Early Spanish settlers saw Florida as 'a business opportunity'
The Outlaw Daniel McGirtt
One of Francisco Sanchez's "close associates" was a Scottish man named Daniel McGirtt. He was a British loyalist who fought American patriots in South Carolina. He escaped to East Florida, which was British territory at the time, and bought a plantation on the St. Johns River near Sanchez's property. He became the leader of a band of criminals that stole livestock and slaves from Georgia and Florida and then resold them. "Dan McGirtt, leader of the banditti, terrorized remote plantations and robbed travelers along the King's Road from St. Augustine to Cowford (on the Ortega River, once known as McGirtt's Creek)," wrote Maurice Robinson in his book "Ponte Vedra Beach: A History." According to historian Jane Landers, Sanchez turned to McGirtt for help when his own plantation was raided and 400 cattle were killed. Sanchez was also accused of stealing slaves himself. The governor of South Carolina accused Sanchez of stealing more than 100 slaves from South Carolina while in cahoots with McGirtt. The new Spanish governor didn't take these charges against Sanchez seriously and banished McGirtt to the Bahamas, where he continued his business relationship with Sanchez.