Panfilo de Narvaez set sail from Cuba on March 4th, 1528, with five ships, 600 men, 12 women, 80 horses, and a pack of greyhounds to explore the new world, but thanks to his greed he would never make it home.
Narvaez’s ship was tossed off course by a hurricane, and ended up in Florida’s Boca Ciega Bay. Although they were unfamiliar with the area, when Narvaez and his men went ashore they soon found a village that had belonged to the native Tocobaga. All of the Tocobaga had fled the village, and Narvaez and his men searched their empty homes, finding a gold rattle that would prove to be their downfall.
Despite being in a strange and dangerous land, Narvaez followed his lust for gold and chose to head inland in search of more. Soon the party encountered the Tocobaga chief who showed Narvaez the dead Spanish bodies that had been washed ashore during the storm. The Tocobaga had wrapped the dead in deer skin, which offended the fiercely Christian Narvaez. In response, Narvaez chopped off the chief’s nose and fed the chief’s mother to his greyhounds.
As Narvaez’s party moved northward, into present day Tallahassee, they ran into the Apalachee tribe. After Narvaez insulted the Apalachee chief and then tried to kill the tribe, he was driven back by the Apalachee. Narvaez and his party made the decision to build rafts and sail to Mexico, but the explorer never made it there.
In the end only four members of the initial landing party survived, but the site of their calamitous arrival is still remembered with a memorial sign among the remaining mounds of the Tocobaga which give the site its name.
Know Before You Go
The memorial sign is visible from Park Street, just south of 22nd Avenue.