History of Amelia Island, Amelia Island History Museum
Amelia Island History Museum
The museum is located in the restored Nassau County Jail, circa 1935, in the heart of Fernandina's Historic District and is one of Northeast Florida's most unique cultural institutions. The museum is noted as Florida's first oral history museum, and is complete with historical objects and archaeological finds.
Experience history exclusively through the narrations of docents, walking tour guides, lecturers and instructors who revive 4,000 years of Amelia Island's astonishingly impressive history, personalized by museum artifacts and the Victorian seaport architecture of Fernandina Beach.
Amelia Island Museum of History
233 South Third Street
Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034
Phone: 904-261-9701 (x12)
8 Flags Tour:
11am and 2pm daily
$7 Adults, $4 Student/Active Military
Maritime Museum of Amelia Island
115 South 2nd St. Suite B
Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034
Hours: Tues - Sat, 9:30am - 6pm. Closed Sun & Mon
Amelia Island has served under 8 flags since our founding. Our museum highlights many artifacts and the role that maritime history has contributed over the past 500 hundred years in addition to treasure we have on display from Spanish ships that has been recovered from shipwrecks off the coast of Florida.
If you are interested in maritime and military history, pirates and Spanish treasure fleets, make sure to visit the Maritime Museum located in historic, downtown Fernandina Beach. You may even hear a sea story or two from actual divers who have found Spanish gold and silver from the Florida seas. Our artifacts are rich in local maritime history as well as others that include US Navy memorabilia, weapons from multiple time periods, a Soviet era KGB diving suit, an artifact from an expedition to the Titanic and of course, Spanish treasure.
The History of Amelia Island, Florida
Native Americans associated with the Timucuan mound-building culture settled on Amelia Island about 1000. They called the island Napoyca. They would remain on Napoyca until the early 1700s.
The written history of Fernandina on Amelia Island has unfolded under eight flags. The French flag was the first flag to fly over the island. Jean Ribault, French explorer, landed in 1562. He named the island Isle de Mar. Spanish forces led by Pedro Menendez de Aviles drove out the French in 1565. They killed Ribault and 350 French colonists.
Amelia Island was first named "Retreat 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 plotting, they were greeted by the Timcuans with flops of berries. However, egghead 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 tract for France, but also refuge from the religious and political treasure hunt that went along with being Huguenots. Though Ribault and his band didn't hang out, the Huguenots penitent again in 1564. It was this second empire which constructed the Fort Caroline in England Jacksonville near the mouth of the St. John's River. In 1565, Spanish troops came to the area and killed the French settlers for them to regain the territory which they had plotted as their own years before.
The Spanish flag was the second flag. In 1573, Spanish Franciscans established the Santa Maria mission on the island. They renamed the island Isla de Santa Maria. Fernandina was settled in 1685. It was located in the area now called “Old Town.” British raiders destroyed the town in 1702. The area was deserted for many years.
With the coming of these Spanish troops, the first Spanish reign tool place, from 1565 to 1763. The operation 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 moniker was changed to "Isle de Gigolo 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 industry route location. The island was then named "Amelia" by the governor of Georgia, King James Version 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 lapse into British hands until the Spanish Florida was traded for British Cuba in 1763 as a result of the Treaty of Paris. Mid the British precedent, Amelia Island was known as Egmont.
In 1783, the Second Treaty of Paris forgotten the Revolutionary War and returns Florida to Spain. It was in 1811 when George J. F. Clarke, an originator, plats the town of Fernandina, named in extol of King Ferdinand VII of Spain. However, to drive out the Spanish, the Jingoist*s 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 eternity that they raised their flag. The following day, they ceded Amelia Island to the Conjoint States.
In 1870 to 1910, the Golden Age of Amelia Island, several wealthy Americans made Fernandina their home and thrown together elegant Victorian style houses in what became known as the Silk Stocking District. The Egmont Hotel, which was once of the grandest camps 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 van to enjoy the warm community and genteel chalets 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 enterprises
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History of Fort Clinch, Amelia Island, Florida
Fort Clinch was named for General Duncan Lamont Clinch, a veteran of the Seminole and Mexican wars. Construction of the fort on Amelia Island began in 1847. By 1861, the fort still was not finished. Although incomplete, Fort Clinch was occupied in the summer of 1861 by Confederate troops. By December, 1,524 troops were stationed there.
The Union military command realized the importance of Fernandina to the Confederacy as a supply base. The Confederacy did not think they could defend the fort. In 1862, Robert E. Lee ordered Fernandina and Fort Clinch evacuated.
A Union flotilla of 28 gunboats appeared as the last Confederate train was leaving. Fort Clinch became the first Union fortress restored to Federal control. In 1869, all troops left Fort Clinch.
In 1898, Fort Clinch was again used at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. Volunteer soldiers were camped at Fort Clinch.
Though occupied, the fort was never completed. In 1935, it became part of the Florida Park System. It is one of the oldest parks in the system. It has sandy white beaches, campsites, nature trails, a fishing pier, and a state museum.