Thursday, September 10, 2015

Farewell to the 450th

As we hope everybody knows, this weekend was the celebration of the 405th anniversary of the founding of the city of St Augustine with the landing of the Adelantado Pedro Menendez de Aviles. Of course, Tolomato Cemetery wasn’t established at that time, and it was not for another 150 years that the refugee Indians from La Natividad de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Tolomato would be settled on the site of the current cemetery.  Still, the historical connections run back through the families buried there, and also reflect the continuing story of St Augustine.

In fact, Tolomato Cemetery hosted one of the few events of the weekend that had any connection with St Augustine’s real history.  The cemetery was the objective of a procession from St Photios shrine to commemorate the Greek arrival in St Augustine and to bless the graves of all of the St Augustinians buried there.


Greeks? At Tolomato? Yes, St Augustine had a fairly significant Greek population in the 18th century because of the arrival of the Minorcans in 1777.  While most of the Minorcans were actually from Minorca, many were from other parts of the Mediterranean, including Greece. The name of the group comes from the fact that Dr. Andrew Turnbull, the British-period indigo plantation owner, shipped the group out from the formerly Spanish island of Minorca, which was controlled by the British at that time as a result of the same war that had given them control of St Augustine. 

Dr. Turnbull had been the British consul in the Ottoman Empire prior to coming to the American continent, and had married a Greek woman from Smyrna.  This is the reason that he named the colony New Smyrna Beach.


Dr. Turnbull felt that Greeks would be able to tolerate the heat of Florida better than other groups of laborers that the British used.  So they set off for Greece to recruit laborers, but for various reasons were not able to get the number of workers they needed.  So they seem to have sailed the Mediterranean, gathering up immigrants from Sardinia, Sicily and other parts of Italy, and even a Corsican or two…and of course, Minorcans. 

Eight years later, the survivors of this group would arrive in St Augustine and become a distinctive and foundational part of the city’s life.

This year, the commemoration of the Greek arrival was particularly spectacular. The above photos, taken by Nick McAuliffe, give you some glimpses of the celebration, which was organized by our good friend Polly Hillier of St Photios Shrine, whom you see above, addressing the group.  Brooke Radaker took the photo below, where you see the members of the Cantorae St. Augustine, directed by Mary Jane Ballou, singing a Greek hymn as the procession enters.


We had a beautiful gathering of clergy, walking together to bless the graves in this special place and showing once again the wide diversity of St Augustine’s founding population.  Here we see the Orthodox Bishop Demetrious with the Catholic Bishop of St Augustine, Bp. Felipe Estevez (who was born in Cuba, a place closely tied to St Augustine), Fr. Tom Willis, who is the rector of the Cathedral, and Fr. Nicholas Louh of the Greek Orthodox Church.  Louise Kennedy took the photos below.

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They were accompanied by official representatives of the Greek community, and Mayor Nancy Shaver initiated the event by reading a proclamation honoring the Greek landing day. Below, Fr. Nicholas places a flower on a vault.

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There were so many striking photos it was hard to know which to pick.  Here are the two bishops again, in front of the Varela Chapel.

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The procession included Greek dancers, who later performed on the stage on the Plaza.

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The grave blessing at Tolomato was actually part of a larger Orthodox memorial service, which had begun at St Photios Shrine with the prayers and hymns that are traditionally used in this service (which also form part of the funeral service).  It concluded at Tolomato with the blessing and further hymns, and then with something that most non-Greeks were seeing for the first time:  the serving of kolyva. This is a mixture of cooked wheat berries (whole grains of wheat), sesame seeds, nuts, raisins or other dried fruits, pomegranate seeds, sugar or honey and bitter spices.  It is blessed and served in small cups after a memorial service and on similar occasions, since wheat represents the Resurrection and the symbolism of sweetness and bitterness is deeply rooted in religious imagery.  It is a very ancient tradition, and appears not only in Greece and the Mediterranean traditions, but among all of the Slavic peoples as well.  Here’s a sample…I wish we had some sort of tasting device on our IPhones, because it is actually very tasty!


So that was how we celebrated the 450th at Tolomato Cemetery – with a little real, living history!


Monday, August 17, 2015

Sister City Cemeteries

Aviles, Spain is one of St Augustine’s sister cities – and perhaps even the most important one, since our 16th century founder, Pedro Menéndez, was from Avilés.  To commemorate this connection during this 450th anniversary year, several members of the St Augustine Archaeological Association took a trip to Aviles to view archaeological work being done in that city.  Our generous hosts showed us everything from prehistoric cave paintings to Roman ruins to pre-Romanesque churches, and even took us down into a modern archaeological site, a 19th and early 20th century coal mine that has been excavated and turned into a museum of early industry.  Next year, some Avilés archaeologists will come to St Augustine, and we’ll show them what we have…not as old, by any means, but certainly interesting.  In this photo, you see some of the group, along with our host, Román Álvarez, surveying modern Avilés.

Aviles View

Naturally, one of the things we will show them is Tolomato Cemetery, since we hope to have even more information about it by next year.  Work is due to begin soon on the repair of the fence and wall, and the city archaeologist, Carl Halbirt, will do a small dig along the front wall to see what information he can…dig up. Groan – I had to say it! 

Next year, a graduate student is also planning to base his thesis on a Ground Penetrating Radar study of Tolomato, looking for the footings of the old mission chapel and bell tower as well as any other significant archaeological record that he can find.

But as we prepare to investigate Tolomato for our visitors, it’s worth spending a few minutes talking about the cemeteries of Avilés. 

Padres Franciscanos

As in St Augustine, pre-19th century burials were under or around the church.  In the above photo, we see the church where Pedro Menéndez is buried, in a marble urn high up on the wall; it is now known as the Iglesia de los Padres Franciscanos, but during the time of Menéndez, when it was his parish church, it was known as San Nicolás.

Iglesia Sabugo

In this photo, we see the side of a 13th century church, with gravestones clearly visible in the yard next to it.  This is the old Iglesia de Sabugo; the latter was the name of the village where Menéndez was born.  It was originally a separate fishing and maritime trades village located next to the larger commercial town of Avilés, but now it is simply a neighborhood in Avilés. The church is now closed, but archaeological work has found many burials around the church and under the floor.

And then we come to the world’s largest, most dramatic angel…as the 19th century cemetery arrives in all its glory!  This angel points to Heaven from its seat on the casket of the Marquise de San Juan de Nieva at the Cemeterio Municipal de La Carriona on the outskirts of Aviles.  This dramatic statue by 19th century Asturian sculptor Cipriano Folgueras was even a finalist in a recent Spanish cemetery art competition.


This cemetery was opened in 1890 when, as in St Augustine, burials were forbidden within the city of Avilés for health reasons.  It contains many huge monuments, some of them by well-known artists and sculptors of the time, as well as fields of more modest stones. Below is the grave of a local poet and author, Armando Palacio Valdés, where a mourning woman sits next to an excerpt from one of his poems, in which he urges the passer-by to leave a branch of honeysuckle in his memory. Someone has, in fact, left some flowers at the foot of the monument.


Below we see a crypt with stairs, so that people could descend to pay their respects to the deceased who were buried in niches under the crypt.


The cemetery is still in use and has regular burial services.  There is a chapel in the center of the cemetery that contains a catafalque, where the casket is placed during the funeral Mass or service. 


The cemetery is located on the top of a hill and is a dramatic sight in its own right.  Interestingly, it also has an interpretation center, and offers guided tours and programs on the cemetery, cemetery art and related matters.


But you don’t have to go all the way to Avilés if you’d like to find out more about our Sister City’s cemetery, which goes by the acronym CicLaC. All you have to do is click here for their Wikipedia site (in Spanish, of course) or here, for the very interesting site of the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe, an EU initiative which has links to fascinating cemeteries all over Europe.


Monday, July 13, 2015

An Unexpected California Cemetery

Last week, I had to make an unexpected trip to Santa Rosa, California, and while there, I came across a completely unexpected cemetery.  Called the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery, it is located in what may once have been a rural area, but certainly now appears to have been an established residential area for some time.  At first glance, it seems to serve more as a park for local residents than a cemetery – but as I wandered through this hilly, oak-tree covered refuge, I realized that it had indeed been a busy 19th and 20th century cemetery and in fact was even still in use as a burial place.


Santa Rosa is about 75 miles north of San Francisco, and the area was home to the Pomo Indians before the arrival of Europeans. Since the 18th century, there had been Spanish and Mexican ranchers in the area, which has its own Matanzas Creek – so named because the ranchers used to slaughter cattle at a point along the creek.  There were even Russians, strayed over from the Russian settlement at Fort Ross.  But the first formal settlement (1836) was the homestead of the Carrillo family, related to General Vallejo, founder of Sonoma and a man who had passed through three citizenships (Spain, Mexico and, finally, after California became a state in 1850, the United States) by the time of his death.


The town developed rapidly after statehood, and the cemetery was officially established in 1854.  It expanded and other adjoining plots of land were bought, although they were considered separate cemeteries and it was only sometime after the 1930s that they were all brought together as the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery.  There are over 5200 burials, and the plots are mapped and identified. While the cemetery is technically closed, the families that hold original titles to the plots are allowed to continue to use it for burials.  Below is a modern marker.


But the 19th century markers were the really interesting sights.  The cemetery has an unusual number of Civil War veterans, some of whom had volunteered from California and others who had emigrated to California from both North and South after the war. During the war, there was considerable conflict, although no fighting, in California between supporters of the South (who were more numerous in Southern California) and supporters of the Union. Most of the 160 or so Civil War burials are those of Union soldiers, although there are also about 15 Confederate soldiers buried at the Rural Cemetery.  Many of those buried here fought at Gettysburg, and a Gettysburg monument was even installed in the cemetery in 1910.  Tolomato visitors will recognize the old-style Veterans Administration marker belwo.


I was also struck by a very touching symbol that appeared on numerous markers: two hands clasping, sometimes in front of a cloud or nimbus-like shape.  This represented a farewell to earthly life and a welcome into eternity.


If you look closely, you will notice something that was not present on all of them and had a slightly different meaning. The cuff on the sleeve of one of the hands looks like a man’s shirt-cuff (sometimes even with cuff links!) while the cuff on the other hand appears to have lace or braid at the cuff, such as a woman’s dress would feature. This meant that the burial site was that of one or both of the members of married couple, with one of them welcoming the other to their reunion in their eternal home.


There were also lambs, birds and other symbols that had been meaningful to the families of the deceased, and I spent quite some time searching out the different symbols in the dappled light.  And I certainly wasn’t alone.  The cemetery was full of strollers, and on the way out, I discovered from a bulletin board set near the gate that it has a full program of activities.  Like Tolomato, it is maintained and curated mostly by a volunteer association, although the City of Santa Rosa helps with major projects.  And like Tolomato, it has docents – and some really neat activities!


So, in the unlikely event that I have to go to Santa Rosa again, I plan to check out the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery website first and see if I can fit in one of these tours.  And if you’re interested in knowing more about the cemetery, click on the link and you can see everything from little bios of interesting people buried there to a detailed plot map.  A highly recommended site!


Sunday, June 7, 2015

The 450th Anniversary At Tolomato Cemetery

As everyone knows, Tolomato Cemetery was first an Indian mission, La Natividad de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Tolomato, established by the Franciscans in the early 18th century to shelter the refugee Indians fleeing the British attacks on the mission chain in other parts of Florida. However, the first mission of that name was originally located in South Georgia  - Tolomato was a place name - and was one of the earliest missions founded after the arrival of the Spanish.


In fact, as you can see from the above plaque that is in the Spanish burial place of St Augustine’s founder, the Adelantado Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, the name of the mission reflected the founding of St Augustine.  The Spanish title, which translates as the “Nativity of Our Lady,” was given to commemorate the Catholic feast day when Menéndez formally landed, September 8 – the feast of the Birth of the Virgin. It was on this date that Menéndez was rowed up to the shore somewhere in the vicinity of the current Fountain of Youth and the Mission Shrine for the celebration of mass by the expedition’s chaplain, Padre Francisco López Mendoza de Grajales,  The mission in St Augustine that was located on that spot was, of course, Misión Nombre de Dios (Name of God), since Menéndez claimed the land “In the Name of God”, and subject to the Spanish Crown.  The land is still known by that name, although the mission is long gone and the only traces of the 17th century stone church on that site are parts of the floor uncovered in an archaeological dig last year.

So while Tolomato Cemetery is much later than our founding…the cemetery is “only” some 238 years old, having entered into use as a cemetery in 1777…we have a connection with that anniversary through the original founding date of St Augustine and the original name of the cemetery property.


As for his own burial, Pedro Menéndez is buried in Spain, where he died of typhus in 1574 while preparing the Armada to set sail for Flanders. Above is the church where he is currently buried, the Parish Church of St Nicholas, la Parroquia de San Nicolás, now staffed by the Franciscans. He was born in the neighborhood and baptized in the parish, and it was his last wish to be buried there. However, it took a long time for this to happen, since he died in another Northern Spanish city, Santander, and it was years before his body was returned to Avilés. A look at the rocks below, off coast of Aviles and the scene of hundreds of shipwrecks, will show you something about the conditions mariners faced on what is known in English as the Bay of Biscay.


Even then the posthumous travels of Menéndez were not over, because his body was moved several times subsequently for reasons ranging from a roof leak in the parish church to fears of desecration of his grave by hostile forces during the Spanish Civil War.


Even more confusingly, both of the Avilés churches in which his body reposed – the original parish church and another church about a half mile away off the Plaza Mayor of Avilés, which is shown above – were at one time or another known as San Nicolás and both of them were at one time or another staffed by Franciscans. So sometimes it’s a little difficult to sort out this complicated story!


However, in 1924, the remains of  the Adelantado Pedro Menéndez were placed in this carved marble urn, which in turn was placed in a niche high up on the wall near the pulpit, as you can see above. It remained there until it was removed and hidden during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. It was not immediately found again after the war, and it was only in the 1960s that it was moved back into the 1924 location, which is where it remains to this day.

The original casket was given by Avilés to the City of St Augustine in 1924 as a gesture of international friendship, and may be now seen in the museum at the Mission.  Notice the little ship model in the bell tower of the Avilés City Hall (Ayuntamiento) also commemorating this.


Even with the indirect and complicated connection of Tolomato Cemetery to Pedro Menéndez, we felt we needed to do something special for this anniversary. And what could be more special than opening the cemetery for visitors?


So our gift to honor the anniversary will be a special opening on from 12-3 pm on Saturday, September 5th, the “big weekend,” when visitors will be thronging downtown for all the musical and other events scheduled for that time. Who knows, we might even have a little City of St Augustine birthday cake – and a toast to our city’s founder, the Adelantado Pedro Menéndez de Avilés!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Minorca, Menorca

When we discuss the Minorcan arrival on our Tolomato Cemetery tours, most people’s first question is: Where…or even what…is Minorca?

As well all know, it’s an island in the Mediterranean several hours by ferry off the coast of Barcelona, and is one of the several islands that form what are known in English as the Balearics (Baleares, in Spanish). Mallorca and Ibiza, both party-hearty resort areas, are the other major islands in this group. Menorca means, literally, “smaller,” and in fact it’s only 271 miles square.

The name of the island is spelled “Minorca” by English speakers, and “Menorca” by Spanish and Catalan speakers. In the 18th century, at the time of St Augustine’s Minorcan immigration, most of the largely rural population was composed of Catalan speakers, although the more educated Minorcans also spoke Spanish.

Also in the 18th century, Minorca spent several years under the British, who got it the same way they obtained St Augustine: the settlement of the French and Indian or Seven Years War. And the fact that it was British at that time is exactly why Dr. Turnbull chose it as his possible source of workers for his New Smyrna Beach indigo plantation.

And now to the Tolomato angle. A couple of weeks ago, we had a special event for the presentation of Buff Gordon’s new book, Walking St Augustine. It was a fundraiser for the cemetery fence, and we did quite well, thanks to all of you who attended!

Benet Bookmark

But on a more scholarly note, we also prepared some special mini-tours related to the book. We created bookmarks for 3 people buried at the cemetery: Fr. Miguel O’Reilly, Mary Darling, and Pedro Benet. The bookmarks cross-referenced the book, and visitors could take the bookmarks and go on to seek the location related to that person.  Above is the bookmark for Pedro Benet, who we chose to represent the Minorcans.

The bookmarks included the O’Reilly House, the Oldest Schoolhouse, and St. Photios Shrine, which was once the home of the Minorcan priest, Fr. Pedro Camps.  Below we see the tomb of Fr. Miguel O’Reilly, the St. Photios Shrine, and the grave marker of Mary Darling.


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Our members did a lot of research. Brooke Radaker collated the personages with their locations, Louise Kennedy created a time line for Fr Miguel O’Reilly (more about that some other day), and Nick McAuliffe did a truly exhaustive job on Pedro Benet.


Although he was known in his day, which was the early 19th century, as the “King of the Minorcans,” Pedro Benet was a different kind of Minorcan. In St Augustine, when you say “Minorcan,” you are referring to descendants of the people brought here by Turnbull in 1765. But they were not all Minorcans, strictly speaking, because some were from Italy, particularly Sicily and Sardinia, and others were from Greece. Turnbull’s wife was Greek, and the Mediterranean voyage was her idea because she thought that Greeks and others from the region could tolerate the heat better than the usual English or Irish laborers.

However, Pedro Benet’s family actually came in at a different moment, and they came directly from Minorca and had nothing to do with Dr. Turnbull. Pedro Benet’s grandfather, Esteban, was the first to appear in St Augustine, and arrived around 1785, some 8 years after the New Smyrna Beach Minorcan march to St Augustine.  He married a Hernandez, a member of one of the few Spanish families to remain in Florida during the British Period.

Below is a drawing of Pedro Benet that Nick found in his researches.


On this basis, Nick developed a very detailed history for the family, which was a very important one in Florida history, and included many people active in government and public affairs in Florida. It also included Stephen Vincent Benet…the first Florida graduate of West Point.

And it includes the Stephen Vincent Benet who probably first came to your mind, his grandson, born not in St Augustine but in Pennsylvania, the writer who gave us John Brown’s Body, the wonderful poem American Names, and my childhood favorite short story, The Devil and Daniel Webster. Anybody who remembers the soul of Jabez Stone fluttering in the handkerchief will know where the inspiration for the 1950s movie “The Fly” came from…although I’m still not sure why the story was  my favorite!

Nick collected wonderful information, and we are currently looking for a way to store all of our information on line so that it can be accessed easily by anyone. However, since we don’t have the archive yet, let me post the truly excellent genealogical chart that Nick drew up, which traces the branch of the Benet family that produced Stephen Vincent Benet and his literary siblings:


And now let’s get back to “Minorcan” in the St Augustine sense of the word.

The reason Tolomato came back into use as a cemetery, after its initial period as an Indian village which had its own church and probably its own cemetery, was because the British governor Patrick Tonyn allowed Fr. Pedro Camps (his statue in the Cathedral courtyard can be seen below) and his band of Minorcans to use it as a cemetery after they arrived in St Augustine on their flight from the New Smyrna Beach indigo plantation.


When the Spanish returned, it became the parish cemetery for what is now the Cathedral, but the great majority of the people buried there are descendants of this first group of Minorcans (including Greeks and Italians) who arrived in St Augustine after rebelling against Dr. Turnbull. So St Augustine Minorcan names can be very varied, ranging from the pure Catalan name Camps to the Anglicized Masters (Mestres, in Catalan), and including some that are clearly of Italian origin and some that are of Greek origin. And these people, many of whom married into the few Spanish families that stayed in Florida during the British period, such as the Hernandez family, the Sanchez family and the Solanas, are the foundation of our modern city.

So it was very fitting that members of the TCPA board went to Menorcan Society president Carol Lopez Bradshaw’s house to receive the generous $5,000 pledge that the Menorcan Society had made to the cemetery fence fund project. Carol is descended from several Minorcan families, as are the other members, and they worked hard at their festivals and events over the past year to collect this pledge. The highlight of the last St Ambrose Festival – many Minorcans live in that rural parish – was the raffle of a Minorcan cast net, made in the traditional style by a local Minorcan craftsman, for the benefit of the cemetery fund.

So below we see the Menorcan Society treasurer, Theresa Usina, handing the pledge check to Elizabeth Gessner, TCPA president, flanked by Janet Jordan, TCPA treasurer. Behind them are Glenda Frawley, Menorcan Society VP, Louise Kennedy, who is the TCPA secretary, and Carol Lopez Bradshaw, Minorcan Society President.


Many, many thanks to the Minorcan Society! And our readers are getting a heads-up: there will be a special event in November commemorating the Minorcan March to St Augustine from New Smyrna Beach. You’re the first to know, and details will come out in the next couple of months, so keep watching!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Walking St Augustine…from Tolomato.

As every blog reader knows, Tolomato Cemetery is located at the very start of the Historic District, at the north end of the city near the old City Gates (below) and the modern Visitors Information Center and Parking Garage. So it’s a perfect place for beginning your stroll through historic St Augustine, moving between past and present.  IMG_0094  But it just got even better!  Elsbeth “Buff” Gordon, the architectural historian and writer who has given us Florida’s Colonial Architectural Heritage and Heart and Soul of Florida: Sacred Sites and Historical Architecture, has just finished her new book, Walking St. Augustine.  The author is a familiar presence in St Augustine and has worked on many archaeological and historical projects. 
 This is a much needed pocket guide to St Augustine, published by the University Press of Florida and sponsored by several Florida historical organizations and several years in the making. It is based on a set of manageable walking tours that will take visitors through the downtown historic districts and tell them all the insider details about the buildings and their builders or former residents.  And, best of all, she’s presenting the book at Tolomato Cemetery on our next Open Day, Saturday, April 18, 2015.  Below is the already dog-eared copy we have at the cemetery…  IMG_0096[1]  Buff Gordon will be at Tolomato all day from 11-3:00 pm to meet visitors and sign books, and she will also give a special presentation at 1:00 pm.  This would be a great time to buy the book (about $15.00...and you know you’re going to buy it sooner or later anyway) because the author is generously donating all proceeds to the Tolomato Cemetery Fence Fund for the replacement of the horrible fence seen below.  IMG_2136  And since many of the people whose homes or properties appear in Walking St. Augustine are  buried at Tolomato Cemetery, we’re going to be doing some special tours focusing on a few of them, such as Fr. Miguel O’Reilly, whose vault is shown below, and who is  connected with the O’Reilly House on Aviles Street, and Mary Darling, who taught at the Oldest Schoolhouse right around the corner on St. George St.  Then visitors can take their signed copies of the books and go on a special kind of "scavenger hunt" and find the site in question, based on the excellent maps, directions and photos in the book.  
There will also be music and…refreshments will be Girl Scout cookies, including Thin Mints!  Don’t miss it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Looking for the Lost Chapel

As all Tolomato fans know, the cemetery was originally a “refugee Indian mission.”  After the British Colonial Governor James Moore of South Carolina wiped out the Florida mission chain in attacks over a several year period, mostly notably 1704 and 1706, the few surviving Indians were brought into St Augustine and settled in five different villages, which were served by the Franciscans from what is now the St Francis Barracks.  We know the locations of three of them: La Leche, La Punta and Tolomato, but there are two others in what is now Lincolnville whose exact location is unknown. 

de la Puente section

The villages were small, and Tolomato was probably the largest but  nonetheless had fewer than 100 people or so in its heyday.  They were mostly Guale Indians who had actually first been moved over a century earlier, during an Indian rebellion on the Georgia coast near their original home, and had spent almost 100 years living on a river that was known, of course, as the Tolomato River, which runs past today’s Guana River Preserve.

1765 Moncrief Map St. Augustine Only_2

They were attacked by Moore, and in 1706, the Spanish governor issued an order calling the Indians into St Augustine and they fled to the city.  Tolomato was located just at one of the west-facing city gates, near the redoubt where the cannons were, and was a safe location…although at least one of the Tolomato Indians was killed in the 1740s, defending the city against another wave of British-allied Indian attackers. 

Above are two maps of St Augustine, the first by the Spanish engineer Juan Elixio de la Puente in 1764, and the other by the British engineer Moncrief in 1765. Tolomato would be at the upper right, outside the city walls and near the Cubo Line that went along today’s Orange Street.

We have virtually no other visual or archaeological records of the missions, except for a 1726 mention of a wooden chapel with a four-story stone bell tower at Tolomato. When the British arrived in 1763, the Spanish citizens, including the Indians, went to Cuba and abandoned their properties.  The British took over and used the chapel for firewood, but they left the bell tower, and in describing his journey through Florida in the 1760s, the naturalist Bartram mentions the tall but narrow (about 20’ on each side) bell tower.

It stood until somewhere between 1793 and 1800, when it was taken apart so that the stones could be used in building the current Cathedral.  One of the blocks of stone fell on the vault or grave of Fr. Pedro Camps, the Minorcan priest, and crushed it, leading to his reburial at the Cathedral in 1800.

But we have one question:  Where exactly was the Franciscan chapel?


It was not located where the current Varela Chapel is located, because that piece of land was bought in 1853 specifically for building the chapel. And looking at the maps, it seems that the chapel was not even in the center of the Indian village.  The de la Puente maps of the 1760s show it as a little northeast of the center of the modern cemetery, and one map shows it with another structure joined to it like an ell – this may have been the belltower joined to the chapel.

So the long and the short of the story is that we’re looking for any trace of the bell tower.    But …GPR to the rescue!


Then last week, FPAN’s Kevin Gidusko, shown above, came out with his GPR equipment – and we think we’re getting close.  If you want to know more about it, come out and visit us this Saturday, March 21, and ask us where we think it was.


And if you’re interested in the Indian population, go to the Flagler College conference on the Yamasee Indians to be held on April 17-18th. You can sign up here: Meanwhile, look at those little red flags…and wonder.