THE GHOSTS OF ST. AUGUSTINE
Marion Pellicano Ambrose
Marion Pellicano Ambrose
As an Assistant Principal, I took our students on many fun and educational field trips, but by far the best was the 4th grade and the 8th grade trips to Saint Augustine! Teaching is my love but teaching Florida History is my passion! When my kids went to the Ancient City, they knew all about Ponce de Leon, Menendez, the different Native Floridian tribes, the battles, the Spanish, French, American (Union and Confederate) rule of Florida, and even pirate history! They knew the Florida timeline right up to the present day and remembered and shared so much on our trip that their parents were amazed.
How, you ask, was I able to accomplish such a feat of excellence in teaching? The answer is……. Ghosts! That’s right, ghosts!
As we studied the history of each historic spot in Florida, I related the ghost stories that went with each area. We read from Weird Florida (an awesome book by the way) and many of the published accounts of paranormal activity in St.Augustine. So haunted is this city, that on any given night, there are 7 or 8 different “ghost tours” going on at once. The city is so famous for its ghosts that the cast of TV’s Ghost Hunters came to investigate. They had one of the scariest nights of their careers right in the St. Augustine lighthouse! Certified: Definitely haunted!
The lighthouse is said to be haunted by the spirits of 3 little girls. Two were the lighthouse keeper’s daughters and the third was a friend. They liked to ride the cart on tracks that led down to the water where ships would unload goods and wheel them up the tracks. On one of these “rides”, the cart overturned into the water with the girls inside and the friend was drowned. People often report hearing girls laughing down by the water and see their little faces in the windows of the main house.
Another favorite haunting of my students is the secret room at the Castillo de San Marcos (the fort). Years ago, while a crew was cleaning the canons on the upper level, the ground beneath it caved in and the canon fell to the first level. Several workers went down to see it, but no one could find it. Finally, someone was lowered down into the hole with a light. He was almost overcome with the strong scent of spicy perfume. He found the canon in a small room, completely sealed off, and to his horror he also found 2 skeletons chained to the cold coquina wall. After much research, it was discovered that during the Spanish occupation of St. Augustine there was a Commander of the fort whose wife was much younger than he, and known for her great beauty and the exotic, spicy scent of her perfume. She was also rumored to be having an affair with the handsome, young Captain of the Guard. According to entries in the Commander’s reports, his beloved wife ran away with her lover, never to be seen or heard from again. Could these two be the ones sealed up in the secret room? The skeletons have long since been removed, but why do visitors still catch the scent of her perfume when they enter?