Florida Maps: Then & Now is an animated map series from the State Library and Archives of Florida. The project uses Google Earth to create animated videos using historic and modern maps, photographs, and primary source documents from our collections.
This episode features historic maps of the Matanzas River, near St. Augustine.
This map, drawn by surveyor Robert McHardy, shows the confirmed Spanish Land Grant of Joseph M. Hernandez along the Matanzas River, a plantation he dubbed “Mala Compra.” The river along the bottom, or West, edge of the map derives its name from events that took place at a nearby inlet in 1565, when Spaniards under the command of Pedro Menendez de Aviles massacred French Huguenots associated with the Fort Caroline settlement.
This map stands out among the hundreds in the Spanish Land Grants collection because it shows the location of several structures. The small buildings that surround the large house on the left, or North, side of the grant may represent cabins inhabited by African-American slaves owned by Hernandez. The two “big houses” on the property likely housed Hernandez and his family. Hernandez, a Spanish citizen of Minorcan descent, owned several tracts of land in East Florida. Typical of other planters in the area, his slaves cultivated cotton and sugar for export, and vegetables for home consumption. Hernandez remained in Florida after the territory transferred from Spain in 1821 and became a citizen of the United States.
He was known as General Hernandez because of his status as a Brigadier General commanding militia troops during the Second Seminole War. In October 1837, Hernandez, acting under orders from General Thomas Sidney Jesup, captured the Seminole warrior Osceola under a white flag of truce. The deed, which took place near Hernandez’s plantation, in the vicinity of Fort Peyton, forever stained the military career of General Jesup, and came to characterize the dishonorable tactics used by the U.S. Army to wage war against the Seminoles in Florida.
This site is now preserved as the Mala Compra Plantation Archaeological Site. It was added to the national register of historic places in 2004.
For more information and other animated maps: Florida Maps: Then & Now