Submitted by Descendants: Joseph Foster, Thomas Randall, and Timothy Joseph BUTLER
Juan Bautista Serapio Ferreira was born in St. Augustine on November 13, 1813. He was the grandson of Juan Bautista Ferreyra of Portugal who, with his wife Elizabeth Nixon of Charlestown, South Carolina, brought their family to St. Augustine in 1786 or 1787, during Florida’s second Spanish Period. There they raised a large family which included Juan Bautista Serapio’s father, Francisco Lorenzo Ferreira.
The Ferreira family remained a prominent St. Augustine family through the 1870s. With the acquisition of Florida by the United States, Juan Bautista Serapio Ferreira became known as John B. Ferreira, becoming involved in local issues during Florida’s territorial days. He joined to local militia and fought in the Seminole Indian Wars in the 1830s. During this same period, he married the daughter of a prominent Minorcan family of St. Augustine, the Rogero family. On October 25th, 1837, he married Lauriana Rogero and they raised five sons and one daughter in St. Augustine, until he moved the family the family to Fernandina on Amelia Island in 1858. This was a very exciting time in Fernandina as construction of the first cross-state railroad began that year.
The Florida Railroad Company, headed by Florida’s first senator, David Levy Yulee, completed construction of the railroad from Fernandina to Cedar Key in 1861, just one month before the Civil War started with the fall of Ft. Sumter in South Carolina. Then on March 1st of 1862, Confederate troops withdrew from Amelia Island and the citizens were left defenseless against the rumored invasion of Union Troops. As twenty-eight Union navy ships descended upon Amelia Island, John B. Ferreira left Fernandina, abandoning home and property, moving his family to Palatka for the duration of the war. But, by 1868, the family had returned to Fernandina to rebuild their lives and take part in the resurrection of the Florida Railroad.
John B. Ferreira lived his remaining years in Fernandina until his death on October 11, 1883. Many of his descendants remain to this day in Fernandina and other parts of Florida.
Juan Bautista Serapio Ferreira was first established as a Florida Pioneer in 2001