From September of 1565 to May of 1566 the Spanish colonists under Pedro Menéndez made their settlement at Seloy’s town. During that time they fought and expelled the French settlers at Fort Caroline, converted Seloy’s council house into a fort, and used St. Augustine as a base for exploration of other parts of Florida.

The colonists—most of whom were men—came equipped to establish a Spanish way of life, but quickly turned to their Timucua hosts for food, cooking pottery and wives. Relations between the Spaniards and the Timucua deteriorated quickly, and the Timucua began to make repeated attacks on the Spaniards to drive them away.

Just nine months after their arrival, the Spaniards decided to move their town across St. Augustine bay to Anastasia Island, where they felt safer from Indian attack. Although occupied for six years, no trace of that town site has yet been found.

Menéndez established another town in 1566, that of Santa Elena, located on what is now Parris Island, South Carolina. This was the new capital of La Florida until 1577, and St. Augustine was a small military garrison.





Artist's rendering of Juanillo
Juanillo: African interpreter and Indian captive

The man known as “Juanillo” was a black sailor and victim of a shipwreck sometime before 1562. He survived the wreck, but was taken captive by the Timucuan Chief Saturiwa, whose seat of power was near present day Jacksonville. Juanillo learned the Timucuan language during his time with Saturiwa, and was rescued in 1565 by Pedro Menéndez. He was put on the military roster at St. Augustine and served as an interpreter until 1567, when he left Florida for Puerto Plata in Hispaniola.

Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales

Artist's rendering of Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales
Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales: Secular priest

Father López came to Florida in 1565 as the chaplain of Pedro Menéndez, and became the first pastor of St. Augustine. On September 8 of 1565, he celebrated the first Mass in the colony, an event that marked the formal establishment of the town. López was accompanied by three other secular priests, including Rodrigo García Trujillo and Pedro de Rueda. The role of the secular priests was to minister to the spiritual needs and well being of the Spanish colonists, while conversion and missionization of the Indians were undertaken by members of the regular orders (in the case of Florida, Jesuits and Franciscans).

Martín de Arguelles

Artist's rendering of Martin de Arguelles
Martín de Arguelles: Soldier and family man

Martín de Arguelles was a soldier and a loyal associate of Pedro Menéndez and, like Menéndez, he came from the Asturias region of northwestern Spain. Martín, his wife Leonor de Morales and their children Sancho and Gerónima were among the original members of the 1565 expedition. The following year, Leonor gave birth to their son Martinico, who was the first Spanish child born in Florida, possibly at the Seloy village site. By 1567, Martín de Arguelles was the mayor (alcalde) of the relocated St. Augustine, and also owned a tavern.


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