The Gonzalez family from Pensacola begins with don Manuel Gonzalez, 1767-1838, who left his home in 1784 and sailed to America. His birthplace is usually given as San Vicente de la Barquera, a seaport on the north coast of Spain, but his will notes that he was a native of Camijanes, a very small town overlooking the Nansa River about 20 to 30 minutes southwest of San Vicente de la Barquera.

Manuel had an uncle who was a sea captain and at the age of 17 he conspired with his uncle to sail aboard one of his ships to Buenos Ayres. He left silently, in winter, in the middle of the night, with no good-byes. He ended up in Madrid, after a quarrel with his uncle, and evenutally sailed in December 1784 from Cadiz, as a volunteer with the Spanish troops. The ship went directly to Pensacola in Spanish Florida.

Manuel attained the rank of Corporal, was appointed an Indian Commissioner in 1792, and then chief commissary to the Spanish Army in Pensacola, Justice of the Peace in Pensacola, and Quartermaster General of the Territorial Militia in 1822. Over the years Manuel acquired various grants of land from the Spanish Crown in the Pensacola area, mostly located in the Gonzalia and Cantonment areas, with homes at at Vacaria Baja and 15-Mile-House. Manuel became a wealthy man, a landowner and a cattle rancher. A document at the time described him as having “pelo y ceja castano obscuro, ojos pardos, color claro” – hair and eye-brows dark chestnut brown, grey eyes and clear complexion.

Manuel married Marie Louise Bonifay, the oldest daughter of Joseph Bonifay and Mariana Pingron. Marie Louise was a Pensacola native, born there in 1781. Some stories have Marie Louise born on the island of Martinique, but the 1820 Spanish census of Pensacola gives her place of birth as Pensacola. The family grew to number twelve as ten children were born, five girls and five boys, the oldest being Celestino, born in 1796.

When Andrew Jackson arrived with his troops during the War of 1812, and again in 1818 and 1821 when Florida became part of the United States, the Jacksons stayed at Fifteen Mile House, guests of Manuel and Marie Louise.

Manuel died at Vacaria Baja in 1838 and was buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery. A few years before he died he wrote his will. In it he states that he is sixty-three years old, a native of Camijanes, Spain, in the bishopric of Santander, and that he is the legitimate son of Joseph Gonzalez and Maria Del Vall. Also that he married Miss Maria Bonifay in church and that there were ten children from this marriage: Celestino, Eulalia, Joseph, Jasper, Merced, Pedro, Joaquin, Zacarias, Irene and Georgiana. The will was admitted to probate on 7 January 1847.

Related Links:
7-generation descent chart for Manuel Gonzalez and Marie Louise Bonifay
Family group sheet for Manuel Gonzalez and Marie Louise Bonifay
Gravestones of Manuel Gonzalez and Marie Louise Bonifay
Celestino Gonzalez, oldest child of Manuel and Marie Louise Gonzalez
Family tree showing ancestry of Francis Celestino Brent and Mary Ella Shuttleworth and related families


Bruington, Lola Lee Daniell, compiler. Records of Saint Michael's Cemetery, Pensacola, Florida. D.A.R., 1938, 1939, p.6. Family History Library Microfilm #850397. Celestino's gravestone inscription gives his age as 48 at the time of his death in 1844.

Coker, William S. and G. Douglas Inglis. Spanish Censuses of Pensacola, 1784-1820: a Genealogical Guide to Spanish Pensacola. Pensacola: Perdido Bay Press, 1980, p.124. Celestino is age 25 in the 1820 census.

Find A Grave, Memorial 45707099.

Florida Probate Records, 1784-1990, Escambia County Will Book 1, 1832-1898, pp. 64-66. FHL MF 941009, images 65-67.

Gonzalez, Leonora, A Life Sketch of Don Manuel Gonzalez of Florida, A.D. 1767-1838, accessed online at Article originally appeared in Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, March 1903, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.28-40, American Catholic Historical Society.

Holmes, Jack. Pensacola Settlers, 1721-1821. Pensacola, Florida: Pensacola Historical Restoration and Preservation Committee, 1970.

Sutton, Leora M. Gonzalia, 1770-1880. Pensacola, Florida, privately printed manuscript, 1961.

Sutton, Leora M., Mariana Bonifay, Unpublished manuscript, 1991.

Drawing of San Vicente de la Barquera in 1889 by Fernando Perez Del Camino (1859-1901), accessed at Wikimedia Commons. The image is in the public domain.

Photograph of San Vicente de la Barquera showing the Castillo de San Vicente de la Barquera on the left and the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, far right, taken 8 July 2006 by Turol Jones, accessed at Wikimedia Commons and licensed for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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7 April 2022