SC Social Studies Teachers Become Students & Learn Santa Elena Story at State Conference

logoFor Immediate Release
September 25, 2015

Beaufort, SC – The Santa Elena Foundation’s mission to “revise history” took another step forward today as South Carolina teachers gathered in Greenville for the annual Council on Social Studies conference.

Dr. Charles Cornett, the Foundation’s Education Director, explained the “lost century” of American history, emphasizing the Spanish-established Santa Elena on Parris Island in 1566, decades before Plymouth and other English settlements, and clarified how Spain’s goals transcended the subsequent commercial focus of the French and English.

When one teacher asked if early American History was being taught incorrectly, Dr. Cornett responded that current curricula is incomplete in this perspective. K-12 and college textbooks used nationwide, including those in South Carolina, do not include details about Santa Elena and related activities during the earliest years of American colonization.

“The victors traditionally have been the major authors of history, and the English won,” Cornett said. “But we now have hard evidence to correct the history.” He then referred to archaeological artifacts unearthed on Parris Island and a treasure trove of the primary sources documents, like letters written by King Philip II of Spain and Santa Elena’s founder Pedro Menendez de Aviles.

Beaufort County teachers like Keith Weaver, from Robert Smalls International Academy, are already teaching the more complete American colonization narrative. During the “Window on the Atlantic” conference session about Santa Elena, Weaver reported on a project with his students in which they studied the facts and prepared interview questions to use at press conference with Spanish Count Alvaro Alvaro Armada Barcaiztegui, direct descendent of Pedro Menendez de Aviles.

“I kept telling them to dig deeper,” Weaver said. “And they did.”

The students Weaver brought to meet the Spanish Count asked whether Spanish students were taught about Santa Elena and questioned his ancestor’s behavior and conquests. The teachers at the Social Studies Conference were amazed.

“I didn’t know any of this,” one teacher responded, pointing to a set of bullet points about Santa Elena’s history.

The session concluded with a review of resources available at the Santa Elena Foundation website, including a short video and a link to materials for educators that includes an in-depth, standards-based lesson plan developed by the National Parks Service, and how to teach Santa Elena history using inquiry and project approaches. Dr. Cornett also shared information about the Santa Elena partnership with Beaufort Middle School which is uniquely integrating Santa Elena into its Classical Studies program.

The website will continue to grow into an exciting resource for students and teachers. Furthermore, students will be able to experience unique learning opportunities with a visit to the Santa Elena History Center, opening next spring in downtown Beaufort, South Carolina.

Meet Spanish Count Alvaro Armada in September

Beaufort, SC – The Santa Elena Foundation is excited to announce the unique opportunity for the general public to meet Spanish Count Alvaro Armada, the current Adelantado of la Florida and direct descendent of 16th century founder of Santa Elena, Pedro Menendez de Aviles.

Upcoming “Meet & Greet” events include:
Wednesday, September 9
-10:00 A.M. short program followed by Q&A
-Coastal Discovery Museum, Hilton Head Island
Friday, September 11
-1:00 P.M. to 2:00 P.M. drop-in and Q&A
-Beaufort History Museum, Downtown Beaufort Arsenal

The public is welcome to come during these times to meet the Count, learn about him and his lineage, and better understand the efforts to bring Santa Elena, the 16th century settlement on Parris Island, into the spotlight as an important aspect of the founding of America.

“This is only the second time in as many years that the Count has visited Beaufort, and we’d like to share this opportunity with the public,” says Dr. Andy Beall, Santa Elena Foundation Executive Director. “It is a critical time for our Foundation – we are working diligently to open the Santa Elena History Center and prepare for the 450th anniversary in April 2016. We are grateful to our partner organizations for hosting these exciting events.”

The Coastal Discovery Museum, a partner of the Santa Elena Foundation, is located at Honey Horn Plantation on Hilton Head Island and is a community based, educational institution dedicated to fostering greater knowledge and appreciation of the cultural heritage and natural history of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. On site of the museum, visitors can also see a Marsh Tacky horse, a breed that descended from Spanish horses that were brought here in the 16th century.

The Beaufort History Museum, also a partner of the Santa Elena Foundation, is located in downtown Beaufort in the Arsenal on Craven Street. It is chartered by the City of Beaufort to share the deep and rich history of the Beaufort District. Among its many exhibits is an introduction to the story of Santa Elena and the 16th century settlement activity in the Beaufort area.

The mission of the Santa Elena Foundation is to discover, promote, and preserve the “Lost Century” of European colonization through the story of Santa Elena. The Foundation is focused on growing its family of volunteers and supporters to help bring this story and History Center to life.

Partnership with local school announced by Santa Elena Foundation

Beaufort, SC – The start of the new school year brought a partnership between the Santa Elena Foundation and Beaufort Middle School, an art-integrated school with Classical Studies program of choice led by instructors Dr. Brooks Thomas and Mrs. Melanie Blanton.

In the coming weeks, when students learn about the earliest years of American History and the explorations of the 16th century, Santa Elena will become a much more familiar term. The school itself is less than ten miles from the actual site of the 16th century Spanish settlement. And as the Foundation prepares to open the Santa Elena History Center in downtown Beaufort, the Classical Studies students will offer their perspective and insight on creating an interpretive center that captures young imaginations.

“The first week of school provided an exciting introduction to the relevant learning this partnership offers. The students are already deeply involved in the creative processes of planning how this history will be shared.” said Dr. Thomas.

The partnership will support the vision of both programs. Students at Beaufort Middle School will make connections with the community as leaders, thinkers, and good citizens while learning, promoting and preserving the history of the 16th century Spanish settlement of Santa Elena. Educational outreach is a key component of the Foundation’s efforts.

“This opportunity allows for hands-on, real world experiences for our students as readers, writers and historians,” Mrs. Blanton noted. Because the teachers collaborate on curriculum and weave key themes throughout a variety of subjects, the Santa Elena story will also engage students in their music, art, drama, English, Spanish, social studies, and science classes.

Forty Classical Studies sixth-grade students are immersed in this partnership, and the learning experiences have stirred excitement and commitment with eighth-grade teachers through their curriculum, South Carolina History. Additionally, academic arts teachers are planning ways students will integrate their learning through the creative process.

“Learning this missing piece of history has become a school-wide endeavor. By assisting in this local re-discovery of 16th century history, the Classical Studies program will build on the past to develop responsible, knowledgeable, creative 21st century citizens,” shared Carole Ingram, principal of Beaufort Middle School, “and the ripple effect will be felt throughout our school.”

In September, the students will have the unique opportunity to meet Spanish Count Alvaro Armada, the current Adelantado of la Florida and direct descendent of 16th Century founder of Santa Elena, Pedro Menendez de Aviles. This also sets the stage for another learning opportunity as Spanish Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15.

“Together we are learning much more about our country’s heritage and the ‘lost century’ of American history,” noted Dr. Andy Beall, Foundation Executive Director. “To have these bright, young minds engaged in the process is simply sensational, and we appreciate the partnership with Beaufort Middle School. We hope that all schools and textbooks will eventually share more information about this important part of American history.”

The Foundation offers a lesson plan created by the National Park Service as a free resource for all teachers and is accessible via the Education section of the Santa Elena website. To learn more about the Santa Elena Foundation’s education outreach and lesson plans, visit www.santa-elena.org/education.

Efforts target bringing Beaufort County’s past into the present

CaptureFrom the Beaufort Gazette:

“More than 30 people filled the meeting room at the Beaufort County Library last week in Beaufort to hear a presentation about progress at Fort Frederick.

After watching S.C. Department of Natural Resources videos, the group piled into cars and followed DNR archeologist Meg Gaillard down to Port Royal, eventually rumbling down a dirt path behind Beaufort Naval Hospital to an 18th-century fort, thought to be the oldest tabby structure in the state and built by the British to defend Port Royal Sound and the city of Beaufort from the Spanish.” Read More at the Island Packet / Beaufort Gazette

Notable new advisors commit to Santa Elena Foundation

Beaufort, SC — The Santa Elena Foundation has named three new members to its Advisory Board: Dr. Walter Edgar, Dr. Rex Garniewicz, and Dr. David Moore.

They join an esteemed group of advisors that participate in the development of the Santa Elena Foundation and offer insight and guidance as the Foundation prepares to open the Santa Elena Center, host the 450th anniversary symposium and commemoration events, and continue archaeology at the Santa Elena site. Their expertise on 16th century and local history, archaeology, museum management, and business development are valuable assets to the Santa Elena team.

Dr. Walter Edgar is a Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at the University of South Carolina. He received his B.A. at Davidson College, and his M.A. and Ph.D. at University of South Carolina. Throughout his career as a professor, Dr. Edgar received numerous awards and honors, including entry into the South Carolina Hall of Fame. Dr. Edgar has published dozens of papers, articles, and books; among them is The South Carolina Encyclopedia.

Dr. Rex Garniewicz received his B.A from Wesleyan University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from Indiana University. He is currently President & CEO of the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island. Dr. Garniewicz previously served as Deputy Director at the San Diego Museum of Man and as Vice President of Science and Technology at the Indiana State Museum. His interests in archaeology and museum work are wide-ranging.  He has published archaeological work from both Native American sites and early American forts, and he is currently curating a traveling exhibition on the history of beer for the Smithsonian Institution.

Dr. David Moore received his B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and his MA and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He served as the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology’s Western Office archaeologist for 18 years before becoming a full-time faculty member at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. Dr. Moore has directed the archaeological investigations at the Berry site since 1986. He is the author and co-author of numerous book chapters and articles. Dr. Moore is leading 450th anniversary commemoration events for the overland trail of Juan Pardo, which originated at Santa Elena.

The three new additions to the Santa Elena Advisory Board join these members: Dr. Daryl Ferguson, Alvaro Armada Barcaiztegui, Dr. Eugene Lyon, Dr. Paul Hoffman, Dr. Chester DePratter, Dr. William Kelso, Dr. Michael Francis, Dr. Eric Emerson, Dr. Bruce Fryer, Dr. Mary Socci, Dick Stewart, Dean Moss, and Maggie Bertin.

To learn more about the Santa Elena Foundation’s Board and Advisory members, visit www.santa-elena.org/about-us/board-members.

SANTA ELENA CENTER COMING SOON!

From Dude Magazine

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The Santa Elena Foundation will soon have a home in a historic building on the corner of Bay and Bladen Streets in Downtown Beaufort. The former Federal Courthouse building will be transformed to meet the mission of the discovery, preservation, and promotion of Santa Elena, the 16th century settlement established on present-day Parris Island. Santa Elena was the European capital city of all Spanish claimed lands from Newfoundland to the Rio Grande known as La Florida.! The children born in Santa Elena would have been forty-years old when Pocahontas met John Smith at Jamestown.

This summer, Beaufort County will finalize a long-term lease with the Foundation to establish a first class Interpretive Center to tell the Santa Elena story. The historic building is located on the original site of the “Barnwell Castle,” one of the finest homes in Beaufort. In 1825, Beau-fort hosted a ceremonial ball honoring the Marquis de Lafayette. Sold to Union officers during the Civil War for taxes, the building was used as a courthouse in the 1870’s until it burned to the ground in 1879.

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Beaufort County Leases Historic Federal Courthouse to The Santa Elena Foundation

BEAUFORT, S.C., March 9, 2015 – Beaufort County Council voted unanimously today to lease its historic Federal Courthouse to the Santa Elena Foundation, whose mission is the discovery, preservation, and promotion of the “lost 100 years of European colonization” through the international story of Santa Elena, the 16th Century settlement and colonial capital on present-day Parris Island in the United States. (Read More – Download Press Release)

 

Beaufort County tendering lease with Santa Elena Foundation for historic courthouse

From the Beaufort Gazette:

“Beaufort County leaders are putting the finishing touches on a proposed lease to turn the old federal courthouse in Beaufort into a history museum and the main offices for the Santa Elena Foundation.

The plan would give the foundation its first real headquarters and jump-start its efforts to preserve the history of Santa Elena, a 16th-century Spanish settlement in Port Royal, foundation director Andy Beall said.”

Santa Elena Foundation Featured In Dude Magazine

“Last issue I introduced you DUDE followers to the SANTA ELENA FOUNDATION and their ongoing fantastic efforts to bring this important story to the forefront of American history. Yeah, we know the story of Jamestown in 1607 as told and documented by our war winning English forefathers BUT, if the Spanish would have won, I think Santa Elena would certainly be documented as the first real European settlement in America. Of course, now, we’re really biased as this place is located in our very own beautiful Beaufort County, South Carolina, more particularly on Parris Island, Marine Recruit Depot. There is of course a WHY? and it was the battle to see who would conquer the New World: the French, the Spanish or the English. But there is no question about the WHO? of Santa Elena and it is none other than one bad ass DUDE named Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the first governor of La Florida. Let’s get to know this DUDE.”

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Spanish Count Of Guemes To Visit Beaufort

For Immediate Release

Alvaro Armada Barcaiztegui

SPANISH COUNT OF GÜEMES TO VISIT BEAUFORT

The Santa Elena Foundation Board of Directors will welcome board member Álvaro Armada Barcaiztegui on his first visit to Beaufort later this month. Sr. Armada is a direct descendent of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the 16th century Adelantado Mayor of La Florida (governor general) and founder of Santa Elena. Sr. Armada is the Count of Güemes and is to be named the IX Count of Revilla-Gigedo and XX Adelantado Mayor of La Florida by His Majesty Felipe VI, King of Spain.

Álvaro Armada will spend several days in Beaufort County and will meet with members of the news media Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m. in the first floor conference room of the Beaufort College Building on the University of South Carolina Beaufort’s Historic Beaufort Campus. The Beaufort College Building is located at 801 Carteret St.

Sr. Armada dedicates his time to the promotion of 500 years of distinguished family history and public service. The count is curator of a private archive of original documents, one of the most important private collections in Spain. He shares with the Santa Elena Foundation considerable international leadership experience and a personal connection to the history of Spanish colonization in North America.

Organized by local business leaders, civic leaders and scholars, the Santa Elena Foundation promotes the history of the arrival of Europeans on the North American coast. Spanish settlers established the community of Santa Elena in 1569 as the first colonial capital in America. The story of European rivals struggling for dominance in North America involved French, Spanish and English explorers and their interactions with nations of Native American people. The Santa Elena Foundation is dedicated to sharing the little known history of this “lost century” through archaeological research, a cultural interpretive center and a living history museum.

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The Santa Elena Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Beaufort County, South Carolina. The mission of the foundation is to expand the story of European colonization of North America through discovery, preservation and promotion of Santa Elena, the first colonial capital in the present-day United States.

Dr. Larry Rowland to speak on The Story of Santa Elena: America’s Lost Century

For Immediate Release

PRESS RELEASE:

 

Dr. Larry Rowland to speak on

The Story of Santa Elena:  America’s Lost Century

 

Larry Rowland (1 of 1)When and Where was America first settled by Europeans?  Was it Jamestown or Plymouth as we learned in grammar school?  Or was it really much earlier, right here in BeaufortCounty – in Santa Elena?   The  period, from 1492 when Columbus arrived in America through the end of the 1500’s are crucial years for Beaufort County but these one hundred years have been lost in our history books.

Dr. Larry Rowland, local historian and professor emeritus at USC-Beaufort,  will electrify the public as he brings to life  this “Lost Century” .  The lecture will be held on Sunday, October 19th at 4pm at the Center for the Arts on USC-Beaufort’s historic campus.   Admission is $25

Today, scholars agree that present day United States was first settled as a Spanish community at Santa Elena in 1569. Documents prove that Spain’s Governor-General of la Florida, Pedro Menendez, landed at Santa Elena in 1566 and established a military garrison; Menendez then brought 200 settlers to Santa Elena in 1569. He made it the Capital of Spanish la Florida and nurtured the settlement until his death in 1574. Spanish soldiers and settlers remained at Santa Elena until consolidated in 1587 to Saint Augustine and Santa Elena was abandoned.

The newly established Santa Elena Foundation, a non-profit organization based in BeaufortCounty is sponsoring the lecture in conjunction with the Center for the Arts.  The Foundation’s mission is to expand the story of European colonization of North America through discovery, preservation and promotion of Santa Elena.

For more information, please contact the Center for the Arts box office at 521-4145. http://www.uscbcenterforthearts.com/#!special-events/c1q2z

rowland

Santa Elena History

In the mid-16th century, Spain and France competed for control of North America. The Spanish government believed it had exclusive rights to the continent by the blessing of the Catholic Church, and France disagreed. To protect its Atlantic shipping route from English and French privateers, Spain colonized points along the southeastern coast from the Caribbean to the Carolinas. One of these outposts was Santa Elena, the first colonial capital of Spanish Florida. Spanish colonists founded Santa Elena in 1566 on an island in the Port Royal Sound of present-day South Carolina. Both French and Spanish colonists occupied the site during the 16th century. Today, the Charlesfort-Santa Elena site is a National Historic Landmark important for its associations with the 16th century conflict between Spain and France for control of the New World and with officers Spaniard Pedro Menendez de Aviles and Frenchman Jean Ribault. The site is also considered archaeologically significant.

Dr. Charles Cornett joins Santa Elena Foundation to help educators expand colonial curriculum

Dr Charles Cornett  2014August 8, 2014, Beaufort, South Carolina – The Santa Elena Foundation Board of Directors welcomes Dr. Charles Cornett as Director of Historical Education. Cornett, a retired school superintendent, will serve on the Foundation’s advisory board and coordinate education outreach.

“Our goal is to align American understanding of our colonial past with historical evidence, particularly archaeological evidence that confirms the Spanish established the Santa Elena settlement on Parris Island circa 1566,” explained Cornett. “Santa Elena predates Jamestown and Plymouth by decades. Unfortunately, while school history texts describe the Pilgrims’ arrival and First Thanksgiving—with their cast of English characters—they say little about life at the earlier Santa Elena, a Spanish town that existed for twenty years. Of course in the past, only the victors wrote the history.” Cornett is facilitating the implementation of the National Park Services (NPS) Santa Elena curriculum by encouraging educators to use and enhance what he calls “inquiry-based” lesson plans that engage students in discussion, analysis of maps, use of the Internet and much more. In particular, he points to how the NPS plans seek to have students synthesize conclusions and apply new learning. For example, students are challenged to find ways to educate their own communities.

“The Santa Elena story should be a point of pride for South Carolinians and all Hispanic students,” Cornett said. “Santa Elena’s 450-year anniversary comes up in 2016 and we hope to have made real progress by then. The National Park Services will soon release a resource for teachers, including web-based lessons plans that challenge students to delve into the fascinating history of Santa Elena.

Spanish Count of Güemes joins Santa Elena Foundation Board

Alvaro Armada BarcaizteguiJuly 29, 2014, Beaufort, South Carolina – The Santa Elena Foundation Board of Directors welcomed Álvaro Armada Barcaiztegui to the foundation board. Sr. Armada is a direct descendent of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the 16th Century Adelantado Mayor of La Florida (governor general) and founder of Santa Elena. Sr. Armada is the Count of Güemes and is to be named the IX Count of Revilla-Gigedo and XX Adelantado Mayor of La Florida by His Majesty Felipe VI, King of Spain.

Organized by local business leaders, civic leaders, and scholars, the Santa Elena Foundation promotes the history of European arrival on the North American coast. French construction of Charlesfort on Parris Island by Jean Ribault in 1562 drew a Spanish response. Spanish settlers established the community of Santa Elena in 1569, the first colonial capital in America. The story of European rivals struggling for dominance in North America involved French, Spanish, and English explorers and their interactions with nations of Native American peoples. The Santa Elena Foundation is dedicated to sharing the little known history of this “lost century” through archaeological research, a cultural interpretive center, and a living history museum.

Sr. Armada dedicates his time to the promotion of 500 years of distinguished family history and public service. The Count is curator of a private archive of original documents, one of the most important private collections in Spain. The archive he believes should be the basis for a new museum in the Asturias region of northern Spain dedicated to historic research. Sr. Armada serves a board member for MAPFRE PRAICO Corporation and CEO of Tourist and Cultural Project Development in Madrid. He brings to the Santa Elena Foundation considerable international leadership experience.

Meet The Experts

The Santa Elena Foundation in August brought together leading scholars to create a timeline of the Santa Elena settlement. The experts were historians Karen Paar of South Carolina, Eugene Lyon of Florida and Paul Hoffman of Louisiana, and archaeologists Chester DePratter, who excavated the related Huguenot settlement of Charlesfort, and David Moore, who helped discover Fort San Juan, an inland settlement near Morganton, North Carolina.

SEF Experts 2  8-14-14-0098

 

What is known about Santa Elena is the result of the work of a small group of historians and archaeologists.  We honor five of these scholars.  The group never before assembled worked recently as a team to craft a historic Santa Elena timeline.  The timeline becomes the basis for future historical and archaeological research.


SEF Experts Dr Karen Paar  8-14-14-0067Dr. Karen Paar
is an archivist and historian.  Karen Paar grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, attended Oberlin College in Ohio, and completed a Ph.D. in Latin American History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Paar wrote her dissertation on the Santa Elena colony.  As Research Assistant Professor at the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Paar continued her grant-funded research on Santa Elena.  Dr. Paar returned to North Carolina and attended library school at North Carolina Central University while working at the North Carolina State University Libraries.  Karen Paar currently lives in western North Carolina and is the Director of the Liston B. Ramsey Center for Regional Studies and Archivist of the Southern Appalachian Archives at Mars Hill University.  She continues her research on Santa Elena in her spare time.

 

 

SEF Experts Dr Paul Hoffman  8-14-14-0082Dr. Paul Hoffman: is the Murrill Distinguished Professor of History, at  Louisiana State University.  He received his PhD from the University of Florida.  Dr. Hoffman is author of the award-winning A New Andalucia and a Way to the Orient (published in 1990 and again in 2004) and Florida’s Frontiers (published in 2002); he is author of four other books, and numerous other writings.  With Dr. Eugene Lyon he worked with the St. Augustine Foundation, Inc. to propose a living history museum for the 16th century town.  Recently he edited issues of the Florida Historical Quarterly dedicated to scholarship on the 16th century.  He delivered the first Jerrell Shofner Lecture for the Florida Historical Society at the University of Central Florida (La Florida : Thoughts About a Story Still Largely Untold).  His scholarship also includes essays on the 16th century cartography of North America and the role of the ecology of the Southeast in early Spanish settlement.  He is a Fellow of the Louisiana Historical Association, and recipient of McGinty Life-time achievement award.

SEF Experts Dr Gene Lyon  8-14-14-Dr. Eugene Lyon :  A Florida native, served in the Korean War aboard the USS Hobson (DMS-26). He holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of Florida, and is a specialist in Spanish Colonial Florida and the Spanish maritime system.

Lyon’s publications include The Enterprise of Florida, The Search for the Atocha, and Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, a Sourcebook. The St. Augustine Historical Society published his book, Richer Than We Thought, and the University of South Carolina Press published Santa Elena: A Brief History of the Colony. He wrote a monograph on Spanish colonial nails. He has written many conference papers, book chapters, and five National Geographic articles—including two cover articles for National Geographic.  One of those featured previously unpublished data on Christopher Columbus’s caravel Niña.

Lyon directed the St. Augustine Foundation for fourteen years.  The Foundation holds more than a thousand reels of film of materials related to Spanish Florida.

From data in the Archives of the Indies, Lyon enabled salvor Mel Fisher to locate and definitively identify the sunken ships Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Santa Margarita in the lower Florida Keys.

Eugene Lyon received the grade of Official in the Order of Isabella from King Juan Carlos of Spain, and the grade of Comendador in the Order of Christopher Columbus from the President of the Dominican Republic. The City of St. Augustine granted him its highest honor, the Order of La Florida, and in 2003 the Florida Historical Society gave him the Jillian Prescott Award for lifetime service to Florida history. In 2005, he received the Mel Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award.

SEF Experts Dr Chester DePratter  8-14-14-0108Dr. Chester DePratter:  received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Georgia in 1983.  His varied interests include coastal Georgia and South Carolina geology/archaeology, migrations of Native Americans across the southeastern United States in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Civil War prison camps, and Spanish colonial ventures in “La Florida.”  As part of this latter interest he has conducted extensive excavations at Santa Elena (1566-1587). This work led to his discovery of the location of the French Charlesfort established on Parris Island in 1562. His work includes the identification of the routes of several sixteenth century Spanish expeditions to interior “La Florida” including those of Hernando de Soto, Tristan de Luna, and Juan Pardo; this work has helped redraw the map of the interior southeast and the locations of its Native American peoples in the sixteenth century.  More recently he has worked in Mississippi and identified the locations for two 1736 battles between the Chickasaw and the French colonists there.

 

SEF David Moore 1Dr. David Moore: received his B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and his MA and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina.  He served as the North Carolina Western Office archaeologist for 18 years before becoming a full-time faculty member at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC.  Dr. Moore has directed the archaeological investigations at the Berry site since 1986.  He is the author and co-author of numerous book chapters and articles.  Dr. Moore and his colleagues, Dr. Robin Beck (University of Michigan) and Dr. Christopher Rodning (Tulane University) submitted a monograph on the work at Joara including the archaeological discovery of Fort San Juan established by the Spanish explorer Juan Pardo from Santa Elena in 1566.

 

 

EJF Introductory Materials

History

#6-Europe1550In the mid-16th century, Spain and France competed for control of North America. The Spanish government believed it had exclusive rights to the continent by the blessing of the Catholic Church, and France disagreed. To protect its Atlantic shipping route from English and French privateers, Spain colonized points along the southeastern coast from the Caribbean to the Carolinas. One of these outposts was Santa Elena, the first colonial capital of Spanish Florida. Spanish colonists founded Santa Elena in 1566 on an island in the Port Royal Sound of present-day South Carolina. Both French and Spanish colonists occupied the site during the 16th century. Today, the Charlesfort-Santa Elena site is a National Historic Landmark important for its associations with the 16th century conflict between Spain and France for control of the New World and with officers Spaniard Pedro Menendez de Aviles and Frenchman Jean Ribault. The site is also considered archeologically significant.

 

Charlesfort Excavation  Courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History

Charlesfort Excavation
Courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History

After Christopher Columbus opened the Americas to European colonization in 1492, private and royal ships loaded with valuable goods traveled between the colonies and Spain. One of the most important water routes was the Florida Straits between the Bahaman Islands and the Florida coast, where a strong current carries ships east out of the Gulf of Mexico and then straight north up the Atlantic coast. During the colonial era, French and English ships waited in these straits for silver-laden Spanish ships to attack and loot. To protect Spain’s interests, King Philip II of Spain decided to build towns on the Florida mainland coast to provide a safe haven for Spanish ships.

The king chose Spanish naval officer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés to be the adelantado, or governor, of Spanish Florida in 1565 and ordered him to establish military bases on the mainland by the Straits. Adelantado was an elite military and administrative position created when the Christian Spaniards took the Iberian Peninsula back from the Moslem Moors. In Europe, the Spanish adelantados built fortified outposts in hostile areas and were responsible for bringing the surrounding region under Spanish control. In return for the adelantado’s work, the Spanish crown granted the individual economic privileges and honors. When it began colonizing the Americas, Spain continued to use this system. Other Spaniards to hold the title adelantado of Florida before Menéndez were Ponce de Léon, two men by the name of Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón, Pánfilo de Narváez, Hernando de Soto, and Tristan de Luna y Arellano. However, Spain failed to establish a permanent settlement in Florida until Menéndez’s expedition.

Spanish artist Francisco de Paula Martí engraved this portrait of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1791.Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Spanish artist Francisco de Paula Martí engraved this portrait of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1791.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Menéndez is best known for founding St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied European city in the continental United States, but his first colonial capital was Santa Elena on Parris Island in the Port Royal Sound. At the time, “Florida” was all land the Spanish believed was North of Mexico. Parris Island is located in present-day South Carolina. Before Menéndez arrived, his French rival, naval officer Jean Ribault, founded Charlesfort on the island in 1562 and claimed the land for France. Ribault’s fort was a blockhouse made of logs and clay, thatched with straw, and surrounded by a moat. Ribault’s expedition abandoned Charlesfort within a year and sailed south to found Fort Caroline. Menéndez arrived in the Straits in 1565 and fought Ribault’s forces on land and at sea along the Florida coast. He drove the French colonists from the Southeast, destroyed their forts, and reclaimed the territory for Spain.

When Menéndez arrived at Parris Island in 1566, he ordered his men to build a new fort, called San Salvador, and a few months later, he founded Santa Elena, the first capital of Florida. Menéndez oversaw the construction of a larger fort, San Felipe (I), after 250 reinforcements arrived on the island in the summer of 1566. Two years later, 225 settlers – including farmers, Catholic missionaries, and families – arrived in Florida from Spain and supplemented the garrisons at St. Augustine and Santa Elena. Menéndez’s city government at Santa Elena issued land for the immigrants, and by 1569, there were 40 houses around the central plaza.

For 21 years following colonization in 1566, Santa Elena’s Spanish leadership struggled to keep the coastal village working. The soil on the island could not support the farming needed to feed everyone, so there were food shortages. The Spanish were not on friendly terms with the native American Indians in the region – the Orista and Guale tribes – so the colonial farmers could not expand their farms beyond the fort’s protection. To reduce the number of people they had to feed, Menéndez’s lieutenant and kinsman, Esteban de las Alas, sent away all but 46 soldiers. This left the town vulnerable to attacks by the French and Native Americans. When ships from Spain arrived in 1571, carrying supplies and more colonists, they also brought a deadly sickness. At around the same time, a fire at San Felipe (I) destroyed the fort. Menéndez’s son-in-law, Don Diego de Velasco, oversaw the construction of a new fort, also named San Felipe (II). The purpose of this new fort was to protect and support the Spanish population during a raid.

Menéndez passed away in September 1574 and the Florida adelantado passed on to his daughter Catalina’s husband, Hernando de Miranda. Miranda arrived at Santa Elena from Spain in the winter of 1576. Upon arrival, Miranda had Velasco, who was married to Menéndez’s other daughter, arrested for mismanaging soldiers’ bonuses and took over the local government. The following summer, Miranda’s ill treatment of the Native Americans provoked violence, and both the Guale and Orista attacked the Spanish together launching an assault on the settlement and its ships. The colonists fled the town and gathered at the Fort San Felipe (II). When they were able, the surviving colonists and soldiers escaped from the island on small boats left undisturbed by the attackers. Behind them, the Guale and Orista burned the fort and sacked Santa Elena. Catalina and Miranda sailed back to Spain, and St. Augustine was the capital of Spanish Florida thereafter.

In 1577, the Spanish colonists returned to Santa Elena. Philip II appointed Menéndez’s nephew, Pedro Menéndez Márquez, as governor of Florida, which was no longer a private adelantado venture but a royal colony. Menéndez Márquez ordered his soldiers to build a new garrison, Fort San Marcos (I), and brought the Spanish colonists back to settle on the land. Under the new governor’s command, the Spanish soldiers invaded the Guale and Orista towns, which were harboring French castaways, and regained control of the island by 1580. The Spaniards’ successes at Santa Elena were short-lived, as the threat of an English empire in North America began to dawn and this changed the Spaniards’ approach in colonizing Florida. In 1586, the Spanish at St. Augustine heard of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Roanoke Island Colony on the coast of North Carolina. Menéndez Márquez also feared Sir Francis Drake’s war in the Caribbean. As Drake made his way north, he raided Spanish settlements at Santo Domingo, Cartagena, and St. Augustine. The English intended to take Santa Elena, too, but the fleet overshot it.

In response to the English threat, Spain decided to shrink the scope of its Florida colony and consolidate its colonial towns to strengthen them. Menéndez Márquez returned to Santa Elena in 1587 and ordered his men to destroy the town infrastructure and the second Fort San Marcos (II). The Parris Island colonists moved to St. Augustine and the Spanish abandoned Santa Elena for good. For two centuries after the Spanish left, Scottish and then English colonists occupied Port Royal Sound. The coastal region was a trading ground for American Indians and Europeans before plantations developed in the coastal low country in the early 1700s. South Carolina became part of the United States at the end of the 18th century, and the plantations thrived until the American Civil War.

In 1915, the United States Marine Corps created the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island. Little was known about the Spanish at Parris Island when the USMC arrived and most of the written history focused on the French presence. While the Marines settled on the island, Major George Osterhout oversaw archeological excavations at the site of one of the forts, which he believed was French, and Congress erected a monument to Jean Ribault in 1926. At the same time, a scholar of Spanish colonial studies, Hubert Eugene Bolton, began to publish articles about Spain’s presence on the island. In the 1950s, National Park Service historians reexamined artifacts recovered from Parris Island by Major Osterhout and the fort he excavated. They determined the artifacts are Spanish in origin and the “French” fort is likely Spain’s Fort San Marcos (I).

Since the late 1970s, archeologists continue to investigate the site of Charlesfort-Santa Elena for clues about its past inhabitants and the way they lived. In addition to revealing evidence of early European colonization in the United States, the site is valuable for what it can reveal about adelantado town planning. The site of Santa Elena was never reoccupied fully after the Spanish left in 1587. Archeologists today are able to explore the site to find information about what the town looked like in the 16th century. Excavations at Santa Elena reveal that the town had a central plaza with colonial buildings uniformly built around it. Visitors to Parris Island can learn about the island’s history at the nearby USMC Parris Island Museum.

Spain’s Santa Elena

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In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sailed to North America, claiming it for Spain. He named the land he discovered “La Florida” (place of flowers) because his crew arrived there at the time of “Pascua Florida” (Flowery Easter). The area the Spaniards called La Florida was much bigger than the state of Florida today.  Spanish Florida included present-day Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Virginia and Louisiana. The area was important to the Spaniards because of its proximity to the Caribbean and a major trade route to Spain. Settling there would mean Spain could use it as a base to protect their holdings from the French.

Throughout the 16th century, Spain and France both fought for territory in the Americas in a series of wars. For Spain and France, a settlement in La Florida would give a strategic advantage over the other. Unfortunately, the Spaniards had trouble establishing a settlement in La Florida.

The French knew the Spanish had failed and knew how important it was to succeed. They decided to establish their own settlement at Port Royal Sound, using Parris Island for a military advantage. The settlement would not only provide a way for the French to attack Spanish shipping, but also provide land to grow tropical crops they could not grow elsewhere.

In 1562, the French built a fort they called Charlesfort. Less than a year after arriving, they abandoned the fort because the settlers did not have enough supplies. In 1564, the French returned and settled at Fort Caroline on today’s St. John’s River in the state of Florida.

In 1565, after hearing about France’s settlements at Charlesfort and Fort Caroline, the Spanish decided to try to settle in La Florida again, including at Port Royal Sound, where they would eventually establish Santa Elena. There were many advantages to settling at Port Royal Sound. The site of Santa Elena provided a military advantage, favorable trade winds and some protection from hurricanes. The Spaniards hoped it would also provide rich farmland, a land passage to the Spanish Empire in modern-day Mexico and access to an American Indian population to increase the population within the Spanish empire.

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was the Spanish government’s appointed adelantado, an individual responsible for the conquest of new areas. The Spanish government granted adelantados contracts that outlined exactly what adelantados  were supposed to do on specific missions. Menéndez was responsible for settling in Spanish Florida. When his contract was finalized, the French still occupied Fort Caroline near present-day Jacksonville, Fla. The Spanish government discovered the exact location after they captured three French ships sent to prey on the Spaniards in the Caribbean. The Spanish governor of Cuba sent the information to the king. The first thing Menéndez was to do after arriving in Florida was to remove the French from the territory.

Menéndez and the Spanish ships arrived at Fort Caroline in September 1565 and successfully took the fort from the French. With the French threat gone, the Spanish began preparations to establish a capital. Menéndez established settlements at St. Augustine and Fort Caroline (renamed Fort San Mateo) in 1565 and at Santa Elena on Parris Island in the spring of 1566.

A few months later, additional Spanish settlers arrived at Santa Elena and a concejo, or city government, was formed. The concejo issued town lots and farming plots to settlers. Some scholars think the Spaniards built 40 houses grouped around a central plaza, as well as nearby Fort San Felipe, by 1569. Menéndez brought his wife and their household to the settlement in 1570. The settlers faced hardships including food shortages, difficulties growing crops in sandy soil and growing hostilities with the American Indian tribes, the Orista and the Guale.

After several years, Menéndez returned to Spain to secure funding and develop a plan for expansion. While there, he died Sept. 17, 1574, passing his estate to his daughter Maria and the title of adelantado of La Florida to his son-in-law, Hernando de Miranda.

When Hernando de Miranda arrived in Santa Elena, the relationship between Spanish settlers and the Orista and Guale Indians worsened. Some Spaniards stole food from the Indians when settlers faced a shortage. This stealing pushed the Indians to attack Spanish ships and soldiers. The Spanish settlers left Santa Elena as a result of this attack. The Indians destroyed the fort and burned the settlement. After Santa Elena was abandoned in 1576, the capital of La Florida was moved to St. Augustine.

Shortly after, the Spanish crown ordered the reoccupation of Santa Elena. This time, the governor was Pedro Menéndez Márquez, the nephew of Menéndez de Aviles. However, Márquez was not given the title adelantado. La Florida was now under direct royal control. The Spanish rebuilt Santa Elena in 1577.

Sometime later, Indians told the Spaniards about a settlement in modern-day North Carolina. The new settlers were under the control of an Englishman, Walter Raleigh. Raleigh established the Roanoke Island colony in North Carolina in 1585. The English were now considered a threat to Spanish settlement in North America.

The English threat came to fruition when Sir Francis Drake’s large fleet sacked and burned Santo Domingo and Cartagena in the Caribbean and later St. Augustine.  But Drake missed the settlement at Santa Elena. He sailed north to Roanoke, rescued stranded colonists in North Carolina and sailed back to England.

Still, the threat of additional English attacks prompted the Spaniards to reconsider their settlements in La Florida. On August 16, 1587, Governor Pedro Menéndez Márquez took his royal orders to Santa Elena and evacuated the settlement, destroying the fort and houses as he left. The people moved to St. Augustine, effectively ending Spain’s settlement at Santa Elena. Today, St. Augustine is the oldest permanent city founded by Europeans in North America.

(Source: The U.S. National Park Service, nps.gov)

(source NPS.gov)