I had an interesting day today. It was raining in the morning and I was happy not to be on the road. My first was going to see the Mission of San Luis de Apalachee.
I learnt a lot about the history of Florida and also about America. After America was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 as early as 1513 Ponce de León landed near Cape Canaveral and named the land La Florida, meaning the flowery upon landing here in the Easter season, Pasquale Florida. In 1521 the Calusa Indians repel the Spaniards and Ponce was mortally wounded.
1539 Hernando de Soto landed in the Tampa Bay Area and explored the Southern Part of America for the next 6 years. See more information in an earlier blog.
In 1562 the French explorer Jean Ribault lands at the mouth of the St. John Rivers and in 1565 French settlers led by René de Laudonnière built Fort Caroline near present day Jacksonville.
After St. Augustine is founded in 1565 by Pedro Menendez de Aviles the Spaniards attack Fort Caroline and banish the French. This led to an over 140 years of Spanish influence in Florida.
In 1573 Franciscan friars arrived and started to establish missions all over the Northern part of Florida.
In 1633 two Franciscan friars establish the first permanent mission in Apalachee, San Luis was likely founded. At that time more than 15,000 Apalachees were living in the region and 85% converted to Catholicism:
All the missions were connected through El Camino Real in the 1600s:
European and Native American Culture met and co-existed:
In 1704 the British invaded the area and the Mission was destroyed and abandoned by the Spanish and the Apalachees. This was the beginning of the end of the Apalachees:
In 1932 only 14 Apalachees were still living, hiding in LA. Today there are only about 200 Apalachees living.
Now it gets really interesting. When I was entering the Civic Center there was a small group of people inside. In most of the reconstructed buildings there are actors dressed in clothes of the Spaniards from that time. The actor welcomed me and introduced me to Chief Bennett and his older brother TJ, two of the very few descendants of the Apalachees. TJ was telling all the history of his tribe and it was really fascinating. What a coincidence. They only visit this site irregularly and their last visit was 3 years ago. They wanted to show this place to their children. I had a longer discussion with TJ about the history and his personal history (Army Vet, stationed in Germany). He was also interested in my bike ride and we just had a good time:
In 1763, Spain traded Florida to the Kingdom of Great Britain to gain control of Havana, Cuba which was captured by British during the Seven Years’ War.
Spain regained E and W Florida after Britain’s defeat in the American Revolution and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles in 1783 until 1821, but Florida became a burden to Spain, which could not afford to send settlers or garrisons. Madrid therefore decided to cede the territory to the United States through the Adams-Onis Treaty. Florida became a US territory. In 1830 the US Congress passed the Indian Removal Act (see earlier blog about the trail of tears). The Seminoles resisted which led to three wars, the Seminole Wars.
In 1845 Florida became the 27th State of the Union and the Capitol was built. This is were I was heading next:
Florida was the 3rd state to secede from the Union and the Capitol was the last Confederate Capitol to be taken by the Union.
In the 20th century FL had remarkable growth and is now the fourth-most populous state in the United States.
Tomorrow,weather permitting I will be back on the bike for the home stretch. It will be flat from now on. Yupeeh!