Saint Augustine 1565: The First Thanksgiving

For a person who grew up in Massachusetts and whose grandfather was a proud ancestor of the Howland family of Mayflower fame, it is hard to accept the fact that the first Thanksgiving took place in September of 1565 and it was not with a bunch of Pilgrim.

You can forget about Juan de Onate in El Paso and George Popham in Kennebec, Maine.  The first European-Indian  food fest took place in Saint Augustine under the leadership of its found Pedro Menendez de Aviles.


The invited guests were the regional Timucuan Indians who we know brought oysters and giant clams.  I like to think they brought some of their barbequed alligator, but there is no record of that menu item.


A Timucuan Roast of Gators

Turkeys?  While Florida has a species of wild turkey that is lean and very energetic, there is no mention that the Timucuans contributed our favorite modern item to the table in 1565.


Not On Menu: Florida Wild Turkey – Lean and Mean

Menenedez had established claim to “La Florida” on September 8, 1565, with a large force of 500 professional soldiers, 200 sailors, several priests, and a mix of civilians mostly artisans and engineers to construct a fort and other needed buildings.  The Timucuans, who had already met with French Huguenots in Fort Caroline,  arrived from their nearby town of Seloy.


I Wager He’s Not Giving Directions To Golden Corral

The Spanish leader,  who was extremely religious, wanted to convert the Timucuans to the Catholic faith and utilize this friendly farming tribe to develop a mission system in Florida.


While there were some tropical fruits and seafood to be gathered, it is assumed that the Indians were treated to a dinner heavy on Spanish military cuisine featuring cocido.


Cocido was a traditional Spanish colonial mash of garbanzo beans, diced onions, potatoes, green cabbage, carrots, sausage, and a lot of salt pork, cooked in water for a few hours.  Fortunately, the Spanish served everyone some wine from kegs.

It is not known if anyone on either side got either a stomach ache or dizziness.   I think I will stick my good old Puritan turkey, cranberries, and a large pumpkin pie.

About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as an Emeritus college professor, he moderates the FHIC at
This entry was posted in dining, environment, florida education, Florida Food, florida history, food, Historic Forts, travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Saint Augustine 1565: The First Thanksgiving

  1. The French Huguenots had friendly relations with the natives before Menendez made friends and none of the prior conquistadors established good relations. The prize goes to the Huguenots and I have no reason to be biased I’m related to every group.


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