Submitted by Descendant: Filiberto J. R. HENDERSON
Juan Hernandez was born 23 August 1761 at Mahon, Minorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. His parents were: Gaspar Hernandez and Margarita Triay. This family can be traced back in the parish records of Mahon to 1648. In that year Francisco Hernandez, native of Vilanova, in the Kingdom of Portugal married his second wife. Since the marriage entry offers a lot of information, we know that Francisco’s parents were Francisco Hernandez and Maria Dias, taking the family origin to the Last years of the 16th Century.
Juan Hernandez emigrated to New Smyrna, Florida, along with his parents and brothers named Martin and Jose in 1768. New Smyrna was a colonization project of Dr. Andrew Turnbull, a Scots who brought 1403 persons, mostly from Minorca, but also including Greeks, Italians and a handful of natives of Catalonia and Majorca. There are no nominal lists of these people, but the fact that their names appear in several of the 18th Century Spanish censuses of Florida, as well as in the parish records of Father Camps, is proof enough that they were among the primitive colonists of New Smyrna, and since he is described in his marriage records, as well as in the baptismal entries of his children, as “residing in this parish” this fact is further proof of his having been a pioneer of both St. Johns County and the State of Florida.
In 1777 the New Smyrna project came to an end and most of these families moved to St. Augustine. There, Juan Hernandez, in typical Spanish fashion, followed his eldest brother and became a carpenter under his training. Martin was, later on, the Chief Master Carpenter of the Royal Works, and probably, Juan was one of his assistants.
Juan Hernandez married twice, but it seems that he left no issue from his first marriage to Antonia Arnau, 27 April 1789. From his second marriage to Margarita Ponze (Pons), daughter of Juan Ponze and Margarita Ruiduves, 3 February 1790, there were, at least, five children. We do not know when or where he died, but since his brother Martin died in Matanzas, Cuba, in 1824, I am inclined to believe that after Florida passed to the hands of the U.S.A., Juan also moved to Cuba, either to Havana or Matanzas.
Juan Hernandez was first established as a Florida Pioneer in 2003