Mission Period 1587 - 1616
19. SAN JUAN DEL PUERTO
Established on an island (Fort George Island) by 1587 at the mouth of the St. Johns River, had an early success in winning converts and loyalty to Spain. However, San Juan does not appear on Geiger's 1587 list of places having convents. In view of San Juan's proximity to St. Augustine and to the fort at San Mateo and San Juan's leaders' apparent close ties with the leaders of Nombre de Dios, its Christianization may have begun prior to 1587. Fray Francisco Pareja began his work in Florida at San Juan in 1595. San Juan was one of the most long-lived of the Florida missions, enduring until the invasion by Governor James Moore in 1702. In 1602 Fr. Pareja gave the Christian population of San Juan and its nine visitas as 500. Four years later the bishop confirmed 482 Indians there along with six chiefs and chieftainnesses from five of the visitas. Pedro de Arcos gave the population as only about thirty in 1675, but Bishop Compostela gave the population in 1689 as twenty-five families or about 125 individuals For the mid-1690's there is a similar dichotomy between the cacique's complaint that the village had only nine common Indians to handle the farm labor and ferry service and Jonathan Dickinson's portrayal of St. Wans as a large town with many people. The governor gave the 1701 population as only a little less than 200. Over the years the original population of Saturiba Timucua had been largely or totally replaced by Tacatacuru and/or Guale in view of the predominance of San Marcos stamped pottery on the site. In 1695 the Tacatacuru population of Santa Cruz de Guadalquini was under orders to relocate to San Juan for security purposes. In 1701 the governor remarked of San Juan's inhabitants, "This is the people whom they call, of the Mocam." As a concession to the inhabitants who wished to move en masse to a mainland site named Piritiriba, three leagues by canoe from San Juan, the governor in 1701 allowed some to move to Piritiriba, which became a visita served by the friar at San Juan. Archaeological research has been conducted at the site intermittently since 1951 by various people and work is being conducted there currently.
REFERENCES Dr. John H. Hann
"Summary Guide to Spanish Florida Missions and Vistas with Churches in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries"
© Copyright. John P. Walsh. April 22, 2002