Holidays in the Sun


Castillo de San Marcos, St Augustine, FL (1695)

Castillo de San Marcos, St Augustine, FL

Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort (1695) in the continental United States; only Castillo San Felipe del Morro in San Juan, Puerto Rico is older.
Both fortresses stand as monuments from the age of conquistadors, which flowed from the Spanish re-conquest of the Iberian peninsula over Islamic forces.
After the Moors were defeated, Portugal and Spain commissioned young men to seek out & conquer the New World.

Conquistador Pedro Menendez-de Aviles: St. Augustine's founder in 1565

Conquistador Pedro Menendez-de Aviles: St. Augustine’s founder in 1565

Pedro Menéndez de Avilés had commanded the galleons of the great Armada de la Carrera (Treasure Fleet), on their voyages from the Caribbean and Mexico to Spain.
In 1565, the Spanish decided to destroy the French outpost of Fort Caroline, located in what is present-day Jacksonville.
The crown approached Menéndez to outfit an expedition to Florida, and settle the region for Spain.

The settlement of St. Augustine was founded by Pedro Menéndez in September of 1565, in the former Timucua Indian village of Seloy.
The location of the settlement was chosen for its defensibility and proximity to a fresh water artesian spring.
St. Augustine remains the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the continental United States.

The Timucua were American Indians who lived in north Florida and southeast Georgia.
They were the largest indigenous group in that area, probably numbering between 200,000 and 300,000.

Contact of indigenous North American tribes with European peoples began some time around 1502, as there exists a Portuguese map of the coast of Florida dating from this time.
Initial contacts were always violent and tragic; as the Portuguese were looking for slaves to work in their sugar plantations of the Caribbean and Brazil.

Earliest European map of Florida & Brazil (1502)

Earliest European map of Florida & Brazil (1502)

Old World microbes effectively depopulated huge areas of the New World, as Native Americans of this time had no resistance to communicable diseases beyond the common cold.
Measles, mumps, smallpox, typhoid, typhus, diphtheria, etc… carried off millions of Native American lives.

This began in the Caribbean in October of 1492, when Christopher Columbus under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain; sailed to the Bahamas (San Salvador), and massacred the peaceful & friendly Lucayan Indians.

Christopher Columbus journal entry, 12/13 October 1492:

Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands come to San Salvador to capture them; they defend themselves the best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion. If it pleases our Lord, I will take six of them to Your Highnesses when I depart, in order that they may learn our language…I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased.

Columbus then sailed to Cuba & Hispaniola, where he encountered Taino/Arawak Indians, who met a similar fate.
Spanish colonization of the New World relied on slaughtering & enslaving Native American men, while taking their women as concubines.

Thus the Timucua, Lucaya, Arawak/ Taino Indians (among many others) were absorbed into Spanish mestizo culture.
Today, these civilizations are considered extinct.

Conquistador Juan Ponce de León hoped for something to find...

Conquistador Juan Ponce de León hoped for something to find…

Juan Ponce de León landed near St. Augustine in 1513.

...but he could see no place to unwind

…but he could see no place to unwind

Located on the shore of Matanzas Bay, Castillo de San Marcos was designed by the Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza.

Matanzas Bay

Matanzas Bay, looking out from Castillo de San Marcos

Slaves were imported from Havana, Cuba to build it; construction began in 1672, and was completed in 1695.
Castillo de San Marcos is a masonry star fort, made of coquina; a porous and versatile limestone consisting of seashells which have been pulverized by the ocean and become cemented together.

Coquina: ubiquitous in St. Augustine, FL

Coquina: ubiquitous in St. Augustine, FL

Castillo de San Marcos has been improved, renovated, and renamed many times over its centuries of existence.
It has transferred sovereign flags seven times in its history, all peacefully; despite repeated attempts to take it by force.

The British Navy twice unsuccessfully laid siege to Spanish St. Augustine.
The first time was in 1702, a two-month duel that ended when the Spanish fleet arrived from Havana.
St. Augustine the town, was destroyed as collateral damage from the siege.

A second English siege occurred in 1740, but was abandoned after a month– due to low supplies & failing morale.
Both times, the approximately 1,500 St. Augustine residents and soldiers packed into the fort.
Castillo de San Marcos’ coquina walls are notable for their strength and durability; withstanding centuries of weather & enemy cannon fire.

Cannon loaded at Castillo de San Marcos

Cannon loaded at Castillo de San Marcos

Cannon balls from attacking ships were simply absorbed into the thick coquina walls, much like a BB into a dense mass of natural styrofoam.
Holes were easily refilled with fresh coquina, making the fortress impregnable to the artillery of that era.
Never taken by force, it has been truly claimed that Castillo de San Marcos has balls of steel.

Castillo de San Marcos' coquina blocks close-up

Castillo de San Marcos’ coquina blocks close-up

From the water at sunset

From the water at sunset

Under US sovereignty, Castillo de San Marcos was renamed Fort Marion.
It functioned mostly as a military prison for Native Americans– until it was decommissioned in 1900.
Castillo de San Marcos was designated a US national monument in 1924.

The Seminole Wars were the US-initiated conflicts in Florida, between the Seminole Indians and the US Army between 1816-1858.
They were the bloodiest US conflicts between the War of 1812 and the American Civil War (1861-65).
A US military victory in the Creek War (1813-1814), made Colonel Andrew Jackson a national hero.
In 1816, General Andrew Jackson attacked the Seminoles, and the Spanish at Pensacola.

Jackson was ultimately victorious again, as Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821.
Andrew Jackson later became the 7th President of the United States (1829–1837).
The Seminoles were ultimately defeated, removed, and imprisoned.

Creek braves were recruited and paid as mercenaries/scouts to assist the US military, in rooting out the resourceful & courageous Seminole Indians.
Seminole chief Osceola was taken prisoner during the Second Seminole War (1835-42), while attending a peace conference near St. Augustine, under a flag of truce.
He was imprisoned at Fort Marion, and soon after died of disease– as did many of his followers.

Chief Osceola Statue in Silver Springs, FL_ photo by NeilEvans

Chief Osceola Statue in Silver Springs, FL_ photo by NeilEvans

In January 1861, Florida joined the Confederacy, seceding from the United States.
Union troops had already withdrawn from the fort, leaving only one caretaker.
When Confederate troops marched on its walls, the solitary Union soldier refused to surrender– until he was given a receipt from the Confederacy.
A receipt was produced, and Fort Marion was taken by the Confederacy without a shot fired.

Most of the artillery was stripped and sent to other Confederate forts, leaving only five cannons in the water battery.
The Saint Augustine Blues were a militia unit enrolled into the Confederate Army at Ft. Marion in 1861.
Fort Marion, along with the rest of the city of St. Augustine was reoccupied by Union troops on March 11, 1862.
Confederate forces left St. Augustine the previous evening, in anticipation of the arrival of the Union fleet.

Saint Augustine Blues-- Confederate militia flag (1861)

Saint Augustine Blues– Confederate militia flag (1861)

After the inevitable Union victory, Manifest Destiny was fulfilled.
Capitalist industrialization developed breech‐loading rifles and machine guns; dooming Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche civilizations.
Numerous Native Americans of these tribes (and many others) were held prisoner & died in Castillo de San Marcos; as a result of the Plains Indian Wars (1854–90).

Tolomato Cemetery is a private Catholic graveyard located on Cordova Street in St. Augustine, Florida.
Its wood structures were scrapped for firewood in the 19th century, leaving only the original coquina bell tower intact today.
Members of the Saint Augustine Blues are buried in a row [front left] at Tolomato Cemetery.

Tolomato Cemetery

Tolomato Cemetery in St. Augustine

Another historically significant burial at Tolomato is that of Georges Biassou, a leader of the Saint-Domingue slave uprising in 1791.
Biassou became a Spanish general, supplied with guns & matériel to fight the French, until slavery was abolished in Hispaniola in 1793.
France maintained its control of Hispaniola until 1802, when a renewed rebellion began.

Napoléon Bonaparte ordered Hispaniola (along with the rest of New World) to be abandoned in 1803; the territory declared its independence from France, establishing the Republic of Haiti in 1804.
Biassou was ordered to St. Augustine in 1796, as Spain’s monarchy feared his leadership of the black rebels, more than the French military.
Renamed Jorge Biassou, he remained in Florida until his death in 1801.
He is buried in an unmarked grave.


This is St. Augustine, FL in 2015:

St. Augustine, FL: 450 years after its founding

St. Augustine after 450 years

Marquette: What’s in a Name?

Marquette University is a private Jesuit institution located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; named after French Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette (1637–1675).
It was established by the Society of Jesus, and was founded by the first Bishop of Milwaukee, John Martin Henni in 1881.
Established as an all-male institution, Marquette became the first co-ed Catholic university in the world in 1909.

Today, Milwaukee’s Marquette high school is the location of the original Marquette College.
Marquette College moved downtown in 1907, becoming Marquette University.
Marquette high school in Milwaukee is nicknamed the Hilltoppers.
From 1954-1994, Marquette University was nicknamed the Warriors.

Marquette is recognized as a basketball school.
The images of Al McGuire crying as he’s coaching his last game, a victory in the 1977 NCAA championship game, forever cemented that legacy.
It’s most famous hoops alums include Glenn “Doc” Rivers, William Gates and Dwyane Wade.

Side-note 1: This author went to Marquette from 1987-94, when Kevin O’Neill became MU basketball’s savior hero. O’Neill was a Lute Olson (Arizona) protege, who became MU’s head coach, rescuing it from its Bob Dukiet nadir (1986-89).  He got little respect from the media and alumni, because he wasn’t Al McGuire, which is ridiculous; so he left for a better college job and ended up in the NBA, where he belonged.  Kevin O”Neill is an excellent basketball coach, and a great recruiter who is also smart/funny with the media. He just needed a fair shot in the NBA, which he never got.  He fulfils the promise he makes to William Gates in Hoop Dreams (1994).  O’Neill, as of this writing, is back in college; head coach of the USC Trojans.

Marquette’s pre-1954 nicknames included the Hilltoppers, Blue & Gold, and Golden Avalanche for football– until the pigskin program was cancelled at the end of the 1960 season.

A huge problem for Marquette football was their stadium, which still partially exists and is used for intramural flag & club football.
Marquette Stadium (1924–1960) is a 20-block walk from campus; located at 36th & Clybourne– a drug-infested, gang-banging neighborhood.
It’s capacity was 24,000 at its peak; and thus never suitable for “big-time” college football.

In the late 1950’s, university trustees cut a deal with city & county officials allowing the Marquette Golden Avalanche to play in Milwaukee Stadium (later renamed County Stadium), the home of the MLB Milwaukee Braves & part-time home of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.
Unfortunately, the Golden Avalanche could never approach filling Milwaukee Stadium, or even put a competitive team on the field, since its early heyday in the 1920’s & 30’s.
Their last winning season was in 1953; after that Marquette went 10-44-3, until the program was terminated in a shoddy manner, after the 1960 season due to annual $50,000+ deficits.

After being given every chance to succeed, MU announced the cancellation its football program on December 9, 1960.
Despite an initial ruckus by hooligan students, football died a quiet death at Marquette; continuing a trend for Catholic schools of that era.

In 1961, it was proposed by a group of students, for the Marquette Warriors men’s basketball team to establish a mascot.
The Marquette Tribune reported on Oct. 28, 1960, the Student Senate passed a motion to form a committee for a Warrior caricature.
In February of 1961, the name of Willie Wampum was chosen as the winner of the “Name the Warrior” contest.
Willie Wampum made his first appearance at a Marquette basketball game on February 24, 1961.

Willie Wampum, the Marquette Warriors mascot from 1961-71

Willie Wampum, the Marquette Warriors mascot from 1961-71

Bill Schatz, a cheerleader for Marquette was the first to wear the Willie Wampum costume; made by his sister, Mary Ann Schatz Loucks.
She stated, “My vision came from the Milwaukee Braves mascot.”

Racist Caricature Logo for the Marquette Warriors from the 1960's-70's

Does this honor another culture, or is it just demented?

Willie Wampum was the Marquette University Warriors mascot until the Student Senate requested that the administration retire his character in 1971.

Willie Wampum in Full Costume

Willie Wampum in Full Costume


Mark Denning is one of the most familiar faces in the modern history of Marquette University, yet few Marquette alumni have any idea who he is?
Denning is a Native American MU alum, and the original “First Warrior” at Marquette basketball games in the early 1980s.

Mark Denning: Marquette's "First Warrior"

Mark Denning: Marquette’s “First Warrior”

He later legally signed his likeness away, and Marquette used his image as the university logo for over a decade.

The Marquette Warriors logo from the early 1980's-1994, is the likeness of Mark Denning

The Marquette Warriors logo from the early 1980’s – 1994, is the likeness of Mark Denning

Mark Denning, dressed as Marquette's "First Warrior"

Mark Denning, dressed as Marquette’s “First Warrior”

Official MU memorandum states that “the First Warrior was selected in the late 1970s to be a symbol of Marquette’s relationship with Indians and to visualize the university’s commitment.”
Reality was different, as the First Warrior’s refusal to clown the crowd with stereotypical antics, failed to rally Marquette basketball fans.
The “First Warrior” was abandoned after the 1986-87 season, when Native American students no longer participated.

In the fall semester of 1993, MU trustees announced that the Warriors nickname was to be discontinued, and Marquette University was accepting submissions for a new nickname.
Protests & pressure from Native American groups and their sympathizers had compelled the university to make a clean break with past abuses, including ignorant disrespect for Indian culture.

A list of two choices was presented to the student body for a “vote”: Golden Eagles vs. Lightning.
It wasn’t much of a choice, and most students abstained; Golden Eagles won by a two-to-one margin.
In May of 1994, the last Warriors class graduated from Marquette University.

Side-note 2: Marquette University School of Dentistry opened on September 26, 1894.
It is the only dental school in Wisconsin.
Marquette School of Dentistry currently enrolls 100 freshmen each year, 50 Wisconsin residents and 50 non-residents.
Today, these are the estimated annual costs for a full-time MU dental student.

As a graduate of Marquette University’s School of Dentistry in 1994, this author still maintains abandoning the Warriors nickname was a step ahead.

Attempts to revive the Warriors nickname have met with no more success, than those who attempt to bring NCAA football back to MU.
In 2005, the MU Board of Trustees unilaterally announced the changing of Marquette’s nickname to the Gold.
The Marquette Gold lasted only one week, but it revived the Warriors nickname lobby.
A huge campaign was waged, and another “vote” was put to the students; Golden Eagles vs Hilltoppers– any write-ins for Warriors would not be officially tabulated.
Golden Eagles won again in a landslide, as the university students & alumni preferred their own nickname, over that of Milwaukee’s Marquette high school.
Overall it was a colossal waste of time and resources, in a reactionary effort to turn back society’s clock.

End Note: We don’t need no stinking nicknames– We are Marquette.

Marquette Alumni Comments & Responses

MS: Well said !!!!  I am still a Warrior !!!!  No matter what Marquette University says.

BC: I just really dislike the nickname “Golden Eagles”. Its very generic, and not unique, as other schools have already claimed that nickname. I would love to have Warriors back, without the Native American Indian associations, but too much damage was done in the 60’s and 70’s. I can vividly remember watching and laughing hysterically as a little boy as the Marquette Indian mascot danced around to the Hamms beer song on TV, during a timeout. It ain’t so funny now……..Unfortunately, it is exactly this imagery, that is preventing us from losing the Indian association with the name “Warrior”. Truly a shame.

RS: The comments above are nearly 100% how I felt before I started writing this piece yesterday. But while writing I realized that Marquette is unique, in the way it cast off its beloved nickname and moved forward. It hurt (and still hurts), but it was necessary because the abuses were much greater. Today the institution & its alumni stand taller for it.  Also notice how the adoption of the Willie Wampum mascot in early 1961, coincided with the cancellation of football at MU in late 1960–as that brand of chauvinism always reincarnates itself.

MP: Well written. I think they should have kept the Warrior name but dropped all mascots and images of American Indians. A la Golden State Warriors. I never liked the Golden Eagles name and I still only buy MU clothing that does not have Golden Eagles on it. I agree that Willie Wampum was not a good choice but the name Warrior could have been maintained without offending anyone – every society respects the concept of a warrior.

RS: I agree with this, but only under the condition that EVERYONE respects Indian heritage, which obviously isn’t the case; as Native Americans who live on reservations, live in squalor.  It needs to be strictly understood that European forefathers massacred Indian forefathers, and that reparations still haven’t been made.  Not even close.  The answer to the title of this piece is history.  Once true understanding becomes part of our society, only then can the name Warriors be restored to Marquette.