The Melungeons blog

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Fall of Fort San Juan

Fall of Fort San Juan: "The Fall of Fort San Juan

By Rob Beck and Caroline Ketron

On December 1, 1566, Captain Juan Pardo departed from Santa Elena, the capital of Spanish La Florida, with a company of 125 men. Pardo's command was to explore the deep interior, to claim this territory for Spain while pacifying local Indians, and to forge a route from Santa Elena to the Spanish silver mines in northern Mexico. In January 1567, Pardo arrived at Joara, a large native town situated near the base of the mountains. Documentary and archaeological data indicate that Joara was in the upper Catawba basin of what is now western North Carolina. Pardo renamed this town Cuenca, after his native city in Spain; here he built a fort, San Juan, and left thirty men to defend the fort and to occupy the town. Earlier European expeditions into the interior had erected short-term, seasonal encampments, for example the winter camps that Soto built near modern Tallahassee, Florida, and in northeast Mississippi, and that Jaques Cartier built near modern Montreal, Quebec. Pardo, however, founded Cuenca and Fort San Juan in order to permanently expand the colony of Santa Elena into the northern frontiers of La Florida. In so doing, he founded the earliest European settlement in the interior of North America, north of the Rio Grande. Fort San Juan was occupied by Pardo's soldiers for nearly a year and a half, until shortly after May 1568, when news arrived at Santa Elena that this as well as Pardo's five other forts had fallen to Indian attack. With the fall of these forts ended Spain's only attempt to colonize the deep interior of northern La Florida.

Our research indicates that the Berry site--located along the upper Catawba River in Burke County, North Carolina--is the native town of Joara, location of Pardo's Cuenca and Fort San Juan. Sin"


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home