Juan Ponce de Leon was the first European to set foot upon these shores, somewhere in Charlotte harbor in 1513. In 1539, while searching for gold, Hernando de Soto sailed into Tampa Bay. The Indian tribes living there called their village `Tanpa`, which means `sticks of fire`. Early explorers misspelled the name when they drew up maps, and the area became known as Tampa.
The first white men traveled to western Florida for adventure. And they found it aplenty: half-naked natives, tricky waterways, impenetrable swamp, and fire-brewed stews. In search for gold and youth, they chose to kill some natives and curse the rest. They brought their own hogs, cows, and citrus to eat, then eventually left, di...Read More