The Spanish made two attempts to settle a permanent community in South Carolina. The first in 1526, led by a wealthy lawyer from Santo Domingo, Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, failed in less than a year. The second was more long-lived. To prevent their enemies, the French, from establishing a foothold along the North American coast from which to attack the treasure fleets sailing to Spain from South and Central America, Spain sent an expedition under the leadership of Pedro Menendez to secure the area for themselves. Menendez intercepted French explorer Jean Ribaut north of St. Augustine and put him to death. Early in 1566 he built a fort at St. Elena (Parris Island). Though Fort San Filipe lasted only a year before it was burned by Native Americans, Menendez built a new Fort San Marcos on Santa Elena in 1577 which became the basis for a substantial Spanish settlement that lasted until English threats to the colony in 1587 led to its evacuation. In 1580, there were 60 houses in the village, where artisans as well as soldiers lived.
Courtesy of the United States Marine Corps Parris Island Museum.