Apalachee Indians

Apalachee Tribe. Meaning perhaps people on the other side (as in Hitchiti), or it may be cognate with Choctaw apelachi, a helper.

Apalachee Connections. These Indians belonged to the Muskhogean linguistic family, their closest connections having been apparently the Hitchiti and Alibamu.

Apalachee Location. The Apalachee towns, with few exceptions, were compactly situated in the neighborhood of the present Florida capital, Tallahassee. (See also Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.)

Apalachee Villages

  • Aute, 8 or 9 days’ journey from the main towns and apparently southwest of them.
  • Ayubale, 77 leagues from St. Augustine.
  • Bacica, probably near the present Wacissa River.
  • Bacuqua, seemingly somewhat removed from the main group of towns.
  • Calahuchi, north of the main group of towns and not certainly Apalachee.
  • Cupayca, location uncertain; its name seems to be in Timucua.
  • Ibitachuco, 75 leagues from St. Augustine.
  • Iniahica, close to the main group of towns, possibly the Timucua name for one of the others given, since hica is the Timucua word for town.
  • Ochete, on the coast 8 leagues south of Iniahica.
  • Ocuia, 84 leagues from St. Augustine.
  • Ospalaga, 86 leagues from St. Augustine.
  • Patali, 87 leagues from St. Augustine.
  • Talimali, 88 leagues from St. Augustine and very likely identical with Iniahica.
  • Talpatqui, possibly identical with the preceding.
  • Tomoli, 87 leagues from St. Augustine.
  • Uzela, on or near Ocilla River.
  • Yapalaga, near the main group of towns.
  • Ychutafun, on Apalachicola River.
  • Yecambi, 90 leagues from St. Augustine.

A few other names are contained in various writings or placed upon sundry charts, but some of these belonged to distinct tribes and were located only temporarily among the Apalachee; others are not mentioned elsewhere but appear to belong in the same category; and still others are simply names of missions and may apply to certain of the towns mentioned above. Thus Chacatos evidently refers to the Chatot tribe, Tama to the Tamali (Tamathli?), and Oconi probably to a branch of the Oconee mentioned elsewhere. The Chines were a body of Chatot and derived their name from a chief. Among names which appear only in Spanish we find Santa Fe, Capola and Ilcombe, given on the Popple Map, were probably occupied by Guale and Yamasee refugees. A late Apalachee settlement was called San Marcos.

Apalachee History. The Apalachee seem to appear first in history in the chronicles of the Narvaez expedition (Bandelier, 1905). The explorers spent nearly a month in an Apalachee town in the year 1528 but were subjected to constant attacks on the part of the warlike natives, who pursued them during their withdrawal to a coast town named Aute. In October 1539, De Soto arrived in the Apalachee province and remained there the next winter in spite of the unceasing hostility of the natives, who well maintained the reputation for prowess they had acquired 11 years before. Although the province is mentioned from time to time by the first French and Spanish colonists of Florida, it did not receive much attention until the tribes between it and St. Augustine had been pretty well missionized. In a letter written in 1607 we learn that the Apalachee had asked for missionaries and, although one paid a visit to them the next year, the need is reiterated at frequent intervals. It was not until 1633, however, that the work was actually begun. In that year two monks entered the country and the conversion proceeded very rapidly so that by 1647 there were seven churches and convents and eight of the principal chiefs had been baptized. In that year, however, a great rebellion took place. Three missionaries were killed and all of the churches with their sacred objects were destroyed. An expedition sent against the insurgents was repulsed, but shortly afterward the movement collapsed, apparently through a counterrevolution in the tribe itself. After this most of the Apalachee sought baptism and there was no further trouble between them and the Spaniards except for a brief sympathetic movement at the time of the Timucua uprising of 1656. The outstanding complaint on the part of the Indians was that some of them were regularly commandeered to work on the fortifications of St. Augustine. In 1702 a large Apalachee war party was severely defeated by Creek Indians assisted by some English traders, and in 1704 an expedition from South Carolina under Colonel Moore practically destroyed the nation. Moore claims to have carried away the people of three towns and the greater part of the population of four more and to have left but two towns and part of another. Most of these latter appear to have fled to Mobile, where, in 1705, they were granted land on which to settle. The Apalachee who had been carried off by Moore were established near New Windsor, South Carolina, but when the Yamasee War broke out they joined the hostile Indians and retired for a time to the Lower Creeks. Shortly afterward the English faction among the Lower Creeks became ascendant and the Apalachee returned to Florida, some remaining near their old country and others settling close to Pensacola to be near their relatives about Mobile. By 1718 another Apalachee settlement had been organized by the Spaniards near San Marcos de Apalache and close to their old country. In 1728 we hear of two small Apalachee towns in this neighborhood. Most of them gravitated finally to the neighborhood of Pensacola. In 1764, the year after all French and Spanish possessions east of the Mississippi passed into the hands of Great Britain, the Apalachee, along with several other tribes, migrated into Louisiana, now held by Spain, and settled on Red River, where they and the Taensa conjointly occupied a strip of land between Bayou d’Arro and Bayou Jean de Jean. Most of this land was sold in 1803 and the Apalachee, reduced to a small band, appear to have moved about in the same general region until they disappeared. They are now practically forgotten, though a few mixed-blood Apalachee are still said to be in existence. A few accompanied the Creeks to Oklahoma.

Apalachee Population. Mooney (1928) estimates 7,000 Apalachee Indians in 1650, a figure which seems to me to be ample. Governor Salazar’s mission-by-mission estimate in 1675 yielded a total of 6,130, and a Spanish memorial dated 1676 gives them a population of 5,000. At the time of Moore’s raid there appear to have been about 2,000. The South Carolina Census of 1715 gives 4 Apalachee villages, 275 men, and 638 souls. As the Mobile Apalachee were shortly afterward reduced to 100 men, the number of the entire tribe in 1715 must have been about 1,000. By 1758 they appear to have fallen to not much over 100, and in 1814 Sibley reported but 14 men in the Louisiana band, signifying a total of perhaps 50 (Sibley, 1832). Morse’s estimate (1822) of 150 in 1817 is evidently considerably too high.

Connection in which they have become noted. The Apalachee were mentioned repeatedly as a powerful and warlike people, and this character was attested by their stout resistance to Narvaez and De Soto. The sweeping destruction which overtook them at the hands of the Creeks and Carolinians marks an epoch in Southeastern history. Their name is preserved in Apalachee Bay and River, Fla.; Apalachee River, Ga., Apalachee River, Ala.; and most prominently of all, in the Appalachian Mountains, and other terms derived from them. Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, the name of which signifies Old Town, is on the site of San Luis de Talimali, the principal Spanish mission center. There is a post village named Apalachee in Morgan County, Ga.

Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

Discover more from Access Genealogy

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top