23 February 2015

That De Soto Fellow Sure Got Around

De Soto Sign

Does the name Hernando de Soto ring a bell to you? It did to me, but to be honest, I’ll I knew is that he was some sort of explorer. I really wasn’t the best history student in my class. Thank goodness for places like the De Soto National Monument. They make it easy to learn a little bit of history and actually make it interesting. And now I know a few things about de Soto. Granted, I’ll probably forget them by next week. But at least, I’ll have it all documented here in this blog and one day when someone mentions de Soto, I can quickly look at this post and refresh my memory.

De Soto arrived in Florida in 1539 in a quest for gold and glory in the New World. He had made previous expeditions to Central and Southern America. This time around, King Charles V of Spain gave de Soto the right to conquer and govern La Florida. However, instead of finding gold and glory in Florida, de Soto died there in 1540. 

De Soto Memorial

You can follow the historic route that de Soto took through the Native American territories in Florida. As we’ve traveled around the area, we’ve seen a number of historic plaques and memorials to de Soto. I wish I had had the handy de Soto trail guide beforehand so I would have understood a little bit more about what we’ve seen. De Soto is a controversial figure, as the National Park Service points out. To some he’s a romantic hero and explorer. To others, he’s seen as a monster and madman. The trail tells the story of the clash between Europe and Native Americans. When de Soto was in Florida there were nearly 350,000 native people. Twenty years later, villages were abandoned, peoples were scattered and many had died from European diseases.

De Soto Nature Trail 2

You can read about the history of the de Soto trail in the visitor center. Sometimes, just reading facts can be a bit dry, for me at least. So, I really enjoyed the nature trail along the coast where you can learn more about the interaction between the Europeans and the Native Americans near where de Soto first made landfall. 

De Soto Living History

From December through April, you can also visit a living history camp where some very enthusiastic and knowledgeable folks put on living history programs about what Native American and Spanish life was like at the time. I’m pretty sure these folks paid far more attention in history class then I did.
Looks like they had soda pop back in the 1500s.

De Soto Living History 2

Of course, we like boats here at The Cynical Sailor, so we’ll leave you with pictures of a couple that they have on display.

De Soto Boat

De Soto Boat 2

What was your favorite subject in school? Were you one of those students who got straight As in history?

We learned a little bit of history at the De Soto National Monument in Bradenton, Florida on 4 February 2015.

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  1. I always like the 'social studies' class! or geography!
    nice tour today..thanks for sharing your pictures!

  2. Social studies was my favorite class in school. Probably why I went on to study anthropology in college.


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