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Grafting onto the Native Landscape: The Franciscan Mission System in Northeastern Florida

Grafting onto the Native Landscape:
The Franciscan Mission System in
Northeastern Florida
Keith Ashley
It has been twenty years since The Missions of Spanish La Florida was first pub-
lished as a special issue of The Florida Anthropologist.1Looking back on this
landmark volume, I am somewhat surprised by the lack of attention given to
Spanish missions among the Mocama Indians of the lower Atlantic coast. In
one respect this is unexpected given that two of the earliest Catholic missions
established by the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) in La Florida were San
Juan del Puerto and San Pedro de Mocama, each emplaced within an existing
Mocama village. In fact, aside from Nombre de Dios, founded at the garrison
community of St. Augustine, San Juan del Puerto was the longest occupied
frontier mission in La Florida,existing in the same place for some 115 years. In
another respect, however, the absence of any substantive discussion on the
Mocama missions is completely understandable given the lack of active mission
research in the region at the time of the volume’s publication. But things have
changed over the past two decades as more archival documents have been
translated and more archaeological sites have been investigated.
When crosses were first raised by Franciscan missionaries at San Juan and
San Pedro in 1587, the two mission centers (doctrinas) were flanked by a series
of native villages situated on barrier islands and along the mainland coast. A
friar living at each mission was responsible for traveling and ministering to the
outlying native settlements (visitas) as the need arose. By 1630, if not earlier,
1Originally published as “The Missions of Spanish Florida,” in Bonnie G. McEwan, Special
Issue of The Florida Anthropologist 44 (1991) and later as Bonnie McEwan, ed., The Spanish
Missions of La Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994).
all visitas within the Mocama province had been abandoned and their residents
moved to a nearby doctrina. This chapter explores the early decades of contact
and missionization among the Mocama, with an eventual eye cast toward the
visita countryside of northeastern Florida.
La Florida comprised Spain’s imperial landholdings in southeastern North
America. Although its boundaries were never formally defined, by the late six-
teenth century the colony consisted of the state of Florida, tidewater Georgia,
and the lower South Carolina coast.2This vast region was populated by a
diverse array of indigenous groups. Unlike New Spain and Peru, the American
Southeast lacked state-level societies with bureaucracies and hegemonic rulers
exercising far-reaching political control. Rather the Spanish encountered a
mosaic of native societies that ranged from chiefdom-based farmers to band-
level hunter-gatherers.3Franciscan missionization efforts focused almost exclu-
sively on chiefdom societies. The early mission chain first served the Timucua
along the Atlantic seaboard of northern Florida and extreme southern Georgia
and soon thereafter added the Guale of northern coastal Georgia. Western
expansion began in 1606 with the inclusion of the inland Timucua of the
northern peninsula, and in 1633 missions were established farther to the west
among the Apalachee farmers of panhandle Florida (Figure 1).
No indigenous group in colonial La Florida had longer, more sustained
contact with the Spanish than the Timucua, who occupied a 31,000-km-square
area consisting of inland uplands, swamps, rivers, and lakes, as well as coastal
hammocks, marshes, and estuaries.4The Timucua were a collection of politi-
cally distinct, small-scale chiefdoms, which in the late 1500s were described as
having hereditary leaders, noble lineages, and shamanistic specialists.5At times,
2David Hurst Thomas, “The Spanish Missions of La Florida: An Overview,” in Columbian
Consequences, vol. 2, ed. David Hurst Thomas (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press, 1990), 357.
3John F. Scarry, “The Late Prehistoric Southeast,” in The Forgotten Centuries: Indians and
Europeans in the American South, 1521–1704, ed. Charles Hudson and C. Chaves Tesser (Athens:
University of Georgia Press, 1994), 15–25; and Adam King and Maureen S. Myers, eds.,
“Frontiers, Backwaters, and Peripheries: Exploring the Edges of the Mississippian World,”
Southeastern Archaeology 21 (2002):113–226.
4Jerald Milanich, “Timucua,” in Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 14, Southeast,
ed. Charles Hudson and C. Chaves Tesser (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press, 2004), 219.
5John H. Hann, AHistory of the Timucua Indians and Missions (Gainesville: University
Press of Florida, 1996), 73–80; Jerald T. Milanich, The Timucua (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell
Publishers, 1996), 156–60; and John E. Worth, Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida, vol. 1,
Assimilation (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998), 86–92.
some Timucua groups coalesced to form temporary alliances, while at other
times they engaged in mutually antagonistic rivalries. Through European eyes,
raiding among the Mocama was commonplace, but differed from the regi-
mented and full-out onslaught the Spanish and French often employed to sub-
jugate their enemies. Chiefs wielded considerable command over villagers, and
certain individuals apparently held political sway over other villages in the
region. In fact early European documents speak of strong leaders who com-
peted for regional prominence.6Beyond the local polity, however, it is still
6French and Spanish documents of the 1560s mention the Timucua chiefs of Potano in
north-central Florida; Utina along the middle St. Johns River and Saturiwa at the mouth of the St.
Johns River, Florida; and Tacatacuru on Cumberland Island, Georgia. See, for example, Gonzalo
Solis de Meras, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, Adelantado, Governor and Captain General of Florida:
Memorial,trans. Jeannette Thurber Connor (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1964);
Bartolome Barrientos, Pedro Mendez de Aviles, Founder of Florida, trans. Anthony Kerrigan
(Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1965); Charles Bennett, trans., Three Voyages: Rene
Laudonnière (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1975); Sarah Lawson, trans., A Foothold in
Florida: The Eyewitness Account of Four Voyages Made by the French to That Region and Their
FIGURE 1. Locations of Timucua, Mocama, Guale, and Apalachee.
unclear how much of this perceived power was actual political dominance and
how much was mere influence.
Although the Timucua shared a common tongue, their language was
divided into at least eleven regional dialects. Mocama was the maritime dialect
spoken by the Timucuan inhabitants of an approximately seventy-kilometer-
stretch of coastal lands and barrier islands between the St. Johns River, Florida,
and the Satilla River, Georgia.7This differed from the Agua Salada or Saltwater
dialect spoken immediately to the south by the Timucua of the St. Augustine
vicinity. Mocama appears to have been the principle idiom used by the
Franciscan friar and linguist Fray Francisco Pareja to pen a series of religious
texts in the Timucuan language.8
In terms of domestic economy, Mocama speakers at the dawn of European
contact grew corn, but continued to depend on the bounty of the estuary-
marsh-sound system. Fish and shellfish were dietary staples. The Mocama were
village dwellers, with scattered households tied to a community center marked
by chiefly residences and a council house. High-ranking individuals may have
been interred in sand mounds. Some villagers may have temporarily left the
main settlements at various times of the year to exploit nearby resources as they
became seasonally available or abundant. Thus, the Mocama’s annual cycle
entailed a mixed subsistence strategy of foraging and farming.
Although Juan Ponce de León made first landfall and bestowed the name
La Florida in 1513, effective Spanish occupation of the colony did not occur
until the founding of St. Augustine in 1565. The taking of Florida at this time
by Spain was a direct response to the presence of a French fort and community
Attempt at Colonization, 1562–1568, Based on a New Translation of Laudonnière’s L’Histoire
Notable de la Florida (East Grinstead, West Sussex, England: Antique Atlas Publications, 1992).
Summary found in Hann, AHistory of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 80–82.
7Kathleen Deagan, “Cultures in Transition: Fusion and Assimilation among the Eastern
Timucua,” in Jerald T. Milanich and Samuel Proctor, eds., Tacachale: Essays on the Indians of
Florida and Southeastern Georgia during the Historic Period (Gainesville: University Press of
Florida, 1978), 91; Julian Granberry, A Grammar and Dictionary of the Timucua Language
(Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993), 6; Hann, AHistory of the Timucua Indians and
Missions, 4–8; Milanich, The Timucua, 41–44; Jerald Milanich and William Sturtevant, Francisco
Pareja’s 1613 Confessionario: A Documentary Source for Timucuan Ethnography (Washington, DC:
Smithsonian Press, 1972), 1.
8Granberry, A Grammar and Dictionary of the Timucua Language,7.
(La Caroline) among the Mocama.9Established by Rene Laudonnière in June
1564, the French Huguenot settlement met a bloody end at the hands of
Spanish soldiers under the command of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, who
attacked the fort under the cover of darkness on September 20, 1565. The
killing of more Frenchmen, including Jean Ribault, in the coming weeks shat-
tered any Huguenot visions of a religious sanctuary and means of profit in
southeastern North America. Assuming possession of Florida fulfilled Spain’s
need to protect the shipping lanes that flowed along the Gulf and lower
Atlantic coasts.
With French expulsion, Spanish soldiers armed Fort Caroline and renamed
it Fort San Mateo. Shortly thereafter they built another outpost (Fort San
Pedro) on Cumberland Island to the north, also within Mocama territory.10
The local natives countered by repeatedly attacking and in cases killing
Spaniards who wandered beyond the security of their armed garrisons.11
Historian John Hann suggests that Spanish troops at the two strongholds,
having grown tired of the hostilities, waged a “fire and blood” campaign
whereby Mocama villages, agricultural fields, and other properties were
scorched.12 This tactic apparently succeeded, and by the early 1580s, fighting
had waned and an air of stability covered the Mocama province.
It is against this backdrop that friars of the Franciscan Order, who first
landed in Florida in 1573, began preaching the Gospel among the Mocama.
This mendicant order became the driving force in evangelization among the
Florida Indians until Spanish removal in 1763. The Order of Friars Minor had
replaced Jesuits whose short-lived mission program in the Chesapeake Bay
area, along the northern Georgia coast, and in southern Florida had failed mis-
erably.13 The first sizeable group of Franciscans, however, did not arrive in
Florida until 1587. Of these, a small handful were soon dispatched throughout
the northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia countryside and embarked
on active missionary work among the coastal Timucua, including the Mocama.
9See Bennett, Three Voyages: Rene Laudonnière; and Lawson, A Foothold in Florida.
10 Hann, AHistory of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 66–67.
11 Ibid., 60; Eugene Lyon, The Enterprise of Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Florida,
1976), 180, 198.
12 Hann, AHistory of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 70.
13 Clifford Lewis and Albert Loomie, The Spanish Jesuit Missions in Virginia 1570–1572
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1963); Michael V. Gannon, The Cross in the
Sand: The Early Catholic Church in Florida 1513-1870 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida,
1965), 20–35; John H. Hann, Missions to the Calusa (Gainesville: University Press of Florida,
1991), 230–85.
More friars arrived in 1595, and the coastal mission chain was enlarged to
include the Guale of northern Georgia.14
Two of the earliest coastal missions were San Juan del Puerto on Fort
George Island (Florida) and San Pedro de Mocama on Cumberland Island
(Georgia), both of which were apparently established in 1587 without incident
at existing villages in the Mocama heartland.15 Writing in 1602, Fray Baltasar
Lopez16 claimed that “Christianity had its beginnings” at Mission San Pedro,
but it is unclear whether he is referring to its commencement among the
Mocama or among all Franciscan frontier missions in La Florida. Shortly after
1606, the Mocama community and existing visita of Santa María de Sena on
Amelia Island received a resident friar, and a fourth Mocama mission (San
Buenaventura de Guadalquini) was constructed at the southern end of St.
Simons Island, Georgia. These four missions formed what Spanish officials
eventually referred to as the San Pedro or Mocama Province (Figure 2).17
Aside from the physical presence of Europeans, the Mocama had to contend
with a deadly array of microorganisms that the foreigners and their domesticated
animals brought with them. Old World infectious disease ravaged indigenous
coastal communities who incurred the full force of initial contact and mission-
ization.18 Native populations were soon reduced by germs, Spanish reprisal, and
relocation, forcing them to adapt to an ever-changing cultural and epidemio-
14 Maynard Geiger, The Franciscan Conquest of Florida (1573–1618), Studies in Hispanic
American History (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 1937), 54–55; Gannon, The
Cross in the Sand, 38.
15 Hann, Missions to the Calusa, 10; Milanich, The Timucua, 98; John E. Worth, The Struggle
for the Georgia Coast: An Eighteenth-Century Spanish Retrospective on Guale and Mocama
(Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2007), 10–12.
16 Baltasar Lopez, “Letter to Blas de Montes, September 15, 1602,” Archivo General de
Indias (Seville), Santo Domingo 235, Woodberry Lowery Collection, Library of Congress, reel 2,
trans. John Hann, Tallahassee: Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research.
17 Hann, AHistory of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 18; Milanich, The Timucua, 98;
Jerald Milanich, Laboring in the Fields of the Lord: Spanish Missions and Southeastern Indians
(Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press, 1999), 47; Worth, The Struggle for the Georgia Coast, 12. As
for the ending of the four Mocama missions, by 1655, Mission San Pedro de Mocama was aban-
doned and its inhabitants, including the principal cacique of the Mocama Province, moved to Santa
María de Sena, which, in turn, was uprooted to San Juan del Puerto in 1665. In 1684, the north-
ernmost Mocama mission of San Buenaventura de Guadalquini retreated to within a half league of
San Juan and was renamed Santa Cruz. It, however, was disbanded twelve years later, and its resi-
dents were moved to San Juan, which itself was destroyed in 1702 by Carolina militia and Indian
allies. For the 1702 assault on the northeast Florida missions, see Charles Arnade, The Siege of St.
Augustine in 1702 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1959).
18 Henry Dobyns, Their Number Become Thinned (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press,
1983); and Marvin Smith, Archaeology of Aboriginal Culture Change in the Interior Southeast
(Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1987), 54–60.
logical milieu. According to Spanish documents, outbreaks of disease continued
to wreak havoc on mission populations throughout the seventeenth century.
Epidemics with high mortality are reported for the Timucua in 1595, 1614, and
the 1650s.19 Census records indicate that populations at San Juan and San
Pedro dwindled even as outlying settlements were brought in to restock mission
villages. Bioarchaeological analyses of skeletal remains from mission sites
demonstrates that even those who avoided death by disease were worn down by
the social, nutritional, and physical (labor demands) stresses of mission life.
Although friars believed they “could save souls, they could not save lives.”20
19 Hann, AHistory of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 145, 174, 190; Milanich, Laboring
in the Fields of the Lord, 157–60; Worth, The Struggle for the Georgia Coast, 13; John E. Worth,
Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida, vol. 2, Resistance and Destruction (Gainesville: University
Press of Florida, 1998), 10–13.
20 Milanich, Laboring in the Fields of the Lord, 157.
FIGURE 2. Locations of the four Mocama missions.
The Spanish mission system in La Florida was a colonial enterprise and an
outgrowth of a largely “secular political process.”21 While Franciscans were there
to pacify the indigenous population by converting them into good Catholics and
enculturating them into Hispanic culture, the Spanish colonial government also
expected the missions’ native inhabitants to provide economic and military sup-
port.22 The missions supplied St. Augustine and other Spanish communities with
agricultural produce and served as the prime labor force, thereby integrating the
converted Indian population into the Hispanic world system. In effect the
colony’s survival ultimately rested on the backs of the mission Indians.23
Flexibility in methods of conversion allowed Franciscans to adapt to local
circumstances and cultural traditions throughout the Americas. Friars placed a
high priority on instilling a Catholic sense of morality and excising native beliefs
and practices they decried as superstitions and petty magic,24 but other custom-
ary ways of living persisted. Thus, missionaries permitted certain traditional
activities to continue as long as they did not overtly conflict with Catholic doc-
trine, rendering mission life a localized blend of Hispanic and native lifeways.25
But as Michael Gannon points out, “the idyllic picture of Indians living in har-
mony and prosperity under the sound of the mission bells does not emerge at
many points in the records of the seventeenth century.”26 The ability of the
21 Jerald Milanich, “Archaeological Evidence of Colonialism: Franciscan Spanish Missions in
La Florida,” Missionalia,32 (2004), 341–45; John E. Worth, “Spanish Missions and the
Persistence of Chiefly Power,” in The Transformation of the Southeastern Indians, 1540–1760, ed.
Robbie Ethridge and Charles Hudson (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2002), 54.
22 Amy T. Bushnell, “Ruling ‘the Republic of the Indians’ in Seventeenth-Century Florida,”
in Powhatan’s Mantle: Indians in the Colonial Southeast, ed. Peter H. Wood, Gregory A. Waslekov,
and M. Thomas Hatley (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989); Milanich, Laboring in the
Fields of the Lord, 149–53; Worth, Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida, vol. 1, 123–34.
23 Tamara Spike, “St. Augustine’s Stomach: Corn and Indian Tribute Labor in Spanish
Florida,” in Florida’s Working-Class Past: Current Perspectives on Labor, Race, and Gender from
Spanish Florida to the New Immigration, ed. Robert Cassanello and Melanie Shell Weis
(Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009), 17.
24 Milanich and Sturtevant, Francisco Pareja’s 1613 Confessionario,28–32; Mauricio Damián
Rivero, “Creating Good Catholics: Francisco de Pareja’s Writings and Conversation in La Florida”
(paper awarded the Jay I. Kislak Foundation Kislak Prize, 1998), 4-6; and Albert William Vogt,
III, “Trust Yourself to God: Friar Francisco Pareja and the Franciscans in Florida, 1595–1702,”
Theses and Dissertations, Paper 2740 (2006), 36.
25 Milanich, Laboring in the Fields of the Lord, 130–56.
26 Michael V. Gannon, “Defense of Native American and Franciscan Rights in the Florida
Missions,” in Columbian Consequences, vol. II, ed. David Hurst Thomas (Washington, DC:
Smithsonian Press, 1990), 449.
Spanish to control and subjugate indigenous people in missionized areas of the
American Southeast ultimately relied on a process of negotiation in which mis-
sion Indians were active agents in the history-making process while simultane-
ously subjecting them to the Spanish Crown.27 Although accomplices to this
subjugation, missionaries, who favored a peaceful approach through religious
conversion, were often at odds with a government oblivious to Indian rights.
Missionization in La Florida worked best among indigenous groups who
were settled agriculturalists. From a Franciscan perspective, a stable Indian
populace—one that lived year-round in villages—was mandatory for successful
conversion. While the contact-era Mocama were largely sedentary, they appear
to have farmed far less than Guale and Apalachee Indians. But maize would be
grown in greater amounts under Spanish direction and become a larger con-
tributor to the Mocama diet as missionization took root. The small number of
friars combined with the infrastructural needs of the colony, namely food,
human labor, and protection, helped preserve Mocama settlement patterns
during the early decades of missionization. Thus, Franciscans took advantage
of the indigenous regional settlement system as it existed in the 1580s, in effect
only reorganizing the physical layout of certain villages. No new mission com-
munities were established apart from existing native villages. In fact, it was only
after disease and outmigration took its toll on the native population that major
changes in Mocama settlement patterns began.
Within La Florida, a mission was not only a church but an entire commu-
nity.28 Building a mission in the frontier entailed erecting a mission compound
in an extant native village, as Elizabeth Graham29 states, “to ease the transition
to mission life.” A compound likely included a church, convento for the friar,
and a kitchen, all constructed by native laborers. Churches, while apparently
following a general Hispanic design, were rather flimsy and built of upright
posts, hewn boards, thatch roofs, and clay floors.30 Some coastal churches had
27 Patricia R. Wickman, “The Spanish Colonial Floridas,” in New Views of Borderlands
History, ed. Robert H. Jackson (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998), 212.
28 David Hurst Thomas, “Saints and Soldiers at Santa Catalina: Hispanic Designs for
Colonial America,” in The Recovery of Meaning: Historical Archaeology in the Eastern United States,
ed. Mark Leone and Parker P. Potter (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press, 1990), 76.
29 Elizabeth Graham, “Mission Archaeology,” Annual Review of Anthropology, 27 (1998), 41.
30 Gannon, The Cross in the Sand, 39; Rebecca Saunders, “Ideal and Innovation: Spanish
Mission Architecture in the Southeast,” in Columbian Consequences,vol. II, ed. David Hurst
Thomas (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press, 1990), 527–42; David Hurst Thomas, “Saints and
Soldiers at Santa Catalina: Hispanic Designs for Colonial America,” in The Recovery of Meaning in
Historical Antrhopology, ed. Mark P. Leone and Parker B. Potter (Washington, DC: Smithsonian
Institution Press, 1988), 79; and Worth, Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida, vol. 1, 42.
oyster shell footers.31 Early on coastal villages likely remained largely unaltered
with native-style circular houses and a large round council house, although this
has yet to be verified archaeologically.
Although the size of individual polities varied across the vast Timucua-
speaking region, on average it is believed that each consisted of an alliance of five
to ten villages, with one settlement serving as the chiefdom’s administrative seat
of power.32 Again, the early frontier mission system was conveniently superim-
posed onto the contact-era settlement hierarchy with the “capital” village
becoming the center of evangelization. By establishing a mission among a series
of existing native villages friars were availing themselves access to a local pool of
potential converts. It also fell in line with Franciscan tenets that included bring-
ing Christianity to remote areas and helping the poor and afflicted.
A mission with a permanently stationed friar was referred to as a doctrina.33
These communities were under direct, daily missionary supervision. From their
doctrinas,men of the cloth traveled throughout the nearby countryside to preach
the Gospel. In nearby villages, a cross was raised and often some form of ramada
or open chapel was erected to serve the needs of the visiting mission priest. These
“chapels of ease” would be adorned during times of use with the materials nec-
essary for mass, baptism, marriage, or other sacramental rites carried there by the
traveling friar. Because such a settlement lacked a resident missionary, it was
described as a doctrina de visita or simply a visita by modern scholars.34
In essence, the doctrina and outlying visitas formed a missionary’s local
ministering district as he journeyed from one to another. The doctrina-visita
structure appears to have had its roots in Mexico and was used in other Spanish
colonies such as the Philippines; in the latter it has been labeled a cabecera-
visita complex.35 It appears that no Spaniards, other than a lone friar (and per-
31 Rebecca Saunders, “Architecture of the Missions Santa María and Santa Cataline de
Amelia,” in The Spanish Missions of La Florida, ed. Bonnie McEwan (Gainesville: University Press
of Florida, 1993), 54.
32 Hann, AHistory of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 73–84; Milanich, The Timucua,
156–60; Worth, Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida, vol. 1, 86–102.
33 Throughout the chapter, the term “doctrina” will be used in this sense. However, Bushnell
points out that colonial Spanish writers “were less discriminating, using the ‘doctrina’ in four dif-
ferent senses: for the accelerated program of adult indoctrination in the conversion, for the con-
vent-operated day school at one of the older missions, for any native town under the care of a friar,
and for the doctrine that was taught.” See Amy T. Bushnell, Situado and Sabana: Spain’s Support
System of the Presidio and Mission Provinces of Florida, Anthropological Papers of the American
Museum of Natural History 74 (New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1994), 95.
34 Bushnell, Situado and Sabana, 72; and Geiger, The Franciscan Conquest of Florida, 28.
35 John Leddy Phelan, The Hispanization of the Philippines: Spanish Aims and Filipino
Responses, 1565–1700 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1967), 47.
haps a lay brother in some instances) living at each doctrina, dwelled among
the Mocama.36 What an astonishing sight it must have been for the natives to
observe a wool-robed, barefoot foreigner armed with the simple tools of his
calling canoeing the creeks and wandering the trails that likely few outsiders
had ever traveled. Franciscans stoutly stood with one foot in the Indian world
and one foot in the Spanish world.
As for the political organization of these early mission settlements, accord-
ing to inferences based on documentary evidence, Timucuan chiefs benefited
tremendously from missionization, earning chiefly clout at the expense of com-
moner autonomy.37 The internal political structure of villages beneath the bell,
or at least the power of chiefs and other principales, remained intact to some
degree. Governance by chiefly polities during the mission period was more
than a passive vestige of the past.38 In fact, although native chiefs pledged their
allegiance to the Spanish Crown and accepted Catholicism, they displayed con-
siderable agency and maintained complete control over secular aspects of their
villages. In return for being accountable for the actions of those under their
leadership, chiefs received gifts from Spanish officials and were allowed certain
rights and privileges granted a Spanish señor.39 But when it came to religion,
friars held unassailable authority over the native laity and commanded their
conversion and indoctrination into the Catholic faith.
Both chiefs and friars had a say in the formalized Indian labor system of
colonial La Florida—known to modern scholars as the repartimiento.40 This
36 However, soldiers were stationed at missions on the very northern (Santa Catalina de
Guale) and western (San Luis de Talimali) edges of missionized La Florida, but none resided within
Mocama missions.
37 Bushnell, “Ruling ‘the Republic of the Indians’ in Seventeenth Century Florida,” 136–37;
and Amy T. Bushnell, “The Sacramental Imperative: Catholic Ritual and Indian Sedentism in the
Provinces of Florida,” in Columbian Consequences, vol. II, ed. David Hurst Thomas (Washington,
DC: Smithsonian Press, 1990), 483.
38 While documents allude to continuity in the political structure of contact and early mis-
sion period Timucua, it is unclear how much Mocama sociopolitical organization and village struc-
ture may have changed between the opening decade of the sixteenth century and when the
French/Spanish first document the Timucua in the 1560s. See Kathleen Deagan and David Hurst
Thomas, “Epilogue,” in From Santa Elena to St. Augustine: Indigenous Ceramic Variability (A.D.
1400–1700), ed. Kathleen Deagan and David Hurst Thomas, Anthropological Papers of the
American Museum of Natural History 90 (New York: American Museum of Natural History,
2009), 210.
39 Bushnell, “Ruling ‘the Republic of the Indians’ in Seventeenth Century Florida,” 139.
40 Before the repartimiento was formalized in the mid-seventeenth century, similar practices
operated within the early doctrina-visita settlement structure, with outlying settlements contribut-
ing surplus labor and produce to its affiliated mission. John Worth draws a comparison between
this early process and the contact-era, tribute-based political structure of the interior Timucua.
work requirement was administered by government officials in St. Augustine,
and it required missions to allocate single men on a rotating basis to build
public works or perform other tasks deemed necessary for the general good of
the Spanish colony.41 Thus, native labor became a regulated commodity that
fell under the purview of the colonial government,42 although friars in consul-
tation with village chiefs were responsible for determining exactly who and how
many men would go. Those drafted typically left their villages under the escort
of soldiers and village leaders for St. Augustine or some other destination.
Chiefs and other village principales were exempt from manual labor and thus
not subject to the repartimiento. As Amy Bushnell points out, this form of con-
scripted labor diverged from slavery in that “it was episodic and it was paid.”43
Payment was usually in the form of imported trade goods.
Across the mainland coast and barrier islands of Florida and Georgia are
the scattered archaeological remains of late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century
Franciscan mission communities. Unlike missions in California and Texas,
those of La Florida today lack any type of standing mission architecture owing
to the use of perishable construction materials. In terms of structures, often the
most archaeologists can hope for today is a buried clay floor, an arrangement
of postholes, or a patterned dispersal of nails, wall daub, or burials. A tendency
of archaeologists working in La Florida has been to focus on doctrinas. In the
balance of this paper, I would like to shift attention away from these main mis-
sion communities and explore the mission countryside of northeastern Florida
using both documentary and archaeological evidence.
In a letter written as a statement of current affairs in 1602, Fray Francisco
Pareja44 of the doctrina San Juan del Puerto listed nine visitas under his eccle-
siastical jurisdiction. In this correspondence he noted the distance of each from
Thus, in some ways the extant native settlement and political hierarchy remained in place with
Spanish St. Augustine becoming the new “capital” village within a much larger multiethnic chief-
dom. See Worth, Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida, vol. 1, 13-18, 35–37.
41 Bushnell, Situado and Sabana, 121-23.
42 Lyle N. McAlister, Spain and Portugal in the New World, 1492–1700 (Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 211.
43 Bushnell, Situado and Sabana, 121.
44 Francisco Pareja, “Letter to Blas de Montes, September 14, 1602,” Archivo General de
Indias (Seville), Santo Domingo 235, Woodberry Lowery Collection, Library of Congress, reel 2,
trans. John HannTallahassee, Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research.
his residence at San Juan and estimated that combined the ten villages had a
population of around 500 Christian Indians. None of the visitas was located
farther away than five leagues (13 miles), and seven were situated within two
and a half leagues or about six to seven miles (Table 1). Sarabay and Vera Cruz
were closest at one-quarter and one-half leagues, respectively. Each had some
form of “church, where once in a while Mass is celebrated and the rest of the
sacraments [administered] when I go to visit . . . [and] explain the content of
the law of God to them, inasmuch as I know the language.” But for the most
part, Indians came to San Juan “on principal feasts” to hear Mass and attend
Catechism lessons. Some Mocama at this time were able “to read and to write,”
as well as to “receive communion . . . and go to Confession.” As for the
Mocamas’ attitude toward conversion, Pareja proudly stated that “they have
converted with facility once the pains of Hell and the joys of Heaven have been
placed before them in the preaching.”
A similar letter was written by Fray Baltasar Lopez45 in 1602. Stationed at
San Pedro de Mocama, Lopez reported that the mission community there had
a population of 300 Christian Indians. In addition to Cumberland Island and
the southeastern Georgia coast, his proselytizing circuit included villages on
Amelia Island and the adjacent mainland of Florida. At this time, the later mis-
sion of Santa María de Sena on Amelia Island was a visita of 112 Christians in
the San Pedro district. He reports five additional visitas46 under his jurisdiction,
45 Lopez, “Letter to Blas de Montes.”
46 The other five villages that Lopez mentions are San Antonio (thirty Christians), Chica Faya
la Madalena (forty Christians), Pitano (ten Christians and other recent arrivals who wish to be
Christians), Utichiene (three Christians and the rest of the village desire to become so), and
Ycapalano (nine Christians in two houses).
TABLE 1. List of San Juan Visitas in 1602
Friar Pareja’s List Distance from San Juan Possible Archaeological Site
Vera Cruz 1/2league Cedar Point West (8Du63)
San Antonio de Aratobo 21/2leagues
Niojo (Molo) 5 leagues
Potaya 4 leagues
San Mateo 2 leagues Riverwoods (8Du11831)
San Pablo 11/2leagues Greenfield (8Du5544-45)
Hicacharico 1 league
Chinisca 11/2leagues
Sarabay 1/4league Armellino (8Du631)
with the six villages (including Santa María) containing a total population of
384 missionized Mocama.47 Three of the six San Pedro visitas appear to have
had churches, while the other three are referred to as “little hamlets . . . a
league and a half from one where there is a church and all these settlements . . .
assemble at the principal church of San Pedro for Easter and Holy Week and
the principal feasts to hear Mass and sermons and [to take part in] the proces-
sions and to receive the papal decrees, which are for all Christians.”
According to Lopez, beyond these visitas “San Pedro has other villages
toward the hinterland [that are] its subjects and tributaries and very close to
this island [Cumberland] like Cascange and eight villages that are called land
of Ycafui [Icafi].” He further states that he has “visited them many times” and
is instructing them in the ways of Catholicism “with many of them asking for
baptism insistently.” Lopez also notes that the independent hinterland villages
of Ibihica, located about thirty-six miles inland from San Pedro and outside the
Mocama territory, housed up to 700 or 800 Indians including adults and chil-
dren. These same hinterland Timucua are mentioned in Pareja’s letter, as are
the villages of Oconi further inland within or adjacent to the present-day
Okefenokee Swamp.
Combining information from the Pareja and Lopez letters, it appears that
about 1,100 Christian Indians resided at San Pedro, San Juan, and their visitas
in 1602 (not including the villages of Cascange and Icafu, where an additional
one thousand Indians lived). But as both Pareja and Lopez note in their letters,
hinterland Timucua, some situated a distance of “three days by trail,” were
coming to the missions daily wanting to become Christian” and that this trend
“was on the increase each day.” It is unclear at this point whether these moves
were permanent or if the groups eventually returned to their homelands. The
latter appears more likely because the founding of Spanish missions at San
Lorenzo de Ibihica and farther inland at Santiago de Oconi in the 1620s sug-
gests adequate numbers of Timucua still lived in those areas to warrant mis-
sions.48 Thus, a mass exodus of Timucua speakers from the hinterlands of
southern Georgia to coastal missions probably did not take place until the
inland missions were abandoned in the mid-1630s. Pareja concludes his letter
with a plea to the Crown to dispatch more Franciscans to Florida to minister
47 The 300 listed for San Pedro plus the 384 total from the six visitas give a grand total of
684 Christian Indians associated with San Pedro. Lopez, however, states “[f]rom this vicarage
[there are] seven hundred and ninety two.” The latter may refer to the entire population, while the
number 684 represents those who have been baptized.
48 Wor th, Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida, vol. 1, 74–75.
to these Timucua and to Guale Indians to the north.
It is still uncertain exactly when Christianized Indians began to abandon
living in visitas in favor of full-time life at doctrinas, but evacuation of individ-
ual villages likely occurred at different times prior to 1650. John Worth refers
to the process of drawing outlying communities into the principal mission set-
tlements as contraction (congregación) and views it as a Spanish response to
dwindling native populations.49 A 1617 letter to the king, authored by a series
of La Florida friars including Pareja at San Juan, indicates a 50-percent decline
in the native population over the last four years due to disease. The letter fur-
ther outlined the difficulties in ministering to a diminishing Catholic popula-
tion that lives away from the doctrinas in very small scattered communities and
requested that the king allow “these disordered [settlements]” to be “drawn
together” when necessary, provided the Franciscan prelate advised the gover-
nor on this matter.50
As for Mocama visitas, there are very few known references to them after
the 1602 Pareja correspondence. In 1606, a total of 488 Mocama from Pareja’s
parish were confirmed at San Juan by the Bishop of Cuba, but he only men-
tions leaders from four of the nine visitas documented in 1602, including the
chiefs of San Mateo, Vera Cruz, San Pablo, and Chinisca.51 This could mean
that the other five villages had been abandoned, or it might simply indicate that
chiefs of those visitas did not qualify for confirmation. The only known men-
tion of a San Juan visita after 1606 relates to an incident around 1627 in which
the governor of La Florida ordered Spanish soldiers and Indians to Vera Cruz
to arrest their female chief (cacica) for her act of rebellion and disobedience to
the King.52 It seems likely that Vera Cruz was abandoned after this incident,
and perhaps this fracas served as a catalyst for abandoning any remaining
Mocama visitas and consolidating their populations at major missions.
Although scant and ambiguous, existing evidence suggests contraction of vil-
lages in the Mocama province might have begun shortly after 1602, perhaps
intensified after 1617, and likely completed by 1630.
Unfortunately, Spanish accounts are conspicuously mute with regard to
the specific internal settlement arrangement of and daily life in early mission vil-
lages in the Mocama province. However, available documentary and carto-
49 Wor th, Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida, vol. 2, 27–29; and Hann, AHistory of the
Timucua Indians and Missions, 191; Worth, “Spanish Missions and the Persistence of Chiefly
Power,” 50-51.
50 Wor th, Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida, vol. 2, 28–29.
51 Hann, AHistory of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 164.
52 Canicares Osorio, 1635, in ibid., 191.
graphic information, albeit limited, does provide a degree of locational infor-
mation on several of these outlying mission villages. Drawing on this archival
evidence, tentative links can be made between archaeological sites in north-
eastern Florida and documented mission visitas, as shown in Table 1.53 Instead
of discussing individual sites, I would now like to offer a few general comments
based on our current understanding of the region’s early mission period
archaeological record.
Pottery and Other Artifacts
With respect to pottery, all early mission period sites (potential visitas) in
northeastern Florida contain San Pedro, which is not surprising because this
was the hallmark ware manufactured by the Mocama at the time of European
contact.54 The San Pedro series includes undecorated vessels as well as those
with cob-impressed, cord-marked, and paddle-stamped surfaces. To date, sur-
prisingly little European material has been recovered from these sites, but all
have yielded Spanish olive jar and some miscellaneous metals (typically iron and
occasionally brass). Colonoware, pottery made by Native American in
European vessel forms using local materials and manufacture techniques, also
has been found at visitas.55 At these sites quantities are small and usually
restricted to red-filmed plate or small brimmed bowl fragments. The recovery
of these wares is somewhat surprising since researchers have long considered
their use limited to friars and other Spaniards. The paucity of historic items may
in part be due to limited site excavations, or it could signify that only small
53 Keith H. Ashley, “Straddling the Florida–Georgia State Line: Ceramic Chronology of the
St. Marys Region (ca. A.D. 1400–1700), in From Santa Elena to St. Augustine: Indigenous
Ceramic Variability (A.D. 1400–1700), Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of
Natural History 90 (New York: American Museum of Natural History, 2009), 135–37.
54 Jerald T. Milanich, “Surface Information from the Presumed Site of San Pedro de Mocama
Mission,” Conference on Historic Site Archaeology Papers 5 (1971), 114–21; Keith H. Ashley and
Vicki L. Rolland, “Grog-Tempered Pottery in the Mocama Province,” The Florida Anthropologist
50 (1997), 51–66; and Ashley, “Straddling the Florida–Georgia State Line,” 130.
55 Richard H. Vernon, “17th-Century Apalachee Colono-Ware as a Reflection of
Demography, Economics, and Acculturation,” Historical Archaeology 22 (1988), 76–82; Richard
H. Vernon and Ann S. Cordell, “A Distribution and Technological Study of Apalachee Colono-
Ware from San Luis de Talimali,” in The Spanish Missions of La Florida, ed. Bonnie McEwan
(Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993), 418–43; and Vicki L. Rolland and Keith H. Ashley,
“Beneath the Bell: A Study of Mission Period Colonowares from Three Spanish Missions in
Northeastern Florida,” The Florida Anthropologist 53 (2000), 36–61.
quantities of Hispanic material culture, aside from olive jar, ended up in domes-
tic middens at visitas. Perhaps glass beads and other personal items followed
the deceased to their grave.
Each potential visita site also has produced quantities of San Marcos56 pot-
tery, a ware once attributed exclusively to Guale Indians. Archaeological
research, however, now indicates that the production of San Pedro ceased
sometime during the Spanish mission era, and San Marcos became the primary
ceramic series made by the Mocama.57 The most incontrovertible evidence for
a conversion to San Marcos ceramics is documented at the Mocama mission of
San Juan del Puerto (1587–1702), where San Marcos greatly outnumbers San
Pedro wares. The recovery of appreciable quantities of San Marcos pottery
from suspected visitas in northeastern Florida further bolsters the contention
that these wares were manufactured on site by local Mocama residents rather
than acquired from the Guale via trade. For example, the Armellino site, which
is the likely location of the visita of Sarabay, yielded approximately 65 percent
San Pedro and 35 percent San Marcos. It is important to note that there is no
documentation of Guale or Yamassee occupation at Sarabay or even on Big
Talbot Island, where the village was located.
While it is still unclear precisely when Mocama pottery assemblages began
to change and at what rate, ceramic data from alleged visitas suggest that the
transition to San Marcos was in progress, and perhaps completed, by the time
most (if not all) vistas were abandoned and their populations moved to the main
missions. It is likely that the ceramic shift was underway by the opening decade
of the seventeenth century. The replacement of traditional ceramic assemblages
with ones dominated by San Marcos was part and parcel of a broad-scale, time
transgressive transformation that involved the Mocama as well as the Guale,
Yamassee, and Escamacu groups to the north. It is what John Worth has recently
described as “the multiregional and multiethnic homogenization of aboriginal
ceramics [along the Atlantic coast] during the mission period.”58
56 Also known as Altamaha series pottery. See Deagan and Thomas, “Epilogue,” 209;
Rebecca Saunders, Stability and Change in Guale Indian Pottery, 1300–1702 (Tuscaloosa:
University of Alabama Press, 2000), 45–49.
57 Ashley, “Straddling the Florida–Georgia State Line,” 137–39; Hann, AHistory of the
Timucua Indians and Missions, 86; John E. Worth, “Ethnicity and Ceramics on the Southeastern
Atlantic Coast: An Ethnohistorical Analysis,” in From Santa Elena to St. Augustine: Indigenous
Ceramic Variability (A.D. 1400–1700), ed. Kathleen Deagan and David Hurst Thomas,
Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 90 (New York: American
Museum of Natural History, 2009), 198.
58 Wor th, “Ethnicity and Ceramics on the Southeastern Atlantic Coast,” 201.
Finally, an issue only recently considered by archaeologists working on
Spanish missions in the American Southeast is that of craft manufacture for
market consumption.59 In New Spain, California, and the American Southwest it
is well-recognized that friars promoted Indian craft production in order to gen-
erate wealth or revenue for the missions.60 Typically, the only discussion along
this line in La Florida studies concerns the selling of surplus corn by missionaries
to Spanish soldiers and colonists in St. Augustine and elsewhere as a means to
raise funds or earn credit to outfit and adorn missions.61 But what about craft
production, and particularly ceramic manufacture? As early as 1602, “Indians
from the surrounding region came to St. Augustine to work, meet the governor,
and sell commodities such as deerskins, chestnuts, and earthenware pots.”62
The erratic nature of Spanish supply ships and the reduced amounts of
ceramic storage and table wares arriving from Spain and Mexico further might
have contributed to a demand for native-made wares. The dominance of San
Marcos in Spanish contexts at St. Augustine is well documented and clearly
shows Spanish preference for this ware, perhaps suggesting that San Marcos
was produced in part by native potters as a market ware. Consequently, market
forces may have played an important role in the pan-coastal conversion to San
Marcos by the various native ethnic groups in Florida, Georgia, and South
59 Deagan and Thomas, “Epilogue,” 211; Rebecca Saunders, “Stability and Ubiquity: Irene,
Altamaha, and San Marcos Pottery in Time and Space,” in From Santa Elena to St. Augustine:
Indigenous Ceramic Variability (A.D. 1400–1700), ed. Kathleen Deagan and David Hurst Thomas,
Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 90 (New York: American
Museum of Natural History, 2009), 109; Mark Williams, “Indian Ceramics of the Spanish Atlantic
Coast: The View from the Interior of Georgia and South Carolina,” in From Santa Elena to St.
Augustine: Indigenous Ceramic Variability (A.D. 1400–1700), ed. Kathleen Deagan and David
Hurst Thomas, Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 90 (New
York: American Museum of Natural History, 2009), 121; Gifford J. Waters, “Aboriginal Ceramics
at Three 18th-Century Mission Sites in St. Augustine, Florida,” in From Santa Elena to St.
Augustine: Indigenous Ceramic Variability (A.D. 1400–1700), ed. Kathleen Deagan and David
Hurst Thomas, Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History 90 (New
York: American Museum of Natural History, 2009); Worth, “Ethnicity and Ceramics on the
Southeastern Atlantic Coast,” 176.
60 Paul Farnsworth, “The Economics of Acculturation in the Spanish Missions of Alta
California, Research in Economic Anthropology 11 (1989), 217–49; John McAndrew, The Open-Air
Churches of Sixteenth-Century Mexico (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965), 92; and
Dean H. Snow, “Spanish American Pottery Manufacture in New Mexico: A Critical Review,”
Ethnohistory 31 (1984), 101–02.
61 Bushnell, Situado and Sabana, 111; and Worth, Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida,
vol. 1, 168–69.
62 Kathleen Kole, “Allies and Adversaries: Understanding the Nature of Guale Political
Organizing through the 1597 Uprising” (master’s thesis, University of North Florida, 2009),
Carolina. Even if the production of San Marcos pottery was part of a craft ini-
tiative influenced by friars for sell or trade in the urban community of St.
Augustine, we should not ignore or downplay the role that native potters had
in selecting the technological and stylistic aspect of the ware. Nor should we
discount the possibility that trade or bartering of ceramic vessels occurred
among individuals without the direct involvement of friars.
Settlement Information
What about site structure or village layout? In other words, what did the
visitas visited by the friars look like? The most detailed distributional data
comes from Big Talbot Island, where the excavation of more than five hundred
fifty-centimeter-square shovel tests across the southern third of the island
demonstrated a contact-early mission period component that extended from its
southern tip north for a distance of approximately two thousand meters.63 The
intermittent and punctuated occurrence of high ceramic and shell density loci
over this expansive area suggests that the island’s contact/mission period com-
munity was widely dispersed. The core area was likely located at the Armellino
site, which is believed to be the archaeological location of the visita of Sarabay.
Block excavations at the Armellino site exposed fifty-two subsurface fea-
tures, the majority of which were postholes or refuse pits. One feature yielded
a Spanish olive jar, whereas thirty-six features (69 percent) produced either
charred corn kernels or cobs (albeit small amounts). The most conspicuous
feature was an arc-shaped, wall trench associated with a circular building esti-
mated at four meters in diameter. Encountered just inside the eastern wall of
the proposed structure was a nearly complete San Marcos vessel lying on its
side. The under side of the vessel was intact, whereas the upper side was scat-
tered into sherds, likely the result of nineteenth century plowing. Inside the
vessel was a complete Giant Atlantic cockle shell with a small square perfora-
tion. Features within the exposed interior section of the structure produced
corn, olive jar, and a large fragment of hematite. San Pedro pottery outnum-
bered San Marcos by a ratio of almost two-to-one, and other artifacts from the
excavation block included an olive jar, hand-wrought nails, a brass scabbard
tip, and a few pieces of lead and miscellaneous iron. Taken together the San
Marcos vessel and olive jar sherd tentatively date the structure to the early mis-
sion period, circa 1600 to 1620.
63 Keith H. Ashley and Robert L. Thunen, “Reexamining an Archaeological Survey of Big
Talbot Island,” The Florida Anthropologist 61 (2008), 141–43.
A similar dispersed site layout has been identified at Greenfield site #8/9
and the Cedar Point West site, currently thought to represent the archaeolog-
ical locations of the San Juan visitas of San Pablo and Vera Cruz, respectively.64
These sites, along with the missions of San Juan del Puerto and San Pedro de
Mocama, exhibit individual shell refuse heaps peppered over broad areas. Such
deposits have yielded San Pedro and San Marcos pottery, Spanish olive jar, and
charred corn fragments, although quantities vary by site, context, and extent of
testing. These same materials also derive from non-shell portions of the same
sites. A like patterning of mounded shell middens also characterizes earlier St.
Marys (1250–1450 AD) sites in the region, and the co-occurrence of St. Marys
and San Pedro in some middens suggests a developmental relationship between
the two pottery assemblages, though the exact timing and motivation for the
change are uncertain. In effect, save for the presence of a minor amounts of his-
toric artifacts, early mission communities (visitas) were essentially Native
American archaeological sites.
The general impression provided by preliminary archaeological testing is
that Mocama settlements were more dispersed than the conventional model
of a “fortified village” with tightly clustered houses, as portrayed in the 1591
DeBry engraving, purportedly based on watercolors by the Frenchman
Jacques Lemoyne. But the authenticity of these art works now is commonly
considered dubious.65 It is also worth noting that no documentary source,
other than the caption that accompanies this DeBry engraving, mentions the
existence of palisaded Timucua villages.66 In contrast, available archaeological
data on Mocama settlements appear to fall in line with Spanish accounts writ-
ten around 1600 that describe native Atlantic coastal communities as small
with the largest consisting of thirty to forty houses. Community inhabitants
were “scattered about with their little houses at intervals on the edges of the
woods [where] they hoe their little fields where they sow their maize and
some vegetables for their sustenance.”67 These dispersed households were
apparently tethered to a community center with a council house, chief’s resi-
dence, and chapel of some sort.
64 Ashley, “Straddling the Florida–Georgia State Line,” 135.
65 Christian F. Feest, “Jacques Le Moyne Minus Four,” European Review of Native
American Studies 1 (1988), 33–38; Jerald T. Milanich, “The Devil in the Details,” Archaeology
(May/June 2005), 26–31; William Sturtevant, “The Sources for European Imagery of Native
Americas,” in New World of Wonders: European Images of the Americas, 1492–1700, ed. Rachel
Doggett (Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1992), 25–33.
66 Hann, AHistory of the Timucua Indians and Missions, 88.
67 Ibid.; Worth, Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida, vol. 1, 85.
With respect to early mission period subsistence, midden data indicate a
continued orientation toward salt marsh and estuarine resources, mostly fish
and shellfish, but included turtles, deer, and other terrestrial animals. Also pres-
ent are the preserved remains of corn, including charred cobs, cupules, and ker-
nels.68 Corn first enters the archaeological record of northeastern Florida
around the same time as San Pedro pottery. Radiocarbon dates on corn indi-
cate that maize agriculture was added to the coastal subsistence mix no earlier
than 1450 AD, suggesting a much later date for the beginning of maize culti-
vation among the Mocama than previously assumed. The same may be true for
the Guale of northern coastal Georgia, where David Thomas’s ongoing
research, involving accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) dating and isotope
analysis on human bone “points to very late maize; no more than a century
prior to European contact.”69 It is worth noting that we tend to recover more
evidence of corn in mission contexts, perhaps reflecting increased production
under Spanish direction. At doctrinas archaeologists have uncovered European
domesticated plants and animals such as peaches and pigs, but to date only one
possible pig bone has been found outside a doctrina and that was at the
Armellino site (Sarabay).
For years it was assumed that all coastal Timucua manufactured St. Johns
pottery at the time of European contact and that its production continued
throughout the mission period. But intensive and extensive archaeological
investigations over the past two decades have demonstrated that the Mocama
were different. They made San Pedro ceramics when Europeans first arrived
and transitioned to the production of San Marcos wares during later mission
times. This realization has enabled archaeologists to reconstruct the post-con-
tact social geography of northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia with a
higher degree of confidence. While broad patterns are beginning to come into
focus, we still lack details; from the physical layout of individual visitas to the
intricacies of the mission experience. Moreover, we still do not fully know how
visitas and doctrinas articulated with one another, socially, politically, and eco-
68 Ashley, “Straddling the Florida–Georgia State Line,” 131–32.
69 David Hurst Thomas, personal communication, 2009.
nomically. With regard to archaeology, large block excavations are needed at
potential visitas to expose broad areas and identify community features and
overall settlement layout. We also must continue to search for primary docu-
mentary sources in the archives of Florida, Cuba, Spain, and elsewhere.
Ultimately, a comprehensive understanding of the Mocama and the effects of
contact, colonization, and missionization on their lifeways will only be achieved
through an integrated archaeological and historical research program.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Archival sources have documented the role of the Franciscan missions (1573-1763) in the colonization of La Florida. Is there corresponding archaeological evidence for the process of colonization? By comparing the pre-mission archaeological record of native peoples with that of their mission-dwelling descendants we can begin to discern such phenomena, including changes in agricultural production and practices, the resettlement and consolidation of native populations, bio-archaeological data, new burial patterns, and the accumulation of specific categories of European-made items.
The claim is periodically made for the existence of an Hispano ceramic tradition in Northern New Mexico. The accuracy of that claim is mired in local folklore and anchored more or less firmly in published archaeological speculation. Neither the origins, distribution nor time depth of such a tradition are known, but references to Spanish American pottery making are limited to the 1930s. This article reviews both the folklore and the speculation, not for the purpose of disproving or validating either, but in order to establish a framework for asking why and under what conditions Hispanos in New Mexico may or may not have made pottery.