In the summer of 1992, almost five hundred years to the day after Christopher Columbus set sail on the voyage that opened the Western Hemisphere to European powers, my mail brought copies of several colonial-period documents recently discovered in Cuban archives by noted historian Eugene Lyon. Scanning the eighteenth-century texts piqued my curiosity. In the pages of the parish records of the church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción in the town of Guanabacoa, the historians had located a death registry containing the names of thirty American Indians from Florida. Among them was Juan Alonzo Cabale, identified as an "Indian of the Timucuan nation." Timucua-speaking peoples had once occupied the northern half of peninsular Florida, but only a very few individuals were known to have survived past the 1730s.
Juan Alonzo's entry, dated November 14, 1767, noted he had been born at Nuestra Señora de la Leche, in St. Augustine, Florida. That Spanish Franciscan mission village was located on the northern edge of St. Augustine, capital of Spain's Florida colony. Today a Catholic shrine with the same name, Nuestra Señora de la Leche, still exists near the location of the colonial-period mission.
Other records examined by Lyon in the archives of the city council of Guanabacoa indicated that Juan Alonzo had been among the native peoples taken by Spaniards from St. Augustine to Cuba as a result of the international negotiations that ceded St. Augustine and all of