought to be San Francisco de Oconeewas founded at this site around 1650. About 1633, intensive Spanish mission activity began among the Indians of present northwest Florida. By 1702, when Spanish influence was at its height, the Spanish had established 14 missions in Apalachee Province, but 2 years later destroyed or abandoned all of them because of English and Creek raids. Excavation has uncovered remains of two buildings, constructed by the wattle and daub technique, which had floors of packed red clay. Items of Spanish origin were quite common, including sherds of majolica and tinaja, pistol flintlocks, a spur rowel, beads, hinges, locks, an anvil, axes, and hoes, as well as fragments of Chinese porcelain. The site is now in farmland.
San Marcos de Apalache was of great importance in the mid-17th century, when Spain occupied the Province of Apalachee, centered in the Florida Panhandle. Apalachee's fertile soil provided grain, sorely needed at St. Augustine, and the Wakulla-St. Marks River junction was the logical shipping point. A flimsy, wooden fortification built in 1660 at the site by the Spanish was captured in 1682 by a raiding party of French, English, and Indians. Repossessed by the Spanish, who built a stronger wooden fort, the site became the nucleus of a sizable settlement, but the Spanish abandoned it after Col. James Moore of South Carolina raided Apalachee in 1704.
In 1718, Capt. José Primo de Rivera arrived with a new force and rebuilt a third wooden fort on the site. A few years later, the Spaniards began to construct a stone fort, but it had not been completed when England acquired Florida in 1763, holding it until 1783. The British firm of Panton, Leslie & Co. established a trading center at the site and remained after the Spanish reoccupation, in 1787. San Marcos, as a result, became a thriving center of Indian trade. Gen. Andrew Jackson captured it in 1818 during the Seminole campaign and executed two British traders near the fort, one of the episodes that brought United States-Spanish relations to a crisis and influenced the Spanish to sign the Adams-Onis Treaty, by which the United States acquired Florida.
During the Civil War, the Confederates superimposed entrenchments and fortifications upon the ruins of the earlier Spanish forts. The tract, in State ownership, is heavily wooded, and only a portion of the stonework from the late Spanish fort stands above ground. The fort site is open to the public. A museum houses artifacts found in the area and exhibits prepared by the Florida State Museum.
[When this volume was in an advanced stage of publication, the Advisory Board declared Fort San Marcos de Apalache to be eligible for the Registry of National Historic Landmarks]
NHL Designation: 11/13/66
Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005