Here in St Augustine, we can’t let Thanksgiving pass without reminding the world that the “First Thanksgiving” really took place here, when Menendez de Aviles landed in 1565 and had a festive meal with the soldiers and settlers who had accompanied him and the Indians who were already here and greeted him when he came ashore.
Is there any connection with Tolomato? The Tolomato Indians were not from St Augustine originally, but were a different tribe and would not have been present at the landing. And the great majority of the burials of people of European or African origin at Tolomato are those of descendants of people who arrived in or after the Second Spanish Period and therefore would not have been present at Menendez’ landing either.
Only about one third of the original Spanish citizens and their families returned to St Augustine after the British left in 1784; the others were new arrivals from Spain, Cuba, other parts of the Spanish speaking world, or even Ireland. However, there are a few names at Tolomato that go way back, and may we wonder if their ancestors were perhaps present at that First Thanksgiving?
But even if they weren’t, we offer our historical Happy Thanksgiving wishes to all!