The Spanish in South Florida

The Spanish in South Florida


  • The Spanish in South Florida

Published Date

  • published 1940


[page 5]
Fighting their way through hordes of fierce savages, De Soto's
expedition marched northward into Georgia, South Carolina, and North
Carolina. Turning southward and westward they crossed Alabama,
Mississippi, and touched Tennessee. Crossing the Mississippi river, they
explored many western states and finally returned to Louisiana where De
Soto was stricken with fever and died in 1542. (7)

Death had followed the expedition from the beginning. Many
were killed in battles with the Indians. Hunger weakened others so that
they fell easy prey to disease. Of the thousand who landed at Tampa
Bay only 300 reached Louisiana. After a great deal of suffering these
survivors managed to reach Panuco on the Gulf of Mexico in September
1543. (6)

According to a report of the Spanish Council of the Indies to the
King of Spain, dated 1565, Spanish fleets "had gone xxxxxxx times to
occupy Florida" from 1510 to 1565. (2) On one of these ships wrecked
on the south Florida coast was a boy, Hernando de Escalanto y
Fontaneda, then 13 years of age, who was captured and held captive by
the Indians for 17 years. (9) In his memoirs, written in Spain about the
year 1575, Fontaneda gave a good description of southern Florida and
the Indian tribes who lived here. He wrote also of other expeditions and
of men who were shipwrecked on the coast, many of whom fell captive
to the Indians.

"It was a consolation though a sad one," said Fontaneda "for those
who were lost after us to find on shore Christian companions