In May 1539, Hernando de Soto landed in Florida with over 600 people, 220 horses and mules, and a herd of swine reserved for famine. Fired by his success in Pizarro's conquest of Peru, De Soto had been granted the rights, by the King of Spain, to explore, then govern, southeastern North America.
After wintering in Tallahassee, the De Soto expedition set out on a quest for gold which eventually spanned four years and crossed portions of nine states. This was the first recorded European exploration of the interior of the Southeast. Over 300 members died on the expedition, including De Soto in 1542. This tremendous effort forever changed the lives of the Indians who were infected with old world diseases, killed in battle, enslaved, made destitute and sometimes befriended.
Many scholars believe this was the general area where De Soto spent March 5-10, 1540 after crossing the Capachequi River, probably the Flint. The party cut trees, sawed boards, built a barge and crossed the river with the aid of a rope. From here the expedition traveled northward to the Chiefdom of Toa on the same river.