The Story of Florida
STATE CAPITOL, TALLAHASSEE
1 1- dl
The Story of
W. T. CASH
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, INC.
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, INC.
SO AMERICAN state has a more interesting history than
Florida. A few years ago it was called by a well-known
magazine, "the nation's last frontier," yet the white man
had permanently established himself in Florida forty-two years before
the English settled Jamestown; and nearly fifty years before the reign
of "Good Queen Bess" began a long procession of historic characters
to play their part in the land of romance, flowers and tropic beauty.
On Florida's soil the native red man has fought as he fought
nowhere else in America. Cortez with a few hundred Spaniards over-
threw the Aztec monarchy and conquered the Mexicans in two years'
fighting, but the United States, with an army much larger than that
of Cortez, fully as brave and as well equipped, could not fully over-
come the Indians of Florida in seven years. De Soto was Pizarro's
chief lieutenant in the early conquest of Peru, but he found a different
breed of men on the plains of Alachua and the hills of Tallahassee.
The Indians loved Florida as men have loved fair women, but a
long time ago the white men who met the savages in desperate combat
began to understand that love. Three hundred and seventy years ago
Sir John Hawkins wrote of Florida as a goodly land. More than two
hundred years after Hawkins, the traveler, William Bartram still
found a lure in its rivers, lakes, flowers and forests. The lure of
Florida was so strong a hundred years after Bartram as to lead a
wealthy Standard Oil magnate to spend his millions in Florida; and
to this day the wealthiest of the world, who can go where they please,
choose to spend their vacation periods in the land made famous
by De Leon, De Soto, Ribaut, Men6ndez, Oglethorpe and Andrew
Both Dutch and English strove to possess New York; French and
English the Mississippi Valley; and Spanish and Americans, Califor-
nia; but Spanish, French, English and Americans have wanted Flor-
ida, and each of the four nations have battled for possession of all or
part of it.
Heroic deeds have been enacted in Florida seldom matched in any
land. The Spanish missionaries, whether we agree with their teach-
ings or not, faced martyrdom in Florida with a courage that cannot
but win our admiration. Into the wilds they went, not only telling the
red man the story of the cross, but introducing the culture of the
orange, the fig and the pomegranate. Heroes were those priests,
unknown and unsung in ordinary annals, but heroes nevertheless, more
deserving of praise than an Alexander, a Caesar, a Napoleon or a
And even to this day Florida has continued as romantic as of old.
Others than Ponce have been lured here by hope of a renewal of their
youth. When there were no more Indians to conquer, Henry M.
Flagler performed the seemingly impossible feat of bridging the seas
between the mainland of Florida and Key West. In the Everglades
Broward began a reclamation project at which the ordinary man
would have quailed. The courage of the citizens of Miami and West
Palm Beach after two of the most dreadful hurricanes in the history
of America shows that in Florida men are still heroic. Those of lesser
breed might have given up in 1926 and 1928, but Floridians are not
The narration of this history is a labor of love with me. I shall
not begrudge the effort if I can get more of our people to study the
interesting annals of our beautiful Florida.
W. T. CASH.
IN a history which covers its subject so thoroughly and interest-
ingly as "The Story of Florida," the publisher has little to add
beyond recognition, on behalf of the author and the organiza-
tion responsible for the physical make-up of the volumes, of the aid
that has been given the publication project. Mr. Cash has acknowl-
edged many sources of cooperation and material throughout the work,
and to these sincere thanks are extended again. To a group of
Advisers and Endorsers who have served throughout the entire prog-
ress of the history, from an idea to a completed set, particular appre-
ciation is due. They are:
H. Clay Armstrong, Pensacola, Mayor; Rev. R. Ira Barnett,
Lakeland, Clergyman and Educational Executive; Burton Barrs, Jack-
sonville, Judge, Civil Court of Record; George O. Butler, West Palm
Beach, Clerk, Circuit Court; Mrs. James M. Carson, Miami; Alston
Cockrell, Jacksonville, Lawyer; Joseph J. Dickinson, Orlando, Law-
yer; William I. Fee, Fort Pierce, Lawyer; F. M. Hudson, Miami,
former Senator, Lawyer; George E. Lewis, Tallahassee, President,
Lewis State Bank; R. J. Longstreet, Daytona Beach, Supervising
Principal, Peninsular Schools; Mrs. Anna McRae, St. Petersburg;
W. F. Stovall, Tampa, Real Estate; E. G. Swartz, Perry, Burton-
Swartz Cypress Company; A. M. Taylor, St. Augustine, former Sena-
tor; Percy G. Wall, Tampa, Chairman of the Board, Knight and Wall
Company; T. T. Wentworth, Pensacola, State and County Tax Col-
lector; Hon. James B. Whitfield, Justice of the Supreme Court of
And so, with the conviction that a valuable work has been accom-
plished in the spirit and letter of its conception, we place it in the hands
of its users. THE PUBLISERS.
Chapter I-The Earliest Inhabitants of Florida............ I
Chapter II-The Discovery of Florida .................. 9
Chapter III-Attempts to Conquer Florida ............... 16
Chapter IV-A Great Conquistador Fails to Conquer Florida 28
Chapter V-The Huguenots in Florida .................. 44
Chapter VI-Men6ndez Founds First Lasting White Settle-
ment Within Present United States............ 59
Chapter VII-First Twenty Years of Florida Under Spanish
R ule .................................... 76
Chapter VIII-Spanish Penetration of Florida............ 90
Chapter IX-Further Reduction of Spanish Claims in America 112
Chapter X-Twenty Years of British Rule ................ 138
Chapter XI-Twenty Years of British Rule (Continued) .... 161
Chapter XII-Spaniards Again in Control ................ 180
Chapter XIII-Gradual Steps by Which United States Ac-
quired Florida (Part I)...................... 203
Chapter XIII-Gradual Steps by Which United States Ac-
quired Florida (Part II)..................... 227
Chapter XIV-First Years of American Rule............. 256
Chapter XV-War With the Seminoles .................. 282
Chapter XVI-Indian War Fails to Stop Florida's Second
Boom ................................... 320
Chapter XVII-Florida Reaches Statehood ............... 343
Chapter XVIII-Florida Begins to Make Strides .......... 366
Chapter XIX-Social and Cultural Life in Florida Prior to
the Civil W ar ............................. 394
-Chapter XX- The Civil W ar .......................... 421
Chapter XXI- Reconstruction .......................... 458
Chapter XXII-A New Era Begins ..................... 493
Chapter XXIII-Florida Enters Modern Period ........... 528
Chapter XXIV-Florida Up-to-Date (Part I)............. 555
Chapter XXIV-Florida Up-to-Date (Part II)............ 580
Chapter XXV-Florida in Retrospect .................... 600
Chapter XXVI-Bench and Bar of Florida ............... 613
Chapter XXVII-Medicine and Medical Practice .......... 695
Chapter XXVIII-The Sectional View .................. 761
T ables ............................................. 944
Bibliography ........................................ 949
A ppendix .......................................... 957
Index .............................................. 993
Florida in 1636................................. ...... 3
Florida as It Appeared to a Map Maker in 1574 ........... 6
Florida in 1636 ..................................... 12
Approaching Pensacola by the Old Spanish Trail ............ 18
McKee Jungle Gardens Near Vero Beach ................. 21
The De Soto Oak, Tampa.............................. 31
Old Mission Ruins at New Smyrna ...................... 47
"Family Tree" (Large Oak at Left), Rollins College, Winter
Park ........................................ .. 53
Indian River (Inland Waterways) at Cocoa and Rockledge ... 63
Silver Springs ....................................... 69
Fort Myers-First Street, Lined With Royal Palms......... 79
Gulf Beaches at St. Petersburg.......................... 85
City Gates, St. Augustine.............................. 93
Library, Florida State College for Women, Tallahassee...... 101
Lake Eola Gardens, Orlando ........................... 117
Aerial View of West Palm Beach and Palm Beach........... 123
Rich Citrus and Truck Farming District, Near Orlando...... 145
Beach at West Palm Beach............................. 156
Rainbow Springs Near Dunellon in Marion County .......... 173
Ponce de Le6n Springs ................................ 185
A Perspective View of Pensacola ........................ 206
The Old Sugar M ill .................................. 214
Street Scene in Winter Park............................ 232
Oldest School House in the United States, St. Augustine ...... 259
Oldest House in the United States, St. Francis Street, St. Augus-
tine .... ............ ............ ... ............. 264
Dwellings of the Log Cabin Era at the Mouth of McCoy's
Creek in the 1840's ............................... 275
Royal Palm W ay, Palm Beach .......................... 291
Air View of Whitehall Hotel, Palm Beach ................ 323
Tombs of Prince and Princess Murat, Tallahassee .......... 347
Carnegie Library, Ocala ............................... 353
High School Building, Ocala ........................... 360
James Ormond's Grave, Ormond......................... 371
A C ard ............................................ 399
Private School Contract Made in Madison County in 1850. .... 407
Old Slave Market, St. Petersburg. ....................... 431
Orlando-Orange Avenue Looking North from Church Street 448
Jacksonville in 1886. Inset, Looking South from Post Office. 463
Elizabeth Hall, Stetson University, De Land.............. 472
Clearwater Fifty Years ago. Masked Fun-Makers at the
Present Intersection of Fort Harrison Avenue and Cleve-
land Street ...................................... 500
Same Intersection Today Looking South on Fort Harrison
A venue ......................................... 50 1
City Hall, Coral Gables ............................... 535
Harbor and Loading Ships at Fort Pierce ................. 544
D aytona Beach ...................................... 558
Tablet on Friendship Tree Planted by the Daughters of the
American Revolution, Coral Gables. .................. 564
Marine Zoology Class Room of the University of Miami on the
Floor of the Gulf Stream ........................... 569
Ringling Art M useum, Sarasota ........................ 571
View of Ponce de Le6n Boulevard, Coral Gables ............ 589
Miami-Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables .................... 602
Douglas (Main) Entrance to Coral Gables. ................ 605
Clearwater Thirty Years Ago. Street Leading to Clearwater
Bay and the Gulf of M exico ......................... 608
Clearwater-Same View Showing Million Dollar Causeway
Across the Bay to the Gulf .......................... 609
Orlando's $I,ooo,ooo County Courthouse ................. 613
New Post Office, Miami............................... 620
Pan-American Airways Seaplane Base at Miami ........... 634
Wisconsin Avenue School, De Land ..................... 654
New Dade County Courthouse, Miami ................... 675
Aerial View of Miami........................... Facing 720
Beach at Miami from the Air ................ ... .Facing 752
Flagler Street, M iami ................................. 782
Biscayne Boulevard, Miami ............................ 784
Aerial View of University of Miami ..................... 787
Air View of Down-town Jacksonville. .................... 797
Palafox Street, Pensacola, in 1876. ................. Facing 803
Pensacola's Main Thoroughfare, Palafox Street, 1935 ...... 803
A Part of Tampa's Skyline ............................. 820
Gasparilla Pirate Ship Coming Up the River ............... 823
Fort Myers Beach With Cocoanut Palms .................. 836
Fort Myers-A Typical Residence Surrounded by Royal Palm
Trees ................. ....................... 840
Florida State College for Women, Administration Building,
T allahassee ...................................... 843
"Goodwood," Home of Senator William C. Hodges, Talla-
hassee .......................................... 846
Court H house, Ocala.................................. 859
The Annie Russell Theatre (at left) and the Knowles Memo-
rial Chapel, Rollins College, Winter Park .............. 879
New Solarium at Orlando.............................. 882
Women's Dormitories, Rollins College, Winter Park ........ 884
Town Beach at Palm Beach ............................ 887
Air View Showing Beach, Hotels and Golf Course, Palm Beach 889
Municipal Recreation Pier, St. Petersburg. ............... 893
Open-air Post Office, St. Petersburg. ................... .. 895
Section of Clearwater Beach Twenty-five Years Ago ......... 898
Same Site Today, Showing Recently Completed Carlovel Yacht
Club and Cabana Colony ........................... 899
Residence of John Ringling, Sarasota. ................... 919
The Earliest Inhabitants of Florida
When Ponce de Le6n reached the Florida coast in 1513, the entire
area embraced within the present State had a sparse population,
which may have numbered 35,000, some two-thirds of which occupied
the peninsula section. These people the Spaniards gave the same
name which they had applied to the aborigines of America already
The Indians of Florida had the same copper-brown color as the
other natives of America. Early Spanish writers accorded them great
stature, but modern investigation does not bear out the Spanish state-
ments. Examination of skeletal remains shows that the native men
of Florida were of about the same average height as white men now
living in the State. The native women hardly reached the stature of
present-day white women of Florida.
While there has been insufficient examination of aboriginal remains
in Florida for one to make hard-and-fast statements concerning the
antiquity of the red men here, all investigation so far made indicates
that Florida had not been long settled at the discovery of America,
probably only a few hundred years at most. The great majority of
Indian mounds where excavations have been made have had in them
articles of the white man's manufacture, proving that these mounds
had not been completed at the discovery of Florida. Many were
probably constructed entirely after that date. There have been
statements made to the contrary, but scientific investigators are unani-
mous in saying that
exhumed in Florida)
In fact such traditional information as we have been able to obtain
from the red men themselves indicates that most of those occupying
the present southeastern United States in early Spanish days had not
been long come out of Mexico. There are reasons for believing there
were several waves of this Mexican migration caused in part, at least,
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
by the conquering Aztecs, who made the surrounding tribes pay trib-
ute and furnish victims for their human sacrifices.
These Indians of apparent Mexican origin formed two groups
known as the Muskhogean and the Timucuan. The former included
such tribes as the Creeks, Chickasaws, Apalaches and others. Flor-
ida tribes belonging to it occupied the whole western shore of the
peninsula and also included the Apalaches and Choctaws who lived
in most of the country between the Suwannee and Perdido rivers.
The St. Johns Valley and much of the entire east coast was occupied
by a group known collectively as the Timucuan, but there are rea-
sons for believing that there had been an admixture of Timucuan
and Muskhogean blood in much. of the peninsula(1 Governor Flem-
ing, author of the historical portion of Rerick's Memoirs of Florida,
even hints that there was no great difference between Timucuans and
Muskhogeans, and at least one or two other writers are not sure
that all of the Indians of Florida were not of the same stock. If
the Timucuans were of a different group from the Muskhogean tribes,
and most authorities now believe they were, they had doubtless come
into Florida from northeastern Mexico, following the Gulf coast
until they reached the Florida peninsula.
The claim made by some authorities that there was a third group
of Indians in Florida, occupying the lower portion of the peninsula
on both coasts, and having their origin in the West Indies, is appar-
ently not borne out by the facts, though Caribs from the Antilles and
Lucayos from the Bahamas did sometimes sail their canoes to Flor-
Green's School History of Florida, following Brinton, divides the
Indians of peninsula Florida into six provinces, Caloosa, Tequesta,
Tocabaga, Utina, Vitachuca and Saturiba. From the Suwannee River
(some say the Aucilla) to the Apalachicola was the province of
Apalache, and west of the Apalachicola were a few Choctaws known
as Pensacolas. Caloosa reached from the Florida capes to Tampa
Bay and westward to Lake Okeechobee; Tocabaga extended from
Tampa Bay to the Withlacoochee and as far inland as the head of
the Ocklawaha; north of Tocabaga to the Suwannee was Vitachuco;
and roughly paralleling those provinces on the Atlantic side going
northward were Tequesta, Utina and Saturiba. This was, without
doubt, too arbitrary a division. The Indian population was con-
stantly shifting, being pushed about by successive waves of migration,
even as happened during the days of Spanish control; and the so-
called Timucuan provinces of the St. Johns Valley were not so much
separate political divisions, as they were a loose confederation, whose
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FLORIDA IN 1636
.ti -desetim- craetdde ,fec-
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
parts* were under sub-chiefs, or paracousis, residing in the larger
While too little is known to generalize, the major portion of proof
so far offered shows that the Indians of Florida, on the whole, were
much alike in customs and behavior, although the St. Johns Valley
Indians offered no such resistance to the white man as those of the
west coast and Apalache. There was some difference in clothing
worn and in the dwellings occupied, caused no doubt by the differences
in climate between northern and southern Florida. The climate of
Apalache was (if we can trust Cabeza de Vaca) colder than it is
now, and this no doubt caused Apalaches to dress more frequently in
skins, while the lower Florida Indians wore hardly any clothing at all,
or else draped themselves in Spanish moss or in simply-woven vege-
table fibers. The houses of Apalache too, were apparently more
substantial than elsewhere in Florida.( In lower South Florida the
Indian dwellings were thatched palmetto huts. In other portions of
the peninsula they were built of logs and covered with bark, palmetto
leaves, skins or poles. In Apalache the dwellings of the Indians were
often given a red or yellow ochre stain made from rocks of the region
dissolved in water. But in no section of Florida were there Indian
dwellings whose destruction would have caused much loss to the
owner. In parts of Florida ,Indian villages were of circular shape.
The floor of each dwelling was raised slightly above the ground, while
the floor of the chief's house was somewhat lower than the surface.
Sometimes a village is said to have consisted of one large circular wall
of posts into which rooms were constructed from the inside of the
circle, each room being occupied lya1ramily of Indians. But neither
dwellings nor villages of the Florida Inilans were always uniform as
to size or shape.
The Florida Indians, so far as we have information, were all sun
and moon worshippers, holding the sun to be the male principle of
life and the moon the female. As worshippers of the sun they held
three great annual feasts, namely, at corn-planting time, when the
young ears of corn were ready to eat, and at harvest time. New moon
feasts were also held, but they did not have the significance of the
great annual feasts nor was the same amount of ceremonial features
involved. Usually there was dancing, beating of rude drums and
much yelling at each of the feasts. Preceding the Toya feast, cele-
brated when the ears of co.wyere ready to be eaten, the men par-
ticipants went off to hide in the woods, where, it is said, they per-
formed mysterious rites;'i nd while they were away their women
There was sometimes war between the parts of this loose confederation.
EARLIEST INHABITANTS OF FLORIDA
tore their hair and cut themselves with sharp stones. All was joy at
the return of the men three days later, when occurred feasting, danc-
ing and other ceremonial observances.
The jauvas or Indian priests had great influence, as they were the
ones who prepared the members of the tribe for the proper observance
of the feast. They were also the medicine men of the tribe, treating
diseases and attempting to drive away evil spirits. They were also
the leaders in ceremonial preparation of the warriors ready to go
The Indians of Florida had their sports, such as wrestling, run-
ning and jumping and ball-playing, the latter in no way resembling
our modern ball games. The element of sport also entered into their
hunting, but not so much as in the case of the white man.
Each tribe or province of Florida had its chief who directed its
movements and led it in war. Sometimes chieftainship descended
from father to son. Often, as in the case of Osceola, the Indians
would place men who exhibited unusual powers of leadership as their
head. Each Indian village had its paracousi or sub-chief. In his
function of tribal head the chief was assisted by a council. The
jauvas or medicine men were also very influential in the control of
Many historians have wondered at what they call the complete %
disappearance of the Indian tribes found by the Spanish discoverers
of Florida. As a matter of fact there is no great mystery about it.
The tribes did disappear as separate identities, but there is no proof
that the blood of the early red men of Florida does not flow in the
Indians of today, both in the Seminoles of Florida and the Seminoles
and Creeks of Oklahoma. /he Seminoles of southern Florida, it is
now generally agreed, are composite formed from a number of ele-
ments, which includes Spanish fnuians-that is to say the tribes the
Spaniards found in Florida, Yemassees and Creeks, not to mention
negro blood. That the Creek element predominates seems certain;
but the Crees and the Apalaches of Northern Florida were all of the
same Muskhogean stock, and there is good reason for believing that
except for slight differences in the dialects spoken there was prac-
tically no difference between the two peoples. The Creeks more than
one hundred years before the United States came into possession of
Florida carried many of the Apalaches (probably much more than
half the tribe) into captivity, and these lost their identity.* The Semi-
noles who left the Creeks and came into Florida soon after the
destruction of Apalache are certain to have become merged with the
Many of these captives later returned to Florida.
ML 7 I
FLORIDA AS IT APPEARED TO A MAP MAKER IN 1574
EARLIEST INHABITANTS OF FLORIDA
Appalachian element left here. It is true that a few Apalaches, not
wishing to lose their tribal identity, did migrate westward into Louisi-
ana, but it seems entirely reasonable to believe that these western
migrants were composed of the few that we might call the "die-hard"
We have it on the authority of Bernard Romans that the Caloosas
of the lower west coast of Florida, to the number of eighty families,
moved to Cuba in 1762. That all did not go is certain, for some of
these united with the Seminoles in fighting the armies of the United
States during the Florida War of 1835-42, since which time they and
all others who joined the Seminoles have been considered a part of
It is true that one cannot be too dogmatic in making statements
concerning the Indians of Florida. There is much work remaining
for the pick and shovel of the archeologist. The linguistic student
has not had his last word. Decipherment of Mayan inscriptions and
the few Maya manuscripts yet remaining may give us more informa-
tion concerning movement of Indian tribes northward from Mexico
and Central America. There are many Spanish manuscripts yet
unread and untranslated, from which we may get some information
concerning the Florida Indians. Hence, the reader must bear in
mind that the historian of any date can only make statements in the
light of the best evidence at hand, and where authorities conflict use
his best judgment in reconciling their differences.
I. When the Spaniards first reached Florida it contained an
Indian population of possibly 35,000, sparsely scattered over the
present area of the State. The Florida Indians were of only moder-
ate stature, despite statements to the contrary, and of copper-brown
color. Their clothing was of skins, vegetable fiber and moss, being
most substantial in northern Florida.
2. The majority of historians say that the Indians of Florida
belonged to two groups-the Muskhogean group, which occupied
northern Florida and the entire west coast as far south as the Flor-
ida capes; and the Timucuan group, which dwelt along the east coast
of Florida and in the St. Johns Valley. A few historians claim that the
Indians at the extreme ends of the east and west coasts belong to a
third group derived from the West Indies.
3. The claim that the Florida Indians were divided into seven
provinces, whose boundaries can be fairly well determined, does not
seem to accord with the facts. The truth appears to be that early
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
Spanish writers thought chiefs of important Indian villages were
heads of whole regions to which they assigned definite boundaries.
4. That the Florida Indians were of no great antiquity is proved
by their mounds and the skeletal remains so far examined.
5. The red men of Florida lived in homes of simple construction.
Sometimes their villages were of circular shape, but there was no such
thing as uniformity of construction. This varied according to both
time and place.
6. The sun and moon were venerated by the Indians of Florida,
who celebrated feasts in their honor. The Indian priests or jauvas
had charge of religious ceremonials and were the medicine men of the
7. The Indians of a region or province were governed by a head
chief and each village by a sub-chief or paracousi. Chieftainship was
sometimes hereditary, but it often went to those showing qualities of
8. The Florida Indians except in perhaps one or two instances
did not completely disappear. They merely lost their identity in tribes
who came later. Descendants having the blood of the early Indians
are represented today in members of the Creek and Seminole tribes,
living in Oklahoma and Florida.
(The works named below are the principal authorities used, but by no means
the only ones):t
The Florida Peninsula, by Daniel G. Brinton, 1859.
Memoirs of Florida, by Rowland H. Rerick (Francis P. Fleming, editor), 1902.
Ancient Florida, by John Gilmary Shea in Vol. II, narrative and Critical History
of America, edited by Justice Winsor, 1886.
School History of Florida, by Edwin L. Green, 1898.
Florida: Its History and Its Romance, by George R. Fairbanks, 1903.
History of the Creek Indians, by John R. Swanton, 1922.
Anthropology of Florida, by Ales Hrdlicka, 1922.
The Indian Races of North and South America, by Charles De Wolf Brownell,
The American Race, by Daniel G. Brinton, 1891.
t In this and subsequent chapters the statement of authorities does not mean that
all statements of those authorities on the history of Florida are viewed as correct by the
author of this work.
The Discovery of Florida
There have occurred many events in this old world of which we
cannot be exact as to dates, and not a few have happened where
neither persons nor dates can be given. This is true as to the first
time Europeans visited the shores of Florida. We know that prior
to November, 1502, Florida had been visited by white men, who
learned something of its shape; but who those persons were we may
There is still in one of the libraries of Europe-the Bibliotica
Estense-a map drawn in 1502 under the direction of Alberto Can-
tino, for the Italian Duke of Ferrara, illustrating discoveries from
the time of Columbus. This Cantino map shows a mainland near
Cuba, which is unquestionably Florida. Some have claimed that the
land indicated is merely a confused idea of Cuba as mainland; others
that Yucatan is meant instead of Florida. Neither contention is
reasonable, for Cuba (then called Ysabella) is shown on the Cantino
map, and Yucatan was not visited by white men earlier than 15o6.*
Henry Harisse, one of the best authorities on early American
exploration, says that between the end of 1500 and the summer of
1502 navigators whose names and nationality are unknown, but whom
we may presume, to be Spaniards, discovered and explored that part
of the shore of the present United States which from Pensacola Bay
runs along the Gulf of Mexico to the Cape of Florida and, turning,
it runs northward along the Atlantic coast to about the mouth of the
Chesapeake or the Hudson. Edwin L. Green in his School History
of Florida hints that Amerigo Vespucci might have been the first
European visitor to Florida. "It is possible," continues Green, "that
the map-maker obtained his information from traders who had visited
the Florida peninsula.
Another map given in Peter Martyr's Decades, published in 1511,
shows land near Cuba about where Florida is located, which is called
*At least one authority asserts it was discovered earlier.
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
"Illa de Beimeni Parte." This is probably (though not certainly)
the first time the word "Beimeni" (usually spelled "Bimini") ever
appeared in print.
But not the first time the Spaniards in the West Indies had heard
the word. According to the Carib Indians Bimini was a land wherein
was a fountain whose waters would restore youth to those who, bathed
in it. The story seems to show how closely related men in the dif-
ferent quarters of the globe really are; for the fountain of youth
legend was already an old one to educated Europeans when Columbus
discovered America. Back in the twelfth century Sir John Mande-
ville in his book of travels to the East had located such a fountain in
But sometimes an old story dressed up a little becomes most
There was dwelling in Puerto Rico in 1512 a wealthy Spaniard
of fifty-two who had doubtless heard the fountain of youth story hun-
dreds of times, but until now had shown no interest in it. This man
was Juan Ponce de Le6n, and he was making preparations to sail to
Bimini, land of the wondrous fountain.
Ponce de Le6n had had so far a life of adventure and thrills, and
what more fascinating to a man cast in such a mold than go out and
seek more? It would be a fitting climax to a most eventful career.
Let us briefly review his life up to this time.
Juan Ponce de Le6n was born in 1460 (?) in the town of San Ser-
vas, Province of Campos, Kingdom of Le6n. In boyhood he had
been page to Prince Ferdinand, who later as King of Spain was to be
the patron of Columbus. De Le6n was a brave and gallant soldier
in the war with the Moors. He accompanied Columbus on his sec-
ond voyage to the new world in 1493, and is said to have joined the
enemies of the Admiral during the three years of turbulent rule that
followed. Sometime prior to 1502 Ponce de Le6n returned to Spain,
for that year we find him accompanying Nicholas de Ovanda, who had
been sent to Hispaniola as Governor.
After Ovanda and De Le6n arrived in Hispaniola they found the
Indians giving trouble, and in the work of pacification De Le6n ren-
dered such capable assistance that in 1506 Ovanda sent him to admin-
ister affairs in the Province of Hiquey (now Hayti) in the eastern
end of the island. The coast of Hiquey was only fifty miles from the
unexplored and unsubdued island of Boriquen (Puerto Rico). De
Le6n was now to have a chance to really "go out on his own."
In 1508 De Le6n sailed to Puerto Rico and astutely made friends
with the natives of the island. Subsequent trips were made with the
THE DISCOVERY OF FLORIDA
approval of his superior Ovanda, and together they made plans for
mining the gold found there. Spanish rule had by 1509 been set up,
and De Le6n became the first Governor of Puerto Rico-but not for
Dieo Columbus, soon after De Le6n's rule in Puerto Rico began,
was sent from Spain to displace Ovanda as Governor of Hispaniola
and, doubtless remembering him as an enemy of his father, the dis-
coverer's son used his influence to secure the removal of Ponce de
Le6n as Governor of Puerto Rico. However, Ovanda, upon his recall
to Spain spoke so favorably in De Le6n's behalf that the Spanish
monarch reinstated him. It is probable that Ponce de Le6n now
governed the island for about two years, his term ending near the end
of 15II, when the governorship was again taken away from him.
(The reader must remember that dates at this period are vague and
De Le6n, although out of office, had acquired much wealth dur-
ing his term as governor, and he might now have retired and taken
life easy. He was not of the retiring kind, however, and then there
was Bimini, wonderful country of which he had so often heard. Why
should the adventurous Ponce rest on his laurels when Bimini
remained to be explored and conquered?
We might even add discovered, for notwithstanding the map in
Martyr's book, the Indians, who recounted the story to their Euro-
pean conquerors did not all agree as to its location. The natives of
Hispaniola said it was 325 leagues to the north of that island, which
placed it somewhere close to Bermuda; but the Indians of the
Bahamas claimed Bimini was about one hundred twenty-five miles to
the northwest of them. De Le6n's voyage to Florida in his search for
Bimini was probably made on the basis of the Martyr map and what
the Lucayan Indians of the Bahamas told him.
There are very strong doubts about the search for the fountain
of youth being Ponce de Le6n's only or even chief motive. It is unlikely
that a hard-boiled and realistic soldier and administrator would give
much ear to fairy tales. Although he had heard the fountain story
he never once seemed interested as long as his rule in Puerto Rico
was undisturbed. Now that he was out of a job he wanted some-
thing to do-new discoveries were to be made, and why should he
not help in making them? Velasquez had just begun the conquest
of Cuba and Balboa and his companions would soon be voyaging
to Darien to find the Pacific Ocean. It was an adventurous and rest-
Finally, Ponce de Le6n like most Spanish gentlemen of his age
wanted gold and glory-and authority. But first the King of Spain
~~---i J"A a a -
a~ -, .a_.au,...aI.~ Bi 2uz-
- -~~~~ ~-~ .L--,J h-~ ~ A X -- IL -
FLORIDA IN 1636
THE DISCOVERY OF FLORIDA
must be seen and a patent giving the necessary rights in the new land
secured. De Le6n had little trouble in obtaining a patent to discover
and settle Bimini as he was still something of a favorite with the
Spanish crown. The document was issued February 23, 1512, and
Ponce de Le6n was preparing to make his voyage when trouble with
the Indians in Puerto Rico detained him, holding him in the island
for something like a year. Finally he set sail with three vessels from
San Germain, Puerto Rico, March 3, 1513-
Ponce de Le6n sailed from Puerto Rico to the Bahamas and at
Guanahani, where Columbus first landed, refitted his ships. Turning
northwest he first sighted the Florida shore at or near Cape Cana-
veral, March 27, I513. Six days later he landed, according to usu-
ally accepted accounts, at a point whose latitude was 30' 8' north, or
between the present St. Augustine and the mouth of the St. Johns
River. The instruments that sailors of that day used for the reckoning
of latitude are said to have been imperfect, and, taking this into con-
sideration, much controversy has resulted as to the exact landing-
place of De Le6n. St. Augustine claims the honor and may deserve
it, but it can be awarded no particular point by this writer, who must
admit that he does not know enough to be exact about it.
De Le6n and his men remained where they had landed six days
and then turned southward and later southeastward to the Tortugas,
which they so named on account of the abundance of turtles found
there. Continuing his voyage, De Le6n rounded the Florida capes
and sailed up the west coast-perhaps as far as Pensacola Bay, but
it is generally claimed that the stopping-point of the expedition was
somewhere in Apalachee Bay.
Certainly months were spent on the voyage- and in exploration,
for Ponce de Le6n did not return to Puerto Rico until September 21.
De Le6n had been told by the Indians-possibly one tribe only-that
the name of the land he had found was Cautio,* and he nowhere heard
the designation Bimini attached to it. Juan Perez de Ortubia, who
commanded one of De Le6n's ships, on their return journey asked his
chief for permission to make a further search for Bimini. Returning
to Puerto Rico some time after De Le6n, Ortubia reported that he
had found Bimini, but no miraculous fountain.
There is no doubt that Ponce de Leon was the one who named
the new land Florida, but we are so uncertain as to many things hap-
pening at this period that we shall probably never know why the
name was applied. The best authorities seem to agree that it was
because De Le6n first sighted Florida on Easter Sunday (Spanish,
Other names given were Cancio and Canico, according to some authorities.
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
"Pascua Florida"). Others say that because the country was bril-
liant with the bloom of spring the name Florida was applied. As
around Easter was a festal occasion known as the feast of flowers,
it may well be that flowers had something to do with the name, whether
Ponce and his companions saw many blooms on the sandy East Coast
or not. It is asserted that the peninsula had been called Canico or
Cancio by inhabitants of the Bahamas prior to this time. This in
spite of their saying Bimini was one hundred twenty-five miles to the
northwest of their islands, but no doubt they confined the name Cancio
to the part of Florida adjacent to them.
Ponce de Le6n's first patent had given him permission to settle
the island of Bimini. A new one received September 27, 1514, gave
him permission to settle the island of Bimini and the island of Florida,
but trouble with the Indians detained him in the West Indies for
nearly seven years. Meantime other Spaniards were sailing to the
The first of whom we have account was Diego Miruelo, who in
1516 ran up the west coast of Florida to a bay, which we think was
Pensacola Bay. After trading with the natives Miruelo returned to
Next year, 1517, Hernindo de C6rdova sailed from Cuba for the
Bahamas to seize a cargo of the natives to sell as slaves, but winds
blew him out of his course and he landed on the peninsula of Yucatan,
where he had a fierce battle with the Indians. On the way back C6r-
dova landed on the shore of a Florida bay somewhere on the west
coast, where he had another fierce battle, probably the first ever
fought between red and white men in Florida. The leader was him-
self so badly wounded that he died after reaching Cuba.
In 1519 Francis de Garay, Governor of Jamaica, sent Alonzo
Alvarez de Pineda to look for a strait in the mainland. Pineda sailed
along the west coast of Florida and followed the Gulf to the mouth of
the Panuco River in Mexico, but of course found no strait. It seems
certain that Pineda was the first white man to view the mouth of the
I. The Cantino map of 1502 shows the outline of what must have
been the Florida peninsula, which proves that Florida had been seen
by Europeans prior to the coming of Ponce de Le6n.
2. Bimini was the name the Carib Indians gave to a land wherein
they said was a fountain of immortal youth. Peter Martyr's map of
r5II seems to indicate that by Bimini was indicated the present Flor
THE DISCOVERY OF FLORIDA
ida, but the Indians were somewhat vague as to the location of the
3. The story of the fountain of youth, although probably well
known to Ponce de Le6n, did not seem to interest him until he was
deprived of the governorship of Puerto Rico-perhaps late in 1511.
4. Juan Ponce de Ldcn, born in 1460, had had an interesting
career prior to his discovery of Florida. He had been page to Ferdi-
nand, later King of Spain; he had fought in the war against the
Moors; he came to America on the second voyage of Columbus; from
1502 to 1506 he assisted Nicholas de Ovanda in overcoming the
Indians of Hispaniola; in 15o6 he was named Adelantado of Hiquey,
now Hayti; in I5o8 he made his first voyage to Puerto Rico, and by
I509 was made Governor of the island; he was later removed and
then reinstated in his rule; but had the government taken away from
him, probably late in 1511.
5. Ponce de Le6n probably wanted the right to discover and settle
Bimini (a) because he wanted to obtain gold, glory a:nd authority,
and (b) because it was a period of adventure in which he wanted to
play his part. It is to be doubted if he seriously believed the story
of the fountain, although he had no objection to finding the wondrous
spring said to be there.
6. Ponce de Le6n's grant to discover and settle Bimini was made
February 23, 1512, but he could not sail until 1513, because of trouble
with the Indians in Puerto Rico.
7. Ponce de Le6n and his men first sighted the Florida coast
March 27, 1513. They landed April 2, 1513, at a point said to be in
30o 8' north latitude; but we cannot be certain as to the exact spot.
He turned southward April 8, later rounded the Florida capes and
sailed up the west coast probably as far as Apalachee Bay. Ponce de
Le6n did not return to Puerto Rico until September 21, 1513.
8. Florida probably received its name from being discovered on
Easter Sunday (Spanish, Pascua Florida), but some claim the name
was applied because the land was brilliant with spring flowers.
9. Between 1513 and 152 the most important voyages to Flor-
ida were made by Miruelo, C6rdova and Pineda. The first discov-
ered Ptnsacola Bay in I516; the second in 1517 engaged in the first
battle ever waged in Florida between white men and natives; the third
in 1519, seeking to find a strait in the mainland, sailed along the entire
Gulf coast as far as the River Panuco in Mexico.
Attempts to Conquer Florida
As stated in the previous chapter, Ponce de Le6n did not immedi-
ately return to the land he found in I513, although on September 27,
1514, he secured a second patent to conquer and colonize Florida and
Bimini. Soon after this De Le6n was named commander of an army
raised to fight the Carib Indians, who had arisen against the European
settlers of the West Indies; but meeting a reverse in a battle with the
red men, he resigned his command and retired to his castle in Puerto
Rico, where one historian says he became a surly old alcalde. Appar-
ently he was more than a mere alcalde, however surly, for we are
told he again became Governor of Puerto Rico, serving in this office
until 1521. He could probably have left the administration of the
affairs of the island in the hands of a deputy, but he doubtless, for the
time being, lost interest in Florida. He had a large and apparently
profitable estate in Puerto Rico. There was some gold to be mined.
Why give up a sure thing, when he was doing very well as it was?
But the achievements of Cortez in Mexico between 1519 and 1521
aroused De Le6n. The great wealth which the Spanish sought in
America from 1492 forward had been found in Mexico.. Perhaps the
land of the Aztecs was not the only rich country of the new world-
there might be gold in Florida.
Ponce de Le6n had gotten a good measure of riches, but what
Spanish conqueror ever had enough? And in addition to gold there
was perchance the opportunity to get that glory, which Spanish con-
quistador loved as much as gold. De Le6n, therefore, wrote the
King of Spain February Io, 1521, that he was going to return to
Florida in a few days and carry a number of people there, and he
added, "that the name of Christ be praised and your Majesty served
with the fruit that land produces."
De Le6n did not wait long. On February 20, 1521, he left Puerto
Rico with two ships carrying soldiers, settlers and priests and, in addi-
tion, a herd of swine. We do not know in what direction he sailed,
ATTEMPTS TO CONQUER FLORIDA
but as he had written the King that he intended to try to find out
whether Florida was an island or whether it joined the land "where
Velisquez now is" (by which he meant Mexico), we are pretty safe
in reasoning that Ponce's vessels followed the west coast of Florida
and may have sailed beyond the present western border of the State,
for the expedition was gone seven months. But, as it was necessary
to do some exploration in order to decide where to settle, De Le6n,
in all probability, hardly got beyond the coast of northwest Florida.
If he sought the interior he most likely sailed up more than
one of Florida's navigable rivers. Somewhere* on the banks of one
of these, or on the coast, De Le6n finally chose a place for his colony.
The goods in his ships were landed and the construction of houses
begun. But the Indians attacked the Spaniards with such ferocity
that they were soon driven to their ships, Ponce himself receiving a
wound from which he died soon after reaching Cuba, to which island
the expedition sailed immediately after the battle. The body of the
discoverer of Florida was shortly carried to Puerto Rico, and there
is was properly interred, as it was De Le6n that brought this island
under Spanish rule and here he had spent almost if not quite ten
years as its chief magistrate. Soon after American rule began in
Puerto Rico in 1899 a fitting tomb was placed over De Le6n's grave.
Pineda. as we have already seen, had in 1519 been sent by De
Gara, Governor of Jamaica to examine the coast of the country to the
north of Cuba and try to find some strait passing through it. He did
not find the strait, but he did sail far alopg the Gulf coast reaching the
River Panuco in the present Mexico. (De Garay shortly applied for
a patent authorizing him to conquer and settle the territory Pineda
explored, and in 1521 one was granted. There seems a little uncer-
tainty as to the eastern boundary of Garay's province, but it was
probably Pensacola Bay. On the west it reached to Cape Roxo, just
south of where Tampico now is, and the whole country was given the
name of Amichel. De Garay was in too big a hurry to await his
patent prior to sending out settlers. In 1520 he sent four vessels
under Diego de Camargo to find a site for a colony; but unfortu-
nately the place chosen was in Mexico and the settlers ran afoul of
Cortez's soldiers. Camargo then moved back to Panuco, apparently
not yet claimed by Mexico, and attempted to plant a colony, but he
found the place impracticable, and the supply of food growing short
the settlement was abandoned.
There is some reason for believing that the site of De Le6n's attempted settlement
was on St. Mark's River.
APPROACHING PENSACOLA BY THE OLD SPANISH TRAIL
The Thin White Line in the Background is Santa Rosa Island
Courtesy of United States Navy and Pensacola Chamber of Commerce
ATTEMPTS TO CONQUER FLORIDA
This did not deter De Garay from making another attempt to
plant a colony in Amichel. In 1523, with himself as leader, thir-
teen vessels carrying about one thousand persons sailed to the
mouth of the River of Palms; but dissatisfied with this place the
expedition went on to Panuco with a view to planting the colony
there. Too late, however, for Cortez had already advanced the
boundary of Mexico to this point, founded a settlement and was
strong enough to force the surrender of the expedition. De Garay
died not long after his surrender to Cortez and with his death the
Province of Amichel passed out of existence.
In 1520 Lucas Vasquez de Avllon, one of the auditors of San
Domingo sent a icaraveiliend- rancis -Gordillo to explore the Atlantic
coast of the present United States and, many historians claim, to kid-
nap the natives for slaves. Gordillo's ship and another with which
he fell in commanded by Pedro de Quexos apparently sailed along
the coast of the present South Carolina and landing somewhere along
the shore made some exploration of the country. Gordillo and
Quexos seized seventy Indians whom they carried to San Domingo for
slaves, but John Gilmary Shea, one of the best authorities on this
period, lays the blame for the seizure of the natives on Matienzo,
under whose authority Quexos sailed. Some attempts, it seems, were
made to get the captured Indians set free, but whether they ever were
or not is uncertain.
De Ayllon had heard enough of Chicora, as the newly-explored
country was called, to want to found a colony there; and in 1523 he
received a royal grant of eight hundred leagues of land along the
Atlantic coast with the further provision that no settlement was to
be made within two hundred leagues of his grant either north or
south. In 1525 he sent out Pedro de Quexos to further explore
the coast of the country granted him. We are told that on this
expedition the Spaniards regained the good will of the Indians,
which had been lost by cruel treatment meted out to them five years
before. Returning from Chicora Quexos brought one or two Indians
from each province visited, in order to train them as interpreters for
future expeditions. The question arises, why did not Allyon use some
of the seventy previously captured as interpreters?
In June, 1526, Ayllon himself with more than six hundred persons
sailed to his Province expecting to plant a permanent colony there.
One would have predicted success for the San Domingan judge. Both
men and women were among the colonists so that permanent homes
could be founded. One hundred horses made cultivation of the land
possible. There were priests to see that the colonists got religious
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
There is considerable uncertainty as to where Ayllon's settlement
was made. Shea suggests that a stop was made on the Wateree River,
in the present South Carolina, but he thinks that the site finally chosen
was on Chesapeake Bay. Swinton locates the settlement at the place
where the English a little more than.eighty years later founded James-
town. Some point on the coast of North Carolina is favored by other
Whatever may have been the site, the colony was beset by mis-
fortunes from the outset. The negroes, whom Shea says were here
first introduced as slaves,t mutinied. Sickness broke out and Ayllon
himself died. The Indians killed several of the settlers and, as if
this were not enough, disputes arose between the colonists. All these
troubles and the severity of the winter made the Spaniards with one
accord decide to abandon their settlement and set sail for San
Domingo; but of the five hundred who embarked only one hundred
fifty reached their destination. Ayllon's body had been placed on
one of the ships to be carried back for interment, but it and all the
passengers on board met a watery grave.
It was because of Ayllon's exploration and attempted settlement
that the Spaniards later justified their claim to so much territory lying
to the north of our present Florida.
Two years prior to Ayllon's ill-fated adventure on the Atlantic
coast, Stephen Gomez a Portuguese sea-captain in the employ of the
Spanish government, sailed all the way from Newfoundland to the
Gulf of Mexico looking for a strait across the mainland through
which it was hoped the Spice islands of the East could be reached.
This voyage and that of Pineda in I59 proved conclusively that
Florida was not an island.
The hope of finding another Mexico was still influencing adven-
turous Spaniards to emulation of Cortez. In fact the next man who
attempted the conquest of Florida had first tried to overcome the
Pam hilo de Narvaez sailed to Mexico from Cuba in 1520, with
the largest fleet that had to that time ever voyaged to those shores.
There is little doubt that Narvaez's expedition was sent to overcome
Cortez, for the conqueror of Mexico had enemies a-plenty among
men of power in the new world; yet Justin Winsor tells us that Lucas
Vasquez de Ayllon accompanied Narvaez with instructions that the
latter either reach a peaceable agreement with Cortez or seek other
t Probably means within the limits of the United States.
McKEE JUNGLE GARDENS NEAR VERO BEACH
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
Narvaez, whatever others thought, had no intentions of making
things so. easy for his predecessor in Mexico. Cortez, divining the
former's purpose of supplanting him, made hasty marches to the coast
where Narvaez's army was, and in an unexpected night attack soon
gained the victory over his opponent. Neither side lost many in killed,
but Narvaez lost much of his army through desertion to Cortez-and
besides got one of his eyes put out in the night battle.
Having failed in Mexico, Narvaez looked northward to the
vast territory within which Ponce de Le6n, De Garay and Ayllon
had already made failure. In 1527, after making complaint to the
Spanish court of his misfortunes, he received a royal grant to the ter-
ritory between Mexico and the present Florida. Narvaez left San
Lucar, Spain, June 17, 1527, with five ships and six hundred men.
The expedition after much suffering on account of a storm reached
Cuba and there spent the winter. It was the spring of 1528 before
Narvaez felt himself ready to go to his Provipce. The storm he
encountered the previous year and desertions during the winter had
reduced Narvaez's force to four hundred and eighty men. These
and eighty horses placed on four ships and a brigantine landed at some
point on the west coast of Florida, April 16, 1528.
The landing-place was probably on the shore of Clearwater Bay,
but the authorities are by no means in agreement as to this. Frederick
W. Dau in his Florida, Old and New, says the landing-place was
probably near Cedar Key. John Lee Williams thinks Narvaez landed
on the shore of Charlotte Harbor, and gives as a reason the length of
time it took the Spaniards to march to Miccosukee Lake in northern
Florida. There is some force in Williams' argument, but if one will
carefully read an article in Vol. III, No. 3, of the Florida Historical
Society Quarterly, one will find a good case made out for the Pinellas
It looks as if the misfortunes Narvaez had already had would
have made him careful and considerate in his actions, but these were
qualities that the Spanish leader did not possess. We remember that
when he went to conquer Cortez in Mexico he was overcome by a
night attack for which he was not prepared.
Upon landing in Florida, without taking into consideration the
disagreement of his pilots as to where the expedition was, Narvaez
let his ships sail away with the understanding that they were to meet
the leader and his men in a harbor farther up the coast. Before start-
ing on his march inland Narvaez acted as if he wanted to deliberately
offend the Indians. He seized a chief dwelling on the shore of Tampa
Bay and cut off his nose, and to add insult to injury, killed the chief's
mother. As if all this were not enough the burial cases of many
ATTEMPTS TO CONQUER FLORIDA
Indians were seized and burned. By the first of May, 1528, all this
mischief had been done and the Spaniards began to march northward.
Some of the Indians had ornaments of gold, and in reply to the
eager questions of the Spaniards as to where the gold came from, the
Indians pointed north and said what the Spaniards understood as
"Abalachie," "Apalachen," or "Palachen," as various writers
Narvaez and his men for some weeks kept close to the coast,
probably not getting more than twenty-five miles away from it until
after they crossed the Withlacoochee River. Almost from the begin-
ning their course was a little west of north, but it became more so
before they reached the mouth of the Suwannee River. Not many
Indians were found in this coastal region, but just before they reached
the Suwannee the Spaniards came upon a tribe whose chief said he was
the enemy of the Apalache Indians and was willing to aid in fighting
them. After crossing the Suwannee, which took an entire day for the
men and horses, the Spaniards found the swamps, the tall cypresses
and the melancholy musings of the forests of pines so impressive that
some fifteen years later Cabeza de Vaca, the historian of the expedi-
tion, could still recall the jungle-like nature of the country crossed,
some of which was probably Punkin Swamp in Dixie County, the
western border of San Pedro Bay (swamp) in Taylor and Madison
counties and the wild, swampy forests bordering the Aucilla River for
miles in Madison and Jefferson counties. The reader must remember
that we can merely guess at the route taken. It is just possible that
it was nearer the coast than we have indicated.
Two things seem certain. The country between the Suwannee
and Aucilla rivers was fairly free from Indians and the rainy season
had not set in. If the Spaniards had found the country they passed
through as much flooded as it sometimes gets, or if they had come
upon many hostile Indians they could not have gone from the Suwannee
River to Miccosukee Lake in the six or seven days they took. De
Vaca mentions one Indian town Narvaez and his men passed, and
tells of some natives coming upon the Spaniards with the intention of
attacking them. The very fact that the attack was not made proves
the smallness of the Indian party. On June 25, 1528, Narvaez and
his men reached what they called the village of Apalache (they prob-
ably confused this with the name of the tribe), situated as we think
on the shore of Miccosukee Lake, probably close by the large Indian
mound* still remaining near that lake, tragic reminder of the days
when the red man roved the forests of northern Florida.
Since writing the above the author has reached the conclusion that the Spaniards
made their first stop on the Georgia side of Miccosukee Lake.
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
When Narvaez and his Spaniards saw that Apalache contained
not palaces, but wretched Indian huts, their hearts no doubt sank. If
here was the gold they were hunting there were no outward indica-
tions in the dress and homes of the settlers to prove they had bene-
fited by the precious metal.
As the men of the village were away hunting, the Spaniards found
only women and children in the village. These they seized, but when
the Indians returned and asked for their release the Spaniards com-
plied with their request; however, the detention of a chief caused
such anger among the Indians that they returned next day and
attacked the Europeans, setting fire to the houses in which they had
found quarters. Narvaez and his men could inflict little damage upon
the Indians for they well knew how to hide themselves in the corn
fields and hammocks in which the country abounded.
Life was made miserable for the Spaniards during their twenty-
five days' stay in the village. From the lakes where the Spaniards
went to get water the Indians would shoot and wound both them and
their horses. An Indian noble from Tezuco in Mexico whom the
Spaniards called Don Pedro (his Mexican name was much longer and
more unpronounceable) was killed in one of those attacks, and this
apparently made such an impression upon the Spaniards that they
resolved they would no longer stay in the Miccosukee village.
The Apalache chief, whom the Spaniards still held, told them that
his country was thinly settled and full of lakes, dense forests and
solitudes, but to the south was a village called Aute, where there
was not only plenty of corn and vegetables, but being near the sea
the inhabitants had an abundance of fish. The Spaniards resolved,
therefore, to depart for Aute, where they hoped to find conditions
better for themselves.
In some ways they found them worse from the time they left the
Apalache village. Reaching what is probably the present Lake
Lafayette the Spaniards were attacked by the Indians, who shot their
arrows from behind trees with such effect that they not only wounded
many men and horses, but captured the guide who was probably none
other than the chief whom the Spaniards had been holding.
Thus were the Spaniards harassed all the way to Aute. The nine
days' journey to that place could probably have been made in less
than three if the Indians had not attacked them and if they had been
acquainted with the country. Aute is supposed by many to have
been situated on the St. Marks River; some would place it on the
Oclockonee; and others as far west as the Apalachicola. Even at this
distant point nine days would have been a long time for the journey
ATTEMPTS TO CONQUER FLORIDA
under ordinary circumstances, for remember the Spaniards had made
the march from the Suwannee River to Miccosukee Lake in less than
The troubles of Narvaez and his men had by no means ended
when they reached Aute. By some means the Indians had been noti-
fied of the coming of the white men and had burned their village,
so that the Spaniards had to find quarters in the woods. But they
did find an abundance of corn, beans, pumpkins and other food in the
Indian fields and this was very welcome. Some of the men journeying
to the seacoast also found oysters in plenty.
Food did not bring peace, however. Sickness of a severe type
broke out and rendered the men less effective against the Indian
attacks which never ceased for long at a time.
A number of the mounted men resolved to get away the best they
could, leaving Narvaez and the others in the expedition to their fate,
and although the attempt was discovered and those responsible for it
were dissuaded from their purpose, by this time the entire army
began to try to think out some effective plan of getting away from
In desperation it was decided that boats must somehow be built.
Since 1528 many a vessel has plied St. Marks Bay, but none were ever
constructed under such difficulties as presented themselves to the
Spaniards led by Narvaez. There was no lumber or sawmill to cut it.
There was total absence of nails, sailcloth, ropes, pitch or other mate-
rial, such as was used in the boats built during the sixteenth century.
Yet necessity is the mother of invention.
The stirrups, crossbows, spurs, swords and other implements of
iron were somehow manufactured into saws, iron and nails, after a
bellows had been constructed of deerskin and wood. Planks or maybe
something more resembling puncheons were cut from the abundant
timber. A Greek by the name of Theodoro knew how to manufacture
tar and rosin. Fibers were secured from palmettoes. Ropes were
made of the tails and manes of the horses. The men donated of their
shirts for sailcloth. Considering the extraordinarily difficult condi-
tions under which the Spaniards worked it is indeed remarkable that
they could build five boats able to carry two hundred forty-two pas-
sengers by the twentieth of September.
Not only built the boats. They had killed their horses and made
themselves water-bottles from their hides. They had brought in
from the Indian fields four hundred eighty bushels of corn to use as
food for their journey in getting away from Florida.
One wonders how such boats ever got out of St. Marks Bay, for
they carried from forty-seven to forty-nine men each, and in addition
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
all together had in them nearly five hundred bushels of corn. Yet
until the men reached the mouth of the Mississippi they suffered less
from sailing in defective ships than they did from lack of food and
water. The current at the mouth of the Mississippi was, however,
too much for two of the boats and these were swamped. On one
going down was Narvaez who met his tragic end in or near the mouth
of the river which De Soto, who came eleven years later, is given the
honor of discovering. The three remaining boats were wrecked on
the coast of either Louisiana or Texas and their crews with the excep-
tion of four men fell victims to disease, exposure, starvation or the
cruelty of the Indians.
It is from the pen of Cabeza de Vaca, the leader of the few sur-
vivors, that we have the account of Narvaez' unfortunate expedi-
tion. Although not a long book it is one of the greatest travel
accounts ever written.
Counting the Province of Amichel a part of Florida (and it was
merged into it later) four men had now failed in Florida. These
were De Le6n, De Garay, Ayllon, and Narvaez. Tragic had been
the ending in each case, but there was another tragedy soon to follow,
one of the long list which makes the story of Florida of such interest
to those who study it.
I. Ponce de Le6n made no attempt to conquer Florida until nearly
seven years after he discovered it. After he obtained a second patent,
September 27, 1514, he was detained in the West Indies, first, in
fighting Indians, and after this as Governor of Puerto Rico. He
also apparently lost interest in Florida for a time.
2. The success of Cortez in Mexico was evide ntly the chief reason
why Ponce de Leon in 1521 attempted to conquer and settle Florida.
This second attempt was a failure resulting in his receiving a mortal
wound in combat with the Indians.
3. In I521, after having sent out an expedition in 159I under
Pineda, which explored the northern and western Gulf Coast, Fran-
cis de Garay, Governor of JIZmaica, received a grant of land extend-
ing from near or about Pensacola Bay to Cape Roxo. This took the
name of Amichel and De Garay twice attempted to settle it: first, in
1520, a year prior to his grant; second, in 1523. Both attempts were
failures and the Province of Amichel passed out of existence.
4. In 1523, after having had made under his direction an explo-
ration of the Atlantic coast north of Florida, Lucas Vasquez de
Ayllon received a grant of land extending eight hundred leagues along
ATTEMPTS TO CONQUER FLORIDA 27
the Atlantic. He tried in 1526 to make a settlement, probably on the
coast of either the present North Carolina or Virginia, but the attempt
was a failure.
5. The voyages of Pineda in 1519 and of Stephen Gomez in 1524
proved that Florida was not an island.
6. Pamphilo de Narvaez was led to attempt the conquest of
Florida through failure to overcome Cortez in Mexico. He received
a grant to conquer and settle the country from Pensacola Bay to the
River of Palms in 1527.
7. Narvaez, on April 16, 1528, landed somewhere on the west
coast of Florida, probably the shore of Clearwater Bay. His march
northwestward looking to the conquest of the country, began May I,
1528, and ended in failure a little more than five months later.
A Great Conquistador Fails to
Four attempts to conquer and settle Florida (considering Amichel,
between Pensacola Bay and Mexico, and Chicora, the country extend-
ing indefinitely north of the Savannah River, as parts of it-as they
were later) had ended in failure in less than eight years' time, and
none of these failures was more tragic than that of the ill-fated Nar-
vaez; but these four failures did not deter another Spanish conquis-
tador from following the same golden lure to which his predecessors
had sacrificed their lives.
Fernando de Soto, whose attempted conquest and settlement was
the fifth within the present limits of the United States, was a man
whom one under no circumstances could call ordinary. He came of
good blood, but his family belonged to what many in the South a gen-
eration ago would have called "broken down aristocracy." De Soto
had his education paid for by Pedro Arias de Avila or Pedrarias, as
he is called for short. Such education as the youthful but adventurous
Spaniard got was finished at nineteen and immediately he sailed for
Darien (the southern portion of Central America) to serve under his
patron, who had come to America five years before, somewhat against
his will, as Governor of the Spanish Province at the tip end of the
continent of North America.
Old but cruel was Pedrarias (he had come over at seventy-four
and lived sixteen more years), and it seems certain that the youthful
Fernando learned some lessons well under the tutelage of his patron.
One Spaniard later wrote that De Soto "was fond of the sport of
killing Indians," and if this was a sport it was never more so than in
Central America between the years 1519 and 1530, the period during
which De Soto served under old Governor Pedrarias.
De Soto late in December, 1530, joined Francisco Pizarro, who in
less than five years was to conquer Peru, the land of the Incas, and
FAILS TO CONQUER FLORIDA
secure wealth the like of which no conqueror had ever obtained since
Cyrus of Persia seized the golden horde of wealthy King Croesus. De
Soto's share of the Peruvian horde was I80,000 ducats, or in terms of
present-day American money prior to devaluation more than $410,-
ooo.oo; and it must be remembered that money went much farther
then than now. The conquest of Peru finished, De Soto took his gold
to his native land and settled down to life of a Spanish grandee.
With abundant wealth De Soto was now able to marry the charm-
ing Dofia Isabella, daughter of old Pedrarias, who himself had passed
from his earthly existence five years before. Pedrarias had not
favored De Soto's suit for his daughter's hand, much as he had helped
the dashing young cavalier in other ways, but the widow of the
doughty old Spaniard raised no objections, now that her spouse was
gone. Possibly the jingle of golden coins had their effect on the old
With abundant wealth, a charming wife and an estate befitting him,
many a man would have now settled down to luxurious living, but not
so the dashing, adventurous Fernando. Restless and ill at ease was
the man who had brought the intriguing Spanish opponents of Ped-
rarias to bay and served as chief lieutenant under Pizarro in over-
coming the Incan Empire. Like youthful Alexander eighteen hundred
years before, De Soto hungered for more conquest.
And more gold. Possibly (let us hope, at least) the gallant young
soldier had as one of his motives the carrying of the story of the cross
to the red men of Florida; but the narratives we have before us seem
convincing that De Soto sought new conquests chiefly as a means of
getting more wealth.
Then he had never been the leader of an expedition, but always a
subordinate. He wanted to be leader and conqueror in his own name.
He would command an expedition where achievements should bring
him the chief fame.
So in less than two years after his return to Spain and less than
six months after his marriage to the Dofia Isabella, Fernando de
Soto asked and received from his Catholic majesty the right to con-
quer and colonize Florida, the land extending from Mexico indefinitely
northward. He was also given the governorship of Cuba, which
brought him the advantage of a Province, from which he could obtain
supplies of various sorts that might be needed by his army.
Not long after De Soto's grant Cabeza de Vaca, leading survivor
of Narvaez' unfortunate expedition, returned to Spain and kept no
still tongue as to the lands over which he and his three companions
spent eight years of wanderings. Never saying outright that Florida
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
had its golden store, De Vaca did at times become mysterious in his
tone and hint that some of the knowledge he possessed was only meant
for the ears of the King. He went farther; he told those who asked
him that it would not be unwise to join De Soto, even advising some of
his own relatives to follow such a course.
And here it may be said that De Vaca may have learned through
years of wandering among the Indians about where gold and silver
could be obtained in the Rockies. The red men among whom De
Vaca lived doubtless told him of the pueblos and with some exagger-
ation of the people who inhabited them. The lone negro, who was
among the three companions of De Vaca, did, the next year after
De Soto's march began, go with Coronado to search for the "Seven
Cities of Cibola," whose streets were supposed to be of gold and
whose houses were roofed with precious stones. It is entirely pos-
sible that De Vaca believed in the reality of wealthy Cibola, and as
already said, he may have learned of real mines in his eight years of
But he refused to go with De Soto, as he would not take the part
of a subordinate. A few years later D'e Vaca was made Governor of
an eastern South American Province and there proved himself too
weak for a ruler of men. With all his good points De Vaca had no
such masterful, commanding qualities as De Soto.
But even though De Vaca would not accompany De Soto, there
were plenty of others who would. It was a magnificent army of over
six hundred men, including the flower of Spanish youth and many
Portuguese, who left San Lucar, Spain, November 6, 1538. De
Soto and a number of his officers were accompanied by their wives,
who with the men spent the winter in Cuba, all enjoying a great round
There were bull fights during that pleasant Cuban winter, festiv-
ities and games, doubtless games of chance among them, for the leader
of the expedition had learned to gamble in Central America, if he did
not know before; but there was at least one Spanish cavalier in the
party who played the game of love, which, too, is often a game of
chance. But dashing Nuno de Tobar won-and lost.
De Soto's wife had brought with her from the Canary Islands
her sixteen-year-old cousin, Dofia Leonora de Bobadilla, a girl of sdch
beauty and charm as to completely capture the young lieutenant-
general. Others might be interested in the outcome of cockfights and
combats between bulls and men. Others might have their chief enjoy-
ment at tables laden heavily with food. But Nuno de Tobar, although
taking part and winning in contests of skill, forgot all of these when
he beheld the winsome grace of Dofia Leonora.
THE DE SOTO OAK, TAMPA
It Was Under This Tree That De Soto Was Said to Have Made His Treaty With the Indians.
The Tree Has Been Marked by the D. A. R. With a Tablet.
Courtesy of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
It took not many months for watchful eyes to see that honeyed
words and holding of hands was not all that had passed between the
lieutenant-general and the daughter of the Governor of the Canary
Islands. Then was D'e Soto wrathful, although he had been quite a
rake himself in Central America.
The Governor's anger arose, however, because the young Leonora
had been trusted to the protection of his wife, and he considered De
Tobar as having taken an unfair advantage of the maiden. With his
chief's anger so manifest De Tobar willingly consented to marry the
girl whose virtue he had taken; but, in spite of this, De Soto took his
command away from the gallant lieutenant-general.
Woman must generally play her part in all men undertake and
should it surprise us to find her influencing the management of the
Florida campaign before it had begun? For displacing De Tobar
did undoubtedly affect that campaign. Some of De Soto's subsequent
losses, as Theodore Maynard hints, may have come from having De
Tobar displaced by less capable leaders. The great loss at Mauvila,
which practically ruined De Soto's chance in Florida, might have been
prevented if an able young commander had not surrendered himself
to a fair temptress. Oh, woman! Did you prevent the conquest of
But woman and games and bull fights must be given up in order to
get the pot of gold at the rainbow's end. At last the conquering army
must leave the Pearl of the Antilles and be away on the greater busi-
ness of robbing the fabled emperors of Florida of their untold
Juan de Anasco, the rich Sevillian who had accompanied De Soto,
was twice sent to the peninsula to find a suitable harbor from which
the commander could land his men, horses, military supplies-and
Having selected a harbor in advance, De Soto and his gallant
band on May 18, 1539, left Havana in high spirits. In spite of his
degradation De Tobar went along, too, doubtless not without plant-
ing many a parting kiss upon the ruby lips of fair Leonora. A week
later De Soto's vessels found harbor on the west coast of Florida. But
It may be that we shall never be exactly certain as to the place
the Spaniards landed, but, as the gambler would say, "the bets are in
favor of Tampa Bay."
By no means all students of our history concur in this. Not a
few claim that De Soto's vessels came to anchor in Charlotte Harbor,
and among the historians of his campaign who take this view are
FAILS TO CONQUER FLORIDA
Grace King, T. Hayes Lewis and Theodore Maynard. Maynard's
manuscript was read and criticized by Dr. James A. Robertson, secre-
tary of the Florida State Historical Society, and one of the best
informed persons on the history of the State, which probably
(although not necessarily) means Dr. Robertson's agreement with
Maynard's conclusion as to facts. Yet with these authorities (good
ones all) favoring Charlotte Harbor there is to this writer more than
one insuperable difficulty.
De Soto certainly landed not far from the same point his prede-
cessor, Narvaez, had come ashore eleven years previously, and A. H.
Phinney, in the January, 1925, number of the Florida Historical
Society Quarterly, furnishes what seems to the writer convincing
proof that Narvaez made his landing at a point on the Pinellas
Peninsula. D'e Soto's landing must have been made on the shore of
Tampa Bay proper, maybe at Gadsden's Point, as Fairbanks sug-
gests, but at whatever place it was in the vicinity of the landing-place
of his predecessor. Why is this assertion made?
Because both men went ashore in the domain of Ucita, chief of the
Indians in the territory contiguous. This was the chief whom Nar-
vaez made the permanent enemy of the white men by cutting off his
nose and having his mother torn to death by dogs. The very fact that
Juan Ortiz was found not far away is within itself proof that De Soto
and Narvaez landed in the same section of Florida and not many miles
No authority the writer has consulted, except John Lee Williams,
has placed the landing-place of Narvaez south of Tampa Bay,
although some (apparently without good reason) have said it was
farther north, one or more even claiming it must have been on the
shore of Apalachee Bay. Yet if De Soto landed on Charlotte Har-
bor, Narvaez must have done the same thing, for, as already said,
they were both in Chief Ucita's territory, and Juan Ortiz, who was
passenger in a vessel bringing supplies to Narvaez-of course to the
bay from which that leader landed-and who was taken captive by
Ucita's Indians, was found by De Soto's men not far distant from
A better reason than this for believing De Soto's ships came to
anchor in Tampa Bay is the fact that on most old maps the writer has
consulted the name "Espiritu Santo" is applied to the present Tampa
Oritz told De Soto he had not traveled as much as ten leagues during the eleven
years he had been a prisoner among the Indians.
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
Bay. Now we know that the name "Espiritu Santo" was given at the
time to the body of water from which De Soto went ashore, and the
writer believes the great majority of map-makers applied this name to
Tampa Bay all during Spanish days. Certainly they would not have
done this if they had not believed this the harbor where De Soto's
ships came to anchor. In the Florida State Library is a map by
Abraham Ortelius, made in 1574, and on this map, Espiritu Santo
Bay coincides with the present Tampa Bay, while Charlotte Harbor
takes the name first applied to it, namely, the Bay of Juan Ponce.
Remember this map was made only thirty-one years after De Soto's
death. It is true De Lisle's map, from which Theodore Maynard
derives his belief that De Soto landed on Charlotte Harbor, appar-
ently makes the Spanish landing-place south of Tampa, but this map
made in 1718, one hundred and forty-four years after the Ortelius
map mentioned above, is insufficient authority for identifying Espir-
itu Santo with Charlotte Harbor. The De Lisle map was included in
a 1728 edition of Garcilaso de la Vega's account of De Soto's march,
and this fact, within itself, somewhat discredits it; for notwithstand-
ing Theodore Irving and Grace King, who base their histories on
Garcilaso, most students now consider that author the most apocry-
phal of all our authorities on De Soto.
In presenting his own view that De Soto landed from Tampa Bay
the writer asks no one to accept what is said as absolutely certain.
The opinion given may be wrong, but it is believed that close and
impartial study of authorities makes it the most reasonable.
De Soto's larger vessels with his main supplies could not approach
the shore on account of the shallowness of that part of Tampa Bay
until they had been unburdened of the soldiers and horses. Even then
they had to wait another eight days and gradually float a little nearer
in with each day's rising tide. All this tended to delay the march
inland and we can imagine that some tempers were on edge. Two of
the vessels scraped bottom, though without damage, before reaching
the shore, and Juan de Anasco, the pilot, got the benefit of the Gov-
ernor's temper. Apparently De Soto "got as good as he sent."
It was some time before the Spaniards left the Tampa Bay shores.
The delay was caused by a number of reasons. First, the leader
wanted to find out something of the character of the country, and to
this end parties of soldiers went out in different directions. One of
these parties, of which Porcallo de Figueroa was leader, was attacked
by ten Indian warriors, who killed two horses but lost two of their
men. Another party consisting of forty, led by Juan Lobillo, found
some Indian huts where they captured two women, but nine Indian
FAILS TO CONQUER FLORIDA
warriors got on the trail of the Spaniards, slaying one and wounding
The second reason why the Spaniards remained on Tampa Bay
was that they had no interpreters. Going through a strange country
without being able to understand a word of the language is a very
unsafe business. This the Spaniards knew and when Anasco made his
voyage to Florida he captured two Indians for the purpose of train-
ing them as interpreters, but during the few months these savages
had been with the Spaniards they had learned so little of the language
as to be nearly useless to those whom they were expected to help.
One of the captured Indians was sent with a peaceful message to
Chief Ucita, who had kept out of the way of the Spaniards, but the
messenger never returned. He had had enough of the Europeans.
The two women Lobillo's party captured, one night soon afterward,
gave their guards the slip, and now one of the Indians captured by
Anasco was the sole dependence of De Soto as interpreter and guide.
De Soto for all his impetuosity would not proceed with the haste
of Narvaez. He must learn something of the country he was going
through, and this with only one undependable Indian, who seemed
ignorant of the country, made the leader see that the situation must
somehow be remedied.
He, therefore, sent out Lobillo again, with the one Indian left as
a guide, to find others who might help. The Indian led the Spaniards
astray, but this was a fortunate occurrence, for it resulted in their at
last finding an interpreter.
The Indian guide had by sunset brought the Spaniards into a
swampy wilderness, where they feared they must pass the night,
when unexpectedly twenty red warriors appeared. These the Span-
iards attacked with the hope of getting new guides, probably well
disgusted with the one they had; but nineteen of the braves ran
nimbly into the woods, while the other naked and ornamented with
paint and feathers ran toward his would be captors, telling them in
the best Spanish he could muster that he was a Christian. For the
moment the Spaniards were doubtless as much surprised as they would
have been if they had come upon a golden-roofed palace of an Indian
king in these swampy woods.
The captured man was Juan Ortiz, a Spaniard like those who took
him and he must have been found somewhere to the east of the
present Pinellas peninsula, for this, from the best information we
can gather, was the territory of Chief Mucoso, the Indian ruler of
the young white man. We can be certain of one thing: Ortiz was
picked up at no great distance from De Soto's headquarters. When
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
the Spaniards arrived at the camp of De Soto, Ortiz had a story to
tell that must have interested the Governor even more than it has
the thousands who have since read it.
Juan Ortiz in mixed Spanish, Indian and signs (for he had for-
gotten much of his native tongue) told De Soto that he had come to
Florida with Narvaez, but had gone back to Cuba on one of the Gov-
ernor's smaller vessels to carry tidings to Narvaez' wife. She then
sent additional supplies by the same vessel, but too late to reach her
husband, whose march northward had already begun. When the ves-
sel with supplies reached the landing place on Tampa Bay they saw
on shore what appeared to be a letter held in a split stick. Asking
the Indians to bring the letter to them, they were told to come and
get it. The parley ended by four Indians agreeing to go to the ves-
sel and remain as hostages while four Spaniards went on shore to get
the letter. Suddenly, however, the Indian hostages jumped over-
board and swam rapidly ashore, while the four Spaniards on land
were overpowered by a superior number of red men and carried to
Now could the old chief get revenge for the loss of his nose and
for the murder of his mother torn to death by the fangs of the white
man's dogs. One at a time three of the four Europeans were put to
cruel torture to be mercifully ended in death. Ortiz (he was only
eighteen) was reserved for the last victim.
But now, more than eighty-five years before Pocahontas inter-
posed to. save John Smith in Virginia, an Indian maiden on the shore
of Tampa Bay put in her plea for the life of a white man, in which
plea she was joined by her mother. Ucita gave in to the women, it
is said because he wanted to reserve Ortiz for future cruelties.
For some time the savages made sport with Ortiz as the Philistines
had meant to do with Samson (only not in the same way). They
would shoot him with arrows taking care not to hit a vital spot, and
get great enjoyment watching him try to dodge them. He was even
placed above a fire till parts of his flesh were roasted. Once, how-
ever, he was allowed a respite from savage brutalities.
Ortiz was set one night to watch the rough boxes or burial cases
of some dead Indians left on a platform prior to interment, and given
four darts with which to throw at whatever marauding animal should
come along. In the silent darkness Ortiz heard the footsteps of an
approaching animal, but not time enough to prevent it from seizing
one of the dead bodies. As quickly as he could he threw one of his
t The Spaniards thought this a letter, but it was a piece of naper that Narvaez'
expedition left, and the Indians put it in the split stick to lure white men ashore.
FAILS TO CONQUER FLORIDA
darts in the direction of the intruder and waited in dread till day-
light. Fortunately the dart had been effective and close to the scaf-
fold of the dead lay a wolf and near it the body the animal had
sought to carry off.
For a time after this Ortiz got much better treatment, but unfor-
tunately for the young man Ucita could not forget his nose, and the
more he thought of its loss the angrier he became at the sight of the
European. The chief determined that Ortiz should live no longer.
The Indian maiden learning her father's determination told Ortiz
his only chance of life would be to flee to Chief Mucoso, who ruled
next to her father's domain. She did more. She accompanied him
to the line separating the provinces of the two chiefs. Ortiz, prob-
ably to his surprise, was well treated by his new master, who seems
to have suspected the Europeans had not made their last visit to
Florida and, apparently dreading their power, wanted to stand well
Mucoso had been apprised of the arrival of the Spaniards prior
to the rescue of Ortiz, but the latter when he heard the news would
not believe it. At last convinced, Ortiz, accompanied by a party of
Indian braves, was making his way to De Soto's camp, when Lobillo's
men found him.
Such is the story of Juan Ortiz. It is undoubtedly true, in sub-
stance, while the story of John Smith's being rescued by Pocahontas
is very uncertain. Another woman had had influence on De Soto's
Florida campaign. Female mercy had furnished an interpreter.
No wonder De Soto embraced Ortiz as he would a son! No
wonder there was joy in the Spanish camp over having a guide, who
had by years among the Indians gained their knowledge of how to
sense direction through swampy forests. It is almost absolutely cer-
tain that without Ortiz the expedition of De Soto would have had as
tragic an ending as that of Narvaez; for the young interpreter could
understand the Indians, who were later captured, and when these
pretended friendship, while they were plotting to destroy the Span-
iards, his knowledge enabled him to save the army.
Even with an interpreter De Soto did not yet leave his camp near
the bay. He felt he must thank Mucoso for his treatment of Ortiz,
and he also hoped that the chief might know where gold could be
found. Mucoso apparently none too desirous of a long stay of white
men in his domain told De Soto that about one hundred miles away
(the direction was probably northeast) lived a chief who could tell
him. Now was De Soto ready to start on his long march. He would
lead his army to a chief who could tell him of the whereabouts of the
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
land of gold. Oh, great conquistador! You are not the first, neither
shall you be the last whom love of the yellow metal has led to his
The March-It is impossible to tell exactly the direction De Soto
and his men marched or places of the present day along his route.
The best evidence we have, however, points to a northeasterly direc-
tion through the northern part of the present Hillsborough County,
Northern Polk, Northwestern Osceola, and on into Orange, where
the route bent more to the north, crossing Northern Lake and East-
ern Marion. From here the march was apparently northwestward
through Alachua and Gilchrist to some point on the Suwannee above
Fort Fanning. Some students of the route believe that Suwannee
County was on the line of march, and one well-informed person, after
careful reading of the authorities, thinks the Suwannee River was
crossed at or near the present Dowling Park. This does not seem as
reasonable a theory, however, as does a route nearer the coast.*
After crossing the Suwannee the Spanish route, although not identical
with the route of Andrew Jackson in 1818, in part practically coin-
cided with it. The Aucilla may have been crossed a little higher up,
probably a few miles south of the present Lamont. From here the
Spaniards bent westward and soon got themselves into the almost
impenetrable jungles of the Wacissa Swamp. Extricated from these
after two days of toil and brushes with the Indians, De Soto turned
northeast, soon reaching an open delightful land, possibly going
through the present Waukeenah country and following from here
almost exactly the line of what was to later be the St. Augustine
Road. On the 25th of October, De Soto came to Anhayca, the chief
town of Apalachee, and there ended his march for 1539. Anhayca
was at or near the present city of Tallahassee, although there is
some reason for believing it was about two miles to the west.
The above plotting of the route will have numerous critics, but it
seems to the writer that reconciling what the various authorities have
said on the subject, the description of the line of march is as accurate
as can be given. No reader is asked to accept it against his judgment.
At the end of the present chapter a number of authorities are given,
to whom those interested in De Soto's route are referred.
De Soto's march from Tampa Bay to Anhayca in Apalachee had
taken more than three months, whereas Narvaez and his men went
from Tampa Bay to Miccosukee Lake in less than two. Those who
think that De Soto's march began from a bay farther south will natu-
Since the above chapter was written, the author has reached the conclusion that
De Soto crossed the Suwannee, just south of the present south line of Madison County.
FAILS TO CONQUER FLORIDA
rally ask why it took him so much longer to go through Florida if he
started from a point close to the beginning of the route of Narvaez.
The route of Narvaez was much nearer the sea, and as most of
the Indians lived on the better land some distance from the coast, he
encountered but few until he reached the Suwannee River, prior to
which time his army had turned somewhat further inland. The Indi-
ans on the Suwannee being friendly did not slow up the speed of Nar-
vaez, and from there to Miccosukee he had only one very slight brush
with the red men.
As De Soto's march was much nearer the center of the peninsula,
where most of the Indians lived, he was constantly delayed by battles
and skirmishes, for some of which he was to blame.
In each district the Governor attempted to seize the chief to hold
as hostage for protection against Indian attacks in the territory.
Some distance northeast of Tampa Bay (probably in the present
Polk and Osceola counties) ruled Acela, who was not only too sly
for De Soto to catch, but who made the Spaniards pay rather dearly
for the ten days spent in his territory. Acela sent word to De Soto
that he meant to get one white man's scalp a day, and he succeeded
so well that of the Spaniards who went to hunt him he killed eleven,
and he also killed a number of horses.
De Soto.thad been told that there was gold in Ocali, but when he
inquired of the Indians of that province where it was they stared in
blank amazement. The Spaniards had still farther to go to reach
the rainbow's end.
But the provisions they found were very acceptable. Ocali was
decidedly the most fertile province the Spaniards had reached. It
was more open, had less bogs and swamps and there were fields of
corn, squashes and pumpkins. The Indians had considerable grain in
their storehouses as well as other provisions. Three men were lost
in capturing these, but the Spaniards forced sixty Ocali Indians to
accompany them as servants and guides.
Parties of Spanish soldiers went out in different directions from
every point they halted, and this is evidently the reason why accounts
of the march have led students to disagree as to the route followed. It
was undoubtedly in the present western Marion County or even
nearer the coast that a party of Spanish soldiers heard of Nar-
vaez's march eleven years before. When the Spaniards were twitted
by the Indians about the failure of the former Spanish expedition,
quite a number became discouraged and tried to get De Soto to turn
back, saying that they were moving forward to the same fate as Nar-
vaez. But the Governor refused to budge. He had resolved not to
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
fail in his search for gold, and even though he had been disappointed
in Ocali he still believed that there was wealth in the country beyond.
North of Ocali ruled a chief by the name of Vitachuco, and to his
domain De Soto next proceeded. After a number of attempts were
made this chief was lured to join the Spaniards. Both he and they
later had occasion to rue this.
Tired of being held against his will Vitachuco began to plot the
destruction of his white captors, and not only did his own followers,
whom the Spaniards had not denied access to their chief, but the
captive Indians of Ocali enter into the plan. The latter, however,
became afraid of what might happen to them-they had learned the
great superiority of the white man's weapons-and told Juan Ortiz
of the plot. Ortiz, of course, told De Soto.
Thus warned the Spaniards were ready when the Indians attacked
them, and soon drove Vitachuco's followers into two nearby ponds.
One chronicler of the expedition says the Indians fought twenty-four
hours in these ponds without touching bottom, before the Spaniards
forced them to come ashore and surrender. This is undoubtedly an
Had Juan Ortiz not been along De Soto's march would most likely
have ended at the point of this first fight with Vitachuco's men.
Strange to say De Soto, after the battle of the ponds continued to
treat the Indian chief as before and allowed him to sit at his side.
But Vitachuco had not given up the destruction of the Spaniards.
Nine hundred of the Indians of the province had been in camp since
the battle of the ponds acting as the servants of De Soto and his men,
and when their chief told them that at a set time on the third day
from the plot, a final effort to get rid of the white men must be made,
the Indians agreed to the plan.
The attempt was made at mealtime and was begun by Vitachuco
himself. With his tremendous strength the chief seized De Soto by
the collar and struck him with such fury as to break out several teeth
and send the Governor to the ground bleeding. Before Vitachuco
could strike the finishing blow he was killed by the swords and lances
of a number of Spanish officers striking him simultaneously. In the
fight which followed many Spaniards were severely hurt, for some of
the Indians had seized lances and others attacked with firebrands or
whatever else they could secure. "One," says Irving, "was knocked
down by his slave and beset by three other Indians, who dashed out
his brains." Only three other Spaniards were killed, however.
Many Indians met death on account of the superiority of the Spanish
arms, and because so many of the savages were in chains.
FAILS TO CONQUER FLORIDA
The Governor could not partake of solid food for many days.
Leaving the province of Vitachuco the Spaniards crossed the
Suwannee and turned nearer to the coast. There seems to have been
but little or no fighting between the Suwannee and Aucilla rivers, but
some distance beyond the crossing point of the latter the Spaniards
became entangled in the bogs and fastnesses of the Wacissa Swamp,
called by the Spaniards "the great morass." Their march through
this swamp was constantly impeded by Indians, but their small num-
ber enabled the Spaniards to reach the open country with but little
After leaving the great swamp De Soto apparently turned north
and then west until a distance of perhaps thirty miles brought him and
his followers to Anhayca, the principal town of Apalachee.
We have seen how De Soto's expedition from Tampa Bay north-
ward had been often halted by fights with the Indians, foraging for
food and exploration of the country. There was an additional reason
for the slowness of the march. De Soto brought thirteen hogs from
Cuba, and many pigs were born while the Spaniards remained in camp
on Tampa Bay. In fact the hogs multiplied so rapidly during the
three years' march that the Governor's share at the time of his death
in 1542 was seven hundred (however, he probably owned the major
portion of the herd),* notwithstanding the fact that over one hun-
dred hogs had perished in the destruction attendant upon the battle
of Mauvila in September, 1540. These hogs had to be driven along
as De Soto's men marched and penned when the army came to a stop.
Although following a longer route from Tampa Bay than that of
Narvaez and his men, and in spite of the ways the march was slowed
up, the Spanish followers of De Soto traveled at two-thirds of the
speed of their predecessors eleven years before. The fact that so
much speed was made in the time mentioned is an additional reason
for believing De Soto's march must not have begun at Charlotte
We shall not follow the activities of the Spaniards while spending
their winter in the chief town of Apalachee, except to say that they
had a difficult time on account of constant attacks made by the Indi-
ans on the foraging and exploring parties which the Governor sent out.
Once De Soto succeeded in capturing Capafi, chief of the Apalaches,
who was so fat he had to crawl; but in spite of this physical handicap
the corpulent chief gave his captors the slip one night and they never
saw him again.
Many of the hogs had been eaten during the march. Theodore Maynard says they
probably saved the army.
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
De Soto in November sent Juan de Anasco and thirty other Span-
iards to Tampa Bay to tell Calderon, who had been left there with a
detachment, to join the main army in their winter quarters at Anhayca.
This ride of Anasco and his lancers is one of the most daring in the
annals of history, but it was made with slight loss. One reason was
because the Indians considered the towns along the Spanish line of
march accursed, and so had abandoned a number of them.
De Soto had been anxious to find a good harbor to which supplies
could be brought him from Cuba. Accordingly he sent Diego Maldon-
ado with the brigantines brought up from Tampa Bay to go in search
of one. Some six weeks later Maldonado returned saying that a safe
and commodious harbor had been found. The Spaniards called this
Achuse, but we are practically certain it was the present Pensacola
Bay Maldonado was now ordered to return to Cuba to get addi-
tional supplies for De Soto and his army, who were to-meet the ships
at Achuse during the autumn of 1540.
As the remainder of De Soto's march, excepting the twenty miles
or so between Anhayca and the Georgia line was outside the present
Florida, we shall not go into details concerning it. It is sufficient to
say that before the march ended the Spaniards traversed a large
number of the present Southern States and had several severe battles
with the Indians. On May 21, 1542, they reached the Mississippi, the
first time Europeans had ever seen the great river away from its
mouth. Just one year later,* while still near the banks of the mighty
stream, the great conquistador passed away, and one night a few days
later his body was lowered into the river he was the first white man
to see away from its entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. De Soto's love
of gold and glory had ended in his undoing.
i. Fernando de Soto, who made the fifth attempt to conquer and
colonize Florida, had first come to America in 1519. He served under
Governor Pedrarias, of Darien, for eleven years and then joined
Francisco Pizarro on his expedition to Peru.
2. De Soto won as his share of the booty in Peru over $410,000 in
gold. With this he went to Spain and married the daughter of Ped-
rarias, his former patron, and established himself as a grandee.
3. Without difficulty, De Soto received, in 1538, a grant to con-
quer and colonize Florida, an indefinite extent of country bordering
the Gulf and Atlantic coast to the north and northeast of Mexico.
According 't Theodore Maynard. All authorities do not agree as to the date of
De Soto's death.
FAILS TO CONQUER FLORIDA
More than six hundred men were easily recruited to join him in the
conquest of Florida.
4. De Soto after spending the winter of 1538-1539 in Cuba,
brought his ships to anchor in Tampa Bay, May 25, 1539. For
nearly two months the Spaniards spent their time on the shores of
the Bay and in exploring the surrounding country.
5. After leaving Tampa Bay in July, 1539, De Soto and his men
marched first northeast, then north and northwest, reaching Anhayca,
an Indian town at or near the site of the present city of Tallahassee,
October 25, 1539. The slowness of De Soto's march was caused,
first, by the difficult nature of much of the country; second, by com-
bats with the Indians; third, by having to search for food supplies;
and fourth, by having to drive a herd of swine.
6. During their winter in Apalachee the Spaniards were constantly
harassed by Indians, nevertheless, much activity was carried on. The
surrounding country was explored, Pensacola Bay was discovered, and
the portion of the force left on Tampa Bay was brought to Anhayca.
7. After leaving the present Florida, De Soto, on May 21, 1542,
reached the Mississippi River. He was the first to discover it beyond
its mouth. De Soto died near this river May 21, 1543, and was buried
beneath its waters. He was led to his destruction by the lure of gold.
Students of De Soto's campaign in Florida and elsewhere in the South will,
of course, read one of a number of the excellent translations of the Narrative of a
Knight of Elvas, which is considered the most trustworthy account. Shipp's trans-
lation of Garcilaso's account is made from a French translation of the original some-
what abridged; but the student who reads Irving's Conquest of Florida, or Grace
King's De Soto in the Land of Florida, has pretty well gotten the Garcilaso story
of De Soto's march.
Biedma's Narrative of the Career of Fernando de Soto, translated and edited
by Buckingham Smith, should be consulted, as should the Journey of Alvar Nunez
Cabeza de Vaca, translated by Fanny Bandelier. No student of De Soto should
omit De Vaca's journey, because, for one thing, we learn just what relation Nar-
vaez' attempted conquest bore to that of De Soto, and for another, we can check
upon the routes of the two conquistadores.
Charles Colcock Jones' History of Georgia and Pickett's History of Alabama
should be read by all De Soto students; and so should the Spanish Borderlands,
by H. E. Bolton, and Mississippi, the Heart of the South, by Dunbar Rowland.
There are many other works the student will want to consult, among them I shall
mention only a few. These are: Fairbanks' History of Florida, 1904; Shea's
Ancient Florida (Chap. IV, Vol. 2); Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of
America, 1886; Maynard's De Soto and the Conquistadores, 1928; Brinton's Notes
on the Floridian Peninsula, 1859.
The Huguenots in Florida
It has been found necessary to devote considerable space to the
Spanish expeditions within the limits of the present United States
between I512 and 1543, because their failure had much to do with
Spanish policy in that section thereafter. Neither gold nor glory
came from those expeditions, but rather disaster. Then why waste
human life and get naught in return? Although Spain had claimed
all of North America nothing was done to prevent the exploration
under French auspices of the Gulf and River St. Lawrence by Jacques
Cartier, 1534-37, because Spain regarded that part of North America
as having little value. After De Soto's fatal expedition the same
opinion was entertained of much of the continent to the south.
Many students of Spanish history have probably wondered why
the Spaniards relaxed their grip so easily on much of that large por-
tion of the present United States to which they gave the name of
Florida. There are, of course, a number of reasons for this; but as
already indicated the chief one seems to have been their view that the
region was unprofitable for colonization.
But although considered an unprofitable territory the Spaniards
came to see that it was highly necessary for them to establish posts
along the coasts of our present Florida. It would not do, if it could
possibly be prevented, for another nation to command the entrance to
the Gulf of Mexico and thus hinder Spain's commerce with her col-
onies. Then again something must be done to prevent the loss of so
much Mexican and Peruvian treasure from wrecks on the treacher-
ous Florida coasts. Between the years 1543 (the date of De Soto's
death) and 1555 there had been a number of such wrecks. Two hun-
dred men forced to land on account of a wreck in 1543 had been either
killed or enslaved by the Florida Indians, and of five hundred thus
forced ashore a few years later all but one perished in an attempt to
get to Mexico by land.
HUGUENOTS IN FLORIDA
Florida might indeed be an unprofitable country and its occupation
entail expense to Spain, but this would be more than made up by the
saving of treasure from elsewhere.
There was indeed one other reason for the occupation of Florida,
though it apparently had less weight-the conversion of the Indians.
The Spaniards, it must be remembered, were an intensely religious
people, and anxious to spread the gospel in which they believed. The
next attempt to settle Florida came about as a result of this.
The attempt was made in 1549 and the leader was Luis de Cancer
Barbastro, or as he is usually called Father Cancer. Accompanied
by three other priests, Gregory de Beteta, Diego de Talosa and John
Garcia, Father Cancer in 1549 sailed from Vera Cruz bringing neither
arms nor soldiers. The vessel stopped at Havana where the mission-
ary party secured an Indian woman, called Magdalen, who had been
converted after being taken from Florida to Cuba on a previous expe-
dition. Leaving Havana the vessel with the missionaries came to
anchor in a bay on the west coast of Florida-probably Tampa Bay-
about the middle of June. On account of the shallowness of the
water the vessel was unable to reach the shore, but two priests and a
sailor with Magdalen went to land in a boat and finding some Indians
on the beach accompanied them to their cabins not far away.
The Spaniards on the vessel vainly awaited the return of the
party for several days, until John Munoz, a Spaniard whom the Indi-
ans had held captive since De Soto's expedition, managed to reach the
vessel and tell its occupants that the priests and sailor who had previ-
ously gone ashore had been murdered. Later the woman Magdalen
came from the Indians to the beach and told Spaniards who came
from the vessel that the missionaries were alive and well; but in the
light of what happened subsequently it is unlikely that the woman told
the truth. For although Munoz had not witnessed the murder of
the Spaniards he said he had seen a missionary's scalp in the Indian
All on the vessel now wanted to leave for Mexico except Father
Cancer, but he was not ready to give up. Against the advice of all
the others he got into a small boat and had some sailors carry him
close to shore. Jumping from the boat Father Cancer waded to the
beach, where he knelt for awhile, and upon rising went to some Indi-
ans not far away. The sailors on the boat saw the Indians strike
the missionary with a club and heard him utter a cry. The Indians
now ran from where they had murdered the missionary to the beach,
and shooting a shower of arrows at the boat drove it back toward the
vessel. In sadness the expedition was abandoned and those remaining
of the party returned to Mexico.
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
The wrecking of treasure fleets continuing, the occupation of
Florida was viewed as a necessity, and in 1558 its settlement was
entrusted to Don Luis Velasco, Viceroy of Mexico, who had been so
earnest in protecting the rights of the Mexican natives that he was
called the Father of the Indians.
Velasco, in September, 1558, sent three vessels under Guido de
Labazares to explore the Florida coast and find the best port he
could. After some months of exploration Labazares decided upon
Pensacola Bay, which he named Felipina, and on his return to Mexico
in December, preparations were made to send settlers to Florida.
The commander chosen for the expedition was Don Tristan de
Luna, and the choice seems to have been an unfortunate one. One
would judge from Luna's subsequent actions that he was tempera-
mental, to say the least.
The expedition was the largest that to this time had been sent to
Florida and contained fifteen hundred persons, composed of soldiers,
settlers, priests and negro slaves. The thirteen vessels required for
its transport left Vera Cruz, June II, 1559, and by July I was in
sight of some bay entering the coast Labazares had explored the previ-
ous year. There will probably be controversy as long as Florida is
a subject for narration as to what particular bay this was. Probably
more authorities have expressed an opinion in favor of Pensacola
Bay than any other, but John Gilmary Shea, one of the most careful
students of Florida history (though he is sometimes wrong and fre-
quently ambiguous), with some reason has chosen Santa Rosa Bay.
Apparently De Luna's ships sailed up and down the West Florida
and South Alabama coasts for days before a place of anchorage for
the ships was finally selected.
It seems to have been Luna's great trouble that it was hard for
him to make up his mind, and when he did he apparently became
unreasonable. This disposition appears from the time the vessels
came in sight of the West Florida bay on July i, 1559.
It is strange with the natural harbor facilities that Pensacola
Bay has that anyone should have doubted that its shores afforded
an excellent landing place. It is even stranger that Luna waited
a full two months before having his vessels unloaded of the supplies
they contained. Yet he might have waited longer had not a hurri-
cane descending on the night of September 19th destroyed five of the
ships, sent another ashore and resulted in the death of a goodly num-
ber of those in the expedition. Worse still nearly all the supplies in
the vessels not destroyed were ruined by the drenching rain that fol-
lowed. The settlement was thus almost made hopeless at the start
by the waiting policy of Luna.
J. .. ..- "._- "_ &"e,, t- -. f .._ .? : .. *i ,
OLD MISSION RUINS AT NEW SMYRNA
Built by Franciscan Monks in the 17th Century
Courtesy of Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
Sometime before the landing of the remaining supplies, which the
hurricane enforced, Luna had sent out two captains, Alvaro Nyeto
and Gonzalo Sanchez to explore the country and find out what they
could of the Indians. After three weeks, in which the Spaniards
must have traversed much of the present West Florida, the captains
returned to report that they had found one small Indian village in an
almost uninhabited country.
Another detachment was now sent out, which journeyed forty
days to the northwest, meanwhile going over country traversed by
De Soto and his men nineteen years before. The destruction wrought
by these former Spaniards was still in evidence for little or no signs
of inhabitants were found until the explorers reached the deserted
Indian town of Nanipacna.
To show how little is certainly known of these Spanish explora-
tions, Nanipacna has been located on at least three rivers, the Escam-
bia, the Alabama and the Tennessee. There is some reason for
believing, however, that it was on the upper reaches of the Alabama.
The Indians of Nanipacna, who had deserted their houses, soon
returned and became friendly with the Spaniards, and it is apparent
that the latter sent a good report of the country to Luna.
The commander had all this time (probably until early in 1560)
remained with the greater portion of the soldiers and settlers at the
landing-place on Pensacola (or Santa Rosa) Bay. Some few supplies
had been sent from Mexico to replace those lost, but they were soon
used up. Meanwhile Luna had had a severe attack of fever, which
one historian thinks may have affected his mind; but if there was
much difference in the commander's actions before and after the fever
it is hard to find.
Fear of starvation may have at last made Luna see that some-
thing must be done or the colony was lost. Accordingly he left the
bayshore settlement-probably in February, 1560, with one thousand
persons to go to Nanipacna on the upper Alabama with the view, pos-
sibly of locating the main Spanish settlement there. A comparatively
small force was left under Juan de Jaramillo on the bay, for it was
necessary to have an outpost on some harbor.
It is uncertain how long Luna and his party remained in Nani-
pacna, but we are told they soon consumed the Indian supplies found
there and were reduced to the eating of acorns and herbs.
More provisions were sent from Vera Cruz to Pensacola Bay,
but the amount was insufficient for Jaramillo and those left with him.
Some men among the settlers had been with Fernando de Soto, and
knew of an Indian settlement by the name of Coca on the Coosa River,
where they thought supplies might be found. To obtain these Jara-
HUGUENOTS IN FLORIDA
millo sent his sergeant-major, six captains and two hundred men to
the province. Some things unbelievable are told of the sufferings of
these men. It is said they found so little food on their journey that
they ate straps, harnesses and the leather covering of their shields
and were only saved from starvation by reaching a grove of chestnuts.
In Coca, however, they found food and friendly Indians. Prob-
ably in return for the treatment they received the Spaniards joined the
Indians of Coca in warfare against the Napochies (Natchez) living
near the Mississippi, and forced them to pay tribute to the Cocas as
Meanwhile Luna had abandoned Nanipacna and returned to Pen-
sacola Bay. One of the priests, Father Feria, and some others had
sailed for Havana and practically all except the commander desired to
leave the country. Luna, who had kept in touch with the Coca adven-
ture of Jaramillo now wanted to go to that place and make a settle-
ment, but the other leaders made such opposition that there was open
mutiny. Luna now threatened execution of the mutineers, but there
were so many of them that this was impossible, though he did hang
one who deserted. Word was secretly sent to Coca by the mutineers,
and the Spaniards in that province reached Pensacola Bay in Novem-
At this juncture the fleet of Angel de Villafane, who said he was
on his way to Santa Elena on the Atlantic coast to found a settlement,
entered Pensacola Bay with a fleet and told the settlers that all who
desired could accompany him. The wish to leave was so universal
that Luna, finding himself abandoned, embarked with a few servants
for Havana. A small detachment was left on Pensacola Bay with
one Captain Biedma. If no instructions came in six months they
were to sail away.
Villafane took two hundred of the men for his Santa Elena settle-
ment, but at Havana, where he touched on his way, many of those
deserted. Proceeding to Santa Elena, which he found unsuitable for a
settlement, Villafane landed and explored a considerable portion of
the present eastern South Carolina. Later returning to his vessels, it
is thought he sailed to the Indian town on Chesapeake Bay known to
the Spaniards as Axacam. Here the expedition was given up and the
Spaniards sailed to Santo Domingo.
The Luna colony is interesting, because from the account given of
it we get a good picture of conditions in the present West Florida
and southern Alabama at the time. It is pretty clear that the country
was then almost unoccupied, and Green, who has probably written the
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
best history of Florida to date, seems clearly right in saying that there
were few red men in Florida west of the Apalachicola at the time of its
first discovery. The Indians like the latter-day white men knew that
the best land was away from the pine barrens of the coast and in the
hammocks at the approaches to the piedmont region.
Probably comparatively few Floridians know that a colon of
persons attempting to escape religious persecution was planted in
Florida nearly fifty-six years before the Pilgrim Fathers landed on
Plymouth Rock, yet this is true. Colonies planted to secure religious
freedom elsewhere in the present United States are "played up" in
our histories, and nearly every school child knows of them. In Flor-
ida, it is regrettable to say that there are even some educators who
seem to oppose the teaching the history of the State in our schools.
--' Admiral Coligny, [one of the great characters in French history,
was the leader of the Protestant party in that country, known as
Huguenots; and as this sect was haledand persecuted by the Cath-
olics who were in the majority, the admiral was desirous of finding
an asylum for his co-religionists where they could worship without
molestation\ The historian, who, to be impartial, must not favor any
religious belief, has to admit that the hatred between the two French
sects was mutual, and that probably neither was ever guilty of any
persecution that the other would not have practiced. It must be
admitted, too, that those people, in general, who came to America to
escape religious persecution, came because theirs was the minority
sect in Europe, and when they commanded a majority as they did in
some places in America they were as ready to persecute others as
others had been to persecute them. We have doubtless praised too
much the nobility of motives of the founders, who sought religious
freedom, of some of our American colonies, yet the subject is so inter-
esting and has led to such results-unexpected to the founders-that
it deserves the careful study of the historical student.
There are good reasons for believing that there were other
motives besides securing freedom of worship actuating the founders
of a number of colonies in which our histories give religious freedom
as the chief cause. it is practically certain that Coligny had at least
two reasons aside from the religious one for founding a settlement on
the South Atlantic Coast. One was the patriotic desire of giving
France a foothold in the new world; another was to cripple the trade
For there were many Frenchmen of Coligny's day, who evidently
believed it no sin to help themselves to the treasures of a country, for
HUGUENOTS IN FLORIDA
which they felt so little affection as for Spain. France and Spain
were much at war during the recent rule of Charles V and though
ostensibly at peace when Coligny was sending settlers to America,
there was still an undercurrent of hatred between the nations. The
Spanish ambassador to Paris believed that French ships preyed on
Spanish commerce with the connivance of the Queen mother, Cath-
erine de Medici; and there is a hint in the correspondence sent from
Paris to the Spanish court that as long as Spaniards tried by diplo-
matic means to stop French piracies the efforts would be wasted.
The treatment later meted out by Menindez to the Huguenots in
Florida can be better understood in the light of the explanation given
above. In truth, i seems that Men6ndez thought Huguenots little
better than pir t
Admiral Coligny's first attempt to plant an American colony was
in 1558 within the limits of the present Brazil, but this having resulted
in failure he sent two ships in 1562 under the command of Jean Ribaut
with settlers, who were expected to locate somewhere on the south
Atlantic coast of North America. A prosperous voyage brought
Ribaut and his Frenchmen late in April to some point on the Florida
coast near the present St. Augustine. Not being exactly satisfied with
the country, Ribaut turned northward passing on May I the mouth
of the St. Johns River, from which circumstance he named it the
River of May. The ships continued their cruise until the harbor of
the present Port Royal, South Carolina, was reached. From this the
settlers landed and made an examination of the surrounding country,
which so pleased Ribaut that he decided on the shore of Port Royal
Sound was a good place for his settlement.
Before Ribaut left, the French built a fort on a small island in
the sound, naming it Charlesfort in honor of the King of France. On
sailing Ribaut left one Captain Albert in command of the settlers, and
these were supplied with food and ammunition.
Ribaut was expected to return to Charlesfort within a short time,
byi hen he reached France civil war l2.ween Catholics and Hugue-
nots detained him; thus the colony on the Carolina shore was neglected.
The settlers were apparently not the type to plant a successful
colony and the leader, Captain Albert was both harsh and tyrannical.
Because the captain hanged a poor drummer boy on account of a diffi-
culty he had with him, and condemned another Frenchman to star-
vation on an island, the rest took matters into their own hands and
put Albert to death. They then chose one Nicholas Barre as their
With a leader amenable to their wishes the men at Charlesfort
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
determined to leave for their native land. Months had passed and
yet Ribaut had not returned. They had long since exhausted their
own supplies of food and such as the Indians could furnish from their
fields in that poor, sandy, coastal country. Yet even with starvation
staring them in the face the Frenchmen had no ship in which to make
their return to France. But, as in the case of Narvaez of Apalachee
Bay thirty-four years before, necessity became the mother of inven-
tion. A ship probably no better than the boats of Narvaez and con-
structed in much the same way, was in due time finished, and though,
as Green says, it was "perhaps the craziest craft which ever attempted
to cross the Atlantic," twenty-six Frenchmen risked their lives to it.
On this frail boat the passengers made but slow progress and were
for many days becalmed. Meanwhile the few provisions placed on it
were soon consumed and the passengers in their desperate hunger
killed one of their fellows named Le Clerc, after casting lots to see
who was to be chosen, and divided his flesh among them. Soon after
this the boat was sighted by an English ship which rescued the pas-
sengers and carried them to France.
Coligny's second American failure did not deter him from attempt-
ing a third colony, this time under seemingly better auspices. Rene
de Laudonniere, who had accompanied Ribaut on the former expedi-
tion was made commander, and April 22, 1564, left Havre, France,
with three ships of one hundred, one hundred twenty and one hundred
sixty tons, respectively, carrying a goodly number of settlers, among
whom were adventurers, artisans, sailors, soldiers and scions of good
families; but if there were agriculturists among them their practices
in the colony founded later gave no proof of it. Probably the old
idea that gold could be easily found possessed the minds of most of
The expedition landed apparently in the present harbor of St.
Augustine two months to a day after leaving France; but again this
seemed an unsatisfactory place for a settlement. Laudonniere, there-
fore turned north until he had reached the mouth of the River of
May, and sailing up this for a short distance to a high bluff went
ashore and met some Indians who were very friendly. Though the
commander went back to his ships and sailed along the coast as far as
the St. Marys River he found no other point that suited him as well
as a point near the mouth of the River of May, close to his original
landing place on that river.
Laudonniere built a fort on the right bank of the river, which we
will hereafter call by its modern name of St. Johns. The fort stood
at a point some two leagues above its mouth, where it contracts to
"FAMILY TREE" (LARGE OAK AT LEFT), ROLLINS COLLEGE, WINTER PARK
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
less than half a mile in width, at the head of the sand bars that
obstruct the entrance to the stream. It was built in the form of a
triangle, with a trench and turf battlements on the land side, which
was toward the west. To the south was a bastion built of fagots and
sand, in which was a magazine for the ammunition. The structure
erected was named Fort Caroline.
It is needless to say that authorities are no more in unanimous
agreement as to the location of Fort Caroline than they are on the
landing-place of De Soto or of Ponce de Le6n. The site above given
is that of Fairbanks, Parkman and John Gilmary Shea. Fairbanks
knew this section of Florida and was a careful student of its topog-
raphy, hence his opinion is entitled to respect.
Immediately after construction of the fort and a group of cabins
outside, covered with palmetto blades like those of the Indians, Lau-
donniere sent out explorers to find out what they could about the
country in which the colony had been planted. One party sailing as
far up the St. Johns River as Lake George, heard how gold was mined
in the streams coming down from the mountains, and this seems to
indicate that the Timucuan Indians of Eastern Florida had become
acquainted with the country to the north of Florida. The French
explorers almost certainly penetrated much of the territory now
comprised in Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Lake counties.
But with all their energy in exploration, the settlers were care-
less about providing for food. A store of venison could easily
have been laid up. Fish were plentiful and many barrels could have
been caught, salted and dried for the winter. The French, it is true,
landed too late to plant grain crops, but fall gardens would have
yielded them an abundance of vegetables. There was absolutely no
excuse for any scarcity of food unless it was bread, and, if the Indians
had always been treated properly, even this might have been secured.
Laudonniere had promised Saturiba, chief of the Indians on the
lower St. Johns, to assist him in his warfare against Utina, the chief
who ruled the Indians around Lake George; but instead of doing this
Laudonniere angered Saturiba by refusing help when the chief was
ready to fight, telling him that Fort Caroline must first be completed.
When this was done the French would "consider" giving assistance to
the Indians. Saturiba, offended with Laudonniere, would wait no
longer, but pushing up the St. Johns into Utina's domain, defeated
that chief in battle. Besides those killed Saturiba brought home
twenty-four prisoners, two of whom Laudonniere took from him and
returned to Utina, also sending the chief presents along with the
prisoners. Naturally Saturiba became offended with what he con-
HUGUENOTS IN FLORIDA
sidered the double dealing of the French leader. Utina was treated
even worse than Saturiba had been. When their food supplies became
short and they were unable to obtain more in the vicinity of Fort
Caroline, the French went into the country Utina ruled, and failing
to obtain the supplies they wanted, seized the chief, trusting his
adherents would supply corn to obtain their leader's release. The
French did finally obtain some food in Utina's province, but in a fight
occurring later lost most of it. They had better luck in a subsequent
expedition to the country along the St. Marys, but even then the food
secured was only enough to last for a short while. Meantime, July
I, 1565 had arrived, and Laudonniere decided to give in to the
desires of his men to abandon Florida.
A few other occurrences wh5lete French settlers were in Flor-
ida should be mentioned. Hearing from the Indians (probably those
in Utina's province) that there were two bearded men somewhere in
the country, Laudonniere investigated and learned that this was true.
He then made an offer satisfactory to the Indians who held them for
the release of the captives. The two men were Spaniards, who. said
they had been in Florida fifteen years, having been passengers on one
of three vessels wrecked on the southwest coast of Florida. The
Spaniards said that the wreck occurred in the province of a chief,
whom they called King Calos, and they claimed he was being enriched
by treasures secured from Spanish wrecks occurring in his domain.
They also told Laudonniere that Spanish women from wrecked ships
had married Indians and that a number of children had been born to
No tales of treasures to be secured or of white women to be
rescued from savage lords would, however, lure Laudonniere any
farther into Florida. He had doubtless read of Narvaez and De Soto
and learned the dangers Europeans encountered, when too far off
from supply bases and dependable ports. In fact, had it not been for
his methods in dealing with the Indians, we might argue with reason
that Laudonniere was a good leader. He certainly seems to have
been far superior in this respect to the Spanish De Luna, and his col-
ony might have been a success had it not been for the sort of men
under him. Mostly the reader may well regard them as a difficult lot,
and the French commander may have used his "wiles" with the Indians
largely to please the men with him, for they seem to have been for
the most part gold-seekers, who probably wanted to "work" all the
tribes in order that they might get gold from some of them.
This wealth-hunting propensity in Laudonniere's men once gave
the commander much trouble. In the autumn of 1564 he began
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
the construction of some barks probably for the exploration of the
coast and of the rivers. As these were about to be completed a large
number of the men begged permission of Laudonniere to use the
barks in an expedition to Mexico, the West Indies and Peru to seize
treasures from the Spaniards. The commander refused this permis-
sion, but falling sick, he was seized by five of the ring-leaders of the
party, carried to a vessel in the river, and told if he did not issue them
a passport they would cut his throat. When they had secured the
passport they took arms and ammunition, seized the barks and pre-
pared to sail on their piratical expedition against the Spaniards. Not
all of the sixty-six who went were mutineers, for Laudonniire had
been forced to furnish the expedition a pilot and several mariners.
Thus equipped the French barks under the mutineers in December,
1564, sailed into the Caribbean and while there did considerable dam-
age to Spanish shipping. In one battle they captured a brigantine
and abandoned one of the barks, which had been damaged, getting
into the Spanish ship. After some successes on the coast of Jamaica
the mutineers were at last so badly worsted that they were forced to
return to Florida. As the brigantine in which the mutineers sailed
was passing the mouth of the St. Johns, Laudonniere sighted it and
sent Captain Vasseur, commander of the French vessel in the river,
to seize the party. They seem by this time to have been without
food or ammunition and were, therefore, easily captured. To make
an example to all of the others, Laudonniere had four of the ring-
leaders shot and their dead bodies afterward hanged on gibbets.
By the middle of July, 1565, Laudonniere had decided to leave
Florida. This the leader apparently did unwillingly, for the country
pleased him; but the men would not cultivate the land, and it was
getting harder and harder to obtain food from the Indians, who by
this time had been pretty well offended with the French. Then, too,
the commander had expected reEnforcements and additional supplies
from France, and these not coming he had about given up hopes of
any relief from that quarter.
The French were only waiting for a fair wind, when on August 3,
they sighted four ships in the mouth of the St. Johns. These were
under the command of Sir John Hawkins, who sent a boat up the
river to the fort to ask permission to obtain fresh water for his ships.
This granted, Sir John went to the fort, where he remained several
days as the guest of the commander. The Englishman offered to
carry the French to their native land, but Laudonniere suspecting
that England and France might be at war, refused the offer. But he
bought from Hawkins a large amount of much needed supplies, and
HUGUENOTS IN FLORIDA
traded ammunition for one of the English ships. Seeing that many
of the Frenchmen were barefoot, Hawkins sold Laudonniere fifty
pairs of shoes, merely taking his promissory note in return for them.
From what the English captain said f Florida, he must have
/'(S been a pretty close observer while there. 'Notwithstanding the great
want which the Frenchmen had," he said, "the ground doth yield vic-
tuals sufficient, if they had taken pains to get the same; but they, being
soldiers, desired to live by the sweat of other men's brows. The
ground yieldeth naturally grapes in great store, for in the time the
French were there they made twenty hogsheads of wine. Also it
yieldeth roots passing good, deers marvelous good, with divers other
beast and fowl serviceable to the use of man. These be things where-
with a man may live, having maize (cornT"wherewith to make bread.
For maize maketh good, savory bread and cakes as fine as flour."
Hawkins also noted the Indians' use of tobacco, but someone must
have imposed upon his credulity concerning the effects of the weed.
He told of the Indians through smoking being able to go four or five
days without food. But writers of the sixteenth century were guilty
of many harmless, little exaggerations.
Having secured the additional vessel from Hawkins and enough
food, if used with care, to supply him for the return to France, Lau-
donniere only waited for favorable sailing weather to get out of
I. After De Soto's failure the Spaniards would have lost interest
in Florida, but for two reasons. First, it was necessary to protect
Spanish treasure ships sailing around the treacherous Florida, and
protect commerce by holding the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico, and
second, the christianizing the Florida Indians was considered a duty.
2. Father Luis de Cancer de Barbastro attempted to establish a
mission on the west coast of Florida in 1549, but this resulted in
failure, the leader and others losing their lives.
3. Tristan de Luna, in 1559, was sent to establish a settlement in
West Florida. The expedition landed on either Pensacola Bay or
Santa Rosa Sound. A number of attempts were made to find a suit-
able settlement site in the interior of the country, but after nearly two
years the Spaniards abandoned Florida.
4. In 1562 Admiral Coligny sent some French Huguenots to
found a settlement in Amirica. After sailing along the northeast
coast of Florida where they first landed, the French chose a site on
Port Royal Sound in the present State of South Carolina. After a
few months this was abandoned and the settlers returned to France.
58 THE STORY OF FLORIDA
5. Coligny sent out a second colony in 1564, under the command
of Rene de Laudonniere. The site chosen for a settlement was a few
miles above the mouth of the present St. Johns River. The settlers
built a fort, which in honor of King Charles of France they named
6. Laudonniere remained in Florida more than a year, and the
French explored much of the east central part of the peninsula during
the time; but there were troubles: some of the men proved mutinous,
no crops were planted, and it becoming hard to get food from the
Indians Laudonniere decided to abandon Florida.
7. Before the French commander was ready to set sail, Sir John
Hawkins, an English slave-trader, stopped at Fort Caroline on a
voyage home from the Spanish colonies. Hawkins relieved the wants
of the French and sold them a vessel to use in transporting them back
Menendez Founds First Lasting White
Settlement Jtithin Present
The court of Spain was so exasperated by French activities in
America that it determined to put a stop to them. As Florida lay
directly on the route of the Spanish treasure fleets, it would never do
to let another nation get foothold there. Spanish commerce was
already preyed upon by French corsairs, who, if they could find har-
bors of refuge controlled by their countrymen in Florida, would be
able to multiply their work of destruction.
Probably the best fitted man in all Spain to check French aggres-
sions was on March 20, 1565, made adelantado of Florida and
authorized to fit out a fleet to carry soldiers, settlers, and priests to
that country. Five hundred negro slaves were to be brought over to
perform the hard work, and it was required that cattle, hogs and
other live stock be among the necessary supplies the adelantado was
Pedro Menindez de Avilds, the man chosen to settle and govern
Florida, found paying the expense of the Florida expedition a rather
There were many ships to fit out and equip. It was absolutely
necessary to have plenty of arms and ammunition. Food for those
brought over, whose numbers are given by various historians from
fifteen hundred to twenty-six hundred and forty had to be provided.
And the cattle, pigs and goats to stock pastures in his new domain
cost Menendez something.
But such little things as obstacles did not daunt Men6ndez. He
had been meeting and surmounting them ever since 1533, when he
was only fourteen years of age.
In this his first fight thirty-two years before he was to put a stop
to French activities in Florida, Men6ndez was commander of a tender,
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
with a crew of not over twenty men, which was attacked by a French
warship. His crew wanted Menendez to surrender to the much
larger and better-equipped French vessel, but encouraged by their
youthful commander they fought so desperately that the commander
of the French vessel allowed the tender to escape without daring to
During the seventeen years following his successful get-away from
the French ship Men6ndez was busy much of the time in fighting
corsairs. In 1549 he was commissioned to capture the corsair Jean
Alfonse, who had captured ten or more Spanish vessels off Cape
Finisterre. He succeeded in recovering five of the vessels and the
corsair Alfonse died of the wounds he received in the fight with
Menindez. The redoubtable Spaniard, not content with ridding the
seas of Jean Alfonse, soon afterward defeated his son off Cape
Just after this Charles V commissioned Men6ndez to attack the
corsairs even in time of peace, and granted him and his descendants
all the booty he could take.
At Seville at this time was an important Spanish official body
known as the Casa de Contratacion, consisting of judges, priors and
consuls, part of whose privileges was the naming of the captains-
general of the fleets sailing to the Indies. As the captain-general
of a fleet exercised great authority he could easily fill his pockets
and the pockets of those who named him, should he allow crews
and passengers to sail without authorization, or allow the mas-
ters of vessels to take on certain persons prohibited by law from
sailing. There were, however, opportunities for even greater gains
to the captain-general, if, when a treasure fleet was returning from
America to Spain, he would allow certain masters of ships anxious to
hurry to sail in the first division of the two divisions which usually
comprised the fleet.
Doubtless the greatest source of profit for a dishonest captain-
general was winking at the sailing of unlicensed smugglers of gold
and silver. It is pretty certain that the rulers of Spain made the
license on ships carrying gold, silver and precious stones very high,
and escaping it was probably comparable to dodging income taxes at
the present day. To dodge these licenses and slip in to unwatched
Spanish ports, treasure smugglers undoubtedly anticipated the ruses
of modern rum runners, and like them paid many a bribe to corrupt
Whether the Spanish King suspected the officials of the Casa de
Contratacion of taking bribes or not is a thing unknown to the present
FIRST LASTING WHITE SETTLEMENT
historian, but one thing is certain: in 1554 he deprived the body of
its right to name the captain-general of the treasure fleet. It had
already chosen one Don Juan Tello de Guzman, but the King of
Spain vetoed the selection and named Pedro Men6ndez de Avil6s.
The Casa de Contratacion could not take revenge on the King, but the
time would come for it to get even with Men6ndez.
According to Woodbury Lowery, who has made a close study of
this period of Spanish history in its relation to the settlement of Flor-
ida, Men6ndez was punctual and efficient in the performance of his
duties as captain-general and careful to refuse the high bribes offered
In the exercise of his high command over the treasure fleets,
Men6ndez three times visited the New World, his first voyage begin-
ning in 1554 and his third ending in June, 1563.
The Casa de Contratacion, although stripped of its power of
naming the captain-general, still exercised great authority, one of
its privileges being the payment of his salary. It had refused to
pay Menindez and thus delayed his third voyage till the King inter-
posed. But being outwitted did not end the desire of the Casa for
revenge. Soon after the return of Menindez in 1563 he was seized
by its constables and imprisoned for twenty months. The charges
the Casa de Contratacion made against Menindez are said to have
been that he had exceeded his authority and had connived at smug-
gling. He was finally condemned to pay a fine of what would amount
to about $4,600.00, expressed in terms of American money, but
the King remitted one-half of this.
Shortly after the long imprisonment of Menendez began his only
son, Don Juan Men6ndez, while commanding a treasure fleet sailing
from Mexico to Spain, encountered a storm off Bermuda, which
wrecked his vessel. Whether the ship was blown ashore on the Ber-
muda coast, on the Atlantic shore to the west, or on one of the sandy
islands bordering the Indian River of our present Florida to the east,
as Fontaneda seemed to think, will probably never be known; but
Men6ndez with the hopefulness of a parent, thought his son might be
alive and he was anxious to visit Bermuda and Florida to make search
for him. However, in getting permission from the Spanish King to
sail to Florida, it is said that he expressed the need of better and more
comprehensive charting of its dangerous coasts and a desire to Chris-
tianize the natives.
Philip II had been kept informed by his alert ambassador at Paris
of the sailing of both colonial expeditions of the Huguenots, but he
probably did not know where the colony.planted in 1564 was located,
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
until early in 156. When this information was received the King of
Spain was ready to grant the ruthless Menindez more privileges
than he at first asked for. He even agreed to furnish a few ships and
five hundred men for the expedition; and he loaned Men6ndez fifteen
thousand ducats, with the understanding, however, that this must be
At least one authority hints that Men6ndez's being able to spend
more than a million ducats-over $2,290,000 in terms of our money
proves that much of his wealth was ill gotten. We must remember,
however, that the careful Woodbury Lowery gives no hint of dis-
honesty in Menindez, but much to the contrary. Then, too, Men-
6ndez had fifteen years prior to his Florida expedition been given
the right, for both him and his heirs, of appropriating all the rich
booty he could take from French corsairs. Much of this booty was
undoubtedly gold and silver the corsairs had captured from the Span-
ish treasure fleets.
But however he obtained the money-we are told he borrowed a
considerable portion of it-Men6ndez put more than $2,000,000
(again expressed in terms of our money) into his expedition. How
was he expecting to get it back?
First, he was given outright a tract of land approximately one hun-
dred sixty-five miles square in Florida, of his own choosing. He was
also awarded exclusive trading privileges with a number of the West
India islands. Finally there were the corsairs and pirates who
swarmed the seas looking for Spanish treasure ships, and undoubtedly
Men6ndez counted on making many a rich haul through captures from
such sources as these.
At any rate Menendez took all the risks, big though they were,
and as rapidly as he could, after receiving his grant to settle and gov-
ern Florida, made ready for his departure from Spain.
So fast was the speed he made that he had eleven vessels (some
say ten) ready to leave Spain in ten weeks after the royal asiento.
Menindez was to be followed by other vessels, but the historians leave
us in doubt as to the total number of both ships and passengers.
Fairbanks and Frederick W. Dau say that there were thirty-four
vessels in all, but the careful reader of Lowery is apt to assume that
there was a considerably less number. The eleven ships which left
Cadiz with Men6ndez, une29, carried more than half the passen-
gers any authority claims were brought to Florida.
There were fifteen hundred persons in this advance fleet, of whom
820 were soldiers, but 137 of these soldiers had learned the arts of
peace. Of these twenty-one were tailors, fifteen were carpenters, ten
FIRST LASTING WHITE SETTLEMENT
were shoemakers; and of the remaining ninety-one, some were gar-
deners, some millers, some barbers, some masons, and some were
able to perform other occupations. One hundred and seventeen of the
fifteen hundred were tillers of the soil, thus assuring for the Florida
colony the farmers that previous expeditions had failed to bring over.
The spiritual needs of the colony and of the red men of Florida were
to be taken care of by priests to the number of twenty-two as given by
John Gilmary Shea. (This number is not agreed to by all Florida
Men6ndez encountered a storm, almost by the time he had gotten
out of the harbor of Cadiz, so fierce that he had to turn back, and his
INDIAN RIVER (INLAND WATERWAYS) AT COCOA AND ROCKLEDGE
Courtesy of the Cocoa Chamber of Commerce
second leave-taking was not made until July 8. He stopped at the
Canaries to await additional vessels, but, as these failed to appear he
continued his voyage after a three days' delay. A storm scattered his
fleet on the way, but with five vessels Men6ndez reached Puerto Rico
August 8, 1565. Here he made only such repairs to his ships as he
considered were absolutely necessary, for he was in a hurry to get to
Florida before Jean Ribaut could bring the reinforcements Admiral
Coligny was sending to the colony on the St. Johns. Menendez knew
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
that they were already on the way to Florida, and it was his purpose,
if possible, to head them off. On the ISth of August the Spaniards
set sail for Florida.
A council of war was held off Santo Domingo, which the Spanish
fleet sighted August 17th, and his captains agreed (with apparently
some objection at first) that it was better to make all the haste pos-
sible. August 25th Men6ndez made the Florida peninsula off Cape
Canaveral, and three days later he reached the harbor called by the
French the River of Dolphins. As this was the day of the festival of
St. Augustine, the name of that saint was given to the harbor by
Menindez. Here the Spanish fleet remained for six days.
Leaving St. Augustine harbor on the morning of September 4, the
Spanish commander cruised northward until 2 o'clock in the after-
noon, when he sighted four vessels lying at the mouth of the St.
Johns. Ribaut had beat Men6ndez to the French colony.
The French commander had left Dieppe, France, May 29, 1565,
with seven ships carrying more than six hundred persons, of whom
five hundred were soldiers. Supplies of food and ammunition were
The French ships could outsail those of Men6ndez, as was soon
proven. Then why were they a month longer in reaching Florida
than the Spaniards? It may be that time was taken on the way to
look for Spanish treasure ships, or Ribaut may have pursued a more
roundabout course than the Spaniards.
The four ships Men6ndez sighted were those that could not be
gotten over the bar at the mouth of the St. Johns; the three smaller
ones were already up the river.
Men6ndez's captains did not think it wise to attack the French
fleet, believing it safer to return to Santo Domingo and there await
more of their own ships. Menindez, however, would not stand for
any such delay. He believed he had a chance of victory over Ribaut
if the attack were made at once.
The French began firing at the Spanish ships by the time they were
within reach, but aiming too high missed them. Notwithstanding the
shots Menindez sailed right up in the midst of the French vessels,
saying as soon as he could be heard:
"Gentlemen, from whence does this fleet come?"
From Ribaut's flagship, the Trinity, came the reply that the ves-
sels were from France bringing artillery, ammunition and supplies to
a fort the King of France had in the country. They also said in
answer to Men6ndez's question as to their religion that they were
FIRST LASTING WHITE SETTLEMENT
Menendez, when asked who he was, said: "My name is Pedro
Menlndez de Avil6s. This is the armada of the King of Spain, who
has sent me to this coast to burn and hang the Lutheran French."
After this polite introduction of the opposing fleets to each other
there was such a torrent of abuse and foul words exchanged between
the two sides, that Men6ndez became so angered he attempted to at
once board the French ships; but before this could be done the crews
of the latter cut their cables and fled, three ships turning to the north
and one to the south. Try as they would, the Spaniards could not
overtake the French, and gave up the chase in the early morning of
The Spanish ships pursuing the French vessel to the south and
those in pursuit of the three sailing north became rather widely sep-
arated, but all had gotten together at St. Augustine harbor by Septem-
ber 6. Two days later, by which time all the settlers and supplies
had been landed, is usually considered the natal day or beginning of
St. Augustine; but like Santa Fe, New Mexico, founded eighteen years
later, St. Augustine had been an Indian habitation before the white
man came. The Indian village of Seloy had occupied a portion of the
present city, for how long we know not. At any rate the Indians,
who it seems hated the French to the north, were willing to give up
their settlement to the Spaniards.
A city had been founded, but the Huguenots were still uncon-
quered, and as long as they remained in Florida Men6ndez was
The Spanish commander was sure that Ribaut would discover
where his men had landed and attack them; so without waiting to
completely unload his largest vessel, the San Pelayo, which was unable
to get into St. Augustine harbor, Men6ndez sent it with another of his
ships, the San Salvador, to Hispaniola for assistance. The leave was
made at midnight of the Ioth of September, and the San Salvador
carried dispatches from the Spanish commander. Men6ndez never
again was to see the San Pelayo, and probably did not dream of the
fate which awaited it.
Meantime what was Ribaut doing? He had been at the French
fort on the afternoon of September 4, when the two fleets met at the
mouth of the St. Johns, and his presence there as chief commander
was little pleasing to Laudonniere after his fourteen months at the
head of the French in Florida. Laudonniere is not considered by his-
torians as having the ability of Ribaut, yet his advice now given as to
how to deal with the Spaniards was better than the plan of the
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
Ribaut said that the best thing to do would be to take most of
the soldiers in Fort Caroline, place them aboard the French fleet and
go meet the Spaniards. Laudonniere objected to leaving the fort
defenseless, and told Ribaut that this was the stormy season of the
year, and there was a risk that the French vessels might be destroyed.
On September 8, the day of the founding of St. Augustine, Ribaut
and the French who had landed, together with those who had been
taken from Fort Caroline went aboard the French ships. Two days
later the French commander left the mouth of the St. Johns forever.
But not it is said before he and his captains drank two whole
pipes of wine (an unbelievable amount) in mock health to the Span-
iards. While warm with the fermented juice of the grape, it is
asserted that the French bragged about what they were going to do
to their enemies for coming to Florida to smell them out.
Alas, what fatal boasting!
Two hundred and forty persons were left behind in Fort Caro-
line, of whom one hundred and thirty-two were classed as soldiers,
but one writer says not above twenty were in a serviceable condition.
If Ribaut had attacked the Spaniards immediately he might have
been successful. The San Pelayo, flagship of Men6ndez, could not
get into St. Augustine harbor, and it was not sent away by the Spanish
commander until midnight of the Ioth, as has already been stated;
but it was two days after their carousal before the French fleet bore
down. Ribaut was thus prevented from attacking the San Pelayo or
landing and making a surprise attack on St. Augustine.
Menendez, having become acquainted with autumn weather along
the South Atlantic and Gulf through previous experiences in America,
believed that a storm was coming, such a one as Laudonniere had
warned Ribaut might arise. The very day the latter planned to attack
the Spaniards the hurricane began and before it ended every one of
Ribaut's ships were far down the coast, where all were blown ashore.
With the hurricane began an autumnal rainy season which must
have resembled the freshet of 1924 on the east coast of Florida (all
of which proves that Florida weather must not have changed much
since I565-the Miami hurricane began September 16, 1926, and the
Palm Beach hurricane, September 18, 1928).
But bad weather did not deter the alert Spanish leader at St.
Augustine. Now while the French ships were away was the time to
attack Fort Caroline and break up this nest of Huguenot heretics.
The Indians around St. Augustine and even higher up were enemies
of the French and supplied Menindez considerable information con-
cerning their movements. The Spanish commander leaving his brother
FIRST LASTING WHITE SETTLEMENT
Bartolome in charge of the hastily-constructed fort at St. Augustine,
chose five hundred men to make the march to the French post on the
St. Johns. But to show how religious Menendez was his force heard
Mass before beginning its journey. Each soldier, in addition to his
arms, carried on his back six pounds of biscuit and a bottle of wine.
Two Indian chiefs of the St. Augustine vicinity, who hated the French,
went with the Spaniards as guides.
The route was a difficult one. Heavy rains had flooded the coun-
try, and it is asserted by Woodbury Lowery, that at no place was
the water lower than the knees. The creeks and streams along the
route had to be swum, and this with the arms and ammunition the
soldiers had to carry made the task of each man one that required
endurance and grit.
We can make a mental picture of this Spanish army marching
through trackless forests and swamps, splashing along and no doubt
cursing their luck in having to serve such a hard-boiled commander.
Yet the other side of the picture is that these men would never have
undergone such hardships if the commander had not infused them
with much of his own relentless energy.
There were a good many soldiers, however-about one hundred
in all-that were so unwilling to continue on the march that they
deserted and returned to St. Augustine, telling those left behind at
that post that Men6ndez was moving forward to certain ruin. Very
likely they were believed.
On the night of September i9th (or i8th according to. some
authorities) Men6ndez halted near Fort Caroline. The French sen-
tinels not expecting attack in such weather were mostly in bed, and
the one who first met the Spaniards at daybreak on the 20th was run
through quickly with the swords of the infuriated attackers. The
French through mistake had left one of their gates open, making it
easy for the Spaniards to enter the fort. In the complete surprise
that ensued men, women, and children were massacred. But at last
Menindez gave orders to spare women, cripples and children under
fifteen years of age.
Laudonniere though ill had made some feeble attempt at first to
resist the Spaniards, but finding this useless, escaped with several of
his men through a breach in the walls of the fort. There were per-
haps fifty in all who escaped, but some few returned and gave them-
selves up to the Spaniards. The remainder after wandering in the
marshes and swamps near the mouth of the St. Johns at last made
their way to two small vessels the French left in the river when
Ribaut sailed away with his squadron. Jacques Ribaut, son of the
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
French commander, was on one of these vessels, and he and Laudon-
nikre with most of the others who escaped from Fort Caroline finally
made their way back to France. A few others hid themselves in the
woods and were taken care of by friendly Indians until they could
catch ships sailing along the nearby coasts. Probably some died in
Menindez reported to the King that he put to death one hundred
and thirty-two persons, and excused himself for having spared the
others. Some authorities with insufficient evidence have claimed that
several of the prisoners were hanged and the inscription, "Not as to
Frenchmen, but as to Lutherans," placed over them. It is almost
certain that no such inscription was ever written.
The day after the capture of Fort Caroline was sacred to Saint
Matthew, hence the Spaniards who have honored so many saints in
their naming of places, gave the name San Mateo to the work they
had taken. They also gave the name San Mateo to the river on
which the fort stood.
Three hundred men were left to garrison Fort San Mateo, but of
the hundred or more remaining only thirty-five were willing to return
with Menindez to St. Augustine. One of these on the night of Sep-
tember 23 came running into that place with the joyful announcement
of victory. Next day Men6ndez and the others returned with four
priests in advance chanting a song of praise as they entered St.
Meantime what had become of Ribaut and the soldiers and sail-
ors of his fleet?
By consulting any fair-sized map of Florida one will note on the
east coast below St. Augustine two entrances to the sea between
longitudinal sandy islands, namely, Mosquito Inlet and Matanzas
Inlet. The storm, which began September 10, 1565, had blown
Ribaut's ships ashore on the island between the two inlets. The
unfortunate Frenchmen after the shipwreck, began to march north
in the hope of reaching Fort Caroline by land; and by September 28
two hundred of them had reached Matanzas Inlet where, of course,
they had to halt. From the Indians Menindez learned that the
French were at the inlet, and as soon as he received the intelligence he
hurried with a force of seventy soldiers to the north side of it. Seeing
the Spaniards the French had one of their sailors swim over to request
a boat for some of their officers, who it was hoped might make satis-
factory terms of surrender.
The Spaniards sent for the officers, but when Menendez heard their
request for terms, all the satisfaction they received was that they would
FIRST LASTING WHITE SETTLEMENT
have to trust to his mercy, and that he would do as he was directed by
the grace of God. There were some wealthy men among the French
officers, and these offered a ransom of fifty thousand ducats for their
lives, but the Spanish general refused to accept the offer, badly as he
must have needed money after his great expenditure on the Florida
Notwithstanding this refusal to accept the offer of ransom, the
French officers must have had some hope that Men6ndez would
be merciful. Perhaps they thought that danger of death from the
Spaniards was no more than they were liable to encounter from star-
vation or the Indians, if they attempted to escape to the Florida
woods. At any rate they accepted the very doubtful terms offered
As soon as this was done Menendez sent boats across the inlet,
which brought the unhappy Frenchmen to the north side in companies
of ten. As fast as a company reached the Spanish camp, each member
of it was required to give up his arms, after which his hands were
tied behind him. In this shape each company was carried behind a
low hill where every man in it was put to death. The massacre did
not stop until all of the French, except eight, who said they were
Catholics, had been killed.
The massacre ended, Men6ndez returned to St. Augustine, but
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
soon after reaching that place, he heard that another and larger body
of the shipwrecked French had reached Matanzas Inlet. In haste
the Spanish commander returned, this time carrying one hundred and
Jean Ribaut, commander of the French expedition, was with
this second body of French soldiers, and it consisted of three hun-
dred and fifty men, who must have had their ships wrecked some
distance south of where those of the first French party had been blown
ashore. Like the unfortunate men who had just preceded them to
Matanzas, Ribaut's party was trying to get to Fort Caroline.
When Menindez reached the north side of the inlet the French
were attempting to build a raft on which to cross. Seeing the Span-
iards Ribaut sent a swimmer across to them for assistance, upon which
Menendez sent over a boat in which the French commander and prob-
ably all the other officers were brought over to the Spanish camp,
where they were sumptuously feasted; but when it came to terms of
surrender Ribaut could obtain no better than had been given the
first body of his countrymen coming over.
Why the brave French commander and one hundred and fifty of
his followers accepted such terms is a mystery, especially when they
had been told of the destruction of Fort Caroline, and some of them,
if not all, had been shown the dead bodies of their slaughtered coun-
trymen behind the low hill near the inlet. Ribaut must have been
discouraged. He had no doubt come to Florida with high hopes,
only to have them dashed to the ground. He may have preferred to
face death than return to Coligny with a story of stark failure.
Yet he offered Menendez a ransom for his life, which was refused
as in the case of the French officers who had already met death.
When gold would not touch the Spanish general, Ribaut should
have known that he would run less risks in the Florida forests and
from facing savage Indians than from the implacable Men6ndez.
But greatly as the French doubtless esteemed their leader two
hundred of them, when they learned what the Spanish terms were
refused to accept them.
Next morning Jean Ribaut returned to the Spanish camp in the
canoe which had been loaned him, bringing two royal standards, one,
that of the King of France, the other, that of Admiral Coligny, the
standards of the company, a sword, a dagger, and helmet beautifully
gilded. All these and the commission given him by Coligny, Ribaut
surrendered to Menendez.
After this the one hundred fifty were brought over in companies
of ten. As these were landed they were taken behind a group of
FIRST LASTING WHITE SETTLEMENT
sand hills where they had their hands tied behind them. When
all were thus bound Men6ndez took Ribaut to his unfortunate coun-
trymen. In this plight the Spanish commander asked if they were
Catholics or Lutherans. Ribaut replied that all were of the new
religion. Then repeating a psalm Ribaut said, probably for the com-
fort of his followers, that all of them were dust and to dust must
return, and that in twenty years more or less, he must render his last
account; by which he probably meant that being killed by the Span-
iards would not shorten their lives very much.
Following this speech of the brave Frenchman all were put to
death but the fifers, drummers, trumpeters, and four others, who
said they were Catholics. Sixteen thus escaped massacre.
Says Fairbanks: "At some point on the thickly-wooded shores of
the island of Anastasia, or beneath the shifting mounds of sand
which mark its shores, may still lie the bones of some of the three
hundred fifty (as a few were spared, the number is not completely
accurate) who, spared from destruction by the tempest, and escaping
the perils of the sea and of the voyage, fell victims to the vindictive
rancor and blind rage of one whom history recalls none more cruel
or less humane."
But was Fairbanks right?
There are a few things to be said on the other side. In the first
place Men6ndez did not compel Ribaut to surrender. During his
first interview with the French leader regarding terms, Ribaut was
assured that he might do as he wished in the yielding to conditions
offered. In other words, Ribaut was given his chance to escape and
provide for himself and his men. In the second place, as there were
some mutinous persons among his own men, it is very possible that
Men6ndez thought it exceedingly dangerous to bring so many French
prisoners to St. Augustine, where at this time there were probably not
many more (if as many) fighting men as there were in Ribaut's party,
so many Spanish soldiers being stationed at San Mateo. Finally, it is
said, Men6ndez saw that with his food supplies he could not feed
his own colonists and provide for the men Ribaut surrendered.
Menendez had other reasons, just how good, this historian does
not know; but John Gilmary Shea in giving them says that the Span-
iards regarded the French Huguenots as little better than pirates.
Jacques Sorie, a French captain, in i555 had surprised Havana,
plundered and burned it and then butchered the prisoners who fell into
his hands. We have already read of how the Frenchmen who muti-
nied against Laudonniere in 1564 seized some vessels and then cruised
among the West India islands, meaning to capture as much treasure
from the Spaniards as possible.
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
It will be recalled that on the night of September io, 1565, Men-
6ndez sent away two of his ships-the San Pelayo, largest of his
fleet, and the San Salvador-expecting them to sail to Hispaniola for
additional supplies and to carry dispatches. On the San Pelayo were
a number of Huguenot prisoners, who on the way overpowered the
ship's crew and also those who had sailed as guards for the French-
men. In trying to get to France the Huguenots, who were doubtless
poor navigators, were shipwrecked on an island, but later were picked
up and all finally reached their native country.
Men6ndez, of course, did not know what was happening on the
San Pelayo when he massacred the Huguenots at Matanzas Inlet, but
he did know what Sorie had done at Havana ten years before; he
did know what two boatloads of Frenchmen sailing from Florida in
1564 had done and attempted to do; and he probably believed with
some reason that some so-called Huguenots were practicing piracy
with religion merely as a cloak for their actions.
None of the above reasons for the adelantado's butcheries are
sufficient excuses. They are merely offered to make the reader under-
stand that killing in the name of religion was an error of the period
into which it appears that both King, priest and people all fell.
But Men6ndez could show mercy.
From the Indians he soon learned that the two hundred French-
men who refused to surrender with Ribaut had worked their way
south to Cape Canaveral, where they constructed a fort to give them
protection until they could somehow build a ship in which to return to
France. Guided by friendly Indians, Menendez early in November
took one hundred and fifty soldiers and three small vessels, which
were to follow along by sea, his purpose being to. break up this nest
of Frenchmen; for Men6ndez knew that by stirring up the Indians
of that portion of Florida they could do much mischief to the settle-
ment at St. Augustine. He did not, of course, know that the fugitives
were hurrying to get out of Florida, or he might have left them undis-
turbed, as they would be a charge on his meager supplies, if captured
and held as prisoners.
Probably themselves warned by Indians, the French at Canaveral
took to the forests when they learned that Menindez was coming;
but they had not gone far enough to prevent some of his messengers
from reaching them. On being informed that their lives would be
spared if they would surrender themselves to the Spaniards, one
hundred and fifty of the French fugitives gave themselves up, and
Men6ndez, to his credit, kept his word and the prisoners were sub-
sequently returned to their native land. The remaining fugitives in
FIRST LASTING WHITE SETTLEMENT
Florida were probably responsible for much of the damage happen-
ing in the next year or two in the young Spanish province-but to that
I. Exasperated by French activities in America which involved
gri at danger to Spanish trade, Pedro Menendez, on March 20, i565,
was commissioned to settle Florida and break up any colony of Euro-
peans already planted.
2. Menendez was well fitted for the command given him, having
been successful both as fighter and leader of men since fourteen.
Reliable historians praise his honesty and his unselfish service to his
country shown in his command of the American treasure fleets going
to Spain, and his careful judgment in serving the Spanish King in vari-
ous ways in Europe.
3. Menendez's commission made him adelantado of Florida, and
gave him many important privileges, among them being a grant of
land approximately one hundred and sixty-five miles square, special
Wtst Indian trade rights, an annual salary of two thousand ducats
(about $4,600), and what he could capture from piratical vessels.
But he was put to the expense of fitting out and equipping a large
number of vessels (twenty or more-number somewhat uncertain),
carrying approximately two thousand persons-soldiers, farmers,
priests, and others, providing armament for conquest and defense,
bringing live stock, and satisfying numerous other needs. Menindez
had to pay out over $2,000,000 in founding his Florida colony.
4. We do not know how Menindez acquired the money to found
his colony, but it was most probably through treasures he captured
from corsairs. He was imprisoned for a good part of 1563 and
1564, partly on account of charges of dishonesty, but the best ivi-
dence is that he was not guilty.
5. Menendez left Spain June 29, i565, but a storm drove him
back and he made a second departure July 8. On the way to America
his fleet was scattered, but with five vessels he reached Puerto Rico,
August 8, 1565. From there he sailed for Florida one week later,
reaching St. Augustine harbor on Saint Augustine's day (August 28).
St arch of the coast for the French settlement was made, and ships
coming to bring supplies and reinforcements to this settlement were
first sighted on the afternoon of September 4, i565.
6. Ribaut, commander of the French reinforcements, had left
Dieppe, France, May 29, 1565, but, although he had faster sailing
vessels than Menendez, he did not reach Florida until the end of
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
August. The probability is that he was either looking for Spanish
treasure ships or pursuing a roundabout course to elude discovery.
7. Menendez attt mpted to board the French vessels late Septem-
ber 4, but they cut their cables and got away. The Spaniards then
Returned to St. Augustine harbor, and on September 8, 1565, founded
St. Augustine, oldest city in the United States, on the site of the Indian
village of Seloy.
8. On the 8th of September, 1565, Ribaut took most of the effec-
tive French fighters from Fort Caroline to the vessels he had brought
over, leaving Laudonnikre in command of those left, mostly inefec-
tives. But it was two days later before they sailed southward to
attack the Spaniards. The French ships were caught in a terrific
storm, and all wrecked on the strip of land between Mosquito and
9. Menindez, learning of Ribaut's departure, left St. Augustine,
September 17, 1565, to attack Fort Caroline, while it was weakened.
On the 2oth, by surprise attack, the fort was taken and most of its
occupants massacred. The commander, Rene de Laudonniere, and
some twenty others made their escape, and most of these finally were
able to get to two small French vessels lying in the mouth of the St.
Io. After garrisoning the French fort and renaming it San Mateo
Menindez returned to St. Augustine, which he reached September 25.
Il. Menindez learned from friendly Indians of the wreck of the
French vessels, and that a large body of French had reached the
south side of the inlet in an attempt to reach Fort Caroline. On
receipt of this information the Spanish commander marched to the
iilet, and having received a request for terms of surrender, told the
French that they would have to yield to his mercy. On this condition
the French gave themselves up and were all massacred except eight
who said they were Catholics.
12. A few days later Ribaut and another party of French reached
the inlet, where they were met by Menendez with the same terms as
offered the first body. Ribaut and one hundred and fifty gave them-
selves up on these terms, but two hundred others who refused to
yield, escaped to the forests. Ribaut and the others who surrendered
were all massacred but sixteen.
13. Early in November, Menendez marched to Cape Canaveral,
where the two hundred French fugitives were building a fort, but
before his arrival they abandoned their position and escaped to the
woods. Messengers from Menendez reached the fugitives and prom-
ised them their lives if they surrendered. On those conditions one
FIRST LASTING WHITE SETTLEMENT 75
hundred and fifty gave themselves up, and Menendez carried out his
promise to them. Eventually the fugitives after long being Spanish
prisoners got back to their native land.
Shea's Ancient Florida; Fairbanks' History of Florida; Lowerey's Spanish Set-
tlements in Southern United States; Fairbanks' Old St. Augustine; French's His-
torical Collections of Florida and Louisiana; Green's School History of Florida;
and many others.
First Twenty Years of Florida
Under Spanish Rule
In these modern days when Florida tours are nothing remarkable,
it may be well for us to remember that the first tour made by white
men down the east coast of Florida was in 1565, beginning probably
about November i, and lasting until the end of the month.
But this tour was not a pleasure trip, and those who took it had
other things than Atlantic sea waves or palm-bordered salt-streams
in mind when they left St. Augustine at the height of Indian summer.
But the trip brought plenty of adventure.
The first important event of the journey was the destruction of
the French fort on Cape Canaveral and the surrender to the Span-
iards of one hundred and fifty French fugitives, an account of which
was given in the last chapter. Then followed the choosing of a site
for another fort on the same cape, but at what was thought to be a
more advantageous location. Captain Juan Velez de Medrano was
left with two hundred men to build the fort, which was called Santa
Lucia de Canaveral.
So we see that the name St. Lucie had its beginning in Florida
about the middle of November, 1565.
One historian says the two hundred French fugitives who began
a fort at Canaveral had some cannon there, which Men6ndez buried.
This does not sound reasonable, for it seems, as he was preparing to
build a Spanish fort, he would want to secure all armament possible
for its protection and defense.
Some writers make statements without taking second thought.
Leaving Captain Velez and followed by three small ships, which
had accompanied his movements from St. Augustine, Men6ndez with
perhaps one hundred Spanish soldiers and the French fugitives who
had surrendered, continued his march down the east coast. Just how
far down is uncertain-he may have stopped at Jupiter Inlet, as one
writer suggests, or he may have gone on to Biscayne Bay.
FIRST TWENTY YEARS UNDER SPANISH
The probabilities are that Men6ndez took the longer trip.
If Fontaneda was right that the Spanish commander's son was
wrecked somewhere along the east coast, it is certain that Men6ndez
could not be easily brought to stop his search, and it is pretty evident
that the hunt for a trace of young Men6ndez was one of the chief
reasons for the long east coast march.
We are told that so short became the rations of the Spaniards,
the French prisoners and whatever Indian followers they had, that
their food became mostly cocoa plums and palmetto cabbage buds
secured in the region along the march.
So severe were the privations suffered that a number of Spanish
soldiers, although hardened by the rough service under Men6ndez,
dropped dead along the way.
What material for a movie drama is this first march of white
men down the east coast! There would be scenes a-plenty to show on
The author of such a drama could begin by showing Men6ndez at
the head of three hundred men leaving St. Augustine. Following this
he could picture the frightened French fugitives at Canaveral, when
they heard from Indians that the relentless adelantado was about to
close in upon them. Then would come the rapid movement of the
French to the woods, the Spaniards following closely upon them led
by Indian guides.
Next would come the surrender of the one hundred and fifty and
their march under Spanish guard to Canaveral.
No good writer would leave out the many stops Menendez must
have made along the various east coast islands searching for signs of
shipwrecks and evidences that Juan Men6ndez had once been driven
The reception of Men6ndez by the chief of the Ays Indians on the
present Indian River, the Spanish general's invitation to the red men
to become Christians, and his replies to their questions, wanting reas-
ons why he had destroyed the French Christians would furnish inter.
testing elements of conversation for a movie.
Hard-boiled Men6ndez never dreamed that along this same east
coast would one day be established some of the most fashionable
resorts of the world. Passing close by the sandy island of Palm Beach
he must have sometimes wondered if Florida was worth the two
million dollars he had put into it. Yet it is barely possible that his
imagination may have led him to picture a wealthy province, for he
did later report most favorably the advantages of Florida to. the
King of Spain.
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
Late in November, Men6ndez embarked from some East Coast
harbor to sail to Havana, carrying fifty of his soldiers and twenty of
the French prisoners. To show the danger of the undertaking, the
voyage was made in two open boats, whose motive power was only
the winds and oars in the hands of his tired and famished men. And
the voyagers had to stem the swift-flowing currents of the Gulf
Stream, which has its greatest speed where it was contacted by the
Men6ndez wanted to get supplies for his Florida settlement in
Cuba, but the Governor of that Province gave the adelantado of
Florida all the trouble possible. It is most likely that the ready money
of Men6ndez was well-nigh exhausted, and he was trying to get sup-
plies on credit. Some friendly Spanish captains in Havana gave him
a little help, but the adelantado, seeing that any substantial assistance
must come from elsewhere, sent to Campeche for supplies, which we
are glad to say later reached St. Augustine, probably about the begin-
ning of spring.
But the active Menendez was doing much more during the winter
of 1565-66 than engage in fruitless efforts to get help from the Gov-
ernor of Cuba or supplies from Campeche.
First, he spent some time hunting for French corsairs, probably
hoping to recoup part of the money he had expended in Florida by
obtaining whatever treasure these corsairs had gotten through seizure
of Spanish treasure ships. He also was afraid young Jacques
Ribaut might by this time be on his way back to Florida with a
French army to punish the Spaniards for the destruction of Fort
Caroline and the Matanzas massacres, and therefore was on the look-
out for him.
Men6ndez next sailed among the Florida keys looking for further
traces of his son, but failing to find any, late in February, 1566, the
adelantado sailed up the Florida west coast to the seat of Chief Carlos
(probably not far from the present site of Fort Myers). The Span-
iards had heard much of this crafty cacique, who, it is said had gotten
for himself and tribe many treasures from the wrecks of Spanish
vessels along the shore, and had seized numbers of prisoners, some of
whom had been sacrificed by the Caloosas (does this indicate their
Mexican origin?). The name "Carlos" we are told was appropri-
ated by Caloosa chiefs after having heard from white men coming to
their shores of Charles (Carlos) V and his greatness. We remember
that in the chapter on the Huguenots in Florida we were told that
news of the activities of the Caloosa chief had even reached Laudon-
nitre on the St. Johns.
FIRST TWENTY YEARS UNDER SPANISH
Men6ndez wanted to meet this chief, release such white prisoners
as were not yet sacrificed, make the Caloosas friendly to the Spaniards
and persuade them to accept the Catholic religion.
Doubtless he also wanted to annex the golden horde the Caloosas
were said to have secured from Spanish wrecks.
The adelantado was successful in rescuing the white prisoners in
the hands of the Indians, for he was as skillful a diplomat as he
was a general. Presents were given the chief and no doubt a little
FORT MYERS-FIRST STREET, LINED WITH ROYAL PALMS
fulsome flattery to make the cacique believe, to use a slang term, he
was "some Indian."
Carlos said he was willing to consider the new religion, and
Men6ndez, in order to make the Caloosa chief his ally, was prac-
tically forced to wed the chief's sister. This Indian maiden, who is
said, in the accounts given of her, to have been very beautiful, was
brought to the adelantado robed mainly in the garments nature had
provided, but the Spanish general, whatever his other faults, appears
not to have been tempted by sex appeal. He did not want to
marry the Indian girl, and the ceremony (such as it might have been)
performed on the Caloosahatchee was to Menendez a matter of pol-
icy. The young woman was probably never his wife except in name,
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
but it seems Menendez did have her carried to Havana to be instructed
in the Christian religion.
The adelantado secured some of the white man's treasure the
Caloosas had appropriated from Spanish wrecks. To the Indians
gold and silver coins or plate had little value; and the pretty mir-
rors, colored cloths, sparkling beads and various other articles the
Spaniards had for exchange seemed much more useful. The Indians
probably never hesitated in exchanging gold and silver for such things.
It is not known how much treasure Men6ndez and his followers
obtained in the Caloosa province. Probably the rumors of what the
Indians had were much exaggerated.
SMen6ndez did not long yield to the lure of the palm-bordered
Caloosahatchee or maidenly charms of the daughter of the forest.
It did not take him long to diplomatically arrange for the release of
the Spanish prisoners or to trade for the gold and silver the Indians
were willing to exchange. These things done, Menindez had work
elsewhere in Florida.
By March 20, In the adelantado was back in St. Augustine.
It was well for the permanence of the town that Men6ndez reached
it when he did.
Let us see what had been going on in St. Augustine and San
Mateo during the Governor's absence.
The French fugitives remaining in the Florida woods had been
busy in inciting the Indians to attack the Spanish settlements, and
some savage attacks were doubtless made without white encourage-
ment. It is sufficient to say that the red men had disposed of many
Spaniards while the adelantado was away. They watched closely for
white men who dared to venture away from the forts in search of
game or to explore the country and not a few of these met death at
the hands of Indian bowmen.
One of the unhappy victims was Captain Martin de Ochoa at San
Mateo. From St. Augustine one day ventured Diego de Hevia,
accompanied by several others and all were cut off and killed by the
Indians. This success, making them more bold, led the red men to
send a shower of arrows into the fort built to protect the town. Fol-
lowing the attack on the fort, which was probably harmless, the Indi-
ans next shot showers of fire-lit arrows into the Spanish storehouses
under the guns of the fort, and in spite of all that could be done, the
stores consisting of ammunition, clothing and probably some food
were all consumed. The Spanish regimental colors and the colors
of the adelantado were all destroyed by the flames.
It will be remembered that late in September, I565, Men6ndez
left three hundred men as a garrison at San Mateo; but at the time
FIRST TWENTY YEARS UNDER SPANISH
of his return to St. Augustine this and whatever reinforcements it had
received had been reduced by death and desertion to twenty-one men.
Desertions and mutiny had also been going on in St. Augustine.
Soon after Men6ndez's return to St. Augustine, Martin San
Vicentes, who at first seems to have been one of the adelantado's
most trusted captains, in spite of all the skill of persuasion the Gov-
ernor could use, with a large number of followers took a vessel and
John Gilmary Shea says there were fully five hundred desertions
from the adelantado's force during the first winter after St. Augustine
was founded, and deaths from the Indians probably accounted for a
But reinforcements were beginning to come in. Several of the
vessels which made up Menendez's fleet did not reach Florida until
the spring of 1566, and perhaps it was fortunate that they did not.
Some few supplies in addition to what those vessels brought were
also soon coming in from Cuba and Mexico.
Men6ndez quickly brought order out of chaos-not only this, but
he began taking steps to effectively occupy more of his province of
Florida. Soon after his return to St. Augustine he began the con-
struction of a new fortress on the site of the present Fort Marion,
and upon its completion the original structure was abandoned. The
adelantado also sent reinforcements to Fort San Mateo, and on a
trip to Guale (the present Amelia Island), he established friendly
relations with the cacique there residing.
Sailing to Port Royal harbor in the present South Carolina, Men-
indez left one hundred and ten men as a garrison under Stephen de las
Alas. From this point during 1566 and 1567, Captain Parda, an
adventurous Spanish leader explored the interior for hundreds of
miles, even going as far as the Tuscaloosa River within the present
State of Alabama.
One of Men6ndez's troubles, and this may have been the reason
for much of the mutiny and desertion, was want of food. To get
this the adelantado went to Cuba, we are told by Shea, and pledged
his own personal effects when he could get it no other way.
Does this mean that Men6ndez got very little gold or silver at
Caloosa or that he was saving it to pay on debts contracted in Spain
to equip his fleet?
Before his return from Cuba, however, large reinforcements
reached Florida. Seventeen vessels arrived at St. Augustine under
the command of Sancho de Arciniega, and these brought needed arms,
munitions and supplies. Men6ndez was enabled on his return from
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
Cuba to send relief to San Mateo and St. Helena on Port Royal Sound.
At the latter place one of the familiar mutinies of the time had
already taken place. Most of the soldiers had revolted, put the com-
mander of the fort, Stephen de las Alas, in irons and then sailed away.
The help the adelantado now furnished was, therefore, very timely.
The forts reinforced and provisioned Men6ndez now sailed far
up the St. Johns and did some exploration of the interior of Florida.
He particularly wanted to establish friendly relations with two chiefs
dwelling in the region of the upper St. Johns, Utina and Macoya.
At first these chiefs, who it seems had been partly responsible for the
attacks on St. Augustine, feared to meet the adelantado, but before
his return to the mouth of the St. Johns he managed to meet the
Indian caciques, who, as a result promised to be friendly.
As early as 1526, under Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, the Spanish
had attempted a settlement on Chesapeake Bay, and in 156I Angel de
Villafane had gone to this region and taken the brother of the chief
of the province to whom the Spaniards gave the name of Don Luis
Velasco. Somehow Men6ndez had secured Velasco, and it was prob-
ably owing to the persuasion of the young Indian that the adelantado
now decided to establish a mission in the Indian province of Axacan
on Chesapeake Bay. Thirty soldiers, two Dominican friars and the
young Don Luis Velasco made up the party for the Axacan post, but
once aboard the soldiers persuaded the captain of the vessel to carry
them to Spain instead of Chesapeake Bay, and it was four years later
before Men6ndez was able to get any of his men into the present
/ Meantime, however, before Men6ndez left Florida for his first
turnn to his native country he had succeeded in having missions estab-
lished in Tequesta (somewhere between Cape Canaveral and Palm
Beach), Caloosa (at or near the present Fort Myers), Guale (the
present Amelia Island), and perhaps some other places.
The adelantado was less successful in dealing with the Saturiba,
the Timucua chief in the region of the lower St. Johns. This cacique
did agree to meet Men6ndez, but the latter learned that Saturiba had
nearby a large force in ambush to cut him and the Spaniards off as
soon as they landed at the meeting-place on the St. Johns River. Hav-
ing ascertained the wily chief's deception Menindez made war on
Saturiba, but with little result, as the Indians managed to keep them-
selves well hid from their Spanish foes. Some thirty Indians were
killed in a few skirmishes that took place.
Menindez had now been absent from Spain for nearly two years,
and desiring to visit his wife and family he left Florida for his native
FIRST TWENTY YEARS UNDER SPANISH
country about the middle of June, 1567. He arrived at Valladolid,
July 20, and upon reaching Madrid was well received by the Spanish
Monarch; but it is said that before his return to Florida the Casa de
Contratacion delayed him for some time in getting the necessary sail-
ing permits. His old enemies apparently wanted to give Menindez
all the trouble possible.
While the adelantado was away a terrible retribution was visited
upon the Spanish garrison on the St. Johns in retaliation for the mas-
sacre of the French Huguenots.
No positive proof is given, but practically all historians agree
that Dominic de Gourges, who attacked the Spaniards in Florida
while Menendez was away, was a Catholic. Be that as it may, we
are told that De Gourges had sufficient cause not connected with
religion to make him hate the Spaniards.
According to Fairbanks, De Gourges was the last survivor among
thirty soldiers, who bravely defended a place the Spanish besieged,
and when he was captured the fury of the victors was wreaked upon
him by making him a galley slave. It is not likely that this rough
service lasted long, for it would have taken great endurance and much
physical stamina not to have been completely broken by it ere many
months had passed. Fortunately for De Gourges a Turkish vessel
soon captured the Spanish galley on which he served, and in turn the
French took the galley from the Turks. De Gourges never forgot
his imprisonment at the hands of the Spaniards, and dearly were they
made to pay for it.
The news of the Huguenot massacre in Florida had, of course,
soon reached France, and it is certain that without regard to religious
affiliation many Frenchmen believed the death of their countrymen
should be avenged; but torn with civil strife the nation that a hun-
dred years later was to dominate a goodly part of continental Europe,
was in no condition to pick a quarrel with another country, much less
oppose it in war. Then, too, there were doubtless many extreme
Catholics in France who were glad to see any project of the Huguenot
leader, Coligny, fail.
But if these reasons held back his country they had no such
effect on De Gourges.
It may be that he was a mere trader in slaves, as John Gilmary
What of it?
The Christian King Philip II, made it one of the conditions of his
grant of the government of Florida to Men6ndez that the latter bring
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
five hundred negro slaves to the Province, and Shea is probably
Menendez's greatest apologist.
Whatever may have been De Gourges' primary motive when he
left Bordeaux, France, August 22, 1567, we are pretty certain that
he meant to sail to the new world before the voyage concluded, and
that his dealings with traders there should be with those, who none
too loyal to the interest of Spain, might furnish him with information
that would enable him to do harm to his old enemies.
De Gourges secured a cargo of slaves at Benin on the West
African coast, and with these proceeded to the West Indies. In
Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo he easily got rid of his blacks; and
Zaballos, a Spaniard residing at Puerto de la Plata, in Puerto Rico,
who, it is said frequently traded with French pirates, furnished the
French captain a pilot to the Florida coast.
Shea hints (though he does not definitely assert) that De Gourges
did not know there were Spanish posts in Florida until deserters from
these places told him while at Puerto de la Plata.
If Shea is right what numbers of historians have told us about
the De Gourges expedition is wrong.
But they are evidently not wrong in giving us the idea that De
Gourges-although intending to secure such commercial gains as he
could-meant to do the Spaniards all the hurt possible.
It was probably the first part of the spring of. 1568 when De
Gourges with his one hundred and eighty men left a point in western
Cuba for Florida. We are not sure just when the peninsula was
first sighted, but it was probably about the middle of April. St.
Augustine was apparently passed without being sighted; or it may be
that De Gourges had learned enough from Spanish deserters in Puerto
Rico to make him doubt whether he had sufficient force to take it.
Anyway, he passed by, and soon reaching the mouth of the St. Johns,
saw that the Spaniards had erected a fortification on each side of the
river. The occupants of the forts, mistaking De Gourges' ships for
Spanish craft, fired a salute at them, which was returned to keep up
For De Gourges was not yet ready to attack his enemies.
Right here we have good grounds for believing that De Gourges
learned before leaving France something of the Florida country, else
why did he move straight to the headquarters of Chief Saturiba
(called by some Satourioura and Satouriana), who was the most
implacable enemy the Spaniards had in Florida? From Laudonniere,
from Jacques Ribaut and from the artist Le Moyne the French were
already finding out much about Florida and the Indians who inhabited
FIRST TWENTY YEARS UNDER SPANISH
it. No doubt from such sources De Gourges learned before leaving
France where he would be aptest to find friends in Florida.
The next day, after passing the mouth of the St. Johns, De
Gourges came to anchor in what is now Fernandina harbor, and
the following morning the French beheld a multitude of Indians
on the shore prepared to oppose their landing, thinking them Span-
GULF BEACHES AT ST. PETERSBURG
With Hotel Don Ce-Sar in Foreground
Courtesy of John Lodwick News Service, St. Petersburg
lards. Fortunately a French trumpeter on board had been with
Laudonniere* and had learned the Indian language. Being sent
ashore the trumpeter was recognized and was soon able to inform
the French in the ships that Chief Saturiba would welcome them
De Gourges and his Timucuan allies under Saturiba and Olo-
catora immediately planned a surprise attack on the Spanish forts.
Three days were given the two chiefs to assemble their warriors.
This is another proof that De Gourges had already learned something of the
THE STORY OF FLORIDA
On the appointed day Saturiba brought a French youth, Pierre de
Bre, who had escaped from Fort Caroline and had since been living
with the Indians, to prove to De Gourges that he was the protector of
the French people. We can imagine how useful young De Bre was
as an interpreter, and in giving De Gourges in language he could
understand information concerning the strength of the Spanish posts.
The Indians assembled, the plan of attack was decided upon.
While De Gourges and part of the French went to their ships and pro-
ceeded by sea, the Indians and some Frenchmen marched by way of
Fort George Island, where they concealed themselves until low tide,
when they could wade to the island on the north side of the St. Johns.
At Fort George Island the Indians and French waited till midday,
when the garrison would be at dinner, to make the attack. Stealthily
moving toward the fort the French are at last discovered by the sen-
tinel, who utters the cry: "The French! the French !"
But it was doubtless his last earthly cry, for Chief Olocatora
leaped on the platform and with a pike despatched the sentinel. The
garrison now rushed to the gates, but were either killed or captured
by the French or their Indian allies.
The occupants of the fort on the south side of the St. Johns, wit-
nessing the contest, opened fire on the French, but the early capture
of the north fort enabled the attackers to turn its guns on the Span-
iards. Meantime reEnforcements came from De Gourges' vessels,
and the Indians in large numbers swam the St. Johns eager now to
get rid of their enemies.
To make sure that the occupants of the south fort did not escape,
De Gourges had some of his men hidden between it and San Mateo,
the larger fort several miles up the river, to which the Spaniards
might attempt to escape. When the expected retreat began the Span-
iards who had occupied the fort were all either killed or captured.
De Gourges was prepared to besiege Fort San Mateo, about five
miles up the river, but learning that it was garrisoned by less than
three hundred men, he advanced the night following the capture of
the two small forts, and surrounded it with the hope of forcing an
immediate surprise. By daybreak his Indian allies had formed an
ambuscade outside San Mateo, and at that hour De Gourges and the
French made their approach in their ships. The Spanish defenders
discovered the enemy coming and fired at them from a battery placed
to protect the fort from the water side.
At the fire De Gourges withdrew his force for a short distance to
protect his men from the Spanish battery and to better observe the
enemy movements. Soon he noted sixty men coming out of the fort