Sebastian is located at the northern tip of the Treasure Coast at the center of the Florida east coast. A sign at the entrance of the city reads, “Welcome to Sebastian, Home of Pelican Island, friendly people and six old grouches” — indicative of a community not only with a sense of humor, but the first designated wildlife refuge in the country.
In 1715, several Spanish ships loaded with treasure encountered a storm off the shores of the Treasure Coast and were lost. It is estimated that only a portion of the sunken treasure has been found. The value placed on the treasure lost from the 1715 fleet has been estimated at over $500 million USD.
The town was a fishing village as early as the 1870s. In the early 1880s David Peter Gibson, and Thomas New settled in the area. New filed to start a post office under the name New Haven. However, New got into legal trouble for misuse of his position as postmaster and was removed. As a result, Sebastian was officially founded in 1882 and named St. Sebastian, after Saint Sebastian. Later, “St.” was removed from the name of the town, but not from the river. It was incorporated as a city in 1923. Nearby Pelican Island was declared the United States’ first National Wildlife refuge in 1903.
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