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THE SLAVE MARKET.

In 1778 Guard House and Market. The Market basin for boats came up the cross street in front of the Market. It must have had stone walls for in 1823 the city contracted with Mr. Lorenzo for taking down the north wall of the market and cleaning and piling up the stone thereof. In 1824 a contract was made to enlarge and rebuild the market. As late as 1851 the Marshall still had charge of all sales and auctions. On a resolution of Councils Nov. 14th that year he was to inspect beef and fish at 6 A.M. and permit the butchers to cut up the beef and at half past six he will ring the market bell for sale of said beef and fish. In 1846 his charge for whipping negroes shall not exceed fifty cents. In 1849 it was resolved in councils, "That the Marshall take said negro into custody and he is hereby convicted to receive 39 lashes on his bare back in the Public Market". This was the punishment for breaking a law instead of the prison or fine of today. Auctions were held at noon. In 1837, "For each auction sale in the Market House $1.00". In St. John's County Records, Deed Book N, Page 126 is recorded the sale of a slave at auction, "At the Market House in the city of St. Augustine at twelve o'clock M. on the 21st day of April 1838 the said negro woman Sally, as the property of said estate at which said sale, William Traverse of said city being the highest bidder, to wit for the sum of $701.00, the said negro woman was knocked off to him as purchaser".

REAL ESTATE TITLES—OLDEST HOUSE.

When St. Augustine was founded Don Pedro Menendez had a larger share than any one else, besides an interest in any mines. Each family was given a lot for a -house and land for cultivating food according to the number in his family. A knight had a larger portion than a peasant. In the American State papers, Public Lands, are translations of the laws of Spain in regard to this. In 1763 when Florida was transferred to England the Spaniards had a year to sell their property. As they saw no chance to do this and wished to hold control of their ancestral possessions, they sold all they had in confidence to Jesse Fish (houses and lots in St. Augustine 185 south of the Governors house) , eighteen large estates were transferred in St. Augustine 185 south of the Governors house), eighteen large estates were transferred in the same way to John Gordon and Jesse Fish. The latter sale was not allowed by the English governor and a lawsuit followed, finally settled by Parliament for fifteen thousand pounds and all the property held by John Gordon became property of the English Crown, so that no present land grants in the state date prior to the English occupation.

Among those who deeded land to John Gordon and Jesse Fish was Don Ambrosio Menendez Marques a resident of St. Augustine in 1763, and Don Juan Chrysostomo an heir of the Ponce de Leon family. Evidence that they had inherited this property from their ancestors is given in the book "The Case of John Gordon", published in London in 1772.

When Florida was returned to Spain the old Floridians came back and demanded their old homes and the Governor with the consent of the King arranged to sell them their ancestral homes at auction if they had not already been able to buy them.

For the sale to Fish, the deed in Havana, see "The United States Senate Private Land Claims, case of Father Madeore" 1848. For the return of the houses and lots to their former owners see the "American State Papers Public Lands", especially the memorial presented to Congress by Hernandez and 124 others in 1824, that stated that their titles went back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and their families were so well known it would be waste of time for the commission to consider their claims. A photostat copy of the original petition and signatures is on exhibition in the Oldest House.

When the houses were sold at auction by the King the Spaniards received them for a rent or tax of five per cent, and a mortgage was held by the King, by a cedula 17th June 1801 this was remitted and each owner received a clear title to his property. Among those entitled to this was Don Geronimo Alvarez, son of Michael Alvarez and Theresa Menendez, born in the Province of Asturias, Spain, Parish of Santiago de los Payos about 1756. In 1789 he obtained the Oldest House from an auction forced on John Hudson and his wife, the Judge deciding against them without appeal. They refused to turn over the property and were given three days notice to do so by the Governor who issued the deed to Alvarez. This deed describes the house as coquina and wood, the large lot contains two thousand four hundred and eighty four square varas.


 
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