Mission de Dios, Site of the first permanent European settlement in North America, September 8, 1565

St. Patrick's Day
On St. Patrick’s Day it is fun to look back at any Irish ancestry one might have to see if you’re actually part of the Irish crowd. Ancestry and my DNA don’t point to a lot of Irish in my background, but I do have a well-documented line from a man named William Durgee, who came to Boston as one of the first Irishmen to settle there – although in his case as an indentured servant, having been on the wrong side of the war against Oliver Cromwell.
Norma is also an Irish descendant as she is about one quarter Irish with her mother’s folks having the Toomey background, so we’re both good to celebrate the day.
In reading some Florida history, I found an interesting tidbit – I’ve mentioned before that the Spanish actually had the first European permanent settlement in North America, at St. Augustine. I found recently that there were some Irish folks in the mix though, including one of the more influential priests, a man from Ireland Father Richard Arthur.
Shortly after that, a number of Irish settlers came to the area around St. Augustine, choosing to settle apart from the Spanish on what is now the St. John’s river to the south.
We visited St. Augustine awhile back and so the image is from that trip – it is of the cross memorializing the first settlement area at a place where Mission de Dios would have been, signifying the first European settlement location. The history here parallels the rest of the South – many of the settlers brought enslaved people here, and purchased more to work on the lots of land. Before and during the Revolution, many people in the other southern States came to this area as well, as Florida was a bit of a haven for Loyalists, and after the Revolution many of these same settlers left and went to Nova Scotia as Loyalists fleeing the colonies.
A most interesting history, which is much more complex than some would wish to go into detail about, as the history does include slavery and leads to the current plight of many in the Sunshine State. It’s a shame, because people should know their own past to be able to learn from it.