Second Mission Period 1587
20. SAN DE MOCAMA
A mission established in 1587 by Fray Baltazar Lopez among the Tacatacuru inhabitants of Cumberland Is land. In 1602 Lopez gave the population of this village and island of San Pedro as 300 Christian having noted earlier that all of its inhabitants were Christians. However, he gave a total Christian population of 792, after listing those from various settlements that he served, who came to San Pedro for Mass on the principal feast days. Although the 1597 Guale attack on San Pedro was repulsed, the island's natives accepted Governor Canzo's suggestion that they move temporarily to the vicinity of San Juan del Puerto. During their absence the church at San Pedro does not seem to have been burned, as has been stated at times. Instead, the decrepitude of the structure by 1603 led to the governor's proposal that a new church be built with his help in reward for San Pedro's loyalty during the 1597 troubles in Guale. It is possible that the San Pedro mission began as early as 1585 as Fray Lopez recorded in 1602 that he had been working among the natives for seventeen years. On stopping at San Pedro in 1588, Juan Menéndez Marquez noted the existence of a church and that many of the natives had been baptized already. In recounting that episode, Ore remarked that the island was then thickly populated with native Indians, implying that in his time (1616) it no longer was. On his way north in 1606 Bishop Altamirano confirmed 314 Indians from San Pedro and other villages subject to its chieftainness and an additional unstated number on his return from Guale. San Pedro Mocama was mentioned for the last time on the 1655 list of missions that had friars. Some have theorized that under pressure from the Guale and Yamasee the island's Timucuan inhabitants were relocated southward between the 1650s and 1675 and that in 1675 the former site of San Pedro Mocama was occupied by San Felipe de Athuluteca. The distances recorded by Bishop Calderón for his trip from St. Augustine to San Felipe (twenty-one leagues) are compatible with the usual distance of twenty leagues given as the distance from St. Augustine to San Pedro Mocama. But there is conflicting evidence from another 1675 listing (that by Pedro de Arcos). Arcos spoke of going from San Felipe to the Isle of Mocama, which was three leagues from San Felipe, crossing en route the bar of San Pedro. As noted earlier, this Isle of Mocama seems, to be Amelia Island. Bishop Calderón and Arcos also differed by three leagues in the distances they gave for the passage from Guadaiquini to San Felipe. The continued presence of Mocama as late as 1678 on Jekyl Island, north of Cumberland Island, weakens the argument for the Mocama having been forced from the latter island by Guale-Yamasee pressure, a move the Spaniards would not have been likely to tolerate. The presumed site of San Pedro Mocama has been identified.
REFERENCES Dr. John H. Hann
"Summary Guide to Spanish Florida Missions and Vistas with Churches in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries"
© Copyright. John P. Walsh. April 22, 2002