Francis Celestino Brent
F.C. Brent, Pioneer Banker and Business Man, Passes Away
NATIVE OF PENSACOLA
Francis Celestino Brent was born in Pensacola, May 12, 1848. While still a school boy, scarcely sixteen years of age, he enlisted in the Confederate army, and after something like a year's service in the vicinity of Mobile and at Spanish Fort and Blakeley, he was taken prisoner and confined on Ship Island, undergoing many hardships until May, 1865, when he was parolled at Vicksburg. Returning to his home, like so many others who had given all and received little or nothing in the service of a ruined country and a defeated cause, he was confronted with problems which seemed far too serious to engage the energies of one so young, but with a valiant spirit, steadied by the harsh experiences of martial life, and with a firm determination to win success in the face of all the many difficulties and obstacles with which he was surrounded, he plunged fearlessly into the activities of business life and began his career "at the bottom" as an obscure clerk. By reason of steady independence, frugal habits, upright and industrious behavior and rigid integrity, he acquired in a few years not only the hard-earned nucleus of his later fortune, but many valuable and powerful friends through whose aid he was enabled to pursue the course which he had marked out for himself.
Beginning with a general merchandise business in 1873, he won such success that in 1876 he determined to carry out his original purpose, and in partnership with L.P. Knowles, began the banking business under the firm name of Knowles & Brent, afterwards changed to F.C. Brent & Co. So successful was this venture, that in 1892, he was able to purchase a controlling interest in the First National Bank of Pensacola, an instititution organized in 1880, and he became its president, merging it into his flourishing private banking business. The First National Bank was for some years the only national bank in the city.
Mr. Brent, in 1905, determined to retire in order to give more attention to an invalid wife, who died in December of the same year. At the same time his many other business interests were demanding attention. Though he gave up the presidency he did not cut loose entirely from the bank and retained a directorship and again became its president in April of 1911.
Besides his banking interests Mr. Brent had for many years been interested largely in the lumber business, and had served the various concerns with which he was connected. He was president of the Pensacola Lumber company, vice-president of the Cedar Creek Mill Company, and the Cedar Creek Store Company.
Mr. Brent's domestic environment has been quite as remarkable as his business career. He married in his early manhood Mary Ella, daughter of W.L. and Amanda (Brosnaham) Shuttleworth, the former an officer in the United States Marine Corps, and there were born to them thirteen children, twelve of whom are living.
Mr. Brent was democratic in politics, a member of the Roman Catholic church, the Osceola and County Clubs, and an ardent and useful member of the United Confederate Veterans, having filled the office of commander of the First brigade of the Florida division.
In 1885 the city charter was taken away by the legislature. A government by commissioners was substituted for the usual form. Mr. Brent was one of the original commissioners appointed by the governor, and served the city for eight years.
THE PALL BEARERS
The funeral cortege will leave the family home on West La Rua street this morning at 10:40 o'clock, and the following intimate friends of the deceased will act as pallbearers:
Active--Jas. S. Leonard, C.H. Turner, W.J. Forbes, R.M. Cary, D.B. McMillan, J.W. Dorr, A.H. White, and Louis Shuttleworth.
Honorary--W.N. Roberts, J.B. Gutman, A.F. Warren, G.W. Gonzalez, Geo. W. Wright, Thos. C. Watson, Dr. L deM. Blocker, and Capt. J.E. Turtle.
After Lingering Illness He Succumbs to Complications of Diseases
FUNERAL SERVICES CONDUCTED TODAY
One of Pensacola's Most Prominent Business Men and One Who Held the Respect of All, is Called to His Reward--Is Survived by a Large Number of Relatives
Francis Celestino Brent, pioneer banker and business man, whose worth to his community has been recognized throughout his long and useful career, passed to his reward yesterday morning at 11:15 o'clock, at his home on West La Rua street, death ending a long and painful illness. His death removed from Pensacola one whose losss will be greatly felt and a citizen who had the respect and esteem of every resident with whom he had an acquaintance. the funeral services will be conducted this morning at 11 o'clock at St. Michael's church, of which he was a regular attendant and devout member and the interment will be in the family burying ground in St. Michael's cemetery.
Mr. Brent had been ill at his home for many days with a complication of diseases and it had been realized by his family and intimate friends that no hope could be entertained for his recovery. This knowledge, however, did not relieve the shock occasioned by his death. Relatives residing in other cities were summoned over a week ago and the entire family was assembled when death occurred.
Mr. Brent was a successful business man in every sense of the word, and he attained this success through close attention to the various enterprises in which he became interested or was connected. As a result he had accumulated a large estate, consisting principally of business property in Pensacola, and stocks and bonds of various enterprises in Florida and Alabama.
LARGE FAMILY SURVIVES
The deceased is survived by a large family of children and other relatives. A widowed mother, Mrs. Merced G. Brent, two brothers, Daniel G. and Robert J. Brent; three sisters, Misses Pauline and Mary Ella Brent, and Mrs. E.O. Saltmarsh; and twelves sons and daughters, Miss Isabelle E. Brent, Mrs. Jas. C. Watson, Thomas W. Brent, Miss Mary Ella Brent, F.C. Brent Jr., Mrs. R.S. Manley, Mrs. Alba H. Warren, George S. Brent, Robert I. Brent, Miss Genevieve Brent, William L. Brent and Miss Frances Brent survive to mourn his death, besides many other more distant relatives.
Mr. Brent's mother was, before her marriage, Miss Mary Shuttleworth, granddaughter of Dr. John Brosnaham, and daughter of Colonel W. L. Shuttleworth of the marine corps, who won his spurs in the Mexican war and who served throughout the civil war as an officer in the federal army.
[Miss Mary Shuttleworth was his wife, not his mother].
This obituary appeared in the Pensacola Journal 14 April 1914 on the front page. F.C. Brent was 65 years old when he died. His mother, Merced Gonzalez Brent, and five siblings outlived him. Mrs. E.O. Saltmarsh was his sister, Margaret Eveline Brent, married to Ernest Olmstead Saltmarsh.
15 March 2007
Updated 29 March 2009