Jean Ribault was a French Huguenot, who came to the shores of the St. Johns River in 1562 seeking religious freedom for himself and for the brave people who accompanied him.¬†Leaving France on February 18 with a fleet of 150 colonists, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean and explored the mouth of the¬† St. Johns River in modern-day Jacksonville, Fl. He named it the “River May”, as this was the month when he found it, and erected a stone column claiming the territory for France.

Jean Ribault Monument,
Donated by the Florida State DAR Chapters in 1924

In 1924 during the 300th anniversary of the beginning of the immigration of the Huguenots to the Americas, the Florida chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution unveiled a granite monument at Mayport, Florida, just a few miles from the monument’s present location close to the Fort Caroline National Memorial. On a high bluff overlooking the St. Johns River, it now stands on land set aside and designated as its permanent home.

The unveiling of the Ribault Monument at Mayport was the genesis of the eventual creation of a national memorial for the Florida Huguenots. The original site at Mayport was popular, quickly becoming a gathering place for family picnics and Easter Sunrise Services. However, the monument was not destined to remain in this location.

During World War II, the U.S. Navy took over the land where the monument was located, eventually moving the monument twice. In July, 1958, the monument was moved a third time to its present location, with a rededication performed in October of that year.

This gray granite monument, memorializing Captain Jean Ribault’s feat and the establishment of the brave little colony of French Huguenots, was sculpted by the renowned Floridian, Charles Adrian Pillars. It is a replica of the stone column placed by Jean Ribault at the mouth of the River of May (renamed the St. Johns River), on May 2, 1562.

Unveiling ceremony of the Jean Ribault Monument at Mayport by the Daughters of the American Revolution (May 1, 1924)