Barnard Shipp.

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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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 52 of 75)
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and to bring with him vessels loaded with provisions, munitions, and
cattle; that he would be there at the time appointed. Maldonado
punctually executed the orders of the general. He joined Arias at


Havana, where they together purchased three ships, and loaded
them, as also a caravel and two brigantines, with everything neces-
sary for a colony. Afterwards they set sail, and safely came to
anchor in the port of Achussi ; biit because they did not meet the
general there, the one sailed along the coast towards the west, and
the other towards the east, to learn some news of him ; always leav-
ing, where they landed, letters in the hollows of trees, in which they
expressed that they were seeking Soto. Thej' did so until the bad
weather approached, which caused them to return to Havana with-
out having learned anything. Nevertheless they did not despair
on account of that ; they again put to sea in the spring. One sailed
close along the coast of Mexico, and the other went as far as the
lands of Bacallos. But as they could discover nothing, they re-
turned to Havana, whence they departed about the spring of the year
1543, resolved to perish or to learn what had become of the general.
With this design they, after much fatigue, arrived about the middle
of October at Vera Cruz. There they learned the death of Soto,
and that of the greater part of his companions; and immediately
they returned to Havana, where thej' related to Isabella de Bova-
dilla the misfortune of her husband. She was ■ so sensiblj' moved
by it that she could not restrain her grief, and died a few days after
this sorrowful news.



PoNCE DE Leon equipped three large vessels in the year 1513, and
larided with about a hundred men, upon the coast of Florida, where
the Indians made way with them all. Aillon, followed by more than
two hundred, had there the same misfortune as Ponce. Narbaez
perished there with four hundred. Hernando de Soto also died
there, and more than seven hundred of those who accompanied him.
So that, counting from the beginning of the discovery to the arrival
of Moscoso at Mexico, there died in Florida more than fourteen
hundred Christians, without mentioning some clergymen and many
monks; all men illustrious by their virtue. The names of those
whom I have been able to leara, are Dionysio de Paris, Diego de
Vagnuelos, Francisco de Rooha, Rodrigo de Gallego, Francisco
Delposo, Juan de Torres, Juan Gallego, Louis de Solo, and Cancel

About sixteen j'ears after the death of Balbastro, three Jesuits


went to Florida ; and, as at their arrival there was one of them slain,
his companions hastily retired to Havana. Two years from that
time eight other monks of the Society of Jesus undertook the same
voyage, and took with them a cacique. But before saying anything
of their adventures, I think it necessary to relate how this cacique
had come to Spain. Pedro Melendez, from 1563 to 156;^, went three
times to the coast of Florida to drive from it the French corsairs,
who hoped to get possession of it. The second time he brought
with him from these countries seven Indians of their own accord,
who were armed with bows and arrows. As soon as they had
arrived in Spain, Melendez sent them on their way to Madrid, with
the view of presenting them to Philippe II. In the mean time, he
who gave me this account, living then in Castile, was informed that
some Indians from Florida were on their way to the court, and he
went in haste to meet them. At first, to show him that he had been
in their country, he asked them, through their interpreter, if they
were from Vitachuco, Apalache, or Mauvila ; and that he would like
very much to have the news from these provinces. The barbarians,
knowing that this Spaniard was one of those who had followed
Soto, began to look fiercely at him, and replied that he mocked
them l:)y inquiring of those places which he and his companions had
miserably desolated. They replied nothing more, and only said
among themselves that they would much rather pierce him with
their arrows than inform him of that which he desired. And there-
upon two of these Indians fired into tlie air, and signified bj'^ that,
that they would much rather have killed the Spaniard than have
uselessly lost their shots. These Indians were baptized in Spain ;■
where, some time after, they all died except this cacique, who, sad
for the death of his companions, asked to return home, promising
to work for the conversion of the inhabitants of the country. The
Jesuits, who wished to go to Florida, hearing him speak in this way,
believed that he would serve powerfullj' to the design which they
had. Therefore, they took him with them, and with much hardship
arrived upon his territory. When he had been some time there,
he left them under pretext of going to a neighboring town, which
he named to them, to dispose the people there to hear the word of
, God ; promising them that, at the latest he would return in eight
days. Tliey awaited him fifteen days, then they dispatched two of
their companions to him, whom 4ie caused to be massacred. And
the following day he himself came at the head of a troop of In-
dians, and fell upon the others. The good fathers, who saw them
come all enraged with arras in their hands, threw themselves upon
their knees, and were all killed.


The barbarians immediately began some to dance about, and
others to break a box in which was the crucifix and some ornaments
to say mass, and they insolently scoffed them. The names of the
Jesuits who were killed by these Indians are, Bautista Segura, Louis
de Quiros, Bautista Mendez, Grauiel de Solis, Antonio Cavallos,
Cristoval Redondo, Grauiel Gomes, Pedro de Linares. These
monks, as well as the others of whom I have spoken, lost their lives
in Florida at the very time that they prepared to preach the Gospel
there. Therefore their deaths demand vengeance of God, or rather
mercy, in order that the people of these countries, who are in dark-
ness, may be some day enlightened with the light of the Faith ; and
that their lands, sprinkled with the blood of Christians, may bear
fruit worthy of the sanctity of blood so sacred. (29)







GtJiDO DE IAS Bazarbs, with a large bark, galley, and shallop,
manned with sixty seamen and soldiers, sailed from the port of San
Juan de Ulua [Vera Cruz], New Spain, on the 3d of September,
1558, to explore the coast of Florida. On the lOtli he arrived at
Panuco, and from thence he departed, and arrived on the coast of
Florida, in 27° 30' north latitude. Continuing along the coast he
discovered a bay in 28° 30' north latitude, which he named St.
Francisco, and from thence to the Alacranes; the coast of which
extends from northwest to southeast; but contrary winds having
prevented him from approaching the coast where he desired, he
landed in 29° 30' north latitude, and discovered an island which
was, perhaps, four leagues from the mainland; he passed within this
island and the mainland and other islands, and, after having ex-
plored all the coast, he observed that it was bordered by marshy
grounds, and was not in a favorable situation to begin a colony, as
it was liable to be submerged in manj^ places ; he gave it the name
of Bay of Bas-Fonde. From thence he sailed ten leagues further
to the east, where he discovered a bay which he named Filipina,* it
being the largest and most commodious bay on the coast. The en-
trance is in 30° 30' north latitude ; and on entering tlie bay he passed
the point of an island seven leagues long, and steered east-southeast
[E. N. B. ?]. On the other side of the bay lies the mainland, which is,
perhaps, lia,lf a league wide from point to point. Of all the dis-
coveries made from east to west, there is no bay so accessible and
so commodious as this. The bottom is of mud, and the harbor is

* The l)ay of Pensaoola.


from four to five fathoms deep at low tide. The channel is from
three to four fathoms deep, and at high water nearly one fathom
more. The climate is very health}'^ and similar to that of Spain.
It abounds in all kinds of flsh and oysters. The pine forests are
e?:tensive. There are besides live-oak, cypress, ash, palmetto, laurel,
cedar, and other trees, one of which yields a fruit resembling the
chestnut.* AM these trees commence to grow near the shore, and
extend for many leagues into the interior of the country. Some
rivulets of water fall into the bay, where there is a large opening,
which appears to be the mouth of a great river.

While ill this bay he went to examine the water on the north
side, where the trees are not so dense, and where cavaliers might
hold their tournaments and find grass for their horses. In the rear
of this bay, in an easterly direction, are hills of a reddish clay, from
which eartiienware can be manufactured. Here at all times can be
seen a great variety of wild game. On tlie shores of this bay he
observed a large number of canoes, as well as huts surrounded with
corn, beans, and pumpkins. This country is distant about two
hundred and sixty leagues from San Juan de Lua (Vera Cruz).

Contrary winds now prevented him from advancing any farther,
although he returned twice to the bay of Filipina, which he after-
wards named Velasco. As the winter was now approaching, the
pilots and sailors were of opinion the weather would not be favor-
able for further explorations of the coast. He accordingly left
the coast on the 3d of December, and arrived at San Juan de Lua
on the 14th.

The viceroy of New Spain fitted out an expedition which sailed
from Vera Cruz in 1559, under the- command of Don Tristan de
Luna y Avellano, with fifteen hundred soldiers and a large number
of friars [Franciscans], burning with zeal to convert the natives ;
and on the 14th of August they reached the bay of Santa Maria
Filipina; and six days after he arrived a terrific gale wrecked a
part of his fleet. He, however, dispatched four companies with two
friars to penetrate tlie country as far as the province of Co9a, and
with the remainder of the expedition he establislied himself at the
port [Filipina]. The expedition reached a town on the river which
they named Santa Cruz Napicnoca, where it was afterwards joined
by Don Tristan de Luna, and from thence they proceeded on their
march to other Indian towns on the banks of a river called Olibaka,
where they procured a supply of provisions, and some daj^s after they
reached the famous province of Co9a. There they remained some

* Chinquepin.


weeks, but the obstacles they encountered with the natives and the
scarcity' of provisions so discouraged them that they abandoned the
expedition and returned to the bay of Santa Maria Filipina, and
afterwards to Vera Cruz.

On the 2'7th of May, 1561, Don Angel de Villa Fane, governor
and captain-general of the protince of Florida, with two frigates
and a caravel arrived at St. Helena and sailed up the river four or
five leagues; but not discovering a convenient port, or land suitable
for a colony, he returned to sea, and followed the coast in search of
a port; and, having doubled Cape San Roman in 34° north latitude,
he landed on the 2d of June, and ordered a ship to make soundings,
and found the bottom good ; and from tlience he went into the
interior until he came to a large river which discharged its waters
near the cape, and called it Jordan, and proceeded to sea. On the
8th of June he returned and re-entered the Jordan with two frigates,
but not finding a suitable harbor he again retunied to sea, and was
annoyed with the discovery that the frigate San Juan had fouled
her anchor and lost it near Cape San Roman. He continued his
exploration along the coast with two frigates, and sent the treasurer,
Don Alonzo Velasquez, with one of them to the river of Canoes in
34° 30' north latitude, which he ascertained to be one and a half
fathoms deep at one and a half leagues from its mouth. He after-
wards rejoined the governor who continued to examine the coast
until the 14th of June, when he reached Cape Trafalga in 35° north
latitude. At ten o'clock at night a tempest arose, and the caravel
was near being lost as well as both the frigates. They were sur-
rounded with shoals and a sul)merged coast, and being far away
from any port, the governor and pilots decided to proceed on their
voyage until they reached the port of Monte Christo, in the island
of Hispaniola, where the governor lauded on the 9th of July 1561.

Don Gonzalo Perez, secretary of the Council of the Indies, at the
same time he presented the above account of Don Angel's voyage,
to the president, laid before him a memorandum from the king re-
questing the council to give him their definition of the rights of the
king to Florida, and whether tlie French can take possession of that
country and build forts there. The council informed the king that
his title to the county of Florida is clear and indisputable, and
founded on the gift of Pope Alexander VI., and the taking posses-
sion of that country by Governor-general Don Angel de Villafane,
is the same country which the French have recently. taken posses-
sion of and built a fort there called Carolin, and the same country


which Guide de las Bazares took formal possession of in 1558, and
which the fleets and ships of the king of Spain have at different
times explored and taken possession of. Juan Ponce de Leon was
the first to discover and take possession, and after him Lucas Vas-
quez de Ayllon, and after liim Pamfllo de Narvaez, and after Nar-
vaez, Hernando de Soto, all of whom, and many others, were com-
missioned by your majesty to exploi'fe and take possession of Florida,
and therefore the French have no right to interfere, as they might
hereafter build forts, interrupt commerce, and capture the ships of
your majest}' coming from the Indies.*

* From tlie "Historical Collections of Louisiana and Florida," by B. F. French.





Whereas, in the year of our Lord 1562, it pleased God to move
your lordship to choose and appoint me to discover and view a cer-
tain long coast of the West Indies, from the head of the land called
Florida unto the head of Bretons, distant from the said head of
Florida nine hundred leagues, or thereabouts, to the end that we
might certify and make you a true report of the climate, fertility,
ports, havens, rivers, and generally all the commodities that we
have seen and found in that land, and also to learn what people were
dwelling there.

When we had fulfilled \-our orders and made preparation, we de-
parted on the 18th of February, 1562, with our two vessels out of
the harbor of Havre de Grace, into the road of Caux, and the next
day hoisted sail.

Thursday, the last of April, 1562, we discovered and approached
a fair coast stretching a great length, covered with an infinite
number of high and large trees, we being seven or eight leagues
from the shore. The country seemed to us a plain without any
appearance of hills ; and arriving within four or five leagues of the
land, we cast anchor in ten fathoms of water, the bottom of the sea:
being covered with osiers and fast hold on the south side, as far as
a certain cape situated under latitude of nine and twenty degrees
and a lialf, which we have named Cape Francois [in honor of France].

We could see neither river nor bay, wherefore we sent our boats,
manned with men of experience, to sound the coast near the shove,
who, returning to us about one o'clock in the afternoon, declared
that they had found, among other things, eight fathoms of water at
the hard bank of the sea, whereupon having weighed anchor, with
a fair wind we sailed along the coast with unspeakable pleasure of
the odorous perfume and beauty of the scene.

And because there appeared unto us no appearance of any port,
about the setting of the sun we cast anchor again. Then perceiving
towards the north a leaping and breaking of the water, as a stream


flowing into the sea, we hoisted sails again to double the same,
while it was 3'et day, and as we passed beyond it, there appeared a
wide entry of a fair river, which caused us to east Anchor again
near to laud, that the next day we might see what it was, and though
the wind blew for a time boisterouslj^ to the shoreward, yet the hold
and anchorage was so good, that one cable and one anchor held us
fast without danger or sliding.

The next day in the morning, being the first of May, 1562, we
set out with two barges and a boat well trimmed, to enter the river,
where we entered a magnificent and great river, with thirt}'-six
fatiioms of water, which increased in depth and width. Having
passed its mouth, we began to see a great many of the natives, who
approached us without fear.

One of the Indians entered the river, approached our boats, and
showed us the best place to land. Seeing this we landed [on the
north side], and rewarded him, and afterwards he ran to his chief
who forthwith sent me his girdle made of red leather, in token of
friendship,* and I began to go toward him, when he came toward
me with all his men, and received me kindly and modestly.

And after we had congratulated him, we fell to our knees a short
distance from them and gave thanks to God, beseeching him to
continue his goodness towards us, and bring to the knowledge of
our Saviour Christ this poor people.

While we were thus praying, they sitting upon the ground, which
was strewed with bay branches, they beheld and hearkened to us
attentively without speaking or moving, and as I made a signliftino-
up my arm and pointing with one finger to make them look heaven-
ward, he likewise lifted up his arm towards heaven, putting forth
two fingers, wherebj' it seemed that he wished to tell us that he
worshipped the sun and moon for their gods, as afterwards we un-
derstood it to be so.

In the mean time their number increased, and being assembled
they cut a great many bay boughs, and therewith dressed a place
for us, distant two fathoms from theirs, for it is their manner to
talk and bargain sitting, and their chief or kmg to be separated from
the common people.

After we had tarried for the most part of the day on the north
side of the river (which we called May because we discovered it
the 1st of May), we made alliance and entered into amity with them.
And they seemed sorry when we took our departure. But desiring
to spend the rest of the day on the other side of the river, to be-

* Probably a wampum belt.


come acquainted with those Indians we saw, we went there without
difficulty and landed among them, who received us kindly and gave
us of their fruits. Soon after this came the king with his brethren
and. others. After we had entertained and presented them with
like gifts, and clothed the king and his brethren with like robes, as
we had given them on the other side, we entered and explored their
country thereabouts, which is the fairest, fruitfulest, and pleasantest
of all the world, abounding in honey, venison, wild game, forests,
woods of all sorts, and vines with grapes. And the sight of the
fair meadows is a pleasure inexpressible. The night approaching,
it was necessary for us to return on shipboard ; we accordingly took
leave of them.

Yery early the next morning we returned to land, accompanied by
the captains, gentlemen, soldiers, and other persons, carrying with us
a pillar or column of hard stone, with the king's arras engraven there-
on, to plant and set the same at the entry of the port on some liigh
place where it might easily be seen; and being come thither before
the Indians had assembled, we discovered in the south side. of the
river, not far from its mouth, a place very suitable for the purpose
upon a little sandy hill covered with cypress, bays, palms, and other
trees, with sweet-smelling and pleasant shrubs, in the middle whereof
we planted the first boundary or limit of his majesty.

When the Indians perceived our long stay on this side they ran
to see what we had done in that place where we had set our limit.
They viewed it a long time without touching it, or even speaking ta
us about it at any time afterwards. Howbeit we could scarcely part
from them without great grief, and they continued to follow us along
the river from all parts, presenting us with harts' skins painted aad
unpainted, meat, little cakes, fresh water, etc.; also lead, turquoises^
and great abundance of pearls, which they told us they took out of
oysters along the river-side ; and as fair pearls as are found in. amy
country of the world ; for we saw on one of their men as we entered
our boats, a pearl hanging to a collar of gold about his neck, as large
as an aco'rn. He was one of the best-looking of the whole company.
The day being well gone, and desiring to employ the rest of the
day with the Indians on the north side, whom we talked with the
^ay before, we crossed the river to their shore, where we found
them patiently waiting for us, with new paintings upon their faces,
and feathers upon their heads. One of them had hanging about his
neck a round plate of red copper, well polished, with a small one of
silver hung in the middle of it ; and in his ears a small plate of


The night now approaching, we returned to our ships, for we
durst not hazard our ship because of the bar of sand that was at
the month of the river, notwithstanding, at full tide, there were at
least two fathoms and a half of water, and it is but a leap over
a surge to pass this bar, not exceeding two cables in length, and
then afterwards there are six or. seven fathoms of water every-
where ; so that it made a very fair haven, and a ship from four to
six hundred tons may enter therein at all tides, yea of a far greater
burden if there were pilots. The situation is in thirty degrees
north latitude, a good climate, healthful, good temperature, delight-
ful, pleasant.

The next day, being the 3d of May, being desirous to find out
harbors to anchor in, we sailed again, and after we had ranged the
coast as near shore as we could, there appeared to us, about seven
leagues on this side (north) of the river May, a great opening or
bay of some river, whither we sent one of our boats, and there
found an entry almost like the river May, and, within the same, of
as great depth and as large; g,nd dividing itself into great streams
stretching towards the higii lands, with many others of less
size, which divide the country into beautiful and great lands, and
small and fair meadows. Having entered about three leagues, we.
found a place commodious, strong, and pleasant of situation, and
certain Indians who received us friendly. Nevertheless, as we ap-
proached so near their houses it seemed to offend them. We after-
wards went to their houses, but none of the natives would accom-
pany us.

It is a place of wonderful fertility, and similar and like unto the
land we foundv upon the river May. Without coming into the sea;
this arm doth divide and make many other Jsles of May, as also
many great islands, by which we travelled from one island to another
between land and land ; and it seemed that men might sail without
danger through all the country and never enter the great ocean.
The people there live long, in great health and strength. We de-
parted from them very friendly ; but the night overtaking us, we
were compelled to lie in our ship (boat ?) all that night till it was
day, floating upon this river, which we havp called the Seine,
because the entry of it is as broad as from Havre de Grace to Hon-

At break of day we espied out of the south side, one of the most
pleasant meadow grounds that might be seen, into which we went,
finding at the very entry a long, fair, and great lake, and an innu-
merable! number of footsteps of great harts and hinds, their steps
being fresh and new, and it seemeth that the people nourish them


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 52 of 75)