4 P / 11-- r / 3& 7
The FERNANDEZ-LLAMBIAS HOUSE, 31 St. Francis Street, has
been leased by the Board of Trustees to the Altrusa Club, for a period
of five years. This restored house will be used by Altrusa for its
meeting place, and to facilitate the development of its community
service program with special emphasis on the demonstration of Minorcan
culture, and as a demonstration and interpretation of methods of pre-
servation and restoration of St. Augustine houses.
The Altrusa Club plans to add kitchen and restroom facilities
adjacent to the northwest corner of the house, according to plans
developed by Miss Lea Wells, a local architect. The exterior walls
and roof will blend with the architectural design of the house, and
the new construction will be in approximately the same location as the
former kitchen. This addition will add greatly to the usefulness of
Commonly called the "Llambias House" the proper name for
this old building is the FERNANDEZ-LLAMBIAS HOUSE, because the earliest
recorded owner of the property was Don Pedro Fernandez, in whose name
it was registered in 1764, at the end of the first Spanish period.
Don Pedro was a native of Spain who married a local St. Aug-
ustine girl named Josepha Baessa, on November 12, 1742. Josepha's
family had lived in St. Augustine for several generations, and her
genealogy has been compiled by Mrs. Eleanor Barnes.
In 1764, Josepha's mother, Manuela Rutia, lived in a little
frame house just west of this building, These and two adjacent houses
were sold at the time of the Spanish evacuation to Jesse Fish.
The incoming British officials apparently chose to disregard
Fish's title to these houses, for the governor granted them to a
Richard Henderson. Henderson sold the Fernandez house and those ad-
joining it to Thomas Adam, a merchant from Boston. Adam was deeply IB
debt to a Charles Ogilvie, in London. Thomas Adam died, and Ogilvie v'
named his executor. In order to collect his money and take possession
of Adam's properties, Ogilvie gave a power of attorney to Edward Corbet
in St. Augustine, who secured a grant from Governor Tonyn on June 18,
1783, in the name of Ogilvie.
Subsequently the Fernandez house was sold to Nicolas Turnbull-
just about the time that Florida was returned to Spain. Nicolas was
son of Dr. Andrew Turnbull, founder of the New Smyrna colony. Whether
any of the Turnbulls ever lived in the house is conjectural. Young
Turnbull had several months in which to dispose of his property, with
the alternative of becoming a Spanish subject. Instead, he moved to
Georgia, and the Spanish crown chose to recognize the previous owner-
ship of Jesse Fish.
On February 8, 1790, Jesse Fish died, leaving a widow and
one son, Jesse, Jr. But the son had moved to London, and his father's
properties were unattended and threatened with ruin. There were many
creditors, all clamoring for their money. So Governor Quesada had all
of Fish's properties appraised, and the first of several public auctioO
was held on December 15, 1790.
The sale was held in front of the Governor's House, with a
free negro acting as auctioneer. He called the townspeople to the
plaza by beating a drum and calling out in a loud voice that the
properties of the Fish Estate were to be sold to the highest bidder.
The Fernandez house was purchased at the sale by Mariano
Moreno, Sergeant of Grenadiers. When title was confirmed to him by
the governor a few months later, the house was described as being
built of masonry, and having a shingle roof.
Sergeant Moreno only kept it about six months, and then sold
to Pedro Marrot, who in turn sold to Don Francisco Xavier Sanchez in
1792. In 1795, Sanchez sold to Juan Andreu, Sr., the first of
three owners of Minorcan descent. Andreu was among those who came to
St. Augustine from New Smyrna during the British period, with the other
refugees. When Juan Andreu died, his widow, the former Catalina Pons,
inherited the property. She died soon after her husband, and in the
distribution of her estate, this house was adjudicated to her daughter
Catalina Andreu Giraldo.
Catalina's husband, Antonio Giraldo, was a mariner. In 1825,
he brought some merchandize into the port of St. Augustine on which
duty was charged by the United States government. Just what this
merchandize was, has not been discovered, but Giraldo put up two bonds
for the duty, each in the amount of $704.77, with two surities.
Giraldo paid $300 on the first bond, but judgment was entered
against him and his surities for the remainder and costs, in the sum
of $1,167.43. By court order, the house went on the auction block
again. Benjamin K. Pierce was the highest bidder, and on May 1, 1827
the U. S. Marshall, Waters Smith, executed a deed to him. Pierce paid
$515.00 for the house and lot. In October of the same year, Antonio
Giraldo and his wife, who had removed to Key West, executed a Quit
Claim deed to Pierce.
Pierce kept the property about a month, and then sold it to
Dr. William H. Simmons, a local physician, for $1,400, making a tidy
profit. Five years later, Simmons sold to a Reverend Edward Thomas,
of South Carolina.
On April 23, 1838, the house again became the home of a Minorcan
family when it was purchased by Peter and Joseph Manucy, for $2,100. A
few months later, Joseph Manucy bought out his brother's share for $1,100.
Up until this time, the house is said to have been a one-story
dwelling, and that Joseph Manucy added the second story and the balcony
during his ownership. On June 20, 1854, Joseph Manucy sold to Catalina
Llambias for $450. He sold her the house with only a portion of the
lot, which had originally measured 52 varas, whereas this deed calls
for only 54 feet frontage. The Llambias family held title to the house
and lot for 65 years.
A manuscript by one of the descendants is in the file ot the
St. Augustine Historical Society. It states that Juan Llambias, his wife,
Margarita Cardona, three boys and two girls arrived in New Smyrna in
June, 1768, with the other settlers brought to Florida by Dr..Andrew
Turnbull. The story of the hardships endured by these people is well
known. Before six months had passed, Juan Llambias' wife and four of
his children were all dead. The surviving son, Antonio, came with his
father to St. Augustine in 1777. On October 18 that same year, the
father passed away, leaving 16 year old Antonio an orphan. Having
no money, his father had been unable to make the customary pious
offering to the church, known as the "Obra Pia", but he had left
instructions with his son to pay it when monies due from Turnbull were
collected. It is doubtful that this was ever collected. The last
rites of the church were administered by Father Don Pedro Camps, and
Juan Llambias was buried "in a cemetery for Catholics" altho he "died
among the infidels."
The Spanish returned to St. Augustine in 1784. Five years
later, young Antonio Llambias, how 28 years old, married Anna Maria
Hinsman, of South Carolina. They had eight children. Antonio passed
away on August 16, 1812, leaving Anna to raise the family. She must
have been a strong and determined woman to raise a family of that size
and live to be more than 88 years of age.
One of the sons married Teresa Alvarez, daughter of Geronimo
Alvarez, who owned the Oldest House. Another son, Joseph A. Llambias,
married Catalina Usina on September 16, 1827, and they also had a family
of eight, 4 girls and 4 boys.
It was Catalina Usina Llambias who bought the house from
Joseph Manucy in 1854. The following year, one of her daughters, Anna
Cornelia, married Alonzo Anastacio Bravo, nicknamed "Tassy".
When the Civil War came along, three of the Llambias boys:
Michael George, age 24; Joseph Francis, age 18, and John, age 16,
enlisted in the Confederate Army, together with their brother-in-law
Tassy Bravo. The father, Joseph A. Llambias, then about 60 years of
age, refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Federal government
then occupying St. Augustine, and the Provost Marshall 0. T. Beard had
him imprisoned in the Castillo. Because of his advanced age and ill-
health contracted from confinement, he was released, and with his wife,
daughters, and more than 80 other passengers, was allowed to embark on
the Steamer Boston from St. Augustine to the vicinity of Fernandina,
leaving behind all of their possessions.
The three Llambias boys and Tassy Bravo were encamped near
Tallahassee. After many hardships and delays, the family managed to
reach the vicinity of the encampment. Tassy's wife, Anna Cornelia,
had also followed her father and brothers, and she is said to have per-
formed some quite daring services for the Confederate cause, smuggling
mail and other essentials to and from camp. Two of the boys were killed
in the line of duty; one in Kentucky and one in Tennessee. The father
and one daughter, Ann, died while they were living near Tallahassee.
Young Joseph Francis Llambias was first discharged because of
chronic illness, but after some weeks of rest he re-enlisted and served
until the end of the War. The family, what was left of it, returned
home only to find that the old homestead had been vandalized by the
Union soldiers during their absence. Everything dear to their hearts
was gone except a heavy round marble top table, too heavy to carry.
Woodwork and flooring had been ripped up, and the entire first floor had
been used as a stable.
Somehow the home had to be refurnished and the family returned
to some semblance of normal living. Mrs. Bravo conceived the idea of
taking boarders, but to accomplish this, an additional room had to be
added to the west of and adjoining the house, for a dining room. There
was a place for every dollar taken in to replace some essential article
lost during the war, but thrift and hard work brought a measure of pros-
In May, 1866, a picnic was planned at the country home of Jim
Mickler on the North River. On this outing, a sailboat capsized just
north of Shell Bluff, and five of the picnickers were drowned. Tassy
Bravo, Miss Rafaela Llambias and three small children were victims of
this tragic accident.
In 1868, Joseph Francis Llambias married Miss Antonica Masters,
who passed away in 1875, leaving a small daughter, Ada, who was raised
by her aunt, Miss "Neca" Llambias. Joseph married again in 1877. His
second wife was Rosalia Reyes.
Sometime between the years 1884 and 1886 the City Council passed
an ordinance prohibiting burials in the Old Spanish Cemetery on Cordova
Street. Joseph's mother, Mrs. Catalina Usina Llambias, died on February
22, 1886, but she had made a last request to her son that she be buried
in the old cemetery, near the remains of her mother. Being a loving and
dutiful son, Joseph complied with her wishes, regardless of the ordinance.
Under cover of darkness a grave was opened. After services at the
residence, the cortege proceeded north on St. George Street, everyone
believing that the burial was to be at La Leche. But when the procession
got to Cuna Street it turned west and made its final stop at the old
burial ground where everything was in readiness, and a few moments later,
the loving relatives had paid their last tribute to Mrs. Llambias. The
next morning, Joseph was hailed into City Court and fined $50; but he had
kept his promise to his mother.
Joseph Llambias had contracted with the city for the disposal
of trash and garbage, for which purpose a crematorium was built north of
town. He had several laborers to attend the place, and one day in Janu-
ary, 1892, tragedy struck the Llambias family again. It was pay day, and
Joseph discovered when he arrived at the crematorium that he was short of
money. He explained that he would bring the balance the next day or so,
but one of the workmen, an Italian named Gabriel Callosa became angry,
pulled a gun and shot his employed, who died a day or so later.
The sheriff, Mr. Sabate, and several others tried unsuccessfully
to catch the murderer. For many years it looked as though he would go
unpunished. But fifteen years after the crime was committed, Gabriel
Callosa was working in a mine in Pennsylvania, bragging to one of his
friends about the murder, he had gotten away with down in Florida. His
friend reported him and the local authorities were notified. Sheriff
Sabate was still in office, went up to Pennsylvania, and with no difficulty
picked Callosa out of a line-up. The culprit tried in vain to escape
extradition, but Sheriff Sabate brought him back for trial. "After two
years and many delays, on April 26, 1909, Callosa pleaded guilty to man-
slaughter, and was sentenced to serve one year in the State Penitentiary.
Before her death, Mrs. Catalina Usina Llambias had deeded the
old home to her two daughters, Ana Cornelia Bravo, widow of Tassy, and
Miss Antonica Llambias, familiarly known as "Miss Neca".
Ana Cornelia Bravo remarried, and went to live in Pennsylvania
with her husband, John McGuire, a civil engineer. Miss Neca and her
niece, Ada Llambias, lived in the house until 1898, when Ada married
Edward Louis Reyes. Their daughter, Mrs. Franc s T. Piet. the former
Antonica Maria Reyes, was born in this house and lived here for many years
In 1919, the heirs of Miss Antonica Llambias and Mrs. Anna Cornel
McGuire sold the property to Mr. Harry Campbell, and he sold to Annabell,
Josephine and George Newbill, from whom the Carnegie Institution of Wash-
ington purchased it in 1938. They immediately deeded the property in
trust to the City of St. Augustine.
St. Augustine's first restoration program was in progress at
this time. For a while the Garden Club used the house, but it was in bad
condition, and there Were funds available for restoration purposes. In
1954, Mr. Stuart Barnette, an architect from New York, was employed by
the Board of Trustees, Llambias House, to oversee the restoration. Funds
were depleted before a kitchen could be reconstructed. The St. Augustine
Historical Society, named custodian in 1945, furnished funds for completion
of the restoration, and the house was opened to the public with appropriate
dedication ceremonies in January, 1955.
A few years later, Sefor Fernando Rubio, a-native of the City
of Mahon, Island of Minorca, visited here, and through the good offices
of Mr. X. L. Pellicer, became interested in t'"e house. He presented
the statue of Our Lady of Monte Toro, patron saint of Minorca, to our
Society for use in the house, and it was he who had some of the furnishinl
especially hand crafted in Minorca for display. This included a table,
chairs,.a chest, rugs, pictures, maps and other small articles. Present)
he is having furnishings made for the upper floor.
By the lease just signed, the Altrusa Club is assuming the
sponsorship of one of St. Augustine's mcst interesting old houses, which
will retain its rightful role as one of the authentic historical points
of interest in our city.
Doris C. Wiles
With grateful acknowledgment to Mrs. Eugenia B. Arana who trans-
lated documents from the Spanish Archives; to Mrs. Eleanor Barnes who
collected copies of deeds and other documents for the St. Augustine His-
torical Society at the time the Llambias Hcuse was being restored; and
to Mrs. Francis T. Piet, whose personal reminiscences were most helpful.
Our Society has deeded the site of Oglethorpe's Battery, on
Davis Shores, to the City of St. Augustine. This site is to be maintain
solely as a place of historic interest and a public park.
The four lots which include the site were acquired by the St.
Augustine Historical Society in 1934. In March, 1938, an imposing monu-
ment was erected and dedicated with appropriate ceremonies.
HIGHLIGH S OF 0 LETHO E'S S GE
Jun 13th July 20th
For over400 y ars St Augus ine wa the o ly whi settlement