Fernandina Beach, Florida

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Fernandina Beach, Florida
Images from top, left to right: Beach, statue of a pirate (the mascot of Fernandina Beach High School), Nassau County Courthouse (Florida), shrimp statue (representing the annual Shrimp Festival), United States Post Office, Custom House, and Courthouse (Fernandina, Florida, 1912), Fort Clinch, Old School House, Fort Clinch Pier
Images from top, left to right: Beach, statue of a pirate (the mascot of Fernandina Beach High School), Nassau County Courthouse (Florida), shrimp statue (representing the annual Shrimp Festival), United States Post Office, Custom House, and Courthouse (Fernandina, Florida, 1912), Fort Clinch, Old School House, Fort Clinch Pier
Official seal of Fernandina Beach, Florida
Nickname(s): Isle of 8 Flags
Location in Nassau County and the state of Florida
Location in Nassau County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 30°40′10″N 81°27′42″W / 30.66944°N 81.46167°W / 30.66944; -81.46167Coordinates: 30°40′10″N 81°27′42″W / 30.66944°N 81.46167°W / 30.66944; -81.46167
Country United States
State Florida
County Nassau
 • Mayor Ed Boner
 • Vice-Mayor Sarah Pelican
 • Commissioner Pat Gass
 • Commissioner Charles Corbett
 • Commissioner Johnny Miller
 • Total 10.7 sq mi (27.8 km2)
 • Land 10.7 sq mi (27.8 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 25 ft (7.6 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 11,487
 • Density 1,073.6/sq mi (2,780.6/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 32034-32035
Area code(s) 904
FIPS code 12-22175[1]
GNIS feature ID 0294308[2]
Website www.fbfl.us.

Fernandina Beach is a city in Nassau County in the state of Florida in the United States of America, on Amelia Island. It is among Florida's northernmost cities, and is one of the principal municipalities comprising Greater Jacksonville. The area was first inhabited by the Timucuan Indian tribe. Known as the "Isle of 8 Flags", it has had the flags of the following nations flown over it since 1562: France, Spain, Great Britain, Spain (again), the Patriots of Amelia Island, the Green Cross of Florida, Mexico, the Confederate States of America, and the United States. It is the only municipality in the United States that has flown eight different national flags.[3]

According to the 2010 census, the city population was 11,487. It is the county seat of Nassau County.[4]


During later colonial times the site of the future settlement gained military importance because of its deep harbor and its strategic location near the northern boundary of Spanish Florida. On January 1, 1811, the town of Fernandina, which was about a mile from the present city, was named in honor of King Ferdinand VII of Spain by the governor of the Spanish province of East Florida, Enrique White. On May 10, 1811,[5] Fernandina was the last town platted under the Laws of the Indies in the Western hemisphere and was intended as a bulwark against U.S. territorial expansion. In the following years it was captured and recaptured by a succession of renegades and privateers.

The Isle of 8 Flags[edit]

Circa 1000, native American bands associated with the Timucuan mound-building culture settled on the island, which they called Napoyca. They remained on Napoyca until the early 18th century.

William Bartram visited Amelia Island in 1776 and noted the presence of several very large tumuli, or mounds, called "Ogeechee mounts" by the English.[6]

The northern end of Amelia Island is the location of the original town of Fernandina historic site, where Fort San Carlos stood by the Amelia River.

French flag[edit]

French Huguenot explorer Jean Ribault became the first (recorded) European visitor to Napoyca in 1562, which he named Isle de Mai.

Spanish flag[edit]

In 1565, Spanish forces led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés drove the French from northeastern Florida, killing Ribault and approximately 350 other French colonists.

In 1573, Spanish Franciscans established the Santa Maria mission on the island, which was named Isla de Santa Maria. The mission was abandoned in 1680 after the inhabitants refused a Spanish order to relocate. British raids forced the relocation of the Santa Catalina de Guale mission on Georgia's St. Catherines Island, to the abandoned Santa Maria mission on the island in 1685. In 1702, this mission was again abandoned when South Carolina's colonial governor, James Moore, led a joint British-Indian invasion of Florida.

British flag[edit]

Georgia's founder and colonial governor, James Oglethorpe, renamed the island "Amelia Island" in honor of Princess Amelia (1710–1786), King George II's daughter, although the island was still a Spanish possession. After establishing a small settlement on the northwestern edge of the island, Oglethorpe negotiated with Spanish colonial officials for a transfer of the island to British sovereignty. Colonial officials agreed to the transfer, but the King of Spain rescinded the agreement.

The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ratified Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War, ceding Florida to Britain in exchange for Havana and nullifying all Spanish land grants in Florida. The Proclamation of 1763 established the St. Marys River as East Florida's northeastern boundary.

Spanish flag[edit]

In 1783, the Second Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War and returned Florida to Spain. British inhabitants of Florida had to leave the province within 18 months unless they swore allegiance to Spain. In 1811, surveyor George J. F. Clarke platted the town of Fernandina, named in honor of Spain's King Ferdinand VII.

Patriot Republic of Florida Flag[edit]

East Florida Patriot Flag

At the beginning of the Patriot War, with the approval of President James Madison and Georgia Governor George Mathews on 13 March 1812,[7] insurgents known as the "Patriots of Amelia Island" seized the island. After raising a Patriot flag, they replaced it with the United States flag. American gunboats under the command of Commodore Hugh Campbell maintained control of the island. On 15 May 1812, the British brig Sappho fired on Gunboat no. 168, which had fired on the loyalist merchant vessel Fernando to prevent her leaving. Outgunned, the American gunboat withdrew, which enabled several vessels to escape from the port.

Spanish flag[edit]

Spanish pressure forced the American evacuation in 1813. Spanish forces erected Fort San Carlos on the island in 1816.

Latin American Patriots' Green Cross of Florida flag[edit]

Green Cross flag of Florida

Led by Gregor MacGregor in 1817, a colorful Scottish-born South American freedom fighter, 55 musketeers seized Fort San Carlos, claiming the island on behalf of "the brethren of Mexico, Buenos Ayres, New Grenada and Venezuela".[8] Mac Gregor claimed to be Brigadier General of the armies of the United Provinces of New Grenada and Venezuela (where he had successfully fought and led troops), and General-in-Chief of the armies for the two Floridas, commissioned by the Supreme Director of Mexico.[8]

Inside Fort Clinch

Mexican rebel flag[edit]

Spanish soldiers forced MacGregor's withdrawal, but their attempt to regain complete control was foiled by American irregulars organized by Ruggles Hubbard and former Pennsylvania congressman Jared Irwin. Hubbard and Irwin later joined forces with the French-born pirate Luis Aury, who laid claim to the island on behalf of the Republic of Mexico. U.S. Navy forces drove Aury from the island, and President James Monroe vowed to hold Amelia Island "in trust for Spain."

Confederate flag[edit]

On January 8, 1861, two days before Florida's secession, Confederate sympathizers (the Third Regiment of Florida Volunteers) took control of Fort Clinch, already abandoned by Federal workers who had been constructing the fort. General Robert E. Lee visited Fort Clinch in November 1861 and again in January 1862, during a survey of coastal fortifications.

United States flag[edit]

Union forces, consisting of 28 gunboats commanded by Commodore Samuel Dupont, restored Federal control of the island on March 3, 1862 and raised the American Flag. In January 1863, the first all-black regiment of former slaves recruited to fight for the Union was read Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation at Fernandina. Three weeks later they set sail up St. Mary's River to engage Confederate forces.


Fernandina Beach is located at 30°24′04″N 81°16′27″W / 30.4010°N 81.2742°W / 30.4010; -81.2742,[9] approximately 25 miles (40 km) northeast of downtown Jacksonville, Florida.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.7 square miles (41 km2), all land. It is the northernmost city on the eastern coast of Florida.


As of the census of 2010, there were 11,487 people, 5,176 households, and 3,207 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,031.8 people per square mile (397.9/km2). There were 7,064 housing units at an average density of 449.9 per square mile (173.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 83.4% White, 11.7% African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.1% from other races and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 5.3% of the population.

Out of 4,789 households 21.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.3% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.0% were non-families. 30.6% of all households were made up of householders living alone and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.65.

In the city the population was spread out with 16.3% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 20 to 24, 20.1% from 25 to 44, 34.6% from 45 to 64, and 22.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50.[10]

The median income for a household in the city was $45,954, and the median income for a family was $61,523. Males had a median income of $42,188 versus $35,934 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,019. About 16% of families and 17.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.0% of those under age 18 and 13.6% of those age 65 or over.[11]


The schools of Fernandina Beach are part of the Nassau County School district. They include:

Note: Atlantic Elementary (2nd and 3rd grades) was closed at the end of the 2008 school year. After the closing, 2nd grade was moved to Southside and 3rd grade to Emma Love. Also, the private Catholic school, St. Michael's Academy, is located in downtown Fernandina Beach. All three Fernandina Beach public schools are "A" rated by the State of Florida.

Notable residents[edit]


Amelia Island was chosen as the mystical land for the 1988 film The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking. The site that stood in for Villa Villekulla, Pippi’s home, is now Posada San Carlos, a pink-painted bed and breakfast inn.

Historic places[edit]


  1. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "The Isle of 8 Flags". www.fbfl.us. 
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  5. ^ Louise Biles Hill (1941). "George J. F. Clarke, 1774-1836". Florida Historical Quarterly 21 (3 ed.). Florida Historical Society. p. 214. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Harper, Francis (1998). The Travels of William Bartram, Naturalist's Edition. Athens. GA: University of Georgia Press. pp. 349–350. ISBN 0-8203-2027-7. 
  7. ^ Cusick, James G. (2007). The other war of 1812 : the Patriot War and the American invasion of Spanish East Florida. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0820329215. 
  8. ^ a b "Another View of Gregor MacGregor" in Amelia Now On Line, Winter 2001.
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  10. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. "Fernandina Beach (city), Florida". State & County QuickFacts. U.S. Government. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  11. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. "2010 Demographic Profile Data". Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010. U.S. Government. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  12. ^ Berger, Joseph. "Raymond A. Brown, Civil Rights Lawyer, Dies at 94", The New York Times, October 11, 2009. Accessed October 12, 2009.

External links[edit]