Vecinos en San Agustin (Neighbors in St. Augustine)

We think the best part about the de la Puente map is that we’re able to make connections not only between people and their homes, but between neighbors. On Friday, we explored the Rodriguez family and their home, and today we’re heading just a few feet southeast to the Sanchez de Ortigosa family.

Jose Sanchez de Ortigosa y de Giles was originally from Ronda, Spain, and migrated to St. Augustine in 1713. He was a privateer who was famous for capturing a cargo ship carrying rice and supplies for the soldiers at the Castillo de San Marcos. He married a St. Augustine local, Juana Theodora Perez y de Lansarote, in January 1714. Juana’s family had been in St. Augustine since 1602. Together the couple had nine children! As we know, Spanish homes especially during this time were not known for being large; this flat roofed coquina structure must have been a tight fit for 11 people.

It was common in Spanish culture for families to live near one another, and the Sanchez de Ortigosa family was no different. Jose and Juana’s property extended the full block between St. George and Spanish Streets, so there was plenty of room for additional homes. Their daughter Francesca lived in a home that was situated on the corner of Spanish and Cuna Streets, and their daughter Narcissa lived right across the street.

Jose died in 1751, and Juana died ten years later. The house was inherited by their oldest son Jose. Jose and his younger brother Francisco eventually built a massive cattle ranching dynasty in East Florida. Francisco owned nine ranches, some with over 900 cattle each. He operated his ranches with many enslaved people. By the time he died in 1807, he was incredibly wealthy and the Sanchez de Ortigosa name was quite powerful within St. Augustine and the colony.

Unfortunately after the Spanish left St. Augustine in 1764, the house was destroyed. Another historic map from 1788 describes a wooden structure built on this lot. The Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board reconstructed the Sanchez de Ortigosa home and were able to situate the reconstruction on its original foundations thanks to meticulous archaeological excavation. While San Agustin Antíguo was in operation, the home was used as the carpinteria, or carpentry shop. Today it’s a gift shop.

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