Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 13, Lot 7 Ortega
Title: Site History Lot 1, Block 13, City of St. Augustine
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: Site History Lot 1, Block 13, City of St. Augustine
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 13, Lot 7 Ortega
Physical Description: Report
Language: English
Creator: Arana, Eugenia B.
Wiles, Doris C.
Publication Date: 1968
Copyright Date: Public Domain
Physical Location:
Box: 6
Divider: Block 13 Lots 5-7
Folder: Ortega B13-L7
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
70 Saint George Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Ortega House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 70 Saint George Street
Coordinates: 29.895485 x -81.313128
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094788
Volume ID: VID00024
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: B13-L7

Full Text

Not to leave Comm.
office under any
No. 1


Lot 1, Block 13
City of St. Augustine

Prepared for




March, 1968

Research by

Mrs. Eugenia B. Arana, Translator

Mrs. Doris C. Wiles, Compiler

Lot 1

B L O C K 13 1923 City Map

1764 Puente Map #101 Blk G 1790 Quesada Inventory #114 Blk 13
1765 Moncrief Map Mr. Fish 1834/5 Clements Survey #6 Blk 13
British No. 2 Box Block 1905 City Map:
1788 Rocque Map #69 Blk 10 Lula L. Glaze Dwelling

1764 Houses of stone, of the heirs of Nicolas de Ortega,
N-S 18 varas x E-W 73 varas

Map shows: 1 house on St. George Street = present lot 7
1 house on Spanish Street = present lot 1

Sales to Jesse Fish, 4 June-23 July, 1764:

#199 House of Nicolas Ortega 150 pesos
#200 House of Nicolas Ortega 100 pesos

1765 Moncrief map: Mr. Fish

1766 29 November Fish Account Book, account #21 n/o
Laureana Reyes [Widow of Nicolas Ortegas]

(b) For her house sold to Nicolas Powers 252 pesos 5 reales

Note: The sale to Powers was questioned, as will be seen in later

1771 7 August: Granted by British Government to Samuel Hrabowski.
[This name is spelled in various ways. We will use the above.]

1785 18 March: East Florida Papers: Escrituras, Vol. 366 pp. 195-
Sold by heirs of Samuel Hrabowski to Albert Berruye [Rogero]
[This man's name is also spelled in various ways, probably
because he was illiterate. We will use the finally accepted
spelling Rogero]

1788 Rocque Map: Masonry house, with one 2-story section, in
fair condition, owned by Alberto Ruse [Rogero] with deed
and land that it cites.

1802 22 September: Title confirmed to Rogero.

Re: Hrabowski title : Wilbur Henry Siebert,
LOYALISTS IN EAST FLORIDA, 1774 to 1785, Vol. II, Records
of Their Claims for Losses of Property in the Province,
Deland, Florida, 1929, pp. 130-132:

No. 24 The Memorial of Ann Hrawbouski late of Charles town South
Carolina Dealer and Storekeeper, but now of Leadenhall Street
London Glover & Hosier, & John Saml Hrawbouski her Eldest Son.

States that she became an inhabitant of St. Augustine in 1770,

Lot 1 Block 13

and that her husband, Samuel, died in Charleston in 1777,
intestate, possessed of a lot of land in Spanish Street,
whereon are now two dwelling houses built with stone and
lime, both in tenantable repair, and other outbuildings,
and a well of excellent water built of the aforesaid materials,
together with a number of valuable orange trees in the garden,
the whole being valued at E350 Sterling, and other property.
All of this descended to John Samuel as the eldest son and
heir at law, subject to the widow's right of dower.


To a loss sustained by her being deprived of a Town Lot
situated in Spanish Street and Town of St. Augustine in
the Province of East Florida, aforesaid, known as Number
two in Box's Quarter, bounded westwardly on the said
street, southwardly on the late James Box, Esq., East-
wardly on George Rolfs, and Northwardly on vacant land.

The said Town Lot was granted to Samuel Hrabowski, the late
deceased husband of your Memorialist on the 7th day of
August, 1771. Having now thereon Two very good dwelling
houses built with stone and lime., both of which are in
proper repairs and other outbuildings. Also a well
of exceeding good water built with stone and lime,
together with a number of valuable orange trees in the
garden. All of which being valued on the spot in April 1784
by three sworn appraisers of unblemished characters and
reputation at Three hundred fifty pounds Sterling . .

To the loss sustained by her being deprived of the Rents
of said Houses from January 1784 until compensation can
be made by the Government. Say from January 1784 to January
1788, being four years at the moderate rent of e60 Sterling
per annum = k240.

Whereas agreeable to the directions of Patrick Tonyn, Esq.,
then Governor of East Florida in consequence of his
instructions then from his Majesty's Ministers in all such
cases; the said Town Lot with all the buildings &c thereon
was put up at public sale and knocked off to the highest
bidder at two hundred dollars some short time after the
Spaniards took possession of East Florida, which dollars
being computed at 4s 2d each, being the price they then
bore in England, amounts to h 41 13s 4d.

Amount of losses sustained [on this property] e551 6s 8d.

Leaden Hall Street No. 130 1st JanY 1787.

Lot 1 Block 13

Sworn statement 13 January 1787: Mrs. Ann Hrabowski.

Says she went from England to St Augustine with her late
husband in February 1770, and she has heard that her husband
then purchased for 1l50 a lot of land in Box's quarter with
a house upon it, but she does not recollect the name of
the person from whom he bought it, nor has she any deeds
to produce . .

That her husband died on 7 September 1777, intestate,
leaving the claimant, his widow, and J. S. Hrabowski, his
eldest son and heir at law. That she has obtained the guard-
ianship of her son.

She produced a grant from Governor Moultrie dated 6 July
1772 of a lot in St. Augustine known as No. 2 in Box quarter,
to hold to Samuel Hrabowski, his heirs and assigns, with
the usual conditions of building a house on it, [but]
there was a house upon it when it was purchased, and the
lot was fenced in, but both were much out of repair.

Says she and her husband quitted St. Augustine in 1773
and went to Charles Town South Carolina, and never returned
to St. Augustine.

Mr. Hrabowski left Mr. [Robert] Payne, his attorney, in
the care of his property in St. Augustine, and upon Mr.
Payne's coming to England, it was left in care of Mr.
Michie.. .Mr. Hrabowski was a Pole by birth, and resided
7 years in British America.

Mr. Harry Michie, Witness, sworn:

He was appointed attorney by Mrs. Hrabowski in Charles Town
in 1782 to look after her property and collect her out-
standing debts. That the claimant had a lot of land in
Box's quarter which was fenced in

with two stone houses upon it. One of them
was large, had two good rooms upon a floor
and was two stories high.

The other was not above half as large. The
ground floor of it was used as a kitchen, and
over it there was a very good lodging room.

The large house was out of repair when he came
to it, and he agreed with a Mr. Irwin, a Lieutenant
in the Navy to repair it for living in it 6 months
rent free. That Mr. Irwin told him [Michie] that
the repairs cost him near h240.

Lot 1 Block 13

That both houses were in good repair at the
time of the cession. The fence was not. That
he thinks according to the price of houses they
were worth E400; they were appraised at E350.

That he quitted St. Augustine in June 1784 and
then appointed his brother to act as Claimant's
attorney, who sold the Lot and Houses for 200
dollars about 3 or 4 months after the arrival of
the Spaniards. .

Mr. Robert Payne, Witness, sworn:

Says that he was employed by Claimant's husband as his
attorney in East Florida in 1774 and continued to act
for 2 or 3 years. . That he remembers the claimant's
husband purchasing the lot and houses in St. Augustine
of the Provost Marshall, and that he afterwards

built the lodging room over the kitchen and
improved the other house.

That he was one of the appraisers of the claimant's
property in April 1784 . the fences were down at
that time and the houses were not in good repair
having, he believes, stood empty for some time before
the evacuation of Charles Town . .

East Florida Papers, Record of Civil Proceedings, 1785-1821
Library of Congress Microfilm Reel 156: Florida, 1801.

Petition from Don Sebastian Garcia, husband of
Doia Josefa de Ortega, to recover a house, the
property of Dona Laureana de los Reyes, of whom
his wife is an heir, and which is now in the
possession of Alberto Rogger.[Rogero]

Note: Refer to history of Lot 7 Block 13. On March 22, 1785,
Josefa Ortega, wife of Don Sebastian Garcia, started proceedings
to recover three (sic) houses which she claimed her grandmother
left unsold when she had to return to Havana in 1763, and which
were sold in confidence to Jesse Fish. To substantiate her claim,
she presented her grandmother's will, made in Havana, in which she
appeared as one of the legal heirs of Laureana de los Reyes,
Birth Certificate, Power from her uncle, Juan Ortega, in Havana, to
her husband, to represent him, and copies of several other documents
that she considered pertinent.

At that time, her primary concern was the house on St. George
Street [ present lot 7] which she claimed the Government had de-
clared to be the property of the Spanish Crown, and was to be put

Lot 1 Block 13

up for public sale together with others that had been declared
Crown property. In 1790, Governor Quesada finally ruled in her
favor, and the St.George Street house was returned to her.

1801 14 July:

It is now 1801, and Sebastian Garcia writes Governor White
to say that he was able to get the house on St. George Street
returned to him for his wife, and because of authorization granted
to him then to start proceedings to recover the other house, located
on Spanish Street, he is doing so. His claim is that the same situ-
ation applies to the Spanish Street house, and begs the Governor to
have Rogero, the present occupant of the house, vacate it, and that
it be declared legally his[Garcia's].

He also asks the governor to return the lot that also belonged
to Laureana de los Reyes, located on St. George Street, which is
now possessed by Manuel Saurez [Puente #95 in Block F]. The
governor answered that if Garcia wanted to bring suit against
Suarez, he would have to do it separately from this case.

To substantiate the claim for the Spanish Street house, Garcia
used the same documents that he had presented before, from which
statements pertaining to the house in question are herewith quoted-

22 March, 1785,

Josefa Ortaga says that although Jesse Fish gave her
grandmother 70 pesos to help with her moving expenses
to Havana, one of the houses left behind remained rented
for 8 pesos a month to redeem this debt, and that she
[Josefa] approached Jesse Fish in this respect, and he
answered that according to the deed given him, he had
received in confidence, two houses and lots of Laureana
de los Reyes, which he had sold for the prices offered
to him, and that he would pay the balance to each one
of the heirs, as soon as he was able to sell property
that he owned in St.Augustine. And with respect to the
rents that she mentioned, he declared that if Laureana
left a house rented at that time, that the English never
paid any rent, saying that they were doing their share
by caring for them, and that if they were pressed for
rent they threatened to move out. As the majority of
houses were left unsold, it was a known fact that the English
soldiers destroyed them as they had been left unoccupied;
in other words, she was lucky that Laureana's house was
still intact.

22 March 1779: Excerpt from Laureana de los Reyes' Will:

I declare as part of my estate two houses, shingled, in
the City of St. Augustine, Florida, located next to the
line, bounding with Don Manuel Escalona [Puente #95] which
my children have knowledge of, and a lot, this is the one
bounding with Escalona; and the houses bounding with

Lot 1 Block 13

Doia Gertrudis Pasqual, which are well known, and which, when
we left for Havana were left unsold, nor any disposition made
of them. .

20 April 1795': Josef de Zubizarreta, Government Scribe, states
that there appears in his archives a five-page journal that
was once in the possession of Jesse Fish, from which he has
extracted the following certification:

I certify that in the distribution of houses
at the North side (of the Government House)
there is found as No. 105 [sic] one bounding
on the south with that of Captn. Don Jose de
Lleonarte [husband of Gertrudis de la Pasqua]
and on the north with that of Don Francisco
Puentes under the name of Nicolas de Ortega
composed of 18 varas in front and 36-1/2 varas
in depth, in the Calle Real; and another under
the same name numbered 107 [sic] with same lot
dimensions in front and in depth, bounding on
the south*with house and lot of the said
Puentes .. [Puente # 100] *Should be north, see map.

[Here is repeated the account of Laureana de los Reyes,
from the Fish Account Book, however, the date of sale to
Nicolas Powers is given as 3 February, 1777.]

1801 28 July:

Alberto Rogero has been notified that Garcia has brought
suit against him, and in his defense, he declared that although
Garcia may have proven his right of ownership of this house,
it did not mean that he had a right to appropriate it, as he
[Rogero] believes that although it belonged to one of the many
who left their homes in confidence to Jesse Fish, this one was
granted by the King of England [ to Hrabowski] and the King was
then the sole owner of all properties that could not be sold in
the time stipulated. Rogero said this was his case: He bought
it from Don Carlos Michie, a Britisher, who had been empowered
by Ana Hrabowski, the legitimate owner, by concession to her
husband by the British Government.

Rogero presented a copy of a Memorial dated 17 March 1785 in
which Michie informed the Governor that he had a power from Ana
Grabowski, residing in London, to sell a house which she owned
in this city, and there being a purchaser [Rogero], Michie asked
permission to sell. He had the necessary documents to prove
ownership by Ana Hrabowski for examination of the authorities,
one being from Capt. Carlos Howard, Secretary of the Province,
certifying that he had examined a copy extracted from the British
Archives and certified by David Yeats4 Clerk of the Province

Lot 1 Block 13

during the British rule that he had registered in Book D, folio 1,
pages 258-260 that

in the year 1772 perpetual donation was made in the
name of the King of England through Governor John
Moultrie to Samuel Hrabowski and his heirs a lot with
the edifices on it known as No. 2 in the Box Block,
and as a result of the death of the said Samuel, his
widow, Ana Hrabowski, residing in London, had empowered
Henry Michie, and through him, his brother Charles

and that now Michie had found a purchaser. That the power was
found to be legally sound, and that Governor Zespedes had
given Michie authorization to sell the property.

Another document Michie presented for examination was the
grant from the British Crown to Samuel Hrabowski dated 6 July 1772.

1801 20 August:

Garcia is not satisfied with Rogero's explanations, nor the
proofs submitted. He says that these papers do not look legitimate
to him. The grant to Hrabowski was made in 1772, and in Fish's
accounts it appears as having been sold to Nicolas Powers in 1777.
He wonders how it happened that Fish sold it five years later,
crediting Laureana in his books with the amount of 252 pesos.
He wonders too, how it appears in the custody of Fish in 1777
when the King of England granted it in 1772. He also claims
that in the grant to Hrabowski there do not appear any dimensions,
boundaries, nor a plan of the lot, as was customary. He is con-
vinced that the grant to Hrabowski is not very explicit; that it
could be for the lot in question, but could also pertain to any
other lot in the Box block, as the grant specified "so that he
could build on it" and there was no mention of a house on it;
and as the house which Rogero claims was built before the Spanish
emigration, it is evidence that the donation was not of the house
and lot on which it was built.

1801 5 September:

Answering Garcia's statements, Rogero says that Garcia is in
no position to doubt the validity of a contract given by a High
Tribunal, and that if any transactions existed between Powers and
Fish, it is the heirs of both to whom Garcia should look for the
value of the house, and not against him. He says that if the
Tribunal did not examine the case properly, he does not believe he
should suffer the consequences and be deprived of something that
is his by virtue of legitimate title. He understands that the
grant to Hrabowski was made in 1772, and that in 1777 the property
was sold by Fish to Powers, but Garcia is inferring that the second
could not be possible because of the first. Be that as it may,

Lot 1 Block 13

the only document that proves the sale from Fish to Powers is the
Fish Accounts, which he will give the benefit of the doubt, but
it does not affect his purchase. As for the lack of dimensions,
boundaries, and plan of the lot, it is possible that because the
property was well known, there was no need for these. The mention
of only a lot is no proof that a house did not exist, as it is
possible that the British Government was not aware of it, or
maybe due to the state of deterioration of the house, the donation
was made for the lot for the erection of a new house. . Garcia
is bringing up these points trying to prove that this is not the
same house owned by Laureana de los Reyes. He implores the
governor to conclude this matter in his favor.

1801 2 November:

Garcia presses his case, and now brings Antonio Pueyo, Jose
Maria Gomez and Manuel Solana to testify in his favor. Also,
he has had Jose Lorente, the Master Mason of the Royal Works
examine the house, and he comes along as witness.

Pueyo testified that he was 80 years oldi that it was true
that when this province was delivered to the British in 1763,
many of the inhabitants were forced to leave their houses abandoned
and among them was Laureana de los Reyes, who left behind the two
houses in question'. however, he was unable to affirm whether the house
now in possession of Alberto Rogero was completely finished [in 17631
but he does know that there were people living in it.

Manuel Solano testified that the house west of where Garcia
was living was one of those left unsold when the inhabitants
moved to Cuba, and was the property of Laureana de los Reyes.
However, he added that although its walls were up, and it had a
roof and other conveniences, it was not totally finished, as most
of it remained to be plastered. He remembered this very well,
because the holes left by the scaffold made a draft, and he slept
very uncomfortably many nights when he accompanied Mr. Joseph
Purcell, the British Master Surveyor. Solana was 61 years old,
and married.
Don Jos' Maria Gomez testified that he was married, Wardrobe
Keeper of the Royal Hospital, 57 years old, and that he knew the
house occupied by Rogero, located west of where Garcia lived, was
one of the two that Laureana de los Reyes left when the province
was delivered to the British, and which was built when she left
the province for Havana.

Jose Lorente, Master Mason of the Royal Works, testified that
he had inspected the house, and found that

the walls of the main house are of old Spanish
construction; the roof of English construction,
new, because it is in good condition; the floor
of the second story is built of boards, old Spanish
construction, because the boards are squared, and
this also manifests that it once had a flat roof.
It is very rough, or uneven, and in very bad con-

Lot 1 Block 13

The lower floor is of tabby, and old, except
the floor of the dining room, which is new.

And finally, the chimney is new, and built in
the English style.

The walls of the kitchen are old Spanish con-
struction; the floor is built of boards and new,
and from the floor to the stringer of the frame,
the frame and the roof, also the chimney, are

1801 15 December

Rogero, too, furnished affidavits.from Juan Samuel Hrabowski,
son of Samuel and Anna Hrabowski, Joseph Purcell, Surveyor in
St. Augustine during the British occupation, and Spencer Mann.
These three persons were living in South Carolina, and through
the efforts of Rogero they were located and affidavits were
signed in his favor.

Young Hrabowski testified that he remembered having seen the
titles to one house sold by Harry Michell [sic] with power from
his mother, to Roberto Roger [Alberto Rogero] in the City of St.
Augustine, located in the Box Block, which his father bought from
Don Jesse Fish. Deed was granted in London in the Office of
Claims from East Florida, when he received compensation from the
British government for the loss of said house when the Spanish
government returned to Florida. Furthermore, that his father
paid in full for the house at the time of purchase, and that as
far as he knew, his father did not own any other lot in St.

Joseph Purcell testified that he knew the house very well
that was now in possession of Rogero. He knew that Rogero
bought it from Mr. Harry Machie [sic] who had power to sell
from Ana Hrabowski; that it is the same lot that the said Hrabowski
bought with all its edifices from Don Jesse Fish around 1771 or
1772. That Samuel Hrabowski obtained a grant from the Government;
that Hrabowski never owned another house or lot in the city. He
testified also that he knew the case very well, as he had seen the
documents and that, furthermore, he lived in the said house for
a few years, with Hrabowski's relatives, and later with his own.
That he held the position of General Surveyor, and was fully
trained to hold his office, and as such he was aware of all
concessions made at that time.

Spencer Mann testified that he knew Ana Hrabowski while she
was a resident in St. Augustine, where she owned one house in the
Box Block, and to the best of his knowledge he remembered having
collected rents for the house during his residence in St. Augustine.

Lot 1 Block 13

1802 16 February:

Garcia was not very convinced with the affidavits brought
by Rogero. He inferred that it was Hrabowski who fouled up this
whole affair, and again insisted that this case is the same as
the other house on St.George Street and should be returned to him.

1802 23 February:

Rogero insists that the case is not the same; that no one
so far has found any viciousness in a Royal Sale performed with
all solemnity, at least that performed when he purchased the house.
Fish's accounts have been given full credibility; also the clause
in Laureana's will referring to the houses she left behind "were
left unsold, nor any disposition made of them." This will was dated
26 March 1779, and in Fish's report, which covers more than six
years, there appears a note saying that he sold it "for the price
I was able to get for it". It was possible Fish had no obstacles
in this sale, and left [died] unpunished for not paying any in-
demnity. He sold it, the Tribunal authorized his sale, and Rogero
bought it in good faith. Rogero inferred that Laureana and Fish
used some strategy to prevent any impending damages, by giving the
impression that there was a transfer of ownership. Nevertheless,
all of these things should not be detrimental to Rogero's purchase.

1802 22 September: Don Joseph Ortega, Secretary of the Royal
Accountancy, ruled as follows:

I have studied the Autos of Sebastian Garcia against Alberto
Rogero pertaining to the house in which Rogero now lives. He says
he bought the house from Michie. The reasons given by both parties
are most worthy. There is no doubt that Fish sold the house to
Powers for 252 pesos 5 reales, as it appears in his Account Book.
Taking into consideration the good faith by which Rogero acquired
this house, and the many uninterrupted years of his ownership,
I hereby declare it to be his property.

However, Garcfa is authorized to sue the heirs of Fish not
only for the amount in which Jesse Fish, Sr. sold it to Powers,
but also for any other amount he may have received if the sale
was a simulated one, as it could very well have been considering
that the house was built of masonry, and built shortly before Fish
bought it in confidence, and also because of the fact that Rogero
has improved it, as evidenced by the deposition rendered by the
Master Mason.

I also rule that the payment of court fees in this case be
divided equally between them, and furthermore, Garcia is permitted
to collect this share from the heir of Jesse Fish.

1802 6 November;

Garcia started proceedings against Jesse Fish, Jr., to
recover the amount of 252 pesos 5 reales. To this amount he

Lot 1 Block 13

added 28 pesos 6-172 reales which he paid for the court fees, plus
2 pesos 4 reales he paid to the interpreter, plus 16 pesos 1 real
for various signatures, a total of 270 pesos 1/2 real.

1803 11 June:

Jesse Fish, Jr. answered Garcia that his father sold the house
for 252 pesos 5 reales, and that deducting 98 pesos 6 reales that
he gave Laureana de los Reyes, there remained 153 pesos 7 reales
which amount he will pay Garcia, and no more. He claims that there
is no reason for him to pay the court fees, when Garcia could very
well have made the claim directly to him, as he is doing now.

1803 12 August:

Garcia refused this, and on three more different occasions
wrote the governor telling him that he had not heard from Fish, Jr.
In 1806 Fish was still refusing to pay the amount requested by
Garcla. Besides, he claimed he had no money, and Garcia would
have to wait until he sold his oranges.

1806 11 November; 11 December; 17 December:

Sebastian Garcia again begs the Secretary of the Royal
Accountancy to rule, which he does. On December 17, 1806, Fish
is notified of the Secretary!s order to pay.

Lot 1 Block 13 Addenda

Alberto Rogero was from Ciudadela, Minorca, born about 1757,
the son of Ramon and Catalina Lina. His wife was Antonia Vila,
daughter of Francisco and Maria Ferrer, born about 1761.
In 1793 they were living on Spanish Street and they had one slave.
Rogero was a carpenter. He had 7 children.

He did not know how to write or sign his own name, which probably
accounts for the various ways it is spelled.

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