DeSoto’s Journey Through the Wiregrass

SIZE
49' Long by 33' High

COMPLETION DATE
1994

ARTIST NAME
Art Rosenbaum

TALKING POINTS

  • In 1540, Hernando De Soto, with 900 soldiers, traveled from Tampa Bay in Spanish Florida north and west to somewhere in the Ft. Walton area, traveling north and then back east through south Alabama and Georgia looking for gold.
  • During their explorations, the Spanish explorers would often camp near an Indian village, or even stay in a village to rest and to restock their food supply. However, as they traveled north, De Soto proved to be very cruel and soon earned the hatred of the natives.
  • De Soto and his troops traveled north through Georgia, and crossed the northern part of Alabama into Mississippi. He died in that state and his men buried him by sewing his body in a hide with rocks for weight and placed him in the muddy waters of the great Mississippi river.
  • The troops returned to Spanish Florida without ever finding any gold.

Spain claimed Florida as being part of Spain from the early 1500s until 1819 when they ceded Spanish Florida to the U.S. Florida became a state in 1845.

In 1540, Hernando De Soto, with 900 soldiers, traveled from Tampa Bay in Spanish Florida north and west to somewhere in the Ft. Walton area. There they turned north and then back east, traveling through southern Alabama, and crossed the Chattahoochee into Georgia in their search for gold. It was there along the river that the Spaniards first encountered their ancestors of the Creek Indians, and found them to be friendly. During their explorations, the Spanish explorers would often camp near an Indian village, or even stay in the village to rest and to restock their food supply. Many of the soldiers married Indian maidens. As they traveled north, De Soto proved to be very cruel and soon earned the hatred of the natives.

There were many Indian tribes in the Wiregrass region that belonged to what would later be called the Creek Confederation. Their villages were located along the streams with several near the confluence of Omussee Creek, Coheelee Creek and the Chattahoochee River.

The Indians lived in homes they built from small trees, often plastered heavily with mud and clay, and roofed with hides or thatched with grass or reeds. Contrary to popular belief, there were no teepees in the Wiregrass region of Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

De Soto and his troops traveled north through Georgia, and crossed the northern part of Alabama into Mississippi. He died in that state and his men buried him by sewing his body in a hide with rocks for weight and placed him in the muddy waters of the great Mississippi river. They did not want the Indians to know that their leader had died. The troops returned to Spanish Florida without ever finding any gold.