A Spanish count and descendant of the founder and first governor of Santa Elena in the 1500s has joined a recently formed foundation dedicated to promoting the history of the Spanish settlement in Port Royal.
Álvaro Armada Barcaiztegui, the count of Güemes, said in an email that he is joining the Santa Elena Foundation’s board of directors because, for the first time in 25 years, he has found a group that wants to tell "the real story of the American History."
Barcaiztegui was approached this spring during a trip to Spain by foundation representatives, including Daryl Ferguson, now the group’s CEO and president.
"We understood each other very rapidly and discovered immediately that we both were speaking the same language and pursuing the same goals," Barcaiztegui wrote. Barcaiztegui will be granted the titles of the IX Count of Revilla-Gigedo and the XX Adelantado Mayor, or governor general, of La Florida, by King Felipe VI of Spain, according to a news release from the foundation.
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Santa Elena was founded by Pedro Menèndez de Avilès, described in Barcaiztegui’s email as "a hero, conqueror, explorer of Florida" and founder of Santa Elena and St. Augustine, Fla.
Santa Elena began as a military outpost in about 1566 and was the first colonial capital of America in 1569, according to the foundation.
The nonprofit foundation intends to establish a center to highlight the history of the colonization of North America and Santa Elena.
Ferguson said meeting with Barcaiztegui in Spain and seeing some of his family’s archives, including letters from the period of Santa Elena’s founding, was exciting.
Barcaiztegui is the curator of a private archive of 500 years of family history, according to the foundation. He wants the collection to be the basis of a new museum in the Asturias region of northern Spain dedicated to historic research, the news release said.
Barcaiztegui said he also intends to share his wealth of family history with the foundation, including exhibiting some of the documents in the Port Royal center after it is established.
"I own what ... is considered the best private archive in American matters ... from the XVI through the XVIII century, basically unknown documents that really tells the true story," he wrote.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.
- Santa Elena Foundation hires first director, July 14, 2014
- Legislature reinstates funding for Waddell, Santa Elena artifacts, June 18, 2014
- Santa Elena Foundation heads to Spain for research, May 9, 2014
- Santa Elena Foundation board member taking Ports Authority to task, March 1, 2014