While some of the first things that come to mind when visiting Florida are the great weather, white sand beaches and world-class theme parks, many people are not aware that the Sunshine State is actually home to the first Thanksgiving, the first Christian Christmas and the oldest city in the United States!
These are some of the relatively unknown facts, or “mythbusters”, about Florida’s role in American history. Below are Florida’s top 10 mythbusters:
- The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by Spanish explorers, not pilgrims, in St. Augustine on September 8, 1565, between the Spanish and Timucuan tribe 56 years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth.
- The first Christmas was celebrated by Hernando de Soto and his men in 1539.
- The first European settlement attempt in the continental United States was made in Pensacola by Tristán de Luna in August 1559.
- The first permanent European settlement in North America, and America’s “oldest city” is St. Augustine. St. Augustine was also the first U.S city to plot streets.
- In 2109, Florida will finally be part of the United States for as long as it was ruled by Spain.
- People first arrived in what is now known as Florida more than 12 millennia ago.
- Most of Florida’s roads that were in use through the beginning of the 20th century were part of a transportation system developed by native people.
- Accounts from Spanish explorations of Florida led by Ponce de Léon, Pánfilo de Narváez and Hernando de Soto in the early 1500s reveal that native cultures were powerful and developed societies with chiefdoms including: the Pensacola, Apalachee, Timicua, Tocobago, Calusa, Saturiwa, Utina, Potano, Ocale, Tequesta, Ais, Mayaca, Jororo, Chacato and Chisca, among others.
- First recorded birth of an African American child in North America (Fort Mose, 1607).
- First legally-sanctioned free black settlement in North America (Fort Mose, 1783).