Many Americans are familiar with the chain of Franciscan missions in Spanish California. Less well-known is the significant Franciscan mission system that flourished among the Florida Indians more than a century before the friars founded their first Upper California mission at San Diego in 1769. The Franciscans began their program in Florida in the late sixteenth century, fter the collapse in martyrdom of a relatively weak, five-year Jesuit effort. Within a hundred years the friars had forged their mission chains from the presidio at St. Augustine some 200 miles north along the Florida and Georgia coasts, to the vicinity of Port Royal Sound, South Carolina, and over 200 miles west to the Chattahoochee River, where the present states of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama meet. At the height of the Florida mission era in the mid-seventeenth century the Franciscans, with probable exaggeration, claimed from 26,000 to 30,000 Christian Indian converts in thirty-eight to forty-four principal missions served by possibly seventy friars. The English-Indian raids of the late seventeenth and early-eighteenth-century practically obliterated the mission system. A few Christian Indian remnants huddled under the guns of the Castillo de San Marcos at St. Augustine until 1763, when Spain ceded Florida to England.
Matter, Robert Allen
"Economic Basis of the Seventeenth-Century Florida Missions,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 52:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol52/iss1/4