First Spanish Period
First Spanish Period 1565-1763
The First Spanish Period settlements in Florida were dominated by military garrisons, missions, and strategic ports. The first Spanish governor, Pedro Menendez, attempted to establish colonial agricultural settlements. In central and eastern Florida, there were successful ranches which produced both livestock and foodstuff. Yet, this was not the primary purpose of Spain's Florida colony.
The Spanish also were heavily dependent upon the missions. Indians worked the fields to provide food for the Spanish. Missions were established throughout Florida and as far north as the Carolinas.
The Spanish method of gathering the indigenous Floridians into mission centers to convert them to Catholicism greatly contributed to their extinction as cultures by the early 1700s. Once gathered into a densely populated mission, they lost their customary methods of survival and became more vulnerable to epidemics. Spanish power struggles with the British led to the natives' further decimation. In a desperate effort to find Indian allies, the Spanish encouraged the movement of Creeks into Florida to fill the void left by the devastated indigenous cultures.