Title Page
 List of Tables
 List of Figures
 Abbreviations of institutions
 Archeological sites
 Material culture
 Skeletal remains
 Archeological discussion
 Cultural reconstruction
 Biographical sketch

Title: survey of Bahamian archeology ...
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090228/00001
 Material Information
Title: survey of Bahamian archeology ...
Series Title: survey of Bahamian archeology ...
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Granberry, Julian,
Publisher: University of Florida
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Bibliographic ID: UF00090228
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000143717
oclc - 01906654

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page xvii
    List of Tables
        Page xviii
        Page xix
    List of Figures
        Page xx
    Abbreviations of institutions
        Page xxi
        Page xxii
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
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        Page 119
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        Page 121
        Page 122
    Archeological sites
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
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        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
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        Page 196
    Material culture
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
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        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
    Skeletal remains
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
    Archeological discussion
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
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        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
    Cultural reconstruction
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
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    Biographical sketch
        Page 386
        Page 387
Full Text





June, 1955


This thesis was presented to the Graduate

Council of the University of wlorida in partial

fulfilment of the requirements for the dorroo of ?'aster

of Arts in sociology and anthropology in June, 1955.

Its purpose is to present a synthesis of archeological

data from the Daharma Islands, :'ost Indies, and to

analyze this material in a usable manner, so that it

nay be correlated with findings in other parts of the

Caribbean area.

Serious study of Caribbean archeology on an

organized scale was not begun until the establishment

by Yale University of a program for Caribbean anthro-

pological research in 1933 (Osgood, 1942: 5), This

program has successfully delineated pre-Columbian

culture patterns and sequences in most portions of the

Caribbean area, concentrating on Florida, the Greater

Antilles, and the South American mainland, With this

work it has become both possible and necessary to

progress to the more detailed particulars of the indi-

vidual regions comprising the Caribbean area.

In accordance with this plan three problems

which might be cleared up or elucidated by work done in

the Bahamas have been isolated from northern Caribbean


archeology: (1) the origins of the Ciboney complexes

in Cuba and Haiti, (2) the interrelationships of

Southeastern United States cultures and thoso of the

Caribbean, and (3) the nature of the Bahamian complexes

themselves and their relations to the rest of the


With these problems in mind all accessible

Bahamian archoological material was analyzed. The

major concern of the analysis was to determine the

presence or absence and the nature of ceramic styles

and modes (Rouse, 1939: 11-12; 1951: 252), to delineate

any non-ceramic phases (Rouse, 1951: 252), and to

establish as secure a chronology as possible for the

region. The three problems chosen were then approached

through these factors.

There are nine major collections of Bahamian

archeological material in this country, I was able

to examine personally the three collections in the

Yale Peabody IIusouni, the two collections in the

Harvard Poabody museum and the two at the Museum of

the American Indian. Although not personally examined,

so!o information was gathered on the collections in

the United States National Museum and the Morton

Collection of Crania Americana,

In addition to the nine major collections


there are numerous smaller ones in the United States,

Britain, and other areas. The British T'usourm has a

duho, or woodon stool, from the Bahamas; there is a

collection in the Public Library at Nassau; several

individuals in the islands have private collections;

there is some material in the Public Library on rrand

Turk; St. Johnts University, Collegoville, :innosota,

and St. Augustine's Collo';o, Nassau, both have small

collections; there is a single duho at the Academy of

Natural Sciences in Philadelphia; and there is sorno

material at the University of Florida. Other unlocated

specimens, both skeletal and cultural, are reported from

the American Museum of Natural History, Now York; the

South Kensington Fuscum, London; and the Tusoo du Cin-

quantenaire, Brussels. As much information as possible

was gathered about those collections; however, they have,

by and large, not contributed appreciably to the final

outcome of this paper.

I am indebted to many people and institutions

for their assistance in the preparation of this report,

Grateful acknowledgement is made to Yale Peabody :uusoui;

Harvard Peabody Museum; the Museum of the American Indian,

Heye Foundation, New York City; the University of Florida

Anthropology Laboratory; the Florida State '"usoum, Gainoa-

ville; the American VMuseum of -latural History, loev York;


the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia; the

Institute of Jamaica in rin';ston; and to the British

husoum in London* These institutions either permitted

me to examine their Bahamian collections and to use their

facilities on several occasions or furnished me with

adequate data from their files. They have all allowed

me to photograph the collections or have loaned me

negatives of many specimens, Yale Peabody :iuseumi

through the courtesy of Dr. Irving Rouse, allowed me

to use Dr. Raineyts field notes*

Personal acknowledgements are many. M*S*

Valton of the Department of Geologyj Yale University,

assisted in the identification of stone materials*

Dr. Froelich G. Rainoy of the Univorsity of Pcnnsylvania

Fusoum gave me additional information not contained in

his field notes on his work in the Bahamas as well as

photographs of his excavations at Gordon Hilli Crooked

Island* Dr. Gordon Rf Willey of Harvard Peabody Museum

furnished me with helpful information on the Godet-

Groonay collection, and Dr. Cornelius Osgood of the

Yale Peabody Huseum, through Dr. Rouse, allowed me to

examine the Bahamian collections there m.r. EWKo Burnett

and Mr. Charles Turbyfill of the ::usou. of the American

Indian were of much assistance on several visits to New

York. The Very Reverend Frederic U. Frey, O.SB.., of Stj


Augustine's College, Nassau, kindly gave me data on

two duhos from Long Island. Lady Eunice Oal:es, of

W'estbourne, Nassau, showed interest in my work and

helped with several questions. JMr. C, Bernard Lov;is,

Director of the Institute of Jamaica in T:in-ston,

loaned me kodachrome slides of specimens in the Public

Library on Grand Turk. Dr. Harry L. Shapiro of the

Museum of Natural History, :ew York, and Hr. Adrian

Digby, Deputy-Keeper of Ethnography, British Museum,

London, were very helpful on several matters, I was

given the ::onorous loan of interesting Bahamian sources

by lr. Ralph C. Kophart of the College of Engineering,

University of Florida; and Dr. Oswaldo TMoralos Patino

of the Junta Nacional de Arqueologia y Etnologia, Havana,

sent me many difficult-to-obtain Cuban publications

containing information of interest from a comparative

point of view on several Cuban sites. Through Dr. John

G. Goggin I was able to borrow archeological material

from one of these sites, Cantabria, from the Florida State

Museum, where the material was deposited as a gift from

the Grupo Guama, Havana.

Dr. Lyle N. McAlister, Department of History,
University of Florida; Mr. Julien C. Yonge, Director of

the P.K. YonSo Library of Florida History, University of

Florida; and Mrs. Harriet Skofield of the P.K. Yon7e


Library rendered me valuable time and assistance on the

historical aspects of this report. Dr. Winston W. Ehrmann,

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, and Dr. Donald

E. W..orcester, Department of History, University of

Florida, both members of my advisory cor.ilittee, Gave me

encouragement and assistance on various phases of my

work. Dr. Herbert J. Doherty, Department of History,

University of Florida, and Tr. T.H. '.Tagncr of St. Louis,

Missouri, have both given invaluable aid in the form of

many critical discussions and readings of the material

here presented.

I am particularly indebted to two people for

their constant assistance and advice. Dr. Irving Rouse,

Dopartnont of Anthropology, Yale Univorslty, first intro-

duced me to Caribbean archeology and su;-csted the topic

of this report. Dr. John ., Goggin, Department of

Sociology and Anthropolo-'y, University of Florida, served

as chairman of my advisory committoo in the preparation

of this thesis. To his patience over a period of several

years and his sincere and kind assistance the completion

of this report is largely due. They have both offered

continual encouraeoriont and much needed advice on all

phases of my work.

To my father, Dr. Edwin P. Granberry, chairman

of the Departmcnt of Inrlish, Rollins College, I am in-


debated for a critical reading of the final manuscript.

An attempt has been made in this paper to

include all early historical, ethnographical, and

archeological material pertaining to the Bahamas, since

no General survey of the area has previously appeared

covering these three topics. As complete a descriptive

picture as possible has been given, even though at times

it may seem to obscure the goals mentioned earlier.

The value of such description is felt to be fully as

*rcat as any chronological conclusions presented, since

such treatment may, with future work in the area, be of

assistance in clarifying the larger scheme of events in

the archipelago* It was felt, in other words, that no

bounds should be placed on the descriptive report, simply

to make it fit the su'yested time and spatial sequences,

and that subjective analysis should be used as little as


It is hoped that this preliminary discussion

of Bahamian archeology will lead to further work in the

ror-lon. An archeological survey of the entire archi-

polago and extensive excavations are certainly called for

to supplement and round out this report and its attendant

problems and implications.


Sur;eostions for a future program of excavations
in the Bahamas will be given in the concluding section

of this report. If such suggestions could be followed

up, the picture presented hero mirht not only be added

to, but pertinent cuoetions of lonr standing in northern

Caribbean archcology might be partially answered.

Julian Granberry

*-ainesville, Florida

June, 1955


... ... Page

PREACgE.....,,............... .....,.,.....4..,4 ii

INTIODUCGPIOUTI *4....... *............*..4.. ..., 1

natural Setting4...4...... 44........... 1
Geography.......,.,,........,,.... 1

Climate. ,,*.,.*..*.....**...., ,o. 2

Topography and Geology.,.,........ 4

Flora and 9auna...., ......*,,...* 9

Historical Background.....*.........*.. 15

Ethnographical rackg!;round... ......*,,., 90

Tribal Idontifications.......*.... 90

Etihohistorical Notose.......9..44 94

Archoologic.l. Investigations.......... 107

ARC~ LOLOIICAL SITL3.....,........ ..,...... 123

Introduction ********,,,,,. ..,.**..*.* 123

The Biminis,**..,.*...,*....,,,.,,, 127

Grand Bfahama....*..... ... ..*..... 127

Little Abaco*...... .o**.....r......*... 131

Great Abaco*...1..3.1*.,...,4.,...,, 151

Imperial Lighthouse DwEllin'

Cavo....*..**,.......** .....**...* 132

Imperial Lighthouse Burial

Cavoten,,..Od av,,..,............* 132

Lantern Toad Cave,.d,*, ..... 13S



1Toros Island......, ,,,....... ..... 133

.The Berry Islands,...,,,,...,, ,*,,, 134

.Lirnum-Vitae Cay.,,,,,,,,,, ,,., 154

Andros*...... *...*...* ...**,. ,,...,,* 135

Morgan's Bluff Caves.,,o,,,, 137

Bain Hill Cave,......,, ,,,..,.,, 137

Big ;'ood tay,.,,..., ,,,,,,,.. 138

T'anerove Cay..,.,... *.....o,., 138

Sinkort Hill Caves ,**.,,,...,,,, 139

Smith Hill Caves (Bluff

Settlement Caves)......,*.**..o.,. 139

New Providence,........***,,, ,,.,,.,, 140

Oakes Estate Cave, ..*,,.,,,.,,,, 142

Lake Gunningham Cave,........,,, 143

Eleuthoera...,...........,.* ...*e..... 143

The Bo uo..,,,.., .,,,,,... .. 144

Finloy burial Cavc 11o., 1,*,,,,... 144

Finley Burial. Cave To. 2,..,,..O 6 145

'emyss.Bight Burial Cave.......... 145

Cat Island....,......** ,,.. ...,......,, 145

Conception.Island.,..... ..*.....,. 146

San Salvador.*,..,., ..,****.. ..o*. 14G

South Victoria Hills

Settlement Caves. 4,7*.. *...., 147



Williamst Cave Io. 1i............. 148

Williamst Cave :o. 2........1..... 149

San Salvador Burial CaveC......... 149

Ru Black Bluff...................... 150
?nBlaca..k. ..... 151

Port Boyd Burial Cave No, *1...... 151

Port Boyd Burial Cave ITo, 2. ,,, 152

Indian Holo.,... .*....,*......., 152

Hartford Cave..,. *,..........,.. 153

Long Island.......................*.,.. 154

Hamilton Caves...,,s,,i,., 157

rortimer Cae.O ..*.*4..,, ....... 158

Taylor's Burial Cavo..,.......... 1588

laronceo Tovmn avoc.........,... 159

Great Tagod Island,, ..,.,.......,,, 159

Crooked Island......,... ,* .........., 160

Gordon Hill Dwolling Cavo.,,..,,, 160

Gordon Hill Burial Cavo o, I 164

Gordon Hill Burial Cav Holo 2i,,ii 167

Acklins Island..,,,,..,,.o..i.,,^ 168

Spring Point Cavo.4 ,.,,<. ,, 168

Fish Cays..*,,,**..**, *, *,,,., , , 1G3

'Tira Por Vos Cay...,,s. ,,. *,^i. c ia 169


Eastern Plana Cay.,,,.................. 169

Groat Inagua,..e**.,,* ...,....**,, ,,. 169

Salt Pond Hill Cave.,,. ........ 170

.Tayasuana...,, ......,, ..,.o.*,....**, 170

.'ost Caico*s*......n... ............. 171

Providenciales......................... 172

Chalk Sound........,.......... 172

Kingston* ********... *.***..*. .. 172

Juba Point Cavos..,,..,,, ,,.. 174

Juba Point "ound..,..,.,......... 176

Vlest Harbor Bluff Cavo............ 176

Indian 'Hill (MTalcolm Roads)....... 177

Blue Hills,,................,.... 177

North Oaicos...............* ......... 178

Sandy Point Cave,.........,.,., 178

Pumpkin Bluff Cave.,............. 179

Bellovue ..ouds....,............., 180

Bollovue 0onds,o**,*...,,,..., 181

'I;ost of Bollovuo,,,*,*,,**,*,,* 182

,;indsor Tound...,..o.r .. .. ,, 183

Roady moneyy ;1ound,....... ,,*.... 185

Lockland Mounds. ............... 184

Kevw.............................. 184



St. Thomas e ill............,.. 185

Boston Caves,..*......,,,,*,...,. 185

Grand Caicos...,. **,,..** o..5,,,... 185

Fergusonts Point Caves....*....,.. 186

Conch Bar Caves*...,....*......o. 186

Dead ;an's Skull Bluff i'ound....., 187

Bambarao.,...,..*.... ....*....,.. 187

Lorimers .................*...... 188

Gamble Hill MIounds.,.19......,... 189

Indian Hill rounds.....,,, ... 189

Dark l-iUht Woll Cave,1...,,.,..... 190

Banana Tree CaveO...,,,o..,.,**** 190

East Caicos, ,*, *o****,,,.****, .....* 190

Jacksonville Cavos.,.........*.. 191

Flamingo Hill Cavo...,*.*......... 192

Flamingo Hill iounds.,....,.... 192

Kellyas Cave (Sail Rock)........., 195

Duck Pond Cave...1..... .......... 103

Fish Cays, Caicoa*..........*....***,,* 193

Ambergris Cay.,..,.,... ,.,,... .,. 194

Little Anbcorris Cay......*.,..*....... 104

Grand Turk........*..*..*.*.,*....*..., 194

I.:ATi'RIAL CULTURE ,...e..c.......... .............. 197

17othodolori:cal l:oto.,, ,..*.*,, *..... 197


Ceramic Specimens.,.. ,.. ....*.....,. 201

:oillac Pottery,o.,..* ., .,,,,. 202

Carrier Pottery... .......,.,*.. 2 210

Unclassified Pottory Styles....... 218

Clay Griddlo.,. ,* .,,2.....*,,* 222

Clay Ball*...4*.4 ,*,.,,64... . 222

Stone Specimens*i*,,**, .,,, ,, ..., 225

Petaloid Stono Colts*#.o. v *4*.., 225

Double-bitted Stone Colts*...9,,*, 226

Aberrant Stone Celtso,*....,* ,8,. 228

Stone Effigy CGlts....9,..,,,..., 229

Monolithic Axes.*......*,,,,.... 231

Stono Chisols,,**. 4,,,49.....* ., 252

Stone Axos,***********,, *, ***,,, 233

Irregular Hamvmor-grinders,......* 234

Plint Scraperst...,...........***. 236

'.Vhottonoos. .,.. ************* *.** 236

Stono eallas,..... ..*2, 4,..44.*4 237

Stono Pendant,.9,,,,***,,,,...,,.. 233

Stone Zemis,,,***.............*,, 238

Shell Specimens,*.,.................... 240

Shell Celts............,... ... 240

Shell Gouges2.,..r,. ...,,..,.... 242

Strombus Cups....,. .,*,***** 242



Shell Pondant,*****.4**,.******,,, 243

Shell Zeada..., .., .... ,.(* 244

Done Specimens..**....*.........*,,, 246

Bone Pointsae*******.*****.****** 245

Dono Awls, ******444************* 247

Bone Gougos..,,,,,-,. ,,,,,, 248

Tortoise Shell Bracelets,,,,..,** 248

Uoodon Spoolmens..,,**,,.........o. 249

Canoos.*.....** .*.*...,.* ,.,,4*** 249

Canoe P2addles.. .*..,, ,,,* .,,, 251

V;oodon Duiosa........ ...* 9***. 252

Uoodon Zomis2.,7.,,,,..*,......, 257

Fire-bosmarda s.,ni**,, ,, ,,,,, 257

Wooden Fislhiool:s ,t.,,,,,..*,.,, 258

Wooden Point2s..*** ...,.,.,,.o 259

Wooden Bowls*..* .**.*,...,,.,,,4 260

Miscellaneous Specimene,....,,*,,,,**,, 261

S:aLETAL Er::AI;:S.,... *****P,, ,,,,, P..,,,, 262

A -lH:OLCLICAL DISCUSSIO .,..44,,4,,j...,,,, 267

Introduction**..........*o**. *,,....*,. 267

Aroal Affiliations****....***.......... 268

Spatial Complexes........** ....**.*.... 278

Torporal Complexes..,.*..,,,,,*,,. ,,4.. 285

OULT'UAL RECOUSTRUCTO~; *....,,...,. 290



COiHCLUJ1iOiS... ....................... ........... 508

APPIEDIX A: Animal omnains from the

Dahamian Sites,*.......,,.,........ 315

APPEI1DIX B: A Brief Summary of Bahanian

History fro:n 1550 to the Present.*.. 315

BIBLIOGRASPHYZ,, ,...*... ......*...**...... , S38

PLATES.................,........................ 369




1. Variation in Island Hiaes in the Bahamas,

Turks, and Caicos through Times*.........*

2. Frequency and Distribution of Artifacts

in the Gordon Hill Dwelling Cave Site...o ,

3. Distribution by Island of Major Artifact

Typos and Stylos in the Bahamas, Turks,

and Caicos...*....* ,..,,....,.........

4. Frequency of Selected Modal Attributes

on Major Bahamian and Haitian Ceramic

Stylos.. .,*... ** ****.. *., ...*... ......








Explanation of Plates..s...*,,, .... *.. .,.o ,


A Lucayan Skull.........................

WoodCn Duhos.......*....................*

T.oillac Potshorda.... .... .......

ocillac Potsherds, .,,....,,*.,***,.*,,.

Meillao Potshords....*..............*....

Carrier Potshords..*.....................

Miscellaneous Ceramic Styles and

ITon-ccramic Types*...*,,,,*....... *,,,*.

Potaloid Stone Celts.....................

Miscellaneous Stone Celt Types*..........

r'iscollaneous Hon-ceraimic Artifact

"Typos.*o...*.......ot t .o o o*o*e o...**0
























PiGure Page

1. Map of the Bahnama, Turks, and Caicos

Islands.*********........ *O0*0** ......... xxi.

2. Columbust Voyage through the Bahamas...... 41

3., Major Dahamian Sites First Section..,,., 128

4. :ajor Bahamian Sites Second Section..... 129

5. T.ajor rahamian Sites Third Section..*,.. 130

6, Plan of Gordon Hill Dwelling Cavo,

Crooked Island.........16...,..,...,.... 162

7. Sites in the Turks and Caicos....,, ....... 173

8. Cross Sections of :;oillac Rim Shords..,*,, 207

9. Cross Sections of Carrier Rim, Body,

and Base Sherds.. ..,,.................. 215
10, Distribution of Pure and Mixed Sites

in the lahamas, Turks, and Caicos,*....... 281

11, Distribution of Cultures, Ceramic Stylos,

and Preceramic Phases in the Bahamas,

Turks, Caicos, and Neighboring Regions

through Time.,.......2,......., ....... 288






Y *P.11*

British :!usoua, London.

Harvard Peabody Luscum, Cambridge.

Museum of the American Indian, IHeye

Foundation, New York.

University of Florida, Anthropology

Laboratory, Gainesville.

United States National Tusoum, Washinrton.

Yale Peabody Museum, New Haven.

*All collections have been personally studied
except those at the United States National Museum and
the British Tusouri. Numbers following the above ab-
breviations in the text refer to specific catalo, numbers.


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The Bahamas are an archipelago of islands,

cays, and reefs, lying off the southeast coast of

Florida between 20050, and 27025' north latitude and

71 and 80032, west longitude. They extend over 760

miles from the Florida coast opposite West Palm Beach

southeastwards to the northern coasts of Cuba and

Hispaniola, including nearly 600 islands and over

2,000 cays, roclks, and reefs. The Turks and Caicos

groups, although politically administered from Jamaica,

belong in the archipelago, being geologically of the

same formation.

The islands extend from Great Inagua on the
south to Hatanilla Reef on the north, and from Grand

Turk and its adjacent cays and banks on the east to and

including Cay Sal Bank in the wost. At their closest

point, the Biminis, they are about fifty miles from the

Florida coast. Great Inagua lies sixty miles north of

the Cuban coast and eighty miles northwest of the Haitian

coast. At its widest point, from Cay Sal Bank on the

-1Adapted from Great Britain, Colonial Office,
1950: 41.

west to San Salvador in the east, the archipelago is

320 miles wide. The aggregate land surface is 4,375 square

miles, slightly less than that of Jamaica, the largest

of the British Caribbean possessions.


The climate of the Bahamas is very mild,
being classed by KSppen as Amnw, a tropical rainforest

climate with summer monsoon rains and a winter dry

season. The archipelago is divided by the Tropic of

Cancer and is surrounded by the warm waters of the Gulf

Stream to the west and the Atlantic Current to the

east. As a result there is little climatic variation

from one part of the archipelago to another.

Frost is unknown. The lowest temperature
registered is only slightly below 600F, the average
being 700F The hottest months are August and Septem-

ber, During these months the temperature ranges from

80F to a little over 90F. The annual temperature

variation is about 200,

Rainfall comes primarily during two distinct

seasons, May-Juno and September-October, and is rela-

tively slight, in the north averaging fifty inches and

2Adapted from Shattuck, 1905: 111-125.

rarely exceeding sixty inches a year* Annual pre-

cipitation decreases from 50-60 inches in the north to

between twenty and thirty inches in the Turks and

Caicos to the south.

The humidity is high, ranging between 85-90

per cent during the nights and about 75 per cent at

midday. The high humidity and summer heat are tem-

pered, however, by constant land and sea breezes, which

keep them from being oppressive. Since the islands lie

in the trade winds belt there is a fairly constant east

wind, the velocity usually being from five to fifteen

miles per hour. Overcast skies are rare and not per-

sistent over a long period of time, being more usual

during summer and fall months than during winter and


Sovoro storms are of rare occurrence. Thunder-

storms, however, average four or five per month, coming

mainly during the summer. They are of short duration

but are often accompanied by driving rains. The mean

path of Caribbean hurricanes touches the eastern edge of

the archipelago during the month of August and moves to

the western edge during September. Although hurricanes

do occur, they are rarely severe. They come during the

months of July-October, with occasional earlier or later


Malaria and the usual tropical diseases are,

by and largo, absent from the islands.

Topography and Geology3

The islands of the archipelago are distributed

unequally over the area. By far the largest number are

confined to the northwestern section. The largest

islands in the group -- Andros, Grand Bahama, and Great

Abaco -- are in this region. They lie on the peripheries

of banks which descend precipitously into deep water on

the Atlantic side, while on the side away from the

Atlantic there is a gradual decline, the water seldom

being more than a few fathoms in depth. The islands to

the southeast are smaller, less numerous, and are

assonbled in clusters on isolated banks somovwhat like

coral atolls. In the extreme south cays and rocks give

place to subnorgod banks. The Cay Sal and Anguila

Islands lie on a small bank of their own in the extreme


The larger islands havo protective reefs, sand

bars, and coral heads around their coastlines. The shore

usually rises abruptly from the sea on the Atlantic side

to a long narrow, limestone ridgo, seldom more than 150

3Adapted from Schuchert, 1935: 528-540, and
Shattuck, 1905: 3-47, 147-181.

feet high. Behind these low limestone hills are marshy

swamps of mangrove, giving way to lagoons and pools on

the side away from the Atlantic, A few of the islands

have fresh-water lakes, but there are very few springs,

and drinking water must be obtained from rain-water

cisterns in most instances.

The northern islands lie on two large banks,

the Grand Bahama Bank and the Little Bahama ?Pan!., on

which the water is seldom more than a fow faLhorsM deep.

The southern islands, on the other hand, rise as isolated

eminences, separated by water often as deep as 1,000

fathoms. The Great Bahama Bank is separated from Cuba

by the Old Bahama Channel, which is from 276 to 296

fathoms in depth. Both of the two northern banks are

separated from Florida by the Gulf Stream, which averages

about 400-500 fathoms. Great Bahama Bank is divided

almost in half by an extension of deep water called

Tongue of the Ocean, which in places roaches 1,200

fathoms. Its easternmost limits are outlined by ixuma

Sound, The two northern banks are separated from the

southern islands by Crooked Island Passage.

This division of the archipelago into two

sections is both ,;cographical and geological. The north-

ern banks form part of the original continental land mass

of the Cuban Foreland, while the southern banks are of

younger age, originating at the time of the vast Upper

Cretaceous volcanic activity in the Antilles.

The surface covering of all the islands is

composed almost entirely of Recent limestones, consist-

ing of shell detritus and oolites born of the sea;

coral rock is rare. Beneath the surface soil are hard

limestones of Pleistocene age, extending down several

hundred feet. Below those are earlier formations,

unfolded strata in the northern islands, and strata of

more recent volcanic origin in the southern section.

The northern bans were out of water until the

Early Middle Cretaceous. During this period they were

submerged. Under the volcanic activity of the Upper

Cretaceous the southern islands were formed. The entire

area, however, remained inundated until Pleistocene

times, when there was a general uplift, which, in con-

junction with a lowering of the sea level, brought the

islands above water a-ain. For short periods between the

Cretaceous and the late Pleistocene they were probably

out of water, but by and large they remained submerged

until the late Pleistocene. During the Pleistocene the

subtraction of oceanic waters by continental glaciers and

its return as they melted away produced a constant var-

iation in sea level, During each high-water level the

organisms of the sea continued to grow, producing the

banks of today, built up almost to sea level.

There are no indications that the Bahamas
were ever connected to the North American mainland.

All fossils from the islands show clear affinities with

Cuban and Contral Amorican types, all date from the

Pleistocene, and all represent living species.

There are seven surface soil types found in the

islands, comprising coral sand, throe loam types, and

three marl types. The three loam types,are, of course,

the most fertile and are fairly well suited to culti-

vation, Bahama Black Loam is the principle soil and

occurs on most islands. It sometimes occupies as much

as three-fourths of the soil area of an island, which,

however, is often very small, surface soils occurring

in most instances only as thin layers or patches on

exposed bedrock. The situation is aggravated by the

rapid denudation of the soil throughout the entire archi-

polago, so that the underlying limestone is exposed

cvorywhero. This adds iimmoasurably to the difficulty of

cultivation. In most cases, even today, agriculture of

the "slash and burn" or milpa type is practiced, small

patches of produce being cultivated in the feo pure

pockets of soil scattered amnonS tho limestone rock. Even

these isolated patches of soil are often diluted with

limestone concretions, which are rarely removed if the

area is large because of the time and expense involved.

Extensive cultivation is therefore impossible under

normal conditions.

The lack of extensive stretches of cultivable

soil and the extreme erosion and denudation which

progross continually are apparently due to a paucity of

adequate cover vegetation. While the flora of the

islands is rather sparse today, indications are that it

was much noro luxuriant in earlier times, and, conse-

quently agriculture a more feasible means of liveli-

hood. It seems likely that large stands of forest once

covered most of the islands. Columbus comments at length

on the beautiful vegetation and is constantly diverted

from the account of his voyage through the islands by

this impressiveness and luxuriousness of the flora

(Columbus, 1893: 37, 40, 41, 44, 47, 49, 51, 52, 54). In

a few places in the islands one still encounters such

lush vegetation (TIorison, 1942: I, 305), but it is indeed

a rarity. ,The disappearance of cover vegetation and the

consequent denudation of the soil throughout the archi-

polago may be laid directly at the feet of the cotton

planters of the late 1700's and early 1800ts, who found

that the land wa. easily cleared and apparently well-

suited to cotton cultivation. In the late 1780's there

were on Crooked Island alone forty cotton plantations,

covering between 2,000 and 3,000 acres (Shattuck, 1905:

148). The situation was approximately the same in most

parts of the archipelago, although the industry was con-

centrated in the central islands. With the abolition of

slavery in 1838 the industry failed completely, and the

plantations went to rack and ruin, leaving vast areas

liable to denudation and erosion.

The numerous limestone caves in the islands

usually contain a soil deposit rich in minerals known

as cave-earth. This has been removed from most of the

accessible caves by the islanders for use as fertilizer,

Even with the use of cave-earth and commercial fertili-

zers, however, the output of the meager soil resources

has been little.

The soils of the Turks and Caicos are poorer

than those of the ahainas proper, but they, too, will

support agriculture of a rudimentary sort.

Flora and Fauna4
Tho flora of the Bahamas is largely of drift

origin from Cuba and Haiti, only a small number of species

oriCinatin'. in North and South America. Of the 1,974

species of Bahamian flora today only some 185 are native

4Adapted from Shattuck, 1905: 185-384.

to the region. Five hundred.and thirty-six species

are co-zion to the Bahamas and Cuba, 311 to the Bahamas

and Central America, 322 to the Bahamas and Southern

Florida, and 170 to the Bahamas and the Southern United

States (Shattuck, 1905: 195). Wind, ocean currents,

and ni-;ratory birds probably account for most of the

non-native species.

The Turks and Caicos are not as favorable to a

lar.o and varied flora as the other islands. This is
because of their distance from any lar-o mainland area

and because of the paucity of soil. The flora of both

groups is sparse and of the scrub, xerophytic type.

Among the loro usual species found in the
archipelago today are: Caicos Oak, Quorcus laurifolia;

Bahamian Pine, Pinus Bahamonsis; Thatch Palm, Inodes

Palmetto (:alt,); Silver Palm, Thrinax Bahalnmnsis (Cook);

Braziletto, Caesalpinia vosicaria (L.); Wild Tamarind,

Lysiloma latisiliqua (L.); Mahogany or M.!adeira, Swiotenia

mahogani (L.); Lignum-vitae, Guaiacum sanctum (L.);

cedar, Juniperus Barbadensis (L,); red mangrove, Rhizo-

phora mangle (L.); black mangrove, Avicennia nitida

(Jacq.); mastic, Sideroxylon mastichodendron (Jacq.);
yucca, Yucca aliofolia; Tree Cotton, Gossypium arboroum;

Jamaica Dorwood, Ichthyomethia picipula (L.); Vild Cin-

namon, Canella winterana (L.); plums, Chrysoph-llum olivi-

forme (Lam.), and Reynosia septentrionalis (Urban);
wild guava, Tetrazygia bicolor (Mill.); cocoa plum,

Chrysobalanus icaco (L.); sea-grape, Cocolobis uvi-
fora (L.); and Red-wood or ebony, Hypelate trifoliata

(Sw.) (Shattuck, 1905: 201-214). In addition to these
distinctive species, the papaya, Carica papaya (L.),

and the coconut palm, Cocos nucifera (L.), were probably

present from relatively early times (Shattuck, 1905:

209, 211; Anghiera, 1944: 499 Zdec. vii, lib. i, cap.

i7; Oviedo, 1851: I, 333 /Tib. ix, cap. iv7).

All the species mentioned above, with the
possible exception of the last two, were probably present

during pre-Columbian times, and, as can be seen from this
list, there are many economically useful varieties.

Certain of the woods make excellent building materials,
while Thatch Palm and Silver Palm supply roofing materials.

From Jamaica Dogwood a fish poison may be obtained. Tree
Cotton and yucca may well have served as sources of

fiber. There are, too, some species of edible fruits,

most important of which are the sea-grape and cocoa plum.
Although the number of native species of flora is small,

many of them are today, and probably wore in the past, of

direct economic use.

While Columbus speaks of the luxuriant flora

many times, he specifically mentions only one type of

tree, the mastic, which he calls correctly "lentisco"

(Columbus, 1893: 47; Navarrete, 1825: I, 30).

The land fauna of the archipelago is extremely
limited, even when introduced forms are included,

r!ammalian forms are especially rare, being limited

almost exclusively to rats, mice, the hutia, and bats

(Shattuck, 1905: 371-384). The only native mammalian

forms include the hutia, Capromys ingrahmi, a small
rodent, now almost extinct except on Atwood or Samana

Cay, and various species of bats. Mention is made in

earlier times of a small dog, or dog-like animal, called

the aco (l.oseley, 1926: 114), which has perhaps a domesti-

cated hutia. Mrs. Moseley does not document her refer-

ence to the aco nor her source for the name, but Columbus

(1893: 50) refers to the fact that one of his men saw a

barkless dog in one of the Indian villages on Pernandina

(Long Island). Archeological data indicate that the

hutia was used as a food source in earlier times and was

wide-spread throughout the islands.

Reptilian forms are almost as rare as mammalian
forms. No crocodiles are known to have inhabited the

islands, and there are no poisonous snakes. There are,

however, two species of boa, which seem to be indigenous

to the archipelago. These are Epicrates chrysogaster

(Cope) and Epicrates striatus (Fischer), Both are species

of the tree-boa. The first is found in the Turks, while
the second, Epicratos striatus, the true tree-boa, is
found on New Providence and several other islands
(Shattuck, 1905: 335-336). These two species of boa are

the only important snakes found in the archipelago.

It seems probable that they were present in early times.

Columbus (1893: 47) mentions that a boy from his crew
saw a large serpent. It is probable that this was a

boa, although we have no evidence to indicate positive


The iguana, Cyclura baeolopha (Cope), Cyclura
carinata (Harlan), and Cyclura rileyi (Stejneger),

called "yuana" by Oviedo (1950: 195 5/ap. lvi7), is found

today on Andros, in the Turks, and on San Salvador. It

undoubtedly had a much wider distribution in earlier
times and must have been used as a source of food by the

natives. The iguana of the Greater Antilles, Cyclura
cyclura (Cuvier), is not known from the Bahamas (Shattuck,
1905: 334),

The avifauna is more numerous and varied than
might be expected. Columbus (1893: 54) mentions the
large flocks of birds he saw on Isabella (Crooked Island).
He mentions particularly the parrot, "papagayo" (Nava-

rrete, 1825: I, 38), now extinct, which the natives had
domesticated (Columbus, 1893: 37)* Among the edible birds,

there are today pigeons, partridges, ducks, and of
course many wading and sea birds (Shattuck, 1905:
347-368). The most well-known bird is the Flamingo,

Phoenicopterus rubber (L.), which until recently was
found on Great Abaco, Andros, Little Inagua, Great

Inagua, Long Island, and Mayaguana (Shattuck, 1905:
559), Andros was the favorite haunt and breeding Cround
of the Flamingo, but American aviators from Florida

"buzzed" the colony for amusement during the last war,
finally causing its abandonment.

In contrast to the land fauna, marine forms
are quite numerous and varied, including many fish,
crustaceans, shell-fish, and turtles. Columbus (1893:

47) mentions the abundance and variety of fish he
observed in the waters of the archipelago. Among the
economically useful species are the Jew Fish, Promicrops
itaiara; mackerel, Soomberomorus maculatus; grouper,

Epinephelus striatus; snapper, Neomoenis analis; and
many others. The molluscan and crustacean forms include
crawfish, Panulirus argus; Blue Crab, Callinectes
aapidus; Pink Conch, Strombus gigas; and many species
of clams and oysters. Among the edible turtles are the
Hawksbill Turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata; Green Turtle,
Chelone mydas; and the Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta
(Shattuck, 1905: 292-325).

By and large the present land fauna is sparse
and not native to the archipelago, but derived from Cuba

and Haiti. The marine fauna is typical of the Carib-

bean and is rich in useful forms.

This discussion of Bahamian environment is
felt to be rather pertinent to an examination of ab-

original cultures in the islands, for it is certainly

true that a culture can not exist except in terms of

its geographical environment. The correlation between

subsistence and technological patterns and the environ-

ment is necessarily close, particularly in less complex

cultural milieus such as we encounter in the Bahamas.

The natural setting need not be called a controlling

or determining factor, but at least it is a limiting

force beyond which a culture can rarely go, except with

outside assistance,


The history of the Bahamas has been a rather
neglected study, particularly the earlier periods, and

there is no single completely accurate historical account

bearing on the region. The accounts differ not only on

minor points, but even on some of the more important

events, and brief coverages from here and there have to

be drawn together to arrive at a working presen-

station .

The islands enter recorded history on October

12, 1492, for one of them was the first land sighted

and touched upon in the Tocw World, This island, called

Guanahani by the natives, was named San Salvador by

Columbus (1893: 36, 42). After generations of debate

no definite decision has been reached concerning the

exact identification of the island. Concensus of opinion,

however, socms to favor Watling's, which has accordingly

been renamed San Salvador.

The present San Salvador did not achieve this
distinction without a long and arduous battle. Grand

Turk, Mayaguana (or "ariguana), Great Inagua, Samana

(or Atwood) Cay, Cat Island, Eleuthora, Rum Cay, Eastern

Plana Cay, 'Western Plana Cay (both of the latter some-

times called the French Cays), and South Caicos have all

been proposed as the "real" Guanahani. The entire problem

has been thoroughly discussed by Theodore De Booy (1919:

5Major sources for this section and its con-
tinuation in Appendix B are: Columbus, 1893; Go.lin, 1946;
Herrera y Tordesillas, 1934-35; Las Casas, 1877; Tori-
son, 1942; Oldmixon, 1949; Oviedo y Valdes, 1851-55,
1950; Siebert, 1913, 1929; '1oodbury, 1951. Translations
from Spanish sources are the author's unless otherwise
indicated by citation of the particular translation.
ITarkhamrs translation of Columbus' log, cited as Colum-
bus, 1893, has been used throughout. This is based on
the Spanish of Navarrote (1825), which is in turn based
upon a Spanish !'S of Las CasasCt

55-61), and it is interesting to note his conclusions.

Three methods have been used, he states, to
decide which of the islands is the Guanahani of Columbus.

The first is based on an explicit day by day and league

by league chock of Columbust log. This method, used by

twelve investigators, has resulted in the establishment

of Grand Turk, Mayaguana, Great Inagua, Samana, Cat

Island, Watling's Island, and Eleuthera as the "real"

Guanahani. De Booy, however, does not consider this

method trustworthy, since methods of navigation were

none too precise in Columbus' time, and because the

portions of the log still remaining to us are presumably

not complete. The original document, which was apparent-

ly sent to Ferdinand and Isabella, was lost sometime

during the 1500's. Las Casas is the only chronicler
iwho seems to have taken advantage of it. In his Historia

de las Indias, written during the years 1520-61, he gives

a very full abstract and seems to have had access to the

original. Ierrera's account (1601-15) is merely an

abstract of Las Casas, and Oviedo (1535- ) seems never to

have seen the original at all. Other writers, including

Ferdinand Columbus, Anfhiera, and Bernaldez make very

little use of the document. In the late 1700's a small

manuscript folio, in the handwriting of Las Casas, was

discovered in the archives of the Duke of Infantado.

It turned out to be another abstract of Columbust log.

A third copy, apparently not by Las Casas, was later

found, and the two were carefully collated by Tunoz and

Navarrete in 1791. The results of this collation were

published by Navarrete in 1825 in his Coleccion de los

Viages Z Descubrimientos que hicieron por Mar los

Espanoles decade fines del Siglo XV. The Las Casas

version contained in the Historia and the collated

abstracts presented by 1avarrete are all we have to fall

back upon for an historical examination of Columbus' first


Determination of the degree of correspondence

between the topographical features of the various is-

lands lying within the probable limits of the landfall

and the topographical features of the island described

by Colu-ibus has yielded a second means for rediscovering

Guanahani. This method has su-oested Mayaguana, Watling's
Island, Cat Island, and Samana. It has been the most

popular method used and has led to the current acceptance

of V1atling's Island. WatlinZ's first received this

honor in 1793, when the Spanish historian IIunoz put

forth its claim to the title, and in 1856 Watling's was

officially accepted by the British Admiralty, largely

because of the research of Captain A. B. Beecher (Curry,

1928: 13). It is this method which has been used by many

of our present-day Columbus scholars, including the

most prominent, Samuel Eliot Morison (1942: I, 299-

300, 309). The evidence which has led M1orison and

others to believe that ?7atlin-,s is Guanahani is con-

tained in Las Casast transcripts of Columbust log, where

it is stated,

This island is rather large and very flat,
with bright green trees, much water, and
a very largo lake in the centre, without
any mountain, and the whole land is so
green that it is a pleasure to look on
it (Columbus, 1893: 40).

This is the entry of October 13, 1492, On the following

day Columbus added further description,

At dawn I ordered the ship's boat and the
boats of the caravels to be got ready, and
I went along the coast of the island to the
N.N.E., to see the other side, which was on
the other side to the east, and also to see the
villages. Presently I saw two or three, and
the people all came to the shore, calling out
and giving thanks to God...and shouting to us
to come on shore. But I was afraid to land,
seeing an extensive roof of rocks which sur-
rounded the island, with deep water between it
and the shore, fornin- a port large enough for
as many ships as there are in Christendom, but
with a very narrow entrance...I saw a piece of
land which appeared like an island, although it
is not one, and on it there were six houses.
It might be converted into an island in two
days... (Coluimbus, 1893: 40-41).

Las Casas adds the interesting note that, "This first

land discovered was one of the group of islands which

are known as the Lucayos...The aforesaid island has the

shape of a bean" (Las Casas, 1876: 241 /Tap. f/)6.

This description of Guanahani certainly seems to
fit Iatling's. :'orison (1942: I, 309) uses both descrip-

tive method and logbook method and has decided that the

question is settled once and for all in favor of

Unatling 's.

De Booy, however, feels that the descriptive
method has its faults, for during the late rainy season,

September and October, almost all the islands in the

central and southern Bahamas would seem to have a lake

or lagoon in the center, and there are many islands

shaped roughly like a bean with barrier reefs surrounding

them. On the first point he may have some grounds, for

Columbus himself mentions that it rained almost every

day during his stay in the Bahamas (Columbus, 1893: 51).

Do Booy feels, too, that Columbus indicates a
complete circumnavigation of Guanahani within twelve

hours time, .!atlin-'s Island could not have been travelled

around in such a short time in the longboats which

Docado or Volume, Libro, and Capitulo citations
from the original editions of Anghiera, Herrora y Tordo-
sillas, Las Casas, and Oviedo y Valdes are cited in
brackets after the volume and page of the later edition
used for this report. Decade or Volume citations are not
repeated unless they differ in the original edition from
the edition here consulted. At times, as above, only
Libro and Capitulo, or just Capitulo, citations are needed.

Columbus used. In fact the only islands which could

have been so traversed are Rum Gay, Samana, Eastern Plana

Cay, Western Plana Cay, South Caicos, and -'rand Turk.

This interpretation is, of course, purely a matter of

personal opinion.

The third method, proposed by De Booy, is the

identification of the "piece of land which appeared like

an island, although it is not one." De Booy feels that

an archeological approach to the question might prove

fruitful. If the peninsula mentioned by Columbus could

be found and excavations be conducted to find the

foundations of the six houses, we would have the roal

"ualanani without a doubt. It seems now that Do Booy's

alternative would not only be difficult and expensive

but rather unnecessary, since all other data indicate

that Watling's Island is Guanahani, The consensus of

opinion among scholars has led us the accept W7atlingts,

and so it must stand until seriously challenged.

The first map actually showing the Bahamas is

that drawn in 1500 by Juan de la Cosa, Columbus' pilot

on his second voyage to the 'New World7. He calls the

This discussion of Bahamian cartography is
based primarily upon examination of maps in the col-
lection at the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History,
University of Florida. The more important maps con-
sulted are the following: de la Cosa, 1500; Cantino,

islands the "Lucayos." This is presumably the native
name, which is given to us in another form by Oviedo

(1950: 115 ap. 7) as "los yucayos." Brinton (1901:

441) and Loven (1935: 71) derive the term from the

Arawak words ludku, "man," and kairi, "island"; that is,

"island people." Brinton's discussions of the linguistic
affinities of Island Arawrak and Guiana Arawak (Brinton,
1871, 1901), while generally well-done, are occasionally

none too precise. It would perhaps be more accurate to

reduce the name Lucayo to the Island Arawak words luko,
"man," and kayo or its variant form kaia(ri), "island."

Translation of these two elements is based upon their

similarity to the Guiana Arawak forms loko, "man,"

(Goeje, 1359: 9), and kairi, "island" (Brinton, 1901:

441). Both of these words appear in the Island Carib
women's lanruaoo, so-called, which is a conglomorato
of both Carib and Arawak words and grammatical structures,

the latter predominating (Goeje, 1946: 43). Here lukuo

1502; Oliveriana, 1503?; Turin, 1523?; Ribero, 1529;
Santa Cruz, 1536; Santa Cruz, 1545; Desceliers, 1546;
de Bry, 1594; HIerrera y Tordesillas, 1601; Jansson,
1642; Ottens, 1730; Speer, 1774; Jefferys, 1775; Anony-
mous, 1794. U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey charts have
been used for present-day island designations. Complete
citations for these maps are given in the bibliography,
with references to fuller descriptions in Lowery, 1912.
References to Lowery are given by item number rather
than pae.

meant "man," and akaora, "island" (Goojo, 1939: 9,

In 1507 the islands are called simply "caia":

by Joannes Ruysch, and on the 1511 map of An hiera they

are called "los iucaios." The firstmap to use the term

Bahama was the.Cantino map of 1502, not, as often indi-

cated, the 1523 Turin map (Cronau, 1921: 48), From 1564

on, the maps usually use the term Bahama, although

Lucayo or some variation of that name is often added as

an alternative designation. The meaning of Bahama is

obscure, and lack of adequate lmowlodco of the Arawakl

dialects makes it impossible to venture even a guess

concerning its use.

In the century between the compilation of the

de la Cosa map and Horrera's map of 1601, well over a
hundred maps show the Bahamas and give names for the

individual islands. The names used are predominantly

Indian, and are retained on all the maps until the

late 1600ts and early 1700ts, when English names begin

to appear. There is general uniformity after the middle

1500's from; map to map in the name used for any single

island, and it is a needless task to present here the

names used on all of them. It is apparent that most

cartographers of the late 1500ts and the 1600ts took

their data for the Bahamas from Spanish maps of the first

half of the 1500's, for they were often careless in

copying the correct names for the individual islands,

and islands are quite often misplaced or not included,

Spanish exploration in the archipelago apparently

ceased so:2ctime during the middle 1500's, for after

that time there are few changes or additions to island

names and locations on the maps, This cessation of

exploration can very probably be closely correlated with
groving Engliszh naval supremacy in the Caribbean, and

particularly with the increase of piracy in and about

Bahamian waters, initiated to harass Spanish shipping

from Vera Cruz and Havana through the Dahama Channel.

It would seem logical to scan the Spanish maps

of the area made around the years 1530-50 for the correct

location and native names of the islands. Unfortunately,

this has not been done before, and the best chart -- the

only one during the 1500's and 1600's specifically of the

Bahamas -- has not been consulted by earlier writers.

This chart was drawn in 1545 by one of Spaints leading

cartographers, Alonso de Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz's maps

are usually very reliable, well-exocuted, and quite

clear. His 1545 map, in two sheets, entitled Carta de

la Florida a de las Islas Lucayas, is no exception. It

co:.es closer to giving a clear delineation of relative

island position and coastline than any map until the late

1700's. Both shoots of the chart have recently boon

reproduced by the Academia Real do la Historia (1951:

Jf 17, 18, pp. 89-94). The most important names used.

on this map, as well as those used on other major charts

from 1500 to the present, are given in Table I. Docauso

of the geographical completeness and accuracy and the

high standards of workmanship represented in Santa Cruzts

map, it should perhaps be considered the most reliable

source for determination of original island namos,

There have been many changes in the individual
island names. The earlier Indian and Spanish names have,

by and large, been replaced by English names, dating

from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The only

islands still retaining Indian namos are the Biminis,

Grand 'ahana, the Abacos (originally the name for Andros),

Exuma (originally Yuta), Samana (originally applied to

the present Lon2 Island), T'ayaguana, the Inaguas, and

the Caicos. Saomete, or Socoto, originally the name for

Crooked Island, survives in modified form as Jumento, and

has been applied to the chain of cays stretching north

from Great Rar ed Island, to the west of Crooked Island.

The only remaining Spanish names, which were always few

and far betwoon, are Conception, which earlier in the form

of Santa Taria de la Concepcion was applied to Run Cay

(Columbus, 1893: 42), Tira For Vos, Cay Sal, and the



De la Cosa, 1500 Turin, 1523? Santa Cruz, 1545





Habacoa ?

Yumay ?





Baoruco ?


Gaixmon ?






















flames listed in this table do not represent com-
plete coverages of the charts used.

TABLE 1a-Continued

Herrera, 1601 Spoer, 1774 1900,sb























Cat Island

Watlings Kay


Long Island

Crooked Island

Acklins Island






Grand Bahama

Little Abaco

Great Abaco

New Providence



Cat Island

Great Exuma

San Salvador

Rum Cay

Lon- Island

Crooked Island

Acklins Island


Great Inanua



Based primarily upon U.S. Coast and Goodotic
Survey Chart No. 1002, the Straits of Florida, 1948.

Anguila Islands. An early Spanish name for Rum Cay,

Triangulo, has been dropped, as have the names for

:'ouchoir and Silver Banks, earlier called Bajos de

Babuoca and Bajos de Abreojo respectively. A few of

the smaller islands still retain Spanish names, such

as the Plana Cays, and Matanilla Reef in the north of

the archipelago owes its name to Spanish times.

Ciguateo has become Eleuthera, Curateo (Santa
Cruz, 1545) is Little Cat (or Little San Salvador)

Island, and Guanima is now Gat Island. The earlier

Samana is now Long Island, after having been called

Pernandina by Columbus (1893: 45). Saomete has become

Crooked Island, after having been named Isabella by

Columbus (1893: 51). Cabo Hermoso (Columbus, 1893: 51)

is now Fortune Island (or Long Cay), and the Islas de

Arena (Columbus, 1893: 59) are now the Jumento Cays and

Great ia~ged Island. Guanahani became San Salvador during

Spanish times, Watling's Island during English times,

and then amain San Salvador under the influence of the

Columbus scholars. Abaco, originally as Habacoa the name

of Andros, has been applied to the island originally

known as Yucayoneque or Lucayoneque. Yabaque was probably

the present Acklins Island, and T1ani.gua the present Rum

Cay. Ganahaun (Santa Cruz, 1545) is now Little Ina-ua.

Indian names of the various islands in the

Turks and Caicos groups are difficult to place. The

entire group seems to have been first called caios,

"islands," or caycos. From the 1545 Santa Crus map

we have the following probable names: Caicos -- '.*est

Caicos; Anjana or Aniana -- Providenciales; CGaiba or

Cansiba -- North Caicos; !~acaziei or Magarey (Herrera,

1601) -- Grand Caicos; Canaman or Caixmon (De la Cosa,

1500) -- East Caicos; Amuana -- Grand Turk; Capan --

Salt Cay; El Viejo -- Ambergris Gay. Exact correspon-

dence, however, is difficult to make and must as best

remain highly tentative. The early Nema (Santa Cruz,

1545) or ITazema (Oliveriana, 1503?) is now New Provi-

dence, after having first been called Sayle's Island by

its English discoverer (Oldmixon, 1949: 11). Other

islands have had name changes during English times, and

some are still today undergoing such change, but their

present designations have been fairly uniform throughout

most of their recent history.

On both the 1500 world map of De la Cosa and

the Cantino map of 1502 an island called Haiti appears

somewhere in the vicinity of the central islands, in the

general area between Cat and Crooked Islands. It is

represented as quite large on both maps. Because of the
close correspondence in the delineation of the Bahamas on

both charts, it has been assumed that Cantino probably

copied his detail from De la Cosa. It is difficult to

say whether Do la Cosa was using his imagination in

showing this larc island with the name Haiti or not.

Haiti meant "high" or "rouhh" in Island Arawak (Tojera,

1951: 262-263; Zayas y Alfonso, 1931: II, 89) and seems

to have referred to any mountainous region. The name

does not appear on subsequent charts, and we have no

explanation of this single occurrence on the De la Cosa

chart, repeated by Cantino. It can not be a mistake in

the position of Hispaniola, commonly called Haiti by

the Indians in early times, for that island is clearly

shown on both maps, Whether the name is accidental on

De la Cosa's map, whether it was a descriptive term used

by the inhabitants of one of the higher islands in the

central Bahamas for their own land, or whether the term

was applied by Indians from outside the area we will

probably never know for a certainty.

Haiti is the only charted island difficult to

place. There are other islands, however, indicated in

the works of the times, which can not be located on the

map. Islands mentioned in Herrera's account of the

voya;o of Ponco de Leon, for instance, are not all easily

placed on the map. Nevertheless, it has been possible to

indicate the Indian names for the majority of the islands

in the archipelago.

Because of the paucity of Island Arawak
linguistic data it is not possible to offer adequate
translations for many island names in the 3ahanas. Other

than the name Haiti, mentioned earlier, only two names

lend thoemsolvos to fairly plausible translation. These

are Bimini and :.:ayaguana. If Mayaguana is simply a

variation of the Island Arawak word maguana, as is indi-

cated on some early charts (Deseeliers, 1546), it pro-
bably moans "little plain" (Las Casas, 1876: 283-284

reap. vif7). Bimini may possibly come from the Island
Arawak semi, "spirit," plus the suffix -ni, of unknown
meaning. The name may, then, indicate a "place of

spirits," an island given over to the spirits. 7e are

certain of the meaning of semi both from its frequent

use in Las Casas and because of its similarity to the

Guiana Arawak form seme(-he) and the Island Carib "women's

language" form some, both meaning "spirit" or "super-
natural being" (Goeje, 1939: 7-8). The correspondence

between the bimi- of Bimini and semi is admittedly not

too close on first examination. There is, however,
another moaning of the Arawak some/semi, which is "good

to eat" (Goeje, 1939: 7). In the "women's lan"ua3o" of

Island Carib the word is rendered soeo, the samc form
that is used for "spirit." The corresponding form in

Island Carib "ments lantuaeo" is bime (Goeje, 1939: 7-8).

If we asnino that Island Carib was an Arawakan languago

with a sprinkling of mainland Carib words and only a

minor distinction between men's and women's vocabularies

(Gooje, 1946: 43; Taylor, D.M,, 1951: 41, 44), we are

loft with the possibility that Bimini night be translated

as "place of good food"(Goeje, 1939: 8). We are sure of

this second meaning becauso.the Carib word bime is still

retained, with the moaning "fsvoct," in tho lanua-oe of

the Black Carib of British Honduras (Taylor, D.Y., 1951:

163), As can be cathorod, even those few attempts at

translation must be considered highly speculative The

single characteristic which can be pointed out with some

certainty concerning Lucayan names is that a great many

of them were accented on the final syllable. Bimini,

Bahama, Guanima, Guanahani, Samana, and ;aniGua are

often written in the works of the early chroniclers with

the final syllable accented. Las Casas makes a point of

declaring that certain Lucayan words are pronounced with

"the last syllable long and acute" (Las Casas, 1877: I,

220 /Tib, i, cap. xl2),

Considering the fact that the Spanish never
colonized the Bahamas and that we have practically no

mentions of the islands in Spanish documents after the

time of Columbus, it is indeed interesting that by the

time Santa Cruz drow up his chart of Florida and the

Bahamas in 1545 the native nLamo of at least twenty-

seven islands were known, along with a good idea of

their relative positions to each other and of their
coastlines. In general, the maps indicate a rather

clear kmo:lced-o of Bahamian geography. There aro also

a few mentions of the region in the works of Spanish
chroniclers of the 1500's which would lead one to
believe that the Spanish vicre quite familiar with the

archipelago, even though they may not have settled there.

An rxamplo of this knowledge is soon in Oviodo, whore it
is sabated,

And in the middle of this distance are the
islands of the Virgins; and from the islands
of Sanct Johan, called Boriquon, running to
the northwest, fifty leagues, are the shoals
which they call Babuoca, and following the
same track, farther on from the aforementioned
shoals twenty-five leagues are the islands of
Amuana, and even farther ahead of these is the
island of TIayaguana, and farther ahead of that
is the island Yabaque, and even farther is
another which they call T.ayaguon, and beyond
Is7another island which is called Manigua, and
beyond are the islands of Guanahani and the
Princesses or '7hite Isles. Farther again
is the island called Huno Zumanf and following
the same course is another island called
Guanima, farther on is another that they call
Caguareo /Ziguateo7, and even farther is the
island of Lucayo, almost completely surrounded
by numerous shoals. To the west-northwest,
almost ten loagues, into the west wind, is the
island of Bahama, from which, running to the
west eleven leagues, is the land of Bimini and
that which they call Florida, on the coast of
the Continent in the northern portion (Oviedo,
1851: I, 614 R/ib. xix, cap. xvg).

Again it is stated,

...they are the island Guanahani, of which I
have spoken, and many others that are there,
which are generally all together called the
Islas de los Lucayos, notwithstanding that
each one of them has its own name, and there
are many; such as Guanahani, Caycos, Jumeto,
Yabaque, Mayaguana, Samana, Guanima, Yuma,
Curatheo, Ciguateo, Bahama (which is the
largest of all), Yucayo y Neque, Habacoa,
and many small islets that are there in that
re ion (Oviedo, 1851: I, 25 tfib. ii, cap.

From these references, written about the year

1535, it would seem that some rather extensive explora-

tions had been made in the islands during the early

1500's. Very probably this knowledge came from the short

period of slave raids, which will be discussed in more

detail later in this report.

Our actual recorded history of the Bahamas
during Indian times begins with the first voyage of

Columbus in 1492. His logbook gives us the details.

On October 11, 1492, the crews of the Pinta,

Nina, and Santa ::aria saw their first real signs of land.

Sandpipers and floating branches were noticed, and a small

board and a green reed drifted by. First indications of

human handiwork appeared in the form of a small pole

"which appeared to have been worked with iron" (Columbus

1893: 35). It was with a sigh of relief that these signs

were noted, for the voyage had been long and trying, and

mutinous thoughts had but recently been in the sailors


During the day the ships sailed about twenty-
six leagues and made all preparations for ,a landfall.

Around two a.m. .on the morning of the twelfth Rodrigo

de Triana, a sailor on the Pinta, set up the alarm.

17ith the moon shining high in the sky he saw the sands

of Guanahani in the distance. Columbus estimated their

distance from the island as about two lcanues, or six

nautical miles (Columbus, 1830: 36). Sails were immed-

iately shortened and the vessels hove to, waiting for

daylight, just off the coast of Guanahani.

On the morning of Friday, October 12, crowds

of naked natives were seen on the beach. Columbus, with

Martin Alonso Pinzon and his brother Vicente Yanez,

captains of the Pinta and the Nina, and several other

of the more important personnel of the fleet, embarked

in a longboat and took possession of the land in the name

of Ferdinand and Isabella (Columbus, 1893: 37). The rest

of the day was spent bartering with the natives and ex-

amining the immediate vicinity of the island.

It has been pointed out rather conclusively that

Columbus believed he had actually found the farthest

reaches of Asia, at least until his explorations around

the mouth of the Orinoco in the oumr.or of 1490 (Kunn, 1932:

39 ff.). He himself states that he hoped to be able to

bring letters to the "Gran Can" from Ferdinand (Columbus,

1893: 55). His first interest, therefore, after claim-

ing Guanahani in the name of the Catholic 1:onarchs, was

in learning if the mainland of Asia were somewhere close

by. He immediately directed his efforts toward gathering

information on that subject from the Indians. On the

thirteenth he noticed that several of the men wore gold

nose-plugs, and he questioned them as well as he could

about the origin of the metal. He understood from their

gestures that it came from the southwest, and he resolved

to set out the following afternoon in that direction

(Columbus, 1893: 39-40).

On the morning of October 14th, Columbus em-

barked toward the northeast along the west coast of the

island to see the other side and to determine the pre-

sence or absence of villages (Columbus, 1893: 40-41).

This statement would seem to imply that the actual land-

fall was on the western side of the island, and Torison

has accordingly placed it there, probably near Long Bay,

tho most feasible spot alonr the west coast. The north

shore was apparently rounded in this reconnaissance trip,

for a peninsula with six houses on it, referred to earlier,

is mentioned by Columbus. This was probably the penin-

sula to the east of Graham's Harbor (ijorison, 1942: I,

In the afternoon Columbus left Guanahani for

a search of the other islands to the southwest, according

to his plan of the previous day, and sometime during the

afternoon he sightod "so many islands that I hardly

know how to determine to which I should first go" (Colum-

bus, 1895: 42). These "islands" were the hills of Rum

Cay (::orison, 1942: I, 316). By noon he had reached the

island. He sailed around the south coast and anchored,

about sundown, near the western cape, but, fearing reefs,

laid by during the night of the fifteenth. On the morning

of Tuesday, October 16th, he went on shore to explore.

The wind shifted during the morning, however, and he felt

it wisest to get back to the ships. From the western

cape of Rum Cay, or Santa Maria de la Concepcion as he

named it, Columbus had sighted another island and de-

cided to go there next, He set sail around noon, but

light winds during the afternoon made it impossible for

him to reach land by nightfall, so, again, he anchored

and waited for daylight before proceeding. In the morning,

October 17th, he landed near the north end of the island,

which he called Pernandina (Ilorison, 1942: I, 322).

Today we call it Long Island. There he found a village,

tentatively located near the present town of Glinton

(Thompson, 1949: 30), where water and other provisions

were obtained from the natives.

At noon Columbus left the village and followed

the coast to the north-northwest, since the winds would

not permit him to sail south as he wished. At the ex-

treme north end of Long Island he came upon a "very

wonderful harbour" with an island in the middle (Colum-

bus, 1893: 48). Seeing a village, he anchored and went

ashore for more water, thilo waiting for the water casks

to be filled Columbus observed, for the first time at

close range and at his leisure, the village life of the

natives. His observations on this short visit, as given

us by Las Casas (Columbus, 1893: 49-50), form the most

complete account we have of the appearance of a Lucayan

settlement. This account will be discussed in some

detail later in the report.

After reloading the water casks Columbus sailed

farther towards the northwest. However, he had brought

several Indians from San Salvador with him as interpre-

ters (Columbus, 1893: 51), and they now asked him to

turn back to the south, saying that if he wished to find

gold it would be well to proceed in that direction, for

Saomete, an island in the south, was a source of the

motal. Columbus was persuaded, and the entire night of

the seventeenth was spent on an east-southeasterly course,

Fro:m midnight until dawn of the eighteenth it rained hard

and the seas wore high. By evening of the cightoonth

the fleet had reached the southwestern end of Long

Island, but the weather boing still too uncertain to

permit a landing, the ships were anchored shortly after

dark just off the coast.

At dawn on Friday, October 19th, anchors were
weighed and the three vessels were given separate courses,

the Pinta sailing to the east-southeast, the Nina to the

south-southeast, and the Santa laria to the aouthoast.

Those courses were to be kept until noon, whcn the Pinta

and the Nina were to rejoin the Santa Maria if no land

had been sighted (Columbus, 1893: 51). Around nine

o'clock in the morning an island was sighted to the cast

from the Santa TTaria. The natives said that it was

Saomete, the island of their destination. Columbus (1893:

51) renamed it Isabella, the present Crooked Island.

The three vessels rejoined each other and then

sailed south along the west coast of Crooked Island as

far as Cabo TIormoso, the southwestern cape of Fortune

Island, now called Long Cay (Morison, 1942: I, 321),

reaching there late in the afternoon. They anchored off

shore until Saturday morning, October 20th. During the

evening Columbus was told by the natives from San Salva-

dor that there were no villages near Cabo ilermoso, but

that there were some in the interior of the island

(Columbus, 1893: 52), so at dawn on the twentieth he

weighed anchor and sailed to the northern point of

Fortune Island. There, at the narrow channel between

Fortune Island and the southwest cape of Crooked Island,

which he called Cabo de.la Lnauna (Columbus, 1300: 53),

he anchored. Upon investigation, however, the sea

proved too shallow for navigation, so he weighed anchors

and followed his course up the western side of Crooked

Island to the northernmost cape, which he named Cabo

del Isloo (Columbus, 1893: 56), It took,him the entire

night of the twentieth to reach Cabo del Isleo, and it was

not until ten o'clock that morning that the ships were

anchored and he was prepared to go ashore (Columbus,

1893: 54). On shore a solitary house was found, but no

inhabitants, Columbus and his crew walked inland for about

a mile and found a village, where they remained for.a

short while and persuaded the natives to bring water for

the ships down to the beach (Columbus, 1803: 55). The

vessels remained off the coast of Crooked Island until

midnight of Woenosday, October 23rd, when they weighed

anchor for Cuba, which the Indians said lay to the west-

southwest (Columbus, 1803: 57), Although anxious to

roach the Asian mainland, which he supposed to be close

by, Colux-bus decided to pause on his way long enough to

learn what "tidings of gold or spices" he might obtain

t:, t-,ia!aas (a-rlntei frorn Mor son,

1 Q,,12: 1T 321).L

in Cuba (Columbus, 1893: 55).

By morning it had begun to rain and a calm had

set in. The ships lay by until the afternoon, llhen the

wind began to pick up again. By nightfall Cabo Verde,

the southern cape of Long Island, had been sighted about

seven leagues, or twenty-one miles, to the northwest

(I'orison, 1942: I, 321). During the night of the twenty-

fourth the weather was very bad, with an incroane in the

rain and a heavy sea, but Columbus kept his west-south-

westerly course. At about three o'clock in the afternoon

of the twenty-fifth, seven or eight islands were sighted

running north-south about fifteen miles distant (Colum-

bus, 1893: 58). These were nnmed Las Islas de Arena

(Columbus, 1893: 59), the present Jumento chain and 3reat

Ragged Island. The night of the twenty-fifth and part

of the next day wore spent at anchor somewhere off Nurse

Cay (:"orison, 1942: I, 321, 329). During the afternoon

the fleet sailed south off the coast of Las Islas do

Arena, reaching a point just south of Little 7a-Srod

Island by nightfall (i.orison, 1242: I, 329), hero anchors

were lowered until the morning of the twenty-seventh.

That day the southward course was continued, and by night-

fall the Cuban mountains were sighted in the distance, a

thin purple line on the horizon (Y'orison, 1942: I, 330),

So endod Columbus' brief sojourn in the Bahamas.

He never returned there, and we have no other account

of the islands during Lucayan times giving' us a des-

criptivo statement on the life of the natives. On

Columbus the bulk of our historical and ethnographic

reconstruction must depend.

Cuba and the islands to the south wore more
intriguing to Columbus than the Bahamas, and all of

these islands were considered but stepping stones to

the Asian mainland, where Columbus hoped to be able to

deliver letters from Ferdinand to the "Gran Can," The

Bahamas were perhaps purposely glossed over in the

voyage, since the Guanahani natives mentioned Cuba and

the southern islands as sources of gold (Columbus, 1893:

58-59). ":iht not these islands be the Indies, the Spice

Islands, which were the forerunners to Asia itself?

This conscious search for gold-producing lands,
which were felt to be an evident indication of close

approach to Asia, accounts to a lar;e do-roe for the

somewhat erratic course Columbus took throu.:h theo ahamas

(Fig. 2). lie was simply following the advice of the

Guanahani natives concerning the course he should take to

find the "Indies." As T7orison points out ('orison, 1942:

I, 330), it is probable that the Indians made the south-

ward trip to Cuba by going from cay to cay, crossing the

shortest stretch of water possible at each jump. In the

same manner Columbus moved through the archipelago.

An interesting reference is made to the island
of Bosio or Bohio, lying beyond,Cuba (Columbus, 1893:

55). Las Casas (1877: I, 231 Jib. i, cap. xliif7)

interprets this as referring to Hispaniola and as sig-
nifyin; a land of largo houses, the word bohio inoaning

"house" in Island Arawak (Tejora, 1951: 70-72; Zayas

y Alfonso, 1931: I, 112-113). Morison (1942: I, 327,

332-333), however, offers the interesting possibility that

Bohio perhaps meant "home" or "homeland" to the Lucayans,

indicating the land of their origin. No evidence can

be given to support this interpretation, but it is

indeed an interesting speculation,

With the availability of other lands of greater

economic value to the south, it is not surprisin- that
the Spanish did not settle the Bahamas. From the outset,

however, the islands were part of the Spanish New World

under the Treaty of Tordesillas, promulgated by Pope

Alexander VI in 1493, and the Spanish came to play a

major role in their history. Spanish interest in the

Taharas during the 1500's and 1600's was closely bound to

the encomienda system, and a cursory examination of the

system as practiced in Cuba and Hispaniola is necessary

to bring this period of Bahamian history into its proper


From earliest Spanish colonial times the use of
Indian labor for mining, farming, and all nonial tasks

was a privilege granted to influential colonists by the

Spanish Crown. These colonists were called oncomenderos,

and the system itself the oncominda. A brief suLr:.ary

of the development of the oncomienda in Spain and in

Cuba and Hispaniola is helpful in gaining an under-

standing of its importance and pervasiveness in Spanish

colonial economy.

During the Reconquest of MIoorish Spain by the
Spanish and Portuguese, larre grants of land, in the

feudal manner, were given to military leaders. Those

grants covered immense territories and often included

certain rights over the lives and properties of the

common people already living on the land. This type of

grant was called a repartimiento, the term encomienda

referring in the earliest times to the tax-collecting

power of the holder of a repartimiento. Such fiefs pre-

vailed in Spain and Portugal from the twelfth century

onward (Diffie, 1945: 58-59), and, although they wore

originally of a temporary nature, soon came to be

hereditary (De la Cruz, 1954: 7).

In general Spain's colonial policy may be

characterized as centralized and authoritarian, and it

was these two major characteristics which most aided the

ready transference of the encomienda-repartimiento

system from Spain to her TTow V.orld possessions. Church

and State were always in supreme control, and their word

was always law -- a heritage from the Reconquest period.

Both these aspects of Spanish nationalism prevailed

long after their utilitarian origins had vanished; that

is, unification of the Iberian peninsula, and contributed

the formulating factors to Spanish colonialism. Part of

this system of centralized authoritarianism in Spain was

the encomionda, and it was brought to the Hovw ,Jorld in

the best spirit of Iborian expansion.

A helping hand was given the enconionda in the

Indies by several additional factors. The Spanish had

behind them a long period of contact with alien peoples

in the Iberian peninsula, and they had no fear of as-

sociating with the Indian. The predominant mestizo

classes in many parts of Latin America today certainly

bear evidence to this. The fact that the Indians of

Cuba and Hispaniola vworo sedentary, agricultural groups,

in contrast to the more bellicose and nomadic groups in

other parts of the New World, made them particularly easy

prey to the encomienda, and the desire for the wealth to

be expected from the "outlying islands of Asia" made it

necessary for the invaders to have an available labor

supply to mine gold, precious stones, and to bring up

pearls. A final push toward the encomienda was pro-

vided by the simple fact that the Spanish had to have

their daily bread in order to survive, and they were

too few in number and too lacking of inclination to

solve this basic economic problem themselves. The

obvious alternative was food from the Indians, through

peaceful r.cans if possible, but by force if necessary

(Do la Cruz, 1954: 14, 16).

All phases of the newcomers' past and the

Indians' present seemed to dovetail together, so that

it was only natural that the encomienda should be trans-

planted, and successfully so, to the Spanish New World

with other aspects of Iberian culture; its beginnings are

indeed traceable to the first years of Spanish coloni-


By a royal decree of July 22, 1497, Columbus

was given the privilege of making land grants in the

1ew '.orld (Thacher, 1903-04: II, 547). However, land

grants without labor to work them were useless, so

provisions were made for a labor supply about the oarme

time that they wore made for the giving of grants. Las

Casas mentions this, saying,

The Admiral, before he went to Castille,
in 1496, about !'arch, or the Adelantado
after the departure of the Admiral, im-
posed, in addition to the tributes that
the chieftans and their people paid,

or perhaps as the principal tribute paid
(because I could not verify this point),
the obligation on certain chieftans and
jTndiaonlords of taking charge of the culti-
vation of the lands of the Spanish Christian
towns, and of working for them with all their
people to furnish maintenance and r;ive other
personal services. This was the origin of the
pestilence of the ropartimiento and-encomienda
which has devastated and destroyed the whole of
these Indies (Las Casas, 1877: I, 441 n/ib. i,
cap. c27).

The terms repartimiento and encomienda were

apparently used synonymously at first, as Las Casas

indicates above, to moan a distribution of lands or

Indians (Diffie, 1945: 61); later, however, a definite

distinction was made between the two. The repartimiento

came to mean a temporary grant of Indians to do a

specific task, while the encomienda was a grant of Indians
made for the lifetime of the encomendero, eventually be-

coming hereditary in both the family of the encomendero

and the families of his oncomondados, as the Indians work-

ing under this system were called (Diffie, 1945: 61).

Indian labor recruited under the repartimiento and en-

coinionda in both Cuba and Hispaniola was used to work the

minos, to farm, and to perform the various duties of

household servants (De la Cruz, 1954: 22), This system

formed the basis of control over Indian labor, and as

Diffie (1945: 61) has stated, cultivation of the land would

have been irnposnible without it,

In 1498 Columbus petitioned Isabella for por-
mission to use this type of labor, but he was merely

trying to legalize the status quo (Diffie, 1945: 61).

The fact that the system was not recognized on a legal

basis is shovn by the accompaniment of Nicolas de Ovandos

commission as Governor of Hispaniola in 1501 with an

order to treat the Indians as good subjects of the Crown

and to allow them complete freedom (Simpson, 1950: 11-


This situation did not last for long, however,

for in 1503 Isabella issued a royal codula stating,

...we are informed that because of oxccssive
liberty enjoyed by the said Indians they avoid
contact and community with the Spaniards to
such an extent that they will not even work for
wages, but wander about idle, and cannot be had
by the Christians to convert to the Holy Catholic
Faith...I command you, our said Governor, that
beginning from the day you receive my letter
you will compel and force the said Indians to
associate with the Christians of the island and
to work on their buildings, and to till the fields
and produce food for the Christian inhabitants
and dwellers of the said island.../ngd on feast
days and such days as you think proper they may
be gathered together to hear and be taught in
matters of the Faith...and do not consent or
allow that any person do them any harm or oppress
them...(Simpson, 1950: 13).
This codula was issued to Governor Ovando of Hispaniola,

and it marked the beginning of the organized and local-

ized encomionda in the '!c V1;orld. It should be noted,

paradoxical though it be, that Isabella not only commanded

the enforced labor of the Indians, but she also

demanded that they should be instructed in "the Paith"

and be cared for without oppression. This point embodies

the basic difference between the Spanish encomienda and

that of the Indies. The system in Cuba and Hispaniola

was based upon "remunerated personal service in exchange

for the obligation of procuring the natives Christiani-

zation. Thus, the juridical form born in the colony is

totally different from the Castillian encomienda"

(Gongora, 1951: 105; Do la Cruz, 1954: 3).

Rigid application of the encomienda in Cubar and

Hispaniola from early settlement days brought about a

decimation of Indian encomendados by the early and

middle 1500ts, and attention was turned to other areas

as sources of labor. European diseases, poor health con-

ditions, poor working conditions, undernourishment, and

separation of males and females by the repartimiento un-

doubtedly contributed heavily to this sudden drop in native

population (De la Cruz, 1954: 24). It also seems probable

that the protein-deficient diet of the Indians -- based

largely on cassava and other starchy foods -- was in-

capable of supplying the energy needed to perform the

arduous tasks of full-time mining and farming imposed by

the encomienda, giving rise to an unusually high mortality


The Bahamas were one of the closest inhabited

regions, and in 1509 Ovando obtained authorization from

Ferdinand to recruit labor from the islands (:Iacmillan,

1911: 22), A raiding force was sent out under Alonso

de Hojeda (Morison, 1942: I, 327), and within a few

short years the entire population of the archipelago,

which has been roughly estimated.as 40,000, was dopleated

(Las Casas, 1877: II, 100 jTib. ii, cap. xli27; Edwards,

1819: IV, 219; De Booy, 1912: 87). Seemingly the Lu-

cayans wore recruited not on an encomondado basis, but

were hunted down and captured as slaves, for we have no

record of grants of oncomienda made within or concerning

the Bahamas; the population was simply deported and

vanished without a trace, as far as we know, in Cuba,

Hispaniola, and other areas,

Vio have definite evidence that commissioned

slave raids were sent out from Cuba to the Bahamas. Las

Casas (1877: II, 347-348 /1ib. iii, cap. xcif7) tells us

that around the year 1517 Governor Diego Velazquez of

Cuba commissioned several caravels and other ships for the

precise purpose of acquiring Lucayan slaves to replace the

diminishing; encomendado labor within Cuba itself. These

fleets, financed by private individuals, left Santiago de

Cuba and accomplished their purpose with "sword and lance"

(Las Caass, 1877: II, 348 /ib, iii, cap. xcif).

The same measures were taken in Hispaniola.

Las Casrs tolls us that,

It was that unfortunate cunning which y"vo the
King to know, either through letters of through
the Procurador whor.m they sent to the Court...
that the Islas de los Lucayos, or Yucayos,
noeihbors,to Espanola and Cuba, wore filled with
people, who were idle and who took advantage of
*.*be...... ..--.-- @*,4**Oe. e9--.*.e** *
Therefore, when permission came from Kin.
Ferdinand to bring to this island 51spanolga
the people who wore living in the islands we
were accustomed to call Lucayos, there gathered
together ten or twelve citizens of the city of
La Vega or Concepcion and the town of Santiago,
who raised between them 10 or 12,000 cold pesos,
with which they bought two or three ships and
hired fifty or sixty men.-- sailors and the
rest -- to go and attack the Indians who were
living, carefree, in the peace, quietude and
security of their native land
*.4..9..* e0O.O8e.@e0...*e.eO ***O*O*** **3*Oat****ee
Brought to this island and disembarked,
especially at Puerto de Plata and Puerto Real,
which are on the north coast facing the Lucayos
themselves, men and women, youn;- and old, were
divided into groups...in these groups it was not
seen that the wife should be with her husband nor
the son with his father, for no more attention
was paid to them than if they were truly the
vilest of animals (Las Casas, 1877: II, 98-100
/Tib. ii, cap. lii7).
Apparently Lucayans arrived by the shiploads in Hispaniola,

where, because of their numbers and the poor condition

of their health, they brought very low prices. Las Casas

tells us that "each Indian...which they called pieces...

as if they wore head of cattle, Zsold foj7 four gold pesos

and no more" (Las Casas, 1877: II, 100 /Iib, ii, cap.


At first Lucayan slaves wore used as miners,

agricultural workers, and personal servants to replace

the diminishing numbers of Cuban and Hispaniola en-

comendados (Anghiera, 1944: 505 /eoc. vii, lib. ii, cap,

1i7). This new life was hardly pleasing, and we have

the usual stories of exceptionally high mortality rates

and runaway slaves, Anghiera (1944: 500 e3ec. vii,

lib. i, cap. ij7) tells us that many died simply because

they refused to work and eat. Others apparently escaped

and died in the backlands of Cuba and Hispaniola before

they could be recaptured. It is reported that some

killed themselves. Those who successfully escaped and

who did not die in the attempt usually tried to reach

the western part of Hispaniola, from whence, if possible,

they made their way back to the Bahamas. Anghiera ibidd.)

reports one instance of a Lucayan carpenter who fashioned

a canoe and filled it with provisions for his escape

journey. He managed to reach western Hispaniola, where

he put out to sea and would have been successful, except

for the fact that a Spanish vessel came across him while

at sea and brought him back to Hispaniola.

The fate of the Lucayans, however, lay not in

Cuba and Hispaniola, but on the small island of Cubagua,
some five hundred miles to the south. This island, just

off the northeast coast of Venezuela near the district of

Cumana, ras a shining cem in the Spanish Crown, for from

it came some of the best pearls the world has over soon.

It has been reported (Boulton, 1952: 32) that pearls wore

so numerous in Cubagua during colonial times that they

were for awhile used as currency, the average pearl having

the value of twolve posos.

Cubagua was discovered in 1499 by IHojeda,

Guerra, and Vespucci a year after having been by-passed

by Columbus (Torison, 1942: II, 280-281, 290), and with-

in a few years came to be the center of the New V7orld

pearl industry along with the neighboring island of

:Rargarita (Las Casas, 1877: II, 105 I Tib, ii, cap.

xl~7). As an indication of Cubaguals wealth it was
called Insula Rica or Islote de las Perlas by the Spanish

(Boulton, 1952: 23),

The labor necessary to maintain Cubaguals pearl
fisheries and its position as "la Insula Rica" cane from

Indian sources. The rigors of this life for the Indian

are vividly described by Las Casas in his rrcvissima

Relacion do la Destruycion de las Indias, wvhore he says,

The tyranny which the Spanish exercise against
the Indians in the gathering or fishinG for
pearls is one of the most cruel and condemnable
things which there could ever be on earth.
There is no more infernal nor insane life in
this century with which it may be compared,
although that of mining gold is of its nature
vary arduous and wretched. They put them
/ithe Indians into the sea in three, four, or

five fathoms depth, from morning until sun-
down; they are always underwater, swimming
without being able to catch their breath,
tearing off the oysters in which the pearls
grow. They come back with a small net bag
filled with them to the surface for air,
where a cruel Spaniard waits in a canoe or
small boat, and if they take long in restin-
he gives them blows and shoves them under
the water again to dive by the hair, Their
meals are fish, oysters, cassava bread, and
some corn...with which they are never filled
to excess. The bed they give them at night
is to secure them in stocks on the ground, so
they will not escape. Many times they dive
into the sea,..and never return to the surface,
because the -tiburones and ;iarrajos, two tyreo -
of very savage sea animals /sharks/ which can
devour an entire man, kill and eat them (Las
Casas, 1879: 266-267 /From the section entitled
"Do la Costa de las Perlas y do Paria y la Isla
de la Trinidad).

These observations were apparently first-hand, for Las

Casas repeats, almost verbatim, the statements of Barto-

lome de la Pena, an eye-witness of the situation who

wrote down his impressions some years before Las Casas

composed his Brevisima Relaoion. Pena (1879: 560-361

seap. xxxviifi) describes the symptoms discernible in
the majority of fatalities as difficulty in breathing,
a tightness in the chest, and hemorrhaling from the mouth.

All indicate excessive internal bleeding and the rupture

of blood vessels in the lun-s, resulting from lack of air
ovor a long period of timnc If the symptoms have been

accurately reported we have a rather definite indication
thlat working hours for the Cubagua pearl fisherman were

very long and quite strenuous.

In 1512 special laws were passed to protect the

Indians enslaved as pearl fishermen. These laws re-

quired that no fishing should be done in the winter or

in times of bad weather, and that five fathoms should

be the maximum diving depth in most instances, eight

being the absolute maximum. In the case of divers

working at five fathoms or less the working day would

consist of no more than four hours, and in the case of

those working at depths from five to eight fathoms, three

hours would be the limit. Living conditions were to

be improved and punishment made milder. It was declared

illegal to fish for pearls with the "chinchorro" or

dragnet; instead, the smaller "redecilla" or net basket

was to be used at all times (Boulton, 1952: 29-36).

Such laws would seem to bear evidence that conditions

before 1512 must have been quite bad.

A document from the Archivo de Indias, without

date, but probably from the year 1522, describes the vice

and malpractices of the pearl industry on Cubagua in some

detail, pointing out the great number of pearls which

were withheld from the officials of the Crown and indi-

cating that much cruelty prevailed in the industry with-

out the officials of Cubagua beinr aware of it. All of

this seemed to exist in spite of and well before the laws

of 1512. The same document makes it clear that Las

Casas himself had visited Cubagua, although not before

1520 or thereabouts, and lends crodonce to his statenonts

about the pearling industry (Coloccion de Docuimontos

Inodltos, 1865-83: X, 35-36)8,

It was to this environment that the majority

of Lucayan slaves were brought. Few of them remained

in Hispaniola once it was discovered that they were

excellent swimmers, and it was at Cubagua that they met

their extinction. Las Casas reports that,

The Spanish began to send the Lucayan Indians
to gather pearls, because they are in general
all excellent swimmers...for which reason they
wore sold, usually in public, but with caution,
not at 4 pesos as had been ordered in the begin-
ning but at 100 and at 150 gold pesos and more
.... an it was a miracle if, after a feo days,
a singlo Lucayan could be found on this island
ZLspanola7. The course which through necessity
must be taken from this island to the isle of
Cubagua is around 300 long leagues, and they
carried them all there in ships by that route.
In that arduous and pernicious work -- much
more cruel than diS!in; gold in the mines --
they finally killed and finished them off in
a very few years; and in that way the entire
population of those islands which we call the

8This document is entitled "Relacion de T;iZuol
de Castellanos, Contador de la Costa de Tierra Firmo de
Paria, donde son las perlas, del viago que hizo con
Bartolome de Las Casas, clerigo, y de lo que antal paso
on aquellas parts, y de lo que le paresco acerca de lo
que vio hay nescesidad su magestad prove presto on cosas
que cumplen a su servicio y acrescentamionto de su

Lucayos or Yucayos perished (Las Casas, 1877:
II, 103 /Tib. ii, cap. xlv).

Pena (1879: 361 seap. xxxviig), too, refers to the mass

exodus of Lucayan slaves to Cubagua. The situation

certainly was not as acute as indicated by Las Casas, who

would have us believe that it was possible to sail from

Hispaniola to the Bahamas without benefit of navigation
charts and instruments because the water was strewn for

the entire distance with Lucayan corpses thrown over-

board by the slavers (Las Casas, 1879: 266), but one

must credit the basic elements of the story with truth.

Las Casas is notable for his pro-Indian bias, but in the

majority of cases it sooes safe to assume that the under-

lying facts given are correct.

From the middle 1500's until the first organized

white settlement of the archipelago by the British in

1647, we have few records mentioning the Bahamas. As

far as can be determined, the islands were unpopulated

for this period of about a hundred years, and there is

today no noticeable trace of Lucayan blood in the native

white and Ilogro population of the Bahamas. As early as

1511 many of the islands soora to have been depopulated.

The folloviin- statement refers to this period.

Among others, seven citizens of the towns of
La Vega and Santiago...joined toogther, and
not lacking merchants to help them, they
armed two ships, placing in each one 50 or

60 men...They left from Puerto de Plata, from
which port in a day more or less they arrived
at the Islas de los Lucayos. Having arrived
there, and having searched many of them with
the greatest diligence, they found nothing,
because those who had already come before them
to those islands had finished off all /the
inhabitants with the haste which has been
well pointed out above in Book II...(Las
Casas, 1877: II, 198 Lfib. iii, cap. xg).
Anghiera (1944: 504 diec. vii, lib. ii, cap, A7) tells of

the same expedition.

In a less well-known work of Las Casas, The

Tears of the Indians, exact date of writing-unknown,

reference is made to the rapidly disappearing Lucayan

population. There it is stated,

The Lucayan Islands noi:lhboring toward
the North upon Cuba and Hispaniola, belng
above sixty or thereabouts.,are now totally
unpeopled and destroyed; the inhabitants
thereof amounting to above 500,000 /-sic
souls, partly killed and partly forced away
to work in other places; so that there going
a ship to visit those parts and to glean the
remainder of those distressed wretches, there
could be found no more than eleven men (Las
Casas, 1656: 3-4).

One of the few records from the 1500's specifi-
cally concerning the Bahamas is that of the voyage of

Juan Ponce de Leon, Governor of Puerto Rico. The motives

for this expedition through the Bahamas which led Ponce

to the iunitting discovery of Florida are hardly clear.
Howovor, they all sooe to revolve around the miraculous

Fountain of Youth, or Fountain of Bimini, as it is more

properly called, Oviedo, Anh;lcra, Las Casas, Herrera,

and Escalante Fontaneda all refer to this famous tale.

The jist of it is that soinowhero, on an unlocated island

in the alhanas called Pinini, was a fountain, the wator

of which had rejuvenating po.rers for those who drank it.

The chroniclers indicate that the story came from the

Indians of the Grcator Antilles (Herrera, 1934-35: III,

327 edec. i, lib. ix, cap. xij~ ; Escalante Fontanoda,

1944: 15).

Through troubles fomented by Diego Columbus,

Juan Ceron, and Higuol Diaz, Ponce had last his gover-

norship of Puerto Rico (Lawson, 1946: 4-6). His ambition,

and perhaps imagination, turned to other lands in the

New World, and in 1511 he wrote Ferdinand as:in,; for

permission to discover and settle the island of Bimini

(Lawson, 1946: 7). We do not have the original letter,

but we do have 7ordinandr's reply, "which is entitled

"To the officials of the Island Espanola upon the acroe-

ment which they have to take with Juan Ponce upon that

of the said Island of Dirminy which he has to go to dis-

cover" (Lawson, 104G: 79-81 ). The letter is dated

february 23, 1512, and simply aclnoviledges Ponce's re-

quest. However, on the same day Ferdinand issued an

official cedula containing contracts and general capitu-

lations for the discovery of the island of "Benimy"

(Lawson, 1946: 81-88; Lowery, 1911: 457-441). This

cedula gives Ponce the rights of adelantado, encoomendero,

and overlord of Bimini and any neighboring lands he might

discover. It was uphold by others issued in 1513 and

1514 (Lawson, 1946: q9-97).

Historians have tended to take one of two

extreme sides in the question of the Fountain of Bimini

and its importance in Ponco's voyago of discovery. It

is certainly true that the story should be considoe-d in

its proper proportions, rather than exaggerated into the

wanderings of the imaginative mind of a Spanish con-

quistador, or relegated to the ash-can; these seem to
have been the two alternatives, 'he historical documents

indicate that the facts as presented wore taken seriously

by all concerned, and that they did play a very large

part in the discovery of Florida (Davis, 1935: 1-70).

Herrera seems to be speaking the general feeling: of the

tirclos whcn he states that Ponce's major reason for

attempting the voyage was to discover the Fountain of

Bimini (Herrera, 1934-35: III, 527 /ec. i, lib. ix,

cap. xig17). As a recent article has aptly pointed out,

Certainly it may appear rather difficult to
understand that such a man should have wasted
a large part of his considerable fortune on an
expedition designed to catch the waters of a
fabulous spring. But the historical problem
lies just in this fact, and it cannot be solved
by references to the supposed credulity and

artlessness of the first chroniclers of
America. Aside from the fact that they were
genorally well informed, they definitely are
inclined to give a rational explanation of the
ovonts rclatcd...this applies in our case, too,
and we are justified in supposing that in this
way we have lost much of the knowledod of the
temper and feelings prevailing in the conquests
and adventures of ,the age of discovery (01schki,
1941: 363).

In short, we should consider the problem in the light of

its own times, not in the light of our times and their

changed concepts. The desire to find Bimini seems to have

been but a part of the heritage from the period of Recon-

quest, when any excuse for an adventurous foray was seized

upon. The encrgis of this period certainly prevailed

on into the 1500ts and vwro a leading factor giving

impetus to Spanish colonial expansion. The expeditions

of Diego de Ordaz (1531), Orellana (1540-41), and Raleigh

(1595) in search of the fabled land of El Dorado with its

gilded monarch and city of 1anoa, and the efforts of de

Soto, Father Marcos, and Coronado to find the wealthy

seven cities of Cibola bear ample testimony to the con-

tinuance of the energies from the Reconquest well into

the sixteenth century. The slightest suspicion of wealth

or the miraculous was enough to persuade men of common

sense and official stature to embark into the unknown.

As a part of this heritage it is not too far-fetchod to

suppose that Ponce felt it quite worthwhile to expend a

fortune in seeking out Bimini, Neither did the Spanish

Crown consider him wasteful, for patents were issued

him in 1513 and 1514 for,the colonization of the island,

(Davis, 1935: 9-14, 53-56),

The story of the Fountain is first mentioned

by Anghiera, who says, "Anran them 5The Lucayosg, at a

distance of three hundred and twenty-five loa-ucs from

Espanola, they say there is an island...which is called

Boyuca or Ananeo, and which has a fountain so notable that,

drinking of its water, old men are reinvigorated"

(Anghiora, 1944: 191-192 sdec. ii, lib. x, cap. iff).

He adds that the leocnd was taken quite seriously, and

elaborates the above statement, saying,

In my first Decades...notice was given of
a fountain which is said to have such secret
virtue that it reinvigorates old men wheno they
use the water to drink and to bathe in

Those whom I cite, aside from written
reports and accounts given me vocally by
casual acquaintances, are the Dean himself
AI1varez de Castro, Episcopal Dean of Con-
cepcion in Espanola the senador Ayllon,
the jurisconsult whom I have mentioned before
~/ucas Vaz uez de Ayllon, auditor to the Council
of Espanola_, and the third the accountant
The three unanimously declare that they
have heard of the fountain which restores
vigor, and that they believe in part those who
have told them of it,.,Of this the Dean g;avo an
They have a Lucayan servant whom they call
Andres Barbudo...It is said that he was born of
a father already well advanced in age. From
his native island, near the region of Florida,

attracted by the fame of that fountain and
desiring to prolong his life, he f/he father
prepared all the necesary-T teams for the
journey in the manner of those today who go
to rocovor their health to Rome, rNaploc, or
e"e baths ao Puteol-., and went to got the
desired water from that fountain. He vwont
and remained there awhile, bathing in and
drinking the water for many days accordinK
to the remedies dictated by the spring-keepers,
and it is said that he returned home with
virile powers, and he performed all the male
functions and married again and had children.
This son of his gives as witnesses many who
were carried away from their native land,
Lucaya, who affirm that they saw that man
first when he was decrepit and afterwards
rejuvenated and with bodily strength and
vigor (Anghiera, 1944: 535-536 2dqc. vii,
lib, vii, cap.p 1)

Several rather obvious facts stem from the

above statement, From the wordin- used by .n.hliera,

especially those words italicized above, and from his

comparison of the Fountain of Bimini to the baths of

Puteoli, Rome, and the spas of Naples, we definitely do

not get the idea of a spring of water, a drink from

which could actually return one to youth -- the usual

conception of the Fountain. Instead the words "rein-

vigorate," "restores vigor," and others used by Anghiera

would incline one to think more of a present-day health

resort. Indeed, Anghiera himself considers the

Fountain as nothing more than a spa for the aged. He

gives the decided impression that this consideration

came fror. his conversations with the throe men mentioned

in the above quotation (Anghiera, 1944: 536-538 3 ec.

vii, lib. vii, cap. I7), and he elininatos the mystical
elorients of the story which we today are accustomed to

think of first. Ho states specifically that "I am not

ignoring the fact that those things go counter to the

opinion of all philosophers, who jud,;e it impossible to

have a regression in the progress of physical develop-

ment" (Annhiora, 1944: 536-537 /-ibid.J7), and he con-

tinues to say that he is not suggesting such miraculous

powers for the Fountain of Bimini, but that he is of the

opinion that the island was probably nothing more than
a very healthy place to live.

It is most unfortunate that the majority of
English and American research on the subject has been

based on ;c:tutt's translation of An-.hiera (1912), for

many facts and sentences in the original are telescoped
into a sin.-le sentence or less in that translation, and
the entire feeling; and meaning of the original are often

lost. This is particularly true in the case of thoso

sections mentioning the Fountain of Bimini (Anrhiera,

1912: I, 274; II, 295). Such telescoping has made it an

easy matter to inject religious and mystical interpretations
into the story, destroying the eminent practicality of
An hiora's own explanation. This is especially true be-

cause of the mistranslations of a single word, the crux

of the entire problem. The word.rejuvenare in the

original.Latin, orrejuvener, rejuvenecor as it is

translated into Spanish, is uniformly rendered into

English by the literal translation "rejuvenate, make

young." Today the word may mean either "to render

youthful again" in a literal sense, or "to reinvigo-

rate, to stimulate to health." The first meaning is

the more co::.on in procont-day English. In the Latin

and Spanish, however, the primary .ioanlin of the term

is simply "to stimulate to health," and this is ob-

viously the sense in which Anghiera was using it, as he

goes out of his way to explain in the previously cited

passages. Because of this mistranslation and the tele-

scoping of Anghiera's explanation we have lost the in-

tended feeling and meaning in McNutt's translation; we

have translated the story of Bimini into modern En;lish

in literal terms, and not, as should have been, into the

terms and with the meaning of Anghiera's own times.

For this reason it has been easy to misrepresent Anghi-

era's version of the facts as known in the early 1500's.

It does not soc:m out of place here to mention

briefly the genoral tone of Anghiera's writing and to

give him somewhat more credit than he usually receives,

particularly in the case of the subject at hand. Al-

though he never visited the eow World, he was a merbcr

of the Consejo de Indias and was in close contact with

many officials and residents of the oew world As a

member of the court of Perdinand and Isabella he came

into direct contact with Columbus and apparently dove-

loped an immediate interest in the new roalms which h

Columbus had discovered, an interest which lasted until

his death in 1526. Always a methodical and practical

man -- he was one of the loading diplomats of his

time -- he is careful to document the majority of his

statements. He rarely lapses into a reminiscing or

miraculous vein, but keeps his account straight and to

the point. His practicality is almost unparalleled for

his times. In the case of the Fountain of Bimini

account, Anghiera makes a definite point of stating that

his information comes from three well-qualified persons,

Alvarez de Castro, Episcopal Dean of Concepcion in

Espanola; Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon, auditor to the Council

of Espanola; and the accountant Figueroa, who was

attached to the Council of Espanola. All three men lived

for some time in the r.'ow 'iorld and were certainly in a

position to give Anghiora adequate knowlodco concerning

what they saw and hoard. None of their statements seems

calculated to create an air of exaggeration, and where

the throo differed among themselves, Anghiera points this

out (Anhiora, 1944: 507 5ec. vii, lib. ii, cap. i,7).

Because of the comparative erudition of those throo

men and the matter-of-fact way in which their state-

ments are reported by Anghiera, there seems to be little

reason to doubt their sincerity,

Ayllon's evidence would seem to be particularly

trustworthy. He came from a wealthy and well-educated

family of Toledo, from .'.hcnce he left for the 'oIw World

whore he eventually assumed some importance as a lgcal

auditor to the Council of Espanola. In 1520 a ship

commissioned by Ayllon and captained by Francisco

Gordillo was on its way through the Daiamas when it fell

in with a slaving party under Pedro do ruexon, sent out

from Espanola by Juan Ortiz de Tatienzo. Thie two cap-

tains not only acquired many Lucayan captives, but made

their way to Florida as well, where they succeeded in

capturing many Indians. These they brought back to

Ayllon and Matienzo in Espanola (Swanton, 1946: 36-37).

Being in charge of such professional slaving expeditions

as this, Ayllon was likely to have information on the

customs of the Lucayans, which he probably related to

An-hiora at the latter's request when he was at Court in

Miadrid in the early 1520's seeking a patent to settle a

colony on the Florida mainland.

Horrcra, writing in 1601, and later authors do

not offer much elaboration to Anr-hiora, but simply up-

hold belief in the Fountain. le are given no reason to

doubt their sincerity. Hoerrera (1934-35: III, 327

4lec. i, lib. ix, cap. xig7), states that the story

originated anmon the Indians of Cuba and Hiispaniola,

but he gives no supporting ovidonce for such a state-

ment. Hle may be referring to Anghiera's mention of

Andros Barbudo, though we have no way of :mowin- for


It has become the generally accepted opinion

today that the story of Bimini is simply an extension of

'uropcan marvels to the :!ow '".orld, another Ice;ond of the

same order as those concerning the Earthly Paradise, the

Arna.ons, the Ten Tribes of Israel, and Gog and "nagor

(Olschki, 1941: 384). It has been denied that there are

any West Indian elements involved. If we assume that the

Fountain was indeed a mystical and miraculous place of cure

for senility and gave actual return to physical youth,

the presently accepted opinion is of some worth. As has

been pointed out, however, this mystical concept is a

comparatively modern one and did not exist at the time

Anhlera wrote. It may, of course, have been current at

Court in Eadrid, but it hardly seems to have prevailed

in the 3ow World. Anghiorats approach is matter-of-fact,

and we can hardly discount his statements on the basis of

later interpretation,

The desire to reach Asia by sailing westward,

to see its wonders, and to bring back its wealth, was

still a potent one in the 1500's, and the general con-

census of opinion was still at that time that the new

lands were but a portal to Asia. It does not seem

difficult to inr.ma:in that the legend of a fabulous

Asiatic fountain of youth should be transplanted from

its Old kiorld setting to the .ow World, thought to be

an approach to Asia, and there receive elaboration

until it came to the attention of Ponco do Leon at a

time when he strongly needed a new force to bolster

his prestige.

If the tale sprang full-blown from Old Uorld

sources, however, how do we account for the level-

hcadcdnoss shown by Anghiera and his informants? How do

we account for the fact that Indian witnesses from the

Bahamas testified that there was a fountain which re-

stored vigor -- certainly they were not imbued with Old

'orld fables and the -raSftical mythology of medieval

Christianity? iHow do we account for the fact that the

gonoral location of DT3iini was known -- "three hundred

and twenty-five loa-uoo from Lspanola" -- although it had

never been soon by European eyes as far as we know? And,

sost important, how de we account for the simple fact

that the actual name of Dimini was ]kown? Ponce asks

specifically for the right to go and discover not the

"island" whoro thore was r-portod to be a rejuvenatinC

sprin'S, but the "Island of Bimini," If so much was

known of this island in the BEnhamas, untouched and

unseen by Europeans, and if this knowledge came from

Lucayan slaves, it would seem obvious that some im-

portance was attached to the island by the natives

themselves. In short, we can not consider the story

of Bimini as a whole-cloth European importation nor as

pure legend. There are definite Indian elements to be


Escalante Fontaneda (1944: 14-15) adds some

evidence to the .7ost Indian origins of the Fountain

story. Although it is felt by this writer that his

statements concerning the Bahanas are Gonorally quite

unreliable and probably based upon hearsay, there may be

some elements of truth in his account concerning the

Fountain, since it is mentioned in connection with the

Calusa Indians of South Florida, anong whom Fontaneda

lived during the 1560's He states that the story came

9An examination of Fontaneda's knowledge con-
cerning the Bahamas, to be discussed at greater length
later in this report, shows rather conclusively that the
majority of it was second-hand and based upon outdated
and incorrect sources. There seems no reason to assume,
in this particular instance, that his sources were any
more accurate. The statement on p. 15 of the edition

from the Indians of Cuba and Hispaniola and that it was
part of their traditional religious mythology. The

cited above, "It is cause for merriment, that Juan Ponz
de Leon wont to Florida to find the River Jordan /he
Fountain of Youth7" is enough in itself to discredit
Pontaneda's historical sense, for this latter statement
is completely counter to the codulas issued Ponce by
Fordinand, specifically mentioning the island of iir:iini
(Davis, 1935: 9-14, 53-56). Vrhilo Fontanoda's descrip-
tion of the South Florida Indians is undoubtedly accurate
enough, and while one should certainly not go so far as
to suspect the man's sincerity, one should take his
historical statements with a grain of salt. It is also
unfortunate that the editors of the edition cited above
did not notice the discrepancy between Fontanodats
eye-witness, descriptive report on Florida and his brief
historical side-lights. They have, for instance, on pp.
46-47, discredited both Anghiera and Herrera and given
Fontaneda credit for the correct version of the Fountain
story. With no documentary evidence they have stated,
"It is readily apparent that neither Tartyr nor ITorrora
had a first hand o~llecdoe of this tradition," indicating
that they woro unaware of the passages in An-hiora quoted
earlier in this report. They have also assuwod that the
tale portalns to Florida, which it manifestly does not,
as the reports of Anghiera and HIerrera witness. Their
assumption that the word of Fontaneda, writing at least
fifty years after Anghiora and his informants de Castro,
Ayllon, and Figueroa, is correct, while that of the latter
men is not, sooms to be stretching a point* It would seem
iaoro in eeopin. with accuracy to su:*-est that Fontaneda
perhaps obtained his historical data from Las Casas,
writing; between the years 1520 and 1501, for the latter
seems to have initiated the confusion between Bimini and
Florida (Las Casas, 1877: II, 200 /lib. iii, cap. xx7).
AnChiora, in any case, mentions both the Fountain of
Bimini (see preceding citations) and Ponce de Leon
(Anghiera, 1944: 322 /dc, iv, lib, V7, 355 /fee. v,
lib. i, cap, if7, 520 Lee. vii, lib. iv, cap. ii,7), and
shows no confusion between Bimini and Florida. Because of
Anghiera's full documentation of his statements, because
he was writing during Poncots lifetime, and because of
Fontaneda's lack of documentation and usual historical
vagueness, the account of the latter has not been

Fountain itself, however, he places in Florida, and he

adds that a group of Indians from Cuba actually sailed

to South Florida, where they settled a village in
Calusa country after having failed in their search for

the Fountain, The descendants of those people wore

apparently still living in the region when Fontaneda

was there, Because of Fontaneda's accuracy in reporting

the lives and customs of the Florida Indians with whom
he lived, it is assumod that his statement.is probably
accurate. The fact that those Cuban Indians were in

South Florida, however, is no necessary indication that
Florida was considered to be the land of the Fountain.
All other evidence, cited earlier, would seem to discount

this latter hypothesis, and it is felt by the writer that

this settlement in Calusa country may have been purely.
accidental, as will be explained later.

A tentative statement on the origins of the
mountain of Biaini story might be somewhat as follows.

The island was known to the Lucayan natives for its

healthful environment, restoring vigor-and strength to'

persons advanced in ago. We have some corroboration hero
from Las Casas (1877: I, 228 L:ib. i, cap. xl7), who

says that although there must be old people in the Bahamas
none of the natives seem to be so. This physical "presor-

ovation" oven in old age Las Casas attributes to the

mildness.and gonoral healthfulness of the climate.

He reports, too, that many Spaniards visited the islands

to recover their health, and that they returned well

to Hispaniola, whore he himself had seen some of them.

It is probable that the name Bimini indicted
that the island was a healthful place to live, if we

can indeed translate it as "place of good food," as

previously su-goated. There may even have been some

religious connotation riven to the island, if the con-

nection between the Arawak words for "good to eat,

sweet" and "spirit, supernatural being" is correct,

Perhaps the exact reasons for this new fcolin,- of

vigor and strength exacted from Bimini's environment

were not clear to the Indians; perhaps they felt it was

because some spirit or non-corporeal being was resident

on the island -- hence the name Bimini.

.:ith the imri.-ration through slavery of Lu-
cayans to Cuba and Hispaniola and the observation on the

part of some Spaniards, as mentioned by Las Casas, of the

invigorating qualities of the Bahamian environment, the

reputation of Dimnin may have come to the attention of

the Spanish as the ultimate in "health resorts." It is

true that we have no records mentioning the Fountain

before the year 1511, and it is possible that a correl-

action between slave raiding in the islands and the

appearance of the name Bimini can be made.

The Spanish, oager for now vistas to explore,

readily accepted the story and elaborated upon it with

elements of Christian mythology, eventually producing

a fountain with actual health restoring powers. Still,

from Anghierats report, in Ponce de Leonts time the

tale does not seem to have acquired the hyper-mystical

connotations it has today. Perhaps the fact that Ponce

never actually found the Fountain strengthened the

mystical element and allowed it to develop into the

leognd we have today,

An explanation of Fontaneda's Arawak village

in the Calusa country of South Florida may be postulated

in the light of the above proposals. The Cuban Indians

received their first story of the Fountain from Lucayan

slaves, just as the Spanish did, end they, too, were

anxious to check its efficacious powers. Setting out

from Cuba with no specific course by which to reach the

island of the Fountain, they may have come to South

Florida by mistake, where they were taken in and settled

by the Galusa loader, Senquene. This leader is referred

to by Fontanoda (1944: 15) as the father of "King Carlos"

and probably lived some thirty or forty years before

Pontanoda visited the country. This would place the

time of the migration from Cuba in the 1520's or

1530's, the period when the tale of Bimini was apparently

still current in both Cuba and Hlispaniola. This explana-

tion is, of course, purely speculation.

Ponce, then, was probably not chasing an
ephemeral rainbow. He was scoin-; a pleasant island,

which had an environment conducive to good health.

Because of the fables current in Christian mythology

of the times, the Indian story was slightly elaborated,

but probably not beyond all practicality. The new, the

unknown) and the miraculous were urges of the times

leading to many explorations, and it was therefore not

too unusual that Ponce should bend his efforts and

finances in the direction of Bimini.

Herrera (1934-35: III, 317-321 /dec. i, lib.
ix, cap. x7) gives a very cursory account of the actual

voyage through the Bahamas, mentioning the islands at

which Ponce stopped, but giving few details concerning

the presence or absence of natives. Judging from Las

Casast report of around the year 1511 (Las Casas, 1877:

II, 198 /fib. iii, cap, xx7), rinny of the islands were

already depopulated as a result of slave raids, and it

is possible that Ponce could have gone through the

entire archipelago meeting very few of the remaining

inhabitants, who by this time were probably well-impres-

ood with Spanish tactics and must have hidden them-

selves at the first sign of a Spanish vessel*

The fleet, consisting of three vessels at the

outset, left San German, Puerto Rico, on the third of

arch 1513 (Herrera,1934-35: III, 318 3Tec. i, lib.

ix, cap. x7). On the eighth the ships passed the Dajos

de Babueca -- prosont-day ?Touchoir Bank -- and anchored

off an island called El VieJo, possibly the present

raborgris Cay in the Caicos group. The next day they

anchored off Caicos island proper, probably the island

we call today '.cst Caicos, A woccst-northwest course was

then followed, taking the ships by the unidentified

islands of Yaguna and Amaguayo (Herrera, 1934-35:

ibid.). On the same day they passed Managua, which

can definitely be identified as Rum Cay (Turin, 1525?).

On- arch 14th the fleet stopped at Guanahani, -whore it

remained until the twenty-seventh. From there the

course was to the northwest, leading eventually to


Returning from the Florida coast the ships

skirted the north coast of Cuba and then sailed up through

the Bahama Channel, where they came to "some islets which

are on the banks of the Lucayos farthest to the wost"

(:errora, 1934-35: III, 324 Cdec. i, lib. ix, cap. xif).

Those islets were probably to the north of Grand iHahama

or in the vicinity of Bimini, jud-inr; from the approxl-
Mlate position given, which is "twenty-oight doerces"

(Herrera, 1934-35: III, 325 r- ibid. 7). Hcrrora's

narrative here becomes notably interesting and is worth

quoting at length. Following the above statement he


...and they anchored off them on the oeihtconth
of July, whoro they took on water. They named
them La Vieja, the Old Woman, after an old
Indian woman whom they found there without any
other people at all...
At first it wasn't possible to determine
the actual name of Florida...for the Indians
of jfhat land itself gave the name of each
section, and the Spanish thought that they
were being taken advantage of. Finally, be-
cause of these importunities, the Indians
said that it was called Cautio, a name which
the Lucayan Indians gave thaifland, because
the people there covered their private parts
with palm leaves, woven in the manner of
plaited strands. On the twenty-fifth of July
they loft the islands in search of Biinii,
sailing among islands which seemed submerged.
Having to stop, and not mkowin, whroro the ships
could find a passage, Juan Ponce sent the
ships boat to explore an island which seemed
submerged and found it to be Bahama. The old
woman whom the: had carried with them said that
same thing, as did Diego 1~iruelo, a pilot they
encountered in a ship from ;spanola which was
exploring, or, others say, which fortune had
carried there. They left on Saturday the sixth
of August,..and until they had determined the
depth ran towr2ds the northwest...until they
came to some small rock islands. They changed
their course only at the determination of the
depth, running by depths toward the south
(Ilerrora, 1934-35: III, 324-325 C~ ibid. ).

Fror this point the fleet touched unon various
islands of which only Guanima (Cat Island) and Cituatoo

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