The first Greek to ever step foot in America

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His name was Theodore and he disembarked on the coast of Florida on April 14, 1528. He was a member of a Spanish exploratory mission.

On June 17, 1527, from the port of Sanlúcar in Andalusia, a fleet of five ships set sail, with the stern captain being the resolute Don Panfilo de Narvaez, destined for the western shores of Mexico and Florida, then colonies of the Spanish crown.

According to sansimera.gr, among the crew members was a Greek named Theodore, as recorded in the diary kept by the treasurer of the mission, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca.

Narvaez’s fleet, after many adventures, landed on the shores of western Florida, near the present-day city of Tampa, on April 14, 1528. There they were greeted by some Indians who showed them small pieces of gold. When the conquistadors asked them where they found them, the Indians pointed to the mountains in the interior of the area, where the Apalachee, a tribe of Indians, lived. The opportunity presented to them was unique. They immediately set off for the gold-bearing region, but along the way, many of them succumbed to illnesses, while the remaining ones found themselves in inhospitable lands and lost their way.

The Greek, as they called him, got them out of their predicament. Theodore must have had shipbuilding knowledge, as he managed to build boats, with which the gold seekers managed to escape through the tributaries of the Mississippi and on October 28, 1528, reach a bay, near the present-day city of Pensacola, quite far from their initial base.

The Indians of the area offered to supply them with water, and Theodore followed them. Since then, his traces have been lost, despite the efforts of his companions to find him. They assumed that Theodoros had ‘sold them out’ to pocket the gold himself.

Don Panfilo de Narvaez’s mission returned to Spain in 1537, ten years after it had departed from the port of Sanlúcar in Andalusia. Three years later, the secretary of the Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto, Gonzalo Valdez, was in the area where Theodoros had disappeared and was informed by Indians that he had been murdered for unknown reasons by his fellow countrymen.

The Greek community of Florida considers Theodore the first Greek to set foot in America. They even erected a statue of him on the beach of the city of Clearwater, Florida, the unveiling of which took place on January 8, 2005.

Source: sansimera.gr

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