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This Day in Georgia History

September 29, 1526

San Miguel de Gualdape Founded

Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon and 600 Spanish colonists (including African slaves and perhaps freemen) landed on the Georgia mainland opposite Sapelo Sound and founded the settlement of San Miguel de Gualdape. This was the first European settlement in North America since the Vikings’ exploration around year 1000 A.D. The colonists had sailed from the Caribbean island of Hispaniola in July aboard six ships. In August, they had landed at Winyah Bay on the Carolina coast, but failing to find an Indian settlement (which would be necessary for food until crops could be planted and harvested) they sailed southward. On the Georgia coast, Ayllon found Guale Indians. Although physical remains of their settlement have not been found, historians and geographers have utilized surviving navigation logs and other records to reconstruct the 1526 voyage. Based on the latest research, the San Miguel de Gualdape settlement probably was situated on the mainland of what today is McIntosh County opposite Sapelo Sound. One source feels the most likely location was within the present-day Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, which is located near the mouth of the Newport River facing St. Catherines Island.