Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sixteenth Century Records in St. Augustine, Florida

Twenty-six years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, Gabriel Hernandez, a Spanish soldier, married Catalina de Valdez in St. Augustine, Florida. The record of their marriage, handwritten by Father Diego Escobar de Sambrana and dated 1594, is one of the earliest known European documents in the United States. It is one of thousands of church records that chronicle the births, marriages and deaths of the Spanish settlers--missionaries, soldiers, and merchants--who lived in St. Augustine from 1594-1763. Scattered throughout this country and others through the centuries, these documents have recently been gathered and returned to the Diocese of St. Augustine, which is working on digitizing them. You can read the full article about this fascinating project here.

Of course, my novelist's mind immediately starts wondering about Gabriel and Catalina. How did they meet? Was their marriage a happy one? Did they return to Spain or spend their lives in the Florida colony? Imagine if someone had told them that 415 years later, their marriage would be front-page news...

8 comments:

Corey Schwartz said...

What an interesting blog, Julianne! Thanks for stopping by my contest.

Lynn Irwin Stewart said...

That is really interesting -- I've been to St Augustine before but I was a child -- I'd really like to go back and really soak in the history. I'm in Georgia -- so not that far away.

Julianne Douglas said...

You're welcome, Corey! Thanks for visiting me here, too. :)

Let me know if you ever make it back to St. Augustine, Lynn. It does sound like quite an interesting place. I wish I knew more about the early Spanish colonies in America.

Sarah said...

Fascinating about the early marriage record. I've spent two December vacations in St. Augustine, a couple days before traveling down to the in-laws' in Orlando, and it's a wonderful place to visit. Somehow you don't expect to see ruins of 16th-century fortresses in Florida, but they're there. And then there's the ocean and palm trees, of course.

JAD said...

Love your blog, Julianne. Your mention led me to write a short article about it. :) Great find! Thanks again!

Julianne Douglas said...

Thanks, JAD! Feel free to post the link to your article here, if it's on the internet.

JAD said...

Aw, you're welcome, Julianne. It's always a treat to find such an interesting blog. :) My article is at:
http://tinyurl.com/ya4yl3k

Tiny thing that it is. I hope you like it!
Best,
Julianne (yes, I'm a Julianne too :))

Julianne Douglas said...

We're everywhere now! Growing up, I never heard of another Julianne. Now, every time I go to the park or the mall, I hear moms calling "Julianne!" after their toddlers.

What a nice article! Thanks for the link. It's MUCH appreciated.