Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Peso de Burgo and Pellicer Houses
Title: The Peso de Burgo-Pellicer Houses
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 Material Information
Title: The Peso de Burgo-Pellicer Houses Second draft
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Peso de Burgo and Pellicer Houses
Physical Description: Research notes
Language: English
Physical Location:
Box: 8
Divider: Interpretive Plans
Folder: Peso de Burgo and Pellicer Houses
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
48 King Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Government House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 48 King Street
Coordinates: 29.892465 x -81.313142
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095546
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text


The Peso de Burgo-Pellicer Houses

e history of a house is more than the story of wood, st-ne and

mortar. It is e story of people--those who built it, -.a't, bought
is o c.AJ of e O-I hi 'i TU-He -iY/sf/or f~ "
and sold it, and made 't their home. A 7 ouj P. y i a i b
Jcelk rj of +ke i s y '^e; i--11i0 -6 he

4~t-e4e4.ety.- The story of the Peiso o eBBurgo and Pellicer houses illustrates

the history of the norcan-Greek-Italian in St. Augustine, for

members the three 'ethnic groups that comprised e New Smyrna colony

d wled in those simple buildings for many years.

The narrative begins in late 1763, at the time of the Spanish eva-

cuation of Florida. According to the real estate map drawn by -~ --ccuntAt
Juan Joseph Elixio de la Puente, the later Peso de Burgo-Pellicer property

w.a. .d. lidd ""n two lots, numbered 83 and 84. The former, the northern

lot, measuring 18- varas north to south and 71 varas east to west and con-

taining a tabby house, belonged to Lucas Escovedo) the latter, the southern

lot, measuring 13- varas north to south and 71 varas east to west, stood

vacant and belonged to Prudencia Ansures. Both properties were among

those consigned to Jesse Fish for resale. Sometime between 1763 and

1780, Escovedo's house disappeared, probably one of many tabby dwellings

destroyed by the English during the early years of their occupation. Jesse

Fish made no reference to a house in his account book when he recorded the

sale of the properties to Francisco Pellicer and Jose (Pepino) Peso de
# -
Burgo in 1780.

Pellicer, a native of Min-rca, and Peso de Burgo, a Corsican by

birth, were members of 4~e ill-fated New Smyrna colony. Both were

active in the events that led to the collapse of thafnd the colonists'

migration to St. Augustine. A master carpenter Pellicer was the

head carpenter in charge of the construction of 0" T nbull's

mansion at New Smyrna, #3and the scanty evidence indicates that

he enjoyed the respect and confidence of his fello'. According to

the traditional story of the Minorcan exodus, traprally through

several generations, when the suffering colonistthey might free

themselves from Turnbull's control, they secretPellicer and two

other men to take their case to Governor Tonyn.viarch, 1777, the

three set out on the pretext of going turtle huntinrally made their

way to St. Augustine. Upon their return with TOmise of assistance,

Pellicer was elected to lead the trek to the capiten the ragged throng

arrived, ninety settlers came forward to make.4ositions charging

Turnbull and his overseers with violations of conistreatment, and

cruelty. The attorney general, believing their Po great, asked

the colonists to appoint a few men to speak for t. Among those

selected was Pepino Peso de Burgo. #,Conditid capital were unsettled.

The New Smyrna settlers had slipped fribull's grasp, but

they found scant relief from hardship. 'News (volt in the northern

colonies kept St. Augustine on edge, while groTbers of Loyalist

refugees from South Carolina and Georgia drift:own. Food and

shelter were in short supply. Governor Tonyn the colonists land

north of the city -r a..mpc ary dw.ll.ingo and o but no further

aid was forthcoming. During the late summer apear, disease

and hunger exacted their toll of the destitute setP their crude,

improvised shelters. #4 Peso de Burgo and Pell? shared in

the misery.

At this point a veil drops over the historiThe secondary

works dealing with the New Smyrna colonists g4l following

their establishment in St. Augustine, and docurrce has. t0

been culled from the records. References do ntndant again

until the transfer of Florida to the Spanish in 17 me a re-

markable transformation had occurred in the li' of the

Minorcans. In the tattered pages of the documeverished
*OCluCV' Co e j --5
WA* o 777 reappear as prospering farmer'rs, crafts-

men, fishermen, and traders. They own lots, s, slaves.

By dint of industry e and frugality com:ense community

spirit--qualities that impressed contemporary xey had within

five years revolutionized their economic circus

Pellicer and Peso de Burgo participatedng prosperity

of the Minorcan community. Unfortunately, thdirect evidence

of their activities in the years between 1777 ancd years later

Pellicer recalled that upon his arrival in St. Alhad settled

in a house "in the country! It was probably noi There he

lived with his wife Margarita Femanias, also whom he had

married at New Smyrna, and their children, Auana. #1

One may assume that he practiced his craft, building homes for his fellow

Minorcans and possibly for some of the Loyalist refugees as well, and
oun c 10 Two m ore cP l- \ re. wt ac born.
that he sustained his family by farming rented land. Peso de Burgo, a
beTh'-' I77I"7 -.. :.IJ a t")-' fi,,c'c e ;.t,.. ic-n.n 4 C, 17f ei^ J
bachelor, was free of family responsibilities. His talents inclined him

to trade, for in 1784 he was identified as a storekeeper and half owner

of a sloop.

During the early months of 1780, Pellicer and Peso de Burgo agreed
+hk 4, t" J' I C I r' Ar) pr r e f C i S lyl- i
to pool their resources to buy pice of pr9Yat/ in to'w- in a district

the Minorcans were rapidly claiming as their own. Lack of evidence

obscures the nature of the relationship between the two men. +'hey were

both jg", obviously on good terms with one another, but they do not

appear to have been business partners. v One plausible hypothesis is that

neither had the resources thatt6t~e to buy property independentlyi hena.

X+ jeint purch. P rz a zlrocr'a fame-lyhad grown by .wo sinz. 177Z8'

-dng .to hi o aonPr.aR4ie bI-e.v .i..a .roao el e. B. ..g ra .ain.d _ingla.
; > '

two menVplanned to live together. Peso de Burgo would then have enjoyed

some .4f.e benefits of domestic life--a woman to cook his meals and

mend his clothing, perhaps--while contributing financial support to the
iT ;filTe e.Y )
Pellicer family, but this relationship never developed. Some unspecified

differences arose between the two men, leading them to divide the property.
ev- ret
Whether this'occurred before, during or after the construction of the

woo4ao-houses on the site is not known.

Tq sources reveal very little about the appearance of the houses.

Both the key to the map by the military engineer Mariano de la Rocque

and the so-called Quesada list described the buildings as wooden as did-

later deeds to the properties. The Rocque map represents' the two

structures as simple one-room houses sharing a common wall, oriented

north-south,/;and set a few feet back from the street line. Behind each

dwelling steed-a small outbuilding. A deed of 1791 describe" Peso de

Burgo's house (no. 7 Rocque) as a "house of wood covered (i.e. roofed)

with shingles with its kitchen of the same. Although none of the deeds to

Pellicer's house (no. 8 Rocque) mentioned such details, one can assume

that the description would have applied.
The carpenter Pellicer affirmed that he built his house, but it is

uncertain whether he also constructed Peso de Burgo's dwelling. In 1787

a witness testifying to the legitimacy of Pelicer's title declared that "both

purchasers (i.e. Pellicer and Peso de Burgo) have possessed and built

said property.' This e6a+ement could imply that Peso de Burgo built his

house or that Pellicer helped him build it, but it does not exclude the

possibility that Peso de Burgo had his house built by someone other than

Pellicer. The documents are not sufficiently precise to permit a definite


At any rate, the houses were probably built during the second

half of 1780. Those months, and the year that followed, were difficult

times for Pellicer. Death stalked his family, carrying off his two

youngest children k then his wife. Margarita Femanias probably died some-

time in 1781 after bearing her fifth child by Francisco in April. Left

to care for three children, one of them an infant, the father was soon

searching for another wife. He found a suitable candidate in eighteen-

year-old Juana Vila Ferrer, whom he married in March, 1783. But

tragedy still haunted the Pellicer family, for Margarita, the youngest

child, died sometime before 1784. Death had claimed Pellicer's last

three offspring by his first wife, the three born in St.Augustine. Only

the two oldest, born in New Smyrna, survived. However, before long/

the birth of the newly-wedded couple's first child, Maria Juana, in

April, 1784 began to fill the void created by the loss of the other


By that time international events were changing the complex ion

of life in St. Augustine. The British were pulling out, and in July, 1784,

Spain formally reassumed control of the colony she had lost twenty-one

years before. Closely allied to the Spanish by ties of religion and culture,

most of the Minorcans chose to remain.

The new Spanish administration moved rapidly to take stock of

the physical and human resources of Florida. Governor Vicente Manuel

de Zespedes ordered a comprehensive census of the inhabitants and their

land, houses, slaves, and livestock. Compiled between July and October
#\ provIdes
1784, this census giv~. the first clear picture of the status of the Minorcan

community--and a glimpse of the life Pellicer and Peso de Burgo were

enjoying on St. George Street.
# 22/
Pellicer was described as a native of Majorca, a Catholic, loyal

to the King of Spain, and a carpenter by trade. His wife and three children

were counted but not named. At the time he was cultivating eight and

one-half acres of land that he rented from two Englishmen for 20 pesos
a year. His property consisted of his house and a male slave. Peso de

Burgo, still a bachelor, was somewhat more prosperous. A storekeeper

and half owner of a sloop, as mentioned earlier, he owned his house and

lot "in the vicinity of the Minorcan Chapel, three slaves, and two horses.

He worked an acre of rented land, for which he paid four pes a year and
held (apparently owned) six more acres near the cemetery.

Peso de Burgo's growing prosperity soon led him to invest in real

estate. In July, 1784, he bought from Bartholome Lopez a lot and house

at the northwest corner of Cuna and St. George Streets. Since his title
was not confirmed until three years later, the 1784 census did not

record his owning the property. The following year must have been a

god(ne financially, for that summer he purchased three houses, two on
Charlotte Street north of the plaza and on on Hospital (now Aviles) Street.-

The buildings on Charlotte Street were two-story structures, one of stone,

the other of stone and wood. Neither commanded a high price, since

both were somewhat run down. In far worse condition was the house on

Hospital Street, a crumbling edifice of masonry and wood that the shrewd

Corsican acquired for 105 pesos fuertes. #

Sometime between 1785 and 1791 Peso de Burgo moved from his

little wooden house to the two-story stone house on Charlotte. M. i i/

li4e*4y he lived upstairs and operated his store on the lower floor. By

1786 he had taken in a fourteen-year-old Minorcan boy, Francisco Prats,

the son of Jayme Prats and Margarita Vives, who were then living with

their younger son of six years in a small wooden house on Peso de Burgo's

lot at the corner of St. George and Cuna Streets. Owning no land, livestock,

or slaves, Prats was obviously poor. Peso de Burgo had taken him under

his wing, giving his family a lot to live on, allowing him to work some of

his land, and supporting his eldest son. In return, of course Peso de Burgo

enjoyed the labor of young Francisco. The Corsican could afford to support

his charge. By early 1787, in addition to his four houses and lot, he owned

two slaves, four horses, four cows, and twelve acres of land, of which

he sought more.

Despite his move, Peso de Burgo retained ownership of his former

dwelling, which he probably rented along with his other houses. Who the

renters might have been is unknown. As for Pellicer, his status in 1786

was essentially the same as two years earlier, except that his male

slave had been replaced by a female one. Shortly afterwards, Juana *

Vila gave birth to her second child, Antonia Maria de la O, bringing the

number of children in the Pellicer family to four. # ldtly,

thr t' t -hi41-' 3n -- n died, for t4- n ... f 1f 7 7 l t- one s-n ....

only tws daughtfrtu-OncIagah child mm li a o of lf ine

-A-I ,ig bldr t1 th68 P lliF *i-,, 1it ld
F LICLr SJ JL f 'c "
Ab~ut thio time Francisco began to ponder a move. Possibly

dissatisfied with his opportunities as a carpenter, possibly simply tired

of town life, he decided to try his hand at farming and secured a grant

of land near Matanzas Inlet. On August 11, 1787, he sold his St. George

Street property, though not without embarrassment. Years earlier

Pellicer had given Peso de Burgo their joint deed from Jesse Fish, bit

the shopkeeper had mislaid it, possibly during his move to Charlotte

Street. Witnesses had to be called in to testify to the legitimacy of

Pellicer's title. The contretemps was soon settled, however, and in

return for 220 pesos fuertes the aspiring farmer transferred 4he property

to Demetrios Fundulakis.35

Fundulakis was a Greek from Candia on the island of Crete in

the eastern Mediterranean. The censuses of 1784, '86 and '87 describe/

him as a fisherman and sailor, occupations also followed by his teenage son

Nicolas and by his two older stepsons, Miguel and Jordan Costa. (His wife

Maria Bros, from the island of Santorin and the. only Greek woman to have

come to New Smyrna, had four children by a previous marriage to a

Corsican, Domingo Costa) .4e and one of his sons owned a schooner.
When the censuses were taken, eietries, his wife, son, and stepsons

lived in a hut (choza) near Nuestra Senora de la Leche but did not own the

lot on which it stood. By 1787, however, they had accumulated enough to

buy a piece of property and decided to move into town.

Demetrios and his wife lived in the house they bought from Pellicer

until their deaA. Two of their sons, Nicolas and Miguel, were still

living with them in 1793. Miguel had married and had moved his wife,

Maria Dremariche; into the family homestead, which they had enlivened
# "yI
with the addition of a son, Domingo. Miguel enjoyed a special status

in the Minorcan community. He was the only one of their number to

practice medicine of sorts, in addition to his maritime activities. # His

reputation probably accounts for the fact that he was sometimes named as

owner of the property when actually it belonged to his stepfather.

There is little information in the documents concerning the houses

at this time. "i-il-'! C'oot' rmo-ther, stricken with a serious illness in

October, 1794, made a will in which she noted that she had paid him 50

pesos for some work he had done on a room in her house, but she did not

specify the kind of work. The only'other reference appears in the key to

the Rocque map, made not long after the Fundulakis family had moved in.

The southern house, occupied successively by two sizeable families, was

described as "a wooden house in r condition, whereas Peso de Burgo's

was listed as "in good condition. "

The Corsican shopkeeper must have needed money in 1791, for in

August he took out a mortgage on his dwelling and the following month

sold his little weeoolw house on St. George Street. The purchaser, Don
Juan Sanchez, paid 300 pesos fuertes for the house and lot, eighty more

than Pellicer had obtained from Fundulakis.-testimony, no doubt, to the

superior condition of Peso de Burgo's property.

Sua.eSanche /~/he c'aief master caulker of the oyal *Jorks, )

-dweUe4 with his family in the building now called the Spanish Inn; he

probably rented the little house next door for extra income. There is some

evidence that.Saoehe hoped to augment his doingg lot by purchasing the

property next door, for he held it only fifteen months, selling it in

December, 1792, to a German named John Martin Struder for the same price,

300 pesos fuertes, that he had paid to Peso de Burgo. But Sanchez came out

ahead, since he kept three and three-quarter varas along the south line of

his property. Struder's purchase only measured ten and one-half varas

north to south. #

Struder and his wife Sarah Nelson lived with their three young

children on Cuna Street according to the census of 1793, taken a few

months after they bought the property on St. George 4S4ret. The sats of

the property at that time is unclear. It could have been vacant, since no
listing appeared in the census between Demetrios Fundulakis, number 125,

and Don Juan Sanchez, number 126,' the survey -bei4g obviously numbered

from south to north sinee the names after Sanchez were Eugenia de Hita y

Salazar, Tadeo de Aribas, and Pedro Josef Salcedo. At any rate, Struder's

tenure, like that of Sanchez, was brief. Sometime during 1795-96 he

sold the property to a Minorcan farmer, Pedro Fusha, who had been

living with his wife Francisca Preto in a cabin (barraca) about a mile

north of the city. Details of the sale are irretrievable, since the deeds

for 179f-96 are missing. #No evidence has come to light to determine whether

Fusha and his wife (who remained childless) moved into their newly-

acquired house or whether they rented it and continued to live north of

town. The census of 1813 located them in the ward of the fort, probably on

St. George St-reet, but did not indicate in what sort of house they lived.

The question is complicated by the fact that in March of that sameiyeaar

Fusha, eiridently prospering, bought two properties across the street from

his small wooden house. From Juana Paredes, daughter of Don Juan Paredes,

he purchased the house currently known as the Old Curiosity Shop; from

Maria Castaneda, widow of Don Juan Sanchez, he acquired the structure now

containing the Museum of Yesterday's Toys. For these two properties he
paid 1, 300 and 1, 000 pesos respectively. Whether or not he lived in

the former Peso de Burgo house between 1795 and 1813--and that is

probable--~ae must doubt that he continrued- t6 d so after he acquired

two much more substantial residences. Before long Pedro Fusha rounded

out his holdings on St. George Street. Maria Bros, widow of Demetrios
h3 v' 1n
Fundulakis, ha. died, andher heirs put the old abode up for sale. Fusha

bought it for the paltry sum of 146 pesos: thus the property Peso de Burgo

and Pellicer had divided was once more combined. By this time the

house Pellicer built was thirty-four years old and apparently showing its

age, since the deed described it as "an old wooden house. The low price

also testified to its deteriorated condition.

From this point the history of the two houses becomes more

difficult to trace. No record could be found of Fusha's -havig-s -ae them,

but in 1834 they, along with the rest of his property, belonged to Peter

Arnow (Arnau). #5Just how Arnau acquired Fusha's holdings remains

a mystery, -but Le m- sf ha c s.oimc ethmn ti1... means eth o

than pae.haa. At present the only known fact is that the two men were

legally associated, Fusha having in 1819 granted Arnau general power of
attorney over his property. f course,ithe date of the transfer i unknown,

but it must have been between 1828 and 1834, because in the former year

a deed to an adjacent piece of real estate indicated that the erstwhile Peso

de Burgo-Pellicer property still belonged to Fusha. #


-B~-eau-eea detailed map of the city drawn in 1831 pictured A~te=et as vacant,

the houses erected by Peso de Burgo and Pellicer reached their end

sometime between 1828 and 1831. Whatever the date of their demolition,

the half century of their existence spanned a colorful era in the history

of St. Augustine. Three flags had flown over Florida; three cultures had

left their stamp on the town, but through all three periods ran a common

thread, the life of the Minorcan colony. The small wooden houses on St.

George Street partook of that life. They sheltered Minorcan, ItalP4,

and Greek; tradesman, craftsman, fisherman, mariner, and farmer.
i/ILK '/ / (*y / hi'-
Their history -zove-- i"' n anrn ML r- of that distinctive community that

remains tc &this day a vital element in the population of the nation's oldest


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