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The history of Hernando de Soto and Florida; or, Record of the events of fifty-six years, from 1512 to 1568 online

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long time resisted all the power of the 'Spaniards. Their towns were well
built, the people were comparatively civilized, and conducted their aifairs, both
civil and military, with great address and regularity. Guzman's troops every-
where committed terrible depredations, but he drew no advantage from it. He
remained in the province of Xalisco until imperial orders were issued to arrest
and bring him back a prisoner to Mexico at his own expense.


Some of the Indians that had suffered thus, being at last got out
of their holes and hiding-places, told them that the Spaniards had
been there and destroyed and burnt their towns, laid their lands
waste, and carried off vast numbers of the people for slaves. Yet
were these a most innocent, courteous people, and made Alvaro
with his company as welcome as possible. In short, they went on,
with a great body of Indians attending, till thej' came where the
first Spanish settlement was, having all along traced the march of
the Spaniards by those marks of their cruelty which were visible

From the place where Alvaro first heard the Spaniards spoken
of he reckoned it to be eighty leagues to the river Petutan ; the
river on which Diego de Guzman arrived. In all the country where
the mountains ended, he observed traces of gold, iron, and other
metals ; and where the houses were fixed he describes it as warm,
even in January.

The next morning, after seeing stakes to which horses had been
tied, Alvaro took with him the negro and twelve Indians, and fol-
lowed the trace of the Christians. He passed three villages where
they had slept, and made ten leagues that day.

The next day he met some Christians on horseback, who were
astonished to see him clothed in so strange a manner, and in the
midst of these Indians. They regarded him for a long time with
s.uch astonishment that they could not utter a word. Alvaro told
them to conduct him to their chief, and then the party. went a half
league to the place where Diego de Alcarez, their captain, was.
When Alvaro had spoken to him, the captain told him he knew
not wliat to do ; that for a long time he had not been able to take
any Indians ; and he did not know where to go, because his people
had besun to suffer with hunger. Alvaro told him that Dovantes
and Castillo were ten leagues from there with many people that
they were bringing with them. The captain immediately sent to
them three cavaliers and fifty Indians, the negro serving for a guide..
Alvaro asked the captain tO: certify the year, the month, the day,
and condition in which he had found him, which he did. From
this river to the city of San Miguel, the chief place of the govern-
ment of this province [Xalisco ?] of New Spain they counted it to
be thirty leagues.

Two days after, Dorantes and Castillo arrived with those who
had been sent to seek them. They brought six hundred Indians
belonging to a village, all of the inhabitants of which had fled into
the forests, and concealed themselves for fear of the Spanish sol-


di'ers. The natives who accompanied Alvaro's party had caused
all these Indians to come back, and had conducted them to where
they were.

The Indians brought Alvaro a great quantity of corn, of which
he took some, and gave the rest to captain Alcaraz and his men,
to divide anoong themselves. Alvaro was much chagrined at the
wish of these Spaniards to m^ke slaves, of the Indians who had
l>rouglit this supply. Seeing the Indians afflicted, Alvaro tran-
qnillized them ; told them to return home and plant their corn ;
but they refused to leave him, saying that in his company they
were not afraid. The Spanish soldiers said they were masters of
the country, and must be obeyed ; and fartlier, that they were
Christians as well as Alvaro. This the Indians would not believe.
They declared it to be utterly impossible, since everything was
contrary in the two parties : the one came from the east, the other
from the west; the one was naked and on foot, the other clothed
and on horseback ; the one healed those who were sick, the other
killed tliose who were well; the one showed no sign of avarice,
while the other seemed to have no object in life bat to steal what-
ever they could reach: but at length Alvaro got them to return to
their homes, after which he and his companions, in a state of arrest,
were sent to an alcalde named 2Iebreros.

Tiiey carried Alvaro and his party into the mountains by path-
less ways where there was no water. They thought they all should
die of thirst. Seven men perished, and a great number of Indians
who accompanied them lived only till the noon of next ifey. In
the evening they found water. After going about twenty-five
leagues tiiey arrived at a village of subjugated Indians. The alcalde
who conducted them left them there, and they went throe leagues
further to another village called Culiacan, where resided Melchoir
Diaz, alcalde mayor and captain of tlie province.

The reception of Alvaro and partj' by Diaz was very different
from that by Alcaraz. Diaz begged them to remain in the country
and use their influence with the Indians to bring about a better
state of affairs. Alvaro enjoined the Indians to build churches
and put crosses on them. He caused to be brought to him the
children of the principal Indian inhabitants, that he might bap-
. tlze them. Then Diaz solemnly promised not to make inroads into
the country, nor to permit the Indians to be oppressed, nor to re-
duce into slavery any of the natives of the country which Alvaro
had pacified. Diaz engaged to keep his promise until the emperor,
or the governor Nuno de Guzman, or viceroy should decide on


what would be fit for the service of God and the emperor. When
Alvaro had finished baptizing the Indian children, he set out for
the city of San Miguel.

In the city of San Miguel, Alvaro remained until the 15th of May.
From this place he went to the city of Compostella, the residence
of the governor, Nuno de Guzman. To reach it, they were forced
to travel a hundred leagues through a country entirely deserted
and hostile. He travelled with his people and twenty cavaliers for
forty leagues. From the place where these left him, his party con-
tinued its march in company with six Spaniards, who were conduct-
ing five hundred Indian slaves. Having arrived at Compostella, he
was well received by the governor, who clothed him and his party.
It took Alvaro a long time to accustom himself to wearing clothes,
. and he could sleep only on the ground. Ten or twelve days after
their arrival at Compostella, they set out for the city of Mexico.
All along the route they were well received by the Christians, great
numbers of whom came to see them, and thanked God that tliey had
escaped from such great dangers. They arrived in the city of Mexico
on Sunday, the eve of St. James [1536]. The viceroy Antonio de
Mendoza and the Marquis de Valle [Hernando Cortes] received them
with the greatest pleasure, and treated them very kindl3'. They gave
them clothes, offered them whatever they possessed, and on the day
of St. James had carousals and bull-fights.

After he had rested two months at Mexico, he was going to em-
bark for Spain in October, when a storm arose, and drove the vessel
aground. Then he determined to wait till winter was over. When
part of the winter was passed, he and Dorantes went to Vera Cruz,
where they waited till Palm Sunday to embark. They waited fifteen
days for a wind. The vessel being deep in the water, Alvaro left it
for another, while Dorantes remained on board. On tlie iflth of
April, they sailed in company with a third vessel. The three ves-
sels kept together fifty leagues, when one night that of Alvaro
parted from the other two, which were lost sight of.

Alvaro's vessel arrived at Havana the 4th of May, and there
waited for the other two till the 2d of June. It then set out, but
not without apprehension of meeting the French, who iiad a few days
before taken three vessels in those parts. After leaving Havana,
having made five hundred leagues, the vessel arrived at the Azores,
and the next day, in passing near the island of Cuervo, they per-
ceived a French vessel in company with a caravel loaded with "
negroes. The French would have taken the vessel of Alvaro, but
for the sight of a Portuguese fleet, commanded by Diego de Silveira.


With this fleet Tilvaro's vessel went to the island, of Terceira, where
they remained fifteen days for another vessel whicli was coming
from India, and was in company with three vessels escorted by a
squadron. Then all set out together, and entered the port of Lis-
bon August the 15th, ISSt.

Dorantes and Castillo also returned to Spain. The negro Este-
vano remained in Mexico, and served as a guide to Francisco Marco
de Nizza in his expedition to Cibola, where Estevano, on account of
some improprieties, was killed by the Indians.







In the year 1530, Nunc de Guzman, at that time president of
New Spain, had in his service an Indian, a native of the country
Esitipar, which was called by the Spaniards Tejos or Texos, and
which in all probability was no other than the present Texas. This
Indian told his master tliat he was the son of a merchant long since
dead. That during his childhood his father used to go into the in-
terior of the country to sell the handsome feathers with which the
Indians adorn their heads ; and that he brought back in exchange a
great quantity of gold and silver, which metals were, according to
him, well known in that country. He assured him that, having on
one occasion accompanied his father, he had seen several large towns
in which entire streets were inhabited by people working the pre-
cious metals. Finally lie added that to arrive there, it was neces-
sary to travel for forty days through a wilderness, where nothing
was to be found save a short grass, and then get into the interior of
the country, keeping due north.

Relying on this information, Nuno de Guzman assembled an
army of four hundred Spaniards, and twenty thousand Indians, al-
lies of New Spain. Restarted from Mexico, traversed the province
of Tarasca, and reached that of Culiacan, the limit of his govern-
ment; no road leading farther on, and having great obstacles to sur-
mount in order to pass over the mountains which intercepted his
route, he now saw the greater number of his officers and allies get
discouraged and abandon him. Meanwhile he was apprised that
Hernando Cortes, his personal enemy, was returning [from Spain]
to Mexico, loaded with titles and favors. He therefore resolved to
stop at Culiacan, and colonize that province. Shortly afterwards
the Tejos Indian died, and Nuno de Guzman was thrown into

Some time previously Pamfllo Narvaez, Hernando Cortes's unfor-


tunate rival, having been named governor of Florida, left St. Do-
mingo with four hundred men and eighty horses, in five ships ; he
reached Florida on the 11th of April, 1528. On the 1st of May
foll«wing, he penetrated into the interior of the country. After long
and weary marches he returned to the coast and constructed barks,
in hopes of reaching Panuco by coasting towards the west. On the
22d of September of the same year, he sailed, accompanied by two
hundred and forty-two men. On the 29th or 30th of October, after
a most perilous navigation, the Spaniards discovered and pointed
out to Nai-vaez the mouth of the Mississippi. They almost all
perished shortly after ; some of hunger, some from shipwreck, and
others by the natives. Tliere only survived [Alvaro Nunez] Cabesa
de Vaea, Dorantes, Castillo Maldonado, and a negro [Bstevano].
At the end of eight years they reached Mexico.

Don Antonio de Mendoza, at that time viceroy of New Spain,
caused these three travellers to be brought before him. They
related to him their adventures, declaring that they had met with
Indian tribes, some of whom cultivated maize, while others lived on
fish and the product of the chase; that they had heard of large
towns, with lofty houses containing many stories, and situated in
the same direction as those spoken of liy the Tejos Indian. Men-
doza communicated the information he received from them, to Fran-
cisco Vasquez Coronado, a nobleman of Salamanca, and governor
of the province of Culiacan. . The latter at once left Mexico and
hastily returned to his province.

When NuSo de Guzman had conquered the new kingdom of
Galicia, the first town he built there was Culiacan. It is situated
west of Mexico. According to Pedro de Castanedo de Nagera, who
had joined Coronado's expedition, there were three large and per-
fectly distinct populations in that country — the Tahus, the Pacasas,
and the Acaxas. The Tahus were the most intelligent and the
most civilived nation, and the one that first embraced Catholicism.
Previous to the conquest, these Indians adored the evil spirit under
the form of large serpents, which they reared with the greatest
veneration, and to which they made offerings of stuffs and turquoises.
Although these men were very immoral, yet such was their respect
for all women who led a life of celibacy, that they celebrated grand
festivals in their iionor. The Pacasas were more barbarous. They
ate human flesh, married several wives — even their own sisters, and
adored carved or painted stones. The Acaxas were also cannibals >
they hunted men like wild beasts, and built their villages on steep
cliffs, separated one from the other by ravines, over which it was
impossible to pass.


Coronado liad taken with him the negro Esteva and three Fran-
ciscan monks, one of whom was Father Marcos de Niga, who had
already taken part in the expedition which Don Pedro d'Alvarado
had conducted by land to Pern.* As soon as the governor had
reached Culiacan, he sent Father Marcos forward to descry the
country, with which object the latter began his tour on the tth of
March, 1539, in company of the two other Franciscans, the negro,
and a goodly number of emancipated Indians.

The little band remained three days at Petatlan, chief town of a
province of the same name, a short distance from Culiacan. The
name of Petatlan was given to it because its houses were constructed
of matted rushes, called petates. The inhabitants, whose customs
resembled those of the Tahus, had their villages built on the borders
of the rivers and on the mountains. As he journeyed along. Father
Marcos met entire populations, who received him with pleasure and
gave him provisions, flowers, and other presents. The first desert
he afterwards saw, and of which he speaks in the account of his
journey sent to the Emperor Charles V.,is doubtless the one situated
between the Rio Tagui and the Rio Sonora. This country is cer-
tainly vei-y barren, and quite destitute of water for a distance of
about one hundred and ten miles.(4) Tlie Indians who lived beyond
this desert occupied the valley of Sonora, which Cabeza de Vaca
had named Tierradelos Corazones (Country of the Hearts), because,
when he passed there, a great many hearts of animals had been
offered to him.f The inliabitants of this valley were numerous and
intelligent. The women wore petticoats of tanned deer-skin. Every
morning the caciques ascended little eminences, and for more than
an hour would indicate aloud what each was to do during the day.
At their religious ceremonies they stuck arrows around their
temples, resembling in this the Zunis of the present daj', who some-
times stick them round their altars and tombs.J Father Marcos

* Pedro Alvarado went by sea from a port in Guatemala, and landed at the
bay of Caragues, on the coast of Pern, and then marched to Quito.

t The Mexicans offered the hearts of their victims to their idols, and these
Indians, taking Alvaro Nunez for a divine being, may have offered him the
hearts of animals through superstitious motives.

% Rene Laudonuiere, in his "History of the First Attempt of the French to
Colonize Florida," in speaking of the Indians of Florida, says : "When a king
dieth they bury him very solemnly, and upon his grave they set the cup
wherein he was wont to drink, and roundabout the said grave they stick many
arrows, and weep the first three days together without ceasing.

" The most part of them (the Indians) have their bodies, arms, and thighs
painted with very fair devices, the painting whereof can never be taken away,
because the same is pricked into the llesh."


found on the borders of this desert other Indians, who were greatly
surprised to see him, for they had not the slightest idea of the
Christians. Some of them would try to touch his garments, and
would call him " Soyoia," which signifies " Man come down from
Heaven." These Indians told him that, should he continue his
route, he would soon enter a very extensive plain, full of large towns,
which were inhabited by people clad in cotton, wearing gold rings
and ear-rings, and making use of little blades of the same metal to
scrape the perspiration off their bodies.

Although the information given by Father Marcos is rather
vague^ and though it is scarcely possible to state precisely the
route he followed, or to indicate the geographical positions of the
countries he passed through, it is probable that the plain, here
spoken of, is that of the liio de las Casas Grande, situated one
hundred and fifty miles east of the Rio Sonora, which is to this day
all covered with imposing ruins,* reminding one of handsome and
populous cities. After a few days' march, Father Marcos arrived at
Vacapa, now called Magdalena, situated on the Rio San Miguel,
one hundred and twenty miles from the California Gulf. The in-
habitants of this town were, no doubt, the ancestors of the Coeopas,
who are now spread from the mouth of the Rio Colorado to the
northwestern deserts. Father Marcos remained a few days at
Vacapa to enable his fellow-travellers to rest themselves ; the
Indians generously giving them everything they were in need of.
The monks, being displeased with the negro (who was misconduct-
ing himself towards the women of the country, and who only thought
of enriching himself), resolved on^sending him away; but as he
knew how to make himself understood by the natives of that
country — through which he had already travelled — and as he was
known to those Indians, Father Marcos determined on sending him
forward with orders to acquaint him ^ at once, of whatever discoveries
he should make.

Four days afterwards Esteva, the negro, dispatched to his supe-
rior a messenger who related wonderful things of a large town called
Cibola, known at the present day by the name of Zuni. According
to the fashion of his tribe, the messenger's face, breast, and arras
were painted. Those Indians whom the Spaniards called Pintados
lived on the frontiers of the seven towns forming the kingdom of
Cibola.f Their descendants, now called Papagos and Pimas, still
reside in the same country, which extends from the valley of Santa

* The Casa Grande of the San Miguel.

f Cibolos in the Mexican language means buffaloes, according to Clavigero.


Cruz to the Rio Gila. Cibola, the first of the seven towns and
capital of the kingdom of that name, was situated thirty days' jour-
ney from Vaeapa. The Pintados said they often went there and
were employed in tilling the ground; and received for their wages
turquoises and tanned liides.

An Indian of this town told Father Marcos that Cibola was a
great city, densely peopled, with a great number of streets and
squares ; that in some quarters there wei'e very large houses with
ten stories, where the chieftains assembled, at certain times of the
year, to discuss public affairs. The doors and fronts of those
houses were adorned with turquoises. The inhabitants had white
skins like the Spaniards, and wore wide cotton tunics that reached
to their feet. These garments were fastened round the neck by
means of a button, and were ornamented at the waist with a belt
studded with very fine turquoises. Over these tunics some wore
excellent cloaks, and others very richly wrought cowhides. The
same Indian added, " That towards the southeast there existed a
kingdom called Marata, with large populations and considerable
towns, the houses of which had several stories ; that these people
were continually at war with the sovei'eign of the seven towns.
And that in the direction of the southwest, on the Rio Verde, was
another kingdom called Totonteae, which was as wealthy as it was
densely peopled, and whose inhabitants were dressed in fine cloth."
Although these narratives were exaggerated, it is not less a fact
that all those countries were thickly populated, intersected with
roads, and studded with towns.*

When Father Marcos had rested himself, he took measures to
rejoin the negro, accompanied by the Pintados, who served him as
guides; and he left Vaeapa on Easter Monday. He was everywhere
welcomed with the same marks of kindness and the same cordiality.
Everywhere he received presents of turquoises, tanned skins, rabbits,
quails, game, maize, and vegetables. On the 9th of May he entered
the last desert that separated him from Cibola. Having stopped
for a few minutes to dine at a farm-house, he saw one of Esteva's
companions coming hastily to^yards him, quite covered with perspi-

* The ruins on the Gila, Rio Verde, and San Miguel all go to confirm what
this Indian reported to Father Marcos.

The direction of one of these places appears to he wrong. The Indian was
speaking of the direction of these places from Cibola, which was probably where
now is the Casa Grande of the Gila. The Casa Grande of the San Miguel was
probably in the kingdom of Marata, for it would be southeast from the Casa
Grande of the Gila. But the Casa Grande of the Rio Verde could not be south-
west from that of the Gila, but rather is northward of it.


ration, faint from fatigue, and trembling with fear. Tiiis man told
liim that the inhabitants of Cibola had first imprisoned .the negro
and afterwards put him to death, as also several of the Indians who
accompanied him. These tidings threw consternation among Father
Marcos' followers. The greater number of them were relatives or
friends of the victims ; they accused him of being the cause of this
misfortune, and resolved upon killing him. He fortunately escaped
this danger and returned in all haste to Culiacan, where he related
to the governor all that had occurred during his expedition.

Captain-general Vasquez Coronado, encouraged by the account
given by Blather Marcos, and hoping to discover new territories, at
once organized, in New Spain, a little army which assembled at
Compostella, and on the day following Easter, 1540, he put himself
at the head of his troops, composed of one hundred and fifty horse-
men, two hundred archers, and eight hundred Indians. Having
readied Culiacan, the army halted to take rest. At tlie end of a
fortnight Coronado moved forward, accompanied by fifty horsemen,
a few foot soldiers, and his best friends, among whom was father
Marcos. Tlie command of the remainder of the troops was confided
to Don Tristan d'Arrellano, with orders to leave fifteen days later,
and to follow the same route as the captain-general.

After a month of fatigue and of privation of all kinds, Vasquez
Coronado arrived at Chichilticale. This name, which signifies Red
House, was given to this locality because a large house of that color
was to be seen there, where the last desert begins, which house was
inhabited by an entire tribe that came from Cibola. At thi^ place
the Spaniards lost several horses, and even some men, from want of
food. Nevertheless, encouraged by their chief, they continued their
march, and a fortnight after they had left Chichilticale, they arrived
within twenty-six miles of Cibola. They saw, for the first time, the
natives of this singular kingdom, but the latter immediately took to
flight, spreading the alarm throughout the country by means of
great fires, which they kindled on the higli mountains : a custom in
use to this day among the tribes of New Mexico.

Next day, Coronado came in sight of Cibola. The inhabitants

Online LibraryBarnard ShippThe history of Hernando de Soto and Florida; or, Record of the events of fifty-six years, from 1512 to 1568 → online text (page 14 of 75)