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In the News

March 12, 2014 8:48am Age: 5 yrs

Was Fort Caroline Located on the Altamaha?


Was Fort Caroline Located on the Altamaha?

New Findings

On Monday March 10, two scholars will address the Coastal Georgia Historical

Society on new findings related to Fort Caroline. Speaking at 3:00 PM Monday

at the A. W. Jones Heritage Center on St. Simons Island, Dr. Fletcher Crowe

and Dr. Anita Spring will present the results of their research which locates the

fort on the Altamaha River.


Fort Caroline was constructed by French colonists beginning in 1564. It is considered

the oldest fortified settlement in the United States. The fort is older

than St. Augustine, considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in

America. It is older than the Lost Colony of Virginia by 21 years; older than the

1607 fort of Jamestown by 45 years; and predates the landing of the Pilgrims

in Massachusetts in 1620 by 56 years.


But despite over 150 years of efforts, the fort has not been found. Fort Caroline

was long thought to be located east of downtown Jacksonville, Fla. on the

south bank of the St. Johns River. The Fort Caroline National Memorial is situated just

east of Jacksonville’s Dames Point Bridge, which spans the river.


Dr. Crowe conducted research at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the

French equivalent of the U.S. Library of Congress. There he found 16th

to 18th century maps that locate of Fort Caroline. Crowe was able to match French,

Spanish and English maps from the 16th to 18th centuries of what is today the

southeastern coast of the United States with coastal charts of the United States

published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),

and with maps published by USGS, the US Geological Survey.


One reason scholars claimed that Fort Caroline was located near Jacksonville

is because they believed the Native Americans surrounding the fort spoke the

Timucuan language of Northeast Florida. Crowe and Spring will show that the

Native Americans living near the fort spoke Guale, the language spoken in the

Altamaha region.


Fletcher Crowe is a graduate of Florida State University, where he received his

Ph.D. in history. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Stetson University in DeLand,

Fla. Crowe has conducted research in archives throughout

France and is writing a book about the French control of England in the Middle

Ages. He has taught at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, and most recently at

Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach.


Anita Spring received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of

California, Berkeley, master’s degrees from San Francisco State University and

Cornell University, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Cornell. She is professor

emeritus of anthropology at the University of Florida, and also served as associate dean of the

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She has carried our archeological work in California, and

ethnographic research among the Washoe Indians and in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is the author of 10 books and

over 60 articles and monographs.

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