November 27, 2022 – December 2, 2022
Hiking Through History – Retracing a Minorcan Odyssey with Ryan Brennan
Who are the Minorcans?
Originally, The Minorcans were a group of indentured servants from Italy, Sicily, Greece, and the island of Menorca, who were brought to Florida in 1768. They were contracted to work on Andrew Turnbull’s Indigo plantation in New Smyrna for a set number of years, then receive a piece of land as payment for service. In 1777, after nearly a decade of poor working conditions and neglected contracts, the Minorcans fled the plantation in search of a better life 67 miles north in St. Augustine.
The Minorcans quickly became members of St. Augustine society, taking up jobs like fishing, carpentry, farming, stonemasonry and more. Despite being far from home, the Minorcans maintained incredibly strong ties to Menorcan culture and traditions, passing them down through stories, food, songs and more. Today, descendants of the original Minorcans can be found throughout St. Augustine, and the United States, many of which still practice old Minorcan traditions.
What is Hiking Through History?
The walk will be an attempt at recreating the historic Minorcan exodus. I plan on walking for 4 days and 3 nights, beginning on November 27th, 2022. I will only travel by foot and camp at night. Historians believe that most of the Minorcans traveled up the Old King’s Road, which unfortunately, has mostly been covered up for the creation of US. Highway 1. So, for that reason, I will be following the path most believe was taken by the original 3 Minorcans. The route will start in Downtown New Smyrna, and lead me up along the coastline into downtown St. Augustine. Overall, I will be walking just under 70 miles, with all my supplies on my back. During my travels, I will record and post three videos a day discussing various aspects of Minorcan history and culture, the Old King’s Road, Sea Turtles and environmental issues, the impact of Henry Flagler, and other topics that will be revealed during my walk!
What is the goal of your walk?
While Coquina is an excellent building material, it still requires annual maintenance. The goal of my walk is to raise $1,798 for the ongoing maintenance of the Ximenez-Fatio House’s Coquina walls. Originally constructed for the daughter of Minorcan leader Francisco Pellicer, The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum stands as a testament to Minorcan ingenuity and resilience. Just like Coquina buildings, Minorcan culture has remained constant in an ever-changing St. Augustine. Despite various fluctuations in government, economics, and industries, Minorcans can always be found in the Ancient City. With the money raised during my 67 miles walk, I am hoping to contribute to the stewardship of a Minorcan cultural heritage site and its defining feature, coquina. I will share a modern perspective on the multiday hike, and hopefully, with my steps and your support, we can continue to preserve and present Minorcan history to the public.
For more information or to support Ryan digitally, please visit our website here!