The avarice of the Spaniards in Haiti had been greatly excited by the reports of a mariner who had accidentally visited the coast near the entrance to the Savannah River, where the natives presented him with gold and pearls. He also represented the masculine natives as athletic and fine looking. A commercial company was soon formed in Haiti to visit that country to obtain gold and slaves. Luke Vasquez D'Allyon, a wealthy colonist who owned extensive mines in Haiti, was at the head of the company. His chief object in the movement was to obtain slaves to work in his mines, for cruelty had almost exterminated the native men of the island. With two ships he sailed in a northwesterly direction in the year 1520, and arrived on the coast of South Carolina through St. Helen's Sound. The natives, believing the ships were sea-monsters, crowded the shores in wonderment. When they saw clothed and bearded men come out of them, they fled to the woods in alarm. Two of them were caught and carried on board D'Allyon's ship, where they were feasted, dressed in Spanish costume, and sent back. Their appearance so pleased their sachem, that he sent fifty of his subjects to the vessels with fruits and provisions. When the Spaniards took long excursions through the forests, he sent men with them as guides and servants. In some of these excursions they were presented with gold and silver, and pearls; and they were everywhere entertained with the kindest hospitality. They were rudely feasted and were as rudely serenaded with the music of the pipe and drum. Dancing-girls afforded amusement for them, and they departed with pontifical blessings from the dwellings of chiefs and sachems.
Having fully "spied out the land" of this simple people, and being ready for departure, D'Allyon invited a large number of the native men to a feast on his ships, and to engage in traffic. Having finished the trade, they were invited below, where they were well fed, and filled with strong wine. When all were made stupid by intoxication, the hatches of the ships were closed and the deluded men were carried away captive. Many died from vexation and starvation, for they refused to take food. One of the ships was foundered at sea, and Spaniards and captives were all lost. The less fortunate captives were taken to Haiti, where D'Allyon, deaf to the voices of mercy, humanity and justice, made them slaves. The story of this perfidy and wickedness, spread rapidly from lip to lip along the coast, even so far as the region of St. Augustine, and it aroused the natives to those acts of defence and revenge, which resulted in the wounding of Juan Ponce de Leon, and the expulsion of his followers from the land, the next year.
Instead of being punished for his crime against mankind, D'Allyon was rewarded as a discoverer of new lands, when he visited the court of Spain soon afterwards. He was also appointed chief magistrate of the province of Chicora, as the native South Carolinians called their country; and he was vested with authority to plant a colony there. Under this commission he fitted out three ships at Haiti, and with the mariner Miruela, who first saw the coast near the mouth of the Savannah River, he sailed for Chicora, and passing through St. Helen's Sound reached the continent near the mouth of the Combahee. There he opened traffic with the natives, who seemed to be indifferent to his crime, and when he had finished trading he proceeded to plant his colony on an island in the waters of Port Royal Sound, near the site of the present town of Beaufort, South Carolina.
A part of D'Allyon's company had landed and prepared to lay the foundation of a town, when a deputation came from the sachem of the Combahee and invited the Spaniards to a great feast at his village at the mouth of that river. About two hundred of them went to the banquet, and were treated with the most friendly hospitalities. For three days and three nights the feast went on, and at the end of it, whilst the guests were soundly sleeping, the Indians fell upon and massacred the whole of them. They had fully matched the treachery of the pale-faces, but they were not satisfied. Hastening to the site of the projected town, they slew many there. Some of the Spaniards escaped to the ships. Among them was D'Allyon, who, badly wounded, died soon afterward. Retributive justice had over-taken him on the theatre of his great crime. So perished the first germ of a settlement of Europeans that was planted in the soil of our present domain.
In the meantime the Spaniards had been making explorations and conquests westward of Hispaniola or Haiti. In the year 1502, as we have already observed, Columbus had sailed from Cadiz with four ships, to search for a passage to the Indian Seas through the Gulf of Mexico, accompanied by his brother Bartholomew and his young son Fernando. He arrived in the Caribbean Sea in June and soon afterward he discovered the coast of Central America, which he explored from the Isthmus of Darien far up the shores of Nicaragua.
Return to Our Country, Vol. I