The Courier September 2015Vol. I, Issue VII ~ MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR ~ Commemorating a colony on the St. Johns A hint of fall is in the air an


The Courier


September 2015

Vol. I, Issue VII




Commemorating a colony on the St. Johns

A hint of fall is in the air and that feeling always delivers excitement for a new JHS program season. It’s also a time to vigilantly watch weather reports hoping we’re spared during the hurricane season. The Monday, September 21, program oddly relates to of one of those rare North Florida hurricanes, albeit 450 years ago.

In fact, it was the storm that some historians claim changed the course of Florida history, if not world history, when dangerous winds forced Jean Ribault’s fleet off course while pursuing Spaniard Pedro Menendez. The result was shipwrecked defenseless French crews. Those dangerous winds were among the factors that facilitated a Spanish victory and Florida remained in the hands of the Spanish for the next 198 years (and later an additional 62 years).

You are invited to hear details of this story during a dramatic reading, It Came to Pass on the Banks of this River, adapted from a copy (located in the JHS Archives) of the half-century old Next Day in the Morning, performed in 1962 by a cast of about 175 at the Jacksonville Coliseum. That event was the centennial of Ribault’s arrival at the St. Johns River.

The story of European rivalry on our riverbank will be told through the eyes of the individuals who were its major players, including the queens of England, Spain and Queen Regent of France. You’ll also hear from the explorers vying for this one spot on the St. Johns River. The Native Floridians will weigh-in.

While the 6 p.m. show is booked, there are still seats remaining for the 8 p.m. show. You can book online or phone the office, 665-0064. The one-hour production is preceded by a 7:30 p.m. reception. The production was commissioned by the Historical Society and Players by the Sea.

A commemoration of La Caroline’s demise is also planned for Saturday, October 10 at 12:30 p.m. at the site of Mayport Ferry. In a brief ceremony, a site marker will be unveiled. Florida Representative Lake Ray, Council President Greg Anderson, Councilman John Crescimbeni, Councilman Bill Gulliford, and Councilman Reggie Brown will participate. The Jacksonville Historical Society collected funds to pay for the marker. La Caroline, on the St. Johns, was the first colony of men and women seeking religious freedom in the New World. The colony lasted 14 months and was lost in a Spanish attack.

The Ferry Fest at Mayport is also the same day on Ocean Street which means lots of food trucks, music and free ferry rides all day. So, if you plan to attend the 12:30p.m.Co event, you’ll need to arrive early.



St. Augustine -Bridge of Lions   downtown2

Why St. Augustine's history is important to Jacksonville

When Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sighted the coast of Florida on the 28th of August of 1565, the peninsula of Florida had been part of the Spanish Empire for 52 years. In 1513 Juan Ponce de León had claimed the land he called Florida for Spain. During that first voyage Ponce de León was searching for riches for himself and for the Spanish Crown. He had arrived in Hispaniola with Christopher Columbus during his second voyage to the new world. Ponce de León had become governor of Puerto Rico but his destiny and fortune had changed and by the time he signed a royal contract with the King of Spain to explore new territory he was almost bankrupt. When he first sighted land, which he called Florida because it was the eve of Easter Sunday or Pascua Florida, Ponce de León thought he had discovered a new island. By the time he returned to Florida in 1521, he knew that this island was really a peninsula and he re-claimed the land extending from Key West to Nova Scotia for the King of Spain. Many more would follow Ponce de León’s footsteps to settle Florida with disastrous consequences, until the King of Spain forbade any more expeditions.

In the meantime, France was experiencing the results of the Protestant Revolution. In search of religious and political freedom a group of French Protestants or Huguenots led by Jean Ribault arrived in the coast...[Read more]




Robert Hennigar is a board member extraordinaire

He’s a pilot, diver, actor, and technology expert. Renaissance man and new Historical Society board member, Robert Hennigar, grew up in pristine central Maine. In fact, he remained in the state until his graduation from the University of Maine with a degree in electrical engineering. It’s where he met his wife,Tosha, also an electrical engineer.

After graduation, Bob worked for Champion International and later studied at Xavier University receiving a Masters in Business Administration. In 1998, he joined Rayonier and was initially located in Jesup, Georgia, which he assesses as a quaint…town. Two years later, Rayonier relocated Bob to Jacksonville; he continues to work at the company’s Riverplace Tower headquarters on the Southbank where he is a “solutions architect solving business problems” with technology.

Bob has spent hundreds of hours since last November as a JHS volunteer extraordinaire, not only in his role as a director, but also in hands-on efforts. He’s located computers and a server to add to the JHS archives; and he’s upgraded all of the society’s computer programs. With these technological changes, JHS now safeguards a precious collection of more than 10,000... [Read more]




Jacksonville Historical Society Collection.

The Cup of Spain

Among the amazing treasures stored at the Jacksonville Historical Society Archives is the so called “Cup of Spain”. The almost two feet tall silver trophy was commissioned by Congressman Charles Bennett to salute the winners of the Annual Jacksonville Marathon, starting in 1986. On that year Mark Sheehan won the marathon, followed by Herb Wills who won the marathon three years in a row. In 1990 Bill Fisher was the winner, Peter Glavin won in 1991, Jerry Lawson in 1992 and Sean McCormack and Alec Rukosuev in 1993. The list of winners engraved on the... [Read more]




Simulating Warfare in Northern Florida

The Spirit of '45:

A Home-front Retrospective

To commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II, the Jacksonville Historical Society is showcasing an original exhibit titled “The Spirit of ’45: A Home-Front Retrospective”. Curated by Stephen Carlisle and using a wealth of rare artifacts and mementoes, the exhibit emphasizes the human story in how the war interfaced with the residents of Duval County.

The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, is been shown at the Jacksonville Historical Society headquarters and archives, 314 Palmetto St., Jacksonville 32202.

Exhibit Open: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday | 10a.m. - 5p.m.
Where: Old St. Luke's, 314 Palmetto Street

The exhibit remains open through Veteran's Day, November 11th.

IMG 8007

Hansel & Gretel by Karin Jackson in the Gingerbread Extravaganza '14.

Calling all gingerbread builders

A workshop for potential builders for the 2015 Historical Society Gingerbread Extravaganza is Sunday, September 27 at society headquarters, Old St. Andrew’s, 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Builders are not required to attend the workshop in order to participate in the December Extravaganza, but the advice typically proves helpful, and it’s lots of fun.

All age groups, any size group and individuals are invited to build. For most builders, participating captures the spirit of the holidays. Thousands flock to the JHS to view the Extravaganza, this year, December 2 through December 23.

The Gingerbread Extravaganza is the society’s only dedicated fundraiser and without gingerbread houses and other creative confections, there is no event. Rank amateurs mix with professionals in “the most creative art show in town.”

History is also prominent with historic buildings typically included. “In fact, some of the city’s most interesting buildings are planned for this year’s event,” according to Pat Andrews, event chair and JHS board member.

Other categories include storybook, religious, fantasy, traditional, landmark, local historic and “other.”

Participants are asked to complete a “Builder’s Permit” for the historical society, found at The finished creations are due Saturday, Nov. 28 and Monday Nov. 30 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“While it’s not required that the creation is made of gingerbread, the rules ask that 85 percent of the creation is made of confection or other food products. So, there are actually creations from time to time that don’t include gingerbread,” said Pat.

For more information, 665-0064.



Next Day in the Morning

The three most powerful women in the world -- Catherine de Medici, Elizabeth I and Elizabeth Valois.

Monday, September 21, 2015

It Came to Pass on the Banks of this River: A production in collaboration with Players by the Sea features the three most powerful women in the world—and their mutual focus—a plot of land in North Florida, today known as Jacksonville. As Europe's dominant countries -- France, Spain, and England vie for the little site on the St. Johns -- explorers are imprisoned and spies are employed. The production commemorates the colony's demise 450 years ago this September.

The JHS will host two free performances on September 21. The first performance, now filled, will begin at 6p.m. with a reception at 5:30p.m. The second performance will begin at 8p.m. with a reception at 7:30p.m.

The Historical Society requests that you RSVP for a performance time by phone, 904.665.0064, or register online by clicking here.

cover for press release


Thursday, October 8: BOOK LAUNCH & SIGNING with author, Dr. Tim Gilmore for his new book, The Mad Atlas of Virginia King. Virginia King wrote an 8,448-page highly inaccurate book about her hometown of Jacksonville. The title was almost as long. She said her brother was dead. He said he’d never heard of her. Always dirt poor, she called the wealthiest people in the city “my little friends.” From 1915 to 2001, Virginia lived in 18 different residences, mostly in Riverside, and residents who remember her call her a “Riverside character.”

This new nonfiction novel about Virginia King includes reminiscences from local residents Helen Lane, Wayne Wood, Sarah Van Cleve, Pokey Towers Lyerly, Elizabeth Towers, the late Charlie Towers, Jerry Ferguson, Joel McEachin, and many others. The book celebrates the strange treasures of the Jacksonville Historical Society archives.

The reception and book signing will begin at 6:30pm. Dr. Gilmore will present his findings on Jacksonville’s unique character, Virginia King, at 7pm.




The St. Johns River Ferry, "Jean Ribault"

St. Johns River Ferry

The St. Johns River Ferry, in operation since 1948, is often called the Mayport Ferry and is part of scenic route A1A. The auto and passenger ferry links Mayport Village and Fort George Island, 2.5 miles inland of the St. Johns River mouth. The vessels operated in the fleet have included the Blackbeard and Jean LeFitte, among others. The current vessel is fittingly, the Jean Ribault.

Enjoy the free ferry all day on Saturday, Oct. 10 and experience local history!




Army Lt. James H. Doolittle abd his DeHavilland plane before takeoff from Pablo Beach.

September 4, 1922: James H. Doolittle, later known for his WWII achievements and heroics, takes off from Pablo Beach, now known as Jacksonville Beach, to begin a record breaking transcontinental flight time in fewer than 24 hours.

His average speed was 100mph and his actual flying time was 21 hours and 18 minutes. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after setting the speed record.


Click on the image to watch the WJXT documentary of "Dora: Direct Hit"

September 11, 1964: President Lyndon Johnson tours the beaches in the aftermath of Hurricane Dora. About $280 million ($2.2 billion in 2015 dollars) in damage was attributed to the hurricane, primarily due to extensive inland flooding. The highest rainfall amount recorded during the hurricane fell at Mayo, where 23.73 inches fell.

September 20, 1565: Spanish troops from St. Augustine overwhelm the French at La Caroline. Scores of French settlers are killed and La Caroline is lost to the French. After they were shipwrecked by a storm, Ribault and most of his men were executed by Pedro Menendez in early October. The Spanish now begin 198 years of uninterrupted Florida ownership.


City of Jacksonville


Our Mission: The mission of the Jacksonville Historical Society is to foster and promote the appreciation of the history of Jacksonville and Northeast Florida by collecting, preserving, presenting, and interpreting that history for the benefit and education of its members, the public and future generations.

Staff: Emily Lisska, Executive Director| Taryn Rodriguez-Boette, Associate Director & Archivist| Meghan Powell, Office Manager & Event Coordinator| Danielle Kendrick, Archives and Office Assistant| Sherrard Ceglia, Archives Assistant| Robert Hughes, Facilities Manager

2015-16 JHS Board Ed Booth, President| Jeffrey Graf, Vice-President| Maggie Means, Secretary| Jeff Bryan, Treasurer | Pat Andrews| Elizabeth Hohl Asbury| Alan Bliss| Jennifer Brower| Jean Grimsley| Cora Hackley| Robert Hennigar| Zilla Hillin| Doug Milne| Christina Parrish| Harry Reagan| Robin Robinson| Lisa Sheppard| Reecy Thornton| Wayne W. Wood

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