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him, he decided to return, the bad state of his ships, making such action imperative.
History credits Columbus as having first set foot on the soil of what is now the Republic of Panama, on November 2nd., 1502, somewhere in the vicinity of the Chiriqui Lagoon. Thus we have two important dates in Isthmian history nearly coincidental as to the day and month; the discovery, and the declaration of independence of the Republic of Panama, Nov. 3rd., 1903.
“In the Name of God.”
Accounts of the newly discovered country, and the samples of gold having in due time reached the court of Spain, the fanciful name of Castilla del Oro, or Castle of Gold was conferred upon all that region extending from Cape Gracias a Dios, to the Gulf of Urabá, and in the year 1510, Diego de Nicuesa was sent over from Santo Domingo to govern it. He took along with him colonists to the number of 700, but during the voyage a tempest arose, wrecked some of his ships, and caused the loss of 400 of his men, while the others were in desperate straits. In the tempest the ships became separated and
some of them reached the coast near the mouth of the Belen River, while others brought up at the mouth of the Chagres River. After collecting his men, Nicuesa left the Belen River and went to the port of Bastimento, and when he had doubled Manzanillo Point, he shortly landed and said: “We will remain here in the name of God.” This the site of the town of Nombre de Dios, called into prominence at the present time chiefly from its having been one of the earliest settlements on the Isthmus, and ono of the most unhealthful spots in Panama. In this enterprise Nicuesa perished miserably along with the bulk of his followers.
Before Nicuesa's time, two other hardy navigators had added considerably to the store of knowledge concern
ing Spain's new possessions. One of these, Rodrigo de Bastida, headed an expedition that visited various parts of the Spanish Main, and discovered in 1501, a year in advance of the arrival of Columbus, that part of the coast lying between Cape Tiburon, on the Gulf of Urabá and the port of Rotrete. The other, Alonso de Ojeda, explored the whole northern coast of South America, and gave the country adjacent to the Gulf of Urabá, the name of Nueva Andalusia. He founded a town in the eastern part of the Gulf, naming it San Sebastian.
grew tired of the resistance offered by the neighboring tribes of Indians and very soon abandoned the colony, leaving his lieutenant, Francisco Pizarro, afterwards famous as the conqueror of the Inca empire, in possession of the pl.ce. Ojeda later distinguished himself as the founder of several places in Venezuela.
The Story of Balboa.
Many a child at school has fallen down on a hard history lesson, but rarely a dullard so great as to fail in the recital of Balboa's exploit. History accords it but a brief mention, albeit it is entitled to second place in the New World discoveries. Balboa fared forth adventuring at a comparatively early age. At 25 he voyaged with Bastida to the Spanish Main, and on his return to Hispaniola, the Hayti of the present day, he took up the pursuit of agriculture. His bent did not at all lic in this direction, and his principal harvest was a lot of bad debts. To escape these, and an occupation distasteful to him, he concealed himself one night in a cask, and bribed some of the crew of a ship lying in the harbor to take the cask on board. This ship happened to belong to an expedition commanded by one Bachiller Enciso, then fitting out for: a voyage to the South American coast. Balboa
was at this time a man of very pleasing appearance, and later, when at sea, his presence on board became known, he made such an earnest appeal to the Commander, that the latter reversed his earlier decision to throw him overboard. Balboa's representations of the richness of the country, and the fact that he had beea there before in company with Bastida, led Enciso to head his course for the Gulf of Urabá, and the colony of San Sebastian. Before reaching the mainland one of his ships became wrecked and through this accident, lost all the horses and pigs he had brought with him. Still greater misfortune awaited the expedition, for on its arrival, the town of San Sebastian was found to have been burned · by the Indians, and the colonists that were there scattered.
Balboa, nothing daunted, promised Enciso that if he would accompany him, he would take him to the western shore of the gulf, where another town could easily be founded, and where the Indians did not use poisoned arrows. The offer was accepted, and together with their men they marched into the territory of an Indian chief named Cemaco, whom they defeated and took prisoner. At the town of this chieftain, they founded Santa Maria la Antígua del Darien, in honor of the celebrated image at Seville, Spain. This place is noted for its having been the site of the first Episcopal See, and the oldest church on the American continent. Enciso was at the head of this new colony, but it did not last long owing in a large measure to an interdict received from the Crown of Spain prohibiting the traffic of gold with the Indians. About this time, too, Balboa and Enciso had a falling out, and the former, gaining the ascendancy, sent his fellow-explorer back to Spain in irons.
Balboa Seeks the Temple of Gold.
The whole country of the Castilla del Oro was now in Balboa's charge, and one of the first of his acts was to despatch Pizarro to explore the interior. About the same time he sent out a company of men to collect the survivors of the ill-fated town of Nombre de Dios. He then took the tield against the Indians, first capturing and imprisoning the chieftain Cuareca along with his family, and afterwards pillaging the lands of an Indian chief named Ponca. This brought him and his men to the territory of & nother Indian chieftain named Comagre, at that time probably the most powerful chief in the entire Darien region. Comagre lived in a state of magnificence, and had the mummies of his ancestors enshrouded in rich cloths, adorned with pearls, precious stones, and ornaments of gold. Although he had 3,000 warriors at his call, he received Balboa peaceably, and gave him the freedom of his domain. Comagre's eldest son named Panquiaco became very friendly with Balboa, and besides presenting him with 4,000 ounces of gold, and 60 women slaves, taken prisoners in battle with neighboring tribes, gave him the information that back of the line of mountains that reared their tops in the dim distance, was a nation very rich and powerful, having ships with sails like the Spaniarus, and using vessels of solid gold. He also told him of a temple of gold called Dabaibe, situated forty leagues from Darien, on the banks of a great river, emptying into the Gulf of Urabá (1). In the aboriginal belief, Dabaibe the mother of the Deity, which dominated the elements, and created the sun, moon, stars, and all things good:
Balboa's cupidity was greatly aroused by these tales, and returning to Santa Maria, prepared for an expedition in search of the golden temple. It is evident that at this period Balboa placed some credence in the Indian's tale of “ships with sails,” but had more faith in the existence of a temple of gold. It is quite likely that this temple had reference to the treasure house of the Inca emperors at Cuzco, an account of which, or less distorted, might easily have passed from tribe to tribe
to tribe until it reached the Dariev.
(1) The Atrato River.
His expedition in trim, Balboa entered the mouth of the Atrato, and passed up it until he reached the Rio. Negro, or Sucio, as it is commonly called on account of the color of its waters. Ascending this tributary he finally arrived at the lands of an Indian chief named Abibeiba, without having seen any indication of the object of his quest. He left here a company of 30 men to guard the place, and then returned to Darien, On arriving he found that the Indians under Cemaco, and five other chiefs, with a force of 5,000 warriors, and 100 canoes, had planned an attack on the colony, which plot was disclosed by one of their number named Fulvia. Balboa at once took the initiative, surprised and defeated the Indians, and left Cemaco dead on the field.
In Quest of the South Sea.
About this time there were internal dissensions in the colony, but Balboa succeeded in pacifying all parties, so that by the time reinforcements arrived from
from Spain bringing to him the title of Captain-General de la Antigua, he was ready to set out on an expedition in quest of the South Sea. He sailed from Santa Maria 1st. of September, 1513, taking with him 190 of his own men, some Indians, and a number of dogs. A short dis. tance on his way, the Indian chief, Cuareca, who had been baptized by the Spaniards, gave him guides, some Indian auxiliaries, and on the 6th of September, after attending mass to ask the blessing of God on his mission, he took the road to the mountains.
On the 8th of September, Balboa arrived at the home of the Indian chief, Ponca, mentioned in a previous expedition. Here he was the recipient of the first really credible information concerning the great sea to the South. Ponca informed him that the ocean would open to view after passing certain mountains, which he would show him. He also gave Balboa some curious, but handsomely: