de Soto 1539-1543


de Soto Bibliography
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Frontiersmen in Iron

Adelantando Hernando de Soto's conquistadors blazed the first European path into the Southeastern United States.  For almost four years, the largest, best equipped and perhaps best led Spanish expedition of the 16th Century trekked from Florida to Texas in search of gold and glory while encountering an advanced Stone Age culture archeologists call the Mississippian period.  Later explorers found only the traces of this once mighty culture, with de Soto's men being generally credited with being the catalyst of war and disease that destroyed a civilization that may have flourished for 1000 years.

Modern school textbooks make little or no mention of the expedition, while many modern historians paint the expedition in the darkest terms.  We present "the good, the bad, and the ugly."  Out opinion is that the expedition can be described in terms of both Conrad's Heart of Darkness and our contemporary Star Trek mythology.  Let you and your students decide.

Our program includes first person sketches of expedition members, participatory demonstrations of period native and Spanish technology, and the opportunity to handle matchlock muskets, crossbows, armor, and other equipment.  We also have several games and projects available that illustrate the Spanish mindset and the challenges of modern scholarship.

Click on below for photos of the conquistadors in action!

Armor Repairing at Parkin 98

Kent firing a matchlock musket - Parkin 98

Arquebusier at Parkin 1998

The de Soto team at Parkin 98

Tom leading the conquistadors at Old Davidsonville

Details of cotton quilted armor