Fort San Juan, Oldest settlement in the United States

Here is an interesting story which seems to have gained little attention outside of North Carolina. Perhaps if the land had been occupied by the Spanish longer the Seven Years War would not have been between France and England, but between England and Spain.

Fort San Juan

During Juan Pardo’s first expedition (1566-67), the Spanish constructed Fort San Juan near present-day Morganton, North Carolina.

The Spanish presence in North Carolina lasted only eighteen months. Looking for a route to Mexico, the Spaniards traveled a circuitous yet northwestern route from Santa Elena (near Tybee Island, Georgia) into northeastern South Carolina and Piedmont North Carolina. Heavy snowfall in the mountains stopped their westward journey at Joara, an Indian town near what is today Morganton. To ensure the procurement of food, the Spanish built Fort San Juan there. After two weeks, Pardo garrisoned Fort San Juan with thirty men, under the direction of Sergeant Hernando Moyano and continued his westward exploration. Moyano soon allied with local Indians to attack the Chisca. During the second expedition (1567-68), Pardo and his men stopped at Fort San Juan to rest. While returning to Santa Elena, Pardo left Albert Escudero de Villamar in charge of the fort and thirty men.

Scholars offer a few reasons for the fort’s abandonment. It was built too far inland, some argue, and its men too dependent on Indian aid. Others, including Warren Wilson College professor and archeologist David G. Moore, argue that the Spanish offended the Indians by possibly “demanding too much food or acting indiscriminately toward Native American women.” Whatever the case, Fort San Juan was abandoned, and the Spanish failed to claim western parts of North Carolina. Fort San Juan may have been a pivotal in colonial history.

Built before the English established settlements in the New World, the fort represents the Spanish failure to gain a stronghold in North Carolina. If they had been successful, a clash between two European powers more than likely would have occurred in the land.

The excavation of Fort San Juan began during the late 1980s and continues today. Under the direction of Professor Moore, archeologists, little by little, uncover the state’s Spanish past.


I have some very special memories of Spain. As I was driving home from work yesterday I found these on the radio. Its haunting melody returned me at once to Andalusia. ...Ah Spain!

de Brantigny


François Joseph Westermann

"There is no more Vendée, Republican citizens. It died beneath our free sword, with its women and its children. I have just buried it in the swamps and the woods of Savenay. Following the orders that you gave to me, I crushed the children beneath the horses' hooves, massacred the women who, those at least, will bear no more brigands. I do not have a single prisoner to reproach myself with. I have exterminated them all..."

Of all the events in the French Revolution which inspires revulsion few compare with the actions of this man, François Joseph Westermann. Born on September 5, 1751. He arrived in Paris became a jacobin and was a supporter of Robespierre. He left Paris went to Haguenau, where he was employed as a clerk. He was placed under arrest for inciting a riots. After his release he rturned to Paris where with Danton was instumental in the attack on the Tuileries, 10 August, 1792.

He accompanied Dumourez on his campaigns with the Army of the North, and assisted him in his negotiations with the Habsburgs. He was arrested as an accomplice when the general defected. Jean-Paul Marat denounced him to the National Convention, but Westermann succeeded in convincing them of his innocence in the matter. With the rank of Brigadier General to supress the Vendée uprising.

In my opinion, his trial at the hands of the convention for treason, created in him the fear that it would again happen. In order to insure that his near run with death never happened again, he became more bloodthirsty than the convention. So as in the case of tyrannies, his excesses were not only condoned but encouraged. The acts of his infernal columns were attrocities worthy of the Third Reich.

A massacre of 6,000 Vendéan prisoners, many of them women, took place after the battle of Savenay, along with the drowning of 3,000 Vendéan women at Pont-au-Baux and 5,000 Vendéan priests, old men, women, and children killed by drowning (noyades)at the Loire River at Nantes in what was called the "national bath" - tied in groups in barges and then sunk into the Loire. With these massacres came formal orders for forced evacuation. A 'scorched earth' policy was initiated: farms were destroyed, crops and forests burned and villages razed cattle killed and mutilated. There were many reported atrocities and a campaign of mass killing universally targeted at residents of the Vendée regardless of combantant status, political affiliation, age or sex. It is considered by some to be the first modern genocide, and only recently understood as such.

One story will illustrate the ferocity of this animal named Westermann. Upon entering a village Westermanns troops gathered all the villagers into a field, men, women, and children and proceeded to cutoff their ears, tongues and fingers. The field is called the field of the howling. It is inconcevable that a nation so enamoured with, Libertie, egalite, and fraternite, should have treated it's citizens in such a manner.

The below photo is the skin of a Vendéan captive.

After his supression of the Vendée, Westermann made the report with which I led off this article. He was proscibed with the Dantonist Faction and he was guillotined.

Vive le Roy,
de Brantigny

sources include

Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration

As Chairman of Christian Formation and as the Catechist for Confirmants at my parish I often relate the possibilities of a vocation. One of my students is a young woman who has expressed interest in the life religious. With her parents permission, I contacted the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Washington, DC. The sisters there were very kind and sent me a web address for their new web site. My daughter Genevieve spent a week of contemplation there as she prayed for discernment. As Catholic parents and teachers we must always be on watch for those who show an interest in the life religious, and not criticize or belittle their thoughts. It is our responsibility as parents to allow our children the privilege of inquiry, so that if called they will answer with out any sense of guilt or shame.

One would think that an order which takes a vow of absolute poverty would be a drear place. On the contrary. Genevieve related upon her return that she was overwhelmed by a sense of holiness, piety community, and cheerfulness. She said she had a great deal of enjoyment, and it was exactly the opposite of what she had thought.

In the great Franciscan movement of the thirteenth century an important part was played by this order of religious women, which had its beginning in the convent of San Damiano, Assisi. When St. Clare in 1212, following the advice of St. Francis withdrew to San Damiano, she was soon surrounded by a number of ladies attracted by the holiness of her life. Among the first to join her were several immediate relatives, including her sister Agnes, her mother, aunt, and niece. Thus was formed the nucleus of the new order. Here St. Clare became the counsellor of St. Francis and after his death remained the supreme exponent of the Franciscan ideal of poverty. "This ideal was the exaltation of the beggar's estate into a condition of spiritual liberty, wherein man would live in conscious dependence upon the providence of God and the good will of his fellowmen". At the outset St. Clare received from St. Francis a "formula vitæ" for the growing community. This was not a formal rule, but simply a direction to practise the counsels of the Gospel. "Vivere secundum perfectionem sancti Evangelii" was the keynote of St. Francis's message. On behalf of the sisters, St. Clare petitioned Innocent III for the "privilege" of absolute poverty, not merely for the individual members but for the community as a whole. Highly pleased with the unusual request he granted it, says the saint's biographer, with his own hand "cum hilaritate magna" ...more...

de Brantigny


Note the links above will take you to the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1904



The Irish Tory wrote an article about revolutions and how are lives and ideas are framed by them. As an example his first line reminds me of Hemingway's novel and the film derived from it, "For Whom the Bell Tolls". 1943. Remember reading it in high school as a classic and feeling it gave you? Why is it that monarchies and Christianity are viewed as backward and reactionary and the liberal (republican) ideals are forward and progressive?


Revolutions have this odd hold on our minds, they are romanticised in film and novel, their instigators proclaim they fight for 'freedom', or 'liberty' or 'independence'!

The reality is that violence, bloodshed and unlimited greed are the results! Those United States did not begin their existence in some sort of nirvana in 1776, a small group of heavily indebted, petty aristocrats decided to use the issue of the 'Intolerable Acts' as an excuse to rebel against their rightful King, they exaggerated the weight of the taxes that amounted to less then 1% of the GDP of the colonies, they whipped up anti-Catholic bigotry when they refereed to the decent treatment of the French colonists in Quebec by the Crown. They whipped up more bigotry and genocidal zeal when they objected to the the Proclamation line which had been set, so as to protect the Indians from unorganised and unlawful land grabs! ...more...

Thanks and a tip of the beret,

de Brantigny

Ash Wednseday

Elena-Maria Vidal at Tea at Trianon, has posted this day an article on Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday

Remember, man, that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.
Our forty days of penance commence with the reception of blessed ashes. The words from the book of Genesis (3:19) help us to think of the shortness of life, of our last end, and of that moment when each shall come before God to be judged. "Remember," wrote Saint Teresa of Avila, "that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; that there is only one glory, which is eternal."

Thnaks and a tip of the Beret to Elena-Maria

de Brantigny


The Immaculate Conception

As this is the month of Saint Bernardette, it is good to remember who it was who appeared to her at Massabielle...

The Immaculate Conception

"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!"

The Immaculate Conception of Mary. A dogma of the Catholic Faith. Mary the Mother of God, is conceived without original sin.

Many members of non-Catholic Ecclesiastic Communities (Evangelicals Christians) have asked me to explain to them how this is possible for Mary to have been born with out original sin. They say to me that Original sin is passed from Adam and Eve through our parents to us. How therefore can Mary's mother have the sin and not yet pass it from herself to her daughter? Then the argument continues thus, "If Jesus was born from Mary and had not yet died and rose from the dead, (by which we are all redeemed), how is it then that Mary was redeemed at her conception"?

So we see in these two sentences these facts: 1. There is original sin. 2. Jesus was conceived (through the Holy Spirit) in Mary's womb. 3. Jesus died and rose again. They believe these things because they have the faith to believe them. They realize that in God all things are possible, yet they can not get their mind around a very special additional miracle of God. ...And this is my main problem with most non-Catholics (and some supposed Catholics) they unconsciously place limits on God. They decide what God will do and what God will not do.

This is an easy analogy I use to teach this Dogma to my students...

Suppose you are walking down a dark path in the woods. You have travelled this path many times before. This time however some one has dug a hole in the path which you cannot see. You plunge into the hole incapable of rescuing yourself. Suddenly a arm and hand appears and pulls you out. You have been redeemed after falling into the hole.

Consider Mary, she walks down the same path, and just as she is to fall into the hole she is pulled back. She has been redeemed "before" falling into the hole.

Both are saved from the hole. The hole of course is sin, and the hand is Christ.

God is the Alpha and Omega, always was and always will be. He is all knowing, all powerful and everywhere at once. Everywhere means every time as well, for God everytime is NOW. He sees things all in the same NOW. And all at once...

O God, Who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, did prepare a worthy habitation for Thy Son: we beseech Thee, that as in view of the death of that Son, Thou didst preserve her from all stain of sin, so Thou wouldst enable us, being made pure by her intercession, to come unto Thee. Through the same Christ Our Lord. AMEN.

A message from Lourdes

"What I have to say to you does not have to be written down"

During the third Apparition on February 18th, 1858, the Virgin Mary spoke for the first time. Bernadette came with paper and pencil in hand. She was not to need it. Our Lady wanted to enter into a relationship with Bernadette person to person. At the start, Bernadette was invited to open her heart to the Message of Love.

In Bernadette's day, the Grotto was a dirty, hidden, damp and cold place. The Grotto was literally called the "pig–sty" because that was where pigs feeding in the area took shelter. It was there that the Virgin Mary, dressed in white, a sign of total purity, chose to appear. The contrast between this damp and obscure cave and the presence of the Virgin Mary reminds us of the Gospel, the meeting of the goodness of God and the poverty of the human person.

Before the apparitions Bernadette accepted her impoverished life with a stoic resignation, deeply motivated by the faith she learned from her parents. After the apparitions, when she realized more deeply the ways of God, she desired to never live any other way. "I want to remain poor" was the answer she gave to anyone who wanted to take her out of this condition. She had offers to go to Paris, where she could have made a fortune relating the story of the apparitions. In spite of her ignorance of the catechism, the enlightenment of the apparitions enabled Bernadette to understand the purpose of all the poverty which she and her family experienced. They resembled Jesus, who came as a poor man to mingle among the poor of spirit. This is the first message of Lourdes.

The disgusting mud of the pig–sty symbolizes penance. Bernadette, with her face smeared by the mud, becomes a symbol of the deep love that led Jesus to His Passion. She invites us to see the true nature of sin and observe the ugliness of evil. Tasting the bitterness of the grass in the Grotto, she courageously sought penance and the conversion of sinners. This was no simple act of symbolism. Bernadette suffered the disdain of the crowds, as they misunderstood her actions and lost faith in her. Jesus also was disfigured as he carried the cross. The mob mocked and spat at Him. He carried the weight and sins of the entire world on his battered shoulders. True penance enables us to see ourselves as the sinners that we are, and helps us as we recognize our mutual misery and be more compassionate towards each other.

At the ninth apparition, Mary asked Bernadette to scrape the ground, saying to her "Go to the spring, drink of it and wash yourself there." There is only a little muddy water to begin with, enough for Bernadette to drink. At first this water is muddy and dirty then, little by little, it becomes clear. The spring signifies the cleansing of the human heart, wounded by sin yet healed through prayer and penance. Bernadette was asked what the lady said to her. She replied, "Now and again she would say, 'penance, penance, penance, pray for sinners.' " Praying leads us to the Spirit of God. We understand that sin is contrary to the love of God and revealed to us through the Gospel.

During the thirteenth apparition Our Lady said to Bernadette "Go tell the priests to come here in procession and build a chapel here." The word procession, in Lourdes dialect, means a pilgrimage outside of one's parish into other parishes to meet with the people of God on their journey through life. Here, the nations of the Earth, continents and countries, young and old, the healthy and the sick meet in peace and brotherly love. Here, all languages are spoken, all kinds of music are played. On March 25, 1858, the day of the sixteenth Apparition, Bernadette went to the Grotto, and on the instigation of the parish priest, Abbé Peyramale, asked the Lady for her name. Three times Bernadette asked the question. On the fourth request, the Lady responds in dialect 'Que soy era Immaculada Councepciou' (I am the Immaculate Conception). Bernadette does not understand immediately the meaning of these words. She goes to the parish priest to tell him the Lady's name. He understands that it is the Mother of God who has appeared at the Grotto of Massabielle. Her name, the Immaculate Conception, given at the Grotto sums up the entire message of Lourdes.

from Catholic Pilgrims

de Brantigny


Global Democracy and the Rise of the King of Darkness

I am trying to clean out my files and publish, redirects before I delete my files. Please bear with me...
de Brantigny

Global Democracy and the
Rise of the King of Darkness

By Solange Strong Hertz

"[Jesus was] a man, of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, (and an) enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions of divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition by being gibbeted according to the Roman law."

------Thomas Jefferson, Drafter of the Declaration Of Independence

This quote is taken from The Jefferson Bible, a work that demonstrates both Jefferson's judgment as to what "true Christianity" entailed, and also what was "Catholic baggage" that needed to be removed from the Bible. Jefferson revered Christ's moral code and teachings, even as he rejected His Divinity. more:

Mirari Vos, a Papal Masterpiece

Mirari Vos, a Papal Masterpiece
By Nicholas Wansbutter, Esq.

In an effort to read more papal encyclicals, I had occasion some time ago to read MIRARI VOS, Pope Gregory XVI's encyclical on "Liberalism and Religious Indifferentism". Though published on 15 August, 1832, it remains as relevant as ever in the modern milieu. Indeed, one might think that little has changed since 1832 when we read Pope Gregory's description of the situation:

Depravity exults; science is impudent; liberty, dissolute. The holiness of the sacred is despised; the majesty of divine worship is not only disapproved by evil men, but defiled and held up to ridicule. Hence sound doctrine is perverted and errors of all kinds spread boldly. The laws of the sacred, the rights, institutions, and discipline -- none are safe from the audacity of those speaking evil. more

Thanks Nicholas, and a Tip of the beret to you.
de Brantigny