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night, as far south as latitude 38°, or at farthest 360, near one of which points he was compelled by want of provisions to desist from a farther prosecution of the voyage. He therefore did not approach within many miles of any part of the coast, that has ever been properly included within the limits of Florida.
In the year 1512, John de Ponce, the first discoverer of Porto Rico, who had acquired great wealth as governor of that island, fitted out, at his own expense, two vessels in quest of the fabled fountain of health. The virtues of this fountain, believed by the natives and by many Europeans to exist in some part of the West Indies, or the southern part of North America, were such, that whoever bathed in it, of whatever age he might be, was immediately restored to the vigour and beauty of youth. De Ponce first discovered the coast of Florida on Easter Sunday, which festival is called in the church calendars Pascha Floridum, and from that circumstance he gave the country the name which it has borne ever since. He coasted southerly from latitude 30° along the Atlantic shore, landed at a place which he called Bay of the Cross, where he took formal possession, and established a stone cross as a monument;--discovered cape Florida, which he named Cape Corrientes, from the rapidity of the current through the Gulf of Florida---and discovered also the islands and rocks called The Martyrs, which he so named from their fancied resemblance to men tied to stakes to be burned. A name of evil omen, some writer remarks, which the great number of shipwrecks upon them has since rendered appropriate. De Ponce then entered the bay, sometimes called from him, to this day, Juan de Ponce, where he landed and took possession in the name of his sovereign.
After making this discovery, De Ponce went to Spain, and by much solicitation obtained the appointment of governor of Florida, in which country he intended to settle a colony. He returned to Porto Rico, where he fitted out a fleet at great expense, and enlisted a body of men to establish his uew colony. He reached the coast of Florida, and had hardly landed, and was preparing to build a town and fort, when he was attacked with such vigor by a great body of savages, armed with poisoned arrows, that a great number of his men were killed, and the rest were compelled to retreat to their ships. He was himself wounded by a poisoned arrow, but made his
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escape and was carried to the island of Cuba, where he died. Many of his followers died, in great distress, of the wounds inflicted by the poisoned weapons. This last expedition is not noticed in some of the early histories of De Ponce's discovery, and there is perhaps reason to doubt at least that part of the story, which relates to the use of poisoned weapons by the natives; but we find the narrative in Le Moigne's history, as published by De Bry, and also in the other early histories.
In 1520 Luke Vasquez of Ayllon equipped two ships from the harbour of Plata, in the island of Hispaniola, for the purpose of procuring savages from some of the neighbouring islands, to work in the mines. He landed at the bay of St. Helena, in South Carolina, then, and long afterwards, considered by the Spaniards as within the limits of Florida. The natives, after they had recovered from their alarm at sight of the Spanish ships, and of men who were covered with clothes, received their visiters kindly and hospitably. Vasquez, in return for their hospitality, invited a large number of the natives to an entertainment on board his ships, and seized the opportunity to set sail with them on board, and to proceed towards Hispaniola. Many of them pined to death from vexation, and an obstinate refusal of all food. A large part of the remainder perished at sea, in one of the vessels which foundered in a storm, and a small number who survived the voyage were forced into a cruel and hopeless slavery.
Vasquez for this exploit received the reward offered to such as discovered new lands. In 1525 he went again to St. Helena with three ships, but one of them was cast away, and two hundred of his men were afterwards cut off by the natives; in consequence of which he returned disappointed to Hispaniola. Some accounts say that he was left behind, and died in Florida.
Pamphilo Narvaez obtained a patent from Charles V, and in March 1528 he sailed from the island of Cuba for Florida in five vessels, with a military force of four hundred foot and forty horse. He proceeded round the western extremity of Cuba, and after encountering several storms, in which he was in great danger of being wrecked, he arrived on the coast of Florida. He landed at a place on, or near the bay of Tampa, and discovered an Indian village, from which all the inhabitants fled on his approach. In a deserted hut he found some trilling ornaments of gold, which encouraged his hopes. On advanc
ing into the interior he found small quantities of indian corn. He was told by the natives that there was a country, called Apalache, far distant to the north, which was rich and abounded with gold. He determined to proceed thither, and set out with three hundred men on foot and forty horse, ordering the ships to follow him along the shore. After marching filieen days through a desolate country, they came to a river-perhaps the Suwany, on which Gen. Jackson destroyed Bolegstown in 1818. They crossed the river, partly by swimming, and partly on rafts, and on the other side they discovered a party of Indians, who supplied then with corn. On exploring the sea-coast it was found to be full of shoals, and without ports. They again proceeded on their march for fifteen days, without finding an inhabitant. On the 17th of June they fell in with a party of Indians, who were enemies to the Apalachians, and were then on their march to make a hostile inroad into their country. The Indian king took the Spaniards to his towns, and entertained them with corn and venison. They soon proceeded on their march, and on the 28th of June came in sight of the town of Apalache, of which they took possession with but slight opposition. Here they found abundance of corn, deer-skins, mantles, and garments, woven of the inner bark of trees, women's head-dresses, and stones for grinding corn. The town consisted of forty houses, which were low and covered with straw. It was surrounded by thick woods and deep morasses. The Indians were of a large stature, nimble and well formed, and generally naked. The whole country which the Spaniards had passed over was fat and sandy, interspersed with troublesome bogs, and abounding in walnut, oak, laurel, fir, cedar, pine, and low palm trees. They remained twenty-five days at Apalache, and made several excursions into the country, which they found thinly inhabited and wretchedly poor. A cacique, whom they took prisoner, told them that his town and district were the best in that whole region, and that beyond it the inhabitants were less numerous, and the land was poorer. Narvaez therefore concluded not to attempt to push his conquests farther, but to return towards the sea. After a march of eight days through a desert country, they came to the town of Ante, where they obtained a small supply of corn, pompions, and kidney-beans. This place appears to have been situated on the river of St Marks, probably near the present town of St Marks. From Ante a
New Series, No. 7.
party was sent to explore the sea-coast. They returned on the
After these disasters, Florida was for several years neglected. At length Ferdinand de Soto, a soldier who had acquired vast wealth in Peru, was appointed, by the emperor Charles V, governor of Cuba, with the title of General of Florida, and Marquess of the lands which he might conquer. About this time Cabeca de Vaca returned to Spain, and gave such an account of his adventures, and of the wealth of the regions through which he had passed, as excited an unconquerable curiosity, at the court of Spain, to explore the country. Soto fitted out a splendid expedition, and was accompanied by a great number of gentlemen, who disposed of large estates in Spain, to raise the means for equipping themselves to follow
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him. Several Portuguese gentlemen also enlisted in the cause, one of whom after his return wrote an interesting history of the expedition. They left Spain in April 1538; and sailed from Havana with nine vessels, having on board six hundred men, two hundred and thirteen horses, and a herd of swine, on the 18th of May of the following year. After a short voyage they arrived in the bay of Espiritu Santo and there landed.
We do not propose here to give even a sketch of the peregrinations and exploits of this extraordinary man. They are fully detailed in several works, to the best of which we have above alluded. He spent the summer after he landed, and the following winter, in the peninsula of Florida, not far distant from the bay of Apalache; and in the beginning of the following spring, he sent back his vessels to Cuba for supplies. Leaving a part of his men at the port, he then marched towards the north and east, in search of a place called Yupata, where he was informed there was gold. He crossed the river Alatamaha, and probably the Ogechee, and proceeded northward towards the sources of the Savannah, and thence westward across the Allegany ridge. After resting for thirty days, in May and June, at a place called Chiaha, where his men lay under the trees, and his horses fed in the meadows, he proceeded south to the town of Mavilla, or Mobile, sending his sick by water; and here he spent the summer. In October he suffered severely by the burning of Mobile. He fought here a great battle with the Indians, in which he killed two thousand men. While here, he heard that his vessels had returned with supplies to Ochus, the seat of the town of Pensacola, but he concealed the fact from his men, lest they should be impatient to quit the country, and because he did not wish any information of his want of success to reach his countrymen. In November he marched in a north-westerly direction eighty leagues to Chicaca, a Chickesaw village on the upper part of the Yazoo river, where he spent the winter. In the following summer he marched again west, and crossed the Mississippi, which he called Rio Grande. In the succeeding spring, after spending the winter at Antiamque, he was taken ill of a sever, brought on by fatigue and anxiety of mind, and on the 21st of May 1542, he died. This event happened at Guacoya, said to be on the bank of the Red River, in latitude 31°. His Heutenant, Moscoso, continued to ramble on the western side
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