Florida historians want Americans to know that the "real" first Thanksgiving was in St. Augustine, long before the Pilgrim landing, when Spanish explorers hosted a Thanksgiving feast with the Florida Timucua indians as guests. Come to Florida if you wish to explore the oldest cities in the United States where European settlement of the "New World" began. Here’s what VivaFlorida says…
Florida’s Spanish Colonial Heritage:
“The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by Spanish explorers, not pilgrims, in St. Augustine on September 8, 1565, between the Spanish and Timucuan tribe 56 years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth in 1621. The first permanent European settlement in North America, and America’s “oldest city” is St. Augustine. St. Augustine was also the first U.S city to plot streets. The first European settlement attempt in the continental United States was made in Pensacola by Tristán de Luna in August 1559. In 1513, Ponce de Leon landed on Florida’s east coast and named the peninsula Florida as the season was Pascua Florida, (Flowery Easter). "
Another online source, Wikipedia states:
PERHAPS A SANGRIA TOAST TO THE SPANISH THIS THANKSGIVING?
So it appears that Spanish explorers celebrated the first recorded Thanksgiving mass (i.e. thank God we survived the journey) and a feast long before the pilgrims in what is now Augustine, Florida, America's oldest city. Maybe at Thanksgiving we should toast the Spaniards with a glass of Sangria, perhaps?
In fact, the Catholic church (Diocese of St. Augustine) has in its possession some of the oldest known European documents recorded in the U.S. -- marriage, births, deaths, and confirmation records. These ancient church documents shed light on the earliest Spanish residents in St. Augustine, Florida from 1594 to 1763. One marriage record is dated January 1594 (i.e. 26 years before the well-known Pilgrim arrival at Plymouth.)
Another artifact at the Diocese in St. Augustine is reportedly "a piece of the coffin belonging to Pedo Menendez deAviles, the Spanish Navy admiral who founded St. Augustine in 1565," according to an Associated Press article dated November 11, 2009.
But, hey -- where are the docs that date back even further? "Missing from the collection are the documents from the first 29 years of Catholic life in St. Augustine... they may have been destroyed by Sir Francis Drake, the English privateer, who sacked the town in 1586," states the AP article.
"OLDIES BUT GOODIES" -- ST. AUGUSTINE AND FERNANDINA BEACH, FLORIDA
While St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S., the barrier island a bit to the north, Amelia Island, Florida, is home to the second oldest city, Fernandina Beach, and is the only location in U.S. to have been under 8 flags..
AMELIA ISLAND'S SPANISH MOSS, THE "TREE HAIR"
For those who find American history intriguing, visit St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach, Florida, "oldies but goodies." See the oldest cities in the United States where European settlement of the "New World" began. Amelia Island is the most northern point of what is called "the historic Buccaneer Trail," which continues south through the Talbot Islands, Fort George Island and south on A1A through Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Ponte Vedra Beach. The trail which follows the path of French explorer Jean Ribault, as well as Spanish settlers and even pirates, ends in St. Augustine, "where continuous European settlement of the New World began."
Learn lots more about the state of Florida’s Spanish Colonial history at www.vivaFlorida.org, with a 68-page interactive guide, interactive maps, history and multi-media.
MORE ABOUT THE HISTORIC CATHOLIC CHURCH DOCUMENTS
The precious Catholic Church documents mentioned above actually traveled around, and were reportedly in a Cuban crypt for over 100 years. Read the amazing story of these historic documents that almost met with destruction a few times, and find out about the University of Florida professor, Michael Gannon, Ph.D., who first started looking for early Catholic documents back in the 1960s. He rescued some of the oldest known European documents recorded in the U.S. Dr. Gannon is the author of "Cross in the Sand: The Early Catholic Church in Florida 1513-1870.
AMELIA ISLAND LIVING WISHES ALL A HAPPY THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY!