Menorca’s relationship to St Augustine, FL

The Island of Minorca and their descendants in Saint Augustine:

Minorca is the second largest of the Spanish Balearic Islands, which at the time of the New Smyrna project was under English control. The islands are 50 to 190 miles off the coast of Spain. Together, they form a province of Spain. Minorca is about 30 miles long and 10 miles wide. The primary town is Mahon, considered one of the finest deep-water ports on the Mediterranean. The immigrants would sail from this port, for the Florida Colony.

Some of the more notable descendants of the Minorcan group who went to New Smyrna were the Benet brothers, Stephen and William, both famous poets, Stephen the better known of the two. Also, Judy Canova, the famous comedian and Hollywood star of the thirties and forties. There were also two Bishops, Bishop Manucy and Bishop Pellicer. Both served in the Confederate army as Chaplains and were later assigned to the diocese of Mobile, Alabama and San Antonio, Texas.

The Minorcans got along fine with the English, but they were happier to see Spain regain St. Augustine in 1783. They were very much at home with their Latin cousins. They intermarried with the Spanish families and those of the English who remained in the area. It is safe to say that in the veins of all St. Augustine native families runs the blood of the Minorcans.

Minorcans are primarily of Catalan descent, Catalonia being a province in the northeast section of Spain, with Barcelona the principle city. The slingshot was invented by the Minorcans and they were famous as “stone slingers” in the armies of Julius Caesar. Mayonnaise was invented by the Minorcans during the French occupation of the island and carried back to France. Admiral Farragut’s father settled in Tennessee from Minorca in 1783. He was the famous admiral who is known for his alleged cry, “Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

The Minorcans were a close knit group, they settled close together in what is now the historical district of St. Augustine, frequently called the Minorcan Quarter. Many of them worked farms a few miles out of town, but returned at night to the protection of the nearby fort. There were frequent encounters with the Indians initially, but as they became less frequent, the farmers went further and further out from town.