The Hispanic-American History Timeline
1633 Misión San Luis de Apalachee
Established in Tallahassee
Misión San Luis de Apalachee is established by Franciscan friars Pedro Munoz and Francisco Martinez, in present-day Tallahassee, Florida, to covert the Apalachee Indians to Christianity and colonize the Florida Panhandle.
Built in Anhaica, the capital village of the Apalachee Indians, the most powerful and advanced tribe in Florida, Mision San Luis becomes a community unlike any other in Florida, where Spaniards and Apalachees live and work together, and marry each other.
Anhaica, the village first encountered by the Hernando de Soto expedition in 1539, is already a wealthy agricultural Apalachee community when San Luis is established. But the mission brings European knowhow and San Luis' crops are soon feeding soldiers and settlers in St. Augustine, the Spanish capital of Florida. In fact, when the mission is moved and expanded to a more secure location in 1656, the San Luis community has the largest number of European settlers in Florida, outside of St. Augustine.
In 1656, when the Spanish government decides to built an outpost in northerwest Florida and encourages San Luis settlers to relocate the mission to a nearby, more defendable, hilltop location, the San Luis Spanish settlers and Apalachee Indians move the mission, build a church and fortified house (casa fuerte), and become a colonial community of some 1,400 people, including a powerful Apalachee chief and the Spanish deputy governor.
But in 1704, following a series of raids by the English and Creek Indians, San Luis is evacuated and destroyed. The Spanish and some of the Apalachees return to St. Augustine, and about 800 Apalachees flee west to Mobile, a French village where they settle for some time.
Almost three centuries later, in 1996, the site where Mission San Luis stood was added to the U.S. National Registry of Historic Places. And in 1998, drawing from 15 years of historical and archaeological research, the rebuilding of San Luis begins. In 2000, the San Luis church celebrates its first Mass in almost 300 years. From 2000 to 2009, many other buildings are added to the reconstructed settlement, including a Convento, a Council House, the Chief's House, the fort "Castillo de San Luis," a Blockhouse, and a Typical Spanish House.
Of the many mission settlements established by Spain in Florida, San Luis is the only reconstructed mission in the state. This tourist attraction is made even more impressive by its "living historic interpreters" -- real people representing historic figures and recreating life at it was in San Luis in 1703.
By Clara Chavira, Lehman College