Document of the Franciscan Martyrs, No. 61


Provincial Historical Archive of Santiago de Cuba (AHPSC)


Correspondence of the Governors. Franciscans, Book 2, fol. 111ff


Lieutenant Governor Juan Ruíz de Mexía to the Governor of St. Augustine for His Majesty, which concerns the cruel martyrdom that happened to the young Indian Manuel, who was then 13 years old and although very small and slight in body had a large soul and zeal for the service of God, Our Lord, and who wanted to wear the habit of the serafic and blessed Father, St. Francis, and to enter the Order which he founded, beginning from a very young age to evangelize the Indians native to this land where he was born, and who met a martyr’s death when the English and the Creek Indians made an incursion into Ayubale and Apalache in the year 1704, with the testimonies of witnesses who were there in the preceding moments and at the very time that four warriors, who had taken the skin from his head and had cut off his hands, beat him and killed him by drowning him in the watering hole of the beasts.


Captain and Lieutenant Governor, Juan Ruiz de Mexía, to the Governor of St. Augustine in this province of La Florida, for His Majesty, who is Don Joseph de Zúñiga y la Cerda on the 1st of this month of March, 1704.


This new communiqué that I am making in this letter concerns more explorations made by Corporal Joaquin Urdaneta, who with the soldier Indalecio Núñez is going on patrol, having been dispatched to secure the route which we follow, and when they both had been sent in advance, they again came upon many other Indians of those who are lost/destroyed in this formerly rich Province of the Apalaches, which the English and their allied Indians left in great desolation and in a sad plight. And in this encounter with these Indians, who were being catechized by the religious Franciscans, the explorers received the sad news that there had been more deaths in this land, in a doctrina which began a short time ago and which they called the Doctrina of Mary Immaculate, which was around the Chines, where the Franciscans used to teach catechism, and the Indians whom they encountered informed them that this is all burned, as were many others which were throughout these lands that once were so rich and well-ordered and planted, but are now so ruinous and wasted that there is no town or doctrina left standing, nor seed which is not ruined and destroyed, so that a very serious famine will befall the entire country, which [once] enjoyed such prosperity.


And returning to the issue—when the explorers encountered these Indians who had escaped by concealing themselves so that the enemies would not take them with them to the Carolinas or Saint George, they saw that nearly all of them had a good understanding of Spanish and spoke it in a way such that they could be understood, and two of them, a chief who is named Tacalipai and another named Palisutiba, told us that when these Creek Indians arrived with some three English at this Doctrina of the Virgin Mary Immaculate, setting fire to the huts and burning the barns of maize that they had, they also demolished the chapel where the itinerant Franciscan used to say Holy Mass—sometimes two of them would come throughout these places—and the Creeks set fire to their chapel, and upon seeing that it was burning in flames, a young Indian who had the name Manuel tried to put out the fire with some tapestries that he had, because he did not have water nearby to do this, but when he was seen by the Creeks, who are the worst of all possible evils, he was seized by two of them and taken away, and he was shouting and asking them not to burn that chapel, because it was the house of God, and since he would not stop shouting they struck him on the mouth with such force that they smashed his teeth, but he continued to make loud utterances and to tell them that they were going to lose their souls by burning this chapel, because it was the house of God.


And Tacalipai and the other Indian Palisutiba say that one of the Creeks then told him that he should ask this of his God, who, if he had such great power, would extinguish the fire which was burning the chapel, because it was his house, or that he would give them water or send rain in order to put out the fire. And they say that this Indian Manuel, who used to help at Masses and used to keep this chapel in good order, wanted to enter the Franciscan friary and to take the religious habit, and that already he had spoken about this with the religious who used to spend time there, and above all with one whom they say was Friar Tomás Uriarte, who came from New Spain and Mexico, to whom he expressed his desire and zeal to serve God, our Lord, by entering the Franciscans. But he did not see his desire realized, because the Creeks, seeing that he raised his hands to heaven to ask help from God, cut off his hands and threw them to the dogs, and with great fury they descended upon him and were striking his face so forcefully and frequently that soon he did not have a face. Following this they pulled the skin off his head, hair and all, and with clubs they gave him such blows that they knocked him out. And following this they put him in a watering hole where the beasts and livestock drink so that he might die from drowning, and thus he gave up his spirit. And the water turned red with the blood from his head.


They say that they took about 50 men and about 40 women and children from there, but as for the elderly, they killed them because they did not have food to give to them, and in the same way they killed about 12 others who, not wanting to leave their town, offered them resistance. But a group was left behind, and the Creeks did not look for them in order to capture them again, because in those circumstances now they did not have much to eat, because they had destroyed everything they came upon, and they were no longer able to get anything from the land, since the animals had fled and the crops were destroyed. And in that group these Indians escaped, the leader Tacalipai and the other one named Palisutiba, who gave this entire account which I reproduce here for you and under which I sign my name so that you may see, Señor, the loss and maltreatment of this land by such bandits, who are all infidels, the English as well as their allies, the Creeks.


And in another account I am sending a relation and reckoning of the losses of grain and animals from all of this, so far as we are able to know.


And the veteran Joan de Ribas is conveying this.

Captain and Lieutenant Governor Don Juan Ruiz de Mejía



Don Joseph de Zúñiga y la Cerda, Governor and Captain General of this Province of La Florida and city of St. Augustine, for His Majesty, the Catholic King Philip V, whom may God preserve for many years, as Christendom requires.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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