Thursday, February 19, 2009

Walking in the Footsteps of Marcos Delgado

Spanish Expedition Marched from Sneads to Campbellton in 1686

By Dale Cox

After learning in 1686 that a French settlement had been established somewhere near the mouth of the Mississippi River (the actual location was in Texas), the Spanish governor of Florida sent out an expedition to locate and expel the interlopers.

Headed by Marcos Delgado, the expedition consisted of 13 Spanish soldiers and 40 Native American warriors. Heading northwest from Mission San Luis (now a historical landmark in Tallahassee), the party crossed the Apalachicola River near Sneads and eventually passed out of what is now Jackson County near Campbellton.

After spending a few days resting at Mission San Carlos, a Spanish settlement near the west end of the Jim Woodruff Dam, Delgado headed west on September 2, 1686. He arrived at Blue Spring, which he called Calistoble, later that day:
…Departing from the village of the Chacatos to the northwest on the road to Calistoble there is encountered at five leagues a spring of clear water which forms a river that has 48 feet of width. At the spring it is 36 feet in depth and the river below is from one yard to one yard and one-half in depth and is bordered by thickets of large cane about six inches thick.
From Blue Spring the expedition turned to the northwest and crossed the Chipola River somewhere in the vicinity of today’s Bellamy Bridge. He described the crossing place as a “clayey swamp and in its center a stream which has 36 feet of width and a depth of 6 feet.” Once across the Chipola, the explorers began to encounter buffalo for the first time.

Continuing northwest, Delgado crossed Spring Creek near present-day Campbellton and reached the abandoned site of San Antonio. He described it as being roughly 3 miles from the creek, a location that would place it somewhere near the present Alabama line:

…Continuing one league to the northwest we arrived at the chicasa (old town site) called San Antonio which had been a village of the Chacato nation, which has three springs of water within a short distance of each other.
Delgado eventually pushed as far north as present-day Montgomery, Alabama, where he visited with the leaders of Indian tribes that would soon consolidate to become the Creek Nation. The journal of his expedition provides an interesting window into the history of Jackson County.
Note: This account is excerpted from Dale Cox’s recent book, The History of Jackson County: The Early Years. It is available at Chipola River Book and Tea in Downtown Marianna or online at

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