Former mayor releases second set of historical stories

Former St. Augustine Mayor George Gardner informed Historic City News local reporters that he has published a second series of his popular St. Augustine Bedtime Stories — factual accounts of the people, events, and cultures woven into the historic fabric of the nation’s oldest city.

“These accounts are designed to fill that void between tour guide briefs and more extensive history texts,” Gardner said. “Consider them primers as we prepare for the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s discovery of Florida in 2013 and St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary in 2015.”

Each series comes in a clear covered box set of twelve individual booklets. Gardner says, “They fit nicely on the nightstand for quick reads before bed.”

The historical sets can be purchased at the St. Augustine Visitor Center, Castillo, Lighthouse, and other gift shops.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll find in St. Augustine Bedtime Stories:

Series One

Ponce de Leon
Determined to find the presumed Island of Bimini and legendary fountain of youth, Juan Ponce de Leon discovers Florida in 1513, a land he claims for Spain from Florida to Newfoundland and west to the Mississippi River.

Pedro Menendez
An able sea captain from his teen years, protecting Spanish shipping in the Mediterranean, Pedro Menendez is a natural choice to lead an expedition to a new land.

Pedro Menendez challenges France’s Jean Ribault and his settlement, Fort Caroline, 40 miles north of St. Augustine.

Castillo de San Marcos
A century and nine wooden forts since St. Augustine’s founding, Spain begins construction of a fortress never to fall in battle, the Castillo de San Marcos.

For 55 days in late 1702, the Castillo de San Marcos under-goes its first test against the British force of Carolina Governor James Moore.

The Menorcans
A ragged, exhausted line of survivors of the failed New Smyrna colony reaches St. Augustine in 1777 to become a major cultural influence of the city.

Huguenot Cemetery
Created as a protestant cemetery following a yellow fever epidemic, the Huguenot Cemetery’s markers testify to an era ranging from the Seminole Indian War of 1835-1842 through the American Civil War, 1861-1865.

Greatness is forged in war and in the U.S. government’s longest and costliest Indian war, the Seminole War Chief Osceola joins the legendary ranks of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and Geronimo.

Dade’s Massacre
December 28, 1835, at points 40 miles apart, the Seminole Chief Osceola ambushes the U.S. Indian agent while Micanopy’s forces attack and massacre a relief column under the command of U.S. Major Francis L. Dade.

The colorful Coacoochee leads 18 Seminole warriors and two women in a seemingly impossible escape from the Castillo de San Marcos November 29, 1837. It is the only escape ever recorded from the formidible fortress.

Henry Flagler
Oil baron and builder of Florida, Henry Flagler uses his immense wealth to build a “Riviera of the South” in St. Augustine in the “Gilded Age” of the late 1800s.

A test of knowledge of the many people, places, and events in more than four centuries of history in America’s oldest continuously occupied European settlement.

Series Two

The Asiento
The contract between Spain’s King Phillip II and his most trusted admiral, Pedro Menendez, details both the challenge – to establish a permanent garrison, and the rewards – in land grants and liberal trade opportunities.

The Voyage
Pedro Menendez’ two-month voyage in 1565 to found St. Augustine and drive the French from these lands is recorded by his principal priest, Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales.

The Africans
American history text books are filled with accounts of black slaves, but the full history of America’s African heritage includes a record of explorers, soldiers, and builders of a new nation.

The Indians
St. Augustine Founder Pedro Menendez called them “a noble race” in 1565; President Andrew Jackson insisted on their removal to the west in 1835. Indians were variously a menace and a blessing in relationships with the white man.

The Pirates
Scourge of the seas, pirates flourish as European countries set sail for new lands and riches.

From its earliest days as a light tower guiding Spanish supply ships, the St. Augustine beacon has continued to serve mariners through numerous changes over the centuries.

Drake’s Raid
England’s Sir Francis Drake attacks Spanish ports in the Caribbean, then overwhelms the small garrison at St. Augustine in 1586, burning the settlement to the ground.

Sack of San Agústin
The British pirate Captain Robert Searle’s brutal raid on San Agustin in 1668, leaving 60 dead, inspires Spain to build the Castillo de San Marcos.

Determined to succeed where previous attacks had failed, Georgia Governor James Oglethorpe leads a British assault on St. Augustine.

British Period
St. Augustine becomes a British colony for twenty years during the American Revolution.

Fort Mosé
A combination of Spanish leniency toward slavery and military expediency leads to the establishment of the first free black settlement in today’s America in 1738.

Tolomato Cemetery
There are believed to be more than 1,000 burials in St. Augustine’s oldest cemetery, established as an Indian mission in the early 1700s.

Photo credits: © 2010 Historic City News staff photographer

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