Historic Picolata

Posted by Susan Hartley on Sunday, February 16th, 2020 at 10:22am

Historic Picolata


1 Response to Historic Picolata

Susan Hartley wrote:

Hundreds of years ago, the river crossing at Picolata was the link in the trail that connected St. Augustine, the capital of Spanish Florida, with the missions, farms and cattle ranches in Florida’s interior and on to today’s Tallahassee. The eastern crossing point was known as Salamototo before it became Picolata in the early 1700s. Spanish troops were quartered at the fort at Picolata for a month at a time, leaving their families in St. Augustine.
After Florida was transferred to Great Britain (1763), Picolata was the location of an important meeting or “congress” held Nov. 15-18, 1765, between British officials and Creek leaders. Cowkeeper, generally considered the first chief of the Seminoles, insisted on his own meeting at Picolata with the British, which took place in December.
When Spanish troops returned to Florida in 1784, Spanish officials moved to continue good relations with the Seminoles, but the talks were held in St. Augustine. Florida Gov. Vicente Manuel de Zespedes ordered in 1789 that Picolata was the official river crossing point for Indians and that residents of living along the river were not to bring the Indians across the at any other point. Nevertheless, the wealthy and influential Francis Philip Fatio sent his rafts and canoes to bring Indians across the St. Johns from the west bank to his New Switzerland plantation.
With the arrival of steamboat travel in American Florida, passengers and cargo often arrived in St. Augustine via Picolata rather than at St. Augustine’s waterfront. Steamboats worked their way up the St. Johns River, dropping off freight and travelers at Picolata to be taken to St. Augustine by stage. A hotel, Picolata House, opened in 1835 and received generally unflattering reviews.
The next year, troops replaced tourists at Picolata after war with the Seminoles began in the last days of 1835. By spring 1836, Picolata was the main supply depot on the east coast for the U.S. Army in Florida. Historian John K. Mahon noted that by the spring of 1839 Florida had become more “closely tied to the rest of the nation than ever before.” Picolata was the vital location that made it possible to travel by steamer from Maine into the very heart of Florida.

Posted on Sunday, February 16th, 2020 at 10:27am

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