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First Mission Period 1566 - 1587

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11. ESCAMACU-ORISTA

The names of distinct twin villages located on an island a short distance upriver from Santa Elena. The village of Orista, named for the then head chief of the Santa Elena region, was visited by Menéndez in April of 1566. A blockhouse or fort was built in Orista's village prior to June, of 1568 and its soldiers were a source of friction with the natives. By the turn of the century a chief named Orista was living farther south along the Georgia coast and the Orista seem to have disappeared from the Santa Elena region. Escamacu was the village in which Fr. Rogel lived and probably the one in which he worked primarily, although his residence is given at times as Orista. Rogel described the village as five leagues from Santa Elena. Rogel worked there unsuccessfully for eleven months. A house and small adjoining chapel were built for him and for several young lay catechists who accompanied him (apparently by Spaniards from Santa Elena). Rogel pulled down those structures before his withdrawal in mid-1570. In his work on the Jesuit missions in Florida Zubillaga mentioned a garrison at Escamacu as well as at Orista, but in Rogel's letters there is no mention of soldiers other than those at Orista. The two sites were possibly close enough for one to speak of the soldiers at Orista as being at Escarnacu as well.

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REFERENCES Dr. John H. Hann
"Summary Guide to Spanish Florida Missions and Vistas with Churches in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries"


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© Copyright. John P. Walsh. April 21, 2002