Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

History of Amelia Island


History of Amelia Island

Local stories and evidences have it that the Amelia Island was first inhabited by the Timucuan Indians and they were here as long ago as 2000 BC. They were strongly committed to one of their customs which is tattooing themselves with black, red, blue and yellow on different areas of their body.

The island was first named “Isle de Mai” (Island of May) by Jean Ribault, the Huguenot leader who landed on Amelia Island in 1562. It is said that on Ribault and his troop’s landing, they were greeted by the Timcuans with baskets of berries. However, knowing that the Spanish had claimed the area in 1513, the fact did not prevent these French colonists from landing as not only were they seeking land for France, but also refuge from the religious and political persecution that went along with being Huguenots.

With the coming of these Spanish troops, the first Spanish reign tool place, from 1565 to 1763. The mission of Santa Maria on the northern end of Amelia Island in what is now known as Old Town was set up to convert the Indians to Christianity. That time, the early name was changed to “Isle de Santa Maria”.

The following years, the Timucuans of Amelia Island gained contact with the Europeans, and the British settlements in the North soon took a keen interest in the area because of its naturally deep ports and the strategic trade route location. The island was then named “Amelia” by the governor of Geogia, James Oglethorpe in 1735 in honor of Princess Amelia, the daughter of King George II. It is interesting to know that although the island was named “Amelia” by the British, it did not fall into British hands until the Spanish Florida was traded for British Cuba in 1763 as a result of the Treaty of Paris. During the British rule, Amelia Island was known as Egmont.

In 1783, the Second Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War and returns Florida to Spain. It was in 1811 when George J. F. Clarke, a surveyor, plats the town of Fernandina, named in honor of King Ferdinand VII of Spain. However, to drive out the Spanish, the Patriots of Amelia Island, which is an independent group of American civilians backed by the US government, seized control of the Amelia Island and it was that time that they raised their flag. The following day, they ceded Amelia Island to the United States.

In 1870 to 1910, the Golden Age of Amelia Island, several wealthy Americans made Fernandina their home and built elegant Victorian style houses in what became known as the Silk Stocking District. The Egmont Hotel, which was once of the grandest hotels of the times was even visited by Ulysses Grant. It was noted that the boom was due to the shipping industry and the rise of the numbers of New Yorkers who came down by steam boat to enjoy the warm climate and elegant hotels in Amelia.

In modern times, the Amelia Island Plantation was built and is now known as one of the perfect island destinations in the world. Several establishments began to pop up, and now the island is noted for various activities.

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