1565-1763 - The Spanish Take Back Control of Florida

1565 - The Spanish Establish St. Augustine and the Misssion System

   The Timucua’s history changed even more dramatically after the establishment of St. Augustine in 1565 as a Spanish Presidio.
   In 1566, the entire French Huguenot colony at Astor was wiped out by the Spanish.
   During the late 1560s, after eliminating the French settlements in Florida, the Spanish established a system of missions throughout the area, including modern Lake County, in efforts to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism. The Franciscan missionaries Christianized and Hispanized some of the Timicua. The Spanish massacred any uncooperative villages and spread European diseases to the rest.

   However, through their scholarship, the friars did preserve the Timucuan language, which is one of the few eastern tribal languages to have survived. Our knowledge of the Timucua language is derived mainly from the religious works by the missionaries Pareja and Mouilla and a grammar that was compiled by Pareja.
   After the Spaniards had supplanted the French, some of the Timucua allied themselves with the former and in 1576 or 1577 a body of soldiers was sent to support them against several neighboring tribes. This ally group was missionized at a comparatively early date, but afterward followed the fortunes of the rest of the Timucua.
   By 1595, contact with Europeans and the diseases they brought with them had dramatically reduced the population of the Timucuan people.
   Spanish colonization relied on "intermarriage" with local populations, this caused many of the surviving Timucuans to become the mestizo, i.e., “mixed blood” colonial culture.

Early 1600s - Short Lived Cooperation and Trading

   By the 1600s, news of the Spanish had spread and the Natives were now smarter. They were now trading with the Spanish much more. Gonzalez de Barcia reported they were selling cardinals (red birds) to the Spanish crews for $6 and $10 apiece.
   Spanish fishermen from Cuba began to fish cooperatively with the Native Floridians. A sizable trade industry soon existed between the two cultures.

   During the early half of the 1600s, the missions were in a flourishing condition. However, the missions suffered severely from pestilences in 1613-17, 1649-50, and 1672. A rebellion in 1656 caused more losses by death and exile.

   In a letter dated February 2, 1635, it is asserted that 30,000 Christian Natives were connected with the 44 Spanish missions that were maintained in the Guale and Timucua provinces. The Timucua are estimated to have numbered 13,000 in 1650, including 8,000 Timucua proper and their allies, 3,000 Potano, 1,000 Hostaqua, and 1,000 Tocobaga.
   In 1675, Bishop Calderón of Cuba stated that he confirmed 13,152 Natives in the four provinces of Timucua, Guale, Apalache, and Apalachicoli. However, Governor Salazar estimated only 1,400 in the Timucua missions that year.

   Toward the end of the 1600s, all of the Florida Natives began to suffer from the invasion of the Creek and Yuchi tribes from the North This was accentuated after the break-up of the Apalachee tribe, in 1704, by the expedition under Moore.
   The majority of the remaining Timucua were then concentrated into missions near St. Augustine However, this did not secure immunity against further attacks by the English and their Indian allies.

   In 1696, Jonathan Dickinson wrote of when he, his wife and infant son, and a party of about 20 in all were shipwrecked on the Florida East Coast. He recounts their harrowing journey travelling from one Native village to another in order to reach the city of St. Augustine.

1700s - The British Are Coming

   British incursions during the early 1700s further reduced the few remaining Timucua to a mere 1,000.
   The rival European nations used native allies to fight their colonial wars. The British allied tribes, the Creek, Catawba, and Yuchi, killed and enslaved the Timucua, who were associated with the Spanish.

   In 1711, the Catholic Bishop in Havana had received word that British backed Natives from North Florida were destroying South Florida villages and selling the Natives as slaves. He sent two ships, under Captain Luis Perdomo, to rescue their ally tribes of the Keys. These northern Natives were most likely portions of the Creek Confederacy, later known as the Seminoles. Captain Perdomo was only able to rescue 270 of the Natives, but said he would have brought back more than 2,000 had he had the vessels. Of the 270 refugees, 200 died of European diseases in Cuba and 18 returned to Florida.

1700s - The Last of The Timucua

   By 1728, the single town which seems to have contained most of the surviving Timucua had only 15 men and 20 women. In 1736, 17 Timicua men were reported living there.
   Sometime after 1736 the remnants of the Timicua people seem to have removed themselves to a stream in the present Volusia County, which bears their name in the form Tomoka.

   In 1743, another Spanish rescue attempt was made from Cuba, but the priests did about as much harm as good. The priests set fire to an Native house of worship and to commited other acts against perceived idolatry, but the Natives stood fast in their beliefs.

1763 - British Occupation and the Extinction of the Timucua

   The last major Native exodus occurred when the Spanish traded Florida to England.
   By the end of the French and Indian War and the acquisition of Florida by Britain in 1763, there were perhaps 125 Timucua remaining.
   In 1763, when James Spalding established a trading post in Astor, there were few Native Americans remaining in the area.
   In 1763, Bernard Romans documented that 80 indigenous Florida Native families had fled from the Keys on a ship bound for Havana. The ship may have sailed from the port at St. Augustine. Some of these refugees may have returned later to form the "Spanish Indians."
   At this point, they disappear from history, and it is probable this final remnant either migrated with the Spanish colonists to Cuba or were absorbed into the newly formed Seminole [1][2] population.

   They are now considered an extinct tribe.

[Contributors: Jason Brown]

Next Article: 1700s - The Formation of The Seminole Tribe