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Ichetucknee Springs (Lake City)

San Martin de Timucua

Fig SpringsMission San Martín de Timucua (also referred to as San Martín de Ayacuto or Fig Springs) was established in 1608 when the powerful chief of San Martín invited Fray Martín Prieto to his principal village and publicly converted to Christianity.

Later in 1609, Fray Prieto travelled further west to Apalachee Province, accompanied by a number of Timucua chiefs. He helped negotiate a peace agreement between the chieftains of both provinces, thus ending their long-standing hostilities and paving the way for a unified (and Christianized) native population under Spanish rule.

Friar in his house

The peace would not last, however. The residents of San Martín, which was located on the Camino Real approximately half-way between St. Augustine and Mission San Luis, suffered from overwork and exposure to disease through regular contact with travelers. In addition, they were expected to provide food and shelter for these visitors, often without any compensation. Tensions reached a boiling point in 1656, with the outbreak of the Timucuan Revolt led by Lúcas Menéndez, the chief of San Martín.

The Spaniards overcame the attempted revolution, and Lúcas Menéndez was hanged along with the other principal conspirators by Governor Diego de Rebolledo. The mission of San Martín was abandoned following the revolt. Although the site was briefly repopulated in 1657 by different inhabitants at the urging of the governor, it was abandoned for good in the 1660s. After this, the once thriving province of Timucua became an unpopulated “hollow corridor” on the Camino Real between St. Augustine and Apalachee Province.

Mission San Martín Today

Archaeologist Brent WeismanArchaeologists have identified the remains of Mission San Martín on the east bank of the Ichetucknee River. This very important archaeological site is owned by the State of Florida and managed by the Florida Park Service at Ichetucknee Springs State Park.

The beautiful spring-fed Ichetucknee River that impressed colonial travelers is still delightful any time of year. The park is open year-round and can be reached off I-75 just south of I-10 using State Road 238. The actual mission settlement was located near the park’s north entrance. Additional information is available Ichetucknee Springs State Park