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Minorcan Heritage in St. Augustine

Date: Mar 04, 2024

St. Augustine’s 

Minorcan History & Culture

March is Minorcan History & Culture Month in St. Augustine.

In 1768, Scottish speculator and physician Dr. Andrew Turnbull started a colony in New Smyrna Beach, Florida where he established an indigo plantation. He contracted a workforce of 1,403 Greek, Italian, Spanish, and Minorcan laborers.

They came to Florida as indentured servants and by 1777 poor working conditions and harsh practices drove over 600 Minorcans to flee to St. Augustine as refugees.

Read our blog to learn how Minorcans (Menorcan in Spanish) arrived in St. Augustine and where you can find the datil pepper — a sweet-heat pepper that thrives in St. Augustine — in a variety of flavors.

Read our blog

Minorcan Heritage Celebration 2023. Credit as provided by


Throughout March, The Minorcan Experience hosts free events to celebrate St. Augustine’s Minorcan heritage.

On Saturday, March 2nd, The Menorcan Cultural Society and The Minorcan Experience partner to present the Menorcan Heritage Celebration at Llambias House from 11 AM to 2 PM.

Flagler College professor Dr. Darien Andreu will share information about the Minorcan Studies Project, for which she compiles research to preserve and highlight the importance of Minorcan heritage in St. Augustine.

Dr. Ann Browning Masters, Menorcan poet Laureate, will have copies of her book Floridanos, Menorcans, Cattle Whip-Crackers: Poetry of St. Augustine.

Angela Ortagus Saxon and Lea Craig will display historical information and the books Tour of St. Augustine: A Minorcan Perspective and Maria’s Secret Ingredient will be for sale.

This event is free and open to the public.

Andres Pacetti: A Minorcan in St. Augustine

On Saturday, March 9th, Ryan Saxon shares the fascinating story of Andres Pacetti at the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum at 2 PM.

Learn more about the incredible journey of the Minorcans from the Mediterranean to St. Augustine, Andres’ experiences during the American Revolution, and the original Minorcan buildings in St. Augustine today.

Tolomato Cemetery Tour

On Saturday, March 16th from 12-2 PM, docents at the Tolomato Cemetery will be on site to give tours of the first Minorcan burial site in St. Augustine.

Tours are about 20 minutes.

This event is free.

Turnbull Canal System

On Sunday, March 24th, Greg Holbrook, Director of the New Smyrna Museum of History, presents information on the Turnbull Canal system at The Waterworks at 1 PM

The canal was dug by colonists and used for transportation, drainage, and watering crops.


St. Augustine native Byron Capo is a professional landscape and architectural photographer whose work has been featured in magazines and recognized with several accolades.

He explores alternative processes like infrared photography and palladium printing to reveal his unique perspective of the natural world.

His exhibition Inner Spectrum Finding Hope in the Light features 28 digital images that capture the transformative effect of light on the interior of two historic forts — the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St. Augustine, Florida, and La Mola, Fortress of Isabel II in Mahon, Menorca — and illustrates Capo’s connection to his Minorcan heritage and the meaning of the forts to his ancestors.

Inner Spectrum is free and open to the public for viewing at the Rotunda Gallery of the St. Johns County Administration Building, 500 San Sebastian View, Monday through Friday 8 AM to 5 PM until Wednesday, March 27, 2024.

This Art in Public Spaces exhibition is presented by the St. Johns Cultural Council and made possible through the support of the Florida Division of Arts and Culture and the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council.


Maria Mestre de los Dolores Andreu was born April 25, 1801 in St. Augustine, Florida. She and her husband Joseph Juan Camilo Andreu were first-generation Minorcan-Americans who kept watch of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. Maria made history as the first Hispanic-American woman to serve in the US Coast Guard and command a federal shore installation.

Joseph served as the lightkeeper until 1859 when he tragically fell 60 feet to his death while painting the lighthouse. Maria took over until 1862, making her Florida’s first woman to serve as an official lighthouse keeper.

That year, Stephen Mallory (Confederate States Secretary of the Navy) and George C. Gibbs ordered the light to be extinguished during the Civil War out of fear it would assist the Union Navy.

The fourth-order revolving Fresnel lens was removed and hidden to block shipping lanes, leaving the tower unlit until June 1, 1867.

For more information about how to experience the culture of St. Augustine, visit