Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Celebrating the Historic Heritage
 of Beatriz de Piedra & Franscisco Xavier Sanchez

Starting Wednesday the Underground Railroad Conference begins in Saint Augustine (http://www.oah.org/programs/nps/2012ugrr/index.html) Wednesday, with reenactments of life at Fort Mose on Saturday and celebrations continuing Sunday. (http://www.floridastateparks.org/fortmose/events.cfm?viewevent=7501#7501)

These matter particularly to Los Floridanos because until the English evacuation of the 1770s, when Spain was forced to trade Florida for Havana, the Spanish colony was populated by more people of color than white skinned residents. And these were the Flordianos who spoke Spanish and populated our homeland.

Beatriz Stone (de Piedra), however, came from Charleston when she arrived at Fort Mose, the first free black settlement in America. Mostly its residents were fleeing slavery in the English Colonies or were Spanish soldiers assigned from Cuba. But Beatriz wasn't ever a slave. She had been born free thanks to her Huguenot father John Stone of Charleston and her mother, Regina, who held slave status. (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~crackerbarrel/1John.html)

Together, Beatriz and Franscisco had a large family during the time of English rule. A wise businesswoman, she ran the trading post while he build a wide agricultural empire. Their oldest son was among the first settlers of Amelia Island.

Come learn more at the Underground Railroad conference, or at least join the free weekend festivities at Fort Mose (http://www.floridastateparks.org/fortmose/) this weekend. Hope to see you there!

Rev. Dee Graham, Bradenton, Florida

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