Monday, August 31, 2009

Menendez Fort and Camp

The City of St. Augustine's 444th birthday celebration takes place on Saturday, here's a little bit on the:

The Founding of St. Augustine, 1565

"On Saturday, the 8th, the general landed with many banners spread, to the sound of trumpets and salutes of artillery. As I had gone ashore the evening before, I took a cross and went to meet him, singing the hymn Te Deum laudamus. The general marched up to the cross, followed by all who accompanied him, and there they kneeled and embraced the cross. A large number of Indians watched these proceedings and imitated all they saw done. The same day the general took formal possession of the country in the name of his Majesty, and all the captains took the oath of allegiance to him, as their general and governor of the country. When this ceremony was ended, he offered to do everything in his power for them, especially for Captain Patino, who during the whole voyage had ardently served the cause of God and of the King, and, I think, will be rewarded for his assiduity and talents in constructing a fort in which to defend ourselves until the arrival of help from Santo Domingo and Havana."
-Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales

“As soon as he reached there (the harbor of St. Augustine) he landed about 300 soldiers and sent two captains with them, who were to reconnoiter that daybreak the next morning the lay of the land and the places which seemed to them strongest (for defense), in order that they might dig a trench quickly while it was being seen where they could build a fort…” Gonzálo Solís de Méras

The trenches in the photos are, ironically enough, from the Florida Museum of Natural History's dig at the Fountain of Youth site, where Menendez's Fort and Camp were located in 1565. Arriving on site at a Drake's raid a few years ago, we discovered that the FLMNH's field school hadn't quite finished with their excavations that spring. Finding that the field hadn't been backfilled we couldn't help but to take the rare opportunity to practice fortification tacticals during the day.

On line St. Augustine exhibit

Sunday, August 30, 2009

St. Augustine to celebrate 444 years & Landing reenactment is Sept. 5

In the News: with selected highlights.

St. Augustine to celebrate 444 years

"Here comes another birthday. St. Augustine will be observing its 444th next weekend, although the actual date of the town's founding is Sept. 8, this year a Tuesday."

Landing reenactment is Sept. 5

"Sept. 5, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Mission Nombre de Dios, 27 Ocean Ave., there will be an historical reenactment of the landing by the city's founder, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles..."

"Reenactors will conduct the landing ceremony, and Richard Lani [sic] (Its Lanni) will portray Menendez."

"We are making extra efforts this year to have a more authentic reenactment of the landing and presentation of the cross and flag," says Eric Johnson, Mission executive director. "There will be more pageantry, cannon fire and opportunity for those attending to participate in the ceremony. Mass is celebrated at the end to commemorate the celebration of the first parish Mass celebrated immediately after Menendez arrived 444 years ago."

For the past couple of years this hasn't the most fun event for me, so I'm skipping this years festivities. I wish them the best of luck.

Pedro Menendez’s landing to be reenacted

Press Release:

Pedro Menendez’s landing to be reenacted

September 3rd through 5th, St. Augustine will celebrate its 444th birthday with three full days of special events and activities.

This year’s birthday events will focus attention on the Native Americans who lived here before, during and after the arrival of the Spanish settlers. As always, the reenactment of Pedro Menendez’s landing in 1565 will be followed by a celebration of Mass and demonstrations of culture and lifestyles of natives who were already here when Menendez arrived.

St. Augustine has set a remarkable record for endurance that is unmatched in American history. Despite hurricanes, wars, plagues and countless pirate raids, the city has survived and flourished continuously since September 8, 1565 when its birth was proclaimed by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles.

Celebrating Those Who Were Already Here

Of course, the Spaniards were not the first to think of the St. Augustine area as “home.” When the Menendez expedition arrived, Native Americans known as the Timucua had been living there for at least 500 years. In fact, from the first moments of their arrival, the Spaniards encountered the residents of Seloy, a large Timucuan village located at the present site of the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park. From 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday, September 3-4, the park will feature exhibits and living history presentations highlighting the culture of the Timucuas, as well as the Seminoles and other U.S. Indian tribes that have been part of Florida’s history. In addition, from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, an Indian Pow Wow honoring Native American traditions that are part of the city’s history will be held at the park. Admission is free to all of these events. The Fountain of Youth Archeological Park is located at 11 Magnolia Avenue, just off San Marco Avenue (A1A) in St. Augustine.

Landing Reenactment & Celebration of Mass

A full day of birthday activities begins on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at the Mission of Nombre de Dios when authentically-clad Spanish soldiers gather along the shoreline to greet the city’s founder, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, who will arrive shortly aboard an authentic re-creation of a 16th century ship’s boat. To the sound of cannon firing and cheers, Menendez will step ashore at the exact landing point where the Spanish colonists landed in 1565. In an accurate portrayal of the founding of the place he had earlier named San Agustin, Menendez will kneel and kiss the cross brought forward by Father Lopez, the fleet’s chaplain, and proclaim possession of the land in the name of the King of Spain.
Following the landing, Mayor Joe Boles will read a proclamation from the City of St. Augustine and there will be a presentation by Dr. Susan Parker, Executive Director, St. Augustine Historical Society. Next, just as it was 444 years ago, a celebration of Mass will take place at an outdoor wooden altar by the water’s edge. Father Thomas Walsh, Pastor of San Sebastian Catholic Church, will celebrate Mass at the location where Father Lopez performed the first Mass in what is now the United States. Today, a 208 foot stainless steel cross erected to celebrate the city’s 400th birthday in 1965 towers above the Mission Nombre de Dios, located at 27 Ocean Avenue just off San Marco Avenue.

16th Century Cooking Contest

Fifty-five years before the Pilgrims sat down for a Thanksgiving feast, the good people of St. Augustine had already established the same tradition with their neighbors the Timucuas. In honor of that truly first Thanksgiving, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park will host a cooking contest featuring meals created from 16th century recipes. On Saturday, from 6-9 p.m., the prepared food will be judged and there will be plenty of sampling of the Spanish flavors along with demonstrations of the traditions that have influenced the culinary culture of St. Augustine. Authentic 16th Century dinners will be available for purchase and period music and dancing will be performed throughout the evening. For information on entering the contest, call 904.669.1485.
Admission is free to all of the activities related to the celebration of St. Augustine’s 444th birthday.

Columbus Quincenternary T-shirt

Clearly we're in the summer doldrums reenactment-wise as the Menendez Landing event in St. Augustine isn't until next Saturday and I'm posting a T-shirt picture. This is actually my favorite "first encounter' 'logo'. I bought this when I was working in the Dominican Republic in 1992/93 and is honoring the Columbus quincentenary.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Seinfeld Conquistadors

From the Seinfeld episode, "The Movie"

Elaine joins George in the queue.

Elaine: I've been *dying* to see ``CheckMate''.

George: Well, if it's as good as ``Ponce de Leon'', I'll be happy.

Elaine: ``Ponce de Leon'', are you kidding me? I hated that movie!

George: ``Ponce de Leon''? But that was great!

Elaine: Oh, . That Fountain of Youth scene at the end, where they're all splashin' around, and then they go running over to the mirror to see if it really worked? I mean, come on! [laughing too hard to continue] That's stupid!

George: Lemme tell you sum'in. When Ponce looked in that mirror and saw that he hadn't changed, and that tear started to roll down his cheek? ... I lost it.

Apparently, a movie that can be interpreted on two levels.

....and from the episode "The Boyfriend"

George: "Magellan? You like Magellan?"

Jerry: "Oh yeah, my favorite explorer. Around the world, come on. Who do you like?"
George: I like DeSoto.

Jerry: DeSoto? What did he do?

George: He discovered Mississippi.

Jerry: Yeah, like they wouldn't have found that anyway.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

De Soto's Boat Under Construction

There was an article in the Bradenton Herald yesterday,( Tuesday, August 25, page8D) on the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez. Of particular note was the photo of the boat under construction that De Soto National Memorial has commissioned. The boat is about 25 feet long with a plank hull.

Monday, August 24, 2009

More photos of the 2009 de Luna Landing

I can't help myself, more photos of the 2009 De Luna landing 'reenactment' from over a week ago. This one is an actual sequence showing the landing. Clearly the individuals involved are trying to do a serious and reasonable job, as compared to some things I've witnessed, they're doing a good job. Still its clear that they have a long road to go, such as getting a correct flag, and wearing period clothing instead of costumes.

Alex & Carol 1559 PENSACOLA 2009 de Luna landing reenactment
Spanish sailor Don Tristán de Luna stepped ashore in Pensacola on August 15 1559 ...

I hope we can do much better for the Ponce de Leon 500th landing reenactment.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Did de Soto sleep in your backyard?

In the news: a story about a proposal to do additional archaeological survey work around the neighborhood of the De Soto Winter Encampment site in Tallahassee.

Mary Ann Lindley: Did de Soto sleep in your backyard?
Tallahassee Democrat - Tallahassee,FL,USA
... be an extension of the remarkable Hernando de Soto Spanish Winter Encampment Site that occurred in 1539-1540 — and put Tallahassee on the map in 1987. ...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

DeLuna lands again

Another news story & photos of the 450th landing 'reenactment'

DeLuna lands again
Gulf Breeze News - Gulf Breeze,FL,USA
This time, Don Tristan de Luna stepped onto shore at Pensacola Beach as part of Celebrate Pensacola's commemoration of Pensacola's 450th anniversary. ...

The Death March of De Soto

After years of looking I finally found a copy of "The Death March of De Soto" episode form the Archaeology television series of the early 1990's. The video, actually a combination of "Death March" and a related"Florida's Lost Empire" retitled as Gold, God and Glory was only $0.98 + shipping and even if it was VHS how could I resist. So the tape arrived and dug through the garage to find a working VHS player and got a chance to check it out since I hadn't seen it since its original airing c.1992. I recalled specifically seeing a recreation of the 'Battle of Mabila' sequence and I wanted to check it out.

The credits note Bruce Kuerten and Auburn University television for the De Soto recreation segments, which were all too short. I'm pretty sure this was all stock footage from a couple of films by the aforementioned Mr. Kuerten, Lost in Time and First Frontier, also known as the 'Auburn film' in the Florida reenactment community c.198; well before I got into it. I've tried to get those films via interlibrary loan on a couple of occasions to no avail (per the local reference librarian, due to theft problems old irreplaceable tapes don't tend to get loaned out) not can I find an online version much less a DVD. Perhaps someday I 'll get a chance to review the whole thing.

From what I could see of the all too brief segment, a couple of minutes at best with voice over narration the Mabila set looked pretty impressive, the Native American warriors were reasonable in appearance , the Spaniards looked a little more 1560's than 1540's, i.e. combed morions and high crested burgonets and some later style 16th C. clothing as well. in fact I suspect some of the same armor, weapons, and actors as well -were used on the St. Augustine Dream of Empire/Struggle to Survive project also from the early 1980's. I may at some point try to freeze fram it an play spot the reenactor, I'm pretty sure I spotted, much younger versions of Brian Bowman and Bob Hall.

For someone like me who's been studying the subject since about the time this show was produced in 1992, I didn't really learn anything new. Most of the talking heads on the show have since retired from academia. The skeletal wound shots were fascinating, if morbid and all too brief. At least there wasn't any staged archaeology were the cameras happen to be when the big discovery is made.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

De Luna Landing "reenactment"

In the News:

Claimed for Spain: Event marks 1559 founding of Pensacola

Saturday morning, under ominous skies at Pensacola Beach, Don Tristan de Luna and his three-person crew attempted to row their boat ashore to claim Pensacola for Spain. The costumed re-enactors struggled to maneuver the small vessel, riding low in the water and missing an oar lock, before getting a discreet tow from a nearby motorboat....

Well at least its not this:

Of more interest to readers of this group, I suspect, some video of the archeology of the second De Luna wreck site

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ebay reenactment Commercial

Sunday Funnies:

Sometimes the ebay reenactment commercial from several years ago seems all too familar:

and a look behind the scenes

Friday, August 14, 2009

De Luna statue unveiled

The New Tristan de Luna statue was unveiled in Pensacola Thursday.

A view from the front and the back.

To be honest I'm not too sure about baldric holding the sword or the sword hilt for that matter as being correct for the 1560's, still not too bad a representation.

And here's a very short interview about the Luna expedition with about half of it wasted on morning show 'happy talk'.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Highway Marker Salutes 16th Century Spanish Fort

I just got this press release:

Highway Marker Salutes 16th Century Spanish Fort

RALEIGH – In a place called Xuala, Joara, Cuena, and now Morganton, the 16th century Spanish explorer Capt. Juan Pardo and his men constructed a fort. Garrisoned with 30 soldiers and called Fort San Juan, it was the largest of several fortifications Pardo constructed. Within two years all were destroyed. The memory of Fort San Juan will be honored by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources with a N. C. Highway Historical Marker dedication on Aug. 15, at 11 a.m., at McDowell House on St. Mary’s Church Rd. The marker will stand at Green St. and Bost Rd. in Morganton.

In May 1568, word reached Santa Elena, now Parris Island, Fla., that the forts had been destroyed by American Indians for reasons unknown. Evidence suggests that during the 18 months the Spanish made too many demands on their hosts and may have behaved inappropriately with native women. Today the archaeological site near Morganton continues to produce artifacts that support the theory that the tract was the location of Fort San Juan The 12 acre tract, known as the Berry Site, belongs to the Berry family and has yielded artifacts including Spanish olive jars, pieces of chain mail, pipes, and other articles consistent with long-term occupation. The excavated buildings are appropriate to a 16th century Spanish fort, and more significantly, the buildings were all burned at the same time.

Each summer the public is invited to volunteer at the Berry Site for an archaeological field school. The site has born many names as a result of early European and American Indian contact. By any name it is among premier archaeological site in America.

For additional information about the marker dedication, contact Dr. David Moore at (828) 298-3325. For information about the Highway Marker Program, contact Ansley Wegner at (919) 807-7290.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pensacola 450 in in the News

Celebrating 450 years
Pensacola News Journal
Aug. 15, 1559, landing of Spanish conquistador Don Tristan de Luna on the shores of what is now known as Pensacola Bay. While some of the events to date have ...

The big day is Saturday — 450 years since the Aug. 15, 1559, landing of Spanish conquistador Don Tristan de Luna on the shores of what is now known as Pensacola Bay.

While some of the events to date have been ticketed affairs, Celebrate Pensacola's last shebang is focused on providing free, family fun for residents and visitors of all ages, Lee said.

The kickoff to the big party begins at 5 p.m. Thursday with the unveiling of a bronze statute of a Spanish conquistador at Plaza de Luna. The statue is to serve as the permanent legacy of the 450th anniversary....

....Saturday's festivities begin with an 8:30 a.m. re-enactment of Luna's landing and a Catholic Mass at Fort Pickens gate on Pensacola Beach...."

I note that at Pensacola's Fiesta of Five Flags held in early June (same weekend as of Drake's Raid in St. Augustine) that ..."The DeLuna Landing Ceremony is a light hearted re-enactment of what might have happened when Don Tristan de Luna landed." This is presented by a local Mardi Gras style 'Krewe'. Has anybody heard of a 'serious' reenactment group being involved in next weekend's landing event? With all the great archeology coming out of the Emanuel Point wrecks it would be a shame if the reenactment is absolutely farbulous.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Drake's Raid Video

We're definitely in the summer doldrums right now, and no major events until early September. I missed the annual Drake's Raid in St. Augustine this year for the first time since the early 1990's due to the flu. But I found some video of the event.

This one is of Brad Rivard firing one of his small breech loading versos.
A small Spanish canon, Drakes Raid

Elizabeth Neily (floridafrontiers) has put together and posted a well made Drakes Raid 2009.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Comfortable Conquistador Clothing 2

Again this is from: History of the Indies Bartolome de las Casas. Collard, Andrée M. trans. & ed.
Harper Torch Books, New York, New York 1971

c.1511 Darién (Panama)

"The messenger asked for Vasco Núñez [Balboa]. 'There he is.' someone said. pointing to a man dressed in a cotton blouse over a linen shirt and wearing hemp sandals and coarse breeches [not trousers? ;)], who was looking on and helping his slaves at thatching a house. The man stared, for he could not believe that was the Vasco Núñez, whose exploits and riches were so famous in Castile that he expected to see him seated on a majestic throne."

I just wish that Las Casas would be as specific as to what 'armor' was being worn.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Northern Most Known Bastion of Spanish Florida Marker

Hhere's a nice little site on the Santa Elena/Charlesfort site at Parris Island, South Carolina

Northern Most Known Bastion of Spanish Florida Marker

Both the Fort and the settlement were abandoned in 1587 when the inhabitants were withdrawn to St. Augustine to strengthen its defenses following Sir Francis Drake's raid of the previous year. Erected by Beaufort County Historical ...

DeSoto is car not a Conquistador!

A news item reminds me that "DeSoto" is a car and not a conquistador, though "Soto" is actually proper but as a practical matter "De Soto" is in and will continue to be in common use.

THIS WEEK IN MICHIGAN HISTORY DeSoto is founded in 1928 by Chrysler

Detroit Free Press
The mid-range priced auto was named after the Hernando De Soto -- a 16th-Century Spanish conquistador whose explorations took him to North and South America ...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Three 450th Committees!

The 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine in 1565 is coming up along with the 500th anniversary of discover of Florida in 2015 and 2013 respectively. I noticed that in an editorial in yesterday's the St. Augustine Record that there were three Committees dedicated to this historic commemoration.

The State of Florida and City of St. Augustine official has the, St.Augustine 450th Commemoration Steering Committee and there is also a local 450 Community Corps which has lots of ideas, and finally the Federal government has a St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission in the works.

Given the nature of current funding realities I'm not expecting much in spite of some of the ambitious plans, like building a replica ship, that have been put forth. Like the Jamestown 400th celebration I suspect we'll see a bit of a mash-up of events and projects without a real focused objective, especially since the City hired one of the Jamestown organizers as a consultant. A number of us from Florida had planned to join in the festivities in Virgina, going so far as to travel in 2006 for training at the State's Jamestown Settlement. I found the staff at the Fort to be wonderful. Like most reenactors I've picked up interpretive skills through osmosis rather than any formal training, I found Jamestown's classes eye-opening. But it was also clear that circumstances beyond their control; security concerns, crowd control, construction and simply not being in charge of the overall celebration, we couldn't get a straight answer about exactly what we would be able to do, and quite a bit of what we couldn't not do, less than a few months out from the event and concluded that it wasn't going to worth the expense and effort. I'm not sorry that I went to the training and from what I've heard from those who did attend the 400th Landing Day they had a good time, then again I was spared the horror of Ba-Baaah and the Windigo.

Coming up even sooner than St. Augustine's 450th is Florida's quincentennial. In due course several years ago a law was passed creating a Discovery of Florida Quincentennial Commemoration Act which required a commission to produce "An initial draft of the [master]plan by May 2009... with the completed master plan submitted to such officials by May 2010. needless to say, no funding was apparently ever appropriated nor near as I can tell anyone ever appointed to said commission. In 2008 the Act was repealed. with the suggestion that a CSO, citizen support organization be established to "raise funds as well as assist the commission in other matters as deemed necessary." serve to raise funds as well. The only thing that I've found the State of Florida doing for its Quincentennial thus far is the Viva Florida website. Though I must say that I find it rather ironic that most of the photos is the "multimedia" section are from a De Soto Winter Encampment event several years ago, an annual event that was discontinued last year do to lack of, pretty minimal, funding.

Of course the c.1990's Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission which was generally considered a fiasco.

Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee statement of Richard C. Stiener, Director, Office of Special Investigations, ...

I hope that a more modest success is in the offing for the St. Augustine 450 & Florida 500 anniversaries.