On the heels of St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary, Jacksonville historians and civic leaders will recognize an even earlier European presence in the “New World” by the French Huguenots during the 4th annual Ferry Fest. A marker dedication ceremony will take place at noon on October 10th to commemorate the French Huguenot massacres which occurred between May 1562 and September 1565 near Mayport Village and the Matanzas Inlet.
The Huguenots set sail to this uncolonized portion of the New World in 1562 to escape religious persecution in Western Europe and established La Caroline in June of 1564. The Huguenots shaped early American history with many “firsts” including the first European settlement of men and women seeking religious freedom, the first recorded birth of a European child in the continental United States, the first Protestant prayer, offered by Jean Ribault, the first Colonial Thanksgiving celebrated June 30, 1564 and the first international trade port.
The Andrew Jackson High School Band procession will be among the highlights of the marker dedication. City Councilman John Crescimbeni will introduce the marker celebration with a historical perspective from City Councilman Greg Anderson and the ceremonial laying of the wreaths by Rep. Lake Ray and the Honorary Counsel General of France Francois Kloc. Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution will participate with an honorary color guard, musket salutes and unveiling of the marker. Joining the event will be representatives from Jean Ribault High School, the school named for Huguenot Jean Ribault, who was slain for refusing to renounce his faith 450 years ago on Oct12.
Several free educational and historical presentations will be held from 2-4pm at the Marine Science Center including a presentation on the history of the Mayport Village shared by Janice Strickland and Sandra Tuttle, a perspective on where Ft. Caroline was and where it wasn’t, presented by Rep. Lake Ray and Adm. Assistant Mark Lloyd and an overview of the 2015 Florida Historical Society Oral History Project featuring 15 “characters” whose lives have shaped Mayport Village.
This event is produced through a collaborative effort between members of the Jacksonville City Council, Mission First Coast, The Jacksonville Historical Society, St. Johns Ferry Commission, Friends of the Ferry, Mayport Civic Association, and local businesses. The Friends of the St. Johns River Ferry is a 501(c)3 corporation formed in 1996 to encourage and support the continuation and preservation of the St. Johns River Ferry. As a vital part of the local transportation system, connecting State Road A1A between Heckscher Drive and Mayport, we want to improve and beautify the embarkation areas on the North and South banks of the St. Johns River. Visit www.friendsoftheferry.com.