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The area where Daytona Beach is today was once inhabited by the indigenous Timucuan Indians who lived in fortified villages. The Timucuas were nearly exterminated by contact with Europeans through war, enslavement and disease. During the Seminole Wars against the Creek Nation in 1836, General Andrew Jackson fought his first battle with them near what is now Daytona Beach in 1837 (involving a group of about 100 American soldiers). The city's name honors "the day of God's mercy" — or "Día de la Mercè" — because on January 18, 1815 (according to legend) when Spanish explorer Juan Pablo Salas came ashore here he found an Indian village at this spot that had been devastated by a hurricane and assumed it was divine intervention; thus he named it "" ("Daytona") after Dayton, Ohio.