HISTORIC ST. AUGUSTINE PRESERVATION BOARD
DATE: July 18, 1988
TO: Marsha and Valerie
FROM: Susan Parker
RE: De Mesa-Sanchez house
Attached is a narrative draft of some of the research I have done
recently for incorporation on the house. You already have copies
of two contemporary inventories. I have tried to gather material
on both specific tangible items and on the intangibles, which
effected the lives and outlooks of the residents of this house in
1840. At our meeting scheduled for Friday, July 22, we can
discuss the paths that further research might take.
One hundred years after the "Spanish Quarter" era (circa
1840), Indians were no longer an integral part of St. Augustine's
society. In fact, by that time they had become the "enemy." The
1830's was the decade of the Seminole War, which was probably the
most pervasive element of the town's life at that time. Although
the Seminoles Wars are typically given temporal parameters which
span a short time as seen by the American militarymen,
destruction, abduction and killing had been going on in the
countryside around St. Augustine since the beginning of the
nineteenth century, hampering development of the rural areas.
Second to the Indians, the anger of St. Augustine's residents was
aimed at the American military leadership that had come to fight
the Indians. In recent years likened to the Viet Nam war, it was
a war that the "superior" force was unable to win for a citizenry
that could not understand how such an impasse continued.
The newspapers of the 1830's repeatedly carried remarks
aimed at the commanders which would be considered libelous today.
General Zachary Taylor, who would become president of the United
States in 18--, was often the target of the barbs. He was
accused of "instances of infatuation." His activities had shown
"negative proof of his utter capacity." While lauding the
successes of St. Augustine's local militiamen, such as Joseph
Hernandez and John Hanson, The News of September 13, 1839,
complained: "God help Florida when her destiny is trusted to
such a head as this ETaylor]." Questions in the Charleston
Mercury such as whether Florida was going to become a monarchy
with Wild Cat as king only added to the resident's anger and
Indian threats kept the residents and development confined
to the town. The affinity of local Blacks for the Indians' cause
and the Indiana' capture of the Blacks made the white population
anxious. Black slaves represented substantial capital
investment, and thus substantial capital loss when captured or if
they defected to the Indian towns. The fear led to restrictions
imposed on the Blacks of St. Augustine. In 1838, the city
council passed an ordinance forbidding "colored persons" to be
abroad without a proper pass after the ringing of the Church bell
at 9:00 P.M. Blacks were not allowed on Anastasia Island or
south of the mouth of the San Sebastian River for "the duration
of the Indian war." A fine or application of the whip could be
imposed upon the unfortunates caught without the necessary
Local agriculture was dangerous. Farmers exposed themselves
to danger, their slaves to capture, and their crops to fire.
Almost all foods and staples had to be brought in by boat from
Savannah or Charleston. The local newspaper advertised what were
I The News (St. Augustine), November 3 & 17, 1838, December
1, 1838, September 13 1839.
SThe News, November 3, and December 20, 1838.
the latest arrivals. For example, the March 9, 1836, issue of
the Florida Herald notified residents that the schooner BUSHROD
had just arrived with:
"teas dried currants
new hams mackerel
butter & soda crackers codfish
pilot bread good liquor, wines & champagne
raisins powder & shot
figs percussion caps=
The ad taken by B. E. Carr in November 1839 was more
specific about some of the items. Among the long list were
"Sugars--St. Croix, Porto Rico, New Orleans, Boston, White
& Brown Havana, loaf and log," "Liverpool and Western fine and
coarse Salt" and "Large & small Uttica Crackers..." Carr also
sold "Northern Hams, New Year's Cake and Goshen butter"-
Mr. V. Sanchez offered some patent medicines at his store:
-Montaques Balm, an Indian remedy for the toothache
-Montaques Antibilious Vegetable Tonic Bitters
-Antispasmodic Tincture, or Mother's Comfort
-Bonaparte's Camp Expunging Mixture"
In the Territorial years, the immigrating residents imposed
their culture on the local populace as had been done on the
town's population for centuries. This time it was arrivals from
the northern United States who came to the newly American town.
They found a town that had long been under the influence of
European politics and culture, a town which had not undergone the
isolation from Europe during the seventeenth century like that of
the northern, British colonies, or states, during their early
years.& Many probably felt similar to Mary, wife to Dr. Andrew
Anderson, who wrote: "We are forced to live somewhat in the
Southern style, a kind 6f a slap dash at times as the Dr. calls
it."' They attempted to establish ways and goods to live a life
3Florida Herald, March 9, 1936.
*The News (St. Augustine), September 13 and November 15,
=The Herald, November 11, 1837
7Quoted in Thomas Graham, The Awakening of St. Augustine:
The Anderson Family and the Oldest City: 1821-1924 (St. Augustine
Historical Society: St. Augustine, Florida), 25.
in ways that they felt were right and comfortable.
Although it may have seemed a "slap dash" existence to the
newcomers, St. Augustine offered some outlets for education and
entertainment. In the mid 1830's, Mr. Phillips announced that he
would re-open his school if he could get twenty pupils, who would
need to pay $8 per quarter in advance and also offered evening
school for gentlemen. Miss Hutchinson opened her school on the
second floor of Mr. Weedman's dwelling house." For both
education and entertainment, Ora Howard operated a circulating
library. (The list of books can be obtained from the newspaper.)a
Howard also was the proprietor of a bathing-house with baths both
warm and cold, vapors and showers on Wednesdays and Saturdays.1'
Races and hunting went on outside of town, church ladies held
fairs. In December 1838, the courthouse (now Government House)
was the site of the Episcopal church fair.1*
Mary Jane Loring, an owner of the Mesa-Sanchez house for a
short time, was the wife of one such Yankee. In St. Augustine,
in 1830 Mary Jane Campbell married Charles Loring, who hailed
from a family that traced its ancestry to John and Priscilla
Alden.11 Can one be much more "American" or "Yankee" than that?
Te Lorinos came t -- C. Auyur in'r from Nrt h crrolina in
1823, just two years after the departure of St. Augustine's
Spanish residents upon cession of the province to the United
States. Among the Spanish emigrants were the widow and daughters
of Juan Sanchez, owners of the Mesa-Sanchez house. Retaining
ownership of the house for eleven years after their departure,
the Sanchez women sold the building for $1000 to Lewis G.
Melizet, a merchant who resided in Havana as they did, and to his
brother John of Philadelphia. In 1835 the Melizet brothers sold
this property, bounded on the North by the "Church of the
Mahonese" and on other sides by owners of "Minorcan" surnames, to
James C. Lisk of New Baltimore, Greene County, New York. After
what appears to be transfers as part of the probate of the estate
of James Lisk, Seth K. Gifford of Camden, South Carolina, became
the new owner with the Lisk estate holding a mortgage on the
property for $1800. In 1839 Mary Jane Loring became the next
aFlorida Herald, January 16, 1835 & March 9, 1836; The News,
December 1, 1838.
"Florida Herald & Southern Democrat, December 20, 1838.
',Florida Herald, March 9, 1836
I1The News, December 1, 1838.
1"William L. Weasels, Born to Be a Soldier: The military
Career of William Wing Lorinq of St. Augustine, Florild (Texao
Christian University Press: Fort Worth, 1971), 1.
owner and assumed the outstanding mortgage debt of $800."1 The
Lorings had been renting the house from Gifford, both men serving
in the same military unit. (check this from David N. 8SJ2520)*
Mary Jane died in Hawkinsville, Georgia, in September 1840.
Two months later the bill of foreclosure of the house and land
was filed.14 It was a time of a severe national economic
depression. During the decade that she was married to Charles
Loring, they had three daughters, Elizabeth Catherine, -_______
and Emma, who died at nine months of age while the family was
visiting on Julington Creek.12 The 1840 census lists for the
household of Charles Loring: 1 white male 20-30 years old; 1
white female, 20-30; 2 white females 5-10; 1 female slave, 36-55,
1 female slave, 24-36, 3 female slaves under 10.r-
Sanchez to Melizet ref, Deed Book N, p. 48 and 53, Book 0,
14Deed Book "O", page 609.
15Florida Herald, June 5, 1834, Emma died May 23 1834.
'r United States Census of 1840 (microfilm at St. Augustine