?~ -' ,i CC 77 0 7
^ati iei de ?c(do< /470- /( 76-
THl HOUSE : OF DON PABLO de HITS y SALAZAR.
Saint Augustine history is intimately linked with this
ancient house through more than two and a half centuries.
Built of ooquina, that peculiar stratified formation of
age cemented shells and Band, Ita primitive archileoture is
typical of Spanish Saint Augustin- in the days when grim Castillo
San Marooe was under construction Pnd Florida was forbidden
ground to all but Spanish subjects.
Tirst the residence of a noted Spanish governor, then of
a long line of his descendants, the aged house eventually became
the land mark of bt. ueorge Street, mentioned in many descript-
tons of neighboring properties.
The story starts with the arrival-in Baint Augustine, in
kay 1675, of Captain Ueneral Don Pablo de Hita y Salazar *o take,
office as military and civil governor of that Florida which
Spain still claimed +o stretch westward to the Mississipoi Rjiver
and north to Includ. the territory of Virginia, and even UMasa-
chussetts Bay, which the English claimed by right of actual
Don Pnblo htd seen many years service in Flandes, in the
Castillo de Amberes, in Ghent, and in Ch.mbrri; while in the New
World he had been Mayor of the Ci'y of Vera Cruz and of the Port
of San Juan de Ulloa. Truly his lit had been "no o*her thai that
of the harquebus nnd pike." It was because of this long milteary
experience he was sent to Florida to carry on construction of
,astlllo San Marcoa,bt cgun his ipr--deceeB'or ;.cn anuel de Cendoya.
He was also charged to "dislocate" the English at Charleston.
Don fablo was well pleased with thn d-sign of the fortress
to which he was to contribute so much of th hulilding. In one
of his many letters to the Crown. copied in Vadrid by the histori-n
Lowery, he writes, "Although I have seen many Castillos of con-
sequence and reputation, in the form of its plan this one is not
surpassed by any of those of greater consequence."..." "or will
there be found th- stone, lime and other mat-rials so close at
hand and with the convenience that +here is in this Presidio."
It was th3 convenience of stone anw limo, and no doubt the
bringing from the quRr ies on Anastasia Aslnnd of stones too
small for use in the massive structure of +he Castillo, yet
entirely sultsbl' for residncial use, tia* prompted Don Pablo
to build these walls of such enduring strength.
The year of 1680 was drawing to a close, asP wR his term
of office. Soon hb must vacate G&vernment House to mnke room
for his successor. His four sons were with him, Don Geronimo, a
captain; Don Juan, also a captain and married to Da. Ana Menendez
Marques, descendant of Pedro Menendez Marquez nephew of the
founder of the City; Don Pedro who became Adjutant and Don Thomas
not yet in military service. Already there were two prandchlldren
and the ageing Don Ppblo had no wish to leave his growing family.
He decided to remian in 6aint Augustine for the yP-rs of life
that were left +o him.
On December 8, 1680, he wrote +o rpriana, Queen regent of
Spain, that he was building the house, "for", RP he wri+es, ""here
is none in this Presidio *o rent b-cnjse *he houses that 're
built are weak, of little cpacity, b- ng of boards with the
roof of palm l"erves; ?n: the f-trll-s arre Increasing."
This final reason was both true and prophetic. Church Records
show that from 1678 to 1710 twenty-aeven were born to his four
sons. Many of these babies died in infancy, for the Saint
Augustine of those days was not kind to children. Those who
lived continued the family tradition of service either in the
Army of the King or the Franciscan missions.
The site which Don aeblo selected for +his family house
was not far from the great defensive work on which he was en-
gaged. No oth-r buildings then intervened; from his upper windows
he could watoh the berres coming across the harbor freighted
with massive blocks of coquina. At the landing he could see the
Apalaohlan Indlin slaves struggle with roltr and bar to move
the stones *o shore, and the cries of the drovers urging the
oxen on with word and goad as each stone was dragged up the
incline to the 'ort would come plainly to his ears.
The rront wall of 'he house was lined wtlh the Street to
the Gate to the Land, for the name St. George was not to be
applied to it until a hundred years later. The land on which
the house was built then belonged to th Crown, but thDoughout
eighty-three years of Spanish rule Don Pablo's family were not
disturbed in possession of it.
Irom the time of his arrival in Saint Augustine Lon P blo
had been interested in the work of the Franciscan nissiona.
Barcia,the Spanish historian, in his Ensnao Cronologico para la
Historia de la Florida, makes two references *o the efforts of
Don Pnblo de Hits y Salazar to have mire friars sent from Cuba.
Don Pablo's own letters, of which many are attll to be found in
the Spanish Archives, rhow constant care in protection of the
established mission schools and mnny efforts to extend 'he
mission field. The success of his efforts, which BArcia
mentions, is shown by a letter of 1arrch A,1680, in which Don
Pablo tells of welcoming twenty-four fri-re on +hpir arrival
and safely distributing the m mongp he missions of Apalache.
It wes probably *hise rea+ Interest of thhlir grandfather
which prompted two young men of' he family takt +he Franciscan
habit and later become distlngpuished workers in h+e Indian
ornver'l'nes. Thev are listed in the Biographical Dic+ionary of
the Franciscans In Spatnsh Florida and Cuba. (Geiger) as
"Hita y Salazar, Joseph de: Porn in 5t. Augustine about
1691. +qtloned ni+ Lan nrcoe de Applachs prior 'o
1723, and In +hn vaar was d c'rinfro %+ ban Puenaven+ura
de Pallca q'-onF *he ocnmi n'-lon. Pe hild +he same
office in 1727. Py the c'hrpt-r of 1735 he was elected
guardian of ban Antonio de la Tama and was -)nnmnted one
of 'he lectorA of the Timucuan Indic n language. In 173P
he was doctrinero at 5an Juan del Puerto de PFlloa in
*he Chilunue nation for which languRge he was also lector.
He enloyed the titles of Prodloador G :neral and Pred-cador
"Hita, Antonio de: Forn bout 1693. as n ailsgionary qt
z. AuPus+Ine in 1722 and doctrinero of "ama in 1723.
In the Chapter of 1735 he war nned one of the lect.or
in Indian I-nguPges, his spectil ftild b-ing *hp+ of the
The bir*hdates 71ivn by Gelper are apo-roxinmte. h JoSeph
he describes s~ome to be u~'hIo T 9 e 'h, sixth cn of Don Oer nitto
de Hitt y Salizar and ,-. .rls '-osa d!~e Il ''ora, >orn Ir 2095;
Antonio de Hita was either Antonio Joseph, 1690, or Diego
Antonio, 1692, both eons of Don Pedro de Hit y Salasar and
Da, Catharina de Leon.
Many Indions worked on the builcLng of Castillo San !i4rcos.
It is quite probable some al-o worked on building +he house of
Don Pablo de HitF y Salazar and It was front them that Fray Joseph
and Fray An+onio learned the first words of +hose Indian languages
in which they later became so proficient.
Just how long Don Psblo lived to e- jo his house is not
definitely known. The reord of his burial has no+ been found.
It is certain +h-* he was nlive in 1695 for +here ti an en'ry in
the Church Records tho' on April 9 of that year little Juana
?rancleoa, daughter of Con Thomas de Hita y Salazar and Da. Lorenza
de los Rios was baptized "in *he house of hbr grandfs*her the
Sergeant major r Don Pablo de Hita y Salazar Governor and Captain
General for His Majesty in thesee Provinces" ind the sponsors were
"her said grandfather and Victoria de la Vera."
Nine cays later a touching ceremony took place in this
same house, typical of 'he religious fervor of +he Spaniards of
that period. A wee girlie of two days a funding exposed of
parents unknown, was baptized and named Catharina. Again the
aged ron Pablo was godfather, juet as proud *o stand sponsor for
this little waif as if sh- had been one of his own grendohildren.
It it certain, however, +hat the Governor lid no' live beyond
1698, for the bsptism of a alave child on June 5 of thnt year
refers 'o its parents as being elves of +he heirs of Don Pablo
de Hita y Salazar.
A peculiarity of thesee baptismal records is that they refer
to Don kablo as if he were still Governor although his tera of
office had ended fifte-n y;ra pr.-viously, 'his imay be ex-plained
by the constant cnre for him and his family shown 1y *he C own.
A Royal Cedula of 1682, two yasre after his retirement as
governor, commands "That Don Pablo de Hits is to enjoy his salary
as lone as he wishes, as Is ordered." n 1693, when many oyal
gifts and pensions were cancelled, another cedula was issue
"Providing thnt *he suspension of pifta does not include th se
enjoyed by 'Don Iablo de Hi+a." nhis royal sa*ention was ex ended,
ofter his death, *o ;on rpblo's oldest son in A cedulA of 1 98
which commands ""*h* all possible .t*enti-n be ~iven *o Cpo1 in
Don Geronimo de Hita y Balazar."
Allowing three ve-rs for complf!4on of *ho house, a must
have taken h*bt long for it wae the largest orivpte r.asden e in
4he City, In fict ?xc ddeed i sae only by 'he Royal overn ent
Houses, Don Pablo lived to ~njoy it for about fiften .3ars. The
remaining two story section on 3t. George .'*re-tt is only s) t of
the corn late structure. The map of ;arlano de la soque, 17 ,
shows it ext3ndinF btck 109 feet from +he street in P eha ,
enclosing patio about 35 fl't. square. Here was a safe pla
for the many grandchildr-n *o play ind here no doubt on su ny
drys grandfather Don Pblo sat AR:,ong +h-em, voklna wonderr in +heir
childish "'nds wi*h tales of his campip-ns in lenderss and t e
Castillos he hed seen, ~i.ch larger then Ih'C on- he had holpe *o
build here, in countries hb* *o *hem were bu+ nPmes ff nilc a
beyond that sea which many of them woull not live to cross.
Then came th- time when grandfather Don ?Pblo was no m re.
The house d-sc-nded to his eldest son, Don Gerontro, an: the other
sons founded hbmes of *heir own in o^her parts of the City. Don
Geronimo in turn left it to his son aeronlro Joseph and the -eat-
gr ndch Idren of Don Pablo -slyed in the patio.
Then came *he Britieh tc take possession of all Florida
which the Crown of Spain had released, by b- +treaty of 1763, in
order to recover Cuba. 'on Geronimo Joseph deeded the house, in
trust, to Jesse Fish to be sold when opportunity offered, and
with tbh others of his family, and in fact practically all +he
Spanish inhabitanta, mov-d to Cuba.
In the year of *his removal there was organized in Saint
Augus+lne 'wo bodies of the Third Order of St. vrancls. Among
the lay brothers was Don Elmon de Hits y Salazar and among the
lay sisters Da. M':ris Ounadalpe de Hita and nla. Francisca de Hits,
all descendants of Don Pablo.
During the Pritish occupation, 1763 ~o 1783, a colony of
Greek, Italian and Minorcan set'lere was establishedd at the present
site of New Smyrna, some 60 miles south of saint Augustine. In
1778 those till alive left New Sayrns and came to the Ancient
City where they were allotted living space, by .nflish Governor
Tonyn, in the vicinity of +he City Gates.
As practically all of thesee coloniats were P-?man Catholics,
the only ch roh in Saint Augustine bling Anplican, it was necessary
for their paesor, Fathr Camps, to rent space in a dwelling in
which to say Mass. This space was obtained in +he front ground
floor room of the house built by Don Peblo de Hita y Salazar,
The house then became known as the Capilla minorca (Minorcan Chapel)
or as the Church of the ,Mhonese, thi later name coming from the
Port of Mahon, In the Balearic Illands, from which *he colonists
sailed for Florida. Oonssaonally i* is referred t. as the Greek
Church, as it wae the original int-ntion to settle New Smyrna with
Greeks and thus +he name qreek Setlement was used in English
docurunts and continued *o b- soled even rrter the -olrAstnae had
come to sRint ArJttine '.. ina s onl- of.ce nf public
Catholic worship r. all Aaat Florida from 177P to 1793.
ith tho return of +he Spaniards, in 1783, +he Cap1s
dincroea becamE a land -ark. In 'he Spnisn census of 1783-85
mRny residence lo.;:tions inr described with relation *o the
Xinorcn Chnpel, of which th following arf examples
"John Itrie, native of 6cotland, liv a in a rented house
adj-, ng 't:e Vinorcon Chapel."
"Juan GCanopli, owns a house and grounds far+her up than
*he 1' orcan Chapel." .Tnlhi la the Oldest School House.)
"Jacob Cl,-rk, Ir; has a house in George Street beyond the
.i norcan Chnpel."
"Loren-o Caps, 5scrlitan, he lives in *he ,inorcnn Chapel."
A+ *bh' +m o" t-iAn; *htib cer.sus 'ho h"use of Dor P4blo de
Hitq y s3lzqir Nas ir possession of on' An'to~ito Fernand:~ who seems
*o hove be' n pnr*culqrly charged wih +he c-i'+ody of Crown
property. + will to ree'lled *hn" *-e 1nd 'n wich Ton Inblo
built his house yas originally 'ing's lond.
Th first governor of th: Second Spanleh 'F-tme, 'on V'io nte
Zeapedes, '.de o air. attempt to ad'uat conflicte in Droperty
ownership due to *h. change of flags. ore .:ectiovo st-ps were
tnk-n by his -ucce'ror, Don Juan Nepomucsno r1t %uc~fada, who
o'.used all proper4*el3 of doubtful own:rshlp bt b" -ppraised, in
1790, eon,. '*rn of ered for sale. "t, -r= is -ro a-nt+ n of f s.le
t-ing made of Ton Psblo'e housO; bu* it octs upnt 1i A'ven as
r., ''usenti de iltt< y aslazar. "he Inv-rn+ory is dunllcnte.d in
the assessor'e list of 1O03 "wi-h also gives Li. Sugnisa as +he
occupant her rl rbt to the property evidently b21ng recognized
in both instances ty th? Government. -,. ikugenia's birth has not
b^)-n found in the Ch'irch "',r.rrde; rnvn of +' bli'- so worm
eren.-r. ii fG b'i ill-;:- e '^cr lc L 'nln r .:- b 1?r W rrn -1 -n i's.:' ?
1761 as godmother of Rita Nicolasa, daughter of Don Simon de
Hits and Da. Josepha Rodr~gues, showing that she lived in Saint
Augustine before the British occupation. In the c-neus of 1790
she is list' as a widow of 56 years, daughter of Don Geronimo and
his wife ra. Juana Avero and thus a grand u7hter of the original
During most of these y-ars *h? house built by Don fbblo
de Hita y bslaser continued to he used as *he rinorcan Chspel.
With the death of Father Camps in 1790, and completion of the
Cathedral in 1795, + e Jinoroan Chapel wae .iscontinued and the
building converted to mnre prosaic uses.
The walls of the rear sector were destroyed In one of
Saint AuguAstne's disastrous fires. The to story front section
is all that remains of +he original walls raised by Don Pablo de
Hita y salezar. Thes- enduring walls hpve be-ome a monument to
a famous family of Sprrish nobility which contributed much to
the history of Florida and to a colony of e-t+lers of more humble
origin who *olled, suff-red and kept their faith alive so that
their descendsnte might live in the Saint Augustine of today,