1496 – Hernando de Soto (sometimes Fernando or Ferdinando), the Spanish captain and explorer, often, though wrongly, called the discoverer of the Mississippi (first sighted by Alonzo de Pineda), was born at Jeréz de los Caballeros, in Estre-madura, of an impoverished family of good position, and was indebted to the favor of Pedrarias d’Avila for the means of pursuing his studies at the university.
1519 – He accompanied d’Avila on his second expedition to Darien.
1528 – He explored the coast of Guatemala and Yucatan.
1532 – Led 300 volunteers to reinforce Francisco Pizarro in Peru.
1538-1539 – Sailing from San Lucar in April, he first went to Havana, his advanced base of operations; starting from there on the 12th of May he landed in the same month in Espiritu Santo Bay, on the west coast of the present state of Florida.
1541 – This river was reached, and the following winter was spent on the Ouachita, in modern Arkansas and Louisiana, west of the Mississippi.
– The first European to discover Mississippi River.
1542 – As they were returning along the Mississippi, De Soto died on May 21st in Mississippi River, Louisiana from a fever, and his body was sunk in its waters.
– Failing in an attempt to push westwards again, De Soto’s men, under Luis Moscoso de Alvarado, descended the Mississippi to the sea in nineteen days from a point close to the junction of the Arkansas with the great river, and then coasted along the Gulf of Mexico to Panuco.