Manuel Gonzalez

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Manuel Gonzalez
ManuelGonzalezGrave.jpg
Don Manuel's grave in St. Michael's Cemetery
Born 1767
San Vincente, de la Barquera,
Santander Province, Spain
Died March 8, 1838
Pensacola
Occupation soldier, Indian agent, cattle rancher, Justice of the Peace, Quartermaster General
Spouse Marie Louise Bonifay
Parents Joseph Gonzalez and Maria Delle Vallee
Children Celestino Gonzalez Colonel

Don Manuel Gonzalez was born in 1767 in San Vincente, de la Barquera, Santander Province, Spain. Born into landed gentry, Gonzalez ran away from home to serve on his uncle's ship. On December 17, 1784, he joined the army and was sent to the New World, landing in New Orleans. He was made Indian Agent in 1792 and was given the rank of Colonel and later Brigadier General in the Spanish Army. Don Manuel came to possess large tracts of land in Pensacola through honors granted by the Spanish Crown. After leaving the army, he was granted passage through the Choctaw and Creek nations and established residence in Pensacola, where he became a cattle rancher. He donated the land for Plaza Ferdinand VII to the city and opened a market there in 1816. When Florida was transferred to the United States in 1821, Gonzalez, a friend of General Andrew Jackson (and at whose house Jackson and his wife awaited the transfer), was appointed Justice of the Peace and made a Colonel in the American Army. The first Florida Legislature was held (and the first statutes enacted) at Don Manuel's home, Gonzalia (nicknamed the "Fifteen-Mile House"). He was made Quartermaster General for the Florida Militia on September 14, 1822.

Gonzalez died in his home on March 8, 1838. His burial was marked by the closing of many businesses and was described by the Pensacola Gazette as well-attended, including the uniformed officers of the French corvette La Brillante.

A street and neighborhood in Pensacola are named for Gonzalez. He is buried at St. Michael's Cemetery.