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 66 of 75)
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calmed, the calms continued eight days with swelling seas, in such wise that
we made no way. The fifteenth day after his departure from San Lucar he
came to Gomera, one of the Canaries, in the morning of Easter day. The earl
of that island was apparelled all in white, cloak, jerkin, hose, shoes, and cap,
so that he seemed a lord of the gypsies. He received the governor with much
joy ; he was well lodged, and all the rest had their lodgings gratis, and got
great store of victuals for their money, as bread, wine, and flesh ; and they
took what was needful for their ships ; and the Sunday following, eight days
after th^ir arrival, they departed from the isle of Gomera. The earl gave to
Donna Isabella, the adelantado' s wife, a bastard daughter that he had, to be
her waiting maid.* They arrived at the Antilles at the port of the city of
St. lago, in the island of Cuba, on Whitsunday. As soon as they came thither
a gentleman of the city sent to the seaside a very fair roan horse, and well
furni.shed for the governor, and a mule for Donna Isabella, and all the horse-
men and footmen that were in the town came to receive him at the seaside.
The governor was well lodged, visited, and served of all the inhabitants of the
city, and all his company had their lodgings freely ; those who desired to go
into the country were divided by four and four, and six and six, in the farms
or granges, according to the ability of the owners of the farms, and were fur-
nished by them with all things necessary.

The city of St. lago has eighty houses, which are great and well contrived.

^ Though a bastard and a waiting maid, she was not then regarded as she would be
now. Times have changed, and we have changed with them. Touar, after seducing
her, married her to please Soto, who was so greatly offended at him that he deprived
him of the office of captain-general, and gave it to Poroallo de Figueroa.


The most part have their walls made of boards, and are covered with thatch ;
it has some houses built of lime and stones, and covered with tiles. The isle
of Cuba is three hundred leagues long from east to west, and is in some places
thirty, and in others forty leagues from north to south. It has six towns of
Christians, to wit, St. lago, Baracoa, Bayamo, Puerto de Principes, St.
Espirito, and Havana. Every one has between thirty and forty households,
except St; lago and Havana, which have about sixty or eighty houses. They
have churches in each of them, and a chaplain who confesses them, and says
mass. In St. lago is a monastery of Franciscan friars ; it has but few fria,rs,
and is well provided with alms, because the country is rich. The church of St.
lago has a respectable revenue, and thei-e are a curate and prebends, and many
priests, as the church of that city which is the chief of all the islands. There
is in this country much gold, but there are few slaves to get it.

The governor sent from St. lago his nephew, Don Carlos, with ships in
company of Donna Isabella to tarry for him at Havana, which is a haven in
the west part towards the head of the island, one hundred and eighty leagues
from the city of St. lago. The governor, and those who stayed with him,
bought horses and proceeded on their journey. The first town that they came
to was Bayamo ; they were lodged four and four and six and six as they went
in company, and where they lodged they took nothing for their food, for noth-
ing cost them aught save the corn for their horses, because the governor went
to visit them from town to town, and seized them in the tribute and service of
the Indians. Bayamo is twenty-five leagues from the city of St. lago. Near
unto the town passes a great river which is called Tanto ; it is greater than the
Guadiana, and in it are very great crocodiles which sometimes hurt the Indians
or the cattle which cross the river. In all the country is neither wolf, fox,
bear, lion, nor tiger. There are wild dogs which go from the houses into the
woods and feed upon swine. There are certain snakes as big as a man's thigh
or bigger ; they are very slow, they do no kind of hurt.*

From Bayamo to Puerto de los Principes are fifty leagues. In all the island
from town to town, the way is made by stubbing up the underwood ; and if it be
left but one year undone, the wood grows so much thatthe way cannot be seen,
and the paths of the oxen are so many that none can travel without an Indian
of the country for a guide, for all the rest is very high thick woods.

From Puerto de los Principes, the governor went by sea in a boat to the
bouse of Vasquez Poroallo (for it was near the sea), to learn there some news of
Donna Isabella, who at that instant, as was afterwards known, was in great dis-
tress, insomuch that the ships lost one another, and two of them were driven
on the coast of Florida, and all of them endured great want of water and vict-
uals. When the storm was over, they met together without knowing where
they were ; in the end they descried Cape St. Anton, an uninhabited country
of the island of Cuba ; there they watered, and at the end of forty days, which
were passed since their departure from the city of St. lago, they arrived at

* A similar thing is mentioned by Ulloa in speaking of Peru, but there the snake is
represented of an enormous size, though of the same charaoter as that of Cuba. By
some it is considered as fabulous.


Havana.* The governor was presently informed thereof, and went to Donna
Isabella. And those who went by land, which were one hundred and fifty
horsemen, being divided into two parts because they would not oppress the
inhabitants, travelled by St. Espirito, which is sixty leagues from Puerto de los
Principes. The food which they caiTled with them was cacjabe [cassava] bread,
which is of such a quality that if it be wet, it breaks presently, whereby it hap-
pened to some to eat flesh without bread for many days. They carried dogs
with them, and a man of the country to hunt for them, and by the way, or
where they were to lodge that night, they killed as many hogs as they needed.
In this journey they were well provided with beef and pork,f andthey were
greatly troubled with mosquitos, especially in a lake which is called the lake
of Pia, which they had much ado to cross from noon till night. The water
might be some half league over, and to be swam about a crossbow-shot [four
hundred yards], the rest came to the waist, and they waded up to their knees
in the mire, and in the bottom were cockle-shells which cut their feet very sore,
In such sort that there was neither boot nor shoe-sole that was whole at half
way. Their clothes and saddles were crossed in palm baskets. Crossing
this lake, stripped of their clothes, there came many mosquitos, upon whose
biting there arose a wheal that smarted very much, they struck them with their
hands, and with the blow which they gave they killed so many that the blood
did run down the arms and bodies of the men. That night they rested very
little on account of them, and other nights also in like places and times. They
came to St. Espirito, which is a town of thirty houses. There passes by it a
little river ; it is very pleasant and fruitful, having great store of oranges and
citrons, and fruits of the country. One half of the company were lodged here,
and the rest passed on twenty-five leagues to another town called Trinidad, of
fifteen or twenty houses. Here is a hospital for the poor, and there is no other
in all the island, and they say this town was the greatest in all the island, and
that before the Christians came into this land, as a ship passed along the coa^t,
there came in it a very sick man who desired the captain to set him on shore,
and the captain did so, and the ship went her way. The sick man remained
in that country, which until that time had not been frequented by Chi-istians ;
whereupon the Indians found him, carried him home, and took care of him
until he was well, and the chief of that town married him unto a daughter of
his, and had war with all the inhabitants around about, and by the energy and
valor of the Christian he subdued and brought under his command all the peo-
ple of that island. A great while after, the Governor Diego Velasquez went
to conquer it, and from thence discovered New Spain. And this Christian who
was with the Indians, did pacify them, and brought them to the obedience and
subjection to the governor. Pi-om this town, Trinidad to Havana, are eighty
leagues without any habitation, which they travelled. They came to Havana
in the end of March, where they found the governor, and the rest of the people
which came with him from Spain. The governor sent from Havana Juan Da-
nusco, with a caravel and two brigantines with fifty men, to discover the haven

* From the time consumed in the voyage, and the vessels, after being driven on the
coast of Florida, arriving at Cape St. Anthony, the western extremity of Cuba, it is
probable they were driven to the coast of Texas, which then was but a part of Florida.

t The hogs and cattle ran wild in the woods, so the horsemen fared well.


of Florida, and from thence he brought two Indians -which he took upon the
coast, wherewith (as well because they might be necessary for guides and for
interpreters, as because they said by signs that there was much gold in Florida)
the governor and all the company received much satisfaction, and longed for
the hour of their departure, thinking in himself that this was the richest country
that unto that day had been discovered.

The governor left Donna Isabella in Havana, and with her remained the wife
of Don Carlos, and the wives of Baltasar de Gallegos and Nuno de Touar.
And he left for his lieutenant, for the government of the island, a gentleman
of Havana, named Juan de Koias.

On Sunday, the 18th of May, in the year 1539, the adelantado departed
from Havana with his fleet, which consisted of nine vessels, five great ships,
two caravels, and two brigantines. They sailed seven days with a prosperous
wind. The 25th of May, the day of Pasca de Spirito Santo, they saw the
land of Florida, and because of the shoals they came to an anchor a league
from the shore.* On Friday, the 30th of May, they landed in Florida, two
leagues from a town of an Indian chief named Ucita. They landed the two
hundred and thirteen horses which they brought with them, to unburden the
ships that they might draw less water. He landed all his men, and only
the seamen remained in the vessels, which in eight days, going up with the tide
every day a little, brought them up to the town. As soon as the people came
on shore he pitched his camp on the seaside, close by the bay which went up
unto the town. And presently the captain-general, Porcallo, with seven horse-
men, foraged the country half a league round about, and found six Indians, who
resisted him with their bows. The horsemen killed two of them and- the others
escaped, because the country is full of woods and bogs where the horses stuck
fast and fell with their riders, because they were weak with travelling upon
the sea. The night following, the governor with a hundred men in the brig-
antines lighted upon a town which he found without people, because, as soon
as the Christians had sight of land, they were descried, and they saw along
the coast many smokes, which the Indians had made, to give notice the one to
the other. The next day Luis de Moscoso, master of the camp, set the men
in order, the horsemen in three squadrons, the vanguard, the battalion, and the
rearguard ; and so they marched that day and the following, compassing the
great inlets that made out from the bay. ' l^hey came to the town of Ucita,
where the governor arrived on Trinity Sunday, being the first of June. The
town was of seven or eight houses. The chief's house stood near the shore,
upon a very high mound, made by hand for strength. At another end of the
town stood the church, and on the top of it stood a fowl made of wood, with
gilded eyes. Here were found some pearls of small value, spoiled by the fire,
which the Indians pierce and string like beads, and wear around their necks
and wrists, and esteem very much. The houses were made of timber, and
covered with palm leaves. The governor lodged in the chief's house, and with
him Porcallo and Moscoso ; and in others that were in the midst of the town,
lodged the chief alcalde, Gallegos ; and in the same house was set in a place by
itself all the provisions that came in the ships ; the other houses and the church
were broken down, and every three or four soldiers made a cabin wherein they

* At Tampa Bay, which he named Spirito Santo.


lodged. The country round about was very fenny, and encumbered ■with great
and high trees. The governor commanded to be felled the woods a crossbow
shot round about the town, that the horses might run, and the Christians have
advantage of the Indians, if they should happen to fall upon them by night."

It appears, from the above, that Soto first landed two leagues from an Indian
village, on the 30th of May; that, after landing his soldiers and horses, he,
with the brigautines, sailed up the bay and discovered the town of Ucita, the
1st of June ; that then Moscoso marched his forces from the place where they
had landed to the town of Ucita were De Soto was. Moscosco marched two
days, and the large vessels were eight days in going up with the tide. There
were five large ships in De Soto's, fleet; they would necessarily have had to
keep in deep water, and follow the channel.

Note (14), page 284.

The Muscogulges came from the west, and took possession of Florida after
having exterminated the Yamases, its first inhabitants, who fought like heroes
to save their country from the invasion of the Muscogulges ; but fortune be-
trayed them. Very soon afterwards the Seminoles, arriving from the east,
made an alliance with the Muscogulges, who, being the strongest, forced the
Seminoles to send deputies to their great village. Thus the Seminoles were
governed in part by the mico or king of the Muscogulges. The two nations
united were called by Europeans the Creek nation, and divided by them into
the upper, the Muscogulges, and the lower Creeks, the Seminoles. The am-
bition of the Muscogulges was not satisfied ; they waged war against the Chero-
quois (Cherokees) and the Chicassais (Chicasas), and compelled them to enter
into the common alliance ; a confederation as celebrated in the south of North
America as that of the Iroquois in the north.

The villages of the Muscogulges are built in a peculiar manner, each family
has nearly always four houses alike, which form a hollow square, about half an
acre ; they enter this square by the four angles. The cabins, constructed of
boards, are plastered within and without with a red mortar which resembles
brick-dust ; pieces of cypress bark, deposited as the scales of a turtle, serve
for the roof of these buildings.

In the centre of the principal village, in the highest place, is a public square
surrounded with four long galleries. One of these galleries is the council hall,
where councils are held every day to expedite business. This hall is divided'
into two chambers by a longitudinal partition ; the rear apartment is thus de-
prived of light ; they can enter only through a very low opening formed in the
base of the partition. In this sanctuary are deposited the treasures of religion
and policy — the crown of stag's horns, the medicine cup, the chichikoues, the cal-
umet of peace, and the national standard, made of an eagle's tail. None but the
mico [king], the chief warrior, and the high-priest can enter this dreadful place.

The exterior chamber is divided into three parts by three [two ?] small
transverse partitions about four feet high. In these three balconies are raised


three ranges of benches resting against the walls of the sanctuary. It is upon
these benches, covered with mats, that sit the sachems and warriors.

The three other galleries which, with the council gallery, form the inclosure
of the public square, are likewise divided each into three parts ; but they have
not the longitudinal partition. These galleries are called the banqueting gal-
leries ; here are always found a noisy crowd engaged in divers sports.

The walls, the partitions, and the wooden columns of these galleries are covered
with hieroglyphic ornaments, which contain the sacerdotal and political secrets
of the nation. These paintings represent men in divers attitudes, birds and
quadrupeds with the heads of men, and men with the heads of animals. The
design of these monuments is traced with boldness, and in the natiiral propor-
tions ; the colors are vivid, but applied without art. The order of the archi-
tecture of the columns varies in the villages according to the tribe which in-
habits the village ; among the Otasses the columns are spiral, because the
Muscogulges of Otasse are of the tribe of the serpent.*

There are among this nation a town of peace and a town of blood. The town
of peace is the capital itself of the Creek confederation, and is named Apa-
lachucla. In this town they never shed blood, and when it concerns a general
peace, the deputies of Creeks are assembled here.

The town of blood is called Coweta ; it is situated twelve miles from Apa-
lachucla ; it is there that they deliberate on war.

There are noticed in the Creek confederation the savages who inhabit the
beautiful town of Uche, consisting of two thousand inhabitants, who can arm
five hundred warriors. These savages speak the savenna or savantica lan-
guage, radidally different from the Muscogulge language. The allies of the
Uche town are generally of a different opinion, in the council, from the other
allies, who look upon them with jealousy ; but they are sufficiently wise on both
sides to not come to a rupture. The Seminoles, less numerous than the Mus-
cogulges, have not more than nine villages, all situated on Flint River.f

The town of Cuscowilla, which is the capital of the Alachua tribe, J contains
about thirty habitations, each of which consists of two houses nearly of the same
size, about thirty feet in length, twelve feet wide, and about the same in height.
The door is placed midway on one side, or in front. This house is divided equally
across into two apartments, one of which is the coot-room and common hall, and
the other the lodging-room. The other house is nearly of the same dimensions,
standing about twenty yards from the dwelling-house, its end fronting the door.
This building is two stories high, and constructed in a different ipanner. It is
divided transversely, as the other, but the end next the dwelling-house is open
on three sides, supported by posts or pillars. It has an open loft or platform,
the ascent to which is by a portable stair or ladder ; this is a pleasant, cool,
airy situation, and here the master or chief of the family retires to repose in
the hot season, and receives his guests or visitors. The other half of this
building is closed on all sides by notched logs ; the lowest or ground part is a

* The similarity of the Indian hieroglypMos to those of the Egyptians is worthy of
notice, as is also that of their tribal deities to the local deities of Egypt,
t Voyage en Ainerique, par Chateaubriand, in 1791.
t Of the Seminoles or Lower Creeks, Masoogulges.


potato house, and the upper story over it a granary for corn and other pro-
visions. Their houses are constructed of a kind of frame. In the first place
strong corner pillars are fixed in the ground, with others, somewhat less, rang-
ing on a line between ; these are strengthened by cross-pieces of timber, and
the whole, with the roof, is covered close with the bark of the cypress tree.
The dwelling stands near the middle of a square yard, encompassed by a low
bank, formed with the earth taken out of the yard, which is always carefully
swept. Their towns are clean, the inhabitants being particular in laying their
filth at a proper distance from their dwellings. (Bartram.)

Toalli was a town between the Oakmulge and the Ocone rivers. The Elvas
Narrative thus speaks of the houses there, and of those before the Spaniards
reached Toalli : " On Wednesday, 21st of March (1540), he came to a town
called Toalli ; and from thence forward there was a difference in the houses.
For those which were behind us were thatched with straw, and those of Toalli
were covered with cane, in the manner of tiles. These houses are very
cleanly. Some of them had walls daubed with clay, which showed like a
mud wall. In all the cold country the Indians have every one a house for the
winter daubed with clay within and without, and the door is very little ; they
shut it by night and make a fire within ; so that they are in it as warm as in a
stove, and so it continueth all night that they need no clothes ; and besides
these they have others for summer, and their kitchens near them ; and they
have cribs wherein they keep their corn ; which is a house set up in the
air upon four stakes, boarded about like a chamber, and the floor of it is of
cane hurdles. The difference which lords' or principal men's houses have
from the rest, besides being greater, is that they have great gallei'ies in their
fronts, and under them seats made of canes in manner of benches ; and
they have many lofts, wherein they lay up that which the Indians give them
for tribute, which is corn, deer-skins, and mantles of the country, which are
like blankets ; they make them of the inner rind of the bark of trees, and
some of a kind of grass like unto nettles, which being beaten is like unto flax."

Graves of the Yamasebs. — It was quite dark before I came up to a bluft',
which I had in view, a long time, over a very extensive point .of meadows.
I landed however at last. This was a high perpendicular bluff, fronting more
than one hundred yards on the river [St. John], the earth black, loose, and
fertile ; it is composed of river-shells, sand, etc. At the back of it from the
river were open pine forests and savannas. When I landed it was quite dark,
and in collecting wood for my fire, strolling in the dark about the groves
I found the surface of the ground very uneven,, by means of little mounds and
ridges. In the morning I found I had taken up my lodging on the borders of
an ancient burying ground, containing sepulchres or tumuli of the Yamasees,
who were here slain by the Creeks in the last decisive battle, the Creeks having
driven them into this point between the doubling of the river, where few of
them escaped the fury of the conquerors. These graves occupied the whole
grove, consisting of two or three acres of ground ; there were near thirty of
these cemeteries of the dead, nearly of an equal size and form, being oblong,
twenty feet in length, and ten or twelve feet in width, and three or four feet
high, now overgrown with orange trees, live oaks, laurel magnolias, red bays,
and other trees and shrubs, composing dark and solemn shades. (Bartram.)


Note (is), page 351.

Penicaut, in his Annals of Louisiana, in speaking of the expedition of St.
Denis, in 1713, to explore the country between the Red Kiver and the Rio
Grande, says: "We ascended the Mississippi to Pass-Manchao, where we
killed fifteen buffaloes. The next day we landed again and killed eight more
buffaloes, and as many deer." On his return from exploring Lake Pontchar-
train he stopped at the Bay of St. Louis. He says: "We hunted during
several days upon the coast of this bay, and filled our boats with the meat of
the deer and buffaloes and other wild game which we had killed." He says, of
his visit to the Paseagoulas, on the river of that name and twenty leagues
from its mouth : " They gave us something to eat and drink, — among other
things bear, deer, and buffalo meat. . . . We 'slept at the house of the
grand chief, upon beds of canes, covered with buffalo-skins." There were
immense herds of buffaloes in the neighborhood of Matagorda Bay, when
La Salle built a fort there in 1686. They also ranged through the lowlands
of the Mississippi River, through its cane-brakes and its forests. What is
remarkable is that the Spaniards of De Soto's expedition, in 1539 to 1543,
should have travelled from the Savannah River of Georgia to the Red River of
Louisiana without having met with any of these animals living, though they
had, on several occasions,' seen their hides, horns, and even their flesh. Be-

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 66 of 75)