NIU Libraries Digitization Projects
Lincoln/Net Prairie Fire Illinois During the Civil War Illinois During the Gilded Age Mark Twain's Mississippi Back to Digitization Projects Contact Us
BACK

Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


Previous section

Next section

Chapter II. — The Landing of Ponce de Leon in Florida, and of Lucas Vasquez in the Ancient Chicora.

1512.

IT had required but twenty years to spread the Spanish power from St. Domingo, through the Caribbean islands and around the Cuban shores, to the straits of Florida. Ponce de Leon, in 1512, landed on the peninsula of Florida, as if he was about to realise the long-taught fable of the garden of the Hesperides. To his imagination its crystal fountains appeared, as the natives had depicted them, as the fountains of youth. It is known that the vast tertiary deposits of marine sands of this peninsula yield copious springs of the most transparent water. That these pure springs should excite the admiration and superstition of the Indians, and lead them to believe in extravagant notions of their sanative qualities, is not strange, nor that reports of their extraordinary virtues should be carried to the neighboring coasts of Cuba. But it is amazing that such stories should gain belief, even in the low state of medical knowledge at the opening of the sixteenth century. [17]

With such notions, however, De Leon landed. The balmy airs of a tropical spring, redolent with the aroma of flowers, which met and saluted his senses on landing, was not calculated to dispel his prior notions of an elysium. But from the fact of the day of his discovery being Easter Sunday, and the luxuriance of the vegetation, he named the country Florida. [18] He was informed that some of their limpid springs were of such wonderful virtue, that they would restore the vigor of youth to the person who bathed in them. In search of these fountains of youth he roved over the country. By these excursions the suspicions and animosity of the Indians were excited, and he at last paid the forfeit of his life for his credulity, [19] having died in Cuba from wounds received. [20] Geographical truth is of slow growth. From this time Florida appears to have been regarded as a garden of Hesperides. It chanced that a Spanish mariner named Miruela, visited the sea coasts of Georgia and Carolina in quest of traffic with the natives. In this traffic he received some small quantity of gold. The incident created a sensation on his return to St. Domingo, where a commercial company was formed to

-- 39 --

prosecute the discovery thus made. Several men in official positions engaged in this, the principal of whom, was Lucas Vasquez D'Allyon. Two vessels were dispatched to the coast, prepared for the trade. These reached the mouth of the river Combahee, in South Carolina, where a profitable traffic ensued. The coast is called Chicora, and the Indians Chicoreans. When the trade was finished the natives were invited to gratify their curiosity to go below decks, but they were no sooner got below than the hatches were closed, and the vessels immediately hoisted sail for St. Domingo. One of them foundered on the way, and all were lost. The other reached St. Domingo, and the Indians were sold as slaves. [21]

In the meantime Vasquez D'Allyon had visited the court of Spain, and made such representations of the regions of Chicora and its natives, that he returned with the commission of Adalantado of the newly discovered country, with authority to found a colony. On reaching St. Domingo, a squadron of three ships, with Miruela for chief pilot, [22] was fitted out for the purpose, and guides taken to conduct them to the scene. Entering by the straits of Helena, he proceeded to the mouth of the Combahee, where the largest of the three vessels was stranded. Here he resumed the traffic with the Indians. During this time nothing was revealed on their part, to indicate that they had any remembrance of, or resentment for, the carrying off of their countrymen. Having finished his trade, Vasquez went to seek a suitable site for his colony, and pitched on a spot on the waters of Port Royal sound, at, or perhaps a little south of, the present town of Beaufort, South Carolina. A part of his crews had landed, to prepare for the new town, a small number still remaining on board the vessels at anchor in the roadstead. They had hardly commenced their labors, when a deputation of the Combahee Indians arrived to invite the men to attend a great feast at the village at the mouth of the Combahee. Two hundred persons accepted this invitation, and were received and treated with the most friendly hospitalities. They were feasted for three days. [23] When the feast was over and the men were sunk into a sound sleep, the Indians arose, near the break of day, and massacred the whole party. Not a man was spared. The Indians then proceeded, in hot haste, to the selected site of the new town of Vasquez, where they knew there was lax discipline. They fell on the parties of men in their disorganized state, and put many to death. A terrific tragedy ensued. Indian clubs, spears, and arrows, were arrayed against swords and matchlocks. [24] Vasquez escaped, wounded, to his vessels, and died. Thus failed the first attempt to found a colony in the area of the United States. This incident furnishes a dark spot in Spanish colonial history, that has been but little dwelt on by historians. [25]

-- 40 --

Previous section

Next section


Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
Powered by PhiloLogic