JACKSONVILLE, FL. -- A big development in the search for Fort Caroline. For decades, people have debated where the site was located. Some claimed it was in Georgia, others say Fort Caroline was in Florida.
A team of researchers led by Florida State Representative Lake Ray believe they have found it in Jacksonville, in the marshlands near Mayport.
"We took a series of maps, we took the documents, and we started looking at things that we knew had to be the different locations," said Florida State Representative Lake Ray.
Representative Ray says the search began decades ago. He and his team, his son and his legislative aid, say this is big news for Northeast Florida. It confirms the area's history and allows us to look closer at the fort's cultural impacts.
"There was a lot of Indian activity, the Timiquan Indians that were very engaged. This is where the first Thanksgiving in the United States, in the whole country, in the western hemisphere, was held on June 30th in 1564. It's where the first celebration of Thanksgiving was held," said Rep. Ray
Researchers found some artifacts in the area, some coal from a blacksmithing operation, what they believe is a part of a serving tray and part of what could be a chalet. Both of those might be pewter and may have been used for religious purposes.
"It would be a true crime to our cultural and historic background to have people go in and take something until we get the full understanding of it," said Rep. Ray
Representative Ray says the area will be protected, to preserve the site.