Plans for the Colonization and Defense of Apalache, 1675

Florida
June 15, 1675

To His Majesty

D. Pablo de Yta Salazar 1 hereby renders account of the investigation made in regard to the most suitable places in these Provinces for settlement by Spanish families. All are agreed that the town of Apalache 2 and the surrounding territory is best because of the great fertility of the soil. If the settlers be farmers the crops will be abundant on account of the richness of the land, as may be seen by the wheat which the friars 3 sow for their sustenance. Pablo de Yta Salazar gives in detail the immense advantages of sending these families not only to Apalache but to the other provinces. They will serve as a check to the enemy English and French who have settled on the bay of Mexico and are trying to advance into this territory because of the rumor of its great fertility. A declaration of this has been made by an adjutant of that garrison who came from Apalache and brought testimony. Moreover it is suggested that these families and the necessary supplies could be brought with very little cost from the provinces of Canaria 4 by chartering a ship which would go directly to those provinces, stopping only at Habana. This stop would serve to familiarize these settlers with the culture of cotton and indigo, for if there be no one who understands the matter, little progress would be made.

My Lady:

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Having inquired into and investigated the most suitable places in these provinces to make a settlement of Spanish families, by reason of the interest displayed by Your Majesty in former years and in virtue of the royal order of last year, 1664 [?], which ordered the Royal Governor and Officials of this garrison to make the inquiry, I hereby report as follows: All agree that the best site is that of Apalache and the adjacent territory on account of its fertility. If the settlers be farmers the crops will be abundant on account of the richness of the soil, and by developing agriculture, such advances will be made that even the fields of Flanders will not foe superior. There is so much uninhabited land that in a few years those who come, and all the present inhabitants of these provinces, will be rich from the harvests which are promised in such abundance. This may be seen from the small quantity of wheat which the monks sow for their support; for if the year be favorable it is reaped copiously, as are also the crops of corn (which is the universal food of these provinces) which the natives and some infantry-men of this garrison plant. But these fields cannot be extended because of the inconvenience of working the land by hand; but with the introduction of oxen and plows which the settlers would use, the hard physical labor of the Indians in these crops could be avoided, and with greater knowledge the crops could be improved. In case families continue to come to these provinces as they do to New Spain and Campeche, another advantage is that the exportation of produce will be easy. The land is level and there are many navigable rivers, so this garrison will be liberally supplied, thus making unnecessary the excessive expense occasioned by the maintenance of so many vessels for the importation of flour and other necessary supplies now brought from New Spain. According to Your Majesty’s orders, once this settlement were made, duties would be imposed for the royal treasury and the safety of these provinces would be greatly increased; for this group of families with the assistance of the natives would oppose any hostile invasion (which should be heeded now). It is probable that they [the English and French] would cease their attempts to explore this place if there were living here those who could defend it; but as it is now, the situation is indeed dangerous. We are fearful lest the English and French 5 who have settled on the bay of Mexico which joins this canal of Bahama, being assured of the fertility of the soil, might wish to advance into this territory. This we have from a declaration made by an adjutant of this garrison, who came from the Province of Apalache (after having written to Your Majesty), which declaration I am now sending to Your Majesty. This testifies that the English and French are desirous of invading these Provinces in the vicinity of Apalache and Apalachocoli, the natives of which have “been partly converted to the Holy Faith, a report of which the Bishop of Cuba is sending to Your Majesty. If the fortification which has been erected in this city could be duplicated in that Province, repairing with very little effort the wooden fortress there, one could feel much safer, for today the aforesaid rumors cause much uneasiness. Wherefore, by reason of the advantage to your royal domain, for the use and convenience of these Provinces, for the protection of these new Christians and the monks who attend them, it would be well for families to come from the Canary Islands. The transportation of the families and their supplies would be very easy, should Your Majesty give permission to the Duke of Vagel to bring them to this garrison to be registered, and to stop at Havana for the reasons already given Your Majesty. Furthermore, since the cotton which there is in these Provinces is not being harvested because of the lack of any one who understands its culture, it would be well that the Governor of Campeche send the twenty-four families of Indian weavers which Your Majesty may order to live here temporarily while the settlement is being made. They could attend to the purifying and spinning of the cotton and to the production of cochineal and indigo, the culture of which is not progressing in these Provinces since no one understands their care. Having received this information, may Your Majesty decree that which will be of greatest service to your royal domain. May God keep your royal and catholic person many happy years for the glory of Christianity. St. Augustine in Florida, June 15, 1675.

At Your Majesty’s feet,
Pablo de hita Salasar. (seal)

Seville, Santo Domingo, 58-2-5
(On a separate paper joined to this letter is read:) Council, 19 of December, 1675
The Relator Ferrer having rendered an account of the statements of the Governor of Florida concerning the settlement of the Province of Apalache, the Council granted that the orders given in regard to the importation of Indian weavers from Yucatan be approved; that, in regard to the families ordered to come from Seville or the Canaries, efforts be made to have them transported in licensed ships which go to Florida such as are sent on other expeditions, (seal)

(On the back of this letter is read)

Council, 30 of January, 1676.
Information is asked of the casa de contratacion concerning this proposition. Also the Governor of the Canary Islands is requested to report the means possible to transport these families; and if he is not opposed, may he grant to this effect the specially licensed ship herein proposed (seal). On March 17 the communication was sent to the Canaries for report. On February 11, report was asked of the Casa, and on March [sic], of the Canaries.

(Seville, Santo Domingo, 58-2-5)
Edict Corrected (seal)

In the city of St. Augustine, province of Florida, on the twenty-third day of May, 1675, Sergeant-Major Don Pablo de Yta Zalazar, Governor and Captain-General of this city and its provinces, on behalf of the king our lord and sovereign, proclaimed that he had been notified that an Indian of the Chisca tribe 6, having visited an English settlement called St. George, established seventy leagues to the north of this garrison, reported that the aforementioned English are united and in league with a hostile tribe of Indians who are called Chichimecos for the purpose of making war upon the natives now converted to the Catholic religion who have submitted to the rule of his Majesty, that they enter these Provinces to do them harm at the instigation of the English, who likewise plan to come by sea, to which end they have sent a vessel to reconnoiter the port of this garrison. He reported furthermore that there was a new settlement of enemies in the Mar del Norte [sea of the north] five days journey from the province of Apalache. Therefore, in order to know the foundation of these reports, to safeguard all the ports of the provinces, and to render account to his Majesty as to the best methods of procedure, his grace hereby orders that a complete investigation be made and that the adjutant Andrez Descouedo, who has just arrived from the province of Apalache, declare under oath all that he has heard, in order that the truth of these reports may be determined. This his grace decreed, ordered and signed Pablo de Yta Salazar. Before the official scribe, Alonza Solana.
(Seville, Santo Domingo, 58-2-5)

Declaration In the said city on the said day, month, year, as evidence and proof of that stated in the edict of his grace, Sergeant-Major, Governor and Captain-General Don Pablo de Yta Salazar, there was summoned into the presence of his grace the adjutant Andres Descuedo who, having taken solemn oath and having listened to the edict of his grace testified as follows : That, having gone in the company of Captain Julio Fernandez de Florencia of the aforementioned province of Apalache to the town of St. Joseph de Ocuya Bogoli to barter corn for the provision of this fortress, there came to him a letter from Lieutenant Esteban de Lua, commandant of the infantry post in said province, in which the lieutenant notified him of the report of a certain Indian. This Indian, chief of the Chisca tribe, told the lieutenant how a woman of his tribe had been taken prisoner by the Chichimecos who took her and sold her for a shotgun in the English town on the coast called St. George. While she was there a vessel was dispatched for the sole purpose of spying on this garrison. Furthermore, she said that there were English in the village of the Chichimecas who were teaching them to use firearms with the purpose in view of coming to attack this garrison, some by sea, others by land, destroying the Xptianos Indians 7 of the provinces of Timucria 8 and Apalache. This information was obtained by the said chief from the aforementioned Indian woman who had been prisoner and who had escaped from the English. Furthermore, the lieutenant told the captain how a friar of the order of St. Francis, called Fray Rodrigo, who assists in the conversion of the Chacata Indians, had had word through Indians of another tribe, that five days distant from the town in which he ministers, there had arrived four Englishmen who had come from a new settlement which they have at the mouth of a large river, for the purpose of exploring and laying waste the land. This monk sought out the Indians who had brought this news and offered a reward to him if he would bring exact information concerning the location and condition of this town; and his report coincided with that of the others. The witness hereby swears to the truth of this statement and signs it with his grace Pablo de Yta Salazar, Andres des Couedo. Certified by Alonso Solana, official scribe. This agrees with the original which remains in my possession that it may be at the demand of the lord-governor and captain-general.

I testify to this, May 26, 1675. I make my sign [place of the sign] in testimony of the truth, Alonso Solana, official scribe and notary public, (seal) We, the official judges of the exchequer of these provinces of Florida, certify that Alonso Solana, whose signature appears on these documents, is an official notary public of the government and that these documents so signed by his name are legal. Signed in the city of St. Augustine in Florida, June 8, 1675. Antonio Menendes Marques (seal) Francisco de la Rocha (seal).


Collection:
Redding, Katherine (Translator) Plans for the Colonization and Defense of Apalache, 1675. University of Kansas: General Archives of the Indies, Seville. (Audiencia of Santo Domingo 58-2-5) Florida June 15, 1675.

Citations:
  1. The governor of Florida.[]
  2. Tallahassee is the center of what was the Spanish province of Apalache. The early Georgians called the region Apalache Old Fields from the deserted fields which were overgrown with pines.[]
  3. In 1655 there were nine Franciscan missions in Apalache; in 1680 the number was fourteen.[]
  4. Canary Islands.[]
  5. The English settled Charleston in 1670, but the French had not yet made settlements in the South.[]
  6. Chickasaw Tribe[]
  7. Christian Indians[]
  8. Timucua Tribe[]

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