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THE SECOND CENTURY OF SETTLEMENT
IN SPANISH ST. AUGUSTINE, 1670-1763
SUSAN R. PARKER
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
This dissertation is dedicated to my children:
Christopher, Amanda, Robert
As with many areas of life, a dissertation is the product of the efforts
and concern of many persons. I am indebted to earlier archival researchers,
abstractors, and indexers whose work and painstaking detail facilitated my
research efforts. Professor Michael Gannon, who supervised this
dissertation, guided and vastly improved my project. He endured the tedium
of reading every word of several drafts and commented in both breadth and
detail. Professors Murdo MacLeod, Kathleen Deagan, and Anthony Oliver-
Smith helped shape my work with their specific remarks and suggestions as
well as their wealth of research and publications. I was fortunate that for
several years a consultation with Professor Eugene Lyon was only a few old-
St. Augustine-sized blocks from my office. Meetings with him were always
both pleasurable and enlightening.
Many others helped with their interest, knowledge, expertise, and
creative suggestions and ideas: Bruce Chappell and James Cusick at the
P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History, University of Florida; Charles Tingley,
Mary Herron, Dorothy Lyon and Leslie Wilson at the St. Augustine Historical
Society Library; David Coles at the Division of Archives, Florida Department
of State; Joe Knetsch at the Bureau of State Lands, Florida Department of
Environmental Protection. Luis Arana, Bruce Piatek, and Stanley Bond
provided their knowledge and encouragement. An Albert W. Beveridge Grant
from the American Historical Association assisted in my research.
Two colleagues and very dear friends, Jane Landers and Patricia
Griffin, offered scholarly insight, suggestions and affectionate concern. My
friends, Nancy Hamilton and Grace Anna Paaso, performed well as sounding
boards and sympathizers. A long-time co-worker and good friend, Betty
Galipeau, generously proofread the manuscript. My dear Mal Haughton
volunteered for tedious tasks in order to free up my time and gently urged me
on when I sagged. And, there is long-suffering Robert, my youngest child,
whose lot it was to live with me throughout the entire project.
I appreciate you all.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............................................. iii
ABSTRACT ..................... ................. vii
1 INTRODUCTION ........................................ 1
P eriodization ....................... ................ ...................... ..... 5
R regional C ultures ............................................................... 8
Documentary Sources ....... ............................................. 14
Notes ..... ............................. ........ .............. 23
2 "LA FLORIDA'S" FIRST CENTURY ............................... 29
N o te s ....................... ................... ........ ..................... 3 6
3 ASSIMILATED NATIVE AMERICANS:
FLORIDA'S "URBAN INDIANS"................................... 38
Retreat and Relocations .............................. ................ 47
From Village to Town; from Ward to Citizen ..................... 51
Social A alliances ............................................ ................. 61
Flexible Racial Classification ........................ ................. 64
Conclusions .............. ............................................ 67
N o te s ................... ...................................................... 7 0
4 ARCHITECTURE ......... .......................... ... ................ 77
New Men, New Iberian Regional Traditions ..................... 80
Buildings as Detailed By Those Who Knew Them Best...... 87
C conclusions ....... ............................................... ................. 98
Notes ............ ............................... ..................- 104
5 PROVIDING A HOME .... ...................... ........................109
C conclusions .......................................... .................... ...... 128
N o te s ................................................................................... 13 0
6 PERSONAL POSSESSIONS ........................ ................ 137
Furnishings ................................................ ................... 139
Implements and Containers .......... .............................. 144
Textiles and Clothing .......................................................... 147
Jew e lry ..................................... .................................... 14 9
Building Materials ............ ....... ................. 150
S la v e s ......................... ....................................................... 1 5 2
Livestock ............. ................................................ 156
Transportation ..... ....................................... ................... 157
C conclusions .......................... ......................................... 159
Notes ....... ............................... 168
7 FO O D ....................................................... ................... 173
The Food Supply ................ ........................................... 176
Conclusions .......... ................................................ 182
N o te s ......................................... ....... .............. ................... 18 3
8 RETAILING AND PERSONAL FINANCE ........................ 186
Debts and Debtors ....... ............................................... 189
R eta iling .................... .......................... .................... 194
Stores and S hops ................................................................ 204
C conclusions .................................................... .................... 206
N o te s ................................................................................... 2 1 1
9 CONFRATERNITIES IN SPANISH FLORIDA .................. 216
Functions and Ceremonies ............................................... 224
Chapters and Their Members .......................................... 225
Financial and Performance Obligations .......................... 231
Material Wealth of the Confraternities .............................. 239
Conclusions ............. ............................................. 245
Notes .. ............ ................................................... 247
10 CONCLUSIONS ...................................................... .......... 253
BIBLIOGRAPHY .. ................................... 266
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .............................. ................... 280
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
THE SECOND CENTURY OF SETTLEMENT
IN SPANISH ST. AUGUSTINE, 1670-1763
Susan R. Parker
Chairman: Michael V. Gannon
Major Department: History
Residents of Spanish Florida and its capital, St. Augustine,
conducted their lives guided and constrained by the strong social institutions
of the Roman Catholic Church and the army. The primacy of church and
state has overshadowed the private lives of the residents in the historical
literature of colonial Florida as it did in the colonial era itself. This study
relies on information written or provided by the individuals themselves,
rather than by officials or churchmen, to describe the personal and private
aspects of life. As a counterpoise to scholarly emphasis upon minority or
peripheral citizens, this study focuses primarily on ordinary, white (Euro-
American) colonists and assimilated non-whites. It examines the topics of
assimilation, property ownership, private buildings, personal possessions,
interpersonal financial arrangements, and small-scale business activities,
food, and parishioners' religious organizations.
After a century of permanent Spanish settlement in the southeast
region of North America, English colonists established South Carolina in
1670. The Second Century of Settlement became an era of mutual enmity
and alert for the residents of the southeast. Native American groups
simultaneously faced more pressures and also benefitted from new leverage
with the advent of South Carolina. Spain delivered new fighting men, who
brought their various Iberian regional cultures into Florida and to its
generations of American-born residents.
This dissertation adds to the study of the role of European regional
donor cultures upon the development of regional cultures in the New World.
Scholars have viewed the cultural differences within Spanish Florida through
the wider, more overt lens of race; the transplantation of Iberian cultural
diversity has hardly played a role in analysis. Florida's difference from North
American Anglo colonies lay as well in its service-based, cash economy of
the military regime rather than in an export-based agricultural economy.
This study presents Spanish Florida as an essential element of the
history of the colonial southeast. It depicts changes in everyday life brought
about in the Second Century by the permanent proximity of an enemy, the
introduction of new regional cultures, and the expansion in the Atlantic world
of goods and commerce.
It would be greatly inconvenient
if anyone else might settle in Florida.
-Pedro Men6ndez de Avil6s, 1565
The history of the colonial southeast differs from that of the rest of
eastern North America.' Typically, histories of the colonial period reduce the
Spanish presence in the continent to merely an extension of the original
conquistadors' adventures. The presence of the Spanish appears as a
transitory activity in the southeastern region, with colorful mention of ill-fated
explorers followed by a sentence or two noting the founding of St. Augustine
and the colony of Florida in 1565. Whether survey texts or monographs,
these histories give few words and little importance to Spanish settlements
that lasted continuously for two years short of two centuries, from 1565 to
1763. In fact, permanent Spanish presence in the southeast had achieved
the century mark by the date when English settlers initiated their colony of
South Carolina in the region in 1670.
A dismissive and overly succinct treatment of the Spanish presence
diminishes the complexity of relationships in the region, and developments in
the English settlements thus seem to take place in a splendid isolation rather
than in the international environment which was indeed the colonial reality.2
Not only is Spanish activity almost unseen historiographically, but without
adequate consideration of Spanish activities, the Carolina colonial experience
is thus less filled out than it should be. Florida is often portrayed as a block to
English expansion to be overcome, but seldom is Florida's existence seen as
shaping the development of Carolina itself, although Carolina's settlers did
indeed incorporate adaptive measures by virtue of the Spanish presence.3
Historian Betty Wood credits Spanish Florida's presence as a major
factor in the debate over use of slave labor at the time of the establishment of
British Georgia in 1733. Georgia's founding trustees saw Spanish Florida in
the 1730s as a runaway slave haven and as an incendiary force to foment
slave revolts. Wood asserts that the trustees made the decision against
slavery as much because of a pragmatic concern for the potential loss of
capital invested in enslaved laborers and the dangers to settlers as they did
because of any philosophical tenets about labor. By the middle of the 1740s
the trustees' perception of a weakened Florida encouraged them to
reconsider the original prohibition against slavery.4 Permanent French
settlements on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, beginning in 1699, added to
the complexities of colonial development in the entire region. Extant Spanish
and English settlements now had to deal with the French as well as each
other. Native Americans acquired another element to incorporate in their
survival strategies as they played the European powers off against each
other. European and Native American diplomacy took on a multilateral
perspective rather than the more nearly bilateral division prior to the French
Studies of Native Americans in the southeast have paid more attention
to the multinational presence in the southeast than have those concerned with
white or Euro-American settlement. Many recent historical and
anthropological studies of Spanish Florida have focused on the lives of the
Native Americans and the changes within native societies following contact
with Europeans, while the white or European society has received little
attention. Our own contemporary emphasis on diversity and upon eliciting the
history of minorities has left us with a picture that is better developed for what
today constitutes minorities (although the groups were often not numerical
minorities during the period studied) than for that of colonial Euro-American
society.5 Yet changes were always developing within white societies as well.
The current focus on ethnic legacies among today's minorities has also turned
the focus away from assimilation by non-whites into the dominant culture.
This study presents a description and interpretation of Spanish Florida
as an essential element of the history of the colonial southeast It depicts the
changes and practices which developed in or were introduced into Florida
following the arrival of the English and which were responses to the English
presence. Without Florida's existence, South Carolina would have developed
in a different manner. Without South Carolina's inception, Florida likewise
would havebeen different. Both colonies evidenced their mutual fear of the
other by erecting defensive walls around their capitals. Carolinians had
begun construction of Charleston's wall by 1697. Floridians tarried until
1706, adding their wall as they rebuilt St. Augustine after Carolinians had
burned the Spanish town in 1702.6
An enlarged and elaborated portrayal of Florida's society provides a
lens for viewing other contemporary colonial societies and locales as well as
for increasing the knowledge base and understanding of the Spanish colony
itself. A depiction of the society in Florida which developed in ways which
were different from other areas of both British America and Spanish America
fosters new questions about those other areas in the context of alternative
colonial developments. Florida's differences did not just lie in its Iberian
roots, but also in the fact that it did not become a colony with an export-
based, agricultural economy despite founders' plans and hopes. The roles of
work and labor, real and personal property, developed within the context of
Florida's economic base, wherein these assets served a different function
than in an agricultural economy. Florida also developed from and within in a
seminal European-based culture which was different than many other areas.
The course of Spanish Florida offers historians the opportunity to examine a
service-based, cash economy as a comparison to the more nearly self-
sufficient, agricultural societies in British America and other areas of Spanish
and also French America.
This study seeks to describe the society that developed in the
southeast in the context of regional realities. Thus its temporal boundaries
match local or regional changes rather than those originating in Europe.
Employing the date of 1670 as a point of beginning recognizes the changes
wrought by the arrival of the English and permits the ease of using a common
temporal point for analysis of activities in both the English and Spanish
Spanish Florida's longevity in the region and on the continent is clearly
illustrated when we recall that children who had been founders of the Florida
colony in 1565 were themselves grandparents and great-grandparents when
English settlers stepped ashore at Jamestown and Plymouth in the early
1600s.8 Seldom are the Englishmen's planting of South Carolina in 1670 and
its development portrayed in the context of that English colony's proximity to
the existing Spanish colony and the latter's already established influence in
the southeast. Yet, Carolinians concerned themselves with threats and
attacks from the Spanish in Florida as well as from Native Americans. The
defenses of both St. Augustine and Charleston revealed that each prepared
to fend off a European enemy fighting in the European style. In both towns,
fortifications and entrenchments resembled simplified versions of European
Florida's Iberian founders intended for the colony to be a profitable
enterprise. Instead, the Spanish monarch had to assume financial
responsibility for the viability of the Florida colony in 1571. A century later,
the Spanish crown had to respond vigorously to fend off threats to the realm
throughout Spanish America.9 In the middle of the seventeenth century the
crown increased its concern and thereafter its attention and funding to the
vulnerable areas. Royal decrees allocated monies to finance physical
improvements and additions to fortifications and relocated fighting men to the
besieged or vital areas.
It was the founding of the English colony of South Carolina in 1670 that
especially menaced Spanish Florida. Defensive remedies of additional
money and men sent by the Spanish crown impelled the lives of the ordinary
colonists to take a new direction in the second century of Spanish settlement.
Florida's white residents, especially the American-born criolloss) colonists,
became more oriented toward Iberia, toward the metropolis, with the influx of
men from the homeland (peninsulares) and the new men's enlarged influence.
Arriving white colonists, who were mostly male, Native Americans, and
residents of African descent, found new roles offered to them within the
reinvigorated defense structure. For subordinated groups, the new roles
translated into greater access to goods and enlarged relationships with
members of the dominant society, that is the society of persons of Iberian
descent. The defensive actions brought about changes in the lives of the
residents of all races and racial mixtures.
Many studies of Spanish Florida employ the beginning years of the
eighteenth century as a defining point. For studies which focus on
international politics or on imperial activities and policies, the year 1700
serves well. A new dynasty laid claim to the Spanish throne upon the death of
Spain's childless Charles II and a subsequent war to decide the succession
ensued. The Bourbon family, triumphant in its grasp for the throne, brought
changes in Spain's imperial policies and introduced amity with France by
virtue of close kinship of the kings of the two nations.10
Crown decisions regarding Florida which resulted in the colony's
reorientation toward the metropolis began, however, while a Hapsburg
monarch still occupied the throne of Spain. The changes in direction for
Spanish Florida predated the War of Spanish Succession and its
accompanying destruction in Florida and predated Spanish colonial reforms
initiated by the victorious Bourbon family although these events are usually
invoked as the markers for periodization. The year 1702 has served as a
distinctive marker for the analysis of architecture in Spanish Florida. While
1702 brought destruction of the buildings in St. Augustine and at the
missions, in the capital the replacement buildings incorporated ideas that had
already been introduced and were holdovers from before the conflagration.
In 1763 the transfer of Florida to Great Britain brought more than a
change of sovereigns. The attendant departure of Spanish colonists
sundered lives and regional patterns and marked the end of the Second
Century of Settlement. The changes that began in the 1670s and continued
until Florida's abrupt transfer to Great Britain validate the concept and
periodization of "the second century of settlement"-a century characterized by
persistent conflict, new men and their new traditions entering the colony, and
the simultaneous expansion and growth of trade in the Atlantic world.
This study of the southeast fits with the recent emphasis on the role of
European regional donor cultures upon regional development in the New
World as well as adding an element to the larger transatlantic analysis.
Invoking the idea of the influence of new (that is, arriving) European regional
cultural factors in the Spanish southeast builds upon works by scholars
seeking to explain the regional diversity which developed in Anglo America.
Historians Bernard Bailyn, Jack P. Greene, and David Hackett Fischer and
cultural geographer D. W. Meinig examine relationships between components
brought from European donor regions and their manifestations in the
American colonies. These scholars distill and assess the variations of
multiple, but consistent, elements that were transported and established by
immigrating generations into different areas of North America. Meinig looks at
cause, citing Michael Kammen's remark that "colonials didn't come from
Europe. They came from [regions.]" Focusing on effect, Bailyn asserts that
"the colonies' strange ways were only distensions and combinations of
elements that existed in the parent cultures." In the Americas these elements
"were released, fulfilled-at times with strange results that could not have
been anticipated."" Greene's finer focus looks at the transference of political
and intellectual thought from England to America. He explains dissimilar
developments among the various American regions and colonies as resulting
from the particular state of ideas in the home islands at the time of the
founding in the New World. Thus New England and South Carolina began as
quite different colonies because of the different premises carried into each of
these colonies at inception. In other words, they would have been different
even if the natural environments were more alike.12
Fischer's use of the concept of cultural hearths and the sequential
arrivals of their components at different times into different American regions
is especially pertinent for the study of the Spanish southeast. Fischer
maintains that the series of implantations fashioned differing characteristics
within British America. Four discrete combinations of a particular region of
the British Isles feeding immigrations which occurred at a particular period of
time resulted in four identifiable cultures in the British colonies, which have
persisted into the present.13 The four folkways Fischer discerns are: English
Puritans to New England, 1629-41; cavaliers and indentured servants to the
Chesapeake, 1642-75; Quaker migration to the Delaware Valley, 1675-1725;
British borderland inhabitants to the American backcountry, 1717-75.
In Florida too there was a sequence of immigration from Iberia, but
unlike the British colonies, the later arrivals in Florida came into an already
Europeanized area. Historians of Spanish Florida have paid little attention to
the influence of immigrants arriving in the eighteenth century who came with
cultural traditions which had developed in different regions than those of
Florida's founders, who had arrived in the sixteenth century. Cultural
differences within the Florida colony and among its residents have been
viewed through the wider and more overt lens of race, especially Native
American vis-A-vis European. The transplantation of the cultural diversity that
existed within Iberia has played hardly a role. Theodore Corbitt's study of St.
Augustine's population dealt with the size of the population and the birth and
death rates, but was not concerned with the Iberian regional origins of
immigrating persons. Kathleen Hoffman uses racial categories as the cultural
categories. Thus persons of European ancestry were placed within a single
category whether their origin was Iberian or Spanish American, with no
discernment by regions.14
Spanish America displayed more colonial uniformity than Anglo
America and that has lessened the questioning of the role of Iberian regional
diversity within the former Spanish empire. The ubiquity of dogma, ritual, and
accoutrements throughout the Roman Catholic Church made for religious
homogeneity throughout the Spanish world--in Europe, in the Americas, in
Asia. The uniformity of the singular church eliminated one of the big dividers
of humans in society. As Meinig observes, "Cultural diversity... is
fundamentally either regional or religious in character."15 There was almost
no diversity of the latter in Spanish America. A strong centralized colonial
administration and empire-wide colonial legal codes likewise engendered
homogeneity throughout Spanish colonies.? In Spain, however, the
geographical areas of the old kingdoms which were incorporated into the
Spanish throne still retained many provincial traditions, privileges, and rights,
making the metropolis culturally more heterogeneous than the colonies.17
Entry of new cultural elements into the areas where a creole society already
existed in Florida meant that either the existing ways held fast and resisted
the new or were supplanted, or both old and new were altered to
accommodate each other.
Historiographical emphasis since the shift in the 1960s by the history
profession toward an enlarged interest and concern for the ordinary, minority,
and peripheral citizens'8 has paid more attention to Native Americans and
African Americans in Spanish Florida to remedy the negative or trivialized
roles that those ethnic and racial groups held for so long. In the study of
Spanish Florida, the practitioners of history and anthropology have worked
well together in this endeavor.19 Life among mission Indians has received
extensive scrutiny and analysis.20 Jane Landers's investigation of black
society in Florida has focused attention on the lives of the previously unknown
residents of African descent and their role in the geopolitical developments in
the region.21 But, ordinary white (Euro-American) colonists, because they
were part of the dominant culture, and non-whites who successfully
assimilated have not received the same attention of late.
What if the words written, dictated, or in some aspect overseen by the
Florida colonists themselves were to form the basis for the picture of their own
lives in the Second Century? The image of the colonists has relied heavily
on reports composed by military and ecclesiastical administrators. This study
looks to documents which were either written by the colonists or were subject
to their scrutiny, to their editing and then verification indicated by their
signatures or their even more frequent "cross" marks. Some records, like the
recording of the administering of sacraments, were not written by the
participants, but the communicants supplied at least some of the details
recorded by the priests.
In the highly institutionalized and formalized society of the colony of
Florida what was life like for the ordinary resident? For the corporal, for the
midwife, for the slave, for the mission Indian fulfilling a labor obligation?
What changes took place in their lives? How did developments in the rest of
the Atlantic world affect the ways in which the colonists organized themselves,
protected their possessions, provided for their offspring? What were their
relations with each other?
This study in no way attempts to diminish the primacy in Florida of the
military and the church organizations and their leaders. That would be folly.
The firm and often rigid framework of those institutions underlay the colony.
Because of the presence of these strong institutions, Spanish Florida's early
society was orderly, stable, and less contentious than those societies
established later in southern English colonies. In contrast, Jack Greene
describes the Chesapeake and the Carolinas as locales where "religion and
other traditional institutions were weak, a sense of community tenuous, and
cultural amenities almost non-existent." Thus the "potential for social discord
But life was not all army and church. Florida's men did not spend all of
their time on guard duty; parishioners and even priests did not spend all of
their waking hours in prayer or at mass. Yet almost any depictions in
communiques concerning the actions of ordinary folk were drawn to express
the needs of the military or the church. The governor, his officials, priests,
and friars composed and compiled the reports. Other views were offered by
foreigners, visitors, and enemies. The remarks of this last group of observers
revealed as much about the foreign writer as about the Spanish in Florida.
And the ordinary people of Florida, most of them illiterate, generated few
documents themselves. Spanish military historian Juan Marchena Fernandez
computed that 78 percent of his sample of enlisted men who served in Florida
between 1700 and 1763 could neither read nor write; 12 percent could write
only their name (Marchena's study begins with the year 1700).23
Most citizens appeared in non-narrative documents rather than in
descriptive reports, and it is to those records that this study turns. When bits
of this sort of information are combined, we can discern something of what
historians Darrett and Anita Rutman called "the evolving web of associations"
which existed among the colonial residents.24 The content and form of the
records changed over the time under consideration here. In subsequent
decades and centuries, books became lost, and damage by humidity and
hungry bugs and microbes has left literal holes in the data.
The departure of Spanish residents from the mainland meant the
departure of the documentation of their lives as well. The emigration of 1763
was the first of several generated by treaty cessions. In 1784 British subjects
departed as the Spanish returned to the peninsula; in 1821 Spain once again
divested itself of Florida, this last time to the United States.
Departure of Florida's Spanish population upon British takeover of the
peninsula in 1763 resulted in the removal of the documents created in Florida
during the first two hundred years of European settlement. The Catholic
Church's records of baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials for the
first two centuries were removed to the cathedral in Havana, where they
remained unnoticed until 1871, when St. Augustine's then-bishop discovered
them. Another thirty-five years passed before the parish records were
returned to Florida." Departing Spanish officials transferred the military and
civil records, some of which went to the office of the exchequer in Havana.2
Official correspondence by government, military, and church administrators
remains in collections in Spain, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.
Notaries and government secretaries in Spanish Florida often made multiple
copies to be forwarded to various officials at several administrative centers in
the empire. Florida officials sent copies of their correspondence via several
ships and on subsequent sailings to improve the chance that the information
would reach its destination in the face of possible loss to weather, water
damage, or enemy capture.27
Personal documents from Florida's first two centuries of European
settlement are almost nonexistent or at Jeast undiscovered. Evacuees in
1763 carried their important papers-deeds, wills, debt documents-with them
among their furnishings and other possessions to their new homes in Cuba or
Mexico. When Spanish subjects returned to Florida twenty-one years later in
1784, they complained that "ownership papers had been lost by virtue of the
evacuation." Unlike the transported governmental documents, which were
grouped and stored under official auspices, it is likely that the personal
documents stayed with their owners and thus physically were dispersed.
Given the refugee mode of life experienced by the evacuees, documents
often survived the relocations no better than did their owners, who died in
substantial numbers in Cuba.28 If available, the evacuees' personal papers
would reveal individual-level decisions, although usually expressed in the
hand and language of a notary rather than that of the subject.
On the other hand, the change of sovereignty created a need for
inventories, maps, and other documentation that otherwise might not have
been ordered and effected. In fact, Florida's several changes of flags
generated documentation to clarify situations and establish land titles. The
periods of departure and arrival of governments and residents offer clusters of
information, which were not generated with the same intensity during more
stable times. The content and form of the records change over time. One
sort of information ceases to be recorded, only for some other concern to
The records of the Roman Catholic Church provide the most nearly
complete data on the individuals who resided in Spanish Florida. The parish
records cover a long period of time and encompass all ages, races,
occupations and social groups. The time span and inclusiveness make them
an invaluable source.2 The Church, not the state, recorded information which
today is considered as vital-statistics data. Many times an entry in the parish
records was the sole documentary evidence of an individual's existence in the
The St. Augustine parish registers have the distinction of being the
oldest written records of American origin in the United States. There are
continuous records from 1594 tol763, except for a five-year hiatus between
1638 and1643.30 For some periods, the parish records offer only a minimum
of information. For example, in the early 1600s marriage entries limited
information about the bride and groom to their names only. In the 1720s and
1730s the recording of infant burials was often so succinct as to include only
a reference to "a small child" and name of the father, no mother's name at all.
In the eighteenth century, the Enlightenment appreciation and appetite for
facts revealed itself in the expansion of church records, enlarged to include
information about the parentage of marital partners, previous spouses, and
The records of marriages are available from 1594 forward, although the
information contained in them varies over time. There is a gap in the records
of baptisms from 1640 to 1670. Burial records likewise disappear in 1640 and
do not resume until 1720.
The parish records of baptisms, marriages, and burials for the middle
third of the eighteenth century offer a good deal about familial and fictive
kinship.31 In the middle of the 1730s the parish records were enlarged to
include information on the birthplaces of parents of baptismal candidates,
information on nativity of marriage partners and their parents, and information
on any previous marriages of the spouses. Sometimes information on
occupation or employment was included. Burial records provided information
about the decedents' survivors and heirs, sometimes with notations
concerning irregularities regarding burials or last rites. For example, entries
specify when circumstances made burial impossible, such as drowning or
death at the hands of the enemy and no corpse was retrieved. Many burial
entries after 1735 mention wills made by the decedents and list the executors
and the specific bequests which would benefit the Church's ritualistic needs
and charitable goals. But the wills themselves which were referenced have
not been located.
In 1735 parallel but separate sets of books for whites and non-whites
(pardos y morenos y indios) were established. The books of non-whites
recorded information on nativity and parentage, Native American or African
tribe of origin, racial mixture, free or slave status, and listing of the owners of
Muster rolls of the military units provide a listing of men in service for
many individual years. Muster rolls for the garrison also offer information
regarding age, birthplace, parentage, physical infirmities, and annual salary.
The rolls sometimes include all who were recipients of crown funds: civilian
employees paid by the crown, such as interpreters or harbor pilots, clergy,
soldiers' widows and orphans, convict laborers, and mission Indians. Like the
parish registers, the information on the individuals increases in the middle of
the eighteenth century. Musters in the 1670s and 1680s, in addition to listing
soldiers, concern themselves with the assignment of weapons. The repetition
of "because he is a creole" or similar wording in the muster of 1683 May 27
reveals the elimination of many men for the garrison. In the 1690s, notations
about disabilities-gouty, blind-replace the weapons as a concern. By the
1740s, ever more data states salaries and where individual soldiers were
posted, such as in Apalache or at Fort Matanzas. The 1751 roster compiled by
Jos6 Gelabert is very detailed. It lists age, date of enlistment, birthplace and
father of the soldiers as well as annual pay. Civilian employees such as a
surgeon, drummers, and pilots appear within the listing of soldiers.
Dependents of deceased soldiers are cited with the amounts of their stipends.
Clergy and their church or mission village assignments are included.
Birthplace of convict laborers and the prisoners' locations-sick, at the
quarry-are stated. Mission Indians are listed by village, age, and marital
status. The musters do not constitute a discrete collection, but a series of
similar listings of ordinary individuals which span the time period considered
here and for the purposes of this study they can be seen as a specific kind of
source. The original musters are located in the Archive of the Indies and were
microfilmed for incorporation in the John B. Stetson Collection (described
The few testamentary and probate documents and a smattering of lists
and inventories which were not generated by postmortem affairs found their
way back to the North American mainland or to colonial archives in Spain.
While the fewest in number, these documents offer detailed information about
the material life of the colonists. Fragmentary and scanty, their availability is
extremely valuable in the void. Although the paucity of the documentation from
probate papers precludes the ability to make observations about the
representativeness of practices which the documents reveal, the papers do
serve as a starting point from which to ask more questions and to make
comparisons to other sources. These documents are located in the Stetson
Collection and East Florida Papers Collection. The latter is the governmental
archive of the second Spanish period (1784-1821), but it contains a few items
which were generated in the earlier Spanish period.
Notary records of the first two centuries either have not survived or also
await discovery. In the absence of the books wherein the notaries recorded
sales of lands and slaves, contractual agreements and wills, the few
documents of this sort contained in the Spanish Land Grants Manuscript
Collection must serve. This collection is primarily a source for activities of
second Spanish period, but the Section for Claims for Town Lots holds
unexpected material generated in the first Spanish era.
When Florida was returned to Spain by Great Britain in 1784, some of
the evacuees of 1763, their offspring, or other relatives sailed to Florida
intending to reside on former family lands. Inside the desks, chests, and
trunks loaded on the departing ships in 1763 the townspeople had placed their
personal documents. Now the evacuees or their representatives submitted
certified copies of documents that had been transported to Cuba, usually
deeds or wills, in order to support their claims to the abandoned property."
For the two decades of Spanish absence and of British ownership, British
colonists had perforce occupied, purchased, and improved the former Spanish
sites. While a number of British-era residents chose to stay under Spanish
rule after 1784, others opted to leave and receive some compensation through
sale of property to incoming Spanish subjects. Conflicting claims arose in this
situation, of course, and in cases where there were not valid claimants, the
Spanish crown intended to benefit from the sale of ownerless property. The
documents are conserved in the Claims for Town Lots section of the Spanish
Land Grants collection at the Division of Historical Resources in Tallahassee.
For years these documents were valued as substantiation of property
ownership, which was the intent when presented, but the papers, in fact,
mention a lot more. A few other similar claims became part of the East Florida
Papers Manuscript Collection, now at the Library of Congress. The
documentation arising from property claims should be considered a highly
biased source as only those families with reason to return to Florida after 1784
were included, unlike records such as notary books which would include
property transactions across the population. Given the original intent,
historians look to the Claims for Town Lots for information on property
ownership and perhaps descriptions of buildings. This collection has never
been consulted as a source for other evidence, which was merely incidental at
the time of the claims, but which in fact provides information on aspects of
individuals' lives in Florida, almost impossible to investigate in the absence of
the notarial records. As claimants submitted wills and sworn statements which
justified ownership of abandoned real property, they also described all sorts of
personal property, financial arrangements among individuals, relations with
slaves, and the use of specific rooms within houses.
The John B. Steston Collection is the premier source for the study of
first Spanish period with its copies of official correspondence between Florida,
Cuba, and Spain that span the entire period. It provides the documentation
that constitutes a chronology of the events in the Spanish colony and in the
region. The documents were selected in the 1920s from the holdings at the
Archive of the Indies in Seville, photographed, and subsequently microfilmed.
Especially useful for this study, in addition to the official perspective, are
petitions, testimony and affidavits made by lower-ranking soldiers and civilians
and incorporated into official communiques.3 Numerous archival bundles in
the Archive of the Indies which concern Spanish Florida have been microfilmed
in their entirety and are available on microfilm in addition to the Stetson
Collection at the P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History at the University of
The lives of the ordinary residents can be partially reconstructed by
combining the information from several of the sources mentioned above.
Seldom will a single source provide a good picture. In combination, these
documents permit the examination of what concerned ordinary residents. The
documents offer information and insight into the decisions and behavior of
individuals and their interaction with kin, friends, associates, sponsors, and
superiors. Sometimes we can pursue questions that interest us, but with which
the colonial residents were probably not consciously concerned. The data
offer the possibility to see changes in personal behavior in response to the
larger political, social, and material world and also see the individual lives as
components of the aggregate behaviors that propelled the larger
changes-forces which in turn pressed the lives of the colonists into ever-
1. This is a slightly altered restatement of Joel Evans's contention. Evans
also includes in his assessment of Spanish influence the passive and
unwitting introduction of disease and the resulting demographic collapse and
greatly diminished Native American populations with which Europeans might
have to contend. "Southeastern Indians and the English Trade in Skins and
Slaves," in Charles Hudson and Carmen Chaves Tesser, eds., The Forgotten
Centuries: Indians and Europeans in the American South (Athens: University
of Georgia Press, 1994), 305.
2. It is not intended to present here a broad critique of current survey texts,
but to give representative examples. Although Philip Jenkins sets forth his
temporal focus as 1492-1765, he in fact limits it to the earliest years, reducing
Spanish presence to the "wonder of the conquistadors," in A History of the
United States (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997), 7. Maldwyn A. Jones
observes that "apart from leaving a fort at St. Augustine, Florida a number of
missions in the southwest, Spain turned her back on America north of the Rio
Grande in the late sixteenth century though without relinquishing her claims
there." Limits of Liberty: American History. 1607-1992, 2d ed., (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1995), 4. Similar presentations appear in Virginia
Bernhard, David Bruner, Elizabeth-Fox Genovese, John McClymer, Firsthand
America: A History of the United States, 3" ed., (St. James, NY: Brandywine
Press, 1993), 11-14, even though it claimed to be more inclusive than previous
3. Robert M. Weir continues the interpretation and portrayal of Spanish
Florida as a barrier in Colonial South Carolina: A History (Columbia:
University of South Carolina Press, 1997), 42, 52, 82, Weir's role for Florida
as part of the "prologue" to South Carolina's settlement perpetuates the
exclusion of the Spanish colony's continued function in the development of
the region. Weir includes the most recent material on Florida in his
bibliographic essay (395-96) with emphasis on the contact period in the
sixteenth-century, but not upon the Spanish colony as an on-going factor.
4. Betty Wood, Slavery in Colonial Georgia. 1733-1775 (Athens: University of
Georgia Press, 1984), 8-9.
5. In the colonial context the terms "dominant" and "subordinated" better
reflect the colonial situation than "majority" and "minority." Peter H. Wood's
term, "black majority," to describe colonial South Carolina is a good example
where the majority was not the dominant group. Black Majority: Negroes in
Colonial South Carolina from 1670 to the Stono Rebellion (New York: Alfred
A. Knopf, 1974).
6. [n.a.], "The Walled City," in Carter L. Hudgins, Carl R. Lounsbury, Louis P.
Nelson, Jonathan H. Poston, eds., The Vernacular Architecture-of Charleston
and the Lowcountryv 1670-1990: A Field Guide, 24-25.
7. The use of regional activities as the basis forperiodization appears in
historian Michael V. Gannon's The Cross in the Sand: The Early Catholic
Church in Florida. 1513-1870 (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1965)
wherein he invokes 1675, "the finest hour of the missionary movement," (66)
as a turning point in the Spanish mission system in the region rather than
looking to the destruction of 1702 and 1704, which were major events, but
still part of the downward path rather than the end ICh. 5). Gannon continues
the use of the regional reality with chapter 6, whose periodization (1768-1790)
reflects the break in the presence of clergy of the Catholic Church in Florida
rather than using the political change, from a Spanish colony to a British
colony, as a marker.
8. "By the time the Pilgrims came ashore at Plymouth, St. Augustine was up
for urban renewal." Michael Gannon, Florida: A Short History (Gainesville:
University Press of Florida, 1993), 4.
9. Engel Sluiter, The Florida Situado: Quantifying the First Eighty Years,
1571-1651 (Gainesville: University of Florida Libraries, 1985), 1.
10. John Jay TePaske, The Governorship of Spanish Florida. 1700-1763
(Durham: Duke University Press, 1964); Amy Turner Bushnell, The King's
Coffer: Proprietors of the Spanish Florida Treasury. 1565-1702 (Gainesville:
University of Florida Press, 1981).
11. Bernard Bailyn, The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction
(New York: Vintage Books, 1988), quote on 122; David Hackett Fischer,
Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1989); D. W. Meinig, The Shaping of America: A Geographical
Perspective on 500 Years of History, Vol. I, Atlantic America. 1492-1800 (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), quote on 80.
12. Jack P. Greene, Pursuits of Happiness: The Social Development of Early
Modern British Colonies and the Formation of American Culture (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1988).
13. Fischer, Albion's' Seed, 6-7. Extending his argument into modern times,
for example, Fischer claims that "each American culture had its own motives
for supporting JWorld War Il]" and attributes the different style of the top-
ranking U.S. military commanders to regional differences, 877-80.
14. Theodore G. Corbitt, "Population Structure of Hispanic St. Augustine,
1763," Florida Historical Quarterly, 54 (1976): 263-84; Kathleen Hoffman,
"Cultural Development in La Florida, in Donna L. Ruhl and Kathleen Hoffman,
eds., Diversity and Social Identity Colonial Spanish America: Native
American. African and Hispanic Communities During the Middle Period.
Historica( Archaeology 31 (1997): 24-35.
15. Meinig, Atlantic America, 80. Meinig offers a framework composed of
three sequential, developmental periods and eleven cultural regions for North
America and the West Indies. With this framework, he describes how
Europeans established their dominance in America and how that dominance
reshaped the American world. Meinig separates the sequential framework
into "seafaring," "conquering," and "planting" periods. The last, which
encompasses the eighteenth century, he divides into two phases:
"implantation" and "reorganization." In the "implantation" phase major
production districts and cultural areas were formed. During the
"reorganization" phase, metropolitan authorities attempted to bring these New
World offshoots under tighter central control. His criteria for identifying a
cultural region largely being homogeneity of the population, Meinig identifies
Greater New England, the St. Lawrence River valley, Hudson's Bay, the
Hudson River valley, Pennsylvania, Greater Virginia, the Tropical Islands, the
Carolinas, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas and the Lower Rio Grande valley.
Meinig addresses the concept of "reorganization" as a situation molded
by external political demands and gives little weight to internal regional
cultural or economic factors.
16. Jos6 Maria Ots y Capdequi, Historia del derecho esparfol in America y
del derecho indiano (Buenos Aires: Losada, 1945), 3.
17. Ann M. Pescatello, Power and Pawn: The Female in Iberian Families.
Society, and Culture. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1976), Ch. 1.
18. There is a plethora of discussions of the evolution of the field of social
history. For a brief overview of its roots, methods and content, see Alice
Kessler-Harris, "Social History," in Eric Foner, ed., The New American History
(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), 163-84.
19. See Michael Gannon, "The New Alliance of History and Archaeology in
the Eastern Spanish Borderlands," William and Mary Quarterly 49, 3"I ser.
(1992): 321-44 for a discussion of interdisciplinary projects.
20. David Hurst Thomas, ed., Columbian Consequences: Impact of Hispanic
Colonization in the Southeast and Caribbean (Washington, D C: Smithsonian
Institution Press, 1990), includes essays by most of the mission researchers
and mission sites. Jerald T. Milanich, Florida Indians and the Invasion from
Europe (Gainesville; University Press of Florida, 1995); John H. Hann, A
History of the Timucua Indians and Missions (Gainesville: University Press of
Florida, 1996); idem. Apalachee: The Land Between the Rivers (Gainesville:
University of Florida Press, 1988); idem and Bonnie G. McEwan, The
Apalachee Indians and Mission San Luis (Gainesville: University Press of
Florida, 1998) deals with interactions among the Native Americans and the
Spanish. Hudson and Tesser, eds., The Forgotten Centuries and Peter H.
Wood, Gregory A. Waselkov, and M. Thomas Hatley, eds., Powhatan's
Mantle: Indians in the Colonial Southeast (Lincoln: University of Nebraska,
1989) survey the Native Americans in the southeast.
21. Jane Landers, "Black Society in Spanish St. Augustine," Ph.D. diss.
(University of Florida, 1988); idem, 'Traditions of African American Freedom
and Community in Colonial Spanish Florida," in David R. Colburn and Jane L.
Landers, eds., The African American Heritage of Florida (Gainesville:
University Press of Florida, 1995), 19-41; "Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de
Mose: A Free Black Town in Spanish Colonial Florida." American Historical
Review 95 (1990):9-30.
22. Greene, Pursuits of Happiness, 12-13.
23. Juan Marchena Ferndndez, "St. Augustine's Military Society, 1700-1820,"
El Escribano 22 (1985): 69.
24. Darrett B. and Anita H. Rutman, A Place in Time: Middlesex County,
Virginia, 1650-1750 (New York: Norton, 1984), 12.
25. Gannon, Cross in the Sand, 191.
26. Charles S. Coomes, "Our Country's Oldest Parish Records, El Escribano,
18 (1981):74-83. Pedro Jos6 G6mez's claim stated that Eligio de la Puente's
papers were located in Cuba in the office of the exchequer (Tribunal de
Cuentas de Real Audiencia), Bnd. 320, no. 81, Claims for Town Lots, Spanish
Land Grants manuscript collection (SLG), Florida Division of Historical
Resources, Tallahassee, Florida.
27. For an example of the multiple distribution, see Juan Fernandez de
Olivera to the Crown, 1612 October 13, Archivo General de Indias (hereafter
AGI), Audiencia de Santo Domingo 229 (hereafter SD), number 75.
28. Jos6 Miguel Chapuz, claim for the house of his mother Beatriz Amadora,
Bundle 320, claim no. 62 [also numbered 298], Town Lots, SLG. Juan Jose
Eligio de la Puente's correspondence to the Governor of Cuba noted that
many of the evacuees were dead by the date of his report of 1770 January
27. AGI SC 87-1-5/4.
29. Cathedral Parish Records (hereafter CPR), Diocese of St. Augustine,
Diocesan Center, Mandarin, Florida (microfilm copies at St. Augustine
30. Gannon, Cross in the Sand, 191-92.
32. The muster rolls of soldiers and those individuals sustained by crown
funds are generally titled "General List" (lista general or pie de lista),
sometimes signed by the governor, at other times sent in the name of a
subordinate, administrative official. The following musters were consulted;
only date and archival citation are listed here: 1671 July 6, 58-1-26/16A;
1680 December 4, 54-5-12/9; 1683 May 27, 54-5-12/9:1683 June 28, 54-5-
11/102 duplicate; 1687 April 20, 54-5-14/41; 1698 December 2, 58-2-3/25;
1699 September 1, 54-5-15/136; 1701 December 3, 58-2-3/34; 1706, 1707,
1708, 1709 all December 3, 58-1-35/61; 1712 December 3, 58-2-3/59; 1714
December 31, 1714; 58-2-4/17; 1719 August 12, 58-2-4/25; 1717 June 3, 87-
1-2/63; 1738 April 5; 87-1-3/20; 1740 58-1-32/23; 1745 January 2, 87-3-
12/70; 1746 January 12, 87-3-12176; 1746 July 15, 87-3-12/84; 1747 January
23, 87-3-12/23; 1748 July 8 and 17, 87-3-13/2. The report by Jos6 Gelabert,
1751 October 29, 87-1-14/2 is very detailed and thus contributed a great deal
to this study. All AGI SC.
33. Hardly any claimants presented certified copies of documents which had
been transported to Mexico.
34. Gannon, Cross in the Sand, 192-93.
LA FLORIDA'S FIRST CENTURY
St. Augustine, a Spanish garrison being planted to
the southward of us about a hundred leagues,
makes Carolina a frontier to all the English
settlements on the main.
-Governor Nathaniel Johnson of
South Carolina, 1709
From an Iberian perspective, La Florida was a latecomer among New
World settlements. Still, this youngster of Spain's American territories
predated any enduring settlements of England or France in North America.
The boundaries of La Florida originally extended to Newfoundland and to the
west as far as the mind could comprehend. Other nations who planted
settlements could only trespass in this context.
After a half-century of exploration of the southeast and thwarted
settlement attempts, which began with Juan Ponce de Le6n,1 the Spanish at
last in September 1565 founded St. Augustine, the first settlement to endure.
Juan Ponce had set out from Puerto Rico in February 1521 with materiel to
settle on the lower west coast of the Florida peninsula. But Native Americans
drove the settlers out. In 1526 Spanish settlers established the San Miguel
de Gualdape settlement on or near Sapelo, a Georgia barrier island. It
endured for no more than six weeks.2 In 1559 a hurricane undermined the
nascent Spanish settlement at Pensacola even before all cargo could be
offloaded; still it survived until 1561.3 The 1565 expedition's leader, Pedro
Men6ndez de Aviles, had intended to settle in the vicinity of Parris Island,
South Carolina, but the construction of a French fort at the mouth of the St.
Johns River led Men6ndez to debark his colonists and supplies at the next
harbor south of the French foothold. Such a location would provide a land
base for Menendez to attack French Fort Caroline and oust French colonists
from Spanish-claimed lands. And Men6ndez's men handily accomplished the
removal within a few weeks of first landing.
Men6ndez did establish a settlement at the intended Carolina location
at Eastertide 1566. But Santa Elena's survival was even more fitful than that
of St. Augustine. The Spanish abandoned Santa Elena in 1576 and
reestablished it in 1578. By 1587 the Santa Elena site was given up for the
second and final time and its residents resettled in St. Augustine.4 Thus the
site at St. Augustine, which had begun as a default location, became the seat
of permanent Spanish presence on the North American Atlantic coast.
The wisdom for St. Augustine's location probably caused many to
question Men6ndez's rationality for maintaining the settlement.5 The town
took root on the west bank of an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, not at the
mouth of a river flowing from the interior. Surrounding rivers and creeks are
tidal. Thus access to St. Augustine's hinterland was by land rather than via a
ready-made highway of water. The difficulty inherent in overland transport of
the era would hinder interior development. Overland transport would become
expensive in both money and good relations with the natives.
Nor was the harbor itself of much note. The entrance to the safety and
haven of the estuary passed through a fickle inlet and shifting sand bars. An
eighteenth-century traveler perceived the security from invading vessels that
the bar offered. "It was Spanish wariness to fix the capital of a colony behind
a sand-bank which cannot be crossed except at great peril.'" Such conditions
served well at the time of founding when protection against French vessels
was paramount. But the St. Augustine inlet bore out the Spanish proverb
which advised "el cuchillo que corta el pan tambien se corta el dedo" (The
knife which cuts your bread will also cut your finger). Storms and hurricanes
could improve and deepen the passage or relocate and virtually close the
Laborers had to offload supplies from deep-draft vessels anchored
outside the inlet to be ferried in smaller boats to the city's landing. Larger
ships dared not risk running aground in the inlet or allow themselves to be
imprisoned in St. Augustine's harbor, awaiting the lunar phase to bring the
highest tides and thus navigable depths. A series of north-south estuaries
facilitated movement and transportation that paralleled the coast. But access
into the interior from St. Augustine had to be overland, making the movement
of goods most onerous.
Despite Spain's claim to the lone settlement in the region, the Spanish
never had the lower southeast all to themselves. Raiders and traders from
other European nations appeared and departed. For a century following the
founding, no other European power secured a toehold in the region. But by
the last quarter of the seventeenth century Spain faced a permanent English
presence in South Carolina and the incipient French colony of Louisiana. A
century of successive wars would re-shape both Europe and North America.
Spain's territorial status in the lower southeast went largely
unchallenged from the time of Men6ndez's founding of St. Augustine and
Santa Elena in 1565 and 1566 until the advent of English Charleston in 1670.
Historian Ralph Davis asserts that the 1607 placement of Jamestown
reflected concern by England's James I "to keep well clear of the Spanish
limits in Florida" in the early seventeenth century.7 Historian Kenneth
Andrews similarly claims that England "shrank" from challenging Spain over
Virginia and that the English even explained that endeavor to the Spanish as
a private risk rather than an English crown project.8 English, French, and
Dutch traders and privateers indeed devastated Spanish settlements
throughout the circum-Caribbean and deprived residents and the crown of
security and material goods, but acquisition of the land and the labor of its
native inhabitants was not a part of their agenda. Early Dutch, French, and
especially English activity was as booty driven as early Spanish aims,
although stereotypes persist of the "settling" English and the "greedy,"
extractive Spanish.9 These latecomer raiders generally targeted the wealth or
goods of other Europeans while the Spanish had focused on appropriating
Native American resources. Money, supplies, and perhaps artillery, not
lands, lured Francis Drake to attack St. Augustine in 1586.10 The French,
more oriented to trade than plunder, continued seasonal trading visits to the
southeast coast despite their rout by Menendez in 1565 and again in 1580 at
the mouth of the St. Johns River. The Guale natives of the Georgia coast
and French corsairs both ignored Spanish prohibitions on their trading
The advent in the south of English settlement in 1670 marked a change
in life and activity in the southeast by virtue of the raids and attacks that the
English and their Indian allies made in the region. Governor Johnson's
remark in 1709 charging that the Spanish presence so near to Carolina forced
the English colonists to live in a state of fear and alert ignored the chronology
of settlement, but well illustrated English jealousy. France's appearance in
1699 along the lower Mississippi River and the coast of the northern Gulf of
Mexico added to the complexity. Historian Charles Arnade refers to the
international conflict in the southeast as a "triangular struggle."12 Yet,
continuing with his geometric metaphor, a polygon serves as a better
description, for the various Native American nations comprised "sides" as
well. The struggle was certainly not equilateral and the number of sides and
their respective sizes varied over time. Arnade assigns the Native
Americans' weight to one of the three major European players rather than
seeing native activity as purely native in character, driven by native benefit
and survival rather than by allegiance to one or another of the colonial
powers. Historian Daniel Usner views Native Americans in the region as a
forceful group who participates fully in shaping its own destiny in the face of
Europeans' territorial and commercial machinations. Usner, for the French
Lower Mississippi Valley, and historian Amy Bushnell, for Spanish Florida,
both point out the Europeans' or Euro-Americans' dependence upon the
natives for food in the face of the French and Spanish metropolises' ever-
inadequate supply practices."
Entry of the English permanently into the southeast in 1670 coincided
with the zenith of the Spanish Florida mission system and with the time of the
largest reported number of Indian communicants. It was the mission residents
on the coast of the southeast who felt the first English attacks on Spanish
enclaves and against Spanish influence in the region. The mission residents
quickly adapted to the new reality in the region as they relocated and
reorganized. It was only the beginning of changes for Spanish Florida.
Florida's proximity to the Gulf Stream offered an asset that Spain could
not risk having another empire control. The current came very close to the
mainland along Florida's southern coast, increasing the potential for
shipwreck in that area. So long as Florida remained Spanish, cargo and
passengers cast overboard might be saved by Spanish interests. Near St.
Augustine the current turned sharply eastward and the natural propulsion of
the Gulf Stream carried the galleons away from the Americas and out into the
Atlantic toward Europe. This route made St. Augustine the last chance for
Spain's silver fleet to get assistance with navigational problems or aid against
threatening enemy vessels.14 When Florida's benefit to the empire was
questioned in light of its meager production during hearings in 1602,
justification for maintaining the colony was put forth in the larger context of the
colony's role in the security of the fleets and therefore the security of Spain's
Florida helped protect Spain's access to precious metals. Florida's
role continued to be its strategic location to protect shipping headed to Spain
laden with ingots and other colonial products. Near the end of the eighteenth
century Florida additionally buffered the valuable silver mines of Mexico from
overland incursions from the new United States.16 Only when Spain had
almost nothing left to protect in the Caribbean after the wars for independence
of the early nineteenth century did the Spanish crown give up its colony of
1. Michael Gannon, "First European Contacts," in Michael Gannon, ed., The
New History of Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996), 20-21.
2. Paul E. Hoffman, "Lucas Vdzquez de Ayll6n," in Jeannine Cook, ed.,
Columbus and the Land of Avll6n: The Exploration and Settlement of the
Southeast (Darien, GA: Lower Altahama Historical Society, 1992), 27.
3. Gannon, "First European Contacts," 34-35.
4. Eugene Lyon, "Settlement and Survival," in Gannon, ed., New History of
Florida, 48-58; Amy Turner Bushnell, Situado and Sabana: Spain's Support
System for the Presidio and Mission Provinces of Florida (New York:
American Museum of Natural History, 1994), 62-64.
5. Among the concerns addressed during the 1602 inquiry by the Spanish
crown of St. Augustine's continued existence were the area's topographical
defects (questions 4 and 5). Charles W. Arnade, Florida On Trial, 1593-1602
(Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1959), 24.
6. Johann David Schoepf, Travels in the Confederation, trans. Alfred J.
Morrison, Vol. 2 (New York: B. Franklin, 1968), 228-29.
7. Ralph Davis, The Rise of the Atlantic Economies (Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press, 1973), 83.
8. Kenneth R. Andrews, Trade, Plunder and Settlement: Maritime Enterprise
and the Genesis of the British Empire. 1480-1630 (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1984), 310-12.
9. Eugene Lyon's numerous studies of Pedro Menendez's plans for Florida
have dispelled the traditional Hispanophobic conclusions which limited
actions to conquering, enslaving and mining. See The Enterprise of Florida:
Pedro Men6ndez de Avil6s and the Spanish Conquest of 1565-1568.
(Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1976) and Pedro Men6ndez de
Avil6s Vol. 24 Spanish Borderlands Sourcebooks (New York: Garland, 1995).
10. J. Leitch Wright, Jr., Anglo-Spanish Rivalry in North America (Athens:
University of Georgia Press, 1971), 28-29; Amy Turner Bushnell, The King's
Coffer: Proprietors of the Spanish Florida Treasury, 1656-1702 (Gainesville:
University of Florida Press, 1981), 94-95.
11. Bushnell, Situado and Sabana. 63-65.
12. Charles W. Arnade, "Raids, Sieges and International Wars," in Gannon,
ed., New History of Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996),
13. Daniel H. Usner, Jr., Indians, Settlers and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange
Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley Before 1783 (Chapel Hill: University
of North Carolina Press, 1992); Amy Turner Bushnell, Situado and Sabana.
14. Murdo MacLeod, "Spain's Atlantic Trade, 1492-1720," in Leslie Bethell,
ed. The Cambridge History of Latin America I, (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1984), 341-88.
15. Arnade summarizes the Franciscan friars' position as in favor of
maintaining the colony of La Florida, but abandoning the Florida peninsula in
favor of an area located closer to the bulk of the Indian population.
"Geographical and nautical considerations, indeed recognized by the fathers,
were of but minor importance" in their point of view. Florida on Trial, 89.
16. Elena Sanchez-Fabres Mirat, Situaci6n hist6rica de las Floridas en la
seaunda mitad del siglo XVIII (1783-1819) (Madrid: Ministerio de Asuntos
Exteriores, 1977), 9, 111.
ASSIMILATED NATIVE AMERICANS:
FLORIDA'S 'URBAN' INDIANS
The inhabitants were of all colours, whites,
negroes, mulattoes, Indians, &c, at the evacuation
of St. Augustine.
-John Bartram, 1765
Of the three major empires to claim and colonize the Americas-Spain,
England, France-the Spanish viewed the Native Americans more as a
resource, in fact a necessity, rather than an obstruction to the viability of their
New World endeavors. Indian labor had been among the first rewards offered
by the crown to early Spanish colonizers of the Caribbean. When Spain
finally turned toward settling the North American mainland, the Spanish
carried with them their viewpoint that Native labor was essential for success.
Indian slavery was never really a factor in the colony of Florida, for by
the time of Juan Ponce's first voyage to Florida in 1513, Indian slavery had
already been legally prohibited in Spanish America by the Laws of Burgos of
1512, so called for the city in which they were promulgated. Thus,
theoretically, the Native Americans of Florida were free Spanish subjects, and
the Spanish had to rely upon enticing native laborers rather than enslaving
them. The institution of slavery remained firmly in place for Africans in
Spanish Florida and throughout Spanish America, although Spanish rule
offered Africans more options for freedom and economic opportunities than
did other colonial regimes.'
Euro-Americans, Native Americans and African-Americans were
present as well in the contemporary regions of other colonial powers on the
North American mainland, but the interaction among the races differed with
region, culture, and empire. French New Orleans counted Indians and blacks
among its residents. Daniel Usner writes that slaves "constituted the core of
the resident Indian population" of the Louisiana capital. Indian slavery was
also permitted in the English colonies. In Maryland,,Virginia, North and South
Carolina, the sale of Indians enslaved in wars of removal helped to pay for the
wars themselves. South Carolina has been described as "preeminent in the
use and exportation of Indian slaves" among all the British continental
After the middle of the seventeenth century, Native American groups
formed the frontier between rival European nations who claimed territory in
southeastern North America. By the time of the establishment of Florida (and
the Philippines and New Mexico), Hapsburg purposefulness had altered the
earlier American encomienda system (a state assignment of compulsory
labor) into a grant to collect tribute.3 In comparison to the expectations upon
Native labor in Peru and New Spain, Florida officials believed that they were
especially ungreedy and lax in their demands with "no encomiendas, obrajes
[sweat shops] or mines." The labor levy which Florida officials had
negotiated with chiefs (caciQues) supplied manpower (and it was to be
unmarried manpower) primarily to maintain fortifications, to plant fields for
Spaniards, and to furnish household and personal servants and ranch hands.
As for the specific labor demands, Natives found the requirement of burden-
bearing to be the most galling. While Governor Andr6s Rodriguez de Villegas
declared in 1630 that Florida Indians were "the best treated in America," it is
doubtful that the Florida Natives shared His Lordship's positive view of the
situation, for the workers were not comparing the demands upon them with
those upon Natives in the labor-devouring areas of Mexico or Peru. Nor did
the Florida Natives' worldview include a pre-Columbian past of massive labor
exaction of or by other Native groups.4
Still, the number of Indians in the Florida colony fell and alarmed
officials. Anthropologist John Worth describes the seventeenth-century
mission era as being a time of "a free-fall decline" in population. The decline
mystified Governor Luis de Rojas y Borja (1624-30). The shrinking Native
population ultimately translated into fewer producers of food for the Spanish
in Florida.5 The colony's governors continually fretted about feeding and
fighting and the intertwining of the two problems. Plagued by such concerns,
Florida officials responded to the specter of a scarcity of Native labor with
decisions that only exacerbated the problem and alienated the labor source.
When an epidemic in 1655 diminished the number of Timucuan Indians of
northeastern Florida who were available to grow corn to be sent to feed the
presidio in St. Augustine, Governor Diego de Rebolledo (1654-1659)
launched a ruthless raid on other groups to acquire workers to plant
compensatory fields near St. Augustine. Contemporary events in the
Caribbean worsened the situation for Florida Natives. Multinational rivalries,
especially the Anglo-Spanish competition in the Americas, brought pressures
upon the Natives of La Florida even before the English established a
permanent presence in the lower southeast. Alarmed by the English capture
of Jamaica, Rebolledo attempted to call up Indian nobles for militia service,
who were in addition ordered to bring their own food with them on their backs,
thus demeaned "as if they were mules or horses."6
Then in 1670 the English made a permanent incursion into the lower
southeast and henceforth into the Spanish monopoly of the region's Native
American labor pool and surplus. The dynamics between Europeans and
Native changed dramatically.
Unlike most regions of Spanish America, residents of all colors and
cultures in colonial Florida found themselves physically threatened by
European enemies, primarily England. Within the context of the international
face-off in the southeast, Spanish colonial officials had to adapt their methods
of dealing with the Native Americans of the region. No longer could the
requirement of native labor be demanded and expected; rather officials had to
recruit and woo Natives' cooperation or sometimes at best settle for Natives'
More plentiful and superior gifts and trade items lured Native groups to
the orbit of England and Carolina. But interchange with the Carolinians could
mean tragedy instead of material acquisitions for Natives. Under the guise of
warfare, Carolinians also captured and enslaved Indians, citing
disagreements over land rights, destruction of crops and slaying of cattle as
bases to justify attack. Carolina's Indian allies brought in Spanish-allied
Indians to be slaves. Most of the Carolina slaves were shipped to the West
Indies to work. Exported Indian labor capitalized Carolina in the early years
when no staple crop had yet proved successful. Historian Converse Clowse
asserts that the export of Indian slaves may have been the most important
generator of profits during the first five years of Carolina's existence. The
extent of the trade is not known as it was illicit and thus little documented.7 It
was a simple extractive venture, so to speak, that could be quickly set up with
little equipment, expertise or capitalization. With slaves being supplied by
wars among the Native groups themselves, Carolinians did not make direct
demands upon individual labor as the Spanish did.
A decade after the founding of Charleston, Carolinians began the
assault on Spanish presence in the southeast in earnest. Abetted by fickle
Yamasee allies, Carolina colonists drove the Spanish soldiers, priests and
Indian converts from St. Catherine's Island as the first operation. The mission
towns and the Indians who chose to remain with the Spanish began island-
hopping southward, regrouping all the while. The English also harried to the
west in the Apalachee area and extended their influence among the Lower
Creeks.8 Meanwhile the Spanish demands upon Native labor surged in order
to furnish laborers for the building of the shellstone fortress in St. Augustine.
Groundbreaking for the fortress began only two years after the founding of
Charleston and continued for 23 years. Natives became disenchanted with
European empires in the southeast, but were given little opportunity to be
neutral. Additionally, Natives' attraction to manufactured metal goods, cloth
and liquor altered the Native lifeways so that they became materially
dependent upon the imports. During the 1690s the hostilities abated and
superficially friendly relations existed, with the English and the Spanish each
keeping the other informed on activities of the French, the common threat-of-
the-moment to them both.9
In 1702 the English in Carolina took advantage of the outbreak of war
in Europe to attack Spain in Florida. In September 1702 a Carolinian and
Yamassee expeditionary force of 800 to 1200 (sources disagree) set out for
Spanish Florida. Spanish-allied coastal Natives fled to St. Augustine's
fortress as the English with their own Indian allies approached. Charles
Arnade termed the conflict in Florida as "one of the first large engagements in
the international struggle on the North American continent .... [which]
marked the beginning of a century of warfare in North America."10 English
attacks in the Apalachee area in both 1702 and 1704 resulted in the
destruction of Spanish missions and the capture and enslavement of
"reasonably no more than a thousand Natives" according to John Hann's
assessment. The leader of the English forces, James Moore, reported figures
ranging from 400 to 4000.11 The English would sell the captives to offset the
cost of the conflict. The Carolinians' assaults left the Natives scattered.
While in the east all racial and cultural groups suffered from the total burning
of the capital city by the English before the invaders retreated.
In 1715 Carolina's Yamassee allies turned on the English colonists.
Florida's governor denied any part in inciting the attacks. In truth the Spanish
in Florida were engaged in literally rebuilding St. Augustine and were hardly
in a condition to give more than verbal support to attacks against the English.
Outlying Spanish missions were almost nonexistent, for the Spanish in Florida
had not yet recuperated sufficiently to move out much beyond the capital and
the protection of the fort and its artillery. Many Native Americans of South
Carolina subsequently fled to Florida for refuge. Historian John Hann notes
the paradox of the refugees running to Spanish Florida from the Yamassee
War who had only a decade earlier "played prominent roles in the destruction
of the Florida missions." Hann further asserts that the influx led to a
significant reorganization and expansion of the settlements that had already
arisen to accommodate the refugees from the missions in the century's first
decade.12 Hoping to perpetuate "infidel and Catholic Indians" as allies,
Florida Governor C6rcoles requested from the Spanish crown "funds to
succor and bring them to our side ... [and] make them productive."13 He
feared that the English would try to invade in order to destroy their former
Native allies now in Florida.14
The tables of the southeast had turned. The Yamassees had forced
contraction of English settlement to a small area of South Carolina
reminiscent of what the English had done to the Spanish of Florida only about
fifteen years earlier. Perhaps C6rcoles wanted also to ensure his own peace
with the Native rebels, who had now seen their own strength and who might
decide to use it on the Spanish as well. Indeed the interaction between the
Spanish and the Natives, albeit with various and different Native groups as
time passed, had transformed from the Spaniards' requiring labor and
products to a Spanish position of supporting Natives as refugees and
potential allies or at the least to appease them and assure inaction on the part
of the Natives.
During the first quarter of the eighteenth century relations with Native
Americans in Spanish Florida found the Natives transformed into an expense,
a fiscal liability that could not be neglected lest they defect to other empires.
Gangs of workers no longer arrived from missions to sustain defense projects
and other public works. Indians had been interacting within the society since
the Europeans' arrival. Spanish male colonists early on took Indian women
as brides, which allowed the establishment of a stable and self-sustaining
population early. A priest shipwrecked about 1595 reported "there are few
Spanish women, and only today I heard it said that a Spaniard was married to
an Indian chieftainess". He also observed that some of the Indians spoke
Castillian well and dressed in the Spanish style.15
Indians served as personal servants and contract workers for Spanish
families at outposts and in St. Augustine. Native Americans in Apalachee in
the San Luis region resentfully provided services to the household of the
deputy governor stationed there, Juan Femrndez de Florencia. Indians
manned the ferries at the St. Johns River crossing to the interior, building and
repairing the vessels as well. Indians came from Apalachee to serve
employers in St. Augustine. Two who ran amok in St. Augustine, fashioning
small counterfeit coins, described themselves: "a contract Indian" and the
other as having "no other trade than to render service in what he is ordered
to, as at present he is serving [his master] in his field."'6 Indians' carpentry
skills helped literally to build St. Augustine. After felling the trees, the Natives
had planed the finished boards for the roof and fences of the governor's
house built in 1690 and they might very well have done so for private building
in exchange for payment in cash, but more likely in kind. During the
confinement of Florida residents in the English siege of St. Augustine, Marta
Maria, a Guale wage worker (naboria) married to a slave, gave birth to one of
the babies born inside the fortress.17
The Yamassee uprising in Carolina and its shockwaves of refugees
brought about new interactions between Native and Spanish. The refugees
were settled along the very perimeter of the town of St. Augustine. Indians
from several villages and language groups were mixed together within the
enclaves. John Hann has translated accounting by officials and friars of the
refugee villages, which emphasize languages as well as village affiliations.
Chilean historian Mario G6ngora observes that colonial officials and priests
throughout Spanish America denominated and grouped Natives by language
rather than by Native organization. In the early days of New-World
settlement, missionaries emphasized the preservation of Native tongues and
evangelized in the Indian languages, the learning of which they considered to
be one of their first duties. More than two hundred years later the tradition of
linguistic classification and separation persisted throughout Latin America and
perpetuated the racial and caste system.18
Retreat and Relocations
Like a concertina, Florida's mission villages over the five decades after
the 1702-1704 destruction moved alternately nearer to and then farther from
St. Augustine in response to raids or threats of raids. In the process of the
relocations villages were combined and sometimes new refugees attached
when the letters' towns ceased to be viable communities. For example, the
Pocotalaca village had relocated nearer the capital after an early-morning
attack on November 1, 1725 drove its residents into the safety of the city from
their location at Las Rosas de Ayam6n about 16 miles south of St. Augustine
(two or three miles south of Matanzas Inlet). Following this raid, the chief of
the village and his family lived in town, sustained by one of the town's
upstanding citizens. Agustin Guillermo de Fuentes "received into his own
house" the chief, his wife, three children, his father- and mother-in-law, the
chiefs nephew and another young boy.19 But so insecure did the refugees of
the relocated Pocotalaca village feel that in 1728 they moved into the town at
night from their daytime location already as close as "a musket-shot distance
from the castillo."' In 1739 Governor Manuel de Montiano moved the
Pocatalaca members back to the countryside "to cultivate more fertile lands ..
at a distance of four leagues," probably near their earlier location at Ayam6n.
(A league's size varied from 2-1/2 to four miles. By the late 1700s in Florida,
it often equaled about three miles.) But they would not remain in the
countryside. In 1763 an alphabetical symbol on Engineer Pablo Castell6's
map marked the existence of the village of Pocotalaca once again closer to
St. Augustine, on the southern outskirts of the town.21 An ordinary green-
and-white bridge sign on Interstate 95 today bearing the words "Pocotaliga
River" reminds of the villagers' refugee history and the sign serves as an
unintentional epitaph for that village's even earlier, pre-Florida site in South
The trail of the village of Tolomato likewise wound its way ever
southward down the coastal islands and ultimately departed the North
American mainland for the Antilles in 1763. Until the middle of the
seventeenth century the Tolomato people inhabited the area around St.
Catherine's Island on the Georgia coast. At some time prior to 1658 the
Tolomato village was located in McIntosh County; some have suggested at
the site of Fort King George.22 Raids by hostile, non-Christian Indians forced
the village's displacement to a new site some two to three leagues north of St.
Augustine. Bishop Calder6n visited the mission of La Natividad de Nuestra
Sehrora de Guadalupe de Tolomato in 1675, when it was situated at the tip of
the Guana peninsula on North River near St. Augustine.23 The Tolomato
Cemetery on Cordova Street in St. Augustine marks a subsequent location of
the village and perpetuates its name. (The cemetery postdates the village.)
The graveyard occupies the last North American mainland location of the
Tolomato villagers. In 1763 remnants of the Tolomato people evacuated
Florida for Cuba, along with the rest of the colony's Spanish subjects, in the
face of incoming British rule.
While Natives associated with missions themselves or at least with the
missions' inhabitants sought security near the capital, other southeastern
Natives were filling the lands in the interior of the Florida peninsula left vacant
by the missions' disappearance. Spanish colonial officials took advantage of
animosities between Creek groups and English colonists in the southeast and
among the Creeks groups themselves to invite the disenchanted groups to
relocate to Florida. The Creek groups might have also been looking for areas
with more fertile soil than their planting grounds in today's Georgia could offer
after years of maize and bean culture. Lt. Diego Peia visited Lower Creek
villages in 1716, 1717 and 1718 and successfully recruited new residents for
Little is known about the half century of relocation into Florida.
Anthropologist Brent Weisman illustrates the minimal information in his
remark that with respect to the exact dates of Seminole colonization in
Florida: "The period 1716-67 is as much as we can say." Weisman and
historian John Mahon divide early Seminole history into two periods. The
"colonization period" featured the initial migrations of the Creek towns into
Florida. The "enterprise period" saw an era of prosperity under British and
returned Spanish rule prior to the cession of Florida to the United States.
During the colonization period Creeks not only migrated into Florida, but also
diminished their ties and identification with the Creek groups they left behind.
By the time of Florida's transfer to Great Britain, the relocated Creeks had
become known as Seminoles.5 The term "Seminole" derives from a
Muskogee term simano-li, which itself had been appropriated from the
Spanish word cimarr6n, both meaning "wild" or "runaway."'2
While these migrating groups were friendly with the Spanish regime, there
was little contact between these two groups and cultures. With little
interaction, Seminoles remained for the most part outside of the orbit of
Iberian cultural influence.
From Village to Town: from Ward to Citizen
Proximity and manpower needs of the Spanish colony enabled some of
the Native Americans refuged near the capital to move out of their Indian
enclaves and into the town's neighborhoods. According to historian Robert
Gold's computations, eighty-nine Indians, composing nineteen families, left
St. Augustine in the 1763 evacuation. But St. Augustine's Indians were in fact
undercounted; the tally of the Indian evacuees included only wards of the
Crown and not the independent Indian residents.
Native American families who had left their village homes for a town
residence and economic integration also achieved documentary identification
with the military and civilian personnel.27 For modem researchers the Indian
who moved into homes interspersed among the Spanish citizenry became
increasingly difficult to locate in contemporary records: with their progressive
integration into the tableau of Spanish society, the Indians blended into the
documentary mosaic as well. Without the survival of the Catholic Church's
records of births, marriages and deaths and the expanded information
required for those entries in the mid-eighteenth century, these "urban Indians"
would be almost impossible to discern--perhaps an indication of how well the
Natives blended into the society itself at the time. Intensive study of the
parish records yields recognition of the presence of independent Indians
families and enables the creation of genealogies and partial biographies of
the individuals who composed the families.
Pedro Tombs de Ribera and his wife, Maria de la Cruz, of Tolomato
village, established themselves as an independent, self-sustaining family
within the town walls or inside the defense line lineea. Pedro and Maria
literally and juridically crossed the line, truly making a positive passage
toward higher personal and social evolution from the perspective of the
dominant Hispanic culture. Pedro and Maria had been born during the years
when the Tolomato village relocated for the survival of its members and as a
group. In sworn statements and Church records Ribera claimed that he was a
native of this Guale (Ibaia) village.28 Although in the eyes of Euro-American
recorders the Riberas had shed their village affiliation for town citizenship,
Maria and Pedro continued to live very close to their village. They located
their home on the west side of Spanish Street-at the closest possible site to
the Tolomato village.2 In 1764 the Ribera-de la Cruz homesite occupied the
width of the block and with street frontage of 44 varas (120 English feet). The
structures on the Ribera-de la Cruz lot were not ephemeral refugee huts.
Archaeological evidence indicated a two-cell structure with an interior
masonry partition and the foundations' dimensions suggest a two-story
Physically as well as symbolically, Pedro and Maria remained,
however, close to the line between being Indian and Hispanic-between ward
and citizen. Their back property boundary was a portion of the defense line
that surrounded St. Augustine and it marked the spatial and social
designation between inside the walls and outside the walls. Discussing free-
black contemporaries of Pedro and Maria as well as other town Indians in St.
Augustine society, historian Jane Landers refers to the Spanish cultural
association of urbanization with the advance of civilization. Residence
outside the city, outside its walls, reflected lower cultural and spiritual
development. She asserts that the efforts in 1752 of Governor Garcia de.,
Solis to remove blacks back to their own former village at Mose '"beyond the
walls'... made a visible statement about their supposed inferiority." The free
blacks had moved into St. Augustine for protection in 1740, abandoning their
own village about two miles north of the capital. It is interesting that Governor
Montiano's moving the Pocotalaca village back to the countryside (mentioned
previously) was contemporaneous with Montiano's establishing of the free
black community at Mose in 1738.31 Montiano had removed the less Hispanic
elements out of town and to the periphery, where they could also serve as
first lines of defense. These peripheral residents had the most to fear and to
lose from British attacks or British-allied Indian raids; runaway slaves and
enemy Indians could be taken or re-taken as slaves.
Ribera claimed that he and his family were parishoners and citizens of
juridical St. Augustine and were listed as such on the official rolls. Distinction
between full-fledged parishoner and mission Indian meant the difference
between independence or dependency, between being a legally full member
of the society, a vecino, or being a ward under the jurisdiction of the friars.
Ribera stated that he had been married and received a nuptial benediction in
the parish church, and that his children likewise had all been baptized in the
parish church. When a Franciscan friar included Ribera and his family on the
lists of those under the friars' care, Ribera objected and claimed that the
friar's action was "against my wishes." The formal objection by Ribera might
well have been instigated and orchestrated by the secular clergy, who wanted
to retain as many parishioners as possible. Ribera's statement, however,
illustrates the importance of the distinction to him and his family. Natives had
the option, or in the language of the day privilege, granted by the king to
choose their parish. Ribera and de la Cruz chose the main parish church of
St. Augustine, not a mission church.3
Ribera acquired a man-space (plaza del rev) with the cavalry company
and it can be reasonably assumed the pay and equipment that accompanied
the position as well. In 1746 he was killed while fighting enemy Indians."
Maria de la Cruz might have also have contributed cash or goods to the family
through her own work. A notation that Maria baptized a newborn infant at the
point of death suggests that Maria might have served as a midwife.3
Assimilation and incorporation of Pedro and Maria into the economy
and society of colonial Florida was reflected in the marriages of their four
children who lived to adulthood. Many other siblings had been laid to rest in
the Florida soil, for the parish records reveal a succession of burials in the
churchyard of small, frequently nameless, children (pirvulos) born to Pedro
and Maria: in December 1737, November 1738 (this girl surviving at least
long enough to receive a name), August 1740, June 1741.35
The marriages of Pedro and Maria's children reflected the changing
population and the changes to the society of St. Augustine society. Four
children survived Pedro, none of whom married either residents of Indian
towns nor mestizos (children with white and Indian parentage).3 Very much
in the St. Augustine tradition, daughter Ana Lucia married a soldier from
southern Spain. This couple represented the expected interracial marriage:
Spanish soldiers had been finding wives among the Native population since
the earliest days of the colony. Juan de Ribera married a woman recently
arrived in St. Augustine as part of an immigrant group of Canary Islanders.
When Juan died in Havana in 1772, his will revealed how acculturated into
Hispanic society he had become. He instructed that he be buried according
to the rituals of the Third of Order of St. Francis, a prestigious international
religious order for laypersons.37
Sons Francisco Xavier and Antonio married white creole women born
in St. Augustine. The recognition of the existence of these marriages runs
counter to the widely accepted assumption that "in the Spanish town ... the
union of Spanish and Indian always involved a Spanish man and an Indian
women.Y" Francisco Xavier's father-in-law had arrived in St. Augustine as a
soldier from southern Spain and typically found a wife among the town's Euro-
American population.3 The most surprising union was the one contracted by
Antonio de la Cruz Ribera. Here was a Native American man who married a
local Spanish woman-and one who was highly connected, at that. Antonio's
wife was a first cousin of the wife of Governor Lucas de Palacio. Did Antonio
make a surprising match or did the governor? Perhaps both men did. Father
Juan Jose de Solana, who said little about Governor Palacio that was
complimentary, criticized the governor for marrying below his station with this
One street to the east of the Ribera-de la Cruz homesite lived another
Indian family. In the house that stood directly at the head of the alley that led
to the Castillo lived the Native American family of Chief (Cacigue) Francisco
Jospogue.41 In his old age, Chief Francisco petitioned the Spanish Crown to
award him a pension in recognition of his loyalty and sacrifices. His written
request provides an unusual opportunity to follow the story of a Native
American family for more than a century. The family's tale represents and
symbolizes the travails of the Native groups buffeted by international rivalry in
the colonial southeast. Chief Francisco's testimony indicated that he was
born to "noble Christian" parents only a few years before the founding (1670)
of Charleston; he claimed to be about thirty-six years of age when Florida
Governor Torres y Ayala (1693-99) recognized him as hereditary chief of his
village.42 St. Catherine's Island or its vicinity was probably Chief Francisco's
birthplace; Ospogue Bar was located four leagues south of Sapelo Sound in
Guale.' Francisco's long association with the Spanish, perhaps since birth in
the 1660s or 1670s, indicated Guale or Timucuan ancestry. Perhaps a friar
taught him early to sign his name, for his petition to the king in 1728 bears
Chief Francisco was silent about his migration toward St. Augustine
and Spanish protection. He paid a high price for his allegiance to the Spanish
Crown. In the early months of 1702 Governor ZOhiga spoke of Francisco's
position as chief of the mission village of Nombre de Dios Chiquito. The
English incursions into Spanish Florida and the siege of St. Augustine at the
end of that year would destroy and displace Native villages along the coast.
In November 1715, enemy "pagan" Indians allied with the English descended
upon St. Augustine seeking to burn the town. Chief Francisco was "one of the
first to take up arms to defend" the "city of Florida." His family, defenseless in
the absence of the fighting men of the village, were captured by the
marauders. The Spanish Council of the Indies in Madrid in 1716 regretted the
situation in which the English offerede] arms, munitions, foods and clothing to
those Indians who will capture Christian [that is, Catholic] Indians found within
Carolina's jurisdiction." Carolina's putative territorial claims at that time
extended to a line far south of St. Augustine. English-led raiders separated
the strong Indians at knifepoint, then gatherede] up the women and children
to conduct them away to be sold as slaves in other British lands." Often the
head chiefs of these violated villages banded together to offer foods and other
products to ransom their captured families. Three times the English offered to
return Chief Francisco's family in exchange for his alliance with the English
side and abandonment of Catholicism. Three times he refused. He believed
that his wife and four children had been dispersed and separately "perished,"
probably sold as slaves to work on sugar plantations in Jamaica or
In 1717, left without a family and perhaps without many of his former
followers Chief Francisco found himself shepherding a group of recent
refugees who had fled the Yamasees' war with the English. In 1715 the
Yamasees as well as Creeks, Choctaws and Cherokees in Carolina had
revolted in dissatisfaction with English traders. The Yamasees, who had
forsaken the Spanish and the Guale region for the English in Carolina during
the 1680s, turned back to their old Spanish allies for protection after the
uprising.4 Chief Jospo[gue] was attached, possibly assigned, to the
Yamasee village of Our Lady of Candelaria. He governed forty-six adults and
twenty-three children, all "heathens" except one warrior. Perhaps the
governor placed these newcomers under Francisco's care because of the
chiefs record of accomplishing many conversions in the past and his
knowledge of the Yamasee language.'
Francisco Jospo[gue] and Agustina P6rez were married some time
before 1728. Agustina appears only once in the parish records with a racial
description: mestiza. All of the entries for Agustina reside in the books for
non-whites, but records offer no village association for her or her parents.
Perhaps Agustina was, like her sister, a native of the village of Nombre de
Dios Chiquito, which had at one time been headed by Chief Francisco
Jospogue. Perhaps wishing to create a new family, Chief Francisco chose a
wife quite a bit younger than himself, for Agustina bore children as late as
1751, whereas Francisco was in his sixties when their son Miguel was bom in
1728. Over the at least twenty-two years that Agustina was giving birth, the
Church records suggest that the newborns that she buried outnumbered
those that survived.47
The Jospo family probably took advantage of the purchasing power
that came with the granting of Francisco's pension of two reales daily to
acquire a lot and tabby house on St. George Street. They moved in between
1734, when Francisco's petition was finally forwarded to the proper
authorities, and before 1737, when neighbors referred to Jospo as deceased.
Their lot, like the Riberas' property, spanned the width of the block, 191 feet
(70 varas), but provided only 41 feet (15 varas) frontage on St. George Street.
In 1738 Agustina married the son of a chief, a birth position that held little
promise in the matrilineal Native societies of the southeast. Thus would
Agustina's new husband be bypassed in a structure wherein inheritance to
rule passed from uncle to nephew through the chiefs sister.48
Agustina's new husband, Juan de Fuentes, found employment as a
sailor and later as a soldier in the artillery company, while Agustina and her
child or children contributed money to the household as the heirs to Chief
Francisco's pension, secured by virtue of Francisco's loyalty. Thus Agustina
P6rez provided income for her family through the same pension mechanism
as did many of St. Augustine's Euro-American widows.49
The "urban" Indians insinuated themselves into the social fabric of St.
Augustine through the foremost institutions of the Spanish world: the church
and the military. Like Ribera, Fuentes looked to his relationship to the Church
structure to verify his independence and citizenship. Incorporated into the
Franciscans' census like Ribera and his family, Fuentes also argued that he
was a citizen of the town and that he and his family were communicants of the
parish church, not residents of the missions or their churches. In the rivalry
between the secular priests, who staffed the parish church, and the friars, who
manned the missions, Ribera, Fuentes, along with other neighbors, were
enrolled by the friars to "pad" statistics as the missionaries tried to justify their
continued existence in the face of dwindling flocks when the Indian families
had indeed left behind their status as dependent, mission Indians. The
controversy about who had jurisdiction over natives in St. Augustine had
come up at the beginning at the eighteenth century. At that time the crown
decided in favor of the regular clergy-the Franciscans. But in 1746, the
crown reversed its earlier decision and favored the secular clergy. John
TePaske's administrative viewpoint presents the religious contention from the
administrative viewpoint and what the decisions meant for the church and
state. But, indeed, the subjects of the controversy had their own concerns
and saw their autonomy at issue.5
Mirroring the dominant society, these Indian families employed the
relationships arising out of personal religious life to improve and solidify their
status as citizens. Choices of sponsors and attendants at the personal
religious rites of baptism and marriage established and formalized obligations
which could carry over into the profane parts of life. Godparents of higher
standing could open social and economic opportunities for the godchild or for
the child's parents. Landers has identified the importance of the ritual
kinships and the dynamics associated with godparenthood as practiced by
blacks in Spanish St. Augustine. She notes that religious kinships linked all
three races. Generally white persons could offer the most status and benefits
through the ritual relations to blacks, Indians, or mixed bloods. Throughout
the Spanish Indies birth in the Iberian peninsula carried status that birth in the
Americas did not command. Choice of sponsors was effected by proximity
considerations, such as the selection of neighbors, or by corporate or
institutional relations, such as social hierarchy or social distance imposed by
military ranks. Nor should we diminish or discount the importance and
strength of affection as an influence in the selection. Native Americans, of
course, honored and entrusted members of their own families and villages
with selection to stand for them in these important positions.
But St. Augustine's Native American families also chose Spanish-born
neighbors, and in a few surprising instances were chosen by Spanish families
to act as witnesses or sponsors at rites for Spanish citizens. When the
daughter of Agustina Perez and the deceased Chief Francisco Jospogue
married in 1750, Agustina selected her entrepreneurial next-door neighbor,
the Iberian, Francisco Navarro, to be a witness. Agustina had similarly
incorporated other Spanish neighbors when her own sister, the latter still
living in her natal village, had married a few years earlier. Agustina at that
time chose a locally important couple, the Hitas, who lived only a few doors
away. It is likely that the nuptials took place at Agustina's house on St.
George Street. Navarro, who owned a store that sold English wares,
members of the Hita family, and Joaqufn Blanco, in charge of the Crown's
warehouse and an importer in his own right, frequently participated in non-
white ceremonies, perhaps expanding or reinforcing obligations and
strengthening their own commercial positions in the process.51
Several Latin American historians who have studied the practice of
godparenthood (compadrazqo) conclude that in the Spanish New World the
relationship between the parents and godparents was more important than
that between the godparent and godchild, the latter being the primary
relationship in Spain.52 Artillery Sergeant Martin Martinez Gallegos, who lived
directly across the street from Agustina Perez and Juan de Fuentes, agreed
to be godfather to their daughter. A sailor at the time of the baby's baptism,
Fuentes subsequently advanced economically and no doubt socially when he
was able to enlist in an artillery company. Did the godfather-sergeant
facilitate Fuentes's entry into the artillery corps? Artillery service was
desirable in a military town for not only did the artillery pay better than cavalry
service but it also offered its members exemptions and privileges not
available to other branches, such as the cavalry or infantry.5 Fuentes and
Antonio de la Cruz Ribera, both Indians, drew annual salaries of 180 pesos
as artillerymen in comparison to the 158 pesos paid to Fuentes's neighbor,
infantryman Lorenzo G6mez, from an old St. Augustine creole family. In an
interesting interracial turnabout G6mez requested the Indian Francisco Xavier
de Ribera to be the godfather of G6mez's two-day-old daughter. Kinship with
the Indian Ribera might have offered some economic advantage to G6mez for
Francisco Xavier owned land and buildings along the waterfront in the area
where retail stores and warehouses were located."
Flexible Racial Classification
As Native American residents of St. Augustine moved further into the
town's social and economic life, the descriptions of them in racial terms
diminished in documents and was replaced by economic identification, usually
in occupational terms. When Juan de Fuentes married Agustina Perez, the
priest recording the union described the bride and groom in terms of their
relationships to Indian nobles: the widow and the son of chiefs, respectively.
Parish records made two and three years later denominated Fuentes by his
occupation, a sailor, and did not include a racial description for him.
The priests were not consistent in their use of terms specifying racial
mixture. Yet what appears to be inconsistencies might very well have been
determined acts by the recorders. In 1735 the Church in St. Augustine began
to record the sacraments--baptism, marriage, burials-in separate sets of
books for whites and for non-whites (pardos y morenos y indios). The books
of the St. Augustine parish, however, did not employ the variety of terms
indicating fractional racial mixture that were used in Central and South
America. In addition to "Indian" and "black," "mestizo" (of Indian and white
ancestry) and "mulatto" (of black and white ancestry) appeared in the St.
Augustine records with few additional terms. During the course of a lifetime a
person of non-white or mixed ancestry might be described with different terms
by the same recorder. The members of the Ribera family appear as Indians in
some entries, as mestizos in others, and in still other with no racial
identification, which implied a white person, even when it was the same priest
signing the seemingly contradictory entries. The inconsistencies cannot be
attributed merely to carelessness or mental lapses on the part of the priests
for such practices have been noted in other areas of colonial Latin America.
Throughout Latin America, even to modern times, terms that denote
racial identification have been applied to individuals with fluidity, the terms
being contingent upon the benefits to either the recorder and/or the subject.
Thus in Latin America the same individual might be named even by the same
recorder as an Indian in one instance and a mestizo in another, depending on
the circumstances. Conversely in much of Anglo America the ambiguity of
intermediate identity was avoided by the practice of what anthropologist
Marvin Harris calls "hypo-descent:" identification with a racially subordinate
ancestor rather than with one of the superordinate group. Identification with
"whiteness" was, however, still beneficial in Latin America. Marriage records
tended to list the marital parties in racial terms that narrowed the social
distance. Thus the union between an Indian and a Caucasian might be
recorded in the books of white marriages with the Indian's racial identity
"lightened" to the category of mestizo. Historian Patricia Seed found such
occurrences in her analysis of mid-eighteenth century parish and census
records from Mexico City. Seed's study offers insight into the interracial
relationships, which were also interpersonal relationships, in St. Augustine.
Additionally her work suggests possible explanations for the documentary
inconsistencies in St. Augustine's records.5
The treatment of Antonio de la Cruz Ribera and his children is
particularly interesting. In May 1756, when Ribera married Rosa Maria de
Angulo, a woman of an established St. Augustine creole family, Father Juan
Jos6 de Solana entered the record of their nuptials in the book of white
marriages; the priest made no reference to Ribera's racial background,
implying white. Thus was the social distance narrowed in the records. The
earlier marriage of Antonio's brother, Francisco Xavier, to a white woman was
recorded in the same manner. At the baptism of the former couple's firstborn
in January 1758, Father Solana again registered the event in the book for
whites. But the following January, Father Solana recorded the baptism of the
Riberas second son in the book of non-whites and furthermore identified
Antonio Ribera as a mestizo. In March 1761 the record of the baptism of the
Riberas' third son was entered in the book of whites. Perhaps the complexion
or appearance of the individual babies influenced the decisions.
But there is another scenario that illustrates the presence in St.
Augustine of the same attitudes and practices identified by Seed for Mexico.
Father Solana probably chose to record the marriage in the book of whites in
consideration for the respectable birth family of Rosa Maria de Angulo and
the same sentiment was at work at the time of the first child's baptism. By the
time that Ildefonso, the second son, was born a strong animosity existed
between Father Solana and Governor Palacio, the latter having married into
the family of the baby's mother. Solana found the governor lacking in his
religious behavior and selfish and remiss in carrying out the responsibilities of
office and reported these opinions to officials in Cuba any number of times.5
In the honor-oriented society of the colonial Spanish world the baptism of the
tiny Ribera boy offered Father Solana an opportunity for a more subtle and
enduring slight than direct criticism of the governor. The priest could gleefully
dishonor the colony's highest official by recording the governor's kinship with
racially inferior relatives. The baptismal record of two-days-old Ildefonso
Ribera became the weapon. By 1761 a different priest entered the baptism of
the couple's third child in the book of white baptisms. By then, however,
Father Solana was no longer serving the St. Augustine parish, having fled to
Cuba to avoid arrest at the orders of Governor Palacio. And in the finality and
singularity of burial, Antonio Ribera came full circle in the Church documents,
back to his identity as an Indian.57
The recognition of the activities and roles of Indian families such as the
de la Cruz-Ribera group or the families formed by Agustina P6rez and her two
husbands introduces a new perspective into the history of Spanish Florida
and the colonial southeast. The institutional structures that kept St. Augustine
society so conservative and ordered also provided the scaffolding for
adventurous and enterprising Indians to become citizens of the town, not just
residents. These families penetrated St. Augustine society through fictive
kinship (godparental relationships) and corporate and commercial
connections. Certainly the opportunity to move into the cash economy
through military enlistment provided the means to advance socially and
materially. Members of the Ribera-de la Cruz family had acquired enough
worldly goods to make wills necessary in order to direct the disposition of their
possessions, and they had sufficient funds to pay the government notaries to
compose the wills.5 While it is doubtful that they were fully integrated into the
society of St. Augustine, these Indian families illustrate that their participation
in the town's social and economic life was not as constrained and
opportunities were not as foreclosed as previously thought.
In Spanish Florida, some Natives were able to take advantage of the
labor and defensive needs to insert themselves into the mainstream economy:
the defense budget. In the process they lost their Indian identity in the
documents. Usually their racial classification was first lightened to mestizo
and with incorporation into the army a military or occupational designation
replaced the racial one. These same individuals declared themselves full-
fledged parishioners of the St. Augustine church and were listed by the
secular priests and no longer ministered to by Franciscans priests and
counted as mission villagers and wards of the crown.5 Regular and secular
clergy argued over the status of Indians, which was in fact a conflict over
control and authority over a clientele. For the Natives, becoming a
parishioner was part of the process toward full citizenship, being a vecino.
The natives who received a plaza in the garrison were paid as any other
cavalryman, pilot, or artilleryman and were not dependent upon royal charity.
They were sui uuris and no longer children or incompetents under the law nor
under the Franciscans. Every Native American who became a vecino
diminished the influence of the friars.
Spanish Florida had looked to non-whites for fighting men for many
years. It has already been mentioned that the Spanish governor activated an
Indian militia in the light of Cromwell's Western Design.60 In 1683 blacks and
mulattoes were organized into their own militia-before the Spanish Crown
would formally institute such a policy in the Caribbean following the Seven
As British Carolina and Georgia burgeoned, Spanish Florida
increasingly felt the need for soldiers who were bound by a formalized
obligation-more than a militia requirement--and Spain did not adequately
deliver fighting men. To oversimplify: Spain now had to pay the going rate for
what in former times it could demand.
Recognizing the entry of Indian families into the economic mainstream
adds another dimension to the existing view of assimilation of Natives in St.
Augustine. Economic integration is much more rapid than cultural
amalgamation as Marvin Harris has observed. Thus economic means offer
more rapid integration than do cultural mechanisms. For the Native
Americans of Spanish Florida social independence and economic integration
went hand in hand when achieved through the primary institutions of the
existing society. Not all Indians entered mainstream society in the cultural
slipstream of a Spanish or creole male, whether he be husband or father. It
was possible for the individual to make the entr6e directly, rapidly, and in the
individual's own right rather than serving some sort of cultural apprenticeship
while attached to a member of the dominant society and culture.
1. Jane Landers, "Black Society in Spanish St. Augustine," Ph.D. diss.
University of Florida, 1988; and Landers, '"Traditions of African American
Freedom and Community in Colonial Spanish Florida," in David R. Colburn
and Jane L. Landers, eds., The African American Heritage of Florida
(Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995), 19-25.
2. Daniel H. Usner, Jr., "American Indians in Colonial New Orleans," in Peter
H. Wood, Gregory A. Waselkov, and M. Thomas Hatley, eds., Powhatan's
Mantle: Indians in the Colonial Southeast (Lincoln: University of Nebraska
Press, 1989), 106; Almon Wheeler Lauber, Indian Slavery in Colonial Times
Within the Present Limits of the United States, (1913, reprint, Williamstown,
Mass.: Corner House Publishers, 1970), 130-33; John Donald Duncan,
"Indian Slavery," in Bruce Glasrud and Alan M. Smith, Race Relations in
British North America. 1607-1783 (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1982), quote on 85.
3. Amy Turner Bushnell, Situado and Sabana: Spain's Support System for
the Presidio and Mission Provinces of Florida (New York: American Museum
of Natural History, 1994), 30-31; David J. Weber, The Spanish Frontier in
North America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 125.
4. Bushnell, Situado and Sabana, 118, 122, quotes on 122; Leslie Bethell,
ed. Cambridge History of Latin America (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1984)1: 220-21
5. John E. Worth, The Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida (Gainesville:
University Press of Florida, 1997)1:213; John H. Hann, A History of the
Timucua Indians and Missions (Gainesville: University Press of Florida,
1996), 192, 261-5. Hann asserts that the Timucua bore the full brunt of a
series of epidemics from 1614-17 by virtue of their close contact with the
pathogen-carrying Spanish Floridians. He claims that the disappearance of a
substantial portion of the Timucua population was an important motivator for
extension of the missions into Apalachee.
6. Bushnell, Situado and Sabana, 129-31, quote on 129; J. Leitch Wright, Jr.,
Anglo-Spanish Rivalry in North America (Athens: University of Georgia Press,
7. Converse D. Clowse, Economic Beginnings in Colonial South Carolina
(Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1971), 65-66.
8. Wright, Anglo-Spanish Rivalry, 56.
9. Wright, Anglo-Spanish Rivalry, 58.
10. Charles W. Arnade, The Siege of St. Augustine in 1702 (Gainesville:
University of Florida Press, 1959), quote on 8. Arnade's monograph is the
most complete account of the siege from the Spanish perspective.
11. John H. Hann, Apalachee. The Land Between the Rivers (Gainesville:
University of Florida Press, 1988), 281-83. Chapter 12 discusses the
discrepancies in the reports of number of slaves captured.
12. John H. Hann "St. Augustine's Fallout from the Yamassee War," Florida
Historical Quarterly 68 (1989):186.
13. Governor and Other Officials to King, St. Augustine, 1715 November 28,
Archivo General de Indias (hereafter AGI) Johns B. Stetson Collection
(hereafter SC) P. K. Yonge Library of Florida, 58-1-30/44 (microfilm copies in
Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board collection [HSAPB]).
14. Governor of Florida, 1716 April 23, AGI SC 58-1-30/57.
15. Genaro Garcia, Relaci6n de los trabaios que la gente de una nao
Ilamada Nra. Senlora de la Merced padeci6 y de algunas cosas que en
aquella flota sucedieron, escrita por Fray Andrbs de San Miguel, publicada
por primera vez por Genaro Garcia (Mexico: Casa de F. Aguilar Vera y
Compaflia, 1902), 205-06.
16. Governor Diego Quiroga y Losada to Crown, 1693 April 24, AGI SC 54-5-
15/693; John H. Hann [trans.], "Apalachee Counterfeiters in St. Augustine,"
Florida Historical Quarterly 67 (1988): 59-60.
17. Royal Officials to Crown, 1696 April 20, AGI SC 54-5-15/114; Baptism of
Francisco, mulatto son of Juan de los Gasdos, slave of Adjutant Ger6nimo
Regidor and Marta Maria, a naborfa, 1702 November 18, Cathedral Parish
Records (hereafter CPR), Diocesan Center, Mandarin, Florida (microfilm
copies at St. Augustine Historical Society).
18. Mario G6ngora, Studies in the Colonial History of Spanish America.
Richard Southern, trans. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975),
19. Petition of Agustin Guillermo de Fuentes y Herrera, 1734 April 29, AGI
20. Hann, "St. Augustine's Fallout from the Yamasee War," 194.
21. Manuel de Montiano Letterbook, 1740 January 31, Bundle 37 (hereafter
Bnd.), no.180, East Florida Papers (hereafter EFP), Library of Congress
Manuscript Collection (microfilm copies at St. Augustine Historical Society;
Pablo Castell6, "Piano del presidio de San Agustin de la Florida y sus
contornos ." 1763 July 21. Library of Congress (original in the Spanish
Ministry of War, LM 8a-1a), map # 30, HSAPB.
22. Alonso Las Alas spoke of the villages of Yoa and Tolomate along Sapelo
and St. Catherine's sounds in his testimony of September 12, 1600. Charles
W. Arnade, Florida on Trial. 1593-1602 (Coral Gables, Fla.: University of
Miami Press, 1959), 16; David Hurst Thomas, St. Catherine's: An Island in
Time (Atlanta: Georgia Endowment for the Humanities, 1988), 17. Hurst is
not convinced that the subsequent fort's location was the mission site.
23. Robert Allan Matter, "The Spanish Missions of Florida: The Friars Versus
the Governors in the 'Golden Age,' 1606-1690." (Ph.D. diss., University of
Washington, 1972), 106; Michael V. Gannon, The Cross in the Sand: The
Early Catholic Church in Florida, 1513-1870 (Gainesville: University of Florida
Press, 1961), 64.
24. James W. Covington, "Migration of the Seminoles into Florida, 1700-
1820," Florida Historical Quarterly 46 (1968): 340-57.
25. John K. Mahon and Brent R. Weisman, "Florida's Seminole and
Missocukee Peoples," in Gannon, ed., The New History of Florida, 186-88,
quote on 187.
26. Harry A. Kersey, Jr., The Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes: A Critical
Bibliography (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987), 1-2. Several
scholars disagree with this sequence of evolution of the name.
27. Robert L. Gold, Borderland Empires in Transition: The Triple-Nation
Transfer of Florida (Carbondale & Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University
Press, 1969), 67.
28. Statement of Pedro Tomas de Ribera, 1745 February 9, AGI Santo
Domingo (hereafter SD) 842 (microfilm copies at Yonge Library).
29. I have placed a different family on this site than the one selected by
Kathleen Deagan in her archaeological excavations. Deagan identified the
mestizo family of Maria Sebastiana de la Cruz and Jos6 Gallardo with this
site, but a better argument can be made for locating the Indian family of
another Maria de la Cruz and her husband, Pedro Tomas de Ribera, there.
There were several women by the name of Maria de la Cruz who appear in
the parish records during the pertinent time period. The biographical cards at
the St. Augustine Historical Society, which were probably the source of
information about Maria de la Cruz, did not and still do not include the parish
records of non-whites. Thus the existence of the Indian, rather than mixed,
family which I place on the site was not a possibility offered to Deagan.
Both de la Puente's map and transfer of parcel #51 to Samuel Piles in
July 1764 refer to the "heirs of Maria de la Cruz" as the evacuating owner.
Maria, wife of Pedro Tomis de Ribera, had died shortly before the evacuation
and there was no time for the disposition of her estate, hence the notation on
the map as belonging to her heirs. A woman by the name of Maria
Sebastiana de la Cruz owned a house and lot on today's Tolomato Lane (de
la Puente #28) and there is no record of her death before the evacuation.
Juan Jos6 Elixio de la Puente, "Piano de la real fuerza, baluartes y linea de la
Plaza de San Agustin," 1764 January 22, parcel #51; Deagan, "Sex, Status
and Role of Mestizaje;" Kathleen Deagan, Spanish St. Augustine: The
Archaeology of a Colonial Creole Community (Orlando: Academic Press,
1983); Burial of Maria de la Cruz, 1763 June 3, CPR (non-whites). After 1735
separate books were kept for whites and non-whites. Following the practice
of the colonial recorders, the term "non-whites" is used to indicate such
books. No racial term either indicates the books for whites, after 1735, or the
racially unseparated books before 1735.
30. Eligio de la Puente map, lot #51; Claims for Town Lots, Spanish Land
Grants Manuscript Collection, Florida Department of State, Division of
Historical Resources; Deagan, Spanish St. Augustine, 108.
31. Jane Landers, "Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose: A Free Black
Town in Spanish Colonial Florida,' American Historical Review 95 pp. 28 &
29 in SAHS booklet.
32. Statement of Pedro Tomas de Ribera, 1745 February 9, AGI SD 846.
33. Burial of Pedro Tomas de Ribera, 1746 January 13; burial of a small child
of Tomas Ribera, soldier of this presidio, and of Maria de la Cruz, 1737
December 19, CPR, (non-whites).
34. Burial of Maria Ignacia [Morente], 1749 February 5, CPR.
35. Burials, CPR (non-whites).
36. Estate of Juan de Ribera, Testamentary Proceedings, EFP.
37. Estate of Juan de Ribera; see A. J. R. Russell-Wood, "Prestige, Power
and Piety in Colonial Brazil: The Third Orders of Salvador," Hispanic
American Historical Review 69 (1989), for a discussion of third orders,
38. Deagan, Spanish St. Augustine, 104.
39. Baptism of Maria Barba, 1738 April 16; marriage of Maria de los Dolores
Barba to Francisco Xavier de Ribera, 1756 August 2, CPR.
40. Governor Palacio, a knight, was a widower when he married Josefa de
41. House of Agustina Pdrez (Eligio de la Puente map #62).
42. Petition of Francisco Jospogue, 1728 October with transmittal
correspondence dated 1734 January 12, AGI SC 86-7-21/5 (hereafter
43. This information is included in listing of available ports from St. Augustine
in Santa Elena described by Bartolom6 Arguelles in September 1602. See
Charles W. Arnade, Florida on Trial (Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami
Press, 1959), 47.
44. Jospogue Petition; Council of the Indies, Madrid, 1716 January 8, AGI SC
45. Wright, Anglo-Spanish Rivalry, 56.
46. Cacique Tospe [sic] was described as a speaker of the Yamasee
language. Hann, "St. Augustine's Fallout," 185; Statement of Governor Jos6
de ZCAiga, 1702 [sic] January 11 in Jospogue Petition.
47. Marriage of Francisca Xaviela Perez to Lorenzo de Selva, 1747 October
30; Statement of Governor Jos6 de ZO iga, 1702 [sic] January 11, in
Jospogue Petition; Miguel Jospo was fifteen years old at his death in January
1744, giving him a 1728 birth date. Burial of Miguel Jospo, 1744 January 3;
burial of a small nameless child of Juan de Fuentes and Agustina [P6rez],
1751 August 7, CPR (non-whites).
48. Will of Ger6nima Rodriguez states that her southern neighbors are "the
heirs of Francisco Jospo," 1737 February 14, Claim of Juana Navarro, Bundle
359, EFP; Marriage of Juan de Fuentes and Agustina P6rez, 1738 June 12,
49. Burial of Juana [de Fuentes], 1741 August 3, CRP (non-whites);
Francisco Jospogue had requested that his pension be passed to his heirs.
Jospogue Petition; Don Jos6 Antonio Gelabert to the Crown, General list of all
who serve and are paid by the king at the presidio of San Agustin, 1752,
Havana, AGI SC 87-1-14/2; Statement of Juan Jos6 de Fuentes, 1745
February 9, AGI SD 846; Juan Jos6 Eligio de la Puente to Governor of Cuba,
Havana, 1770 January 27, AGI SC 87-1-5/4; statement of Juan Jos6 de
Fuentes, 1745 February 5, AGI SD 846.
50. Statement of Juan Jos6 de Fuentes, 1745 February 9, AGI SD 846; John
Jay TePaske, The Governorship of Spanish Florida, 1700-1763 (Durham:
Duke University Press, 1964), 175.77.
51. Marriage of Crespin Francisco Diaz and Maria Antonia Jospo, 1750 July
1: Don Ger6nimo de Hita and his wife, Juan de Avero, sponsored the
marriage of Agustina's sister, Maria Solana, marriage of Juan Mateo Munos
and Maria Solana, 1747 March 13, CPR (non-whites).
52. George Foster, Hugo Nutini and Betty Bell, Sidney Mintz and Eric Wolfe
noted flexibility and regional variations, but agreed on the importance of the
relationship among compadres.
53. Marriage of Lorenzo de Selva and Francisca Xaviela P6rez, 1747
October 30; baptism of Juana [de Fuentes], 1741 August 3, CPR (non-
54. Don Jose Antonio Gelabert to the Crown, General list of all who serve
and are paid by the king at the presidio of San Agustin, 1752, Havana, AGI
SC 87-1-14/2; baptism of Maria Catalina G6mez, 1754 March 11, CPR; Eligio
de la Puente map, parcel #173.
55. Marvin Harris, Patterns of Race in the Americas (New York: Walker and
Company, 1964), 54-58; Patricia Seed," Social Dimensions of Race: Mexico
City, 1753," Hispanic American Historical Review 62 (1982): 569-606.
56. Robert Kaptizke, 'The 'Calamities of Florida': Father Solana, Governor
Palacio y Valenzuela and the Desertions of 1756," Florida Historical Quarterly
57. Baptism of Josefa Maria de los Dolores Ribera, 1761 March 14, burial of
Antonio de la Cruz Ribera, 1763 July 19, CPR (non-whites); Kapitzke,
"Calamities of Florida," 16-17.
58. Burial of Maria de la Cruz, 1763 June 3; burial of Antonio de la Cruz
Ribera, 1763 June 19, CPR (non-whites).
59. Statements, 1745 February-April, AGI SD 846.
60. "Western Design" (1654-6) was the term used by England's Oliver
Cromwell for his expedition aimed at seizing important points in the West
Indies from which Spanish America might be placed at his mercy. The
successful seizure of Jamaica gave England a major naval base in the
Caribbean from which to attack Spanish and French colonies.
61. Jane Landers, "Fort Mose: Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose: A
Free Black Town in Spanish Colonial Florida," American Historical Review 95
The Spanish consulted conveniency
more than taste in their buildings.
-William Stork, 1765
Spanish residents and officials of Florida were able to pack up their
possessions and important papers both times they departed the colony, 1763
and 1821. But the buildings where they ate and slept, transacted business,
loved, grieved, and made their plans stayed in the Florida peninsula and
panhandle. When British subjects evacuated Florida in 1784, many
dismantled their buildings to transport for reconstruction in new locations, but
there are no reports of the Spanish doing likewise at either evacuation.1
The buildings left behind became the most notable and durable vestige
of Spanish presence in the southeast-a vestige that was at times
misunderstood and misinterpreted by contemporary non-Spanish observers
and then repeated by generations to come. In the attempt to reconcile the
status of St. Augustine's sixteenth-century beginnings with the remnant
physical evidence extant in later centuries, writers both ingenuous and
ingenious, historical and otherwise, attributed age to structures which in fact
were much younger; they either overlooked or perhaps were unaware of the
almost total destruction of the city in 1702.2
Albert Manucy's The Houses of St. Augustine, first published in 1962,
is the seminal, enduring, and standard analysis of the Euro-American
architecture of Spanish Florida.3 Manucy's pioneering work emphasizes and
relies upon late colonial structures; that is, the era for which the most
documentary information is available. More extant examples originated in the
second Spanish period than in the first, and those that did remain from before
the 1763 evacuation were altered and enlarged by subsequent British and
Spanish residents. Because this study focuses on the period for which less
field data were available, it is less accepting of assertions in The Houses of
St. Augustine than many previous studies have been and offers refinements
to Manucy's work for the years of the second Spanish century.
Decades later in 1997, looking back to the even earlier, founding days,
Manucy produced Sixteenth-Century St. Augustine to provide an architectural
picture of a now-invisible period.4 Seventeenth-century buildings remain the
most unknown of all although they succeeded the founding-era Euro-
American buildings. Anthropologist Kathleen Hoffman recently provided the
most descriptive assessment to date of the structures of the 1600s, based
largely on archaeological remnants. Hoffman found that post molds offered
evidence of wood-frame buildings. Narrative descriptions from the 1600s
were few and a dearth of inventories for what Hoffman denominates the
"middle period" limits data as well. What descriptions may be available for
the 1600s are characteristically less detailed than those for the eighteenth
century. In a succinct valuation in 1681 of Governor Pablo de Hita y
Salazar's new private home, the appraising mason and carpenter reported
two buildings about 17 feet in height (6 varas) on a waterfront lot, constructed
primarily of wood and incorporating a small amount of masonry.5
By the middle of the eighteenth century appraisals articulated building
materials by unit sizes and number of items, as a mathematical and
engineering perspective came to prevail. But with regard to modem field
work, most architecture from the first half of the eighteenth century had
disappeared by the time of Manucy's investigations or had been altered and
masked by years of use and accommodation to the needs of occupants.6
This study brings to the analysis of architecture in Spanish Florida the
concept of several and successive Iberian regional cultures rather than a
single Spanish cultural tradition. In the second Spanish century the influx of
new soldiers and accompanying influence from additional Iberian regions
provoked change. This study also looks to previously unexamined individual-
level documents to present a functional analysis of building space and of
building components. It enables a look at the attributes and use of upper
levels and also provides descriptions of the exterior, which are difficult to
discern in the archaeological record.
New Men, New Iberian Regional Traditions
Florida's buildings in 1763 were different creatures that those in 1565,
despite the implication of the idea of a "first-Spanish-period" architecture.
Developments in architecture in Spanish Florida should be seen as a product
of physical and cultural forces rather than predictable stages in a
deterministic architectural metamorphosis. Developments and changes in the
architecture of Spanish St. Augustine have been viewed from an almost
Darwinian evolutionary perspective. That is, an assumption that the changes
from earthen structures to wooden and then to masonry represented an ever
improving course. This is a presentist, antiquarian and heritage-oriented view
which assigns disproportionate importance to durability and longevity.
Because a building still stands for our use, observation and enjoyment today,
we too often narcissistically assume that its endurance represents the
desiderata of its creators as well. In this evolutionary perspective, the
changes in choice of construction materials has been attributed to determined
choices by supposedly ever more astute and prescient residents. Changing
to building with masonry over wood has been adjudged as intentional
progress. Other, non-linear factors have not entered the analysis. Yet, when
addressing motive and intent of persons in the past, we would do well to heed
Barbara Tuchman's admonition that "history is the unfolding of
Cultural considerations and differences among the Spanish colonists
regarding building construction in Florida and use of materials have received
little attention. David Weber with his view as wide as the borderlands,
however, recognized that "Spanish-built homes in North America resembled
those of different regions of Spain."7 Paradoxically, the preference by the
British inhabitants for wood upon their acquisition of Florida after two
centuries of Spanish building developments has not generally been seen as
regressive. Yet the British choice of wood over stone contradicts the
assessment that the Spanish residents' turn toward stone be judged as a
move up the architectural evolutionary ladder. Use of wood by the British is
portrayed as a decision to employ familiar cultural elements while use of wood
by the Spanish is seen as a manifestation of a materially pitiful locale (see
Chapters 6 and 7).
The turn toward masonry structures in Florida was fueled by several
contemporaneous changes. It has long been accepted that for more than a
century after settlement by Europeans, Florida's town residents constructed
their buildings of wattle and daub or of wood. Residents with a minimum of
economic resources turned to buildings of wattle and daub. In supposed
imitation of the Native Americans, the builders employed the technique of
pressing an earthen mixture into a framework, woven of supple poles or
reeds. Lightweight roofs of either palm fronds or of some strawlike material
topped these structures. Constructing such buildings required simple
technological skills and few tools.
The use of wattle and daub in the founding period has generally been
viewed as the Spaniards' imitation or appropriation of Native styles. With
landfall M6nendez quickly commandeered Timucuan Chief Seloy's building
and assigned his men to convert part of the village into a fort for defense
against feared French assaults. Manucy reasonably concludes that the
settlers "became familiar with Indian structures" and that mimicking of Native
housing took place. This conclusion, however, evidences a Eurocentric
viewpoint that Native techniques were adopted out of necessity and by default
as a stopgap rather than asking whether the arriving settlers gravitated toward
a variation of what was familiar. Yet the Asturian settlers might have felt
somewhat comfortable with the Timucuan structures which they encountered
on the Florida coast, for there were similar structures in their Iberian
homeland. Circular folk structures roofed with straw still persisted in Asturias
as recently as the years just prior to the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).8
Wood was the material of choice for the more substantial and higher-
status buildings of Florida's early years. The use of wood could very well
have been a determined choice to rely on timber rather than the local
shellstone. Manucy claims that the "early builders in Florida did not have
stone to work with," yet by 1580 Florida residents were aware of and even
had constructed at least one building of coquina.9 The reliance upon wooden
structures was the product of the happy occurrence of settlement in an area
which could provide plenty of the construction material which was the primary
fabric of the arriving settlers' building tradition. The leading first settlers,
hailing from wooded areas of the northwestern Iberian peninsula, brought with
them a tradition of building with timber. The members of Menendez's Florida-
bound coterie departed from a region where most of the houses were still of
wood. Constantino Cabal's study of popular housing or "vernacular
architecture" in Asturias asserted that in the middle of the sixteenth century
(1540) the majority of houses were made of board (de tabla).10 Florida's
forests enabled the early settlers to replicate the fabric as well as the style of
the homes of the land that they left behind.
Even the buildings used by the highest officials were made of wood. A
circa 1595 drawing of St. Augustine depicts structures of vertical boards for
the governor's house and the church. The roofs were of planks as well. But it
was the weaponry rather than the buildings which were important to the
inhabitants, or perhaps in this case to the "artist" passing through St.
Augustine. The cannon placed in the openings of the guardhouse were
drawn with more care than the buildings. The cannon were presented with a
three-dimensional appearance while the buildings more resembled a two-
dimensional child's drawing. The attention to storage barrels was also
disproportionate. This focus parallels the relative depiction of the structures
and artillery at Santa Elena. Therein, the handles on the cannon were
elaborated while the buildings received little concern." Buildings were in
effect available locally and thus inexpensive. Buildings could be fashioned
from resources near the settlements while cannon had to be transported from
Spain, where the foundries were located. Distance and the locus of
technology elsewhere made the weaponry expensive and important, and by
default made for an uneven graphic portrayal of the colony.
Governor Gonzalo M6ndez de Canzo relocated the executive
residence in St. Augustine from the waterfront to a more inland lot when he
purchased a wooden house from Maria de Pomar. After making
improvements and additions, Mendez de Canzo sold his homesite to the
Crown "at a bankruptcy price" (in his opinion) when he departed Florida for
his next tour of duty. Mendez de Canzo's upgrades were of wood, except for
the replacement of a palm thatch roof with flat roof (azotea), a sealant coat of
tabby over planking.12
Although use of wattle and daub persisted throughout the seventeenth
century, it became less prevalent. "Board walls became increasingly
numerous up to the wholesale destruction of the 1702 siege." concluded
Albert Manucy. Then, he says, over the next half century (1700-50) masonry
became the principal building material.13
Changes in St. Augustine's buildings were brought about by a
combination of factors-technical, economic, social and cultural: the
availability of trained craftsmen and construction material, more money and
credit, and the influence of new cultural elements in the population. The
impetus for the turn toward masonry structures was fed by the release to the
public of the local shellstone into a scenario which provided a cadre of
craftsmen who had been trained to work with the shellstone during the
construction of the Castillo de San Marcos. Governor Manuel de Cendoya
imported fifteen skilled workers--masons, stonecutters and lime burners--from
Cuba in 1671 to work on the proposed masonry fortification, begun the
following year. Others learned the skills in Florida, as demonstrated by the
predominance of Native American and African slave craftsmen in building a
new governor's residence in 1690.14
Fear of widespread destruction by fire following the 1702 siege and the
enemy's purposely ignited conflagration has been considered the primary
motivating factor for the change in material, especially the turning away from
flammable material. But here again, hindsight takes on a deterministic
character in historical analyses. Because the change in building materials
took place largely in the years following the 1702 razing, it has been
concluded that it was the English-set inferno which instilled a pervasive fear
of fire in the community and the preventive action of building with masonry.
Why would the residents wait until after 1702 to prevent fire when it had
always been a threat? Francis Drake burned the town in 1586, fire consumed
important buildings in 1599, and fire certainly deprived colonists of their
homes in random and intermittent individual tragedies.15 Yet masonry
buildings did not spring up after these events. Even if coquina were not
readily available for private use, the material for tabby masonry certainly
abounded in the oysterbeds in tidal creeks and in nearby shellmounds
created in earlier millennia.
Historians Luis and Eugenia Arana state that the 1702 destruction "cut
short" masonry construction rather than serving as the impetus for turning to
shellstone. The Aranas attribute the turn to masonry construction to more
money entering the colony in the last third of the seventeenth century and the
ability of the residents to build on credit. Royal policy permitted soldiers to
pledge their salaries to finance new structures.16
Cultural traditions were at work as well. The influence of a substantial
number of arrivals from Iberian regions where masonry construction prevailed
prompted a preference for masonry instead of wood as much as did pragmatic
concerns and local events. The soldiers who began arriving in 1680 after
decades of no new troops and thus no immigrating residents were largely
natives of Castilla and Andalucia.17 The aridity of these areas of Iberia did
not nurture forests, and masonry construction in those areas was if nothing
else a default choice. Leopoldo Torres Balbas described the situation in
Andalusia as "construction materials are stone, in the form of rubble
(mamposteria) for the most part .... The arboreal vegetation is scarce and
wood for building is scarce and poor."'18
When English expeditionaries kindled St. Augustine and the missions
in 1702 and 1704, the invaders accelerated the incorporation of the arriving
architectural notions and practices. The town's ashen earth presented a
physical tabula rasa as a stage for the building traditions arriving with new
soldiers.'9 The incorporation of arriving architectural traditions did not have to
await the need for a repair or for an addition to what was already in place.
New architectural ways neither blended with nor competed with the old. The
destruction wrought by the 1702 siege provided an empty and yet fertile arena
for new materials and styles in architecture.
Buildings as Detailed by Those Who Knew Them Best
Individual-level appraisals and inventories available from the first half
of the eighteenth century were overseen and perhaps contributed by the
owners and residents of the buildings themselves. Details were set forth in
those documents that town-wide sources did not include. Such specifics
make it possible to ascertain or at least reasonably to infer use and perhaps
even the level of comfort of the spaces.
The Eligio de la Puente map of 1764 of St. Augustine provides
standardized information about property ownership, building materials, and lot
size throughout the entire town. Eligio did not, however, include information
on building size or for outbuildings. For his purposes in the role of real estate
agent, the latter sort of information might have been superfluous.2' Although
Eligio recorded only simple measurements of length and width, lots were
sometimes trapezoidal as blocks widened between their extremes. Some lots
surely included jogs and irregularities as the property lines on de la Rocque's
1788 map depict. The succinct measurements given for length and width of
parcels in both of the aforementioned maps, however, allows for later
reconstruction of only rectangular lots. Pablo Castell6's map, contemporary
with that of Eligio, depicted St. Augustine with the eye of the mathematician
and engineer for detail, including outbuildings, gardens and fields, but it did
not include measurements and building materials.21
Much of the picture we have of the Spanish capital has relied upon the
observations and writings of visitors. The information was often spritely and
entertaining, for the visitor tended to comment upon that which was unusual
from his perspective. The generic, common and prosaic were absent while
cultural bias pervaded the descriptions, as seen in William Stork's remark that
Spanish buildings gave more consideration to convenience than to taste.22
Conversely, those most familiar with the structures left us little narrative
description. Tedious probate inventories and other official papers are the
only record we have from the Spanish residents who actually walked in and
out of the buildings, who supervised the construction, alterations, and repairs.
The persons who used the doors and windows that they evaluated left us little
more than brief itemizations and costs, not phrases about decoration and
pleasing proportions. They saw no reason to do more. Yet they did in fact tell
us more about their houses than was explicit in the list of elements. For
example, when an occupant described a door specifically as the "door
between the bedroom and the shop," the use of space was made apparent."
The appraisals of ten private stone buildings constructed in the first
half of the eighteenth century provide a picture of Florida's substantial city
structures and their attendant secondary buildings. Father Juan Jose Solana
wrote in 1760 that there were 303 buildings in St. Augustine; stone buildings
comprised 49 or about one-sixth of the buildings. He reported that among
those stone structures, the kind of roofing material was about evenly
distributed: 23 of stone and flat roofs, 26 of boards and shingles.24 Based on
Solana's figures, the available appraisals describe about twenty percent of
the stone buildings. Private buildings in the town made of other materials do
not appear in the available appraisals, except for wooden kitchens or other
workspaces, such as washhouses, which were secondary to and associated
with a primary stone building.
The probate of the property of Diego de Espinosa on St. Augustine's
waterfront provides the most detailed description of buildings, use of space
within the buildings, and the relationship of rooms to one another. The few
other available contemporary probate proceedings did not include
accounting which were as detailed as these. The entries in the appraisal of
Espinosa's estate were surely scrutinized closely by those who knew the
buildings the best: his widow and four children. The "cross" mark of his widow
Josefa de Torres, who did not know how to write, vouched for the information.
Because the buildings would not be transferred to all the heirs, careful
attention was called for in order to assure fair distribution of the value of
assets. Thus one child received livestock or slaves rather than real estate;
the price of a calf turned over to one child might well offset the value assigned
to a door or roof in a building acquired by a sibling.2s
Three primary masonry buildings stood on Espinosa's property when
he died in May 1756: the main house (casa grande) and its kitchen, the
house with the tabby roof (casa de azotea) and the small house on the
waterfront (casa chica de la marina). Espinosa's holdings occupied lots on
both sides of today's Charlotte Street. The two-story main house on the west
side of the street with approximately 800 square feet (98 [square] varas) per
floor served as the living quarters for Espinosa and his wife.26 The exterior
and some interior walls were of masonry. A low-pitched roof of wooden
shingles covered the building.27 Tabipue (thin-wall masonry) divided the
interior space into rooms; there were also partition walls built of boards. A
dining room and an apartment (or bedroom) occupied the ground floor with a
doorway joining the two rooms. The rooms also had other doors opening to
the outside for independent access. Three windows admitted breezes and
light into the apartment. Upstairs were another bedroom and a drawing room
or salon (sala).28 From a small balcony on the back of the house the
Espinosas could enjoy the land breeze (puerta del terral y el balconcito). A
larger balcony overhung the street.
The one-story, tabby-roof house was situated at a street comer. With
its six, ground-level rooms, it covered a large area.2 The northwest comer of
the building also formed the street corner. The building could be accessed by
several doors opening to the streets. At the corner were double doors; there
were other doors opening to the street as well. And there was a large door or
gate on the street. The building was divided into an entryway, a shop and a
storeroom, a dining room, a parlor and two bedrooms.
Espinosa's two-story building directly on the waterfront had shellstone
exterior walls honed to a Spanish foot in thickness (a tercia: 11 inches).
Tabby also composed a portion of the east side of the building in the only
example describing a combination of the local cement material and the hewn
stone. Perhaps an originally open-ended space was later walled in and the
use of tabby cement was easier than joining cut shellstone blocks. Although
this structure was located nearest to the waterfront, there was no mention of
its use for storage of goods offloaded from boats. A bedroom and parlor
occupied the lower floor, with the bedroom opening onto a patio. The
appraisal suggests that there were two patios, one serving the bedroom and
another on the waterfront. Doors were listed for the patio del aposento and
patio de la marina. Upstairs a balcony offered an outside space. The
appraisal does not specify the use of the upstairs rooms. On the east side
were thin-wall arches or buttresses and a coquina wall.
Each of the three main buildings of the Espinosa compound had its
own kitchen with a fence around the kitchen yard. The kitchen of the main
house was built of coquina, displaying an unusual expenditure for utilitarian,
secondary space. The oven in this kitchen was also of coquina with no other
kinds of masonry, such as bricks, listed for the baking chamber. There were
no references to a hearth or fireplace, which might have been used for
cooking. Any breezes circulating through the two doors and small window
were no doubt most welcome.3 The roof was of masonry (tabby) as well. A
round table and a dozen chairs were inside the kitchen. Perhaps the kitchen
building was used for storing extra seating or maybe workers and servants ate
in the building. Because flooring usually appears in the evaluations, its
absence from the appraisal suggests that the kitchen's floor was merely dirt.
Yet an earthen floor seems incongruous with the investment in the rest of the
kitchen building. Tabby flooring is listed for the main house, the waterfront
building, and the tabby-roof building, the last building containing the shop
and storeroom. The kitchens for the tabby-roof house and waterfront house
were built of wood, apparently without hearths or ovens, and each surrounded
by a wooden fence. The inventory included additional coquina blocks of
varying sizes and the lime to make the mortar to hold them together, which
were located in the yard of the main house when Espinosa died.
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