Welcome to Florida Maps: Then & Now, an animated map series from the State Archives of Florida. This episode highlights historic maps of Jupiter Island.
Jupiter Island is often cited as containing some of the most expensive real estate in the entire country. With modern property values in mind, it is hard to imagine one person owning the whole island. However, that was exactly the case for Eusibio M. Gomez. This map shows land granted to Gomez by the Spanish government in the early 19th century. The grant included all of modern day Jupiter Island, from the St. Lucie River to the Jupiter Inlet.
At the time of first contact with Europeans and Africans, Jupiter Island and the surrounding area was inhabited by Native Americans known as the Jaega. To the South lived the Tequesta, and to the North the Ais. In the 17th century, the Spanish attempted to Christianize the indigenous populations South of the St. Lucie River, but with little success. One of the best accounts of the area during the colonial period came from a shipwrecked Quaker merchant named Jonathan Dickinson. In September, 1696, Dickinson and his traveling companions became marooned on Jupiter Island. The locals quickly took possession of the contents of their disabled vessel, and directed the passengers and crew towards their village. Dickinson described the scene:
“After we had traveled about five miles along the deep sand, the sun being extremely hot, we came to an inlet. On the other side was the Indian town, being little wigwams made of small poles stuck in the ground, which they bended one to another, making an arch, and covered them with thatch of small palmetto-leaves… Night came on; the moon being up, an Indian, who performeth their ceremonies stood out, looking full at the moon making a hideous noise, and crying out acting like a mad man for the space of half an hour; all the Indians being silent till he had done: after which they all made fearful noise some like the barking of a dog, wolf, and other strange sounds.”
Eventually, the tired and weary travelers were escorted to St. Augustine. The Spaniards arranged for passage to Charleston, and then Philadelphia, their original destination.
Little development took place on Jupiter Island until the 20th century, when the land was transformed from a narrow sandbar, skirted on the West by mangroves and on the East by the rolling Atlantic, to a haven for the wealthy, dominated by beachfront estates.
For more information about historic maps and other resources from the State Archives of Florida, visit FloridaMemory.com. In addition, Google Earth Maps from this series are available for download.
All photographic images reside in the Florida Photographic Collection, State Archives of Florida, Tallahassee: K893706.
Confirmed Land Grant of Eusibio M. Gomez. Series 991: Confirmed Spanish Land Grant Claims, 1763-1821, box 15, folder 19. State Archives of Florida, Tallahassee.
Dickinson, Jonathan. Jonathan Dickinson’s Journal, or God’s Protecting Providence… Stuart, FL: Southeastern Printing Company, 1981 .Visscher, Nicolaes. “Insulae Americanae in Oceano Septentrionali ac Regiones Adiacentes.” Amsterdam, 1680.
For more information about available Florida Maps: Then and Now in the KMZ format and for help using Google Earth visit our Google Earth page.