From 1656 to 1704, Florida’s San Luis was home to the main Apalachee village as well as serving as a military, religious, and administrative capital for Spain. Learn about this fascinating place in Florida history.
The Apalachee and Spanish at San Luis Mission
One thing that makes San Luis special is that it’s a rare instance of a Native American tribe (the Apalachee) living (mostly) in peace alongside European (Spanish) settlers.
The Spaniards benefited from the Apalachee Natives’ strong agriculture, and the settlement thrived for several decades. The Apalachee council house in Mission San Luis was the largest building in the Southeast. It held 2,000-3,000 people!
In 1687, goodwill between the groups began to break down when Spaniards commandeered some of the San Luis Apalachees’ houses and land. They also took lumber intended for church repairs and forced the Apalachee to build homes for them. English raids and Creek raids eventually broke the mission apart permanently. The retreating Spanish garrison destroyed the fort and moved to St. Augustine. Some Apalachee went with the Spaniards; others migrated into Creek territory. Most Apalachee accepted an offer to live in French-controlled Mobile, relocating in 1763 to Rapides Parish in Louisiana. The Talimali Band of Apalachee operates in Rapides Parish today under the guidance of Chief Gilmer Bennett.
We learned quite a bit about this part of Florida history during our visit to Mission San Luis. I was very impressed with both the knowledge and the patience of the guides in answering our questions! What piece of history should we learn about next? We’d love to learn more about Florida, or another part of the world. Share your recommendations in the comments below, or on my Facebook page.