12 January 2008

Military Museum

Ok, so this is the military museum, located in the Tovar House, part of the Oldest House Museum complex. Jose Tovar was an infantryman who lived in this house in 1763. During British rule, the house was owned by a Scottish merchant named John Johnson. When the Spanish took Florida back in 1784, the house was owned by a Canary Islander named Jose Caruna, and an assistant surgeon named Tomas Caraballo. Geronimo Alvarez, who lived next door in the Gonzalez-Alvarez House (last post) purchased the Tovar house in 1791. The entire property remained in his family until 1871. Above is an example of a Spanish explorer/soldier. The museum does not mention what artifacts are real and which are replicas, but given its condition, I would guess this is a replica.
An early Air Force missle, probably a Falcon, representing the ongoing Air Force presence in Florida, most notably at Cape Canaveral and the Air Force Ordinance Test Center at Eglin AFB near Pensacola.
An old Civil War era gattling gun.
Speaking of the Civil War...
This is the Tovar house. The fence/wall on the right side of the photo runs over to the entrance building tothe museum complex, where another wall connects it to the Gonzolez-Alvarez house.

10 January 2008

Oldest House

Ok, so this is the Gonzalez-Alvarez house, also known as the Oldest House. Its name might be deceiving though. While it claims to be the oldest house in America, a quick internet search will prove this to be false. Still, being the oldest existing house in the oldest existing city in America ought to mean something right? You can see the difference in construction between the first and second story. That is because the second story and porch did not exist for many years. The original part was built by the Spanish shortly after the town was burned in 1702. In 1763, St Augustine was transferred to Britain, and it is believed that during this time the second story was added. The house has been preserved since 1918 and was made a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

The other side of the house, taken from the courtyard. Notice the porch on the left, also added by the British.

The photo above and below show are inside the first story and show what the house would have looked like under Spanish rule. The above photo shows that historians believe it may have also doubled as a sort of tavern. Notice in the photo below the "fruit and veggie tray" that could be lowered to the dinner table.

The above and below photo are inside the upstairs and show what the house would have looked like under British rule. Note the difference in tableware and the elaborate furniture.

This shows the system for purifying water. The water would come from the well in the courtyard, and would be poured into this stone bowl. The water then flowed through pores in the rock, and filtered into a pitcher placed underneath the bowl. The amazing thing is, as was demonstrated to us, it worked!
This is the interior of the kitchen which is detached from the main house, as was customary to prevent fires.
On a personal note, my jaw about dropped when I saw this chair in the upstairs part of the house. Why? Because I have one at home exactly like it, that is traced back to at least my great grandma. Probably much older than even that, since now it is a museum piece!

Mission Nombre de Dios

Ok, I'm back, and I'm gonna get this thing caught up, I swear! Anyway, this is the Mission Nombre De Dios, the site where the Spanish landed under Pedro Menedez de Aviles to found St Augustine on September 8, 1565. This also became the site of the first mass held in America under Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales. They named the site Nombre de Dios, or Name of God.

Diorama of the first mass.
This is the actual coffin that Pedro Menendez de Aviles was buried in, in Aviles, Spain in 1574. The soffin has returned to St Augustine, but his remains are still in Spain. The writing on the side translates to "Here lies buried the noble cavalier, Pedro Menede de Aviles, a native of this town, Governor of the province of Florida, knight of the Order of Santiago, and Captain General of the Catholic Armada, assembled by King Phillip, mighty Lord, in the year 1574, in the town of Santander, where, in the same place, on the 17th of September, and in the same year, he dies in the fifty fifth year of his life." (There is a sign next to it, no, I don't read Spanish.)
This is the shrine to Our Lady of La Leche, originally built in 1615, the current one dates to 1918. For those interested in a little Catholic history, the name translates to Our Lady of the Milk and Happ Delivery. The following excerpt comes from the Mission's website: "Our Lady of La Leche is the first shrine dedicated to Our Blessed Mother in the United States. The history of the devotion to the Mother of Jesus as Our Lady of La Leche may have roots in a 4th Century grotto in Bethlehem. To this day the Franciscan community maintains a shrine there called the Milk Grotto. Its centerpiece is the Blessed Virgin nursing the infant Jesus. Many believe that the crusaders brought the devotion to Mary as a nursing mother to Spain in the Middle Ages.
During the reign of Phillip III in Spain, word spread of a nobleman’s wife and baby, expected to die during the birth of the child, who were both spared as a result of the intercession of Nuestra Senora de la Leche y buen parto (Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery). The statue, in possession of the nobleman, soon found a place in the hearts of many throughout Spain.
By the early 1600’s the devotion, under the title of Nuestra Senora de la Leche y buen parto, had a special place in the lives of the Spanish settlers and the converted Native People in St. Augustine."

This view looks across the pond towards the prince of Peace Church, built in 1965 to commemorate the Mission's 400th anniversary. It is a votive church dedicated to prayers that God will deliver the world from nuclear war.
This is the Great Cross. At 208 feet, it was also built for the 400th anniversary of the Mission, and represents the growth from the small wooden cross that Pedro Menendez stuck in the sand when he landed. "The Cross weighs 70 tons and consists of 200 stainless steel panels in various sizes. The loftiest sections of the Cross contain 1.6 ft. x 10 ft. panels 3/16 in. thick, while 4 ft. x 10 ft. and 5/16 in. thick panels cover the foundational sector. To prevent potential damage from hurricane force winds, workers solidified the lower 65 feet of the Great Cross by tightly filling the inside with concrete. At night, lights mounted from the ground provide illumination of the Great Cross." (Mission website)

Looking across the water to the Fountain of Youth Park (last post).
This Rustic Altar was built to commemorate the first mass held here. Note the Great Cross in the background. The sign next to the altar says: "This rustic altar calls to mind the Mass of Thanksgiving offered here by Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, Diocesan priest and fleet chaplain, on September 8, 1565, the day the city of St. Augustine was founded. Gathered about the altar were Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Adelantado of Florida and Captain General of the Indies Fleet, with his colonists, soldiers and the Timucuans who lived on these shores before the Lord Christ was born.
John Gilmary Shea, historian and Christian humanist, reflects on that scene: "Mass was said to hallow the land and draw down the blessing of heaven before the first step was taken to rear a human habitation. The altar was older than the hearth."
Following Mass, Pedro Menendez hosted a feast for his companions and their new native friends. Thus began the first permanent Christian settlement in what is now the United States of America."

09 January 2008

Fountain of Youth

Ok, so this is the Fountain of Youth park, in St Augustine. This is belived to be the site where on April 3, 1513, Ponce De Leon became the first Europeon to set foot on the continental US. Legend says that he sailed north from Puerto Rico in search of a fountain of youth, though historians dispute whether this is actually true. In any case, he landed near here, and the above photo shows a natural spring, perhaps the "fountain of youth" he sought. The park, of course, claims this is the fountain and that it has healing powers, blah blah blah. It tastes like reuglar swamp water and research challenges any historic claims this spring has. Below is a cross suposedly made by De Leon to claim the new land for Spain.

Marker showing where an ancient Indian village stood. Below, large Spanish Urns, that were placed under the eves of houses to collect rainwater.

A resident of the area that is probably not native.

This statue is chief Oriba, who was chief of the Timucuans when De Leon landed. Below is a model of the fort built here in 1565.

Statue of De Leon, below, a monument to his landing.

This marker is for the fort built here in 1565, below is the site where it was built.

This anchor was salvaged off the coast, and is believed to have been from Ribault's French fleet (see the Fort Caroline and Fort Matanzas posts from early 2007). The canon below have nothing to do with this site, but were created as replicas for the USS Constitution during the 1930's. Why they are here, I have no idea.

06 January 2008

Fort Mose

Ok, so this is Fort Mose. Fort Mose was established in 1738 just north of St. Augustine in Spanish Florida, named Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, as a haven for runaway slaves from the British Colonies. The slaves were given their freedom in this community in exchange for their service as militia and as the first line of defense against possible British invasion. Simple thatched houses were built inside the log and earth wall, and the surrounding fields were for their farms. War was declared between the British and Spanish in 1739, and in May of 1740, British soldiers from Georgia under General James Oglethorpe (remember him? See the Darien , GA post) marched south, and occupied Fort Mose, which had been abandoned as the inhabitants had fled to St Augustine. The British used this as a base to bombard St Augustine, and attack forragers who ventured outside the city walls. But on June 26, 300 Black Militia and Spanish soldiers under Francisco Menendez attacked and recaptired the fort, taking 34 prisoners and killing 68 British. The British retreated back to Georgia in 1942, and a Spanish counter invasion was defeated at St Simon's Island. The 1740 battle had destroyed the fort, but in 1752, it was rebuilt on slightly higher ground. This community thrived until 1763, when Florida was ceded to britain, and the residents of Fort Mose fled to Spanish Cuba. The actual sites are not accesible, as they are very ecologically and historically fragile, but a boardwalk leads to a viewing platform where the sites are readily recognizable. The above photo shows the site of the second fort. Below is a panoramic view from the platform. The site of the second fort is visible in the center of the photo. The site of the first fort is almost non-existant, and is partially blocked by the crop of trees in the right third of the photo.

This is an image I made using Google Earth to show what you are seeing in the above photos. The viewing platform is circled in blue. The lower red circle is the site of the first fort, where there is little physical remaining. The upper red circle is the second fort, which as you can see from the top photo, has enough remains to be clearly distinguishable from the surrounding swamp.
This photo is a butterfly I found on the way back, and below, a photo I particularly liked of the landscape leading out to the viewing platform.

Crooked River by sea

Ok, so along with hiking the trails of Crooked River State Park, we also rented a canoe in the town of St Marys, and took it out on the river. Above shows the low marshy area dominated by sea grass as we approach the mouth of the river. The trees in the distance are Cumberland Island National Seashore. Below shows the riverbankjust downstream of where we pushed into the river. This riverbank is the location of the park, although, as you can see, erosion is taking a heavy toll on it.

Here we took a side trip into one of the sea grass "forrests" near the mouth of the river. Below is the US Navy Submarine base at Kings Bay. Don't get excited, this is about as close as you can get.

On our way back, the tide was going out, expsoing many shellfish communities (seen above). While this was fun and sort of like an amusement ride weaving between shellfish islands that spit water as you go by, it also made traveling through shallow waters a very bad idea, and travel through deeper waters very difficult because of the outward current.
Now we see the approach as we return to the river, and below you can see better the effect of the erosion on the riverbank.