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Morganton in Burke County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Fort San Juan

 
 
Fort San Juan Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael C. Wilcox, November 13, 2016
1. Fort San Juan Marker
Inscription. Built by Juan Pardo in 1567 at native town of Joara. Served as Spanish outpost until razed by Indians, 1568. NE 4 mi.
 
Erected 2009 by NC Office of Archives and History. (Marker Number N-47.)
 
Location. 35° 45.224′ N, 81° 42.978′ W. Marker is in Morganton, North Carolina, in Burke County. Marker is at the intersection of North Green Street (State Highway 181) and Bost Road, on the right when traveling west on North Green Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Morganton NC 28655, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Waightstill Avery (within shouting distance of this marker); Andre Michaux (within shouting distance of this marker); Quaker Meadows (approx. 0.2 miles away); Burke Courthouse (approx. 1.7 miles away); Morganton (approx. 1.7 miles away); Our Confederate Soldiers (approx. 1.7 miles away); Tod R. Caldwell (approx. 1.7 miles away); Sam J. Ervin, Jr. (approx. 1.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Morganton.
 
Also see . . .
1. NC Markers page (excerpt below - LOTS more at the link).
...Pedro Menéndez de Avilés successfully founded two settlements
Fort San Juan Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael C. Wilcox, November 13, 2016
2. Fort San Juan Marker
on the south Atlantic Coast: San Agustín, founded September 1565 in Florida, and Santa Elena, founded April 1566 on present Parris Island, South Carolina. The latter settlement, Santa Elena, was to be the principal town of Menendez' colonial aspirations...

In July 1566, Captain Juan Pardo arrived at Santa Elena with a company of 250 soldiers and began to fortify the settlement. As the Santa Elena colony was ill-prepared to feed this large contingent of men for very long, however, Menendez ordered Pardo to prepare half of his army for an expedition into the interior lands that lay behind the Atlantic coast... Pardo departed with 125 men on December 1, 1566.

In January 1567, Pardo and his company arrived at Joara, a large native town in the upper Catawba Valley near the eastern edge of the Appalachian Mountains. The leader of Joara, referred to in the documents as Joara Mico, maintained some authority over several neighboring communities in the upper Catawba Valley. Pardo renamed this town Cuenca, after his own native city in Spain. At Joara, he built fort San Juan, and manned it with thirty soldiers.

Although previous expeditions in the interior had made seasonal encampments or had temporarily occupied native towns, Pardo explicitly built Fort San Juan to expand Santa Elena's colony toward the northern frontiers of La Florida. In so doing,
Fort San Juan Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael C. Wilcox, November 13, 2016
3. Fort San Juan Marker
he founded the earliest European settlement in the interior of what is now the United States. During a subsequent expedition across the Carolinas and eastern Tennessee, Pardo built five smaller forts along the proposed route to Zacatecas, Mexico, but it is clear from his statement, as well as from the two accounts penned by his scribe Juan de la Bandera, that Fort San Juan was to be the most important of these outposts.

Over most of the eighteen months that Spanish soldiers lived at Joara, amicable relations existed between the people of this town and their European guests...

In the months after Pardo's departure in November 1567, however, relations between Fort San Juan and the people of Joara took a calamitous turn for the worse. By May 1568, news reached Santa Elena that Indians had attacked all of Pardo's forts and that all were destroyed. Several factors may have played a role in the aggressive action, but two stand out: the soldiers' demands for food and their improprieties with native women... In the end, 130 soldiers and all of Pardo's garrisons were lost, and with them Spain's only attempt to colonize these northern frontiers of La Florida; indeed, it was more than a century before other Europeans are known to have penetrated this far into the southern Appalachians.
(Submitted on November 13, 2016, by Michael C. Wilcox of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.) 

2. About the Berry archaeological site. (Submitted on November 13, 2016, by Michael C. Wilcox of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.)
 
Additional comments.
1. First European settlement in interior of what is now U.S.!
This blew me away. I had no idea the Spanish made it this far north, some 40 years before Jamestown, even.
    — Submitted November 13, 2016, by Michael C. Wilcox of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

 
Categories. ExplorationHispanic AmericansNative AmericansSettlements & Settlers
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 19, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 13, 2016, by Michael C. Wilcox of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This page has been viewed 157 times since then and 63 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on November 13, 2016, by Michael C. Wilcox of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
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