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Panzacola was a name of Native American origin (see below) given to Pensacola Bay and subsequently to the Spanish settlements built thereupon in the 17th and 18th centuries, specifically the Presidio San Miguel de Panzacola. It is the antecedent of the modern name Pensacola.

The word was first reported by Juan Jordán de Reina, who in 1686 encountered a group of Native Americans by the bay and transliterated their word for it, later referring to them collectively as the "Panzacolas."

It is commonly held that "Panzacola" was the name of the tribe (and further, that the word means "hairy people"[1]), but is unknown if this was indeed the demonym they gave themselves.

The name Panzacola became synonymous among the Spanish with the bay and its surrounding settlements. The settlements at Presidio Santa María de Galve, Presidio Isla de Santa Rosa, and Presidio San Miguel were all known alternatively as "Panzacola" during their respective establishments.

The San Miguel presidio was officially named "Panzacola" by royal decree in 1757.

The change of pronunciation to "Pensacola" seems to have occurred (via phonetic lenition) under British rule, as the English used "Panzacola" and "Pensacola" interchangeably; when the city returned to Spanish rule, "Panzacola" was again used exclusively until the 1821 cession to the United States.[2]


  • David Dodson. "Viewpoint: de Luna monument should represent historical truth." Pensacola News Journal, January 11, 2009.
  1. From the Choctaw pansha ('hair') okla ('people'). Frederick Webb Hodge. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1910.
  2. A. B. Thomas. "Report on Documentary Evidence Bearing on Early Colonial Structures in the Historic District."