Florida's French Huguenots

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VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Florida\'s French Huguenots

As some on this board may know, but not many American in general, the French Huguenots were the first Protestants to colonize America and they did so in South Carolina and Florida in the 1560's. It is a much-neglected historical fact, but the US government has made an effort to acknowledge this important history by establishing two national parks/memorials in Florida which commemorate the French Huguenot colonies (Fort Caroline and Fort Matanzas).

I noticed a couple of stories in the St. Augustine Record recently which seem to suggest that the French Huguenot aspect of Florida's beginnings is gaining some attention.
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Crew filming in St. Augustine (St. Augustine Record, 11/18/04)

By DEE MACPHERSON
Intern

click photo to enlarge
FLAGLER STUDENT and costume intern Kit Pennington adjusts the costume of actor Ray Towells on Wednesday during a break from taping in St. Augustine for an upcoming History Channel docudrama on the conquest of the Southeast.
By Peter WILLOTT, Staff

St. Augustine will get national television exposure in March with the airing of a History Channel docudrama being filmed here this week.

"Conquest of the Southeast" is one of three films slated for production in the area in the next six months.

Director Lisa Wolfinger of South Portland, Maine, and her crew have been shooting the hour-long special at Guana Beach, Fort Caroline in Jacksonville, and Lambias House and Castillo de San Marcos in downtown St. Augustine.

"It will be exciting for the people of St. Augustine to see their history played out on television," she said during a break Wednesday in filming at Lambias House.

Her company, Lone Wolf Documentary Group, is filming a documentary for the History Channel on the "Conquest of America." The series is scheduled to air March 28-29.

The installment they are filming here tells the story of the rise and fall of the Spanish Empire in Florida. Wolfinger, who wrote the script, said she wanted to depict part of St. Augustine's history without focusing on Christopher Columbus.

"It's about France's attempt to conquer a small part of the New World for themselves," she said, explaining the conflict between Spain and French Huguenots over control of this area.

click photo to enlarge
HISTORICAL SPANISH re-enactors Louis Pujals, Robert Hall, John Ryder, Lynn Wayman and James Ravoira talk Wednesday during a break from taping in St. Augustine for an upcoming History Channel docudrama on the conquest of the Southeast.
By Peter WILLOTT, Staff

Two independent films also are scheduled to be filmed here in the next six months. Filming for "Moving McCallister" begins next month in rural St. Johns County, and shooting for "Things that Hang from Trees" starts in March or April, said Rick Ambrose, owner of St. Augustine Production and Location Services.

One film a year usually is filmed in St. Augustine, he said.

The area is attractive to filmmakers because of the variety of "looks" the city has to offer, from Victorian to Texan, Ambrose said.

"There are just such lovely locations here," he said. "You can have a lot of different looks."

A city official said film production in the area will have short- and long-term impacts on the economy.

"Any time that we can be associated with something called 'history,' that's what we want," said Paul Williamson, public affairs director for the City of St. Augustine.

On average, $25,000 is generated for local businesses each day a film crew is in town, said Todd Roobin, chief of the Jacksonville Film and Television Office.

Wolfinger said she was pleased that many local residents know the story of the conflict between the Spanish and the French.

"This is a wonderful story, and it has never been told in this kind of detail," she said.

The director used local re-enactors as extras in the movie, including people like Brian Smith, 53, who was dressed as a soldier.

Smith, a school teacher, said his costume was a precise replica of uniforms worn in 1565. Buttons, armor and belt buckles are so true to the period that director Wolfinger was impressed.

Re-enactor Jon Williams, 46, said the extras strived to create an exact representation of what the uniforms were like in the 1500s.

"Even the sweat is authentic," he said.
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Letter: Remember the Huguenots (St. Augustine Record, 11/03/04)

Lacie Schaeffer
Western Pennsylvania

Editor: First of all, let me say that I read the "St. Augustine Record" online almost every day and it helps me feel closer to the city that I love. Three visits to St. Augustine have not quenched my wonder at the historic beauty of this awesome place.

My letter concerns an ancient but neglected story: The Huguenot presence. It's as if the name is still shunned in this fair city, just as the French founders to this country were shunned by the Hispanic populace.Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love St. Augustine's Spanish ambiance and wouldn't do a thing to change it. My problem is that no one seems to mention the fact that, if it were not for the massacre of the French Huguenots just 15 miles from St. Augustine, our fair city would not exist: Consecrated by blood.

I'm not asking for much. Just that someone recognize these brave men who had the courage to die for what they believed in. How many of us today would have that courage? I'm sure not all the Spanish settlers condoned this behavior, but far too many did. Let's change this in the present day. Let's band together and remember those who set the founding of our country into action. Make a special ceremony, perhaps ask those who would be willing to fund a larger memorial at the site of the death of so many.I look forward to another visit to lovely San Agustin. Thank for your time.

[Edited on 12/4/2004 by fredtgreco]
 

RickyReformed

Puritan Board Freshman
Andrew,

I remember listening to a lecture on church history by a professor at Miami Internationa Seminary who stated that the Huguenots also established a colony in South America, which did not flourish (I forget the details.) Do you know anything about that?
About the only detail I remember is that the Huguenots left for South America due to persecution and they were reluctant to share their faith with the natives that they befriended. The lectures were in Spanish and the professor's name was Cornelius Hegema.

Thank you,
Ricky
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by RickyReformed
Andrew,

I remember listening to a lecture on church history by a professor at Miami Internationa Seminary who stated that the Huguenots also established a colony in South America, which did not flourish (I forget the details.) Do you know anything about that?
About the only detail I remember is that the Huguenots left for South America due to persecution and they were reluctant to share their faith with the natives that they befriended. The lectures were in Spanish and the professor's name was Cornelius Hegema.

Thank you,
Ricky

Hi Ricky,

Yes, I am familiar with that Huguenot colony. One member of that colony also helped settle the Florida and South Carolina colonies - Nicholas Barre. The 1555 Huguenot settlement in Brazil was the founding of Rio de Janeiro and it was the first Protestant colony in the New World. It was settled in part by missionaries sent from Geneva. It had a disastrous ending because the leader of the colony betrayed the Protestant cause, executed certain faithful Protestant colonists (the first Protestant martyrs in the New World who also happened to write the first Protestant Confession in the New World) and then the Portuguese wiped them out. The colony was known as France Antarctique. Jean de Lery, a Huguenot minister, wrote a History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil, which is a primary reference on the subject of 16th century Brazilian Indians (de Lery was by no means reluctant to share his faith with the natives; on the contrary, he was quite evangelistic in the vein of Paul at Areopagus). See this link for additional details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France_Antarctique
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Today is the anniversary of the first landing of French Huguenots in America on April 30, 1562 at the shores near Jacksonville, Florida.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
You're welcome. The History Channel's version of the battle between French Huguenots and Spanish Catholics for control of Florida appeared on TV recently. It's now available on DVD.

And there are two US national parks (Ft. Caroline and Ft. Matanzas) near Jacksonville and St. Augustine dedicated to preserving the memory of the Huguenot colonies, as well as archeological exploration which continues at Parris Island in South Carolina, the site of the first French Huguenot colony in America (1562), known as Charlesfort.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by turmeric
Did the Hugeunots name the city St. Augustine?:cool:

The city of St. Augustine was named by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, leader of the Spanish forces who came to destroy the Huguenots. He established it as a base camp from which to massacre the French Huguenots who were already settled in nearby Fort Caroline. He named it St. Augustine because he arrived at Florida on the "feast day" of St. Augustine, August 28, 1565. The city was founded on September 8, 1565 and its founding is celebrated there annually. The city has the title of "oldest continual European city" in America, but it was founded a year and a half after the Huguenots established their colony.

[Edited on 4-30-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Apart from the French Huguenot colony near present-day Jacksonville, Florida in the 1560's, there was a separate French Huguenot colony in British West Florida in what is now the town of Campbellton. It lasted from 1766 to 1770.

From Florida: from the beginning to 1992 by William S. Coker:

In 1765, a group of French Huguenots in England petitioned for land on which to grow grapes and silkworms. They requested passage, clothing, toolsand temporary subsistence. Lt. Gov. Browne, before he left England, became involved in the French plans. Some 48 immigrants sailed on the galley Red Head and arrived at Pensacola in mid-January 1766. Rev. Peter Levrier accompanied them as pastor and schoolmaster. Gov. Johnstone provided them with 20,000 acres of land on the Escambia River, and Durnford laid outthe new town for them. Campbell Town was made an electoral district and elected two people to the first four assemblies, although virtually every election there was contested. Unfortunately, the land at Campbell Town was not very fertile. Also, the residents suffered much sickness, which might have been malaria or yellow fever. By 1770, only a few persons remained there. The others had either died or moved elsewhere.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Has anyone ever seen the Cross and Sword, Florida's state play? It tells the story of the Spanish victory over the French Huguenots at Fort Caroline which led to the founding of St. Augustine. I am interested to learn more about the play and its historical accuracy. Thanks.
 

Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
Next week we will learn about the Huguenots in our Reformation history class at NWTS. My husband and I are auditing the class. It has been very interesting. :up:
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by Puritanhead
The only Frenchmen I really like.... Huguenots!!! To bad their countrymen aren't hospitable to them.

Yes, I agree. It has been like that since the most famous Huguenot of all, John Calvin, was forced to flee the land of his nativity. When France wiped out the Huguenots, they shot themselves in the foot and sowed the seeds of their own destruction, except they repent.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by VirginiaHuguenot
Has anyone ever seen the Cross and Sword, Florida's state play? It tells the story of the Spanish victory over the French Huguenots at Fort Caroline which led to the founding of St. Augustine. I am interested to learn more about the play and its historical accuracy. Thanks.

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