April 29, 2016

La Florida

Early Spanish settlers saw Florida as 'a business opportunity'

Lilly Rockwell | 5/1/2013

The Descendants

An estimated 500 to 1,000 descendants of Solana and Sanchez -- called "Floridanos," "old Floridians" -- live in Florida. Many still live close to St. Augustine. Many even live -- coincidentally -- on the same land where their ancestors raised cattle. Many consider themselves the only true links to the original Spanish settlers because Sanchez and Solana were the only two Spaniards who stayed throughout the British period. A Los Floridanos Society, composed of Solana and Sanchez descendants, seeks to preserve the families' heritage. Here are some of their stories.


Ancestor Born
Francisco Xavier Sanchez 1736
Francisco Xavier Roman
Manuel Sanchez
George Washington Sanchez 1819
James Arthur Sanchez 1878
Orlando Cyatt Sanchez 1899
Earl Clyde Sanchez 1928
Earl Clyde Sanchez II 1956

Earl Sanchez, a semi-retired 56-year-old who lives in Plant City and worked at the Home Shopping Network after a 20-year career as a maintenance manager at an orange juice processing plant, says his family knew they belonged to an old Spanish family. "But that's all they knew," he says.

Sanchez didn't learn about his roots until 1988, when he started doing his own research. "It becomes a lifelong quest for further knowledge," he says.

At the Los Floridanos extended family reunions, he says you can see a family resemblance. With green eyes and a medium complexion, Earl Sanchez doesn't look like someone with Spanish roots. The Sanchez family has large foreheads, a beefy build, sloping shoulders and receding hairlines, he says.


Ancestor Born
Francisco Xavier Sanchez 1736
Francisco Xavier Roman
Manuel Sanchez
Rafaela Sophia Maria Sanchez 1822
Mary Elizabeth Wilson 1844
Mary Murray Scarborough 1863
Scarboroguh DeCosta Cellon 1882
Ralph Wilson Cellon 1910
Ralph W. Cellon Jr. 1934
Frank Cellon 1961

A 52-year-old retired interior designer, Cellon lives in Melrose, east of Gainesville. Cellon's family was in the cattle business and by sheer coincidence worked on land that was once owned by an ancestor in 1820. "It was meant to be," Cellon says in a Southern drawl. He knows the family history intimately. "Growing up, I was very interested in family history," he says, "and then I started digging up stuff about the family and learned, my God, we've been here a long time."

Cellon conducted interviews with cousins and older relatives and studied copies of documents stored at the St. Augustine Historical Society. "I've been doing this for 40 years," he says, long before the internet made genealogical research easier. Cellon even has a few family artifacts, including a gold-edged Sanchez family locket that dates back to Francisco Xavier Sanchez, and a lock of braided hair.

Next page: » Linda Brown and Brad Coker

Tags: La Florida, Hispanics in Florida

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