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.
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
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
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.
The following resources include only a few of the many works that have been written on these topics. We have chosen those you see here because they are relatively recent (or have continued as enduring classics), they are published in easily accessible formats, and they are generally non-technical in their presentation. These sources will also lead you to many more popular and scholarly publications on these topics.
Most of these resources can be found through your public library. Other useful sites for locating many of these readings include the University Press of Florida and the St. Augustine Historical Society. For a complete list of archaeological sources, visit the Florida Museum Historical Archaeology site.
Chaney, Edward and Kathleen Deagan. 1989 St. Augustine and the La Florida colony: new life-styles in a new land. In First Encounters: Spanish Exploration in the Caribbean and the United States, 1492-1570, edited by Jerald T. Milanich and Susan Milbrath. University Press of Florida, Gainesville pp.166-82.
Notes: Excavations between 1985 and 1988 at the Menéndez campsite, 1565-66.
Lyon, Eugene. 1997 The first three wooden forts of St. Augustine, 1565-1571. El Escribano 34:130-48.
Notes: A detailed presentation of information from newly-discovered documents that clarified the sequence and nature of St. Augustine’s earliest forts. Published by the St. Augustine Historical Society.
Lyon, Eugene. 1996 Settlement and survival. in The new history of Florida. edited by M. Gannon. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. pp. 40-62.
Notes: A summary of historical information about the founding of St. Augustine under Menéndez and the ensuing settlement of the sixteenth century