Religions – History Of Upper Keys Religions

23 Sep


By Jerry Wilkinson

Matecumbe Church

    The desire or need for some kind of religious worship appears to have existed from the beginning of the human race. The treks of the Spanish, French and English to the New World were strongly influenced by religion, but there appears to have not been any serious missionary efforts in the Florida Keys. Even Key West did not appear to have its first official church ceremony (Episcopal) until Christmas, 1832. This was four years after it was incorporated on January 8, 1828. 
    To evaluate Florida’s religious history is a bit presumptuous as most of its history is of the Native American with no written language. Should one attempt to do so anyway, the majority of it population can do so relative to the past 50 years and generally a much smaller span of time. The non-Floridian probably from the media thinks of Florida as a worldly society bordering on hedonism where pleasure or happiness is the driving motivation.
     However, in spite of the sunny climate, abundant water activities and comparatively scanty attire, religion has been a part of its written history since Ponce de Leon’s arrival in 1513. All early pseudo conquistadors sailed and marched headlong into religious practices of Florida’s Native Americans. In total population the permanent Native Americans outnumbered the white man well into early history.
     Since early Florida history is written by the white man, it is largely Catholic. Early on in the 1560s the French Huguenots threatened a foothold at the Jacksonville area, but the Spanish ended that effort.
     The English American Anglicans attempted another foothold from 1763 to 1783; however only in small numbers and the Catholics remained dominate. With the 1800s newcomers from neighboring states of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas, the evangelical and free-church groups soon outnumbered the Catholics. There was also the influx of Caribbean peoples mixed into the mixing pot.
     The 1830 and 1840 census summarizes Florida’s early population:
1830  –  white  19,400    –    slave  16,100
1840  –  white  29,400    –    slave  26,100.

via History Of Upper Keys Religions.


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