The Maps That Change Florida's History (Kobo eBook)
The First European Colony in the United States Juan Ponce de León, the discoverer and first governor of La Florida, established the first European colony in the United States on the west coast of Florida in 1521. Although its location has never been determined, historians have theorized that it likely occurred somewhere in the Charlotte Harbor area. The settlement is believed to have lasted only three to four months. It was abandoned when conflict with the local Indians resulted in Juan Ponce being mortally wounded. The survivors took him to Cuba where he died of his wounds. In 1528, seven years after the Ponce de León settlement had been abandoned, Pánfilo de Narváez landed just north of the entrance to Tampa Bay with an expedition of 400 men and 10 women. On one of their first inland expeditions they encountered the Tocobaga Indians at their main village in today’s Safety Harbor, where they found many cargo boxes and European artifacts that may have been remnants of the Ponce de León settlement. The inland exploration by Narváez and three hundred of his men, seeking a non-existent large bay to their north, resulted in the deaths of all but four, who became the first to explore inland North America, finally reaching the Pacific eight years later. Rare and seldom-seen Spanish maps produced by the royal mapmakers in Seville in 1527 show the location and latitude for the Bay of Juan Ponce. MacDougald produces compelling evidence that Narváez was seeking the Bay of Juan Ponce, and that the first European colony established in the United States occurred in Tampa Bay, likely in the area known today as Safety Harbor in Old Tampa Bay, the site of the Tocobaga village visited by Narváez.
About the Author
James MacDougald is a Florida researcher and historian. His years of study of the early Spanish exploration of the west coast of Florida led to the 2018 publication of The Pánfilo de Narváez Expedition of 1528. Questions lingering after the publication of his book led to additional research and the publication of The Maps That Change Florida’s History.
MacDougald has followed his avocation of historical research since retiring as president of ABR Information Services, Inc., and as chairman of Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. He serves as a trustee of The History Council and of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. He lives in St. Petersburg, Florida and Beaver Creek, Colorado with his equanimous wife, Suzanne.