Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Editor's page - FA 42 (4) - December...
 The case for concluding that de...
 A Charlotte Harbor perspective...
 Where did de Soto land? Identifying...
 Hernando de Soto and the expedition...
 The Ruth Smith, Weeki Watchee,...
 In search of the 1539-40 de Soto...
 The De Soto Apalachee project -...
 Studying de Soto's route - A Georgian...
 Aboriginal societies encountered...
 Delineating a site through limited...
 Current research, book reviews...
 Invitation to join the Florida...
 The Florida Anthropological Society...

Group Title: Florida anthropologist
Title: The Florida anthropologist
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00027829/00032
 Material Information
Title: The Florida anthropologist
Abbreviated Title: Fla. anthropol.
Physical Description: v. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Florida Anthropological Society
Conference on Historic Site Archaeology
Publisher: Florida Anthropological Society.
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Frequency: quarterly[]
two no. a year[ former 1948-]
Subject: Indians of North America -- Antiquities -- Periodicals -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Antiquities -- Periodicals -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Summary: Contains papers of the Annual Conference on Historic Site Archeology.
Dates or Sequential Designation: v. 1- May 1948-
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00027829
Volume ID: VID00032
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01569447
lccn - 56028409
issn - 0015-3893

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 271
    Editor's page - FA 42 (4) - December 1989
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
    The case for concluding that de Soto landed near present-day Fort Myers, Florida - The conclusions presented by Warren H. Wilkinson reviewed - Reviewed by Louis D. Tesar
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
    A Charlotte Harbor perspective on de Soto's landing site - Lindsey Williams
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
    Where did de Soto land? Identifying Bahia Honda - Jerald T. Milanich
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
    Hernando de Soto and the expedition in Florida - An overview - Jerald T. Milanich
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
    The Ruth Smith, Weeki Watchee, and Tatham mounds - Archaeological evidence of early Spanish contact - Jeffrey M. Mitchem
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
        Page 323
        Page 324
        Page 325
        Page 326
        Page 327
        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
        Page 331
        Page 332
        Page 333
        Page 334
        Page 335
        Page 336
        Page 337
        Page 338
        Page 339
    In search of the 1539-40 de Soto expedition wintering site in Apalache - Louis D. Tesar and B. Calvin Jones
        Page 340
        Page 341
        Page 342
        Page 343
        Page 344
        Page 345
        Page 346
        Page 347
        Page 348
        Page 349
        Page 350
        Page 351
        Page 352
        Page 353
        Page 354
        Page 355
        Page 356
        Page 357
        Page 358
        Page 359
        Page 360
    The De Soto Apalachee project - The Martin site and beyond - Charles R. Ewen
        Page 361
        Page 362
        Page 363
        Page 364
        Page 365
        Page 366
        Page 367
        Page 368
    Studying de Soto's route - A Georgian house of cards - W. S. Eubanks, Jr.
        Page 369
        Page 370
        Page 371
        Page 372
        Page 373
        Page 374
        Page 375
        Page 376
        Page 377
        Page 378
        Page 379
        Page 380
    Aboriginal societies encountered by the Tristan de Luna expedition - Caleb Curren, Keith J. Little and Harry O. Holstein
        Page 381
        Page 382
        Page 383
        Page 384
        Page 385
        Page 386
        Page 387
        Page 388
        Page 389
        Page 390
        Page 391
        Page 392
        Page 393
        Page 394
        Page 395
    Delineating a site through limited research - The mission of San Juan del Puerto (8Du53), Fort George Island, Florida - Martin F. Dickinson
        Page 396
        Page 397
        Page 398
        Page 399
        Page 400
        Page 401
        Page 402
        Page 403
        Page 404
        Page 405
        Page 406
        Page 407
        Page 408
        Page 409
    Current research, book reviews and comments
        Page 410
        Page 411
        Page 412
        Page 413
        Page 414
        Page 415
        Page 416
    Invitation to join the Florida Anthropological Society annual meeting and call for papers - Arthur R. Lee
        Page 417
        Page 418
    The Florida Anthropological Society wants you!
        Page 419
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Editor's Page: FA 42(4) -- December 1989 . . ... 272
The Case for Concluding That de Soto Landed Near Present-day FBrt
Myers, Florida: The Conclusions Presented by Warren H. Wilkinson
Reviewed. Reviewed by Louis D. Tesar . . ... 276
A Charlotte Harbor Perspective on de Soto's Landing Site.
By Lindsey Williams . . . . ... 280

Where Did DeSoto Land?: Identifying Bahia Honda. By. Jeraald T.
Milanich . . . . . . 295

Hernando De Soto and the Expedition in Florida: An Overview.
By Jerald T. Milanich . . . .... 303
The Ruth Smith, Weeki Watchee, and Tatham Mounds: Archaeological
Evidence of Early Spanish Contact. By Jeffrey M. Mitchem 317
In Search of the 1539-40 de Soto Expedition Wintering Site in
Apalache. By Louis D. Tesar and B. Calvin Jones . ... 340

The DeSoto Apalachee Project: The Martin Site and Beyond.
By Charles R. Ewen . . . . ... ... 361
Studying de Soto's Route: A Georgian House of Cards. By W. S.
Eubanks, Jr . . . . . . 369
Aboriginal Societies Encountered by the Tristan de Luna Expedition
By Caleb Curren, Keith J. Little and Harry O. Holstein 381
Delineating a Site Through Limited Research: The Mission of San
Juan del Puerto (8Du53), rFrt George Island, Florida. By Martin
F. Dickinson . . . . . . 396
Book Beviews: . . . . . . 410
"First Encounters: Spanish Explorers in the Caribbean and the
United States, 1492-1570" edited by Jerald T. Milanich and Susan
Milbrath. Reviewed by Louis D. Tesar . . .... 410

"Gold CDins of the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet: A Numismatic Study of
the State of Florida Collection" by Alan K. Craig with an appendix
by Frances Keith. Reviewed by Louis D. Tesar . ... 414

Current Research: CARL Program Archaeological Inventory Project
By Brent R. Weisman . .... . .. 415

Comments: Florida Anthropological Society Annual Meeting and Call
for Papers. By Arthur R. Lee . . . ... 416
Invitation to Join the Florida Anthropological Society . .. 417

Cover Illustration. Florida portion of the 1616 map of The New
World drawn by Gabriel flatten and engraved by Benjamin Wright.

Published by the



The focus of this issue is the First
Spanish Period, the period of Spanish
exploration and colonization, in the area
now occupied by the southeastern United
States of America and the Caribbean. It
was originally envisioned as a larger
volume. However, funding limitations have
resulted in a decision to shift several of
the articles which would have occurred in
this issue to our next issue. Partial
funding support for this issue has been
provided by the editor .
This issue also contains several
articles representing differing views or
interpretations of the same topics. Thus,
it is anticipated that it will be viewed
as more controversial than is generally
the case for our journal. For the first
time since I have been this journal's
editor, I find it appropriate to state
that which has always been implied: "The
opinions expressed in the articles
published in this issue are those of the
authors, and readers are encouraged to
draw their own conclusions from the
available data." Furthermore, I will pro-
vide space in our next issue for authors
who wish to rebut criticisms of their
work. In this manner, I hope to provide
our readers with a fuller understanding of
the various issues and data pertaining to
the First Spanish Period -- a time of
first encounters between Europeans and
native Americans which changed the course
of history.
This issue begins with articles
addressing three proposed possible de Soto
landing sites, from the Pine Island Sound-
Charlotte Harbor area to Tampa Bay on the
west coast of the Florida peninsula. A
fourth article posed an east coast of
Florida site for consideration. While I
felt that the article had merit, the
majority of its reviewers recommended
against its acceptance for publication. I
hope that the article's author will be
able to find a publisher.
The first article is in the form of
a book review, since the subject's author
is now deceased. The article, "The Case

for Concluding That de Soto Landed Near
Present-day Fbrt Myers, Florida: The Con-
clusions Presented by Warren H. Wilkinson
Reviewed," is a review of "Opening the
Case Against the U.S. DeSoto Commission's
Report and other DeSoto Papers" (1960) by
Warren H. Wilkinson and summarizes the
reasons for Mr. Wilkinson's rejection of
the DeSoto Commission's (read John R.
Swanton's) conclusion that the de Soto
landing site was in Tampa Bay, and his
reasons for concluding that de Soto en-
tered Pine Island Sound near Sanibel
Island and proceeded up the Caloosahatchee
River to land near present-day Fbrt Myers.
If the 3.46-mile league is used to measure
110-120 leagues from the site of the de
Soto winter encampment in Tallahassee,
Florida to the landing site, then Mr.
Wilkinson's work clearly deserves further
The second article, "A Charlotte
Harbor Perspective on de Soto's Landing
Site" by Lindsey Williams, while agreeing
with Wilkinson's Sanibel Island Pine
Island Sound landfall, suggests a landing
site slightly north of that proposed by
Wilkinson. Williams proposes that de Soto
entered Charlotte Harbor through the area
around Boca Grande to finally land on the
north shore of Charlotte Harbor in the
vicinity of present-day Charlotte Harbor
The third article, "Where Did DeSoto
Land?: Identifying Bahia Honda" by Jerald
T. Milanich, presents his reasons for
concluding that the landing site was
actually in Tampa Bay around the mouth of
the Little Manatee River near present-day
Ruskin, Florida. While his argument for
the landing site is well-reasoned,
Milanich's support of the 3.46-mile
league, in contrast to the 2.63-mile
league, is weakened by the finding of the
1539-40 de Soto winter camp site in
present-day Tallahassee, Florida. Like-
wise, the following article by Milanich
reconstructing the expedition's route from
its landing site through Florida supports
the 2.63-mile league.


Dec., 1989

Vol. 42 No. 4


The fourth article, also by
Milanich, is titled "Hernando De Soto and
the Expedition in Florida: An Overview."
This article provides and overview of de
Soto and the circumstances surrounding his
expedition, and summarizes the conclusions
reached by Florida's de Soto Trail Cbmmit-
tee on the possible route of the expedi-
tion from its landing site through
Florida. The route reconstruction is
based on correlations of descriptions from
expedition narratives with archaeological
site data.
The fifth article, "The Ruth Smith,
Weeki Watchee, and Tatham MNunds: Archaeo-
logical Evidence of Early Spanish Contact"
by Jeffrey M. Mitchem, describes and
illustrates artifactual evidence of six-
teenth century Spanish/Indian contact from
three sites on the Gulf O(astal Plain of
peninsular Florida. It also demonstrates
the importance of careful scientific
archaeological research and illustrates
the types of information and insight into
past human behavior that can be recovered
from such research.
The sixth article, "In Search of the
1539-40 de Soto Expedition Wintering Site
in Apalache" by Louis D. Tesar and B.
Calvin Jones, combines the earlier studies
by Tesar to predict where research should
be directed to locate the 1539-40 de Soto
wintering camp with B. Calvin Jones'
discovery of and findings at that site.
It also presents Jones' thoughts on the
location of Aute and Narvaez' earlier 1528
expedition and encampment in the Apalachee
The seventh article, "The DeSoto-
Apalachee Project: the Martin Site and
Beyond" by Charles R. Ewen, compliments
the article by Tesar and Jones. Beginning
with the discovery of the Martin archae-
ological site by Jones, Ewen chronicles
subsequent events surrounding the excava-
tion at and acquisition of portions of the
site, describes subsequent testing by Ewen
to establish the limits of the de Soto
winter encampment in the area surrounding
Jones' discovery, and presents conclusions
on what the research means in a broader
The eighth article, "Studying de
Soto's Boute: A Georgian House of Cards"
by W. S. Eubanks, Jr., documents problems

which can arise when individuals are so
sure of the rightness of their hypotheses
that they discount or ignore conflicting
data. Eubanks makes his point by clearly
documenting the errors and misrepresenta-
tions which can mar a profession's credi-
bility. His article will be controver-
sial, but merits publication. Likewise,
in fairness to those whose work he
criticizes, their responses to the issues
raised by Eubanks will be considered for
publication in our March 1990 issue.
The problem documented by Eubanks is
not unique. It is the product of a well-
known, but seldom voiced, phenomena in the
social sciences and other fields of study.
The phenomena begins with a tolerance of
minority opinions, even when data do not
appear to support, indeed may call to
question, such opinions. It is often
stated that controversy stimulates
research, and that stagnation sets in when
hypotheses become confused with demon-
strated truths and being so accepted are
no longer subject to or the subject of
question. Thus, any hypothesis, no matter
how flawed its foundation precepts, may be
presented and studied, as it is believed
that such efforts will stimulate others to
more diligently work to demonstrate the
reliability of their data. It is also
believed that hypotheses based on flawed
data and misrepresentations or misinter-
pretations of that data will become so
apparent that they will be rejected by any
with even a passing understanding of.the
subject being discussed. Thus, tolerance
is based on a belief that flawed hypo-
theses will fall by the wayside and be
But what happens when such hypo-
theses are presented by individuals who
have published widely in closely related
subjects? What happens when such
individuals are recognized as authorities
in their field? What happens when their
reputations and position give them access
to influential people, placed them on
committees evaluating the merits of grant
applications with conflicting hypotheses
and the like?
The answer to those questions is
that the expected outcome is delayed as it
becomes more difficult to refute. The
difficulty arises when statements made by


authoritative individuals are accepted
without questioning them. The difficulty
is made worse when others, not having
reviewed the primary data, use the flawed
or misinterpreted conclusions as demon-
strated fact, thus giving credence to such
representations. The problem also is made
worse when such individuals, convinced of
their own rightness, argue against con-
trary research proposals, thus making it
more difficult to demonstrate their
errors. Finally, having established a
pattern of assisting supporting studies
and suppressing conflicting studies, the
flawed minority opinion takes on the aura
of a well-researched majority opinion. As
this process proceeds, it often happens
that, having accepted the reliability of
the flawed hypothesis, data which are
found to conflict with that hypothesis are
interpreted as flawed or in error and
rejected. Soon, there is a body of
mutually supporting, but flawed, studies.
The coup de grace for other researchers
with contrary views comes when the
original, self-proved flawed premise gains
official sanction through government
sponsorship. A house-of-cards is thus
built and reinforced, and those on the out
are left to wonder how it could have
happened and what can be done.
The above scenario is essentially
what Eubanks has suggested is occurring
for some of the de Soto expedition route
research and conclusions. The solution
which he has chosen (this issue) is to
present the basis for his concerns for
public review and reconsiderationn before
a government sponsored marker program
erroneously marks the wrong sites and
publishes a mistaken trail route. The
issue of whether a 2.63-mile league or a
3.46-mile league was used by de Soto and
other sixteenth century Spanish explorers
is a key element in the controversy raised
by Eubanks and others. In Florida, for
instance, the difference totals more than
100 miles between the landing site and the
winter encampment for the de Soto
While some of the points raised by
Eubanks may be refuted, he has raised too
many questions to be ignored. One con-
clusion is clear, however: there is cur-
rently insufficient information to mark a

definitive trail with clearly identified
site locations for the de Soto expedi-
tion's march through the Southeastern
United States. The product of the current
de Soto Trail Commission should be a
corridor, one with occasional diverging
branches and varying widths, not a defini-
tive line giving the appearance of a well-
documented established fact. Further re-
search should be directed toward narrowing
the corridor and eliminating its branches.
Markers should reflect the current,
best-guess state of our knowledge. As
more incontrovertible sites, such as the
de Soto expedition 1539-40 winter camp in
present-day Tallahassee, Florida, are
identified, they should be so marked.
Senator Bob Graham of Florida, who as that
state's governor supported de Soto expedi-
tion research in Florida, is to be com-
mended for supporting research on the ex-
pedition's trail throughout the Southeast.
However, to produce a flawed product would
be to do a disservice to Senator Graham
and other public officials. It also would
be a poor exchange for the tax-payers
whose funding has supported such research.
Returning to the articles in this
issue, the ninth article, "Aboriginal
Societies Encountered by the Tristan de
Luna Expedition" by Caleb Curren, Keith J.
Little and Harry 0. Holstein, presents
their reconstruction of the route of that
1559-61 Spanish expedition and its rela-
tionship with the earlier de Soto expedi-
tion route. Their argument is convincing.
It is also noted that, as with the issues
raised in the preceding Eubanks article,
they too have reached conclusions in
conflict with those presented by Hudson
and other Georgian researchers. Thus,
their research lends support to the pro-
blems identified by Eubanks.
The tenth and last article, "Delin-
eating a Site Through Limited Research:
The Mission of San Juan del Puerto
(8Du53), Fort George Island, Florida" by
Martin F. Dickinson, describes the method-
ology used to evaluate the archaeological
features associated with a Spanish mission
site, and the results and conclusions de-
rived therefrom.
This issue concludes with its Book
Reviews, Current Research, and Comments
section. Two books are reviewed (in addi-


tion to the lead article review of Warren
H. Wilkinson's 1960 de Soto landing site
presentation): "First Encounters: Spanish
Explorers in the Caribbean and the United
States, 1492-1570" and "Gold Coins of the
1715 Spanish Plate Fleet: A Numismatic
Study of the State of Florida Collection".
"First Encounters" is edited by
Jerald T. Milanich and Susan Milbrath. It
contains thirteen chapters, beginning with
an introductory chapter by its editors
setting the stage for the topics addressed
by the chapter authors. While some
deficiencies are noted, as a whole it is
well-presented and liberally illustrated.
It is written for a broad audience and
would make a nice gift.
"Gold Coins of the 1715 Spanish
Plate Fleet" was prepared by Alan K. Craig
with an appendix by Franc s Keith. This
publication is the result of a study with
two complementary purposes: to present the
collection in accordance with current
numismatic standards of description,
analysis and publication; and, to do so in
a way that would convey the importance and
fascination of the Florida Collection to
the non-specialist. Both goals appear to
have been met.
The only Current Research announce-
ment submitted for this issue concerns
implementation of the CARL Program Archae-
ological Inventory Program. Please read
Brent R. Weisman's presentation on this
program, which will rely, in part, on
cooperation from local Florida Anthropo-
logical Society chapters.
As previously announced, we will
focus much of our current research and
related matter in quarter regional/topical
annual subject reviews. This will be
dealt with by William F. Keegan, our
Annual Reviews Editor, beginning with our
next issue (FA 43(1) March 1990). Those
interested in making submissions should
contact Dr. Keegan at the address located
on the inside front cover of this issue.
Likewise, our NewsLetter Editor,
Bill Johnson, has been working to expand
the scope and content of our quarterly
newsletter. Comments and submissions for
the newsletter should be sent to him at
the address loacted on our inside front

While I received no comments for
publication in this issue, I do have an
important announcement: the time and place
for our next annual meeting and a call for
papers for presentation at that meeting.
This announcement was prepared by Arthur
Lee of the host chapter for the meeting.
Finally, another announcement which
many have been expecting to hear is the
beginning of my swam song: Volume 43 will
(as circumstances currently stand) prob-
ably be my last volume as the Bditor of
this journal. Since beginning my editor-
ship in August of 1983, I have worked to
improve our scope, format and timeliness
of publication. December of 1990 will com-
plete nearly seven and one-half years as
your editor. It will be time for another
to try her/his (or perhaps their) hand at
this task. I hope that our membership can
be increased to a point where a paid typ-
ing assistant will be available, as I have
spent too much time doing that task in
addition to the standard editing and
paste-up which goes with the job. I must
acknowledge that the assistance of Joan
Deming in helping to relieve some of the
typing workload has been much appreciated,
as has been the submission of diskettes
with word processed text by many of our
authors. But enough of this, as it will be
addressed in future issues and at meetings
of our society's board of directors.
To our readers, I urge you to read
this, past and future issues. This
journal is published for you. Your aware-
ness of the importance of our historic
resources (both prehistoric and historic
archaeological sites, historic structures
and related features) is important. It is
your task to make others aware of our
prehistoric and historic heritage. The
future of the past is in your hands.

Respectfully submitted,
Louis D. Tesar, Editor
The Florida Anthropologist


The Case for Concluding That de Soto Landed Near
Present-day Fort Myers, Florida:
The Conclusions Presented by Warren H. Wilkinson Reviewed


When the original U.S. DeSoto Com-
mission was conducting public hearings in
Florida during the late 1930s in an effort
to identify the route of the de Soto expe-
dition through the Southeastern United
States, Warren H. Wilkinson was there pre-
senting his reasons for concluding that
the expedition had made its 1539 landfall
around the southeastern end of Sanibel
Island, thence up the Caloosahatchee River
to land around present-day Fort Myers,
Florida. However, his presentations were
overshadowed by those who wished to con-
clude that the landing occurred at Tampa
Bay, Florida. Thus, began Wilkinson's
efforts to prove his case and counter what
he viewed personal attacks on his reputa-
"Opening the Case Against the U.S.
De Soto Commission Report and other De
Soto Papers" by Warren H. Wilkinson was
published in October, 1960, as Vol. 1, No.
1, Papers of the Alliance for the Preser-
vation of Florida Antiquities, Jackson-
ville Beach, Florida. This 93 page plus
full inside cover map, 7" x 10+" paperback
publication is unfortunately now out of
print. This publication was brought to my
attention by Mr. Bill Evenden, and Mr.
Wilkinson's son, Warren B. Wilkinson, pro-
vided me with a review copy. Another pro-
ponent of Wilkinson's de Soto route recon-
structions in Florida has been William
Goza, who early in Florida's de Soto Trail
Committee meetings presented his case. My
comments follow.
While the Final Report of the United
States De Soto Expedition Commission
edited (some say written) by John R.
Swanton has been widely accepted, it was
being called into question prior to and
subsequent to its publication. Indeed,
while taken out of context, as Swanton
(1939:165) acknowledges: "Interpretation
ever flies with the wish." Swanton's
desire to prove his hypothesis of a Tampa
Bay landing site certainly points to the
truth of that statement.

One researcher, Warren H. Wilkinson
(now deceased), was early drawn into the
controversy when his research suggesting a
southern Pine Island Sound-Caloosahatchee
River landing site (Figure 1) was passed
over by the U.S. De Soto Commission in
favor of a proposed Tampa Bay site.
Wilkinson (1960:46-48, 72-75) suggests
that the site selection was politically
motivated in response to efforts by the
Florida Fair and Gasparilla Association,
which was then lobbying to have the
World's Fair Exposition in Tampa. He
reports that he became imbittered when the
results of his research indicating a Fort
Myers' area de Soto landing were public-
ally demeaned in Tampa area newspapers,
and he reportedly was made to look like a
"Opening the Case ..." is a brief
rebuttal by Wilkinson to the U.S. De Soto
Commission's Report, particularly that
portion of the Report clearly authored by
John R. Swanton. The content and tone of
this publication is perhaps best stated in
excerpts from one of the article's
reviewers (page 71):
I have received the De Soto material
which you sent ... Naturally, I am
familiar with most of the conclusions and
arguments and I think you know my basic
agreement with your approach. I really
can't find anything on the factual level
to make any comments on.
However, Wilkie, I do feel that it
doesn't help the strength of your argument
to make too much of an argumentative
approach to the problem. Swanton's errors
are not windmills or a dead issue, let me
make that clear. But I feel that your
work will get better acceptance when it is
less polemic. Now believe me, I know this
is hard to do. I've been engaged in a few
minor things of the sort myself, and the
typewriter seems to want to go ahead and
tear into the opposition. But while
aggressive criticism does not in itself
cloud the correct interpretation, it does
often create a hurdle to overcome in the
mind of the reader. It raises the ques-
tion, "Is he overstating his own case?"
In your case this is not true, but I


Dec., 1989

Vol. 42 No. 4


S 3 4 5 6 7 79

De Soto's futile advance with horsemen which finally
,0 after 12 leagues wandering. ended opposite 'The Village.'

believe more people will pay attention to
a somewhat (not completely) dispassionate
approach ...

It cannot be said that Mr. Wilkinson
pulled his punches and, while some of his
criticisms focus on irrelevant targets,
many of them are of scholarly note and de-
serve consideration. His case for a Pine
Island Sound-Caloosahatchee River landing
site certainly seems to be better support-
ed by circumstances reported in the expe-
ditions narratives, than is a Tampa Bay
landing site. Indeed, in an article
published in the Florida Historical
Quarterly 30(4) in 1952, Ripley Bullen

rejected the idea that the LTrra Ceia site
in Tampa Bay was the first headquarters of
the de Soto expedition, and few believe
that the National Park Service managed De
Soto National Memorial is located at the
site of the first landing.
The first 80 pages of his article
are devoted to demonstrating the errors
and suggested reasons for such errors in
the works and representations of the U.S.
De Soto Commission Report and its partici-
pants. In the last twelve pages (81-93),
Mr. Wilkinson presents "A Sketch of
Hernando de Soto's True Ibute in Present
Florida." This narrative is supplimented
with a map of the proposed route on the

e-gues. was probably about as shown by
3 .10 20 25
SM les. 2 tis ie of large dots.
(Core borings and research will no doubt disclose that ,
the Indian mounds once located at L5 (camp site) were -iver ary of Mocozo's
in the late century moved into the Caloosabatchee with 0 O
horse drawn scoops to make fill indicated by dotted ine.) ~,-- -

D~ De Soto estimated the harbor, *
\ V- ()(\"\ \Ancon Espiritu Santo to extend 5 a

yo o r -
12 leagues minor dth2+milesinand. E SOT AND

'- .- Lo3 Reconstructed from Participants'
SM s.) k altered Data.

Whi y Creek.) under sal from Havana.
Sg Slough Creek. A mile wide s.

"/o ." .. \ -- --*Orientation trip made by De Soto in smaller boat. Marooned,
Landfall (land first seen) of I.orEierp oasf- -I he landed (May 25, 1539) and chanced to discover--
at m th it L3.. Chief Ucita' seaside town in Punta Rasa area.
Cartographers In thene oy mo the L First anchorage ofDe Soto and fleet 2 leagues from land
name, Sa CarloR B 2 Second anchorage. retired 4 to 5 leagues out at -
Unaltered Data.

hounds, but ancient Spanish custom. n night founder safety due to onshore winds blowg.
Sthe waters witin e cred ore line a Dis embarkation ite and camp; 2 leagues from leagues
o te name is placed a ingly. b land to rip (G.p. 32 by Soto smaller bot. -2 roond,
Landfall (land first anofae b- b toL he landed (May 25 1539) and chanced to discover-1539.
L5 .. Site of 'The Town' where beachhead amp was established.
Cartographer the ast ve graally moved the L First anchorage of De Soto and fleet 2 leagues from 1land.

S' V A Garcilaso's name for its chief, *Hirrinh may have- "
Sname, .. been a titular name tor its chihf Ueits, since it conta in
2 sounds 2. the prefix 'urri'as rhonetired 4 t -' also fou a r-.'
the waters within the curved shore line a he d. 00A 0 night for safety due to onshore winds blowing..,

S- ~ 4. Di--Ese a rou te taken byJua n Orti; 2 leagues frto tree bridge;
soth name toIs d accordingly. by land to L5 (GE.p. 32. by subtraction,.30-25- 5)
pdac I leagues by channel to LS. (R.p. 54) May 30, 1539.
L5. Site of 'The Town' where beachhead camp was established.
been a titular name for Its chif Ueita, since It Caotains
SL2 Orthe prefix 'urri' as phonetic 'lirr-' also found as 'orri-.'
'7-- --Escape route taken by Jun tiz; 2 leagues to tree bridge;
thence, 6 leagues to Mocozo's town, about at AM1.

Figure 1. Proposed route of de Soto to the expedition's first landing
site near Fort Myers, Florida. Reproduced and enlarged from inset map,
inside back cover of Warren H. Wilkinson's "Opening the Case Against the
U.S. De Soto Cbmmission's Report and other De Soto Papers" (1960).


issues inside cover (front-back). That
portion of the map dealing with the pro-
posed expeditions landing site has been
reproduced in enlarged form as Figure 1 in
this article. The presentation which
follows is consolidated from Wilkinson's
original sketch.

Where Did de Soto Land

Wilkinson suggests that, after sail-
ing from Havana, Cuba, on Sunday, May 18,
1539, de Soto's armada proceeded northward
through the channel west of present-day
Key West, Florida to make its landfall on
a "north shore" at Sanibel Island, the
southern easterly-westerly trending shore
of which appears to be a north shore from
out in the Gulf. The fleet then anchored
in a "deep good bay" (San Carlos Bay) "two
leagues" from shore where the depth was
"four fathoms or less." It is the same
Viewed from their first anchorage,
the opening leading into the bay does not
appear to have been discernable, perhaps
because of then dense coastal vegetation.
Apparently in doubt as to whether this was
the mouth of the harbour scouted the pre-
vious winter by Juan de Anaisco, de Soto
and his pilot went in a small boat to make
sure. With the approach of night, a "con-
trary" wind prevented their return though
his vessel "labored" to do so, which meant
that much tacking was done in the attempt.
If the shoreline had been straight and not
in a bay shape that ship's return would
have been possible no matter from what
point of the compass the wind was blowing.
This alone is viewed as supporting
the author's proposed landfall location,
and refuting that of the Tampa Bay land-
fall proposed by the De Soto Commission.
The descriptions fit all of the features
of San Carlos Bay and the channel starting
within it into the Caloosahatchee Sound.
When de Soto was marooned over
night, he made a landing probably at Punta
Rasa where the ships of the 19th century
took on their cargoes of cattle destined
for Cuba and other West Indies points.
The good depth near shore was quite
satisfactory for this.
Meanwhile, for safety reasons con-
cerned with the possibility of being blown

into the shoals by an unexpected wind, the
fleet moved farther out from the shore for
the night. When morning came they were
"four to five leagues" out at this second
Near his landing, de Soto discovered
an Indian village. This village must not
have been visible from the water or the
scout crew of the previous winter's recon-
naissance vessel would have seen it. This
newly found village was said to be two
leagues from the site where the later
landing of the army was accomplished.
De Soto ordered the fleet to come
from the second anchorage and enter the
channel into the harbor. De Soto stationed
the small vessels on each side of the
channel entrance as markers to guide the
larger vessels.
When the ships had proceeded as far
as they could by sail, they became what de
Soto called "decaidos." The remainder of
their way to their "port, four or five
leagues" had to be negotiated by other
means (such as using tidal currents and
kedging -- rowing an anchor out as far as
possible and the winching the vessels
forward by the anchor cable). Their port
was in an "ancon" which extended about "a
dozen leagues" (2.634 miles each) "inland,
no doubt measured by channel rather than
beeline. One witness said that this
working of the ships along to port took
three days and another said five days.
The horses and men of the army were
landed Friday, May 30. This would have
occurred at some point where the depth was
good close to shore, almost a sine qua non
for a disembarkation of that size in a
strange land. This condition of depth near
the beach existed just souther of Palmetto
Point and northeast of present-day Iona,
Florida, where the Caloosahatchee jogs
sharply southward and straightens out
toward the west. A wharf was located very
near that spot for many years.
It was reported that the village
which was their objective was four leagues
by water and five leagues by land from the
place where the men and horses were
landed. Ib reach "the village" the army's
march had to "compass great creeks." Such
features are easily identified on maps
today in the area east of the proposed
landing (See Figure 1). The village was


probably located on the shore of the
Caloosahatchee where East Fbrt Myers is
now situated.
There were traces of a destroyed
shell Indian mound at that location in the
1930s. These mound traces banked up
against trees among the residences, the
tree roots were evidently thus protected.
There were indications of a second mound
in this area, and the mound at the rail-
road may also be involved.
Original surveys and deeds show that
the natural growth and topography at this
location tally with the testimony of eye-
witnesses as to what was found at the
headquarters camp, though little was
The "decaidos" ships were worked by
the sailors aboard until they arrived at
an anchorage opposite "the village." This
action took them a week more, being
lightered of most of their immense cargoes
of supplies during that maneuvering as the
shallows in the channel increased.
During the army's stay of almost a
month and a half at "the village" beach-
head camp, an island was mentioned (with
an inference of it being not one of a
group) whereon Indians were reported to
have congregated. Attempts were made to
capture them, including stationing "of
horsemen" at the "mainland at the place
where they were likely to come away."
This fits Beautiful Island very well.
Swanton was compelled to ignore this datum
since it was inapplicable at his incorrect
route locales.
Wilkinson continues his discussion
with other examples of physiographic data
comparisons with the information provided
in the expedition's narratives for the
area around the first village encampment,
and subsequently along the expedition's
route following its departure on July 15,
1539 from that camp. However, that
information is omitted from this article.


While Tampa Bay remains the most
likely de Soto landing site in the minds
of most researchers, no conclusive evi-
dence has yet been presented. If Mr.
Wilkinson and other researchers are cor-
rect in their assertions that a 2.63-mile

league was used, then with the finding of
the 1539 winter village in Tallahassee,
Florida, the proposed Tampa Bay landing
site becomes the more likely landing site.
However, if a 3.46-mile league was used,
then Mr. Wilkinson's proposed landing site
and route gain credibility.
In focusing on an abreviated presen-
tation of Wilkinson's landing data, in
contrast to the more lengthy presentations
of Williams and Milanich (this issue) for
their proposed landing sites, I may have
done a disservice to his case. I hope not,
as his original argument holds together
well and is redundant with detail.
The case for the location of the de
Soto landing site is not yet resolved, and
Mr. Wilkinson's representations deserve
further consideration. I urge researchers
to seek out and review his 1960 publica-
tion which was the subject of this review,
as well as his earlier articles on this
subject, before coming to any conclusions
on the location of the landing site. The
conditions described for the landing site:
its access through a shallow north shore
entrance; the distance over which vessels
made lighter by off-loading men and
animals had to be kedged (winched forward
across shallows by anchor is conditions to
narrow to sail; the samll village location
at which they established their base camp;
surrounding geographic features; and, the
remains of a scuttled vessel of the fleet
are important considerations in determin-
ing the location of the site. While we
are getting closer to the answer, the case
for the location of the de Soto landing
site remains open.

Reviewed by Louis D. Tesar, Bditor
The Florida Anthropologist



Lindsey Williams


One of the most significant histori-
cal events impinging on aborigines of
southeastern United States is the entrada
of Hernando de Soto between 1539 and 1543.
The expedition profoundly altered native
cultures in ways we do not yet fully
Michael Gannon, Director of the
Institute for Early Contact Period Studies
at the University of Florida, speaking in
Gainesville, Florida, at an April 17-20,
1988 "Rethinking the Encounter" symposium
described European exploration and coloni-
zation of the New World as "an ecological
and biological disaster" for American
Professor Alfred Crosby, Jr.,
University of Texas, told symposium parti-
cipants: "The encounter is the most in-
fluential event that has taken place on
this planet since the retreat of the con-
tinental glaciers, and we must pay it pro-
per due."
The more accurately de Soto's route
is determined, the more likely we are to
find archaeological evidence of native
people in stressful transition. Interest
in the subject has been reawakened by
archaeologist B. Calvin Jones' 1987 dis-
covery of de Soto's first winter camp in
what is now downtown Tallahassee, Florida
(Jones and Ewen 1987; Shapiro 1988).
Florida's DeSoto Trail Committee,
appointed by former Florida Governor
Robert "Bob" Graham (now U.S. Senator),
concluded in the fall of 1988 that the ex-
plorer probably made his initial campsite
at Ruskin, Florida, where the Little
Manatee River empties into Tampa Bay. The
route from there is said to have kept
close to the coast and crossed the
Withlacoochee River at Dunnellon.
Following my presentation for con-
sidering Charlotte Harbor as the possible
landing site, the committee also decided
to place a marker at Charlotte Harbor
City, stating that "some students of the
DeSoto entrada believe the army landed
somewhere in this vicinity."

A case for a landing on the north
shore of Charlotte Harbor can be con-
structed from contemporary documents.
They include a letter by de Soto, a letter
by three expedition officers (Juan Anasco,
Luys de Biedma and Juan Gayton), three
narratives by survivors of the expedition
(Biedma, RBdrigo Ranjel and A Gentleman of
Elvas) and from probable 16th century
ship drafts as they relate to hydrological
factors mentioned in the narratives.


At the time of historical contact,
Amerindians of the Florida peninsula were
allied in two major cultural groups,
Tirnucua and Calusa. The boundary between
them is not precisely known (Milanich and
Fairbanks 1980:211), although the Calusa
are generally thought to have inhabited
all of Charlotte Harbor (Marquardt 1987,
In the Final Report of the U.S.
DeSoto Expedition Commission (1939, re-
print 1985), John R. Swanton stated the
narratives indicate de Soto encountered
only Timucuans. We cannot be certain of
Swanton's conclusion, however, because
residents of the town de Soto occupied as
his base camp fled upon his approach and
never made contact. Therefore, we have no
clues about their identity. Hopefully,
future archaeological excavations on the
north shore of Charlotte Harbor will shed
light on the problem that has both
historical and anthropological implica-
Cacique (chief) Mococo, with whom
the Spaniards dealt on a friendly basis,
lived some distance from the coast and was
said by Juan Ortiz, de Soto's interpreter,
to speak a different language than the
campsite Indians (Smith 1968:30-31). Elvas
says Mcoco lived "two days journey" from
the port (Bourne 1922a:29), while Ranjel
recounts that the expedition reached
Mococo's town on the third day after
starting out -- one day being wasted
recovering runaway horses (Bourne 1922b:


Vol. 42 No. 4

Dec., 1989


Archaeologist Ripley P. Bullen
placed the Timucua-Calusa boundary through
the middle of Charlotte Harbor on the
basis of pottery sherd analysis. He
concluded: "This would eliminate the San
Carlos Bay-Caloosahatchee River-Fort Myers
area as a possible landing site, but it
would not discard the Charlotte Harbor-
Peace River-Punta Gorda location as a
possible landing point" (Bullen 1969:41).
The Fort Myers site had long been proposed
by Warren H. Wilkinson (1960).
The exact location of de Soto's
landing is no small matter to determine
because cultural-historical interpreta-
tions have been based upon where one
believes de Soto landed.

De S9to's Letter

In any analysis of expedition docu-
ments, great weight must be given the
letter which de Soto sent to the magi-
strates of Santiago, Cuba, by a returning
cargo ship shortly after his landing. It
is, after all, nearest the event and by
the person with most at stake in accuracy.
De Soto had sent Juan Anasco to
scout a suitable port for a major landing.
In a letter to King Philip on the eve of
departure from Havana, Fleet Pilot Aiasco
said the port was "very near, only 75 or
80 leagues from this land" (Swanton 1985:
101). This distance is much too short for
any possible port capable of receiving a
fleet of heavy ships. However, closeness
favors Charlotte Harbor.
Despite the advance search, Anasco
could not recognize the spot he had chosen
a few months earlier. De Soto wrote:
"Having fallen four or five leagues below
the port, without any one of my pilots
being able to tell where we were, it
became necessary that I should go in a
brigantine and look for it. In doing so,
and in entering the mouth of the port, we
were detained three days; and likewise
because we had no knowledge of the passage
that is a bay that runs up a dozen leagues
[31 miles] or more from the sea. We were
so long delayed that I was obliged to send
my Lieutenant-General, Vasco Porcallo de
Figueroa, in the brigantines to take
possession of a town at the end of the bay
[questava al cabo del ancon] (Smith

translation, Bourne 1922b:159).
In considering distances in the de
Soto narratives, the length of a league
must be considered. Each nation set
slightly different standards for distance.
However, the Spanish judicial league in de
Soto's time was 2.634 English miles.
Swanton concluded that "an allowance of
2.6 miles per league has been found most
satisfactory" on the basis of known dis-
tances given for de Soto's march through
The early accounts by de Soto and
his three officers tell us four important
things about de Soto's landing place:
1. It is very near to Cuba.
2. Its entrance is narrow and difficult
to find.
3. The channel inside is shallow and
hard to follow.
4. His base camp is located 31 miles
from the harbor "mouth," that is, at
the extreme end, on the north shore.
The significance of these facts become
clear when considered in conjunction with
information supplied by expedition sur-

Report By King's Factor

King Phillip's personal envoy on the
expedition was Biedma, who carried the
title of King's Factor (agent). We can
assume Biedma took notes as part of his
official duties. Biedma, who survived the
march, submitted his brief report for
court records in 1544. The king apparent-
ly was not interested in the failure to
find gold.
Biedma wrote in his Relation of the
Conquest of Florida that the army began
its invasion of the interior del ponienta,
which Smith translates as "towards the
west" (Bourne 1922b:5).
Ranjel wrote that the army camped
the first night at the "River of Mococo,"
then crossed it on "two bridges" and
thereafter in quick succession passed the
"Lake of the Rabbit" and "St. Johns Lake"
(Bourne 1922b:63-64).
Important clues are the starting
direction, a major river one-day journey
distant, and two nearby lakes. I worked
with the court copy of Biedma's report
furnished by the Library of Congress. I


differ from Smith's translation only in
using the Cassell's Spanish Dictionary
(1960) definition of poniente as "setting,
in the sense of what the sun does," hence
"towards the sunset." A detailed discus-
sion and reproduction of the pertinent
passage appears in my book Boldly Onward
(Williams 1986:102, 107).
Some members of Florida's DeSoto
Trail (bmmittee dispute Smith's and my
translations of del poniente, contending
16th century usage was only "from the
Smith was ambassador to Spain and an
eminent Hispanist. His translations pre-
viously have been widely accepted. Cer-
tainly, in today's usage, de can be either
"to" or "from." El is simply "the." The
16th century court copy of Biedma's report
consistently uses del in describing direc-
tions ahead. Biedma may have used bad
grammar for his day, but there it is.
Biedma uses the all-purpose prepo-
sition del 12 times in conjunction with
westward destinations. In seven of these
instances, he links del with ueste (west).
Two other times, he says poniente (Table
1) .
The essential point is that the
expedition began marching westward. The
word poniente might have been chosen by
Biedma to establish the time of day or a
northwest direction. The latter would be
especially meaningful if the starting
place had been on a cape of land, as I
surmise, with a north-south axis at the
head of a bay. The bearing of the setting
sun from Charlotte Harbor on July 15 is
293 degrees or west-by-northwest in sail-
ing parlance (Figure 1).
The context of Biedma's description
of the landing site and initial line of
march precludes "from the west" in any
case. Wst of where? Ruskin is on the
southeast shore of Tampa Bay, east of
Mexico, south of the de Soto route. If de
Soto had headed inland from the west
(i.e., towards the east), he would not
have encountered a major river or a pair
of lakes.
A few scholars avoid the difficulty
of Biedma's starting direction by suppos-
ing the army landed on the Florida east
coast. However, they also have to dismiss
assertions by all the de Soto narratives

Table 1. Use of Contraction del Denoting "Ibward" a
Direction in the Original Biedma Manuscript as comparedd with
Buckingham anith's Translation in the Narratives of De Soto
(1922) By Edward Bourne. Allerton Book Cb., New York City.
Bourne Biedma
Page # Page #
5 79 "We took our way toward the west." (del
8 84 "The governor directed that they should sail
westward (del hueste) to discover a harbor."
16 93 "From this we went to the west and southwest
(del hueste i sudueste), passing through the
towns of the Cacique."
16 93 "From this point we went south, drawing
toward the coast of New Spain." (De aqui
partimos la buelta del Sur, Allegandomos la
costa de la Nueba Epana.)
31 111 "We returned towards the south." (T'mamos la
buelta del sur.)
32 112 "We should have to return upon a west-south-
western course." (La via de Loeste sudueste).
34 114 "They pointed [sic] that if we wished to re-
turn to the east and southeast, or go north-
west, we should find large towns." (Bolber
la buelta de Leste y sueste y norueste).
34 114 "We returned to the southeast." (del sueste)
35 116 "We agreed to take our course to the west."
(Que tmaasemos nues tvo camino la via del
36 116 "We could learn nothing of them concerning
the west." (del poniente)
36 116 "... still going directly westward." (toda
via direchos al poniente)
36 117 "The Indians told us we should see no more
settlements unless we went down in a south-
west-and-by south direction." (la buelta del
sudueste y sur).

that the site was due north of Havana.
Biedma reports that the expedition
kept 10 to 12 leagues from the coast
(Smith 1968:233). The other narrators
confirm that the coast was "distant." The
Ruskin route hugs Tampa Bay, while a
Charlotte Harbor route swings inland after
the first day and soon after traverses a
troublesome Great Plain and a Great Swamp

related by the narratives. The plain
could relate to that north of Charlotte
Harbor, and the swamp could be Green Swamp
(Cypress Swamp on old maps) north of

Descriptions of the Port

A point of major consideration is
the descriptions of the harbor entrance.
Any case for the de Soto landing must
account for the extraordinary difficulties



2700 W I 0 C no


'293o 1800

Live Oak Poin't



Figure 1. The author's proposed de Soto expedition landing site,
showing direction of westward march indicated by Biedma.

encountered in finding, entering and
moving up the port.
Rodrigo Ranjel, de Soto's private
secretary, says the Governor left the
fleet in a brigantine "to discover what
land it was for they were in doubt as to
the port and where to find it" (Bourne
1922b:51). Ranjel suggests de Soto
disappeared from view by complaining that
those left on the ships "could neither
succor or assist him if there was need."
If the fleet captains knew where he was,
or could see him, they could easily sail
to him. As it was, de Soto was sighted
the next morning "far to the leeward of
the ships and labouring to come up but was
no wise able to." One of the ships "put
out in the direction where the brigantine
appeared to bring aid to the Governor"
(Bourne 1922b:52-53).
We can assume the harbor entrance
was relatively narrow because Ranjel says
de Soto posted "station ships" on each
side of the channel to guide the fleet
into the harbor. Channels through
Florida's barrier islands deposit parallel

"flying bars" that are a menace to naviga-
The San Carlos Bay opening into Pine
Island Sound, and thence the way to
Charlotte Harbor, is of moderate width but
gives only seven feet of water most of the
way. This depth would have been suffi-
cient for the brigantine but not the big
ships. The distance from San Carlos Bay
to the north shore of Charlotte Harbor is
approximately 30 miles.
Farther north, Boca Grande channel
directly into Charlotte Harbor has a
relatively small opening of 1,500 yards
and a navigable channel 700 yards wide
flanked by flying bars. The Boca Grande
channel had 15 feet of water over the
outer bar according to Bernard Rmans'
chart of 1774 (Figure 2).
The most noticeable channel into
Tampa Bay is the southwest one. It had an
opening of 5,000 yards and a navigable
width of 1,700 yards with three fathoms
over the outer bar, according to a chart
by Francisco Celi, who surveyed Tampa Bay
for the first time in 1757 (Figure 3).


7 .a .

.. .. t...it, and ano"e n f Ift

"' 's o i o c e b t" "i ",i

"nd-. als J ", ent
A.' ... 'e10" '

in it ifmaion.

24 4
,i-' c -y ^ ^- .. ^ ^ ^ s*i l ^ ^ .- .+ "

I Il ST ACCURA iE : SO)UNI)lN(;S ()Il1'A A IIA i rre cicrllrild iii 1757 I) I ainiisiri Celi iror .Spin I iI rInI l :ui iiiini
of Iirvc Ifulliii.i i < L dil t:ler (liriIgI htl e li 1 mudiCl er c Iia n Zig- riLg i 'uik imiiicuklc ieICI iig ing veIrtCiiv ui i(cii ifs p
I ..llllr llell lln ll L-IIICI Illlliil Hall ucli ilts l Wa tp llllilllul lilk.
Figure 2. Francisco Celi's harbor chart for Tampa Bay, 1757.
From Library of congress map files.

Celi found the main channel, entered
L OVZ-,t through it, and anchored in four fathoms
with white sand bottom within a span of
three and a half hours (Ware 1971).
^ ^', horr Despite de Soto's station ships, and
r./ 6'.. "constantly sounding the lead," the heavy
.. \"' i \. "" ships "sometimes touched bottom" going in
and also after having entered, "but as it
1' was mud they passed on" (Bourne 1922b:54).
57caG0fY Seabed compositions were carefully noted
4 \2 is by sailors of the period, as were water
\rg depths and distances from shore. The
\o L tt' ,v three-way combination provides unique
\" t identification information.
2\ Because of "many shallows" mentioned
by both de Soto and Ranjel, the fleet had
30 to kedge up the harbor at high tide. De
44 oSoto said that this procedure took three
5 '2 a Is days (Smith 1968:284), Ranjel said five
\/ days, and Elvas said eight days. Men,
iempt t Ot.iss the icuno' oL UPq, I:d n horses, and cargo were discharged as the
'-di_;ti'ir. F16 tutorme, i1,e der. ships moved forward in order "to unburden
.ind 1-1, br nd Ir n icintntin Iin or a
B, ii n :inn dpjih or is nu.ed cin the ships" (Smith 1968:23). Even so,
.lfDr Qun Chrldll r.. uR rn L u th ves e
biy,, I.> CI according to Ranjel, the large vessels had
/ \ to anchor four leagues (10.4 miles) short
Figure 3. Bernard oman's 1774 map of Charlotte Harbor. of the Indian village de Soto had selected
From Library of Congress map files, for his base camp (Bourne 1922b:54).


De Soto exerted great effort to
reach "the" town which Anasco had dis-
covered the winter before and from which
he had captured four Indians to serve as
guides for the expedition. Ranjel writes,
"The place where they disembarked was due
north of the Island of Tortuga (Mar-
quesas), which is in the mouth of the
Bahama channel. The chief of this land
was named Ocita, and it is ten leagues
west of the Bay of Johan Ponce" (Bourne
The oldest maps of Florida's west
coast depict the landing place of Ponce de
Leon at the most southern port. After
extensive research, I conclude that Ponce
entered San Carlos Bay and attempted to
build a colony on the southern tip of Pine
Island 30 miles southeast of Ocita
(Williams 1986:25-51).
Elvas says Ocita consisted of "seven
or eight houses built of timber and
covered with palm leaves. The chief's
house stood near the beach, upon a very
high mount built for defence. At the
other end of town was a temple on which
perched a wooden fowl with gilded eyes"
(Smith 1968:24).
De Soto sent an advance party ahead
by pinnaces to occupy the town. His
determination to reach this specific spot
is puzzling. To get there, he had to put
his men and horses ashore at a place from
which they marched two days toward the
town. The impatient de Soto road ahead
with some of his cavaliers, but "they
wearied the horses following deer trails
and floundering in streams and swamps for
12 leagues until they found themselves
opposite the village on the other side of
the roadstead of the harbor which they
could not pass around. That night, worn
out, they slept scattered about" (Bourne
De Soto and some of the cavaliers
might have been ferried across the
roadstead that night by the advance party
that went ahead in the small boats. Elvas
says, "At night, the Governor with a
hundred men in the pinnaces came upon a
deserted town" (Bourne 1922b:22).
If we knew the attraction of Ocita
we might have a better idea of its loca-
tion. Was it the capital of the province;

a ritual center; or, the terminus of an
Indian trade route into the interior?

Hydrological Cnsiderations

The hydrological factors involved in
de Soto's landing are vital clues. I
studied approximately 200 charts indexed
by Woodbury Lowery (1959) in his Spanish
Settlements Within the Present Limits of
the United States and approximately 100
other Florida charts in the Library of
Congress, the P.K. Yonge Library of
Florida History, the University of South
Florida Spanish history collection, and
the Clements Library at the University of
From these sources I calculate that
the depths of water in Charlotte Harbor
and Tampa Bay have remained fairly con-
stant since soundings were first recorded
in 1750 (Williams 1986:143-155). The
rates of sea level rise and bottom
deposition appear about equal during the
pre-dredging period of 1750-1863 (Williams
1986:149-154). It is likely that the same
depths, or a bit less, prevailed two
centuries earlier when a slightly cooler
climate might have slowed polar ice
In estimating probable depths given
by early explorers, such as Celi's 18 feet
for Tampa Bay main channel and Iomans' 15-
16 feet for Boca Grande Pass, one must
factor in the differences between low and
high tides. Modern charts give soundings
at mean low tide. While it is reasonable
to assume that early seamen did the same
for safety reasons to avoid grounding, we
do not know this for certain, so we must
allow for local tides. Depths mentioned
in the narratives may vary by the amount
of tidal change -- 1.40 feet for Tampa
Bay, 1.16 feet for Charlotte Harbor, and
1.36 feet for San Carlos Bay.
The earliest, accurate soundings we
have of Tampa Bay are those made by Celi.
Despite two centuries of Florida occupa-
tion, Spanish officials at Havana appar-
ently felt they did not possess good in-
formation about that superb port. Indeed,
the cautious contacts with Indians there
by Celi suggests that Tampa Bay was
relatively untouched by Spanish influence


Cap, It..

B-r Grod, No-



/, G..

C~rlrr P II I.i 4

ri.n DA

-^ i.-- --i ._

the Peace Riner-Cloosahatchee estuar, were
made bo the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey bet-
ween 1863-1880 before dredging. Two-fathom line
in Charlotte Harbor and San Carlos Ba\ is en-
chanced solid, one-fathom line in Pine Island
Sound enhanced dotted. Boca Grande Pass gises
minimum 14 feet at low.tide. Once in. channel of
not less that 12V' feet prevails to ilthin one league
(2.6 miles) of Live Oak Point. Captiva Pass gises
9': feet over the bar, SV' feet with hard sand bot-
tom in the center of tie sound. San Carlos Bay
gives narrow channels of two fathoms or more up
to the Caloosahatchee delta and Pine Island
Sound but many shallows thereafter.
(Chart 175, LUSG & GS, U.S. National Archi'es)

Figure 4. Coast chart no. 75 reflects the earliest comprehensive
soundings of the Peace River-Caloosahatchee estuary by the
U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, 1863-1880. (Source: USC&GS,
U.S. National Archives).

at this late date.
Celi wrote in his journal that he
"had made many trips on this passage,"
probably to the Spanish fort at St. Marks
south of Tallahassee, Florida. Apparently
he had some knowledge of the way for he
ordered his ship to anchor at 2 a.m. when
they came to three fathoms with white sand
bottom opposite a blind pass "lest we go
beyond the entrance to Tampa Bay."
At dawn, Celi proceeded and at 5:30
a.m. sighted the islands at the entrance
of Tampa Bay. "When the xebec (ship) was
about one league distant, we came to a
depth of two fathoms which we saw as a bar
extending from the entrance at the south

of this bay. As soon as we crossed this
abr we entered by way of the middle
channel with a depth of three and one-
half, three, and even up to four fathoms.
At 8:30 we entered and at 9:00 anchored in
four fathoms with white sand bottom" (Ware
The earliest, detailed Charlotte
Harbor soundings were made by Romans. He
gave "a minimum of 15 or 16 feet on the
bar and four fathoms inside." He also
wrote, "Run in 'til you are in 15 feet of
water which is the bar" (Romans 1962:
Comprehensive soundings of the
Charlotte Harbor-San Carlos Bay complex,



including the Peace River and Caloosa-
hatchee estuaries, were made by the U.S.
Coast and Geodetic Survey between 1863 and
1880, before dredging (Figure 4). Boca
Grande Pass gives minimum 14 feet at low
tide. Once in, a channel of not less than
12 1/2 feet prevails to within one league
(2.6 miles) of Live Oak Point at the north
end of Charlotte Harbor (Williams 1986:
Ranjel reports that de Soto's fleet
"came to anchor two leagues from shore in
four fathoms of water or less" (Bourne
1922b:51). I have not been able to verify
the length of de Soto's fathom, but J.
Villasand Haggard in his Handbook for
Translators of Spanish Historical
Documents says a common 16th century
Spanish length for the fathom was 65.82
inches -- nearly five and a half feet.
The fathom was in the process of being
standardized by common international use
at exactly six feet. Thus, one must allow
for a possible variation of six inches per
fathom when considering de Soto soundings.
In Ranjel's identification of de
Soto's landfall anchorage -- four fathoms
(22-24 feet) of water, two leagues (5.2
miles) from shore -- we have a precise
ratio. This relationship occurs in just
two places off the Florida west coast.
One is south of Sanibel Island, a natural
bulge in the coast which has been a
sailors' landmark since earliest times.
Immediately ahead is San Carlos Bay linked
to Charlotte Harbor via Pine Island Sound.
The depth-distance combination also
exists north of Tampa Bay near Anclote.
However, the entrance to Tampa Bay is too
large to be termed a "mouth" and would
have been spotted easily had de Soto
sailed past it. De Soto would not have
required the better part of 24 hours to
discover a good Tampa Bay entrance, nor
several days of careful pilotage to enter
and move forward.

Ship Drafts

Surprisingly little is known about
the drafts of 16th-century ships. Never-
theless, it is possible to make fair
assumptions from design formulas of the
period, tonnage, modern replicas, and

estimates by marine scholars. The
information is helpful in evaluating pos-
sible channels barely capable of accommo-
dating de Soto's fleet.
De Soto took eleven vessels to
Florida, two of which were naos (ships),
which were the largest of their day. The
craft was so popular that its type name
has become a generic term.
Bj6rn Landstr6m, in his authori-
tative book The Ship (1961), explains that
the traditional formula for setting a
ship's dimensions in the early 16th cen-
tury was 1:2:3. A beam of one unit
measure required a keel twice as long, and
a main deck length of three units. Size
was rated in the number of tunss" (wine
casks) of 40 cubic feet, which the vessels
could carry in their holds. Ships today
are rated in ton-weight of water dis-
Galleons also were being introduced
at this time, and Landstrom gives specific
measurements for a "large sailing galleon"
from a Venetian manuscript of 1550: beam
33 feet, keel 100 feet, length 135 1/2
feet. This gives a rough proportion of
1:3:4 a longer, slimmer vessel than the
traditional caravel and one that would
ride lower in the water for the same
amount of tonnage (Landstrom 1961:103).
De Soto is known to have had "a nsall
galleon" in his fleet.
How these measurements relate may be
deduced from modern reconstructions of
16th century ships. A three-quarter-scale
replica of Columbus' flagship Santa Maria
has been built by lower Lytle of St.
Petersburg, Florida. The vessel draws 8
1/2 feet of water. By extension, a full-
scale reconstruction would draw about 10
feet and displace 100 tons.
The galleon Golden Hind, flagship of
Sir Francis Drake on his round-the-world
voyage in 1577, also has been
reconstructed after careful study of old
records. Now berthed in San Francisco
Bay, she displaces 290 tons and draws 13
Swanton (1985:97) used contemporary
records to compile a list of ships and
their probable size for the U.S. DeSoto
Expedition Commission Report. He gives
800 tons for the San Cr istobal, La


Magdalena and Santa Anna. The latter was
in such poor condition that it was
scuttled near the landing port after
discharging its cargo (Swanton 1985:98).
[Editor's Note: Perhaps remains of this
vessel exist and their discovery and
identification could help resolve the
issue of the landing site.]
The IEglish galleon Prince Royal,
built in 1610 as a battleship, displaced
800 tons and drew a little over 14 feet.
The galleon Vasa of Sweden, built in 1637,
was 170 feet long, 39 feet abeam, dis-
placed 1,000 tons, and drew 19 feet
(Lobley 1972:49-50).
Walter Zackerchuk, marine archaeol-
ogist with the Mel Fisher Maritime Heri-
tage Society in Key West, Florida, told me
that the Spanish Galleon La Tbcha, which
sank near the Marquesas Keys in 1622,
displaced approximately 600 tons and drew
12 feet. The Basque sailing ship San
Juan, which sank in 1565 in the Belle Isle
strait of New Foundland, had an 85-foot
keel and is thought to have displaced 350
tons and to have drawn 11 feet.
From these and similar statistics
about medieval ships, I calculate that de
Soto's heaviest ships displaced about 600
tons, drawing a bit over 14 feet loaded
and 12 feet light.

Charlotte Harbor Analysis

A de Soto landing in Charlotte
Harbor fits the eye-witness chronicles
closely (Figure 5).
Ranjel's statement that the port was
due north of Tortuga Island and ten
leagues west of the Bay of Juan Ponce is
definitive. As I discussed in Boldly
Onward (Williams 1986), Ponce's Tbrtuga
was displaced westward by cartographers
after 1622 when the Marquis de Cadereita
set up camp there to salvage the treasure
ship La Tbcha. The bay associated with
Ponce was clearly identified on early
charts as the southernmost harbor known
today as San Carlos Bay. Charlotte Harbor
is due north of Marquesas Keys and ten
leagues north-northwest of San Carlos Bay.
Assuming that de Soto landed at
Charlotte Harbor, the following scenario
can be proposed:

A CIIA HLOTtE HARBOR LA\DInG or Solo is sup-
Sptrled in all respects b) the lariaus chronicles. The uni-
S ue rcluiinh ip o ", our I'r lhom o water I*o leagues
inrm sh.re" occurs in San C.rlns Bay. Solo set gul in .
mal brol bul '"di.sppeared renm sight" bi sailing
llrnugh Pine blnd Sound. In muaing to deep warlr.
t bec.,e ofr "lonlrr) ,ind." the nrtel caplann tere able
to spl Suo Ihe nel da) "hfr to Ihe Icewrd.' Coming
i up to Slo. Ihe ships .siied through pass requiring na-
t lion ships on he fihing bars. and l-o essels "'caped
S bulom" na'igating the 15-fno channel. An inilia lan-
di.n to diembar., the arm was made on the easl shore
S o Charlolte Harbor where there is a "beah nigh the boy
3 ohich runs up lto he tlon" pre-selectd for a be camp.
Solo and the ca tlry rode ahead to tr) and march around
tf he harbor, whilee General Poreallo in a small boal ap-
prouched Ihe base site on a "cape at Ihe head ao the
. ba)." The cailr) could "in no a2 g(et around" the
huge marsh 31 the east end or Ihe harbor so ebackracked
to a place "opposite Ihe tlon." Solo 2as ferried across
that nighl and the resI of the irm, Ihe neit d3). Upon
selling out for th interior, the e\pedilion marched ersI
-toard the "letlneg oun." paused a1 to Iakes to visit
Chie mlotooa. then turnedd northeast."

j ..-.- sIa -

Figure 5. Charlotte Harbor, showing proposed path of de Soto's
vessels and lines of March. (Source: Williams 1986:174).
Coming to anchor in the Sanibel
Island shallows, and not recognizing the
port, de Soto and his pilot went in a
brigantine to reconnoiter. The scouting
party disappeared from sight, as Ranjel
indicates, by sailing through San Carlos
Bay and Pine Island Sound to Charlotte
Harbor. De Soto was unable to return
because the wind was "contrary" and
therefore "spent the night on shore where
they came upon traces of many Indians and
one of the large cabins that are seen in
the Indies and other small ones. Later
they were told it was the village of
Ocita" (Bourne 1922b:52). It appears that
these structures were a seasonal fishing
camp located on an island. A likely spot
was the southern tip of Gasparilla Island
at Boca Grande Pass where the 1868
Geodetic Survey shows five prominent
mounds, since destroyed.
De Soto would have left the harbor
next day through Boca Grande (Great IMuth)
Pass where he was spotted "far to the
leeward and laboring (tacking) to come up"


(Bourne 1922b:52). The ships sailed
downwind to de Soto who stationed a
brigantine and a caravel over flying bars
to guide them in. Even so, two ships
touched sand going in and when inside
"scraped bottom, but as it was mud they
passed on" (Bourne 1922b:54). Romans'
chart of 1774 gives barely enough depth
over the outer bar for the heavy vessels,
and the channel northward shelves to 12
feet short of Live Oak Point in the Peace
River roadstead.
According to the narratives, de Soto
brought his fleet to temporary anchor near
Burnt Store on the southeast shore of
Charlotte Harbor. An over-night camp was
pitched "on the seaside nigh the bay which
goes up close to the town" (Bourne 1922b:
22). The men sleeping there were attacked
at dawn by Indians who were driven off by
reinforcements coming from the ship "as if
on dry land," that is, in shallow water.
That day the cavalry and soldiers were put
ashore to lighten the ships so "that they
should draw the less water."
De Soto sent his lieutenant-general
and some men in a brigantine to take the
main town of Ocita which likely was at
Live Oak Point, a cape of land which is
now the northern approach to the Cbllier-
Gilchrist bridges between Charlotte Harbor
City and Punta Gorda. According to local
historians, a large Indian mound existed
just east of the bridge until 1926 when it
was leveled to make building sites for
homes. residents continue to find pot
sherds and lithic tools there.
While the ships began moving up the
harbor by hauling on their anchors
(kedging), de Soto rode ahead with some of
his cavaliers to find a route around the
harbor. Unable to do so because of the
vast Shell Creek marsh, they retraced
their steps to a spot "opposite the
village on the other side of the roadstead
of the harbor" where they could be ferried
across (Bourne 1922b:55). Although the
heavy ships were unloaded, they had to
anchor four leagues short of Ocita accord-
ing to Ranjel (Bourne 1922b:54). The
moored vessels provide additional evidence
for a north Charlotte Harbor location.
Garcilaso de la Vega, who gathered
recollections of expedition survivors some
40 years later, reports that the town of

de Soto's Indian ally, obcoco, was eight
leagues or two days' walk from Ocita;
across a river half-way between; near the
Gulf where movements of ships were
observed and fish caught; and, along a
broad, straight road that led to urripara-
coxi's town 17 leagues distant (Varner and
Varner 1980:77).
A scouting party was three leagues
down the road to Mbcoco's town when an
Indian guide misled them towards the shore
marshes. The deception was discovered
when top-sails of the anchored ships were
seen through a clearing. Inasmuch as the
ships were anchored four leagues away from
Ocita, and the scouting party was headed
toward Mcoco and the Gulf coast, it
follows that Ocita was in the northeast
corner of the harbor. Of the three sites
most often suggested for de Soto's
landing, only Charlotte Harbor has a major
river, the Myakka, west of its northeast
Upon setting out for the interior,
the army marched westward (Smith 1968:232)
the first day to the Myakka River, cross-
ing it on two bridges. The next day they
turned north to reach "Lake of the
Rabbit," then "Lake St. Johns" (Bourne
1922b:63-64), perhaps Lower and Upper
Myakka Lakes. Mounds on the west shore of
Upper Myakka Lake attest to Indian
habitation some time in the past. The
Florida Military Map of 1856 (Library of
Congress 20251) reveals a chain of three
lakes linked by the Myakka after it bends
toward the northeast.
Continuing in this direction (Figure
6), the army crossed the great plain some
distance north of Charlotte Harbor in
present-day Manatee and Polk Counties,
Florida. The next obstacle was Green
Swamp, headwater of the Withlacoochee
River, and which equates to the Great
Swamp mentioned by all narrators. De Soto
had difficulty finding a passage past the
swamp, swing west and north to extricate
his men.
On this route, a prominent Indian
trail from Dade City to Gainesville, the
army would pass 17 miles east of the
Tatham Mound, a half-day hike away for
Indian warriors, where blade-cut bones and
diagnostic de Soto beads (i.e., Nueva
Cadiz) have been uncovered.


CHARLOTTE HARBOR landing of Solo was "
suggested b' T. H. Lewis in 1900 but not Iraced
out. Clues in narralives suggest a route indicated '.-
here. Base camp uould he on north shore. March
inland starts toward the setting sun. sivings nor- -
theast at M)akka Lake. then norlhoest at Green

Figure 6. De Soto's march through the Florida peninsula from his
landing site at Charlotte Harbor. (Source: Williams 1986:

Ruskin and Fbrt Myers
Landings Site Difficulties

Two other suggested de Soto landing
sites are Ruskin on the southeast shore of
Tampa Bay near the mouth of the Little
Manatee River, and Fbrt Myers near the
mouth of the Caloosahatchee River where it
empties into San Carlos Bay. Both fail to
correlate to the first-hand accounts in
several, critical respects.
Fort Myers is least likely.
Wilkinson first presented this location in
1947 in a series of articles for the now
defunct American Eagle, the official
magazine of the Koreshan Unity Society.

He relied heavily on an incident related
only by Garcilaso. The adventure involved
30 cavaliers who dashed from the winter
camp at Tallahassee to the base camp with
instructions for all those there to move
up. Wilkinson adds up remembered dis-
tances for the 11-day dash through hostile
territory, and by backtracking ends at
what is now Fbrt Myers.
The principal difficulties with this
location are its inaccessibility to large
ships and its terrain. It will be remem-
bered that de Soto's ships drew so much
water that they had to anchor four leagues
short of the base camp. Also, the terrain
there was marshy, densely thicketed, and


heavily forested.
A reliable description of the
Charlotte Harbor-San Carlos Bay complex
before extensive settlement was compiled
by Surveyor John Lee Williams. Of San
Carlos Bay, Williams writes: "The bay is
narrow, crooked and difficult to find,
frequently ran aground [in a boat drawing
six feet LW] on oyster shoals." After
transferring to "the small boat," Williams
approached the Caloosahatchee. "The mouth
of the river is chequered with mangrove
islets, and the water among them shoal
with oyster bars, but a channel winds
through of 7 feet. Above the islets the
river opens to 400 yards in width, and
from 2 to 3 fathoms deep. Shores on both
sides are a savannah covered with high
grass as far as the eye could search"
(Williams 1827).
Williams' water depths are confirmed
by Coast Guard Chart 75 of 1883, which
gives 6 1/2 feet through the Caloosa-
hatchee delta but depicts bars of 4 feet
clearance obstructing the channel.
Ruskin has other difficulties. It
is not at the end of a bay 31 miles in
length and having a narrow opening, as de
Soto wrote. Instead, it is only 15 miles
from Tampa Bay's entrance which, with its
three channels, is six miles wide. Tampa
Bay also is deep, offering none of the
navigation problems which all de Soto
narratives describe. Ruskin is not on the
shore of a roadstead, nor adjacent to some
obstruction the cavalry could not get
around unless one assumes that is was the
easily forded Little Manatee.
De Soto made an over-night
reconnaissance in a small boat to find an
entrance to the port. It is not reason-
able to assume that he then chose to kedge
along the shallow shoreline of Tampa Bay
for several days and stop half-way from
its extremity when good sailing water was
within sight.
The translation of al cabo in de
Soto's letter is a matter for debate
similar to that of Biedma's del poniente.
Smith (1968) renders the phrase "at the
end of the bay," and scholars generally
accept this meaning. However, al (the
contraction of a and el) also means on,
to, in, by for, or of, depending upon
context. The word cabo, as defined in

Cassell's Spanish Dictionary (1960:156)
has more than 50 meanings, depending upon
modifiers. When cabo is used to describe
one of the many types of "extremity" it is
accompanied by an adjective.
It is interesting to note that the
word for a cape of land is cabo standing
alone, as in de Soto's letter. Conse-
quently I render de Soto's description of
his location as "on a cape (of land) 31
miles from the harbor mouth."
Differing interpretations of
Biedma's del poniente make no difference
in eliminating Ruskin. The army would not
be able to march towards the west (toward
the setting sun) without drowning. A
march from the west (toward the east)
would fail to find a River of Mbcoco one
day away, or soon thereafter a Rabbit Lake
and a Lake St. Johns so prominently noted
in the contemporary narratives.
The Alafia River, which the Ruskin
theory relies upon for the River of
Mococo, is north of the supposed landing,
is too small to require two bridges, and
does not have two lakes nearby.
The route conditionally marked by
the Florida DeSoto Trail Committee from
Ruskin northward skirts Tampa Bay and is
but 16 miles from the Gulf of Mexico at
Dunnellon, considerably short of Biedma's
26-31 miles inland from the coast. This
route closely matches that of Narvaez whom
most scholars agree crossed the Withla-
coochee River at Dunnellon in 1527. He
might account for the Tatham mound blade
Confusion exists between the names
Baya de Esprito Santo, Tampa, San Carlos
Bay and Charlotte Harbor, and their
locations on early maps. This results
from a common, cartographical "displace-
ment" of landmarks as information is
gathered piecemeal and recorded for unex-
plored areas.
For example, Tampa originally was an
important Calusa town, according to
Escalante Fbntenada, a Spanish castaway,
who lived among those fierce natives for
17 years until rescued by Pedro Men4ndez
in 1566. John Williams in his explor-
ations of Charlotte Harbor-San Carlos Bay
mentions stopping at the fishing camp of
Jose Caldez on "ITampa Island" (Ussepa).
A chart by Jose de Evia, who explored


Florida in 1783, depicts all of the
southernmost waterway as Bahia de Carlos,
even though Romans nine years earlier had
renamed the north portion of Charlotte
When de Soto ordered the base camp
abandoned after three months, Garcilaso
recounts that much surplus material was
given to Cacique Muscozo (Mococo). The
scant de Soto artifacts found to date at
possible de Soto landing sites suggest
that left-over stuff from the base camp, a
midden, and a scuttled ship are yet to be
Selection of Ruskin as the landing
site is based partly on 1612 hearsay by
Juan RDdriquez de Cartaya, who explored
Florida's west coast and reported that
Tampa Bay Indians said de Soto disembarked
there (Swanton 1985:122).
Such statements, 73 years after the
event, must be considered cautiously.
Indians were notorious for telling
Spaniards what ever they wanted to hear.
It is possible the Indians recalled
different visitors to Tampa Bay, such as
Panfilo de Narvaez in 1528 or Pedro
Mendndez in 1566.
The Florida DeSoto Trail Committee
also relied on the presence of distinctive
Spanish glass (Nueva Cadiz) beads and two
human bones, perhaps secondarily depos-
ited, with blade cuts found in the Tatham
mound in Citrus County (Mitchem and
Hutchinson 1987). This too must be con-
sidered circumstantial. Beads were widely
traded by the Indians. Wounded warriors
who might have fought de Soto could have
been assisted over great distances by
their comrades, and other Spaniards such
as Narvaez' expedition may have inflicted
the wounds.
Nueva Cadiz beads reportedly were
found by two boys over 20 years ago in the
iPineland mounds on Pine Island in Lee
County, Florida. An authenticated sample
is on display at the Museum of the Islands
on Pine Island. The bulk of the beads are
in the hands of reliable private persons
known to me.
The Florida DeSoto Trail Committee
stresses that the blade cuts identified on
the Tatham mound burials were probably
inflicted by de Soto's swordsmen, since
Florida natives had no iron weapons.

Metal made its way into Indian hands very
quickly after Spanish contact -- through
trade, theft, battle, shipwreck salvage
and other Spanish expeditions. Neverthe-
less, I concur that the Tatham bone cuts
might have resulted from a fight with de
Soto's swordsmen. However, I cannot agree
with the Committee's conclusion that the
mount is evidence that de Soto's expedi-
tion passed closed by the Tatham mound.
Biedma asserted that the expedition
marched farther inland, and I contend that
de Soto passed 17 miles to the east of the
Tatham mound. The issue remains in

Anthropological Cbncerns

De Soto and his men "were much given
to the sport of slaying Indians" (Bourne
1922b:59) with the lance or by casting
them to the ferocious expedition dogs to
be eaten alive, says Oviedo, the notary
who took Ranjel's desposition about the
expedition. Certainly, many thousands of
natives of the southeast U.S. were killed
in battles with de Soto's army. This
would be a major disruption of societal
patterns, not to mention ravages of newly-
introduced European diseases.
The cultural patterns reported in
the narratives and other early chronicles
include royal incest, human sacrifice, sun
worship, and sophisticated ritualism.
However, physical evidence of these
practices is scarce.
The impact of horses, war dogs,
iron, fire arms, cannon, swine, trading
truck, European customs, and Christianity
undoubtedly altered the outlook and habits
of the Indians encountered.
Jeffrey P. Brain urged in his
introduction to the 1985 Smithsonian
reprint of the U.S. DeSoto Expedition
Commission Report that the landing site
question be kept open (1985:xx). Further,
in a paper published in Mississippi
Archaeology, Brain stated: "The interest
[in de Soto's route] lies in where the
events in the narratives occurred so that
we can relate the meager ethnohistorical
information contained therein to specific
archaeological sites, and to specific
contexts within those sites .... We then
can get about the job of more fully


reconstructing those contexts .... The
more secure the archaeological identifica-
tions, the more certain may be the possi-
bilities of ethnohistoric analogies with
later groups" (1984:55).
If the anthropological and archaeo-
logical questions raised by the de Soto
expedition are to be fully answered, the
quest for his landing site must be pursued


I appreciate the help of William
Marquardt and Claudine Payne, Florida
Museum of Natural History, who read
earlier drafts of this paper and offered
many helpful suggestions. This paper also
benefitted from comments made by reviewers
for The Florida Anthropologist.
I am grateful to Jeffrey P. Brain,
Curator, Peabody Museum, Harvard
University; and to Michael Hansinger,
Field Associate, Florida Museum of Natural
History, for their encouragement.

References Cited

1960 Cassell's Spanish Dictionary.
Wagnalls, New York.

Funk and

Biedma, Luys
1544 Relation of the Conquest of Florida. Court
copy report, Library of Congress, Washington,

Bourne, B3ward Gaylord
1922a Narratives of the Career of Hernando de Soto,
volume I. Allerton Book Co., New York.

1922b Narratives of the Career of Hernando de Soto,
Volume II. Allerton Book 03., New York.

Brain, Jeffrey P.
1984 The DeSoto Entrada Into the Lower Mississippi
Valley. Mississippi Archaeology 19(2):48-58.

1985 Introduction: Update of DeSoto Studies Since
the United States DeSoto Expedition Ommission
Report. In Final Report of the United States
DeSoto Expedition OComission, by John R.
Swanton, pp. xi-lxxii. Reprint of the 1939
edition. Smithsonian Institution Press,
Washington, D.C.

Bullen, Ripley P.
1969 Southern Limit of Timucuan Territory. Florida
Historical Quarterly 47(4):414-419.

Dobyns, Henry F.
1983 Their Numbers Become Thinned. University of
Tennessee Press, Knowville.

Haggard, J. Villisand
1941 Handbook for Translators of Spanish Historical
Documents. University of Texas, Austin.

Jones, B. Calvin and Charles Ewen
1987 Did DeSoto Sleep Here? We Think So. paper
presented at the 44th Annual Southeastern
Archaeological Conference, Charleston, South

Landstrim, Bjorn
1961 The Ship. Doubleday and Ob., Garden City, New

Lobley, Douglas
1972 Ships Through the Ages.

Lowery, Wodbury
1959 The Spanish Settlements Within the Present
Limits of the United States. Russell and
Russell, New York.

Marquardt, William H.
1987 The Calusa Social Formation in Protohistoric
South Florida. In Power Relations and State
Formation, edited by Thomas C. Patterson and
Christine W. Gailey, pp. 98-116. Archeology
Section, American Anthropological Association,
Washington, D.C.

1988 Politics and Production among the Calusa of
South Florida. In Hunters and Gatherers,
Volume I: History, Evolution, and Social
Change in Hunting and Gathering Societies,
edited by Tim Ingold, David Riches, and James
Woodburn, pp. 161-188. Explorations in
Anthropology, University College-London. Berg
Publishers, Ltd.

Milanich, Jerald T. and Charles H. Fairbanks
1980 Florida Archaeology. Academic Press, New York.

Mitchem, Jeffrey M. and Dale L. Hutchinson
1987 Interim Report on Archaeological Research at
the Tatham Mound, Citrus County, Florida:
Season III. Florida State Museum, Department
of Anthropology, Miscellaneous project Report
Series 30. Gainesville.

IRmans, Bernard
1962 The Natural History of Florida. Facsimile
reproduction of the 1775 edition. University
Presses of Florida, Gainesville.

Shapiro, Gary
1988 Trailing the Apalachee. Archaeology 41(2):58-

Smith, Thomas Buckingham (ed.)
1968 Narratives of DeSoto in the Cbnquest of
Florida. (Originally published in 1866.)
Palmetto Books, Gainesville, Florida.

Solis de Neras, Gonzalo
1964 Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Adelantado, Governor
and Captain-General of Florida: Memorial.
Facsimile reproduction of 1570 edition.
University Presses of Florida, Gainesville.

Swanton, John R.
1985 Final Report of the United States DeSoto
Expedition OCmmission. (Reprint of the 1939


edition.) Smithsonian Institution Press,
Washington, D.C.

United States Coast and Geodetic Survey
1868 Map of Charlotte Harbor. USC&GS chart 474.
Washington, D.C.

Varner, John G. and Jeanette J. Varner
1980 The Florida of the Inca. University of Texas
Press, Austin.

Ware, John D.
1971 Tampa Bay in 1757: Francisco Maria Celi's
Journal and Logbook, Part I. Florida
Historical Quarterly 50(2):158-179.

1972 Tampa Bay in 1757: Francisco Maria Celi's
Journal and Logbook, Part II. Florida
Historical Quarterly 50(3):262-277.

Williams, John Lee
1827 Territory of Florida. University of Florida
Press facsimile.

Williams, Lindsey W.
1986 Boldly Onward. Precision Publishing oC.,
Charlotte Harbor, Florida.

Lindsey Wilger Williams
1318 San Mateo Drive
Punta Gorda, Florida 33950



Jerald T. Milanich

We arrived at the port of Baya Honda, ... (Biedma 1922:3).
[I]t is ten leagues west of the Bay of Johan Ponce (Ranjel
From Bahia Honda to Bahla de Juan Ponce, it [the coast of
Florida] runs south-southeast (translated from Castaneda,
Cuesta, and Hernandez 1983:364).


The harbor on the Gulf coast of
Florida where Hernando de Soto and his
army landed and established their base
camp in May, 1539 remains controversial.
However, the overwhelming evidence
gathered from documents, cartography,
navigation charts, ethnohistory, and ar-
chaeology substantiates previous research
(Swanton 1939:117-138) concluding the
landing was at Tampa Bay.
Perhaps the best evidence comes from
extant accounts of the de Soto expedition
itself that state the army landed in Bahia
Honda. Pre- and post-de Soto expedition
documents and maps leave no doubt that
Bahia Honda is indeed Tampa Bay, not San
Carlos Bay or Charlotte Harbor to the
south. Let us examine the various lines
of evidence.
Luis HernAndez de Biedma (1922:3,
4), a participant in the expedition,
writes that the fleet carrying de Soto's
army landed in Bahia Honda, which REdrigo
Ranjel (1922:54) says is 10 leagues (ca.
35 miles) west (it is actually northwest)
of Bahia de Juan Ponce, thus differentiat-
ing the two bays. The Spanish knew there
were two harbors on the Gulf coast. After
landing de Soto renamed Bahia Honda, call-
ing it Bahia de Espiritu Santo (de Soto
1866:164; Elvas 1922:34; Garcilaso 1951:
59; Ranjel 1922:63).
Bahia Honda and the Bahia de Juan
Ponce were known to Spanish navigators
prior to the de Soto expedition. Both
harbors, unlabeled, are marked on the map
attributed to the Alvarez de Pineda
coastal expedition of 1519 (Weddle 1985:
101, 103-105). Most likely, Juan Ponce de
Le6n had earlier sailed into Charlotte
Harbor on his 1513 voyage and named it for

himself (Davis 1935). Names of both har-
bors appear on the 1529 Diego Ribero map
(a copy of which is in the John Carter
Brown Library, Brown University) in their
proper respective locations and both are
described in the ca. 1530 Chaves Espejo
(Castaneda, Cuesta, and HernAndez 1983:
366-367). In addition both appear in cor-
rect relative locations on the so-called
de Soto map of ca. 1544 (Harrisse 1892:
facing 644; Robertson 1933:facing 418,
426-427). There is no doubt that de Soto
and other Spaniards of that time knew of
Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor and they
knew them by the names Bahia Honda and
Bahia de Juan Ponce.
Nor was the knowledge lost. The re-
named Bahia de Espiritu Santo, along with
Bahia de Juan Ponce, appear correctly on
the late sixteenth century Geronimo de
Chaves map (published by Abraham Ortelius
in his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum in 1582).
De Soto apparently planned to land
at Bahia Honda; he had it located and
scouted by Juan de Aftasco, a trusted aide,
prior to sailing from Cuba (Elvas 1922:
20). The de Soto expedition also had the
benefit of Cabeza de Vaca's knowledge of
the route of the ill-fated 1528 P&nfilo de
NarvAez expedition, which had landed in
Florida in 1528 (Elvas 1922:5-7).
Bahia Honda was a good harbor in
which to land and anchor while the supply
fleet was unloaded. The Chaves Espejo lo-
cates Bahia Honda on the west coast of
Florida at 29 degrees of latitude (actual-
ly the mouth is at 27 1/2 degrees; this
1.5 degree error appears in early maps and
was possibly caused by faulty readings
taken by Juan Ponce de Le6n; the error was
corrected in later maps and rutters; see
Weddle 1985:41-42 for more on Juan Ponce's
faulty latitudes). The Espejo describes


Vol. 42 No. 4

Dec., 1989

1 .---- I 1 I : '* L

S., .'--- ,- %' __I
,. | .. Aguacaleyquen
>0 ~c:ant

'.. 7 Cholupaha -Maapa-,
*.... :. i _al
SU tinamocharra
/ "L P-tan-pt-" L,--.

j Itaraholata
.l Cale .

Cove of the\ *-.
Withlacoochee L '


Dade City -J- *
1 \*1

i _ver \
S ...- Moc so
Bahia Hon da cam
miles (Tampa Bay) .
0 10 20 30 40 50 a

-- ---- -- .-- L. "

S. D S p n a .

Figure i. The route from the de Soto landing site in Bahia Honda
to Aguacaleyquen. De Soto period names are in bold.


Bahia Honda as a large bay, 10 leagues
long and 5 leagues wide at the mouth.
Portions of the interior of the bay are
said to be very navigable (in terms of
depth) and safe for all ships. From the
mouth of the bay, running along the coast
to the south, are two large islands, the
islands of San Clemente, which are 4
leagues long. These are probably Anna
Maria and Longboat keys. At the northern
entrance of the harbor are three small
islands called San Gines (Castafeda,
Cuesta, and Hernandez 1983:366-367). This
description accurately fits Tampa Bay.
The small keys at the north side of the
mouth of the bay (above the main passage
just south of modern Bgmont Key?) could
today be Mullet, St. Christopher,
Hospital, Bonne Fortune and St. Jean keys.
Indeed, St. Jean could be a modern corrup-
tion of San Gines.
The Espejo describes Bahia de Juan
Ponce as lying southeast of Bahia Honda at
27 1/4 degrees of latitude. Like Bahia
Honda, the Bahia de Juan Ponce is
described reasonably accurately and is
said to be large and clear with safe
harborage inside in the northern portion.
In summary, members of the de Soto ex-
pedition observed that the army landed at
Bahia Honda, which was renamed Espiritu
Santo, and they differentiated that harbor
from Bahia de Juan Ponce. Spanish pilots
and cartographers were aware of both
harbors and their respective positions.
Tampa Bay was the more northerly bay, and
Charlotte Harbor the southerly. The de
Soto expedition landed in the northerly
bay, Bahia Honda, which can only be Tampa

Other Evidence and Opposing

Both Rolf Schell (1966) and Warren
Wilkinson (1954) have argued that de Soto
anchored in San Carlos Bay, well to the
south of Tampa Bay and even south of
Charlotte Harbor, moving the ships of the
expedition up into the mouth of the
Caloosahatchee River where the base camp
was established. Both authors trace the
expedition's land route eastward along the
Caloosahatchee to (Schell) or almost to
(Wilkinson) Lake Okeechobee and then

northward through the central highlands of
the state.
Their respective interpretations of
a southerly landing and the subsequent
route are incorrect. San Carlos Bay and
the Caloosahatchee River mouth were not
navigable for ships of any size prior to
the end of the nineteenth century when the
U.S. Army Cbrps of Engineers first under-
took dredging and clearing operations.
The initial Corps of Engineers survey of
the Caloosahatchee River was undertaken in
March and April, 1879 (Meigs 1880a) The
engineer responsible for the survey noted
that "no vessel exceeding 5 1/4 feet in
draught can pass from the mouth of the
river to Fort Myers at mean low-water.
The range of the tides, however, between
mean low-water and mean high-water being
here 2.2 feet, vessels drawing from 6 to 7
feet are enabled by taking advantage of
tides to reach Fort Myers" (Meigs 1880a:
869). The engineer's report makes refer-
ence to oyster bars in the river's mouth.
A later, more extensive Corps re-
port, accompanied by a map of the river
with soundings, also mentions the oyster
bars: "For 17 miles from its mouth the
river is broad and has a channel depth of
from 6 to 20 feet, with the character-
istics of an estuary. This portion of the
river is obstructed by oyster-bars" (Black
1889:1337). That same report details the
dredging that was done from 1882-1885 to
open a channel 7 feet deep and 100 feet
wide through the oyster bars. It is clear
from these and other Corps reports that
prior to the dredging and clearing
operations beginning in the 1880s and con-
tinuing over subsequent years, the mouth
of the Caloosahatchee River and the
adjacent portion of San Carlos Bay were
not navigable (San Carlos Bay is shown in
the map accompanying the Black [18891
report as having depths of 3.6-5.1 feet
near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee
River) .
The San Carlos Bay/Caloosahatchee
River landing and interior route also can
be discounted because of their incorrect
placements of aboriginal provinces and
groups whose true locations are known from
other sources. Both Schell and Wilkinson,
because of the length of their Florida
routes from the landing to the region of


the Apalachee Indians, are forced to space
locations of peninsular aboriginal peoples
farther apart on the route than was truly
the case. An excellent example is the
Potano Indians whose aboriginal location
is well documented by both French and non-
de Soto-related Spanish documents as
roughly modern Alachua County (e.g.,
Boniface 1971; Boyd, Smith, and Griffin
1952:7, 57-58; Chatelain 1941; L6pez 1933:
28-32; Milanich 1978:75-81; Ningler et
Confronted 1927:163, 179-81; Or6 1936:112-
114; Seaberg 1955; Swanton 1946:173-174;
Wenhold 1936;). The seventeenth century
Spanish mission of San Francisco de Potano
has also been located (northwest of
Gainesville) and a portion of the associ-
ated village excavated (Symes and Stephens
1965). In order to fit their respective
interpretations of the route to the
Florida peninsula, Schell must place the
town of Potano visited by de Soto at about
northern Orange County (1954:end map), and
Wilkinson must place it east of Lake
Harris near Eustis, Florida (1954:64).
Both locations for the Potano are well
south of the true location.
Another suggested landing site is
Charlotte Harbor (Williams 1986). But
that harbor is clearly the Bahia de Juan
Ponce, not Bahia Honda. Indeed, before
Corps of Engineers dredging in Charlotte
Harbor beginning in the late nineteenth
century, the harbor apparently was not
nearly as well-suited for large ships as
Tampa Bay. The American Coast Pilot
(Blunt 1822) indicates Charlotte Harbor
was not navigable by ships drawing more
than 8 ft of water and did not offer good
Carlos bay is a large entrance made in the
coast in which are emptied various rivers,
whose mouths are covered by many keys and
shoals, which leave between them channels
more or less wide: the northernmost is
called Friar Gaspar, and has 6 feet water;
the next, called Boca Grande, is the deep-
est, having 14 feet water. This bay is
only good for vessels of 8 feet draught,
by the little shelter which it affords in
gales in winter; and although the holding
ground is good, you are obliged to look
for the bends of the bay to shelter you
from the wind which blows. The tide rises
2 feet, and when the wind is off shore it

runs with great velocity. (Blunt 1822:
A second description comes from The West
Indian Pilot, printed in London in 1861
(Barnett 1861:468): "Charlotte harbor, on
San Carlos bay, (is) an extensive bight,
with only 8 to 12 feet water."
Just as the early Corps of Engineer
surveys and early pilots' descriptions
discount the San Carlos Bay/Caloosahatchee
River and Charlotte Harbor locales as the
landing site, so do they confirm that
Tampa Bay was navigable: "Schooners and
steamers are employed in the navigation of
Tampa Bay, the former drawing from 5 to 7
feet, and the later from 7 to 12 feet of
water. These vessels find no difficulty
at the lowest stage of the tide in the
navigation between the entrance to Tampa
Bay at Bgmont Key and buoy No. 9, which is
located about 7,300 yards nearly due south
of the pier at Tampa" (Meigs 1880b:871).
A detailed map of Tampa Bay made by the
Corps of Engineers to accompany a report
of June 30, 1897 (Benyaurd 1897), clearly
shows this channel (Southwest Channel),
which passes south of Bgmont Key and
proceeds northeast; its minimum depth is
25.5 ft. This natural channel passes by
the mouths of the Manatee and Little
Manatee rivers about 1.5 miles offshore
and is probably the channel used by de
Soto to move his ships into the bay.
The two nineteenth century guides
for pilots cited above also describe Tampa
Bay as navigable. Blunt (1822:279) says:
The entrance of Tampa Bay is obstructed by
various sand shoals, upon which are raised
some islands. Between these shoals there
are three channels to enter, called the
West, South West, and South East; the two
first have plenty of water on their bars;
on the first (at low water) there are 23
feet, and in the second 18 feet. The
channels are frank, and to take them there
is not necessity of advice, as, at high
water, the shoals shew (sic) themselves,
and at low water are dry.
The second set of sailing instruc-
tions, from The West Indian Pilot
(Barnett 1861:466), also describes Tampa
Bay as navigable:
The outer part of the estuary (Tampa Bay)
is greatly obstructed by a middle-ground


of hard sand, with depths from 8 to 12
feet, which stretches two-thirds of the
way across from the western shore.
Vessels or 18 teet draught, however, can
pass round the east and north sides, and
thence down a lane of deep water on the
west side of it, to secure anchorage in 4
or 5 fathoms within only a short distance
of Piney point.

Archaeological and Ethnohistorical

There are also ethnohistorical and
archaeological data which support Tampa
Bay as the landing site and the location
of de Soto's base camp. From the de Soto
narratives, we learn that the names of the
aboriginal groups living around the
eastern and northeastern portions of Tampa
Bay included the Uqita, Mocoso, and
Capaloey (Pohoy) Indians. Names of the
latter two groups also appear in later
French or Spanish documents (Swanton 1946:
151, 173; Ore 1936:6) and are associated
with Tampa Bay. One such document de-
scribes a 1612 Spanish expedition to Tampa
Bay ordered by the Spanish governor of
Florida, Juan Fern&ndez de Olivera.
Twenty St. Augustine soldiers were dis-
patched to subdue Indians in southern
Florida who had attacked northern (mis-
sionized?) Florida Indians. Along with a
pilot, the group traveled by boat down the
Suwannee River to the Gulf of Mexico and
then went by sea to a large bay located at
27 1/3 degrees of latitude north. The Bay
of Pooy, as it is called, is certainly
Tampa Bay and the latitude is given cor-
rectly. The document describes the harbor
as deep enough for a fleet of ships to
enter. Living in the bay were the Pooy
(Pohoy) and the Tbcopaca (Tocobaga) abor-
igines (Quinn 1976:137). The Pooy told
the Spanish that de Soto had landed there.
Pooy or Pohoy is a form of Capaloey, whose
name appears in the de Soto narratives and
who are said by Ranjel (1922:57-58) to be
enemies of the Nlcoso.
Luis Geronimo de Ore (1936:6), writ-
ing in the early seventeenth century, also
records that the de Soto expedition landed
at a place the Indians called Pohoi. It is
not certain, however, if his information
is based on the same 1612 expedition or if

he had additional knowledge. The Tbcobaga
Indians, encountered by Pedro Men6ndez de
Aviles two decades after the de Soto
expedition (Solis de MerAs 1964:223-230,
242; Zubillaga 1946:272-277, 291-297, 303-
304), were located on the north side of
the bay, probably the west side of Old
Tampa Bay. Thus, Spanish documents
associate both the Pohoy and Tocobaga with
Tampa Bay; the Spanish were also aware
that de Soto had landed in that same
Archaeological investigations in the
Tampa Bay region began more than a century
ago and have continued unabated since
(e.g., Bullen 1951, 1952; Fewkes 1924;
Griffin and Bullen 1950; Luer and Almy
1981; Mitchem 1989b; Moore 1900, 1903;
Stearns 1870, 1872; Stirling 1930, 1931;
Walker 1880; Willey 1949;). As a result,
hundreds of archaeological sites have been
located and the prehistory of the bay is
quite well understood. There is no
archaeological evidence that contradicts
descriptions of the local native peoples
contained in the de Soto narratives.
Indeed, archaeological data, especially
the distribution of early sixteenth
century Spanish artifacts and their asso-
ciations with Safety Harbor sites, offer
some of our strongest evidence that de
Soto landed in Tampa Bay among peoples who
were associated with the Safety Harbor
archaeological culture.
At the time of both the NarvAez and
de Soto expeditions the Safety Harbor
culture occupied the bay region (Bullen
1952b, 1955, 1978; Luer and Almy 1981;
Milanich and Fairbanks 1980:204-210;
Mitchem 1989b; Willey 1949:475-488).
Safety Harbor temple mounds, burial
mounds, and midden sites are centered in
Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, and
Pinellas counties; Safety Harbor sites
also are found along the coast from the
mouth of the Withlacoochee River south
almost to Charlotte Harbor, extending
inland to eastern Polk County (Mitchem
1989b). The nature and distribution of
mound centers and sites (Luer and Almy
1981) is consistent with the de Soto
descriptions of small chiefdoms living
along the shore of Bahia Honda.
De Soto landed and established his


base camp in May, 1539. The army remained
at the camp for six weeks before de Soto
headed northward. But he left a large
contingent of men at the base camp until
late fall, 1539, when they were ordered to
go north to meet him at Anhaica in
Apalachee where the army was to spend the
winter of 1539-1540. We can assume that
the presence of the Spaniards at the Bahia
Honda/Tampa Bay base camp for six months
would have left a trail of Spanish arti-
facts in the vicinity, a trail that should
be archaeologically recoverable. This is
certainly the case. In fact, within
Florida the distribution, i.e., number of
sites containing early sixteenth century
artifacts (including bells, beads, and
iron objects associated with the de Soto
expedition), is densest around Tampa Bay
within Safety Harbor sites. There are
also more sites containing such artifacts
in the greater Tampa Bay region than any-
where else in Florida.
Recently Jeffrey Mitchem and his
associates have documented and described
these artifacts and their contexts within
the Safety Harbor region (Mitchem 1989a,
1989b; Mitchem et al. 1985; Mitchem and
Weisman 1984). The distribution and number
of these artifacts leave no doubt that de
Soto landed at Tampa Bay and that his army
left behind ample archaeological evidence
of its presence. Comparable evidence is
not found anywhere else in Florida.


This paper is a revision of a report
prepared for the Florida Division of
Recreation and Parks, who provided funding
for research on the de Soto route in
Florida. My thoughts on the identifica-
tion of Bahia Honda have benefited from
conversations and information supplied by
William Burger, Charles Hudson, George
Luer, and Jeffrey Mitchem.

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Jerald T. Milanich


A half century before Sir Walter
Raleigh's ill-fated Roanoke colony was
established on the North Carolina coast,
the Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto
had organized a major overland expedition
to explore, conquer, fortify, and settle
La Florida (the Southeast United States).
De Soto landed 600 men, camp followers,
livestock, and supplies at Tampa Bay in
May, 1539. Aided at times by hundreds of
Indian bearers, the expedition traveled
northward through Georgia and South and
North Carolina before crossing the Appala-
chian Mountains into Tennessee. De Soto
and his army then turned southwesterly and
traveled through northwest Georgia and
Alabama and then across Mississippi to the
Mississippi River. They continued across
the river into Arkansas before returning
to the Mississippi which they called Rio
Grande (Great River). Finally the army
tried to traverse Texas on foot in order
to reach Spanish settlements in New Spain
(Mexico). After failing in this attempt
the army returned to the Mississippi River
a third time and made boats in which they
floated down the river and reached the
Gulf coast of Mexico (for reconstructions
of the route see Brain 1985; Curren 1986,
1987; DePratter, Hudson, and Smith 1985;
Hudson 1989; Hudson, DePratter, and Smith
1984, 1989; Swanton 1938).
This incredible journey was not an
isolated endeavor by Spain in La Florida.
It was only one of a number of such at-
tempts that occurred over the half century
from 1513 into the 1560s, beginning with
Juan Ponce de Leon's first voyage along
Florida's coasts and continuing after the
founding of St. Augustine in 1565
(Bandelier 1905; Davis 1935; DePratter,
Hudson, and Smith 1983); Lyon 1976;
Milanich and Milbrath 1989; Priestley
1928; Weddle 1985).
Spain's New World empire was fueled
by the fabulous wealth found in Meso-
america, Central America, and South
America. It was hoped that La Florida,

which had been explored along the Gulf and
Atlantic coasts by 1520, might similarly
contain wealth in its interior. Spain
also wished to explore these interior
lands in order to establish a protected
overland route from the Atlantic coast
westward to the Gulf of Mexico and on to
New Spain (Mexico). Cargo, especially
riches from New Spain, could be trans-
ported by land to the Atlantic coast and
then shipped to Spain, eliminating the
risks posed by storms that wrecked ships
along the Gulf of Mexico coast and the
Atlantic coast of Florida.

Hernando de 9Sto, (bnquistador

The most ambitious of the Spanish
attempts to explore the interior of La
Florida was led and financed by Hernando
de Soto. De Soto was born about 1500 in
Jerez de los Caballeros in the area of
Spain called Extremadura, which produced
many of the Spanish New World conquis-
tadors, including Vasco Nufiez de Balboa,
Hernando COrtes, and Francisco Pizarro.
Like many of the Spanish aristocracy, de
Soto's family had distinguished itself
fighting the Moors during the reconquista.
Military successes had embellished the
family's coat-of-arms and resulted in many
family members being knighted (for bio-
graphical information on de Soto, see
Albornoz 1986; Swanton 1938:65-74).
Little is known about de Soto's
early years in Spain and it is uncertain
exactly when he came to the New World.
The best evidence suggests that he sailed
in 1514 in the entourage of the newly
named governor of the Castilla del Oro
(modern Panama). Also accompanying the
governor was Francisco VAsquez de Coro-
nado, who later would explore the South-
west United States.
By 1520 at the age of 20, de Soto
was a captain who had already participated
in military actions against the Panamanian
Indians. As a portion of his share of
booty, he received the right to use a num-
ber of Indians as laborers, providing him


Vol. 42 No. 4

Dec., 1989


a source of revenue. His partner in many
ventures was Hernan Ponce de Leon; another
associate was Francisco Pizarro.
Throughout the 1520s, de Soto parti-
cipated in a number of military exploits
in Panama and Nicaragua, some against
rival Spaniards. By late 1531 when he
left Panama, de Soto had amassed great
wealth from slave trading and from gold
taken from the Indians. With his wealth
he was able to build ships and otherwise
expand his activities, including maintain-
ing a cadre of military aides, infantry,
and calvary.
But de Soto was to garner even
greater wealth. From 1531 through 1535 he
accompanied Pizarro and other Spaniards in
the conquest and looting of the Inca
civilization in Peru. De Soto played an
important part in the military engage-
ments, experience that would later serve
him well in La Florida. Following the
execution by the Spanish of the Inca
leader Atahualpa and the occupation of
Cuzco, de Soto helped to distribute the
stolen wealth to the conquistadors. He
departed Peru in late 1535, sailing on to
Spain in early 1536. With him were men
who would later serve him on the Florida
Back in Spain, de Soto used his
riches to hire a number of servants and
secure other trappings that befit someone
of his station. He was presented at court
and, with his entourage of military aides
who had accompanied him to Spain, must
have created quite a stir. While in Spain
he married Isabela de Bobadilla, the
daughter of the Castillo de Oro governor
with whom de Soto had first traveled to
the New World.
De Soto next attempted to persuade
the crown to grant him the right to New
World lands which he could govern (and
exploit). He asked for either lands in
Ecuador and Cblombia (north of Pizarro's
holdings), or, failing that, Guatemala.
Though, these requests were denied, he was
able to successfully negotiate an agree-
ment to conquer and govern La Florida.
The royal charter given to de Soto by
Carlos V is dated April 20, 1537 (Swanton

The Expedition into La Florida

De Soto's La Florida expedition was
well planned and supplied. According to
his contract, de Soto was to conquer,
pacify, and settle 200 leagues of La
Florida's coast (taking with him 500 men
and supplies for 18 months), and he was to
build three stone forts. In return he was
to receive titles, lands, and a share of
the colony's profits (Swanton 1938:76-79).
De Soto funded the La Florida expedition
with his own newly acquired wealth. In
addition to calvary, infantry, and offi-
cers, some of whom had previously served
with de Soto, the expedition included
people with a variety of skills, such as
tailors, shoemakers, stocking-maker,
notary, farrier, trumpeter, and servants.
Priests and at least two Spanish women
also accompanied the soldiers (Swanton
While gathering supplies in Cuba
prior to sailing for La Florida, de Soto
sent a party ahead to reconnoiter the
landing site, a large protected harbor
called Bahia Honda (Tampa Bay). It is
clear that he knew ahead of time that
Bahia Honda was the best location along
the Gulf coast for harboring and unloading
his ships. He was probably aware of
information gathered by previous Spaniards
who had visited the Florida Gulf coast,
including Alvarez de Pineda, who sailed
the entire Gulf of Mexico coast in 1519
(Weddle 1985:95-108) and PAnfilo de
NArvaez, who, with 350 men, traveled
overland from Tampa Bay to the coast south
of Tallahassee in 1528 (Bandelier 1905).
Maps and navigation information were
widely available to New World Spanish
explorers and pilots and Bahia Honda was
known to be large and navigable, ideal for
harboring large Spanish ships (e.g., see
the Chaves Espejo de Navegantes, compiled
prior to the de Soto expedition; Casta-
feda, Cuesta, and HernAndez 1983). While
in Cuba just prior to sailing for La
Florida, de Soto wrote his will, and
appointed his wife Isabela de Bobadilla
interim governor of Cuba in his absence
(de Soto 1866b).
The expedition arrived at the en-

Figure 1. The route from Bahia Honda to Aguacaleyquen.
De Soto period names are in bold.

Figure 2. The route from Aguacaleyquen to Anhaica and Georgia.
De Soto period names are in bold.


trance to Tampa Bay in late May, 1539,
anchoring near the entrance to the bay.
De Soto, his chief pilot, and Juan Anasco
(who represented the King as an auditor or
accountant but served de Soto as a captain
of calvary) boarded one of the smaller
ships, a brigantine and went ashore to
ascertain their location and probably to
reclaim the land for Spain. They would
have landed just west or southwest of
Bradenton. On shore they saw an Indian
village. Because of the winds, the small
party was stranded for the night and could
not return to the ship. The next day they
returned to the fleet and the ships began
to move into the bay along through the
channel that had been located and marked.
Once well inside the harbor the
Spaniards established a camp, and unloaded
their horses and supplies. After scouting
the surrounding territory for six weeks
and gathering information from various
aboriginal groups, de Soto, about 500 men,
and a number of captive Indian bearers
moved inland, heading northward. Some men
and supplies were left at the camp. The
expedition would cross the Alafia, Withla-
coochee, Sante Fe, Suwannee, and Aucilla
rivers before reaching the territory of
the Apalachee Indians near Tallahassee
where de Soto and his men spent the late
fall and winter of 1539-40.
Breaking camp in March, 1540, the
expedition, led by Indian guides, moved
north-north-east across Georgia into South
and then North Carolina. From North
Carolina, de Soto, his men, and Indian
bearers headed northwesterly, crossing the
Appalachian mountains into Tennessee. De
Soto knew that great wealth had been dis-
covered in mountainous regions of Peru
(among the Inca) and central Mexico (among
the Aztec). He apparently hoped to find
similar wealth in the mountainous areas of
La Florida as well.
But the Appalachian Mountains did
not offer mineral wealth, and de Soto and
his army proceeded southwesterly through
the Piedmont across the northwest corner
of Georgia and well into Alabama before
again turning northwest across Mississippi
where they again wintered. In May, 1541
they reached the Mississippi River.
The next year was spent in Arkansas,
traveling from town to town still search-

ing for wealth. Finally the army returned
to the Mississippi River where de Soto,
sick with a fever, died on June 20, 1542.
The expedition, now led by Luis de
Moscoso, then attempted to walk south-
westerly across Texas to reach New Spain
(Mexico). After traveling hundreds of
miles, Moscoco decided that the effort was
futile and the army retraced its steps to
the Mississippi River, arriving in
During the first six months of 1543,
they labored to build boats on which they
could float down the Mississippi River and
paddle along the Gulf coast to the safety
of New Spain. The expedition set out down
the river in late June, 1543, and reached
the Gulf twenty days later. On September
10, the 311 survivors reached a Spanish
settlement on the River of Panuco in New
Spain (near present-day Tampico, Mexico),
ending their incredible journey. Despite
the hardships suffered on the more than
four-year trek, a few of the survivors
would accompany Tristan de Luna y Arellano
in 1559 on his ill-fated attempt to
establish a settlement in Pensacola Bay.
Members of that colony went inland and
found Indian towns in northeastern Alabama
through which de Soto had passed nearly
two decades earlier. Other of the Indian
towns that de Soto had visited in North
Carolina were also later revisited by
another Spanish expedition, that of Juan
Pardo expedition in the late 1560s.
In terms of the contract drawn up
between the king of Spain and de Soto, the
expedition was a failure. However, de
Soto's entrada into La Florida provided
Spain with a great deal of information
about the interior of that land. De Soto
and his army were the first Europeans that
most of the aborigines they encountered
had ever seen. Unfortunately, in that
initial contact, as exciting as it may
seem to us, were the seeds of the destruc-
tion of the native cultures. Old World
diseases introduced by the de Soto expedi-
tion and by other Spaniards spread almost
unchecked through the Indian populations,
killing hundreds of thousands of people.
The rapid decimation of population led to
many changes in the social and political
organization of the aboriginal cultures.
As a result, the Indians encountered by


Spanish missionaries in the seventeenth
century and by English traders in the
eighteenth century were very different
from those present at the time of de Soto.

De Soto and the Florida Aborigines

Just as important as the expedition
was to Spain for the information it pro-
vided on La Florida is its importance for
modern scholars. In many instances the
descriptions of the Indians provided by
the expedition, however fragmentary, are
the only accounts we have about aspects of
aboriginal life prior to the changes that
took place later in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. It is important to
be able to trace de Soto's route through-
out the Southeast in order to apply that
information to specific aboriginal groups,
groups that can also be studied through
archaeology and the interpretation of
later, post-contact documents.
On their arrival at Tampa Bay, de
Soto and his men found themselves in the
territory of the Ugita Indians, who
apparently controlled the area from the
Little Manatee River south-southwesterly
to the Gulf of Mexico. Another Indian
group, the Mocoso, controlled the eastern
part of the bay to the north, encompassing
the Alafia River. Each of these groups,
as well as others in the Tampa Bay region,
was composed of several villages under the
overall leadership of one chief.
De Soto and his men set up their
camp in one of the towns controlled by
UGita. The Gentleman of Elvas (1922:23)
described the town as consisting of "seven
or eight houses, built of timber, and
covered with palm-leaves. The chief's
house stood near the beach, upon a very
high mount made by hand for defense; at
the other end of the town was a temple, on
the top of which perched a wooden fowl
with gilded eyes...."
These Tampa Bay-region Indians lived
by fishing and collecting foodstuffs from
the lands adjacent to the bay. Evidently,
farming was relatively unimportant to the
UGita and Mocoso, because it was only
after traveling several days inland that
the Spanish first encountered maize
(Indian corn) fields. Perhaps the inland
farmers maintained some military and

political hold over the coastal dwellers,
because the Ugita and Mocoso chiefs paid
tribute to a powerful chief named
Urriparacoxi who lived inland.
After leaving their Tampa Bay camp
and passing through the territory of the
Mocoso, de Soto's expedition headed for
the territory of Urriparacoxi, which was
20-30 leagues from Tampa Bay. Although it
is not certain from the narratives,
Urriparacoxi may have controlled all of
the inland area as far north as the
Withlacoochee River. The main body of the
expedition never reached Urriparacoxi's
main village which was well east of Tampa
Bay. De Soto period Spanish artifacts
have come from several sites west of
Orlando suggesting Urriparacoxi's control
may have extended as far as Orange County.
Along the entire route the treatment
of the Indians by the Spanish was, by our
standards, very cruel. Indians were en-
slaved to serve as bearers and were often
placed in chains and shackles to prevent
them from escaping. Mutilating or killing
Indians and capturing leaders as hostages
in order to command obedience were regu-
larly practiced. The Spanish conquest of
La Florida was by force, not diplomacy.
As a result, when the opportunity pre-
sented itself, the Indians retaliated with
quick, guerilla-like skirmishes.
The expedition headed northerly,
probably along a major trail that passed
by modern Dade City and Lacoochee.
Archaeological sites in that region may be
associated with the native peoples encoun-
tered by the expedition. It was near Dade
City that the first cornfields were
Continuing north, the army came to
the town of Tocaste on a large lake.
Probably Tbcaste is a village site located
near Floral City. From Tbcaste the expe-
dition continued north, trying to find a
passage across the large swamp that today
is known as the Cove of the Withlacoochee.
The Spaniards called it the River and
Swamp of Cale.
Their probable route across the
wetland was northeast from Inverness along
Turner Fish Camp road. Members of the
party who spent three days wading through
the swamp complained bitterly. Two
decades after the crossing the one Spanish


woman who survived and returned to Spain
to live still "remembers crossing that
swamp, there being much water in it, in
places reaching to the knee, in others to
the waist, and thence over the head, which
they went through with much labor..."(in
Oribe 1866:310). During the crossing the
troops were forced to eat roots and other
wild plants.
Once across the Withlachoochee River
the expedition arrived at the town of Cale
where de Soto originally intended to spend
the winter. The UGita Indians had told de
Soto about Cale's wonders. In a letter to
associates in Cuba that he wrote while at
Tampa Bay, de Soto (1866a:285) described
the town of Cale as being so large and so
extolled by the Indians that he could not
even repeat all of the things they said.
He also reported that the Indians said
there were food and gold, silver, and
pearls in great abundance. Upon arrival,
however, at least one Spaniard was little
impressed, "we found it to be a small town
.... We got some maize, beans, and little
dogs, which were no small relief to people
who came perishing with hunger" (Biedma
Cale, is probably one of two groups
of archaeological sites located in south-
westernmost Marion County near the Withla-
coochee River (the River of Cale of the
narratives). The immediate locality is
not the best region for farming (today
most of it is pasture) and de Soto found
that Cale did not contain enough stored
food to feed his army for a week much less
for the winter. Ib supply his tired and
hungry army de Soto sent men on horseback
to the province of Acuera to the east.
There maize was available. Acuera, loca-
tion of two seventeenth century Spanish
missions, was probably in southern Marion
County extending south into northern Lake
County, north of Urriparacoxi's territory.
Modern Lake Weir (that appears as Lake
Ware on an 1837 map; Williams 1837) may be
a corruption of Acuera.
The Florida Indians quickly under-
stood the Spaniard's desires for food and
wealth and often tried to steer them to
sources located elsewhere, apparently in
the hope that they would leave. At Cale,
de Soto was once again told that what he
was seeking was further north where, ac-

cording to Elvas (1922:38), there was a
"large province abounding in maize, called
Apalachee". De Soto was unsure if he
should winter in Cale or seek Apalachee.
Finally he decided to leave most of his
army at Cale and take a smaller force
northward to Apalachee.
North of Cale the expedition travel-
ed through Marion and Alachua counties.
De Soto and his smaller force moved rapid-
ly from Indian town to Indian town, taking
the aborigines' stored food for them-
selves. Narratives of the expedition com-
ment on the large quantities of corn in
the region. After leaving Cale the
Spaniards camped first at Itaraholata
(western Marion County) and then at
Potano, probably located on the west side
of northern Orange Lake. A French map of
the 1560s shows Potano on the northwest
shore of a large lake (the Laudonnibre map
of Florida in Lorant 1946). The Potano
Indians are well known from the seven-
teenth century when their territory encom-
passed nearly all of Alachua County.
Next the Spaniards reached Utinamo-
charra, Malapaz (Spanish for "Bad Peace"),
and Cholupaha, the latter near the Santa
Fe River, called the "River of Discords"
by the Spanish. Utinamocharra is probably
one of the group of archaeological village
sites near Moon Lake in western Gaines-
ville. Artifacts from near Moon Lake
suggest a Spanish mission may have been in
that locality in the seventeenth century.
The mission of San Francisco de Potano was
located several miles to the north.
Malapaz was probably located near
Alachua, where a village site and mounds
once existed. A Spanish mission might
also have been placed there in the seven-
teenth century. Cholupaha, a village with
"much food" and an "abundance of maize"
was located in northwestern Alachua County
northwest of Bland (Elvas 1922:39; Ranjel
1922:70). A number of village sites are
in that region. In the early seventeenth
century the Indian-Spanish town and mis-
sion of Santa Fe was located there. It is
likely that all of the villages north of
Cale (Itaraholata, Potano, Utinamocharra,
Malapaz, and Cholupaha) were within the
territory of the Potano Indians. The
large size of the province did not escape
the French, who sent an expedition to it


in the 1560s, or the Spanish, who sent
missionaries as early as the 1580s.
It was also among tne Potano that
the Franciscan sought to establish their
first non-coastal missions in the early
seventeenth century. Evidently, most of
those missions were placed at or very near
major villages visited more than 60 years
earlier by de Soto's expedition. The
north-south trails that connected the
Potano missions were probably the same
trails along which de Soto and his army
traveled. Those trails continued to be
used; they appear on late eighteenth
century maps and received names like Ray's
Trail in the nineteenth. Many are still
apparent (and some are paved).
Leaving Cholupaha, the Spaniards
crossed the Santa Fe River, but only with
a great deal of trouble because the river
was evidently in flood. The route taken
was most likely across the natural bridge
at modern O'Leno State Park. But because
of the high water, the natural bridge
areas was under water and the expedition
had to ford both a flooded swamp and the
main stream.
Crossing the Santa Fe at that point
would mean that the army was on the major
east-west trail later known as the Bellamy
Road. An old trail leads from the loca-
tion of Cholupaha to the natural bridge,
joining the main east-west trail.
After a day's travel the expedition
arrived at the Indian town of Aguacaley-
quen, located east of a small river or
stream (the "Stream of Aguacaleyquen")
that later was crossed. Locating Agua-
calyquen, a key point along the route, has
been quite a problem. It was assumed that
the village would be located either on
Olustee Creek (in Union County) or on New
River (Bradford County) in a region of
dense archaeological sites, reflecting the
large aboriginal population that de Soto
and his army encountered. But field
reconnaissance in both areas failed to find
such a distribution of sites.
A third alternative location for the
town of Aguacaleyquen was east of the
Ichetucknee River. But this seemed an
illogical choice because the entire river
today is only five miles along and would
not have needed to have been crossed; the
army could have simply traveled around the

river on its north end. Research, however,
indicates that at times in the past the
river's north end connected with an
extensive creek system (Rose Creek, Clay
Hole Creek, and Cannon Creek) that flowed
into the Ichetucknee River from the north
forming a long, but small stream. This
connected stream was probably the Stream
of Aguacaleyquen that was encountered by
the expedition upon leaving the village of
Aguacaleyquen). Today, with lower water
tables, the creeks connect above ground
only during flood conditions. In normal
times the creeks now empty into sinkholes
and flow underground into the Ichetucknee
The Purcell Map of 1778 (Boyd 1938)
shows a part of this connected river-creek
system and notes that a natural bridge was
present near the Ichetucknee head spring
over which the main east-west trail
crossed. When flooded, as when de Soto
passed, that bridge must have inundated,
requiring the Spanish to cross the stream.
A larger village site does exist on
the east side of the Ichetucknee River.
In the early 1600s a Spanish priest esta-
blished the mission of San Martin at the
village, noting it was the major village
of the head chief of the Utina. It also
was the head chief of the Utina (Agua-
caleyquen) that de Soto had met, most
likely at the same location. Again, as in
Potano, a major Indian village visited by
the Spaniards was the location of a later
Spanish mission.
While at Aguacaleyquen, de Soto sent
messengers to his men at Cale to tell them
to join him. De Soto found himself in a
populous region inhabited by a well organ-
ized people who posed a military threat.
These people were the ancestors of the
Utina Indians (a Timucuan group) who lived
in Columbia and Suwannee counties in the
1560s and were said to have 40 towns
united under their head chief. From the
time the expedition reached Aquacaleyquen
until they crossed the Suwannee River
(River of Deer) they were in the territory
of these Indians, who harassed the
Spanish whenever possible.
The route of the expedition after
Aquacaleyquen is uncertain. Did the army
continue westward along the main trail
(later the Bellamy laad), or did they con-


tinue northward toward Lake City? Argu-
ments can be made for both routes. Based
on archaeology, it is known that the
largest number of prehistoric villages are
located along the northern route, between
Lake City and Live Oak. If that is the
correct route, the village of Uriutina
(probably the village of the Utina war-
chief) would be somewhere west of Lake
City, possibly at a recently discovered
site south of 1-10 and west of 1-75.
Artifacts suggest the site was occupied
from late prehistoric times into the
seventeenth century and was probably the
location of a mission, perhaps the mission
of San Augustin de Urica established by
the mid-1600s. Urica and Uriutina might
both refer to the "place of the Utina
The village named Many Waters by the
Spanish because of very wet conditions and
rain that forced the expedition to halt
(the same flooded conditions they encoun-
tered earlier at the Santa Fe and Iche-
tucknee rivers) may have been located near
U.S. 90 south of Peacock Lake. The next
Utina village was Napituca, perhaps
located near Blue Lake south of Live Oak.
If the southern route along the
east-west trail (later the main mission
trail out of St. Augustine) is the correct
route, we might guess that the village of
Uriutina was at or near the location of
the later mission of Santa Cruz de
Tarihica, near O'Brien, Florida (but
unlocated). Many Waters would be near the
Suwannee River in southern Suwannee
County, and Napituca would be at or near
the Baptizing Spring site east of
After leaving Napituca the
expedition came to the River of Deer, the
Suwannee. The river was the largest the
Spanish encountered in Florida. If the
expedition were on the northern route, the
crossing could be at either Dowling Park
or Charles Spring. The southern route
would have brought the army to Charles
Spring along the east-west main trail.
After crossing the Suwannee River
the expedition entered the territory of
another Timucuan group the Uzachile (prob-
ably the same people called Yustega by the
Apalachee). The major Uzachile village

was probably not far from Lake Sampala,
site of the seventeenth century mission of
San Pedro y San Pablo de Potohiriba (Lake
Sampala is a corruption of the mission's
name). Along this part of the route the
expedition continued to travel on the main
trail, either following it from Charles
Spring or intersecting it west of Dowling
Continuing westward, the expedition
reached the Aucilla River, the boundary
between the Ucachile and the Apalachee
Indians, the latter the largest and most
politically complex group in Florida. The
Indian town of Asile visited by de Soto is
near the U.S. 27 river crossing, close to
the seventeenth century mission of San
Miguel de Asile in westernmost Madison
County. The River of Asile of de Soto's
time is our modern Aucilla River.
Upon entering Apalachee territory,
the expedition arrived at the town of
Ivitachuco, a major town. That village
must be near the later mission of San
Lorenzo de Ivitachuco located near Capps.
The next Apalachee town, Calahuchi would
have been near the St. Marks River. De
Soto and his men, were then guided farther
west to the capital of Apalachee, the town
of Anhaica, now known to be the recently
discovered Governor Martin site in down-
town Tallahassee (Ewen 1989). Anhaica,
like Ivitachuco and Calahuchi, were loca-
ted on the main trail. East of the
Aucilla River through Jefferson and Leon
counties modern U.S. 27 closely follows
this trail.
At Anhaica de Soto decided to spend
the winter of 1539-40. He set up his camp
and sent word back to Tampa Bay for the
men and supplies he had left there to join
him. Supplies were sent from Tampa Bay to
the coast near Tallahassee by ship, while
some of the men left there retraced the
land route north to Anaica.
The journey to Apalachee that had
taken less than three months and covered
about 300 miles was only the start of de
Soto's odyssey through the Southeast. But
it marked the beginning of the end for the
aboriginal peoples who had inhabited the
region for 14,000 years. Epidemics first
brought by the Europeans in the sixteenth
century continued for 200 years. By the

early 1700s the aboriginal peoples had
disappeared. Florida was changed forever.

Tracing de Soto's lbute through Florida

How do we know about the expedition
of Hernando de Soto and how can we be cer-
tain of his route through Florida? How do
we know, for instance, that the expedition
landed at Tampa Bay and not the Caloosa-
hatchee River or Charlotte Harbor as some
scholars have claimed (Schell 1966;
Wilkinson 1954; Williams 1986)? The an-
swers are provided by several disciplines
applied in an interdisciplinary approach
to the problem, including documentary/
historical research, cartographic/geo-
graphical interpretations, and archaeo-
logical investigations.
Documentary sources include three
firsthand narratives of the expedition
written by participants and a fragment of
a fourth narrative that was recently dis-
covered by noted historian Eugene Lyon.
The first of these narratives was written
by a Portuguese knight from the town of
Elvas. His account. published in Portu-
guese in 1557, was made available in
English in 1866 and was reprinted and more
widely circulated in the twentieth century
(Elvas 1922; Robertson 1933). A shorter
firsthand narrative is that of Luis
HernAndez de Biedma, the Spanish Crown's
representative on the expedition. Like
the Elvas narrative, it was published in
English in 1866 and reprinted in 1922.
The third firsthand narrative was
written by de Soto's personal secretary on
the expedition, RDdrigo Ranjel. It is the
most complete of the three narratives and
contains almost daily entries, especially
for the Florida portion of the route. The
original manuscript has been lost, but it
was copied by the noted Spanish historian
Gonzalo FernAndez de Oviedo y Valdez and
put in his five volume Historia General y
Natural de las Indies written in the six-
teenth century and published in 1851. The
Ranjel narrative was first published in
English in 1904. It was reprinted again
in 1922 with the Elvas and Biedma narra-
tives (Ranjel 1922). Additional transla-
tions of all three of the narratives now

exist and the interested scholar should
consult all of them.
The fourth, most recently discovered
firsthand narrative was penned by Father
Sebastian de Cafete, a priest who accom-
panied the expedition. His account, by
far the richest of the four, contains ex-
cellent descriptions of the Indian chief-
dom of Cofitachequi located in South
Carolina, but is of no use for interpret-
ing the Florida route (Lyon 1982).
A fifth account of the expedition
that has been widely circulated was writ-
ten by Garcilaso de la Vega (nicknamed
"the Inca") several decades after the
fact. Garcilaso was not a participant,
but based his narrative on interviews with
survivors. About one quarter of the manu-
script was apparently completed by 1587,
but it was not until 1599 that it was
finished. By that time, fifty years after
the initial landing, memories had failed
and stories had become exaggerated.
Published in Spanish in 1605 and in
English in 1951 (and reprinted several
times), Garcilaso's version of the events
is often more literature than history
(Garcilaso 1951; Henige 1986). Unfortu-
nately, because many people have easy
access to the book, they use it as their
sole documentary source in trying to re-
construct the route, resulting in erro-
neous interpretations. It should be used
only in conjunction with the firsthand
Other documents and letters exist in
Spanish archives and help to shed light on
the route and the nature of the expedi-
tion. Some of these have been published
in English, while others remain unpu-
blished. They include: (1) the charter
(asiento) given to de Soto by the crown
(Swanton 1938:76-79); (2) a letter written
by de Soto on July 9, 1539, at Tampa Bay
(Bahia Honda) and sent to the King of
Spain; (3) the Memorial of Alonso Vasquez,
a survivor of the expedition who peti-
tioned the crown for land in La Florida as
compensation for his hardships (one of the
Spanish women on the expedition, Ana
Mendez, provided testimony in his behalf;
Oribe 1866); (4) a 3720-page Justicia or
legal document from 1540-1545 containing a
lawsuit filed by de Soto's widow, Isabela


de Bobadilla, against de Soto's former
business partner in Nicaragua and Peru;
(5) documents relating to the legal con-
troversies among de Soto's heirs and
Francisco VAsquez de Coronado, HernAn
Cort6s, and the Viceroy of Mexico (one can
imagine the red tape that overlapping land
claims by the various New Wbrld conquis-
tadors must have generated); and, (6) de
Soto's residencia or hearing carried out
posthumously (in 1554) to determine if he
had discharged the responsibilities out-
lined in his royal charter (see Robertson
1933:397-428, for a discussion of these
and other sources and documents).
Still other pre- and post-de Soto
entrada documents are available and pro-
vide evidence on the landing. For in-
stance, the pre-de Soto Chaves Espejo
describes Bahia aHnda on the Gulf coast
and leaves little doubt that it is Tampa
Bay (Castafeda, Cuesta, and HernAndez
1983). Likewise a post-de Soto, 1612
Spanish account of a military expedition
to Tampa Bay names one of the same Indian
groups mentioned in Ranjel's narrative,
another piece of evidence that de Soto
landed there (Quinn 1976:137). Documents
recounting the explorations by the French
and the Spanish in northern Florida in the
1560s and documents from the period of the
Spanish missions also provide excellent
clues to location of Indian villages
mentioned in the de Soto narratives.
Unlike Georgia, the Carolinas, and other
more northerly parts of de Soto's route,
in Florida, because of the Spanish
presence at St. Augustine and the
missions, we have almost a continuous
documentary record from 1539 into the
eighteenth century.
These historical materials, especi-
ally the narratives of the Gentleman of
Elvas, Biedma, and Ranjel, give us de-
scriptions of geographical features along
the route which we must then locate on
modern maps. For instance, if the ac-
counts say the expedition stopped at an
Indian village by a lake, then crossed a
very large swamp, bridged a swift river
and came to another Indian village, we
must locate the lake, swamp, and river.
Florida has many lakes and swamps,
although not so many rivers. Conse-

quently, there may be several locations
which satisfy the combination of geograph-
ical features (lake, swamp, river). But,
when the entire de Soto route is con-
sidered, not just one portion, the alter-
natives often drop to one, the correct
solution. In this fashion the entire
puzzle can be fitted together.
Some named locations can be correl-
ated with modern placenames (e.g., Asile
and Aucilla River) and still other can be
tied to mission locations (e.g., Ivita-
chuco and San Lorenzo de Ivitachuco). We
can use these other sources to help
pinpoint locations along the route.
Another line of evidence used in
tracing the route is the use of old maps
that show trails and paths that existed
prior to modern roads. From the narra-
tives themselves it is certain that de
Soto and his army usually traveled along
Indian trails. Many of those same trails
continued to be used into the 1830s and
the Second Seminole War, when the first
accurate maps of much of interior Florida
were compiled (and many of these same
trails have become our modern highways and
railroad beds). By using early maps in
conjunction with modern maps and aerial
photographs on which old trails sometimes
can be seen, we can locate those trails
along which de Soto's army might have
traveled, looking, for example, for a
trail that goes by a lake and then crosses
a swamp and river. Field surveys are used
to locate the trails on the ground.
Still another clue is the river
crossings mentioned in the narratives.
Because Florida has relatively few rivers
that the Spanish needed to bridge the
sequence of river crossings is reasonably
easy to work out. The Withlacoochee,
Santa Fe, Suwannee, and Aucilla rivers can
all be distinguished and others, such as
the Alafia, Ichetucknee-Rose Creek, and
St. Marks can be located in between.
Using these documentary and carto-
graphic sources of information we gener-
ated a hypothesized reconstruction of the
route. The problem then became proving
that our reconstruction was the correct
one. The best proof would seem to be
physical evidence that could be gathered
through archaeological investigations. If


our interpretation of the lake, swamp,
river, and trail was correct, then we
should be able to find the archaeological
sites corresponding to the Indian villages
mentioned in the narratives. The correct
sites will have been occupied into the
early sixteenth century and they should
contain at least some artifacts that could
have been left by the de Soto expedition,
things such as the European glass beads
mentioned in the narratives (e.g., Brain
1975; Deagan 1987; Fairbanks 1968; Mitchem
1989a, 1989b; Smith 1987; Smith and G(od
Fortunately, the Florida Division of
Historical Resources maintains a file of
all known archaeological sites in the
state. And archaeological research in
Florida has been ongoing since the nine-
teeth century and much information has
been gathered and is available in
published sources, museum collections, and
archives. The use of the site files and
the reports from earlier archaeological
investigations were used to help locate
known sites that fulfilled the descrip-
tions and locations of the narratives and
the reconstructed route. For instance,
the site files provided us with informa-
tion on a site located on Lake Tsala-
Apopka in Citrus County. Indian pottery
recovered from the site is of a type that
was still being made in the sixteenth cen-
tury. Also, a Spanish metal ax was found
there. The site's location is quite near
our predicted location of the Indian town
of Tbcaste visited by the de Soto expedi-
tion on July 24, 1539, and said to have
been on a large lake.
Our predicted location for de Soto's
Tampa Bay camp is at the mouth of the
Little Manatee River near Ruskin. The
narratives tell us that the camp was esta-
blished at an Indian village with a large
mound. At the turn of the century an
archaeologist investigated a site, the
Thomas Mound and village site, on the
Little Manatee River. The report of those
excavations describe a mound as well as
Spanish artifacts. Surveys and archival
work have revealed that extensive village
midden deposits, as well as other mounds,
were distributed along the Little Manatee
(Bullen 1952; Moore 1900:358-359). Their

presence lends a great deal of support to
our selection of that location as de
Soto's campsite.
A third way to find predicted sites
is to look for them. We have expended a
great deal of effort looking for villages
that are predicted by our reconstruction
of the route (nearly 800 sites have been
surveyed; only a small portion are related
to de Soto, however). One example is the
town of Cale which de Soto arrived at on
July 28, 1539, after crossing a large
swamp and then the River of Cale. Archae-
ological survey has located two groups of
sites east of the Cove of the Withla-
coochee wetlands area and close to the
Withlacoochee River, thus fulfilling the
geographical conditions present in the
narratives. Either may be Cale, although
Spanish artifacts have not yet been found
at either site (although they have come
from sites on the opposite side of the
Because Florida has a long history
of Spanish exploration and settlement
(from 1513 into the nineteenth century),
the finding of Spanish artifacts alone is
not good evidence for the presence of de
Soto. We must be able to show that the
artifacts date from the 1530s or earlier
and are not items salvaged from Spanish
ships or given out by seventeenth century
Spanish missionaries. Using information
gathered from elsewhere in the Southeast
and from Spanish museums and other
sources, we now have a list of early six-
teenth century Spanish artifacts that we
feel strongly are items brought by de
Soto. It is when these artifacts are
found in archaeological sites that are on
or near our predicted village locations
that we have the best evidence for de
Soto's route. And in Florida, such arti-
facts have been found around Tampa Bay and
at several sites along the route. Some of
the beads and other materials are exactly
the same as those found at de Soto contact
sites elsewhere in the Southeast.
Recent archaeological investigation
of an aborginal mound in Citrus County has
found quantities of such artifacts, more
than have been found anywhere else along
de Soto's route (Mitchem 1989b) In
addition to Spanish artifacts of the right


time period, a mass burial of more than 70
people was found in the mound, possibly
the victims of a Spanish-introduced epi-
demic. Some of the bones exhibit sword
wounds. Such evidence offers dramatic
proof of de Soto's expedition.
Quantities of similar Spanish arti-
facts have come from a second site in
Citrus County, one located directly on the
route, and a third site west of the route
in Hernando County. The more field re-
search that is being done, the more sites
and Spanish artifacts are being found
(Mitchem 1989b; Mitchem et al. 1985;
Mitchem and Weisman 1984). Remarkably,
not all discoveries are a result of recent
research; probable de Soto-related arti-
facts excavated from Urriparacoxi's terri-
tory in central Florida were located using
clues published in 1897. Many discoveries
are still to be made in libraries.
A spectacular archaeological discov-
ery occurred in early 1987 when B. Calvin
Jones of the Florida Department of State,
Division of Historical Resources located
the Indian village of Anaica where the de
Soto expedition spent the winter of 1539-
40. Anaica, the major town of the Apala-
chee Indians, is in downtown Tallahassee
quite near the trail we predict de Soto's
men followed. Excavation of the site un-
der the direction of Jones and Charles
Ewen has thus far revealed beads, broken
pottery, coins, and hundreds of pieces of
chain mail, all lost or discarded by the
expedition members.
The research in Citrus County and at
the Governor Martin site in Tallahassee,
as well as other work being done elsewhere
in the Southeast, demonstrate that it is
indeed possible to use archaeology to
trace the route of the Hernando de Soto
expedition 450 years after those Spanish
explorers first traveled through Florida.
Archaeological investigations of the expe-
dition and the aboriginal peoples it en-
countered are continuing in Florida as
well as in other southern states. There
is still much to learn about our past.


Portions of this article were originally
prepared for the Florida Endowment for the

Humanities. Much of my research on the
Hernando de Soto expedition has been con-
ducted jointly with Charles Hudson of the
University of Georgia and this article
should be considered as much his work as
mine. A detailed monograph-length account
of the expedition's route in Florida
entitled "Hernando de Soto and the Florida
Indians" has been prepared by Hudson and
myself. Hudson has also published on the
route and impact of the de Soto expedition
elsewhere in the Southeast. Some of those
articles are cited in this paper.
John Hann, historian with the
Florida Division of Historical Resources,
Bureau of Archaeological Research, and
Charles Ewen, former bureau archaeologist,
have provided interpretations of pertinent
Spanish documents and information from the
Governor Martin archaeological site. Their
data have been very important. I am en-
debted to Kenneth Johnson, Jeffrey
Mitchem, and Claudine Payne, all graduate
students at the University of Florida,
whose own work has contributed to this
research project. William Brad Burger has
also worked on the project, carrying out
research in the Tampa Bay region, as has
Frank Keel of Florida State University.
Our collective de Soto research has
been funded in large part by a contract
extended to the Center for Early Contact
Period Studies at the University of
Florida by the Florida Department of
Natural Resources, Division of Recreation
and Parks. All of us are extremely grate-
ful to Michael Gannon, Center Director,
and to Ney Landrum, former Division
Director, for their interest and support.

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the Interior Southeast: Depopulation during
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Smith, Marvin T., and Mary Elizabeth Good
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Spanish Colonial Trade. Cottonlandia Museum,
Greenwood, Mississippi.

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Expedition commission. United States House of
Representatives Document 71, 76th Congress,
1st Session. Washington D.C.

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American Discovery, 1500-1685. Texas A&M
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Commission's Report and other de Soto Papers.
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Jerald T. Milanich
Department of Anthropology
Florida Museum of Natural History
Gainesville, Florida 32611



Jeffrey M. Mitchem
Department of Geography and Anthropology
Louisiana State University


This paper has two primary purposes.
The first is to describe and illustrate
the artifactual evidence of early six-
teenth century Spanish/Indian contact from
three sites on the Gulf Coastal Plain of
peninsular Florida. The sites are aborig-
inal burial mounds which have yielded a
remarkably large number of Spanish arti-
facts dating to this time period.
The second objective is to demon-
strate the importance of careful scien-
tific archaeological research, and to
illustrate the types of information and
insight into past human behavior that can
be recovered from such research. The
three sites under consideration are
especially appropriate examples, because
they are all burial mounds constructed by
American Indians during the same time
period (ca. A.D. 1500-1560) in west
peninsular Florida. Artifacts and human
skeletal remains were removed from the
mounds by various individuals using very
different methods, and the goals and
methods of those individuals affected the
types of information we have available
My interest in this story developed
over the past several years, while inten-
sively studying the aboriginal inhabitants
of west peninsular Florida, especially the
groups encountered by the first European
explorers. These American Indians, called
the Safety Harbor Culture by archae-
ologists, occupied the Gulf Coastal Plain
from the Withlacoochee River on the north
to as far south as Charlotte Harbor
(Figure 1) during the period of about A.D.
900-1650 (Mitchem 1989:553-567). As part
of my work on this culture, I was fortun-
ate to be able to study the collections of
artifacts from the Ruth Smith and Weeki
Wachee Mounds, and to direct three field
seasons of excavations at the Tatham
Mound. The results of this research are
reported here in condensed form.

Each site will be discussed separ-
ately below, followed by my interpreta-
tions of the available data. However, it
is first necessary to put the sites in
proper cultural perspective with a brief
discussion of the Safety Harbor Culture
and its characteristics.

The Safety Harbor Culture

The Safety Harbor archaeological
culture was first defined by Gordon R.
Willey (1948, 1949:475-488), though it had
been identified as a separate archae-
ological entity with distinctive artifact
types several decades earlier (Stirling
1935:378-383, 1936:353). Willey also
delineated a separate, slightly earlier
period, which he named the Eg lewood
Period (Willey 1949:470-475). This is now
considered a part (phase) of the Safety
Harbor Culture (Luer and Almy 1987:Figure
5; Mitchem 1989:557-561; Mitchem and
Hutchinson 1987:10). The name Safety
Harbor comes from a well-known site (8Pi2)
in the town of Safety Harbor on Old Tampa
Bay which was used as the type site for
describing "typical" sites of the culture
(Griffin and Bullen 1950; Willey 1949:135-
The great majority of Safety Harbor
sites that have been excavated have been
mounds (Milanich and Fairbanks 1980:205),
either burial mounds or large flat-topped
mounds used as platforms upon which
chiefs' houses, charnel structures, or
other public buildings were built (Luer
and Almy 1981). Therefore, our knowledge
about their culture is biased toward their
burial customs and the artifacts included
in mounds. While this has allowed
archaeologists to make inferences about
their social structure and religious/
ceremonial practices, we know compara-
tively little about their day-to-day
activities, houses, settlement patterns,
and general way of life (Bullen 1978;
Milanich and Fairbanks 1980:204-210;


Vol. 42 No. 4

Dec., 1989


kilometers L f
o woo

Figure 1. Approximate extent of the Safety Harbor Culture area.


Figure 2. Locations of the Ruth Smith, Weeki Wachee, and 'Ttham Mbunds.


Mitchem 1989:583-588).
Willey's (1949:476-477) original
definition and the excavations at the type
site (Griffin and Bullen 1950) indicated
that groups of the Safety Harbor Culture
settled most often on the Gulf Cbast,
subsisting on marine foods, and typically
living in settlements which included a
nearby burial mound and a larger platform
mound, with midden (village) areas located
between the mounds. Subsequent research
has indicated that Safety Harbor groups
also lived in inland areas, and that
settlements, especially in the northern
part of the region, were much more
dispersed, with burial mounds often
located far from any habitation areas
(Mitchem 1988, 1989:590).
The main class of artifact used to
identify archaeological sites of the
Safety Harbor Culture is pottery, especi-
ally decorated varieties. For everyday
cooking, storage, and other utilitarian
uses, simple undecorated vessels were used
most often. By themselves, these vessels
or sherds are usually not indicative of
the Safety Harbor Culture. While many of
these plain vessels show up in burial con-
texts, the mounds often contain a number
of well-made vessels with distinctive in-
cised and punctated designs. The majority
of these appear to have been made especi-
ally for inclusion with the dead, and
almost all of them were broken or had a
hole knocked out of the bottom before
being placed in the mound. In many cases,
the vessels actually were made with a hole
in the bottom, leaving no doubt that they
were intended solely for display and
burial. This practice continued a trend
begun by people of the preceding Weeden
Island Culture (Cordell 1984:146-151;
Milanich et al. 1984:125-132; Sears 1973).
The various designs and vessel forms
typical of the Safety Harbor Culture were
described formally as ceramic types by
Willey (1949:472-475, 479-486). His
typology is still used, with some modifi-
cations based on more recent work (Mitchem
1989:3-6; Mitchem et al. 1985:187-190;
Sears 1967:31-43).
In addition to the pottery, other
artifact types are often present on Safety
Harbor sites, including small triangular
chert projectile points (apparently used

as arrow tips and drills), shell beads,
cups made from whelk (Busycon sp.) shells,
ground stone celts (axes), red ochre (in
burial contexts) stone plummets, and
various implements of stone and shell
(Willey 1949:486-487). Also present on
some of the later sites are European
articles, especially beads of glass,
metal, and amber, iron tools, Spanish
ceramics, coins, religious objects,
weapons, armor, and even objects of silver
or gold. Many of these artifacts (most of
the silver and gold articles in parti-
cular) could have come from salvage and
subsequent trading of materials from ship-
wrecks along the Gulf Coast, but the
majority probably came from Spanish
explorers who visited or passed through
the west peninsular Gulf Coast area in the
sixteenth century (Bullen 1978; Swanton
For the purposes of the present
discussion, two Spanish exploratory expe-
ditions are most important. These are
those of PAnfilo de NarvAez in 1528 and
Hernando de Soto in 1539. Both of these
expeditions (or entradas) landed near
Tampa Bay and headed north through the
western part of Florida (Milanich 1987:3;
Nfflez Cabeza de Vaca 1983:30-31; Swanton
1985:113, 117-138). They are the most
likely sources for the Spanish artifacts
recovered from the mounds described below.

The Ruth Smith MDund (8Ci200)

The Ruth Smith Mound is located in
eastern Citrus County, approximately 1.2
km southwest of the Withlacoochee River
(Figure 2). It is apparently an isolated
burial mound, with no associated village
area. The site is named after the owner
of the land where it is located. It was
discovered in 1955 by two of Mrs. Smith's
sons while searching for cattle in the
dense live oak and palmetto scrub which
then covered the area. Beginning in the
late 1950s, many local residents and arti-
fact collectors from as far away as St.
Petersburg began digging in the mound.
None of these excavators kept notes
or maps recording artifact associations,
and several of them dug there without
permission of the landowners. They recov-
ered human skeletal remains, aboriginal


artifacts, and Spanish artifacts of glass,
metal, and pottery. In the late 1970s,
the mound was leveled while clearing the
area for pasture with a bulldozer. This
apparently ended digging at the site until
1984, when Florida State Museum archae-
ologists supervised the excavation of sev-
eral test units to determine whether any
undisturbed burials or mound features were
present (Mitchem and Weisman 1984). These
excavations indicated that the mound had
been destroyed completely.
While doing background research on
the mound, we contacted several of the
people who had participated in the uncon-
trolled digging and who had collections of
artifacts from the mound. Though no sys-
tematic records were kept, some of these
collectors said that the mound was com-
posed of white sand, and was originally
about 10-15 m in diameter, with a height
of about 1.5-2.0 m. On the west side,
there was a depression, probably a borrow
pit from which sand was taken to build the
mound. Several of these individuals
loaned their collections to the Florida
State Museum for study, and the results of
this study were published in 1985 (Mitchem
et al. 1985). The descriptions below are a
condensed version of that earlier report,
with an emphasis on the European arti-

Human Skeletal Remains

No complete human bones from the
Ruth Smith Mound were studied. The 1984
excavations yielded small bone fragments
and teeth, but no skeletal remains were
present in any of the collections exam-
ined. Some of the collectors mentioned
that two kinds of burials were present:
well-preserved skeletons in a tightly
flexed position (in which the arms and
legs were drawn up to the chest), and dis-
articulated burials which had been in-
terred after the flesh had decomposed
(consisting of jumbled bones, possibly
tied in bundles). Unfortunately, we have
no idea how many individuals were buried
in the mound, or how many different epi-
sodes of burial were represented.

Aboriginal Artifacts

There was a total of 863 aboriginal

pottery sherds in the private collections
and the material excavated in 1984. The
types present clearly indicate a Safety
Harbor occupation, with some evidence of
interaction with contemporaneous Alachua
Tradition peoples from north and east of
the Withlacoochee River (Milanich 1971;
Mitchem et al. 1985:196-199).
Between 80 and 90 shell beads were
recovered from the mound, along with a few
shell fragments, probably pieces of shell
cups. A total of 19 small triangular
arrow points (known as Pinellas points)
were in the collections, 10 of which were
found within an area three meters in
diameter (Mitchem and Weisman 1984:107).
Other items in the collections included
shark teeth, chert flakes, a polished
stone bead, and a steatite bead (Mitchem
et al. 1985:Table 6). Two ground and
polished celts of non-Florida stone were
reported to have come from the site,
though they could not be located (Albert
C. Goodyear, personal communication 1984).

European Artifacts

The European artifacts from the Ruth
Smith Mund include 32 glass beads, beads
of silver, gold, and iron, a large iron
chisel, interlocking brass rings, and a
sherd of green lead-glazed coarse earthen-
ware (Green Bacin). All of these arti-
facts were brought to the New World by the
Spaniards, though the silver and gold
objects were apparently reworked by the
aborigines into their present forms.
For purposes of dating the Spanish
contact, the glass beads are of greatest
importance. Archaeological excavations and
studies of artifact collections from sites
in the Caribbean and South America in the
last few decades have resulted in the dis-
covery that certain types of glass beads
were brought to the New World only during
specific time periods. One site which has
proven especially useful is Nueva Cadiz,
Venezuela, which was founded in 1515 and
destroyed by a hurricane or an earthquake
in 1545 (Deagan 1987:9; Goggin 1968:42;
Willis 1976:11, 1980:31).
A distinctive type of glass bead was
recovered from the site, square in cross
section, and often composed of three
layers of glass. These beads are now
called Nueva Cadiz beads, and are further


subdivided into Nueva Cadiz Plain and
Nueva Cadiz Twisted varieties. In the New
World, they are found only on sites dating
before 1550 (Deagan 1987:163; Smith and
Good 1982:11).
Based on the sequence of color
layers and the manufacturing technique, a
typology has been developed by Marvin
Smith and Mary Elizabeth Good (1982) for
the early sixteenth century glass beads
traded by Spanish explorers and settlers.
This classification system includes many
varieties of Nueva Cadiz Plain and
Twisted, faceted chevron or "star" beads,
and various other styles from this time
period. It has proven to be a very useful
tool for archaeologists, because we can
now begin to trace the general routes of
the different expeditions by studying the
specific varieties of beads they left
along the way.
From the Ruth Smith Mound, 21 Nueva
Cadiz Plain beads of three varieties were
noted in the collections. Ten of the
remaining glass beads were faceted chevron
beads, of two different varieties. The
other bead in the collections was a unique
small faceted seed bead of medium trans-
parent blue glass. These are listed in
Table 1, along with descriptions based on
the Smith and Good (1982) typology.
Several of the glass beads are shown in
Figure 3.
The non-glass European artifacts
from the Ruth Smith Mound are listed in
Table 2.


The European artifacts from the Ruth
Smith Mound indicate an early sixteenth
century date (A.D. 1525-1550) for Spanish/
Indian contact. We can base this date on
the presence of the Nueva Cadiz and
faceted chevron beads, both of which are
found in sixteenth century contexts in New
World sites (Deagan 1987:162-167; Smith
1987:31; Smith and Good 1982). The Nueva
Cadiz beads are good early sixteenth cen-
tury time markers, while chevrons are
sometimes found in later sixteenth century
contexts (Deagan 1987:165).
The sherd of Green Bacin pottery had
been worked into a disc, which then had a
hole drilled through its center, apparent-

ly to make it a bead (Figure 4). In the
New World, this type of pottery has been
recovered solely from sites dating to the
sixteenth century (Deagan 1987:49).
Smith (1987:36) suggested that iron
chisels or celts like the one from Ruth
Smith (Figure 5) may date to around 1560,
based on finds at sites in the interior
Southeast thought to be associated with
the 1560 expedition of Tristan de Luna y
Arellano. However, a very similar arti-
fact was recovered from the nearby Tatham
Mound (to be discussed below), in an early
sixteenth century context (Mitchem and
Hutchinson 1987:56, 63).
The three interlocking brass rings
(Figure 6) are of interest because they
may represent a fragment of chain mail.
Measuring 0.7 ca in diameter, they were
constructed of brass wire bent into rings,
with the ends abutting. A small amount of
preserved twine was attached to them.
Similar brass mail fragments were recov-
ered from a shipwreck off the coast of
Texas, which was part of the 1554 flota
(Olds 1976:99-101). However, the latter
rings were riveted, as was most chain mail
(Stone 1961:424), suggesting that the
specimens from the Ruth Smith Mound were
decorative rather than utilitarian. Most
chain mail was made of iron, but decora-
tive rings of brass edging are known from
some sixteenth-century European specimens
(Williams 1980:109, 129). We assume that
the rings from Ruth Smith were decorative
rather than functional chain mail. It is
also possible that they were not mail at
all, but merely links of a decorative
brass chain (Mitchem et al. 1985:210).
The rolled iron tubes (Figure 5)
from the site were presumably used as
beads, and might have been made from
plates of Spanish armor. These interpre-
tations are based on evidence from the
Tatham Mound (discussed in detail below),
where a similar tube of iron was recovered
from the neck of a burial, with the plate
from which it was made held in the indi-
vidual's hand (Mitchem and Hutchinson
1987:59). A tube was recovered during the
1984 excavations at Ruth Smith, but the
prior destruction of the mound had
destroyed any contextual information
(Mitchem and Weisman 1984:104).
The silver and gold objects (Figure

Smith & Good *

IIA2a (#40)

IIC2a (#50)

IIC2g (#56)

IVC2a (#79)

IVC2d (#82)

----- (Unique)

# Description **


3 Long, tubular: Turquoise Nueva Cadiz
blue/thin white/translucent Plain
navy blue core
14 Long, tubular: Turquoise Nueva Cadiz
blue/thin white/navy blue core Plain,
3 Short, tubular: Cobalt blue/ Nueva Cadiz
thin white/translucent light Plain,
blue core faceted
8 Olive-shaped: Blue/white/red/ Faceted
white/translucent green/white/ Chevron
translucent green core
1 Olive-shaped: Cobalt blue/ Faceted
white/red/white/transparent Chevron
medium blue/white/transparent
medium blue core
1 Medium transparent blue spherical
faceted seed bead

* Number and letter code refers to typology: number in
parentheses refers to photograph number in Smith and Good (1982).
** Color layer descriptions begin with outer layer and end with

Table 1. Glass Beads from the Ruth Smith Mound.


Small silver disc beads
Spheroid silver beads
Rolled sheet silver beads
Drilled silver rod beads
Spheroid gold bead
Rolled sheet gold bead
Rolled iron beads *
Large iron chisel or celt (round cross section)
Unidentified iron fragment *
Interlocking small brass rings
Sherd of Green Bacin pottery

ca. 35

* 1 bead and fragment recovered during 1984 excavations.

Table 2. Non-glass Artifacts from the Ruth Smith Mound.


Figure 3. Sixteen Nueva Cadiz beads and one faceted chevron bead from
the Ruth Smith Mound. Photograph by Albert C. Godyear.

Figure 4. Green Bacin pottery disc from the Ruth Smith Mound.
Photograph by Albert C. Goodyear.

a -

Figure 5. Two rolled iron beads and an iron chisel (or celt) from the
Ruth Smith Mound. Photograph by Albert C. Goodyear.

Figure 6. Artifacts from the Ruth Smith Mound. 'Ip, 1. to r.: Three
brass rings (possible chain mail) with preserved vegetal twine; small
silver disc beads with preserved twine. Bottom, 1. to r.: Preserved
twine; small silver disc beads with preserved twine. Photograph by
Albert C. Goodyear.




7) from the Ruth Smith Mound tell us vir-
tually nothing about contact at the site.
Since the Spanish explorers were generally
in the New World to obtain precious
metals, it would seem unlikely that they
willingly would give or trade silver or
(especially) gold to the native inhabi-
tants. We therefore assume that the metals
used to produce these beads were obtained
from shipwrecks, possibly traded from
Indian groups living near the coast. Very
similar metal beads have been recovered
from the Weeki Wachee and Tatham Mounds
(Mitchem et al. 1985; Mitchem and
Hutchinson 1987), as well as from other
early Spanish contact sites in Florida and
the Southeast.
In summary, the European artifacts
from the Ruth Smith Mound indicate that
Spanish contact with the people buried
there occurred in the first half of the
sixteenth century. A date range for con-
tact of A.D. 1525-1550 can be assigned
based on the artifacts known from the site
(Deagan 1987; Smith 1987:45-46). Unfortu-
nately, because of the methods used in ex-
cavating the mound, we know virtually
nothing about burial practices, how many
people were buried there, or how long the
mound was in use. Other artifacts from
the site, both aboriginal and European,
are in private collections, but we have
been unable to study these. A discussion
of the probable sources) of contact is
included in a later section of this paper.

The Weeki Wachee M[und (8He12)

The Weeki Wachee Mound (Figure 2) is
located on the grounds of Florida's Weeki
Wachee Springs, an attraction famous for
its underwater mermaid shows. It is about
180 m from Weekiwachee Springs, which form
the headwaters of the Weekiwachee River.
No associated village or habitation area
has been recorded for the site, but
earlier development may have destroyed or
obscured such evidence.
The mound was discovered in 1969,
while an area was being cleared for en-
largement of an orchid garden. As a
tractor was clearing part of the area,
human bones and artifacts were exposed.
Archaeologists from the Florida State
Museum were contacted, and on the basis of

Figure 7. Rolled sheet silver beads from
the Ruth Smith Mound. Photograph by Albert
C. Goodyear.

pottery types, identified the site as a
Safety Harbor burial mound (Mitchem et al.
The following year, an anthropology
student at the University of Florida,
Robert Allen, was hired to conduct salvage
excavations of the disturbed portion of
the mound before the garden was enlarged.
With a crew of young people associated
with the Youth Conference of the Presby-
terian Church, he excavated about one
third of the mound. His excavations re-
covered many human burials, along with
aboriginal and European artifacts.
Luckily, he had prior fieldwork experi-
ence, and kept notes, took photographs,
and drew accurate maps recording the exact
positions of most of the artifacts and
burials recovered. Unfortunately, he did
not to complete a report on the excava-
tions. With his help and consent, the
materials from the site in the Florida
State Museum and in the collections at the
attraction were analyzed, resulting in a
site report (Mitchem et al. 1985).
The Weeki Wachee Mound was composed
of white sand, and was originally about
13.7 m in diameter and 0.8-0.9 m high. The
site was excavated in 10-foot squares,
proceeding down in six-inch arbitrary
levels. All soil was sifted through
screens varying from 1/32 to 1/4 inch
mesh. The contexts of artifacts and


burials were carefully recorded, and field
notes were kept describing the excava-
tions. Little stratification (layering of
soil) could be discerned, and this, when
combined with disturbance by previous
landscaping activities, made interpreta-
tions difficult. The base of the mound
was distinguishable in only a few places,
suggesting that most of the original humus
had been scraped away before the mound was
constructed (Mitchem et al. 1985:184).
Careful recording methods revealed
that the mound was apparently built in two
episodes, with an initial mound construct-
ed to a height of about 0.4 m. In this
mound, several primary (articulated
corpses rather than defleshed skeletons)
and secondary (bundles of defleshed bones)
burials were interred. One bundle burial
was later added by digging through this
mound into the subsoil and placing the
bones in the hole. At some later time,
corpses and bones were placed on the
initial mound's top and covered with
another layer of sand about 0.4 m thick.
Many burials were apparently laid out
higher up as this sand layer was being
added (Mitchem et al. 1985:184).
Lightning Whelk (Busycon sp.) and
other large gastropod shells and cups made
from them were recovered in this upper
stratum, some extending up into the modern
humus. This strongly suggests that puri-
fication ceremonies involving the use of
"black drink" or other sacred medicines
were performed atop the mound after its
construction (Milanich 1979:102-104). Sim-
ilar, but more convincing, evidence of
such ceremonies has come from the Tatham
Mound in Citrus County (Mitchem and
Hutchinson 1987:23, 84; see also below).

Human Skeletal Remains

A total of 63 burials was delineated
during the excavations. These certainly
represent more than 63 individuals, but a
complete analysis of the skeletal remains
has not been completed. However, the re-
mains are presently being analyzed and
will be included in a much larger study of
Southeastern aboriginal health and diet in
the protohistoric period (Dale L.
Hutchinson, personal communication 1988).
Most of the burials were secondary

interments, and many of the bones exhi-
bited evidence of rodent gnawing. This is
probably the result of the corpses being
placed in a charnel structure to allow
decomposition of the soft tissues, with
the bones being gathered up and buried on
the occasion of mound construction. This
practice was recorded in many ethno-
historic accounts of early explorers,
traders, and missionaries (Harriot 1972:
72; MacLeod 1926; Swanton 1946:718-722,
725-726; Williams 1986:136, 192). It has
also been recorded archaeologically
(Hudson 1976:78).
In addition to the secondary re-
mains, at least eight primary flexed
burials were present. Extensive evidence
of cremation was also recovered (Mitchem
et al. 1985:184).

Aboriginal Artifacts

The majority of aboriginal artifacts
from the Weeki Wachee Mound consists of
ceramic vessels and sherds. These include
over 1540 sherds representing at least 38
identifiable vessels. Pottery and other
artifacts tended to be located strati-
graphically above burials, rather than
actually accompanying particular individ-
uals. However, several instances were
noted in which skulls were overlain by
shells, pottery vessels, or large sherds.
The exact counts of various pottery
types are given in Mitchem et al. (1985:
185), along with in-depth descriptions of
each type. Interested readers are refer-
red to that publication for information in
addition to that summarized here. The
pottery types consisted primarily of typi-
cal Safety Harbor decorated and plain
wares, with a small number of Alachua Cob
Marked and Prairie Cord Marked sherds,
indicating some interaction with Alachua
Tradition groups to the north (Milanich
Shell artifacts were also quite
abundant at the Weeki Wachee Mound. Seven
Busycon shell cups were recovered, along
with 13 unaltered shells of the species
Pleuroploca gigantea (Horse Conch),
Busycon contrarium (Lightning Whelk), and
Fasciolaria sp. (Tulip) (Mitchem et al.
1985:191-193). Many fragments of these
shell species were also found, indicating


that many more probably were present
originally. More than 343 shell beads were
excavated, many of which were in direct
association with burials. One burial (#10)
had several rows of shell disc beads on
the right wrist, which were coated with a
preservative substance in the ground and
removed intact. Other burials had neck-
laces or bracelets, including at least one
instance of shell and glass beads strung
together on a necklace (Mitchem et al.
A significant discovery at the mound
was the recovery, from three different
burials, of 26 freshwater clam shells of
the species Elliptio shepardianus (Lea),
known as Shepard's Filter Clam. Nine
drilled (one was also possibly painted
red) specimens of these were found as a
necklace with Burial #19. Another 16 were
found with Burial #17, and one was with
Burial #39 (Mitchem et al. 1985:193).
These shells are important because this
species occurs only in the Altamaha River
drainage of Georgia. Their presence at
Weeki Wachee indicates probable contact
with Georgia aboriginal groups, though the
shells could have been obtained by ex-
change through intermediary groups. As
discussed below, shells of this species
were also recovered during excavations at
the Tatham Mound (Mitchem and Hutchinson
Other aboriginal artifacts from
Weeki Wachee include a few stone objects,
such as a polished bead of non-Florida
stone, some chert flakes, and tool frag-
ments. A fossil bone fragment, part of a
catfish spine, and an Archaic (ca. 5000-
1000 B.C.) projectile point were also re-
covered (Mitchem et al. 1985:195).

European Artifacts

The European artifacts from Weeki
Wachee are all beads, of glass, silver,
and amber. A total of 127 glass beads,
151 silver beads, and one amber bead was
recovered during the excavations. Some
iron remains were mentioned in the field
notes, but are not in the present collec-
tions. These are probably recent intru-
sions, as a number of flower pot sherds
and sewer pipe fragments were present in
the uppermost levels (Mitchem et al. 1985:

The majority of the European beads
accompanied three burials (#17, 19, and
57). Many also came from the burial of a
full term human fetus or infant (never
given a burial number: was labeled F.S.
48). Among the types of glass beads exca-
vated were several varieties of Nueva
Cadiz and faceted chevron beads, along
with some striped varieties (Figure 8).
Some of the chevron beads listed in the
notes and shown in photographs with the
site records are no longer in the collec-
tion and were not available for study.
Descriptions of the glass beads, along
with their classifications using the Smith
and Good (1982) typology, are listed in
Table 3. Readers wishing specific infor-
mation on provenience are directed to
Mitchem et al. (1985:Table 7).
The non-glass European beads from
Weeki Wachee are listed in Table 4.


The beads from Weeki Wachee indicate
an early sixteenth century date (ca. A.D.
1525-1550) for the period of Spanish con-
tact(s) with the people buried in the
mound. The Nueva Cadiz, faceted chevron,
and striped varieties support this inter-
pretation (Deagan 1987:163, 165, 170;
Smith and Good 1982). Spherical amber
beads have been found primarily at sites
dating to the second half of the sixteenth
century, but the rest of the beads from
Weeki Wachee suggest an early sixteenth
century origin for the amber specimen
found there (Deagan 1987:181; Smith 1983:
The silver beads from Weeki Wachee
(Figure 9) are of little value for deter-
mining dates of contact. However, we can
say some things about their probable
origin and methods of manufacture.
Standard acid scratch tests performed on
21 of the small disc beads from the site
revealed that the primary constituents
were silver and copper, corresponding
roughly with coin silver (.900 or less).
This indicates that the silver was
obtained from the Spaniards (Leader 1983;
Mitchem et al. 1985:208). The beads might
have been made from silver coins salvaged
from shipwrecks, but at present we are

Smith & Good *

Description **

IB3e (#26) 12 Olive-shaped: White with 3
wide blue spiraling stripes
IB4a (#27) 1 Olive-shaped: Colorless/
white stripes/colorless core
IIAld (#36) 37 Short, tubular: Translucent
dark navy blue
IIA2a (#40) 11 Long, tubular: Turquoise
blue/thin white/translucent
navy blue core
IIA2e (#44) 9 Short, tubular: Translucent
navy blue/thin white/
translucent navy blue core
IIA2g (#46) 1 Short, tubular: Translucent
cobalt blue/thin white/
translucent medium blue core
IIA2- 1 Tubular: turquoise blue/thin
white/transparent purple core
IIC2a (#50) 29 Long, tubular: Turquoise
blue/thin white/navy blue
IIIAla (#57) 1 Long,tubular: Transparent
navy blue
IIIC2a (#67) 1 Long, tubular: Translucent
turquoise blue/thin white/
translucent navy blue core
IVC2a (#79) 2 Olive-shaped: Blue/white/red/
white/translucent green/white/
translucent green core
IVC2d (#82) 2 Olive-shaped: Cobalt blue/
medium blue/white/transparent
medium blue core
IVC2- 16-20 Unavailable for study.
(In notes and/or photos,
but missing from collection)


Nueva Cadiz
Nueva Cadiz

Nueva Cadiz



Nueva Cadiz
Plain (unique)
Nueva Cadiz
Plain, faceted

Nueva Cadiz
Nueva Cadiz



* Number and letter code refers to typology: number in
parentheses refers to photograph number in Smith and Good (1982).
** Color layer descriptions begin with outer layer and end with

Table 3. Glass Beads from the Weeki Wachee Mound.



Small silver disc beads
Spherical silver beads
Spherical amber bead

Table 4. Non-glass Beads from the Weeki Wachee Mound.




mm am m mm mO
mmmemm m mmm*
mm - m

^ 6 8HE12
0 2
0 1 2 3 4 5
Figure 8. Glass beads from the Weeki
Wachee Mound. Top six rows: Nueva Cadiz
beads. Bottom row, 1. to r.: Two olive-
shaped white beads with wide blue
spiraling stripes; two faceted chevron

unable to determine this. The silver also
could have come from fancy horse gear,
sword hilts, or similar high status items
carried by explorers or salvaged from
shipwrecks (Mitchem et al. 1985:208).
It appears certain that the silver
beads were manufactured by Indian arti-
sans. Most of the larger beads were
drilled biconically (drilled halfway
through from each side until the two holes
met), as were many of the aboriginal shell
beads of similar size (Robert R. Allen,
personal communication 1983). The small
disc beads were probably made by hammering
out a thin sheet of silver, then drilling
holes in it, followed by cutting out small
squares around these holes. The perfor-
ated squares were then strung and abraded
until the edges were rounded (Leader 1983;
Mitchem and Leader 1988:53). However, it
is possible that at least some of the
beads were cut from longer drilled rods.
In either case, it appears that the pre-
vious shell bead technology was adapted
for use on silver.
Many of the European beads from
Weeki Wachee are very similar to the beads
from Ruth Smith. In fact, the similarity
of particular varieties is so close that

00 9. 0 0 /

So o:. oe o
0 % oooo

8HE12 0 1 2
0 1 2 3 4 5

Figure 9. Silver beads from the Weeki
Wachee Mound.

the assemblages probably represent contact
with the same Spanish expeditions)
(Mitchem et al. 1985:208). This is dis-
cussed further in a later portion of this
In summary, the bead assemblage from
the Weeki Wachee Mound indicates that the
people buried in the mound were contacted
by Spanish explorers during the period of
A. D. 1525-1550. Contact with more than
one group of Spaniards is possible.

The Tatham Mound (8Ci203)

The Tatham Mound (Figure 2) is lo-
cated in an area of swamps near the With-
lacoochee River. It is about nine kilo-
meters (5 1/2 miles) south-southeast of
the Ruth Smith Mound, and both may have
been built by the same group of Indians.
Surveys of the surrounding area failed to
locate a village site nearby, though at
least two habitation sites in the area
have yielded small amounts of Safety
Harbor Culture artifacts.
The mound was discovered in 1984 in
a dense thicket. It was approximately 17
m across and 1.7 m high, with a roughly
square shape. Because of its isolated


location, it was undisturbed. Due to its
condition and its potential to answer many
questions concerning the nature of Safety
Harbor occupations in the area, funding
was obtained to allow careful excavation
of the site (Mitchem 1989:308-310).
During 1985 and 1986, three field
seasons of excavations were conducted.
After mapping the mound, a grid of 3 m x 3
m squares was laid out over the site, and
excavation began. All soil was sifted
through screens of meshes varying from
1/32 to 1/4 inch. Detailed notes, draw-
ings, and photographs were made of each
square and its contents, and profile maps
were made to record the stratification as
accurately as possible.
A small test hole in the mound top
at the time of its discovery had yielded
Safety Harbor ceramics, and we wished to
investigate a number of specific questions
about the people who constructed it. We
wished to learn as much as possible about
Safety Harbor burial practices in the
area, and we were especially interested in
finding evidence of Spanish contact. It
was hoped that the undisturbed nature of
the site might afford us a greater oppor-
tunity to study the nature and impact of
Spanish contact upon the original inhabi-
tants. When excavations began, we had no
idea whether or not evidence of contact
was present, but the artifacts from the
nearby Ruth Smith Mound suggested that it
was probable. Excavations revealed that
there had indeed been Spanish/Indian con-
tact, and that it marked the final chapter
of Safety Harbor occupation in the area.
The mound was built in two stages,
the first constructed sometime during the
period of A.D. 775-1460 (based on cali-
brated radiocarbon dates). The remains of
at least 24 people were buried in this
initial mound, and it apparently was aban-
doned until after Spanish contact (Mitchem
1989:522-525; Mitchem and Hutchinson 1987:
82-83). Many artifacts of shell, copper,
and pottery were recovered from this
stratum, but these are not discussed here.
For information on these remains, readers
are directed to Mitchem (1989) and Mitchem
and Hutchinson (1987).
The upper stratum was constructed
sometime after Spanish contact, anywhere
from a few months to several years after-

ward. Before the majority of the burials
was interred, a pit was dug into part of
the lower mound and two individuals were
buried in it. Sometime after this, a
large number of corpses were laid out on
the mound, along with the jumbled remains
of many more individuals, which probably
had been stored in a nearby charnel
structure. These were then covered with a
thick cap of sand, greatly increasing the
size of the mound. A sand ramp was added
later to the west side.
Excavations revealed that many
Busycon shell cups were left on the mound
summit, and that dozens of pottery vessels
were broken on the top and sides of the
mound, apparently deliberately thrown from
the top. Many of these were found just a
few centimeters beneath the surface,
indicating that they were probably left
exposed at the time of abandonment. We
believe that these artifacts are the
result of one or more purification cere-
monies involving the use of black drink
(Mitchem 1989:531; Mitchem and Hutchinson

Human Skeletal Remains

The skeletal remains from the site
will be the subject of a doctoral disser-
tation by Dale L. Hutchinson of the
University of Illinois. While the study
is not yet complete, we are able to glean
a number of facts from the research that
has been completed so far.
The excavations revealed that at
least 77 individuals were laid out in rows
on top of the mound. All except two were
placed with their heads to the northwest
and the bodies along an axis to the south-
east. The other two were turned exactly
opposite of the majority. Because all
these individuals were buried sometime
shortly after death (before the flesh had
decomposed), we assume that they all died
within a short time period, possibly as
the result of a disease epidemic inadvert-
ently introduced by the Spaniards. They
were not the result of a massacre, because
none of the skeletons showed any evidence
of wounds which would have been produced
in such a situation (Mitchem 1989:529-530;
Mitchem and Hutchinson 1987:79-82).
On top of and between these individ-


uals, the remains of between 213 and 273
people were added. Some of these second-
ary interments were apparently bundles of
the bones of single individuals, while
most were mixed skeletal remains from many
individuals. The large number indicates
that bodies were being stored in a charnel
structure, allowing the flesh to decompose
(Mitchem 1989:473; Mitchem and Hutchinson
1987:37, 42).
Two of the secondary bones are of
special interest. These were fragments of
a left humerus (upper arm bone) and a
right scapula (shoulder blade) Each of
these bones had marks indicating that it
had been cut by an edged metal weapon,
such as a sword. They were examined by
forensic experts, who noted that the types
of wounds are very characteristic of
injuries caused by swords. Since these
bones were included among the jumbled
secondary remains, we have no way of
knowing whether they were from the same
individual, but we can say that the person
or persons died long enough before the
primary burials for the flesh to have
completely decomposed. This indicates that
at least one Indian probably was killed by
a Spanish explorer (Mitchem 1989:495-498;
Mitchem and Hutchinson 1987:41).
As noted above, two of the primary
burials were oriented opposite of the
majority. One of these was an adult male,
and the other was an adult female. They
were in separate rows, and both had Euro-
pean artifacts with them. We do not know
the reason for this, but the careful
placement of the other primary burials
indicates that it was done purposely. The
female burial was especially interesting,
because she was placed on her back with
the legs flexed over the chest. Immedi-
ately adjacent to her pelvis, the remains
of a very young infant or full term fetus
were found, along with 68 European beads
of silver, glass, and gold. In my opin-
ion, this represents a stillborn infant or
one that died during or immediately after
delivery, along with the mother (Mitchem
1989:490-491; Mitchem and Hutchinson 1987:
63). This is interesting in light of a
similar infant burial (F.S. 48) from Weeki
Wachee, also accompanied by a large number
of European beads (Mitchem et al. 1985:

A total of 19 burials from the
Tatham Mound had European artifacts buried
with them. Of these, 15 were primary
interments, two were secondary (bundle)
burials (each of which contained bones
from more than one individual), one was a
cremation, and one consisted of two indi-
viduals, one primary and one secondary
(Mitchem and Hutchinson 1987:58-65).
The European artifacts are described
in a later section, along with some dis-
cussion of the specific contexts of dis-
covery for selected artifacts. Interested
readers are referred to Mitchem (1989) for
more complete information about the con-
texts of the European artifacts.

Aboriginal Artifacts

The Tatham Mound yielded a large
collection of aboriginal artifacts of pot-
tery, shell, and stone. The ceramics con-
sisted of typical Safety Harbor types,
with a small number of Alachua Tradition
sherds (Mitchem 1989:352-393). Several
complete vessels were recovered, and in
all but one case a hole had been punched
in the bottom before burial. This prac-
tice was widespread in the Southeast, and
probably reflects beliefs associated with
death and mortuary ritual. The majority
of pottery consisted of sherds of broken
vessels, especially just below the surface
on the top and sides of the mound. Only
one case was recorded of a pottery vessel
buried with a specific individual. The
rest were outside of the general burial
area in the mound.
Objects of stone were also abundant.
A total of 105 triangular arrow points
(Pinellas points) were recovered from the
mound fill. Most of these came from the
east side, and their positions suggested
that they were intentionally thrust or
shot into the mound fill during construc-
tion (Mitchem 1989:393-395; Mitchem and
Hutchinson 1987:18-19). Other stone arti-
facts included four ground and polished
stone celts made from non-Florida stone,
two quartz crystal pendants, a ground and
polished stone pendant of non-Florida
stone, and many flakes and tools of chert.
A large side notched chert blade or
spearhead from the mound fill exhibited
considerable polish on the exterior, sug-


gesting that it had been kept and handled
(but probably not used as a utilitarian
tool) for a long period (Mitchem 1989:
The quartz crystal pendants are of
interest, because quartz crystals often
were used as amulets and sacred religious
objects by many Southeastern Indian groups
(Hudson 1976:168-169; Mooney 1900:298-300,
460-461; Olbrechts 1930:549-550). One of
the uses was to cure diseases, and at
least one instance is recorded of their
use in ceremonies to prevent epidemic
disease (Butrick n.d.:106-107).
The most abundant shell artifacts
from the mound are beads made from marine
shell. Many of these were recovered as
parts of necklaces, and in some cases as
bracelets. Nineteen Busycon shell cups
(along with fragments representing at
least another 15) were recovered, most
from just beneath the surface. One of
these was found within a ceramic vessel,
and several were found in a line running
north to south on the mound sumit. There
is little doubt that these were associated
with ceremonies involving the use of black
drink. A circular shell gorget (with
holes for suspension as a pendant) and a
celt of shell were also found (Mitchem
1989:Table 51).
At least eight shells of Shepard's
Filter Clam [Elliptio shepardianus (Lea)]
were recovered, from three burials. As
discussed above, 26 shells of this species
were recovered from the Weeki Wachee
Mound. Since this freshwater species
occurs only in the Altamaha River drainage
in Georgia, we can assume that the speci-
mens from Weeki Wachee and Tatham were
obtained from the same source.
Also recovered from the Tatham Mound
were many fragments of red ochre, a red
pigment present in many Safety Harbor
burial sites. Galena, a lead ore found
primarily in the interior eastern United
States (Walthall 1981:Figure 9), was found
in the form of powder and cubes. One of
the larger cubes was partially drilled,
probably an unfinished bead. Galena was
used often as a pigment (Mitchem 1989:408-
An interesting artifact of engraved
bark was also recovered (Mitchem 1989:412-
416, Figure 17). This object, of pine or

cypress bark, had an engraved curvilinear
design on its surface, possibly repre-
senting a snake motif. Though it is frag-
mentary and was not found with a burial,
we suggest that it was a bowstring wrist-
guard used by an Indian archer. Drawings
of eastern Timucua Indians of Florida by
the French artist Jacques Le Moyne in 1564
illustrate such wristguards. The caption
of one drawing says that strips of bark
were used often to make them (Lorant 1946:

European Artifacts

There was a total of 152 glass beads
recovered from the sixteenth century por-
tion of the mound. In addition, 298 metal
beads (of silver, gold, brass, bronze, and
possibly copper) were excavated. A number
of other metal artifacts were also re-
covered. These are discussed below in
separate categories, summarizing the
various types. More complete information
on the context of each find is provided in
Mitchem (1989).
The glass beads from Tatham Mound
are listed in Table 5 by type, using the
typology developed by Smith and Good
(1982). One nineteenth century Seminole
bead from the humus layer is not included
in the present discussion. Most of the
glass beads are excellent early sixteenth
century varieties such as Nueva Cadiz and
faceted chevrons (Deagan 1987; Smith and
Good 1982). Figure 10 illustrates many of
the glass bead varieties recovered from
the mound.
Table 6 lists the metal beads from
the mound. All of the metal beads appear
to have been fashioned by Indian artisans,
using metal obtained from Spanish explor-
ers or shipwreck salvage. Many of the
metal beads are illustrated in Figure 11.
The other metal artifacts are listed in
Table 7.


The European artifacts from the
Tatham Mound clearly indicate a date of
1525-1550 for contacts) with Spanish
explorers. The best evidence for this date
range is provided by the large number of

early sixteenth century glass beads. Metal

Smith & Good *
Classification #

Description **


Smith & Good *
Classification # Description ** Notes

IA4- 1 Short, tubular: Thin colorless
with 3 sets of paired opaque
white spiraling stripes (6
total)/opaque brick red/pale
blue-green core
IA4- 1 Long, tubular: Thin colorless
with 6 opaque white spiraling
stripes/opaque brick red/opaque
brick red with swirls of
transparent pale gray-green
(poorly mixed)/transparent pale
gray-green core
IB3e (#26) 2 Olive-shaped: White with 3
wide blue spiraling stripes
IB3- 1 Barrel-shaped: Opaque light
blue with 4 white-on-red stripes
IB4- 1 Olive-shaped: Colorless with 3
spiraling opaque white stripes/
opaque brick red/medium
transparent blue core
IB4- 1 olive-shaped: Translucent red
with 3 spiraling opaque white
stripes/opaque brick red/pale
transparent light blue/partial
opaque brick red core
IIAld (#36) 3 Short, tubular: Translucent
dark navy blue Plain
IIAle (#37) 22 Short, tubular: Transparent
cobalt blue
IIA2a (#40) 6 Long, tubular: Turquoise blue/
thin white/translucent navy
blue core
IIA2c (#42) 2 Long, tubular: Translucent
blue/thin white/navy blue core
IIA2e (#44) 1 Short, tubular: Translucent
navy blue/thin white/
translucent navy blue core
IIA2g (#46) 5 Short, tubular: Translucent
cobalt blue/thin white/
translucent medium blue core
IIC2a (#50) 7 Long, tubular: Turquoise blue/
thin white/navy blue core

IIC2b (#51)

1 Long, tubular: Turquoise blue/
thin white/colorless core

IIC2f (#55) 1 Short, tubular: Translucent
cobalt blue/thin white/
colorless core -
IIC2g (459) 14 Short, tubular: Cobalt blue/
thin white/translucent light
blue core
IIC2- 1 Long, tubular: Turquoise blue/
thin white/translucent purple
IIIC2a (#67) 1 Long, tubular: Translucent
turquoise blue/thin white/
translucent navy blue core
IVC2a (#79) 2 Olive-shaped: Blue/white/red/
white/translucent green/white/
translucent green core
IVC2d (#82) 15 Olive-shaped: Cobalt blue/
medium blue/white/transparent
medium blue core

IVC2e (#83)

IVC2p (#94)

VIDld (#104)

VIDle (#105)

VIDlf (#106)

VIDlh (#108)






Cad iz


Nueva Cadiz
Nueva Cadiz

Nueva Cadiz

Nueva Cadiz
Nueva Cadiz
Nueva Cadiz
Nueva Cadiz
Nueva Cadiz
Nueva Cadiz


2 Olive-shaped: Navy blue/white/ Faceted
red/white/translucent navy Chevron
blue/white/transparent light
blue core
3 Spherical to sub-spherical: Faceted
Cobalt blue/white/red/white/ Chevron
colorless/white/colorless core
1 Donut-shaped: Transparent pale Wire-wound
yellow (very patinated) seed bead
3 Donut-shaped: Translucent Wire-wound
green (very patinated) seed beads
1 Donut-shaped: Translucent Wire-wound
yellow (very patinated) seed bead
28 Olive-shaped: Opaque medium blue
10 Sub-spherical: Translucent Seed beads
dark purple
1 Donut-shaped: Color not Wire-wound
discernible (very patinated) seed bead
1 Donut-shaped: Red or reddish Wire-wound
purple (very patinated) seed bead
5 Spherical dark navy blue
8 Spherical transparent green
1 Spherical: Color not
discernible (very patinated)

* Number and letter code refers to typology: number in
parentheses refers to photograph number in Smith and Good (1982).
** Color layer descriptions begin with outer layer and end with

Table 5. Glass Beads from the Tatham Mound.


Small silver disc beads
Drilled silver rod beads
Rolled sheet silver beads
Barrel-shaped silver beads
Rolled sheet gold beads
Rolled sheet brass or bronze beads
Rolled sheet brass bead (twine preserved inside)
Rolled sheet bronze bead
Rolled iron bead (made from armor plate)

Table 6. Metal Beads from the Tatham Mound.


ese r~-

- mO r m)I~iilS

me-llY (4 ~

S 4 1 *I e

f, *

Figure 10. Glass beads from the Tatham Mound.
graph by Harry W. Buck II.


Figure 11. Metal beads and pendant from the Tatham
Mound. Top, 1. to r.: Silver celt effigy pendant;
drilled silver rod bead. Center, 1. to r.: Two drilled
silver rod beads; two silver barrel beads; two rolled
sheet silver beads. Bottom, 1. to r.: Five small silver
disc beads; three rolled sheet gold beads; a rolled iron
bead. Photograph by Harry W. Buck II.


Silver socketed celt effigy pendant
Dome-shaped silver disc (with possible leather remains)
Small dome-shaped sheet gold object
Copper fragments
Copper or brass fragment
Dome-shaped brass object (earspool fragment?)
Miscellaneous iron fragments
Iron spike fragments
Iron armor plate
Iron chisel (small, square cross section)
Iron chisel (large, round cross section)
Unidentified iron object

Table 7. Non-bead Metal Artifacts from the Tatham Mound.



0 1 2 3 4 5
Figure 12. Iron armor plate and rolled iron bead from Burial #7, the
Tatham Mound. Photograph by Bunny Stafford.

artifacts are less reliable as dating
tools, but the iron objects are similar to
specimens found in early contexts else-
where in the New World.
The small silver disc, drilled
silver rod, rolled sheet silver, and
rolled sheet gold beads from Tatham
(Figure 11) are virtually identical to
those found at Ruth Smith and Weeki
Wachee. Of special interest is the rolled
iron bead from Tatham. This bead was
recovered from the neck of an elderly
female who held a plate from some Spanish
armor in her hand. One end of the plate
had been broken or cut off, and this was
rolled into a tube and worn as a bead
(Figure 12). Three similar objects were
recovered from the Ruth Smith Mound and
tentatively identified as beads (Mitchem
et al. 1985:210). The one from Tatham
supports this interpretation. The armor
plate is typical of scale or jack armor
common during the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries. Such armor consisted of
overlapping iron plates attached to a
garment of canvas or other strong cloth

(Stone 1961:310, 544). Often the plates
were coated with tin to increase rust
resistance. This appears to have been the
case with the Tatham specimen. I was able
to observe similar specimens at the Rayal
Armory (Real Armeria) in Madrid.
By far the most interesting metal
artifact from Tatham is the socketed celt
effigy pendant of silver (Figure 11).
This pendant was fashioned from a small
ingot of fine (.999 purity) silver,
probably salvaged from the wreck of a ship
transporting South American booty back to
Spain. The type of workmanship suggests
that it was made by an Indian artisan. It
was found near the right knee of a young
adult female burial, along with a long
drilled silver rod bead (Figure 11), also
made from .999 silver.
Another silver object was a dome-
shaped disc, which had possible leather
remains adhering to the concave surface.
We assume that this object was originally
attached to some leather object, perhaps a
piece of Spanish horse tack.
A very thin gold dome-shaped object


was probably originally a cover for a
wooden button or similar artifact. Similar
metal clad buttons have come from other
Florida sites (Mitchem and Leader 1988:
Several iron tools were recovered
from the Tatham bMund, including two iron
spike or nail fragments and two iron
chisels. The smaller chisel is square in
cross-section, and may have been made from
a spike or nail. The larger chisel is
round in cross-section, and is very simi-
lar to the one from the Ruth Smith Mound
(Figure 5). Iron tools were very popular
trade items and have been recovered from
many early contact sites in the Southeast
(Smith 1987:35).

Interpretations Of Data From The Ruth
Smith, Weeki Wachee, And Tatham MNunds

When we look at what is now known
about the three sites discussed above, it
is obvious that our knowledge of the
Tatham Mound far outweighs our interpreta-
tions about the Ruth Smith and Weeki
Wachee Mounds. This is primarily the re-
sult of careful, controlled excavation of
the Tatham Mound. It is unfortunate that
the Ruth Smith Mound was not excavated
scientifically, because its location so
near the Tatham Mound indicates that both
probably were constructed and used by the
same population. The meager evidence we
have suggests that the Ruth Smith Mound
was being used at the beginning of the
contact period, while the Tatham Mound had
been abandoned for several centuries.
Perhaps the Tatham Mound was reused only
when the Ruth Smith Mound could no longer
be used because of too many bodies to be
buried (due to a large number of epidemic
victims). However, the destruction of the
Ruth Smith Mound ensures that we will
never be able to tell for sure.
The time limitations and the salvage
nature of the excavations at the Weeki
Wachee Mound limit our interpretations of
the site somewhat, but it is clear that
the mound had been used for some time, and
was probably a traditional burial place
for residents of the western Hernando
County area (at least during the time of
the Safety Harbor Culture). The excava-
tions demonstrated that primary, second-

ary, and cremation burial types were used
at the mound. The large number of shell
cups and unmodified shells from the mound
strongly suggests that black drink cere-
monies were conducted by the Weeki Wachee
residents. They may have been involved in
trade networks exporting shells and shell
products to the north. The shells and
exotic artifacts recovered from the Tatham
Mound also suggest the existence of such
an exchange network. Of particular
interest are the Shepard's Filter Clam
[Elliptio shepardianus (Lea)] shells
recovered from both sites, indicating con-
tact of some sort with the Altamaha River
area of Georgia.
Archaeological surveys in the vicin-
ities of the three mounds indicate that
the Safety Harbor residents of this part
of Florida were not living in large, con-
centrated villages, but apparently were
living in small scattered hamlets or
single family settlements. This settle-
ment pattern seems to be characteristic of
Safety Harbor groups north of Tampa Bay
(Mitchem 1988, 1989:586).
The similarity of European bead
assemblages from the three sites strongly
suggests that the people buried in all
three mounds were contacted by the same
Spanish expeditionss. The glass beads
leave no doubt that contact occurred dur-
ing the early sixteenth century, and the
geographical location of the sites indi-
cates that the two most likely sources of
the beads were the expeditions of pAnfilo
de Narvaez in 1528 and Hernando de Soto in
The Narv&ez expedition landed some-
where in the vicinity of Tampa Bay in
1528, then headed north, staying near the
Gulf COast (NWiez Cabeza de Vaca 1983;
Scott 1981). The account of the expedi-
tion notes that they traveled north for
fifteen days without encountering "a
single person, village, or house" (Nfliez
Cabeza de Vaca 1983:36). They then
crossed a river with a strong current,
probably the Withlacoochee, whereupon they
were met by a large force of Indians.
Archaeological evidence suggests
that the Withlacoochee River served as a
cultural boundary during this time period.
North and east of the river, archae-
ological sites indicate Alachua Tradition


groups inhabited the area (Johnson 1987;
Milanich 1971), while to the south and
west (the area in which the three mounds
under discussion are located), Safety
Harbor sites are present. No Alachua
Tradition sites have been located south
and west of the river, and no Safety
Harbor sites have been found to the north
and east of the river.
If we can trust the account of the
Narvaez expedition, the 1539 Soto expedi-
tion is the most likely source of the
beads and other artifacts from Ruth Smith,
Weeki Wachee, and Tatham. Also, the two
cut bones from Tatham were probably the
result of a skirmish with members of
Soto's force.
The Soto expedition landed near the
south end of Tampa Bay in 1539, then later
headed north. The narratives of the expe-
dition mention at least one skirmish with
Indians shortly before reaching the river
of Cale (or Ocali), which probably repre-
sents the Withlacoochee River (Fernandez
de Oviedo y vald6s 1973:68). This would
have been in the yove of the Withlacoochee
area, where the Ruth Smith and Tatham
Mounds are located. This skirmish or an
unrecorded one could have resulted in the
cut bones found at Tatham. It is truly
unfortunate that the skeletal remains from
the Ruth Smith Mound are not available for
study, as more evidence of Spanish-Indian
warfare might have been present.
The Soto narratives also state that
members of the expedition passed through
the area two more times after reaching the
Apalachee area (Anhaica Apalache) in
northwest Florida. A small company of
soldiers was sent south traveling on the
same route along which they originally
traveled to contact the ships waiting at
Tampa Bay. After sending the ships north
to unload supplies near Apalachee, part of
the expedition traveled overland to rejoin
the main force (Fernandez de Oviedo y
Vald6s 1973:81; Hernandez de Biedma 1968:
234-235). They again followed their
original route. Several skirmishes with
Indians occurred on this final trip
(Gentleman of Elvas 1984:162).


In conclusion, the archaeological

data from these three mounds indicate that
there was direct Spanish-Indian contact in
the Hernando and Citrus countyy area of
west peninsular Florida during the early
sixteenth century. Though many of the
artifacts (especially the gold and silver)
were probably obtained through salvage of
shipwrecks or trade of shipwreck material
from other aboriginal groups, the cut
bones from the Tatham Mound indicate that
direct physical contact occurred. The
narratives of the Narv&ez and Soto expedi-
tions seem to indicate that the contact
was most likely with members of the Soto
expedition, who passed through this area
three times during the period of July to
November, 1539.
The archaeological evidence indi-
cates that Safety Harbor groups abandoned
the area shortly after contact. The Tatham
Mound data reveal that an epidemic caused
the deaths of a number of people during a
short period sometime after contact. How-
ever, the careful burial and accompanying
ceremonies of these epidemic victims indi-
cate that enough people survived to bury
the victims in traditional fashion. The
apparent abandonment of the area afterward
indicates that the encounter with Euro-
peans signaled the beginning of the end of
the Safety Harbor Culture in the Hernando
and Citrus County area.


The research upon which this paper
is based was supported by many different
people and institutions. The many private
collectors are thanked for loaning
material from the Ruth Smith Mound for
study. I am also grateful to Suzanne
Vance, general manager of Florida's Weeki
Wachee, Inc., for loaning material excava-
ted from the Weeki Wachee Mound. The
Tatham Mound excavations were funded pri-
marily by a private individual, who wishes
to remain anonymous. Words cannot ade-
quately express my gratitude to this indi-
vidual. Additional support for fieldwork
and analysis of the Tatham Mound was
provided by: the Florida Department of
Natural Resources, Division of Recreation
and Parks; the Florida Department of
State, Division of Historical Resources;
the Division of Sponsored Research,


University of Florida; the Tinker
Foundation; the Bead Society, Los Angeles,
California; the McGregor Smith Scout
Reservation; members of the Withlacoochee
River Archaeology Council; and the
Departments of Anthropology of the Florida
Museum of Natural History, the University
of Florida, and the University of
Illinois. I am extremely grateful to all
of these institutions and their personnel
for their support.

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Jeffrey M. Mitchem
Department of Geography and Anthropology
Louisiana State University
Baton Rauge, Louisiana 70803



Louis D. Tesar and B. Calvin Jones
Division of Historical Resources
Florida Department of State


This is a revised version of a so-
licited paper submitted on September 4,
1987 for publication in another anthropo-
logical journal. The publication need not
be mentioned. However, repeated delays in
publication over the past two years have
been increasingly frustrating, especially
as we have watched others publish on data
which we timely submitted. We have waited
long enough. Our original text was re-
vised and submitted for publication in the
December, 1989 issue of The Florida An-
thropologist to commemorate the discovery
by B. Calvin Jones of the 1539-40 de Soto
expedition wintering site on its 450th an-
The location of the 1539-40 winter-
ing site of the de Soto expedition has
long been a topic of both popular and
scholarly interest. It is of popular in-
terest as the site of the first Christmas
celebration in what is today the United
States of America. It is of scholarly in-
terest because its location will help es-
tablish the route of de Soto's explo-
rations, as well as contribute further to
our understanding of the Apalachee's cul-
ture and the expedition's impact on that
The results of previous documentary
and archaeological research by Tesar
(1979, 1980a, 1980b, 1986), Jones (1972,
1973, 1975, 1982), Jones and Penman
(1973), and 1987 archaeological excava-
tions by Jones, and later Jones and Ewen,
form the basis of this study. The actions
and opinions of the individual coauthors
will be identified simply by use of their
last name.
When this study was initiated in
1987, our goal was to identify a re-
stricted study area in which to focus fu-
ture efforts to locate the 1539-40 winter-
ing encampment of the de Soto expedition.
Our approach was to combine archaeological
data with historic documents. We posed

several questions pertinent to our study,
some of which have been answered, others
of which remain. These included: Based
on archaeologically generated settlement
patterns, what locations are deemed most
likely to contain the site of Anaica
Apalache, the de Soto winter encampment?;
Based on the de Soto chroniclers' narra-
tives, what area is most likely to contain
the winter encampment?; Based on the lo-
cation of historic trails, what corridor
is identified for future studies of the
expedition's route?; and, What kinds of
native and European artifacts and features
would help identify the site?
However, the lunch hour investiga-
tion by Jones (1988:402-404) of one of the
identified locations, the Governor Martin
archaeological site (8Le853B, which occu-
pies a portion of the previously desig-
nated site 8Le282; the Gov. John W. Martin
House and yard is designated as site
8Le853A), changed the focus of this study
after much of the original work had been
accomplished. This resulted in a shift in
our research priorities, and a rewriting
of the original draft manuscript. Never-
theless, we have retained those portions
of our original manuscript which, in our
opinion, are pertinent to continued re-
search questions on the historically sig-
nificant de Soto entrada.

Previous Research

Fifty years ago, the United States
De Soto Expedition Commission reviewed
previous efforts to locate the route of
the de Soto expedition. Of the 1539-40
wintering site they wrote:
The position of Iniahica (Anaica Apalache)
is fixed with reasonable accuracy by esti-
mating the distance fran the Aucilla River
probably covered in two days march. We
should expect this to be not less than 20
nor more than 40 miles, and the distance
from the Aucilla River to Tallahassee is,
in fact, about 31 miles, which is not much


Vol. 42 No. 4

Dec., 1989


greater than the distance in leagues given
by Garcilaso, about 11 leagues or 28.6
miles. The country around Tallahassee is
indicated clearly ... (Swanton 1939:158).

The Cbmmission offered three possi-
ble locations for the de Soto wintering
site: the area within the 1936 city limits
of Tallahassee, Florida; the site of the
later mission of San Luis de Talimali
(then slightly west of Tallahassee, and
now within the city limits); and, the site
of the Lake Jackson mound group located
north of Tallahassee. They dismissed the
Lake Jackson site for reasons of distance
and the San Luis de Talimali mission site
by suggesting its later establishment in
the 1600s. By elimination, the area
within the 1936 city limits of Tallahassee
was left. Yet, in 150 years of construc-
tion activities, no physical evidence of
that site had been located, prompting
Tesar to reinvestigate documentary evi-
dence and compare it with archaeological
settlement pattern data which he had de-
veloped (Tesar 1979, 1980a, 1980b, 1986).
Recent discoveries by the second author,
B. Calvin Jones, led to the discovery of
part of the de Soto expedition wintering
site itself, thus negating the need for
much of the site survey and testing
originally proposed to test our hypothesis
on the location of the wintering site.
Nevertheless, we believe that this infor-
mation is still of use to researchers.

Research Methods

The research methods used by Tesar
in his study combine the documentary ap-
proach of previous researchers with the
archaeological settlement pattern data re-
ported by Tesar (1980a, 1980b), Payne
(1980) and Bryne (1986), as well as the
extensive archaeological data compiled by
Jones during his years of Spanish mission
research. First, the various translations
of the four extant narratives of the de
Soto expedition were studied to gain in-
formation on the geographic features ob-
served along the expedition's route in
Apalache (the area today known as Leon and
Jefferson Cbunties, Florida) and descrip-
tive data on Apalachee villages and set-
tlements, particularly the site of Anaica

Apalache. Second, recognizing that the
expedition probably used existing, long
established native trade routes and that
such routes often remained in use by Euro-
peans, historic maps were consulted to
gain information on the location of such
trails through time. Third, within the
study area identified on the basis of doc-
umentary data, Late Apalachee Fort Walton
and Early Leon Jefferson period settlement
pattern archaeological information devel-
oped by Tesar (1979, 1980a, 1980b) and
Jones (1972, 1973, 1975), and refined by
Bryne (1986) and Marrinan and Bryne
(1986), was used to denote locales known
or deemed likely to contain such sites
and, hence, the site of Anaica Apalache.
That was the original thrust of this
paper prior to Jones' discovery of evi-
dence of part of the de Soto wintering
site itself. As a result of that discov-
ery, this report has been broadened to in-
clude the preliminary results of archaeo-
logical site excavation by Jones at a de-
velopment site located on the east side of
Tallahassee and near the southwestern cor-
ner of the study area identified by Tesar
(1979, 1980a, 1980b, 1986). It was also
narrowed to exclude much of the modeling
and predictive data compiled by Tesar and
Jones. The interested reader is directed
to their earlier work referenced above.

Reliability of the Expedition Narratives

Brain et al. (1974:237) note that it
is necessary to consider the time, place,
circumstances and author's relationship
with or purpose in narrating an event in
order to properly evaluate written histor-
ical documents. Individual experiences
obviously bias a narrative. Thus, two or
more descriptions of the same event may
show discrepancies or contradictions.
They conclude (Ibid.) that:

In cases such as this, it is important to
determine if there is agreement concerning
the general fabric of the related event.
Thus, criteria must be formulated by which
the information may be structured into
levels where one account may be accepted
over another based on historical probabil-
ity, the methodology known to have been
used by the chronicler and data available


from other sources. In this fashion, the
proper pieces of the puzzle may be gently
matched rather than being hammered into
place or rejected on subjective grounds of
sheer frustration.
The above statement certainly ap-
plies to the four de Soto chroniclers: Ro-
drigo Ranjel, Luys Hernandez de Biedma,
the Gentleman of Elvas, and Garcilaso de
la Vega ("The Inca") However, while al-
lowing for culture bias, occasional exag-
gerations and varying degrees of informant
reliability, their geographic descriptions
provide a key to locating the 1539-40 win-
tering camp and their ethnographic de-
scriptions provide (in combination with
archaeological data) a key to understand-
ing this very important period in the his-
tory of the Southeast, and Florida in par-

Locating Anaica Apalache on Narrative Data

By comparing the narrative landscape
descriptions of the de Soto chroniclers to
modern topographic maps of the study area,
it is possible to suggest some likely de
Soto expedition routes. It is presumed
that only relatively minor physiographic
changes have occurred since 1539-40.
Whether the de Soto chroniclers were
using a 2.63 mile/4.21 km or 3.45 mile/
5.52 km league is important in this or any
other study of the de Soto expedition.
Obviously, with a 0.82 mile/0.992 km dif-
ference between the two, this becomes an
important issue in determining the loca-
tion of events.
William Goza and Jose Fernandez
(1984, personal communication) arrived at
a ratio of 2.6 miles per league by the
simple process of measuring the overland
distance in miles from where de Soto's
soldiers disembarked at Santiago de Cuba
to the villages through which they marched
to their final staging area in Havana.
Since these towns and villages still exist
today, they were able to convert the
leagues reported by the chroniclers to
miles. Warren H. Wilkinson (1960:58) used
the same process, and reached a similar
conclusion, 2.63 miles per league. Brain
(1985:xvi) further reviews this subject,
as did the De Soto commissionn and the au-

thors, and likewise arrives at a figure of
2.6 miles per league. On the basis of
this information, the authors continue to
use 2.6-2.63 miles per league in their
calculations, and find the proposed 3.45
mile league to be without merit with re-
spect to de Soto expedition measurements.
The events associated with the expe-
dition's march from its supposed landfall
on May 29, 1539 to the territory of the
Apalachee are outside the scope of this
study. For details on recent research on
the early portion of the route, the reader
is directed to Brain (1985:xiii-xxi), Mi-
lanich (1986), Mitchem (1986), Mitchem and
Weisman (1984), and Mitchem, Weisman, et
al. (1985). The reader is likewise di-
rected to the research of Wilkinson
(1960), which has unfortunately gone unno-
ticed by many and which points out flaws
in the studies of Swanton and others re-
garding the landing site location.
The narratives pertaining to the
Province of Apalache (spelt with one "e",
while the tribe, Apalachee, contains two
"e"s) are important to this study, since a
measure of their reliability will be ob-
tained from further archaeological re-
search. The results of that research will
be used to locate and investigate other
sites described in the de Soto chronicles.
One measure of their reliability should be
mentioned now, the location of the Martin
site, believed to be the site of Anaica
Apalache where de Soto wintered in 1539-
40, when converted from leagues from the
Aucilla River to miles, supports the 2.63
mile per league measure discussed above.
The last village in Timucua terri-
tory is called Agile (Ranjel), Augile
(Biedma), Axille (Gentleman of Elvas), and
Osachile or Ucachile (Garcilaso). All
four chroniclers discuss the leaving of
this village and crossing of the Swamp of
Ivitachuco (now known as the Aucilla River
drainage system), although they vary in
minor details in their descriptions.
Garcilaso reports that the expedi-
tion arrived at "an extensive swamp which
was difficult to cross, for the water
alone, not counting the forests on both
sides, ... there was no passage except
that of a small footpath made by the Indi-
ans, so narrow that two men could hardly


walk along it abreast" (Varner and Varner
1951:176). He further states that where
the path crossed the creek, only a 40 foot
stretch in the middle was too deep to
wade; and, that a bridge was made across
this area by felling two trees where they
again entered a dense forest. He con-
cludes that "these two forests and the
swamp itself were each a half-league
across; thus in all, the distance amounted
to a league and a half" (Ibid.) or 3.945
miles. The expedition next passed through
some two leagues (5.26 miles) of forest
before reaching a wide clear plain, where
de Soto decided to rest his army and
"pitched camp near a small village that
marked the beginning of the fields and
settlements of the province of Apalachee"
(Varner and Varner 1951:176-182).
In Ranjel's version, the river or
swamp of Ivitachuco was reached on October
first and the next day the expedition be-
gan crossing over a bridge which they had
constructed, but did not complete the ac-
tion until noon of the following day.
That same day (October 3rd) they marched
to Ivitachuco which they found in flames
(Hale G. Smith 1975:4-5). Biedma concurs
with this description of events, except
that he reports their arrival at Ivi-
tachuco on October fourth, where he re-
ports they remained during the fifth and
proceeded westward on the sixth to Ini-
ahica (Anaica Apalache) where they pre-
pared to stay the winter. The Gentleman
of Elvas provides little additional infor-
mation. He agrees with Biedma concerning
"Uitachuco" and adds that on "Sunday, the
twenty-fifth (sic, 5th?) of October, he
arrived at the town of Uzela, and on Mon-
day at Anhayca Apalache, where the lord of
all that country and province resides"
(Buckingham Smith 1866:47). Swanton
(1939:147) notes that the town called
Uzela by Elvas is called Calahuchi by Ran-
jel, and suggests that the former is a
Timucuan word while the latter is
Apalachee. Thus, there is general agree-
ment on this segment of the march and as-
sociated events.
As a result of his Spanish mission
research, Jones (1972) located a later
site of Ivitachuco (8JelO0) (see Figure
1). There is documentary evidence that
Apalachee villages were periodically relo-

cated as a result of soil and fire-wood
depletion, although sites were not relo-
cated very far from their original
location (Hann 1976:2-4, Doc. AI Escriba-
nia de Camara, Leg. 155, Nb. 18). Ivi-
tachuco was near a trade route across the
swamp. This same route later became part
of the mission trail system. Thus, it is
believed that the site of the Ivitachuco
visited by the de Soto expedition is lo-
cated within 1.5-2.0 miles of the later
mission site.
Upon leaving Ivitachuco, Garcilaso
the Spaniards marched on through some
great fields of corn, beans, squash and
other vegetables which had been sown on
both sides of the road and were spread out
as far as the eye could see across two
leagues of plain. Among these fields were
sprinklings of settlements with houses set
apart from each other and not arranged in
the order of a town. (Varner and Varner
Reporting on this same event, the Gentle-
man of Elvas states that: "From thence
forward the country was much inhabited,
and had great store of maize. He passed
by many granges, like hamlets" (Hakluyt
Garcilaso reports that after advanc-
ing two leagues through fields, they ar-
rived at "a deep ravine containing a great
quantity of water and fringed on both
sides with dense woods ... Once across
the ravine, the army moved on two more
leagues through country devoid of both
fields and towns," at which point they
camped for the night (Varner and Varner
1951:182). Relying on topographic map ev-
idence, Tesar (1979, 1980a, 1980b) sug-
gested that this ravine is probably the
feature today known as the Lake Miccosukee
Drain in northeastern Leon County,
Florida. However, an alternative has
since been suggested by Jones on the basis
of his survey experience, and Tesar be-
lieves that Jones' opinion has merit.
Jones believes that the ravine encountered
by the de Soto expedition is the feature
now known as Burnt Mill Creek in western
Jefferson County near U.S. Highway 27.
The next day, after spending the
night at Uzela/Calahuchi, they marched
across the intervening two leagues to meet

,-. *1t *
t,:r _~. J


(Biedma) r7-
"' '9 leagues- -"

Martin Site.
: (Anaica Apalache)

12 leagues 11 leagues 9 leagues

S Elevations Above 50 Meters
Elevations Between 25 50 Meters
Elevations Below 25 Meters

Proposed Route of the
de Soto Expedition

h 0 10Km

/ 6Mi

- 0 1 2 lg

Olin Work site

St. Marks
Piney Point site LocatiOn ol
Fire Tower site

Apalachee Bay
Figure 1. Topographic map of project area with bracketed study area based on de Soto chroniclers distances in 2.63-mile
leagues from the Aucilla River to Anaica Apalache (the Martin site) and from there to the coast. The de Soto expedition
route shown is that proposed by B. Calvin Jones. (Map adapted from Shapiro and Jones 1987). (NOTE: Using the 3.46-mile
league, the Martin site is only 8.25 leagues from the Aucilla River, the San Luis mission site is 9+ leagues, and the
Ochlockonee River is 11 leagues -- 10 miles west of the Martin site.)



with Apalachee whom captives had reported
to be gathering at the next town, Anaica
Apalache. Finding the town abandoned,
they pursued the Apalachee for another two
leagues, but failed to capture their chief
(Varner and Varner 1951:182). De Soto
then returned to Anaica Apalache, where he
decided to spend the winter.
In establishing the location of
Anaica Apalache from the east, Garcilaso
reports that it is separated from the last
village in Timucua by twelve leagues
(Varner and Varner 1951:175). He also re-
ports that it is eleven leagues from the
Ivitachuco swamp (Varner and Varner
1951:197-198). In both instances there is
a two league discrepancy when the distance
is computed by adding the individual
point-to-point distances noted in the nar-
rative, and it is likely that this error
is the result of including the two leagues
beyond Anaica Apalache that they pursued
the Apalachee. However, if Garcilaso
rounded off in his point-to-point league
and half-league distances in the narra-
tive, he could have corrected the cumula-
tive error in his summary statements.
Thus, the eleven and twelve league dis-
tances reported by Garcilaso may not be
in error. Biedma, Elvas and Ranjel pro-
vide no information on these distances.
For the purpose of his study, Tesar
(1979, 1980a, 1980b, 1986) used the nine
league minimum and eleven league maximum
distances (23.67 and 28.93 miles) from the
Aucilla River to establish the eastern and
western boundaries of his suggested study
area. Jones' identification of the Martin
site as Anaica Apalache is close to the
eleven league distance. Jones also be-
lieves that the Aucilla River crossing was
between one half to two leagues south of
present-day Lamont, Florida. Jones also
believes that Uzela/Calahuchi, at nine
leagues from the Aucilla and two leagues
from Anaica, is the large 200-300 acre
site (8Lel573), which he located in 1989,
on the south side of Lake Lafayette.
Since the Spaniards had to battle the
Apalachee to cross both the Ivitachuco
Swamp/Aucilla River drainage and the Lake
Miccosukee Drain/Burnt Mill Creek/"deep
ravine containing a great quantity of
water and fringed on both sides with dense
woods," evidence of Spanish armour,

weapons, horse tack, and the like would be
expected at both sites (see section on
Martin site artifacts for greater detail
on artifact types). However, few Spanish
artifacts would be expected at Uzela/
Calahuchi, since the expedition only spent
the night at that site.
After deciding to winter at Anaica
Apalache, Garcilaso reports that de Soto
sent two groups out by different routes
northward to study the land. Both re-
ported ranging some 15-20 leagues and each
saw "many populous villages as well as
land that was abundant in food and clear
of swamps and extensive forests" (Varner
and varner 1951:185-186). Northern Leon
County, Florida into adjacent southern
Georgia easily fits this description.
However, it provides little to locating
Anaica Apalache.
However, the distance from Anaica
Apalache to the coast provides an opportu-
nity to establish southern and northern
limits to the wintering camp location
study area. Garcilaso reports that Juan
de Anasco, accompanied by 40 horsemen and
50 foot soldiers, marched southward "six
leagues a day for two days along a very
excellent road, both wide and flat. These
men after crossing a couple of small and
easily forded rivers, came to a village
called Aute ... (from which village their
guide) took them away from the good, wide
road they had been following for such a
long time and brought them through some
dense, rough woods where there were many
fallen trees and neither roads nor paths"
(Varner and Varner 1951:187). The two
easily forded rivers were probably the
then more active present-day Munson Slough
(Wakulla River) drainage and Lost Creek
south of present-day Crawfordville. The
dense, rough woods are probably repre-
sented by present-day Bradwell Bay Swamp
and possibly Tate's Hell.

After five days in this environment,
the Spaniards ran out of food and decided
to return to Aute, which they did in four
days. After obtaining provisions, they
set out again only to be misled a second
time. On the third day their guide tried
to escape three times, and at dawn the
following day he made a final attempt at
escape for which offense he was killed by
the Spaniards and fed to their dogs


(Varner and Varner 1951:190).
However, the Spaniards had been for-
tunate in capturing another native near
Aute. This individual insisted that they
return to Aute, which they did. Their ad-
vance guard captured two more natives near
that village. The next day they were led
along a peaceful, flat and open road which
lay through some large and good stubble,
and which became even broader and more
open when they emerged from the stubble.
Along the whole of this route they failed
to encounter a single difficult passage,
with the exception of one narrow swamp
which was easy to cross because the horses
did not sink even to their pastern in the
mire. When they had traveled a little
more than two leagues they came to a very
broad and spacious bay which they skirted
until arriving at the place where Pamphilo
de Narvaez had camped. (Varner and Varner
The ill-fated Narvaez expedition had
preceded de Soto in attempting to explore
Florida in search of riches. It reached
the Apalachee area around 1528, where it
met with strong resistance and was forced
to withdraw to the coast. There, with its
provisions exhausted, its dwindling mem-
bers constructed vessels, killed their
horses for food, water containers and hide
sails, and set sail in defeat to Mexico.
After unsuccessfully searching the
Narvaez encampment for any hidden mes-
sages, de Soto's soldiers continued along
the shoreline of the bay for three leagues
to the Gulf where they found some canoes.
At low tide they used the canoes to
measure the depth of the bay at mid-
channel, and determined that it was deep
enough to accommodate heavy vessels. They
then returned to shore and placed signs in
the tallest trees to mark it for mariners
(Varner and Varner 1951:192-193).
Summarizing the information from
Anaica Apalache to the coast, we learn
from Garcilaso that it was 12 leagues/
31.56 miles to Aute and a little more than
two leagues/5.26 miles from there to a
very broad and spacious bay with only a
narrow, easily forded swamp along the way
(Varner and Varner 1951:198). From that
point to Narvaez' 1528 camp was apparently
so short a distance that it is not men-
tioned, and from the camp to the mouth of

the bay was another three leagues/7.89
miles. It also is important to note that
the land near Aute was densely wooded and
swampy, if one left the main trail.
However, there is some disagreement with
Garcilaso' s description.
Biedma reports that it was only nine
leagues from Anaica Apalache to Narvaez'
camp on the bay (Buckingham Smith 1866:
234). Furthermore, the translators of the
de Soto chroniclers sometimes distort
information, as in the following example.
Buckingham Smith's (1866:47) translation
of the Gentleman of Elvas' narrative
indicates that the distance from Anaica
Apalache to Ochete (Aute) was "eight
leagues on the way" with the final dis-
tance to the coast and the Narvaez en-
campment so close as to be insignificant,
while Hakluyt's (1851:44) translation in-
dicates that the "sea was ten leagues from
thence" (Anaica Apalache) with Ochete lo-
cated "six leagues on the way." In this
instance, the Hakluyt translation is the
correct one, as demonstrated on page 47 of
a facsimile of Elvas's original 1557 Por-
tuguese edition: "informado que estava lo
mar dez legoas d'alli, mando logo hun cap-
itan con gente de cavallo y de pey a sey
legoas de camino acbau hun pouo que Ochete
se shamaus." (The photocopy of this text
was provided by Dr. John Hann accompanying
his review comments on an earlier draft of
this report, and serves to demonstrate the
need for new translations more faithful to
the originals). Thus, we have distances
ranging from 9-10 leagues/23.67-26.3 miles
to 14 leagues/36.82 miles from Anaica
Apalache to the coast to form the southern
and northern boundaries of the study area.
to 14 leagues/36.82 miles from Anaica
Apalache to the coast to form the southern
and northern boundaries of the study area.
In past studies, Tesar has suggested
that the large embayment was probably
Ochlockonee Bay and the Narvaez encampment
was probably near the mouth of the
Ochlockonee River at the headwaters of the
bay. It is noted, however, that the dis-
tance is too great when the Martin site is
used as a beginning point.
As an alternative, Jones notes that
the 9-11 leagues distance appears to be
correct when the Martin site is used as a
beginning point and the head of Apalache


Bay at St. Marks as the end point. This
would place de Soto's Aute Apalachee
village on either the banks of the Wakulla
or St. Marks rivers. Jones believes that
Aute is either the site originally
identified by Willey (1949:296) as the
Works Place (8Wall) or the site later
identified as the Olin Park site (8Wa82).
These two sites appear to comprise one
large half-mile long habitation area along
the east bank of the Wakulla, about 2.5-3
miles above Fort St. Marks. The Works
site was recognized by Hale G. Smith to
contain 16th century Spanish artifacts
(1956:37), and subsequent investigation by
Jones at the Olin Corporation Park site
yielded 17th and 18th century Spanish
artifacts (1986 notes) This site is
located about 6.5-7.0 leagues south of the
Martin site/Anaica Apalache and is the
largest known Fort Walton-Leon-Jefferson
period site located near Apalachee Bay.
This site could be expected to have
contained enough fresh water and maize for
de Soto's men to have provisioned (Swanton
1939:111). The site where Narvaez built
his boats is suspected to be further south
two leagues at Port Leon or on the piney
point just west of the Port Leon fire
tower. Some 16th century artifacts found
at the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge fire
tower burial site (8Wa15) may be attri-
buted to the Narvaez expedition (Hale G.
Smith 1956; Johnson 1969; Nick Fallier
1989, personal communication; Marrinan and
Scarry 1989); although, Tesar suggests
that other sources, such as Spanish
traders or ship wrecks, should not be
Another important geographic feature
near Anaica Apalache is the stronghold
where Capafi, the cacique of the
Apalachee, had taken refuge. Garcilaso
reports that this was located in "some
large and very rugged mountains" located
no more then eight leagues from Anaica
Apalache. This location had an abundance
of underbrush, and was otherwise "secure
because of the difficulty of the road,
swamp and forest which protected the
site." It is further described as being
located in "the center of a very large and
dense wood" where the Apalachee had
cleared a spot for the camp and erected
defensive barriers by felling trees

(Varner and Varner 1951:203-204). The
rugged terrain in the area east of pre-
sent-day Quincy, Florida at the edge of
the Little River Valley in Gadsden O(unty
seems to best fit this description.
The descriptions concerning the
leaving of the province of Apalache after
a stay of some five month does not contri-
bute any data useful to locating the 1539-
40 wintering site. It is thus excluded
from this presentation.
Figure 1 was prepared by plotting
the chroniclers' maximum and minimum
distances from the Aucilla River to Anaica
Apalache, and from that site to the coast.
Garcilaso's distances of between nine and
eleven leagues from the Aucilla River es-
tablish the eastern and western limits,
since none of the other chroniclers dis-
cuss this matter. The northern and south-
ern boundaries were based on Garcilaso's
14 leagues to the coast, versus Biedma's 9
leagues and Elvas' 10 leagues. These dis-
tances bracket a roughly rectangular area
in which Tesar (1979, 1980a, 1980b, 1986)
suggested that the site of Anaica Apalache
was likely to be located.
Another aspect of this study was the
integration of the physiographic informa-
tion presented in the narratives with
known physiographic features beginning at
possible crossing points along the Aucilla
River. When a possible route failed to
fit the geographic descriptions of the
chroniclers, it was not further considered
(see Tesar 1979, 1980a, 1980b, 1986; Jones
this study). These efforts suggested that
the study effort be narrowed to the
southern half of the area bracketed in
Figure 1 for the corridor within which to
search for the de Soto expedition route.
As the significant archaeological
discovery by Jones demonstrates, the ac-
tual location of Anaica Apalache (the Mar-
tin site) is located at the southwest cor-
ner of the study area. Thus, the conclu-
sions reached above are supported.

Historic Tails and de Soto's Rbute

Following the lead of Love (1921)
and others, another method of documenting
the probable route of de Soto's expedition
was investigated. As love (1921:270)
points out, "if there is one thing that is


perfectly clear it is that de Soto, as
well as other explorers in their marches,
traveled along Indian trails." Such
trails, the arteries of extensive native
trade networks, remained in use for cen-
turies. Thus, it is likely that later
Spanish Mission period trails and
subsequent British and American trails and
roads were located in the same locations
as older trails, or at least in the
general vicinity of these locations as
villages were relocated periodically as
documented by Hann (1976:2-4), Tesar
(1980a:218) and others.
Several historic maps were reviewed
in this study. These include Hieron Chi-
aves' 1565 La Florida, which shows the
"Baya de Baxos" as it appeared to mid-
1500s cartographers. This feature, later
known as the Bay of Apalache, may well be
the Bay of Aute discussed by the de Soto
chroniclers. Jacob Le Moyne's 1591 Flori-
dae Americae Provinciae ... description
shows the same bay. Although it is un-
named, Le Moyne writes "Hic descendit Pam-
philus Narvaez" near the mouth of the
river at the head of the bay. While these
maps lack modern detail, Jones suggests
that it was the mouth of the St. Marks or
Wakulla River which is indicated, while
Tesar in past articles has favored the
mouth of the Ochlockonee River and its as-
sociated bay. All of these locations
merit further study.
Shifting from the coast to the inte-
rior, the following maps were used in this
study to identify the probable location of
historic roads and trails in or near the
study area:
1) the Boyd et al. (1951:Figure 1) Map of
the doctrinas or mission villages of
Apalachee and Timucua in charge of the
Franciscan fathers, according to Bishop
Calderon, 1675;
2) Gobernador Marquez de la Cabrera's 1683
Mapa de la Ysla de la Florida;
3) Joseph Purcell's 1778 A Map of the Ibad
from Pensacola in West Florida to St.
Augustine in East Florida;
4) John Lee Williams' 1837 Map of Florida;
5) Hermann Julius Meyer's 1845 Florida;
6) State of Florida (1856) prepared by
order of Jefferson Davis, then Secretary
of War for the United States of America.

It is noted that the identified
trails and roads tend to cluster in the
southern portion of the bracketed study
area identified by Tesar (1979, 1980a,
1980b, 1986). This is important since it
also is the area in which Jones made his
discovery of remains associated with the
actual de Soto expedition wintering camp.

Reduced Study Area

On the basis of the physiographic
data and historic trail locations, the
study area was narrowed to the southern
portion of the bracketed area identified
by the maximum and minimum east-west and
north-south distances reported by the de
Soto chroniclers. Archaeological data for
this smaller southern area was next con-

Supporting Archaeological Site Data

A factor which separates this study
from its predecessors is a reliance on ar-
chaeological data to narrow further the
potential area in which to search for the
site of Anaica Apalache, the 1539-40 de
Soto wintering site, and other sites vis-
ited by that expedition.
As part of the Leon County Bicenten-
nial Survey Report, Tesar (1980a) gener-
ated tentative settlement pattern models
for each of the archaeological phases rep-
resented in the Leon County Tallahassee
Red Hills area. Relevant to the present
study are the Late Apalachee Fort Walton
and Early Leon-Jefferson archaeological
culture settlement patterns, as it has
been Tesar's opinion that the de Soto ex-
pedition dates from the end of the first
and the beginning of the latter. These
two archaeological phases are part of a
four phase transition described in detail
by Tesar (1980a, 1981), and subsequently
refined and redescribed by Scarry (1985:
199-233, and subsequent papers). However,
Tesar s original terms and data are
retained in this presentation.
Sites identified as Early and Late
Apalachee Fort Walton and Early and Late
Leon-Jefferson are identified, in part, by
ceramic traits. A distinguishing feature
of Early Leon-Jefferson ceramics is the
addition of Lamar traits to the existing


Fort Walton complex, while the Late Leon-
Jefferson phase is distinguished from the
earlier phase by the addition of Spanish
Mission artifacts and copy ware. Tesar
(1980a:194-205, 1980b) discusses the
transition from Late Apalachee Fort Walton
to Early Leon-Jefferson ceramics, and
attributes the transition to the disrup-
tion of the de Soto expedition.
The settlement patterns of both the
Early and Late Leon-Jefferson phases are
basically the same as that of the Late
Apalachee Fort Walton phase. Villages and
house sites for both Fort Walton and Leon-
Jefferson phases tend to be equally lo-
cated either near ridge crests and hill
tops, or around ponds and lake shorelines.
Early Apalachee Fort Walton sites fit the
classic Mississippian central mound center
surrounded by supporting villages and ham-
lets (See Tesar 1980a and Payne 1980 for a
more in depth discussion), while later
phases are generally characterized by an
absence of mounds at sites. During the
Late Apalachee Fort Walton phase there is
a marked shift from earlier occupations
around large lakes to settlements around
pond and sink associations, and these
smaller bodies of water continue to domi-
nate settlement locations during the later
Early Leon-Jefferson phase. Further, site
occurrence near swamp ponds equals that
near swamps during the Late Apalachee Fort
Walton phase, and exceeds the latter dur-
ing the following Early Leon-Jefferson
phase. While most recorded sites tend to
be located within 0.1 km of the nearest
water source, beginning with the Early
Apalachee Fort Walton phase and ending
with the Early Leon-Jefferson phase, sites
occur farther and farther away from the
nearest water source but generally within
0.4 km. 0nly two sites, both Early Leon-
Jefferson, are recorded more than 0.6 km
from the nearest water sources (Tesar
1980a:626, 636-640).
In addition to the preceding, these
is an apparent shift in population density
toward the southern portion of the red
clay hills during Early to Late Apalachee
Fort Walton times. Tesar (1980a:632) sug-
gests that "this apparent shift may re-
flect growing territorial pressure from
the north, soil exhaustion and firewood
depletion in the previously densely popu-

lated northern area, or some combination
of these factors." The identification of
known and potential Late Apalachee Fort
Walton and Early Leon-Jefferson phase site
locations within the study area was origi-
nally planned as the focal point of this
study to facilitate the location of the de
Soto wintering camp. However, the discov-
ery by Jones of that site lessened its im-
In an earlier paper, lTsar (1979:71)
had suggested the location of the
Apalachee capital, Anaica Apalache, to be
located in central Leon County in the area
around Lake Lafayette, just to the east of
Tallahassee. Commenting on this proposed
location, Payne (1980:11) concluded that
"this area is a much more efficient loca-
tion than Lake Jackson" as the capital of
the territory. As indicated, the discov-
ery of Jones indicates that the center of
this locale should be shifted a couple of
miles westward to a location east of the
south side of Lake Lafayette and the east-
ern edge of the 1936 Tallahassee city lim-
its. It is this area (Figure 2) in which
further research has been focused (see
Ewen this issue).

Archaeologically Identifying Anaica
Apalache, the de Soto Wintering Site

In the preceding discussion, infor-
mation is presented (see Figures 1-2) to
suggest that the site of Anaica Apalache,
the 1539-40 de Soto expedition wintering
site, is located within a roughly one-half
square league (1.32 square miles; 4.33
square kilometers) area, and indeed the de
Soto chroniclers indicate that the army
occupied such an area around the main
Garcilaso states that Anaica
Apalache "consisted of two hundred and
fifty large and good houses. Finding his
whole army (or rather that portion with
him at the time) lodged now in these
houses, he himself took quarters in the
habitations of the Cacique, which were lo-
cated on one side of the town and as royal
dwellings had advantages over all the oth-
ers" (Varner and Varner 1951:184). The
Gentleman of Elvas states that "the campe
master ... did lodge all the companies
round within a league and halfe a league


11n .~ ~i. I1
r~-tz--- wn... 1, V T1 D_: Ay

L 3 9

63' 61 S 111


Iart n
61 LIM
36 63 r

Figure 2.

Study area in which evidence of the de Soto expedition is most likely
to be located. Hatched areas are locales in which Apalachee Fort
Walton and Leon-Jefferson sites are known or deemed likely to occur.
The Martin site is in the southwest corner of this area.

of it" according to the Hakluyt (1851:43)
translation, whereas Hann's (1988:21) most
recent translation of Elvas reads: "the
field master, whose duty it is to assign
and provide lodging, lodged everyone round
about this settlement. At (a distance of)
half a league and a league there were
others where there was a great deal of
maize, squash, and beans ..." Garcilaso
also states that, having decided to winter
in Apalache, de Soto "ordered his men to
collect all possible supplies and build
many new houses in addition to those that
the town already afforded ... And then for
greater security, he had the place forti-
fied to the extent that he felt was neces-
sary" (Varner and Varner 1951:193-194).
Biedma contributes little other than the
name "Inaihica" and the fact that they
stopped there (Rye 1851:176; Buckingham

Smith 1866:284). Of further importance is
the information that "there came an Indian
through the watch undiscovered, and set
the towne on fire, and with the great wind
that blew, two parts of it were consumed
in a short time" (Hakluyt 1851:44).
From the above it may be concluded
1) the site is large (250 dwellings be-
fore the Spanish additions);
2) may be divided into parts or areas;
3) has structures of both Apalachee (gen-
erally oval or round) and Spanish (most
likely rectangular with possibly some
metal fastenings);
4) probably had an earthen or wooden
breastwork of Spanish construction for
fortification; and,
5) the cacique's dwellings were distinct
or at least better situated then those in

g 33: 14 3

6 3i

N -1-6 R-d91

'10 C" 1)
rF 77


3L j,
~St 0
2 10 ~ C

~' "


the rest of the town.
Since mounds are mentioned among
other tribes visited by the expedition,
Marvin Smith (Personal aOmmunication 1982)
has stated that Garcilaso's description of
the chief's house may refer to a structure
situated on a mound, and that Tesar's
(1979, 1980a, 1980b) inference that they
are lacking among the Apalachee on the ba-
sis of their omission in the narratives
may be mistaken. Tesar (1986) subse-
quently agreed to consider Marvin's sug-
gestion and noted that the Buck Lake mound
site overlooking Lake Lafayette, and lo-
cated within Tesar's previously identified
study area, merited further study to re-
solve the mound issue. However, Tesar
continued to assert that such features
were generally lacking at the Apalachee
sites visited by the de Soto expedition,
and certainly were not prominent enough to
be noteworthy, as they were elsewhere. B.
Calvin Jones' discovery of two wattle-and-
daub structures in non-mound contexts at
the Martin site lends support to Tesar's
contention that mound features were gener-
ally absent at 1539-40 Apalachee villages.
Although probably not viewed as for-
tunate by the Spaniards, a fortuitous
event with regard to the preservation of
structural evidence (and loss of many ob-
jects of European origin) occurred when an
Apalachee was able to set a fire which re-
sulted in the burning of two parts of the
town. It is suggested that the structures
were close together and had thatch roofs
which facilitated the spread of the fire;
and, that clusters of structures permitted
distinct areas or parts of the town to be
recognized. It is noted that burnt wall
daub with palmetto thatch impressions was
recovered at the Martin site.
It must be remembered that de Soto's
forces, while certainly concentrated in
and around the main town, may have been
lodged "within a league and halfe a league
of it" (Hakluyt 1851:43). Thus, de Soto
expedition camp remains may be found
amongst various Apalachee hamlet sites in
a 1.3-2.6 mile radius around the main
town; certainly within 0.5 league radius
of the Martin site at the very least.
(This prompted the study by Ewen, this is-
sue) .

In addition to material remains of
Spanish and Portuguese origin dating to
the early 1500s and structural remains in-
dicating European construction concepts in
combination with Late Apalachee Fort Wal-
ton artifacts and structures, the occur-
rence of pig and horse remains in these
contexts would be very significant.
Droves of pigs accompanied the expedition
as a walking larder, and were not present
in the Southeastern United States prior to
the de Soto expedition. Thus, pig bones
and teeth are an expected attribute of the
de Soto wintering camp, as are those of
horses. Garcilaso reports that the
Apalachee, "... perceiving the advantage
that the Spaniards had over them when
mounted, these Indians tried first to de-
stroy the horses, and they were more
pleased with killing one of the animals
then with killing four Christians" (Varner
and Varner 1951:256). He further reports
that there were "more than three hundred
horses" (Op. cit.:260) at the winter en-
campment. Thus in addition to horse bones
and teeth, harness fittings, saddle hard-
ware, horse shoes, and horse shoe nails
are expected artifacts at the de Soto win-
tering encampment.
Furthermore, human remains are ex-
pected to be present at the de Soto win-
tering site. The Gentleman of Elvas re-
ports that nearly all of the several hun-
dred natives captured in south Florida and
brought north as bearers for the army,
"being naked and in chains, had perished
in great part during the winter"
(Buckingham Smith 1866:51). In addition,
some Spaniards also died during this pe-
riod from wounds inflicted by the
Apalachee. For example, Alonso de Car-
mona, quoted in Garcilaso, reported that
"more than twenty of our soldiers were
slain" (Varner and Varner 1951:259) while
seeking firewood and provisions for the
winter encampment.
Since there were five clergymen ac-
companying the expedition, it is likely
that the deceased Spaniards received
Christian burial rites, and that Christmas
Mass was celebrated by the expedition's
members, thus marking the first such ser-
vices celebrated on the North American
Continent in what is today the United


States of America (Hale G. Smith 1975:8).
As they died of starvation, exposure and
torture, one wonders what the enslaved na-
tives thought of these events and whether
the "meaning" of Christmas and Christian-
ity were explained to them. Where and how
did the Spaniards dispose of the natives
when they died? In a mass grave? Exposed
in natural basin areas? Did they allow
their dogs and pigs to eat them? These
questions remain to be answered.
Finally, one of the most obvious
clues would be the finding of European ar-
tifacts which could be attributed to the
de Soto expedition. It is likely that an
army of more than 500 well-equiped men
would lose or leave something along their
route, and particularly at the site where
they wintered for months and experienced a
devastating fire. Artifacts associated
with horses have already been mentioned.
Yet, prior to Jones' discoveries at the
Martin site, as Goggin (1954:151) noted
generally and Tesar (1986) stated specifi-
cally for Apalache, "one of the most puz-
zling research problems to date has been
the almost total absence of material ob-
jects discovered in this area which could
be associated with the de Soto expedi-
tion." Goggin (1954:161) concluded:
It is probably well to remember that un-
less a "De Soto ablet" of some sort if
found, the ultimate pinpointing of De
Soto's and other explorer's routes will
probably have to be done, if not by Span-
ish pottery, coins, and bronze hinges, at
least by very similar things.

Garcilaso describes in detail an
event at the de Soto winter encampment in
which an Apalachee captive shot an arrow
through "four thicknesses of mail ...
The result was that those arms which had
been scorned previously came to be
esteemed whereas those which had been val-
ued were now thrown aside" (Varner and
Varner 1951:235-236). Thus, evidence of
chain mail would be expected at the de
Soto wintering site.
In conclusion, in addition to struc-
tural evidence diagnostic of both
Apalachee and Spanish origin, Late
Apalachee Fbrt Walton artifacts, pig,
horse and human skeletal remains, diagnos-
tic European artifacts are expected to be

present at the de Soto winter encampment,
especially in that part of the camp de-
stroyed by fire. While an effort would
have been made to salvage personal belong-
ings following the fire, it is likely that
ceramics would have been broken beyond
salvage and that many small objects, such
as coils, pieces of chain mail, sewing
kits, and the like, were not recovered
from the rubble. A tablet marked Hernando
de Soto durmio aqui certainly would be

The Martin Site (8Le853B/8Le282)

While not finding the requisite
tablet, although he was presented with a
properly embossed hub cap undoubtedly lost
by the expedition, the discoveries by B.
Calvin Jones at the Martin site (8Le853B/
8Le282), named when it previously was
recorded as the location of the historic
residence of former Governor Martin, cer-
tainly has provided conclusive evidence
that at least a portion of the de Soto
expedition wintering site has been found,
if not Anaica Apalache itself. Figure 3
shows the location of the Martin site and
associated Apalachee site areas.
There is little doubt that the Mar-
tin site, located on a 200 foot high hill
in the south portion of Section 31, Town-
ship 01 North-Range 01 East -- one half
mile southeast of the Historic State Capi-
tol in Tallahassee, Florida, is a signifi-
cant part of the village of Anaica
Apalache, where de Soto spent the winter
of 1539-40. Since March 1987, archaeolog-
ical excavation at this site has yielded
Spanish and Apalachee data that pertain to
the de Soto winter encampment.
Research to date by Jones and
Charles Ewen (also see Ewen this issue) on
the 6.8 acre tract known as Governor's
Park has revealed four 2500 square meter
Spanish occupation areas that essentially
encircle and dominate the west end of a
ridge that divides the Wakulla River basin
from the St. Marks River (Lake Lafayette)
basin. Immediately to the west of the
site are several springs that feed into a
tributary of the Wakulla. Adjacent abo-
riginally occupied areas of the site are
known to exist from previous research by
Jones (1975) and subsequent research by


Center of
6m Section 31

CAPITOL '45m "
FLO D \ O'T de Soto Winter Camp
( 16th Century(Martin siteSpan

...-." ...

6 I

Ko Center o 5m

4 m 45m

a 1

Q- Spring

Natural Ponds (Sinkholes)

Figure 3. Martin site and suspected location for Anaica Apalache visited by
Hernando de Soto in the winter of 1539-40, Tallahassee, Florida.
(Map prepared by B. Calvin Jones).
(Map prepared by B. Calvin Jones).


Ewen (this issue), but have not been ade-
quately tested to determine the extent of
occupations (See Figure 2).
Excavations were limited to two of
the Spanish-Apalachee occupied sites areas
within the one acre area then to be ad-
versely impacted by the construction of
two office buildings. Work on the two re-
maining areas has been limited to auger
testing to determine their boundaries.
The developers were very cooperative
in these efforts, repeatedly delaying and
adjusting construction schedules. It is
noted that there were no applicable fed-
eral or state environmental review laws
which might have been used to otherwise
compel compliance. Indeed, the entire
project, with its many avocational and
professional volunteers, cooperation among
developers, community business people,
state and local agencies, and environmen-
tal protection groups, serves as a model
of what can be done when concerned citi-
zens come together to protect and preserve
important aspects of a community's archae-
ological heritage.
The first or primary excavation
area, along the north edge of the ridge
adjacent to what is today east Lafayette
Street, comprises a roughly 600 square me-
ter excavation area. It yielded seven
significant features and numerous small
Spanish artifacts associated with the de
Soto encampment, in addition to Late
Apalachee Fort alton artifacts. Features
include three wattle-and-daub structures -
- two round cojoined or adjacent buildings
ranging from 5.5 to 8 m in diameters and a
superimposed rectangular structure ranging
from 7.5 to 8.5 m in width and 11 m in
length (with a molded wall line hearth and
palmetto roof), a large borrow pit for
clay, three nearby cooking or trash pits,
a human cremation, and a small storage
The second excavation area, located
immediately to the north and west of the
first area, includes another wattle-and-
daub structure located around 15 m north
of the first structure, as well as
artifacts associated with the de Soto
encampment. Later 17th century Spanish
mission features and 18th century arti-
facts also were found in the west half of

the second area and generally above de
Soto period artifacts. They are believed
to be associated with the 1675 mission of
la Purificacion de la Tama and an early
Seminole Indian habitation. About 90
square meters were excavated in this area
before building construction was begun.
De Soto period artifacts were most
numerous in the primary area of excavation
and associated with most features, partic-
ularly the excavated portion of the
rectangular wattle-and-daub structural
area, one of the trash pits, and in the 40
cm deep midden zone across the site. They
include early 16th century European glass
beads (both chevron and hollow clear glass
types), hundreds of early glazed olive jar
fragments, melado ware, chain mail links
(both iron and brass coated) small iron
shot, iron tacks, and horse shoe nails.
Less common items include Columbia Plain,
Caparra Blue, and other majolica types,
five copper coins (two Spanish maravedis
and three possible (badly corroded)
Portuguese ceitils), a cross bow quarrel,
etc. (see Figures 4-6).
Limited testing in the remaining two
areas appears to indicate that less vari-
ety of Spanish artifacts may occur in
those areas. Chain mail and horse shoe
nails appear to compose the bulk of Span-
ish artifacts in those areas.
The Martin site undoubtedly repre-
sents an approximately 0.25 linear mile
portion of the de Soto winter encampment
and the village of Anaica Apalache. The
fact that two high status aboriginal
structural areas have been found associ-
ated with this section of the site, and
the fact that the Martin site is but a
small part of a much larger village (Jones
1975:18), indicates that the Martin site
portion actually may have been occupied by
de Soto himself. The basis for this
conclusion is Garcilaso's statement that,
upon returning to Anaica Apalache after
pursuing the fleeing Apalachee and finding
his army lodged in its houses, de Soto
"himself took quarters in the habitations
of the Cacique, which were located on one
side of the town and as royal dwellings
had advantages over all the others"
(Varner and Varner 1951:184). The two
wattle-and-daub structural areas located

c1 rn 1111111111111111111
t 2

Figure 4. Chain mail from the Martin site (8Le853B/8Le282), Tallahassee, Florida where the de
Soto expedition spent the winter of 1939-40. Left. Photograph of rusted chain mail. Right.
Artist illustration of mail shown to left. (Photograph courtesy of the Florida Department of u
State, Division of Historical Resources. Illustration by Frank Gilson).

A 1,, llll Ill lllllBimliill
1 2 3


Figure 5. Sixteenth-century Spanish and Portuguese artifacts from the Martin site (8Le853B/
8Le282) Tallahassee, Florida where the de Soto expedition spent the winter of 1539-40. A-D.
Obverse and reverse of four of the five copper maravidas and ceitils; E. Iron crossbow quarrel
* point; and, F. Iron chain mail links. (Photographs courtesy of the Florida Department of
M State, Division of Historical Resources).


c,, I I I IIil I I(IIIllI II I I III
1 2 3

Figure 6. Mbre sixteenth-century Spanish artifacts from the Martin site (8Le853B/8Le282),
Tallahassee, Florida. A-B. Faceted untumbled chevron glass beads; C. Nueva Cadiz bead; D.
Clear hollow glass bead; E. Faceted amber bead; F. Iron shot; G. Iron boot tacks (?); and,
H. Rectangular headed iron horseshoe nails (?). (Photographs courtesy of the Florida
Department of State, Division of Historical Resources).

on the northern side of the village would
fit this description.


In conclusion, while the exact area
occupied by Anaica Apalache, the 1539-40
de Soto expedition wintering site, may not

be identified with certainty, this study
has served to identify a portion of that
site and to narrow considerably the area
in which to focus future investigations.
There is little doubt that de Soto win-
tered in the area to the east of the pre-
sent-day State Capitol in Tallahassee,
Florida toward the Lake Lafayette area.


The continuing research by Jones and Ewen
at the Martin site and in the surrounding
area will shed additional information on
this important site (also see Ewen this
issue) .
It is perhaps ironic that the first
evidence of the probable location of
Anaica Apalache, the principal town of the
Apalachee, is located within sight of the
State Capitol, and that the wintering camp
of Hernando de Soto, Governor of La
Florida, was later occupied by another
Florida governor, Governor John W. Martin.
Perhaps the final irony is that the dis-
covery of the significance of the Martin
site should occur so close to the 450th
anniversary of the de Soto expedition's
passage through what is today the State of
Florida and at a time when the issue of
historic preservation is receiving in-
creasingly greater visibility.
Finally, the discovery and subse-
quent excavation of portions of the Martin
site united public spirit to preserve a
portion of the famous de Soto wintering
camp. The Governor Martin house will
serve as a State museum and the surround-
ing undeveloped lands will be available
for future research. Lastly, this project
through the cooperation of the developers,
local citizens and the state, demonstrates
that public archaeology works when it is a
public effort. Indeed, its success is
leading to the formation of a new Leon
County area chapter (the Apalachee
Anthropological Society) of the Florida
Anthropological Society a chapter dedi-
cated to cooperation between avocational
and professional archaeologists in public
archaeology projects.

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Brain, Jeffrey P.
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Brain, Jeffrey P., Alan Toth, and Antonio
1974 Ethnohistoric Archaeology and the De
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Bryne, Steven
1986 Apalachee Settlement Patterns. A thesis
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The Florida Anthropologist 38(3):199-

Smith, Buckingham
1866 Narrative of the Career of Hernando de
Soto in the Conquest of Florida as told
by a Knight of Elvas and in Relation by
Luys Hernandez De Biedma. Bradford
Club, New York. (Reprinted 1968,
Palmetto Books, Gainesville).

Smith, Hale G.
1956 The European and the Indian: European-
Indian Contacts in Georgia and Florida.
The Florida Anthropological Society
Publication Number 4.

1975 Documentation Concerning the First
Christmas in the United States Present-
ed to the United States Postal Service
Commerative Stamp Committee. Copy of
manuscript on file, Department of
Anthropology, Florida State University,
Swanton, John R.
1939 Final Report of the United States De
Soto Expedition Commission. Government
Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

Tesar, Louis D.
1979 Did De Soto Sleep Here? And If So
Where? Paper presented as part of the
Florida Department of State, Bureau of
Historic Sites and Properties Lecture
Series, Tallahassee.


1980a The Leon County Bicentennial Survey
Report: An Archaeological Survey of
Selected Portions of Leon County,
Florida. Florida Department of State,
Bureau of Historic Sites and Properties
Miscellaneous Project Report Series No.

1980b Fort Walton and the De Soto Entrada:
Culture Change in the Tallahassee Red
Hills Area of Florida. Paper presented
at the 37th Southeastern Archaeological
Conference, New Orleans.

1981 Fort Walton and Leon-Jefferson, Cul-
tural Development in Tallahassee Red
Hills Area of Florida: A Brief Summary.
In Southeastern Archaeological Confer-
ence Bulletin 24:27-29.

1986 The Route of the de Soto Expedition in
Apalache: In Search of the 1539-40
Wintering Site. Paper presented at the
Annual Meeting of the Florida Histori-
cal Society in Bradenton, Florida.

Varner, John Grier and Jeannette Johnson
Varner, Translators and Editors
1951 The Florida of the Inca. University of
Texas Press, Austin.

Williams, John Lee
1837 Map of Florida. In The Territory of
Florida ... (A Facsimile Reproduction
of the 1837 Edition). University of
Florida Press, Gainesville, 1962

Louis D. Tesar and B. Calvin Jones
Division of Historical Resources
Florida Department of State
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250



Charles R. Ewen
Arkansas Archaeological Survey


On March 3, 1540 the expedition of
Hernando de Soto decamped from the
Apalachee village of Anhaica and resumed
its ill-fated quest for native wealth.
Four hundred and forty-seven years later,
again in early March, an archaeologist
discovered the remains of de Soto's en-
campment while pursuing his own quest for
native wealth (i.e. archaeological data).
The tale of de Soto's occupation of
Anhaica, its discovery by archaeologists,
and the struggle to preserve the site is a
fascinating one; the final outcome is
still pending.
Hernando de Soto was not the first
person to attempt to explore and exploit
La Florida (the Southeastern U.S.). Juan
Ponce de Leon, Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon,
and Panfilo de Narvaez had all tried and
failed to accomplish this same goal. De
Soto was aware of these misadventures but
hoped that his superior skills as tac-
tician and leader would allow him to
prevail where lesser men had faltered.
Using the wealth he had gained as a
result of his earlier exploits in Peru, de
Soto assembled a well-equipped army of
over 600 people. His intent to settle as
well as to conquer was apparent in the
composition of his force. It included
soldiers, craftsmen, clergymen, farriers,
notaries, and even two Spanish women
(Swanton 1939:81). Accompanying the expe-
dition were over 200 horses, several
wardogs, and a drove of swine (Swanton
1939:89-92). The assembled men and animals
landed somewhere near Tampa Bay (Milanich
1987; this issue) on or about May 25,
The experiences of previous expedi-
tions convinced de Soto to adopt an
aggressive policy of intimidation rather
than negotiation. This tactic ultimately
proved to be his undoing since it negated
any possibility of prolonged cooperation
with the local population. Pressing their
way northward through the Florida penin-
sula, de Soto and his army crossed the
Aucilla River and entered the chiefdom of

the Apalachee in early October. Here they
encountered fierce resistance from the
renowned Apalachee warriors. Slowed, but
not stopped, the army moved inexorably
into the Apalachee heartland.
By October 6, 1539, the expedition
had advanced to the principal town of
Anhaica (Swanton 1939:310). Finding them-
selves no match for the Spaniards in open
combat, the Apalachee hastily withdrew and
abandoned their village to the invaders.
Wishing to consolidate and rest his army,
de Soto made the village his winter base
camp. However, the five months at Anhaica
were anything but restful. Despite the
fact that the village of 250 structures
had been fortified and sentries posted,
the Indians succeeded twice in setting
part of the camp on fire. Leaving the camp
unaccompanied was suicidal and even
mounted patrols were subject to attack
(Hann 1988b:ll). Both sides probably felt
much relief when the conquistador's army
finally broke camp and moved north into
Georgia to pursue rumors of gold.
Three years later, half of the army
that had started the expedition arrived
starved and exhausted at a Spanish outpost
in northern Mexico. They had traveled over
1,300 miles through ten states on a quest
for riches, but found only misfortune.
Death spared Hernando de Soto the humilia-
tion of his failure. However the
Spaniards, while suffering a setback in La
Florida, had sewn the biological seeds of
defeat for the native populations. Their
trek through the Southeast had a tremen-
dous social impact on the local inhabi-
tants and their descendants. Ironically,
de Soto and his men left little direct
evidence of their passing.
Four hundred and fifty years later,
the story of the discovery and exploration
of de Soto's winter encampment possesses
almost as much political intrigue and sus-
pense as the original expedition.
B. Calvin Jones, an archaeologist
with the Florida Department of State,
Bureau of Archaeological Research, had
been searching for evidence of seventeenth
century missions in northern Florida for


Dec., 1989

Vol. 42 No. 4


over two decades. He is responsible for
locating the sites of nine of these
missions (Jones and Shapiro 1987). On
March 11, 1987 he thought he had another
to add to the list.
Jones had suspected for some time
that a mission had existed on a ridge
about a mile east of the state Capitol
building (Figure 1). Located on well-
drained, fertile soil with abundant water
sources, the area was typical of the type
of geographic region which had produced
other Apalachee sites (Ewen et al. 1988).
However, since most of the property was
privately-owned, there seemed to be no
urgency to test this hypothesis. This
situation changed almost overnight. Like
most of Florida, Tallahassee is undergoing
rapid development to accommodate a bur-
geoning population. The Apalachee Parkway,
running east from the Capitol building,
has been the site of development for many
years. Noticing that an office complex was
being planned for the ridge that had
piqued his interest, Jones took the
responsibility and the opportunity to dig
a couple of small, exploratory test exca-
vations. He was rewarded immediately for
his initiative.
The test pits revealed sherds of
Olive Jar, a typical Spanish utilitarian
ceramic. This led Jones to believe that he
had located a Spanish mission. The devel-
opers (Mad Dog Design and Construction and
Tallahassee Development Corporation) re-
cognized the potential significance of the
find and granted a two week delay in con-
struction. This allowed Jones the oppor-
tunity to assemble a crew of volunteers
and commence salvage excavations. Volun-
teers would remain crucial to the pro-
ject's success for its duration.
Jones and dozens of volunteers were
able to open several excavation units and
recover an impressive array of artifacts.
These included early-style Olive Jar, late
Fort Walton period ceramics, blown glass
beads, and a variety of iron artifacts
including several small wire links. The
material assemblage puzzled archaeolo-
gists. The recovered artifacts tended to
predate the seventeenth century mission
period. Also, the polychrome Spanish
majolicas and Leon-Jefferson period abori-
ginal ceramics which characterize Spanish

mission assemblages in north Florida were
largely absent. As the excavations pro-
gressed, it became apparent that the
Martin archaeological site (8LE853b),
named for the former Florida governor
whose mansion (8LE853a) dominates the pro-
perty, represented Spanish contact prior
to the seventeenth century. It seemed that
in the Tallahassee area, Spanish artifacts
dating to the sixteenth century would be
most reasonably associated with the de
Soto expedition, although the earlier
expedition of Panfilo de Narvaez or sal-
vaged shipwreck material could not be
ruled out.
The Martin Archaeological Site Excavation
The discovery of Hernando de Soto's
winter camp would be an extremely impor-
tant find and would create a sensation in
both the academic community and popular
press. Thus the Florida Department of
State, Bureau of Archaeological Research
wanted confirmation before announcing such
a discovery. A crew of professional
archaeologists was hired, and I was
enlisted to co-direct the excavations with
Jones. Volunteers were transferred from
the excavation units to the water screen-
ing station where they continued to render
invaluable assistance to the project.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the
story was the cooperation of the devel-
opers, Chuck Mitchell of Mad Dog Design &
Construction and Steve Allen of
Tallahassee Development Corporation.
Throughout all the inconvenience and
aggravation, they demonstrated extraordin-
ary cooperation and contributed greatly to
the preservation of the Martin site. This
spirit of cooperation remained in spite of
agitation by the general public for some
immediate preservation action and the
state's inability to comply. Initially,
Mitchell and Allen agreed to a two week
delay in construction to allow time for
some salvage excavations. The project
eventually expanded into a full-scale pro-
ject lasting eight months. The additional
field time allowed the recovery of evi-
dence confirming the site's association
with the de Soto excavation. [Editor's
Note: The project was not subject to any
federal or state environmental review



Figure 1. Location of the Martin Archaeological Site
(8LE853b). Map from Tallahassee U.S.G.S. Quadrangle.
7.5 Minute series.


Figure 2. Distribution of Mission Period Ceramics in
the Area South of the Martin Site, Tallahassee, Leon
County, Florida.


Apalachee artifacts account for most
of the material recovered from the Martin
site. The majority of the ceramics re-
covered were late Fbrt Walton types (A.D.
1450-1633) including: Lake Jackson Plain,
several varieties of Fort Walton Incised,
and a Fort Walton variety of Carabelle
Punctated which was the dominant ware in
the ceramic assemblage. The Fort Walton
component of the Martin site was con-
sistent with the interpretation of the
site as part of the Apalachee village of
Spanish ceramics at the site con-
sisted mainly of Olive Jar fragments.
Ubiquitous to Spanish sites in Florida and
the Caribbean, the utilitarian Olive Jar
can be distinguished chronologically on
the basis of rim type and vessel form
(Goggin 1960). The fragments recovered
were too small to determine vessel form.
However, identifiable rim fragments from
the Martin site could be classified as
early style. This type has a date range of
A.D. 1490 to 1650. Also recovered were
sherds of sixteenth century majolica
consisting of: Columbia Plain (A.D. 1492 -
1650) including an early green dipped
variant, Caparra Blue (A.D. 1492 1600),
and possibly a sherd of unglazed Bizcocho
(A.D. 1500 1550) (Deagan 1987:28). The
marked paucity of seventeenth century
majolica types was one of the early indi-
cations that the Martin site represented
contact predating the Mission Period
(1633-1704) in northern Florida.
Other revealing artifacts recovered
were beads of European manufacture. Beads
have proven to be one of the primary tools
for tracking the route of de Soto through
the Southeast (Smith 1983). Several clear,
blown-glass beads, a faceted amber bead, a
dozen faceted chevron beads, and a single
Nueva Cadiz bead were good sixteenth
century marker artifacts. These bead types
have been found at other sites believed to
be associated with the de Soto expedition
(Mitchem and Leader 1988). The blown glass
beads from the Martin site, though, are
problematic. They are similar in manu-
facture to a type found at the Poarch Farm
site in northern Georgia, which is located
along the hypothesized route of the de
Soto expedition. However, Dr. Marvin
Smith, an expert on Spanish trade beads,

has expressed reservations concerning
their chronological placement. The ambi-
guity of their context leads him to
believe that they may be modern (Smith
A variety of iron artifacts was
recovered from the Martin site. Dozens of
wrought nails of various sizes and types
were present in the material assemblage.
One type with an unusual peaked head also
has been reported from a site in New
Mexico possibly associated with the
Coronado expedition (Vierra 1987).
Coronado was exploring the Southwest at
the same time that de Soto was exploring
the Southeast. A crossbow quarrel (the
iron point from a crossbow bolt) was the
only example of sixteenth century weaponry
recovered. The crossbow was the principal
weapon of de Soto's army, but had become
obsolete by the time that the Spaniards
returned to the panhandle in the seven-
teenth century. Other examples of military
hardware, but in a defensive class, were
the many pieces of chain mail armor.
Initially the tiny fragments of twisted
iron wire were difficult to interpret,
though Jones suspected their true nature.
The function of these links became clear
to even the most skeptical (myself) when a
corroded patch of fourteen interconnected
links was found. Garcilaso de la Vega in
his chronicles of the de Soto expedition
(Hann 1988c) related that the Spaniards
discovered, during their time in the
Apalachee territory, that their mail was
incapable of stopping the natives' arrows
and so was "thrown aside" to be replaced
by a type of quilted armor.
The most notable artifacts, in terms
of their publicity value and their use as
a chronological tool, were five copper
coins. These were found scattered across
the site and appear to have been deposited
as a result of loss. Two of the coins were
Spanish maravedis, the other three were
badly corroded but appear to be Portuguese
ceitils. All of the coins date to the
early sixteenth century, though one of the
ceitils may be even earlier. These were
coins of little worth to the Spaniards and
so may have been brought along incident-
ally and perhaps used as trade items.
Just before the close of the 1987
field season a discovery was made that


bolstered the identification of the site
as the de Soto encampment. During the
excavation of one of the two sixteenth
century structures discovered at the site,
a pig maxilla with several teeth in place
was recovered in the same context as were
Fort Walton Period pottery sherds. As
mentioned previously, a drove of swine
accompanied the de Soto expedition. There
is no record of pigs on the earlier
Narvaez expedition (Hann 1988a). In fact,
it was de Soto's army that introduced pigs
into the southeastern United States
(Swanton 1939:90-91). Ironically, this
crucial piece of evidence was not deemed
newsworthy at the time of its discovery.
Promoting and sometimes overwhelming
the archaeology was the media hoopla sur-
rounding the project. While the project
was in the field, local television and
newspaper coverage was usually a weekly,
sometimes daily, occurrence. The wire
services provided national visibility.
Articles in The New York Times, The Weekly
Reader and the commentary of National
Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and
Paul Harvey's "News at Noon" ensured that
news of the discovery reached all audi-
ences. It was this high visibility that
prompted the state to explore the possi-
bility of acquiring all or part of the
site. The negotiations between the land-
owners, developers, city officials, and
assorted state officials produced a vari-
ety of acquisition scenarios that changed
on a daily basis for several months.
Meanwhile, the extensive news coverage was
used to the archaeologists' advantage to
promote activities for fund-raising from
private sources.
Complementing, and in some cases in-
spiring, the publicity were public events
observed at the site. Tours to school
groups and hundreds of tourists became so
regular, that it was necessary to use some
of the volunteers as tour guides. One
commemoration took precedence over the
others. De Soto's expedition had included
a dozen clergy amongst its number. Given
the devout Catholicism inspired by the
Inquisition, a Christmas Mass was almost
certainly celebrated at the site for de
Soto's army in 1539. Cn December 20, 1987
a simple ceremony was held at the site in

recognition of the first Christmas held in
the United States.
The publicity and public interest
surrounding the excavations compelled the
state to consider acquiring the site. IT
preserve the site while the state ground
through the acquisition process, the Trust
for Public Land, a public interest group,
purchased the site until the state was
able to buy it. Presently the site is
administered by the Florida Department of
Natural Resources, in consultation with
the Department of State, Division of
Historical Resources.

Beyond the Martin Archaeological Site

The army of Hernando de Soto occu-
pied the principal village of the Apala-
chee for five months. The 1987 excavations
covered less than an acre and raised the
question "where was the rest of the
village?" A systematic subsurface survey
of adjacent properties was proposed, and
funding was secured from the National
Endowment for the Humanities. It was
hypothesized that the survey would reveal
that the Martin site was a part of a large
late FPrt Walton period (A.D. 1450 1600)
Apalachee village. It also was hoped that
the survey might be able to delineate the
boundaries of this village. By knowing the
extent of the site, steps could be taken
before new development destroyed more of
the de Soto encampment, thus allowing time
to plan proper recovery of the archaeo-
logical remains.
The basic objective of this second
phase of the project was to explore the
extent of the site by means of a subsur-
face archaeological reconnaissance. This
was accomplished through the recovery of
artifacts from a systematic auger survey
within a square kilometer around the
Martin site (see Figure 1). This research
design was predicated on two assumptions.
The first of these was that the de Soto
encampment could be distinguished by the
presence or absence of diagnostic arti-
facts (i.e. artifacts dating to the early
sixteenth century) in the archaeological
assemblage. The second assumption was that
the techniques employed in the survey
would be adequate to assess sub-surface


patterning and reveal site location. The
results of previous surveys had demon-
strated that such sampling procedures do
reflect subsurface archaeological pattern-
ing (Deagan 1981; Shapiro 1987).
Research in the Florida Master Site
File revealed that the area of the pro-
posed survey had not previously been in-
vestigated in a systematic fashion,
although sites had been recorded in the
area. An informal monitoring of the survey
area by Calvin Jones indicated that it had
high potential for yielding archaeological
sites. Testing of the area immediately
surrounding the Martin site at the time of
the 1987 excavations suggested that the
site continued onto adjacent properties in
all directions.
The project was successful in its
primary goal. The survey recovered evi-
dence suggesting that the Martin site was
part of a larger aboriginal site. More
specifically, the distribution of Fbrt
Walton period ceramics and sixteenth
century Spanish material demonstrated that
the Apalachee village that de Soto visited
extended as far west as Myers Park, north
of the Apalachee Parkway, east to Magnolia
Drive, and south into the Capitol City
Country Club (Figure 1). Unfortunately,
these were also the limits of the survey
area defined by the grant funding so it is
possible that the site extends further
yet. However, at the edges of the survey
area the amount of material recovered
dropped off dramatically suggesting that
the borders of the site were near.
Seventeenth century artifacts (mid-
dle style Olive Jar, majolica, and Mission
Period aboriginal ceramics) were recovered
on the northeastern portion of the Capitol
City Country Club (Figure 2). It is sug-
gested here that this is the first loca-
tion of the San Luis mission, San Luis de
Xinyaca (Anhaica). The mission was moved
to a second location (San Luis de
Talimali) in 1656. Research of archival
data by historian John Hann (1989:78-79)
places the initial location of the mission
one league (approximately 2.63 miles)
east-southeast of the later site of San
Luis de Talimali (Figure 3). Hann (1989:
79) suggests that Capitol Hill or the
Martin site were likely candidates for the

Figure 3. Location of the San Luis and the Martin
Archaeological Sites. Map from Florida Department of
Transportation County Road Map.

location of this early mission. No evi-
dence of a mission has been recovered in
the area surrounding the Capitol to date
(B. Calvin Jones, personal communication
1989). Given the close proximity and con-
tinuous distribution of aboriginal arti-
facts it appears that, although represent-
ing two different phases of occupation,
the Martin site and the material from the
Capitol City Country Club can be consi-
dered part of the same site; the principal
Apalachee village of Anhaica.


The significance of the Martin site
is widely recognized. The New York Times
(May 19, 1987) called it "... the crowning
achievement of recent scholarly efforts to
determine more precisely the route of the


de Soto expedition from 1539 to 1543." But
what is it about this site that makes it
so important?
The discovery of the Martin site
ends a decade long search for the site of
a village known only from documents. De
Soto's expedition, the most ambitious into
North America during the sixteenth cen-
tury, has defied attempts by scholars to
trace its route with certainty. The Martin
site is one of the only commonly agreed
upon points along the entire trail.
Archaeologically, the Martin site is
proving to be very useful indeed. Since it
has a known date of occupation it serves
as a time anchor that is being used to
refine the seriation of other Apalachee
sites. In fact, the discovery of Anhaica
fills a gap in the archaeological record
of the Apalachee which begins with the
Lake Jackson site and ends with the San
Luis mission site. It is also being used
by researchers trying to trace the route
of de Soto through the Southeast. The
Martin site has provided not only compara-
tive artifacts for these researchers, it
serves as a geographic point of reference
as well.
The most important aspect of the
site, though, is its educational poten-
tial. The timing of the discovery could
not have been better. The 450th anniver-
sary of the expedition's landing was in
May, 1989. The 500th anniversary of
Columbus' voyage of discovery will occur
in 1992. The public wants, and should
have, accurate information on the Spanish
colonial experience in the New World,
especially Florida. This project has been
the perfect forum to do just that.
Even more importantly, the project
provides the forum to study and discuss
the other side of the contact experience.
That is, the effect European exploration
had on the native peoples of the Americas.
The de Soto expedition literally ended the
native chapter in Southeastern prehistory
and opened the way for other Europeans who
would follow. The discoveries at the
Martin site give us a last peek at the
Apalachee before the Europeans introduced
diseases, technology, and customs which
changed their way of life forever.

Inferences Cited
Deagan, Kathleen A.
1981 Downtown Survey: The Discovery of Sixteenth
century St. Augustine in an Urban Area.
American Antiquity 46(3):626-633.

1987 Artifacts of the Spanish colonies of Florida
and the Caribbean 1500-1800. Volume 1:
Ceramics, Glassware, and Beads. Smithsonian
Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Ewen, Charles, Richard Vernon, and Charles Poe
1988 Managing the Archaeological Resources of Leon
County. Ms. on file, Historic Tallahassee
Preservation Board, Tallahassee.

Goggin, John M.
1960 The Spanish Olive Jar: An Introductory Study.
Yale University Publications in Anthropology
No. 62. Yale University Press, New Haven.

Hann, John H. (translator)
1988a Translation of the Florida Section of the
Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca Accounts of the
1528 Trek from South Florida to Apalachee Led
by Panfilo de Narvaez. Ms. on file, Bureau of
Archaeological Research, Tallahassee.

1988b Translation of the Apalachee Section of the
Narrative about the de Soto Expedition Written
by Gonzalo Fernandez de O oiedo and based on
the Diary of Rodrigo Ranjel, de Soto's Private
Secretary. Ms. on file, Bureau of Archaeologi-
cal Research, Tallahassee.

1988c Transcription and Translation of the Apalachee
Section of Garcilaso de la Vega's Florida of
the Inca. Ms. on file, Bureau of Archaeologi-
cal Research, Tallahassee.

1989 Summary Guide to Spanish Florida Missions and
Visitas with Churches in the Sixteenth and
Seventeenth Centuries. Ms. on file, Bureau of
Archaeological Besearch, Tallahassee.

Jones, B. Calvin and Gary Shapiro
1987 Nine Mission Sites in Apalachee. Paper pre-
sented at the annual meeting of the Society
for Historical Archaeology, Savannah.

Milanich, Jerald T.
1987 Hernando de Soto and the Expedition in La
Florida. Miscellaneous Project Report Series
No. 32. Florida State Museumn.

Mitchem, Jeffrey, and Jonathan Leader
1988 Early Sixteenth Century Beads from the Tatham
MDund, Citrus county, Florida: Data and Inter-
pretations. The Florida Anthropologist 41(1):

Shapiro, Gary
1987 Archaeology at San Luis: Broad-Scale Testing.
Florida Archaeology No. 3. Florida Bureau of
Archaeological Research, Tallahassee.

1988 Trailing the Apalachee. Archaeology 41(2):58-

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