Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 12, Lot 27 Ribera House Historical Report
Title: Historical Report on Juan de Rivera
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 Material Information
Title: Historical Report on Juan de Rivera
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 12, Lot 27 Ribera House Historical Report
Physical Description: Report
Language: English
Creator: Ganong, Overton G.
Publication Date: 1974
Physical Location:
Box: 5
Divider: Block 12 Lot 27
Folder: Ribera House Historical Report
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
22 Saint George Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Ribera House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 22 Saint George Street
Coordinates: 29.897022 x -81.313485
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00096037
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.
Resource Identifier: B12-L27

Full Text

Historical Report on Juan do River&

Overton G. Qanong
August 22, 1974

Histories Report on Juan de Rivera

The object of this study was to uncover information about Juan de

Rivera, the owner of house number 63 on the Elixio do la Puente map, a

house the St. Augustine Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission

"reconstructed" above excavated foundations on that site (B12, L27) in 1964.

65. The reconstruction was based wholly upon archaeological evidence, princi-

pally the size of the foundations. Scarcely any documentary research appears

to have been done; consequently, up to now virtually nothing has been known

about Rivera and his family. The evidence is scanty, but enough details have

come to light as a result of this study to indicate his occupational, familial,

and social status.

Juan de Rivera's identity presents no problem. Only one person by

that name is found in the key to Elixio de la Puente's map of St.Augustine.

His property was among those consigned to Jesse Fish for resale, and in

Fish's account book his name also appears as Juan de Rivera, the only such

listing. In 1803, following Fish's death, Rivera's heirs made a claim on

Fish's estate for money he presumably owed Rivera for the sale of his house

and lot. 3 In all of these sources the name is written the same way. Further-.

more, since only one Juan de Rivera is indicated in Elixio de la Puente's list

of 1770, one can safely assume that all these references are to the same



Juan de Rivera was born about 1732, the son of Pedro Thomas de
Rivera, a private in the cavalry company, and Maria de los Reyes y de Ia

Cruz, an Indian from the village of Tolomato. 7 Given her village of origin,

his mother was probably a Guale or a Yamassee. 8 Juan was identified as a

"native of the Indian town of La Punta, "9 another village near St. Augustine

inhabited by the aforementioned tribes.10 His brother Antonio de la Cruz

Riveral1 was described as an Indian.12 This evidence leaves no doubt that

Juan was at least a mestiso. In fact, he may have been more than half

Indian, since his father was also possibly a mestizo, indicated by the fact

that although Pedro Thomas de Rivera was described as a native (natural),

there is no reference to him in the baptismal records.13 Kathleen Deagan

suggests that mestiso births were seldom recorded in those records

because Indian mothers usually returned to their villages to bear their

children.14 One should note in this connection that no baptismal entries exist

for either Juan or his brothers.

When Juan was about fourteen years old, his father was killed "by

the enemy, ,"ls probably marauding Indians. Pedro Thomas left a widow, at

least three sons, and possibly a daughter.16 Two sons, Juan and Antonio,

joined the garrison as artillerymen.17 Neither attained rank. Both were just

simple soldiers earning a meager sum of 168 pesos annually.18

. 3 -

Sometime around 1761 Juan married Lorensa Ramos, a native of the

Canary Islands. A daughter, christened Maria Tecla, was born to them on

September 12, 1763,19 just prior to the Spanish evacuation of Florida.

Following that evacuation, the family settled in Guanabacoa, Cuba, where
they had at least two more children, Ana and Pedro Tomas. In early

September, 1772, Juan de Rivera died and was buried in the parish church of

Niuestra Seiora de la Asuncion in Guanabacoa.21

Concerning Juan de Rivera's house in St. Augustine, only two docu-

mentary sources have come to light. The key to the Elixio de la Puente map

describes it as a stone, i. e., coquina, house. The second reference appears

in Jesse Fish's account book,22 in the form of two cryptic entries that raise

more questions than they answer. On May 18, 1770, Fish recorded in the

credit column! "For stone of the new walls of his house... 86 peso, 23

The most logical inference is that the stone was being sold as stone for

building material, The specific use of new seems to indicate either an addition

to or repairs to an existing structure. Seven years later Fish sold "his

(Rivera's) old house and lot"24 to Luciano de Herrera for 117 pesos, 7 reales.

Given the value of the stone itself, as revealed by the first entry, a coquina

house, with lot, selling for only 117 pesos could not have been much of a house,

Of course, it probably had deteriorated considerably over the fourteen years

since Rivera had left.


The large foundations found on the site remain a mystery. Since land

title records for the First Spanish Period are unavailable, one cannot know

when or how Rivera acquired the property or its condition when he did so.

One can only hypothesis explanations to fit the meager evidence. One plausible

interpretation is that Rivera acquired a dilapidated building and made appro-

priate renovations. The most likely date he acquired the property was 1761,

the year of his marriage to Lorensa Ramos.


I Doris Wiles, librarian at the St. Augustine Historical Society, correctly
identified Rivera's parents, brothers, and wife, but she did not discover
the references that indicate his occupation and racial background. She
apparently extracted this information upon request from Earl W. Newton,
then director of the St. Augustine Historical Restoration and Preservation
Commission, Her work, plus an unsigned summary of references to
BIZ L27 In the Elixio de la Puente map, in the Account Book of Jesse
Fish, and in the Mariano de la Roeque map, constitute the only research
on Juan de Rivera. See St. Augustine Historical Society (henceforth
cited as SAHS), Biographical Files, "Juan de Rivera;" Historic St.
Augustine Preservation Board (henceforth cited as HSAPB), Block and
Lot File, B12 L27.

2. East Florida Papers (henceforth cited as EFP), Bundle 319, no. 79
(Reel 146 at SAHS).

3. EFP, Testamentary Proceedings, 1803, microfilm at SAHS, Reel 6,
no. 6.

4. Archive General de Indias (henceforth cited as AGI). 87-1-5/4-5-6,
Santo Domingo, 2595, May 8, 1770, transcript at HSAPB. Two other
references to a Juan de Rivera were located, both of them from a
much earlier period. A Juan de Santiago de Ribera, son of Phelippe
de Ribera and Catherine, "an English woman, was born in 1692.
If alive, he would have been 71 in 1763. No other reference to him
has been found. It should be noted that his name was Juan de Santiago,
not simply Juan. Furthermore, there is a Juan de Rivera listed in a
roster of 1714 (AGI, 58.2.3/59, June, 1714) as an officer's page (ei!
deo Mnta). He was probably a relative of Captain Don Jose de Rivera.
He does not appear on later rosters.

5. His burial record from Guanabacoa, Cuba* dated 1772, described him
as "apparently 40 years old" (al parecer de quarenta alos). Assuming
this estimate to have been reasonably accurate, he would have been
born about 1732, give or take a few years. His baptism is not recorded
in the St. Augustine Parish Registers.

6. St. Augustine, Jan. 13, 1746, AGI 87.3-12/76 (Stetson), transcript at

-6 .

7. For Juan de Rivera's parentage, see EFP, Testamentary Proceedings,
1803, Reel 6, no. 6. For Maria de la Crus's identity, see St. Augustine
Parish Registers (henceforth cited as SAPR), Burials, 1760.63 (Pardos
y morenos), photostats at SAHS, ph. no, 142,

8. Juan Vaidea. Bishop of Cuba, to the Spanish Crown, Jan, 14, 1729,
AGI, 58-2416/25. cited in Kathleen A. Deagan, "Sex, Status and Role
in the Mestisaje of Spanish Colonial Florida" (Unpublished Ph.D.
dissertation, University of Florida, 1974), p. 26.

9. Baptism of Maria Tectd de Rivera, Sept. IS, 1763. SAPR, Baptisms,
1763, ph. 347.

10. Valdsa to the Crown. Jan. 14, 1729. AGI, 58.2.16/25, cited in Deagan,
p. 26.

11. This is the way his name appears in the key to the Elixio de ia Puente map,

12. Burial of Antonio Rivera, June 3, 1763, SAPR, Burials, 1760.63
(Pardos y Morenos), ph. 142. The entry reads, "...Antonio Rivera
Indlo natural del Pueblo de Tolomato hijo legm0 de Thomas Rivera, y
de Maria Cru,..."

13. A check of baptismal records from 1675 through 1720 failed to turn up
his name. His burial notice listed his parents as Diego Jasinto and
Ana Lulsa Joachin.

14. Deagan, pp. 25.26.

15. Burial of Pedro Thomas Rivera, Dec. 5, 1746, SAPR, Burials, 1745-46
(Mostly Pardosa y Morenos), ph. 58.

16. Marriage records exist for two sons, Antonio and Francisco Xavier.
See SAPR, Marriages, 1756, phs. 341 and 347-48. A Margarita de
Rivera, wife of Diego de Miranda, appears in a baptismal entry of
1762, but no definite relationship between her and the family of Pedro
Thomas de Rivera has been established. Baptism of Antonio Joseph
German, June 1, 1762, SAPR, Baptisms, 1762, ph. 84.

17. AGI, 87-105/4-546, Santo Domingo. 2595, May 8, 1770. HSAPB trans-
cript. p. 18. Burial of Antonio Rivera., June 3, 1763, SAPR, Buriala,
1760-63 (Pardos yMorenos), ph. 142.

- 7-

18. AGI, 87-1-5/4-5-6, Santo Domingo, 2595, May 8, 1770, HSAPB
transcript, p. 42.

19. Most of the marriage records for the period 1756-63 have been lost.
In his will of 1772 Rivera mentioned that he had married Lorensa
Ramos "eleven years ago." EFP, Testamentary Proceedings, 1803,
Reel 6, no. 6. For his wife's place of origin and the birth of his
daughter, see the baptismal entry for Maria Tecla de Rivera, Sept.
15, 1763, SAPR, Baptisms, 1763, ph. 347.

20. EFP, Testamentary Proceedings, 1803, Reel 6, no. 6.

21. Ibid.

22. EFP, Bundle 319, no. 79.

23. "Por piedra de las paredes nuevas de su Casa."

24. "Por su Casa Vieaja (sic) y solar vendida a Lu de Herrera."

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