Historical Books

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In the fall of 1971, the board of directors of the St. Augustine Historical Society voted to conduct an exploration of the resources of the Society's Library, Concentrating not upon the mainstream of the big events of history, but rather upon the small tributaries-an exciting event, a reminiscence of a life, or the growth and expansion of one of the city's institutions.

It was also decided to share the stories discovered with all of St. Augustine's citizens and visitors by publishing each week in the St. Augustine Record a vignette reflecting aspects of life in the Oldest City in days gone by. Mrs. Virginia Edwards, who had recently retired as an editor in the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress, was assigned the task of preparing these articles, which were entitled "It Happened Here." Later, a decision was made to publish a collection of them in booklet form.

The material that follows has been roughly grouped by historical period or general subject. It follows no particular narrative or pattern, but it attempts to provide a sense of what life was like in St. Augustine long ago and tell the reader something about the men and women who lived here.

Chapter I The Early Years

The First Road

St. Augustine's First Road - the Kings Road

The first road built by Europeans in North America started in St. Augustine and headed north in the same direction and over the same route for at least approximately one third of its length, as today's U.S. 1. When Pedro Menendez and his men made their way to Fort Caroline to exterminate the Frenchmen entrenched there, the trail was hacked out for them by 20 sturdy Asturians and Basques, under Captain Martin de Ochoa. They blazed a path through the wilderness with their axes guided by a compass in the hands of Menendez himself. Two hundred years later, in 1765, the King's Road was opened between St. Augustine and a ford over the St. Johns River (known as Cowford) where the proud city of Jacksonville now stands.

As the years rolled on, the area north of the City Gate, at St. Augustine's end of the King's Road, began to develop. In 1861 there were two houses built near what is now San Marco Avenue, one belonging to Captain John Masters and the other to a Miss Lucy Abbott.

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