DON FRANCISCO MORENO, 1793 - 1885
"THE KING OF PENSACOLA"
Don Francisco Moreno better known as “ The King of Pensacola”. Moreno was born November 25, 1793 in Pensacola and lived for ninety-two years in Pensacola.
During his years in Pensacola he became a prominent leader in the community. Investing in many aspects of developing Pensacola. Moreno opened the first bank in Pensacola and he actually kept a chest full of gold under his bed by which he lent money freely to people wishing to invest in the Pensacola area.(1)
He was also the official Spanish representative in Pensacola for fifty-years, which gained him prominence not only in Pensacola, but also with the officials of Spain, and the connection they had here.
He was twenty one when he married Josefa Lopez in 1814. (2) They resided in what is now known as the Dorothy Walton house in historic Pensacola.(3)
This marriage produced three children, during this time Moreno remained a successful banker and business man in the area. But on February 8, 1820 Josefa died.,
In 1821 Moreno married Josefa’s sister, Margarita Lopez. This union produced twelve children. (4) During this marriage to Margarita, Moreno built the first hotel in Pensacola, this hotel named “ Paris” was located west of Seville Square on Tarragona Street. Many said there was subterranean tunnel that lead from the hotel to his home.
Also, during his second marriage he built a home on Palafox and Romana where the “Thiesen” building now stands. But fire destroyed this home, and he bought a house on Zarragossa street, and this is where he established his prominence in Pensacola. This house and property stretched from Zarragossa street to the water and east beyond Seville Square. In this prime location his house always drew large crowds of neighbors in the summertime, where the Moreno’s were always gracious hosts.
Margarita died in 1851, and many years later Moreno married Mentoria Gonzalez.
Mentoria was actually born at Fort McRee in 1852 and was sixteen year old at the time of her marriage to Moreno, he was 42 years her senior and together they had twelve children.(5)
Which at this time brings Moreno’s total number of children to twenty-seven.
Moreno owned many slaves, and his interest was always with whomever had the government role in Pensacola, he actually swore his allegiance to all five countries that had a one time interest in the Pensacola area.
But during the Civil War his interest was clearly with the Confederacy. Two of his sons were lost in battle and two died from exposure in the Confederate army.(6)
This was a devastating time for the Moreno family, Francisco Jr., his first son was a member of the New Orleans guard, and was killed in the battle of Shiloh in 1862.(7)
Another son, Celestino Moreno, which was a son by his second wife, was in an Alabama Regiment and was killed in Columbia Tennessee at the age of 18. (8)
Stephen Moreno also served in the War some notations show him as a General , but appears to be inaccurate as most of this command was as a Captain, with a very short service as an “acting” Major. Nothing can be located to show his was the status of a General.(9)
Also located, were Benito Moreno, born 1824 and died during the Civil War, but unable to locate the cause of death and , his brother Albert Moreno, born 1830, died during the War, but no cause of death can be located.
Not only did the Moreno family face the devastation of losing sons in the War , Federal troops came to the Moreno home and killed 150 of Moreno’s prize pigs, to help feed the troops.
Pensacola became a devastated city, but the Moreno family continued as leaders in Pensacola affairs, working to rebuild the city.
For many years Don Francisco Moreno was a figure of distinction in Pensacola, he always carried himself quite exquisitely in town and around home, one of his trademarks was always waking with a gold-headed cane.
At the time of his death he was one of the wealthiest men in the city, even though war and economic panics had taken place.
He died in 1883 and was the father of twenty-seven children, seventy-five grandchildren, and 127 great-grandchildren
He is buried at St. Michael's Cemetery, with the inscription on the marker in Spanish that reads. “Here sleeps two of his wives, some of his children and an unknown Yankee Captain that no one would claim”. (10)
Even in his death Don Francisco Moreno proves once again what type of man he was by burying a Yankee in his family grave.
- (1) The Moreno and Related Families, by Regina Moreno Kirchoff Mandrell, Vol. III, Southern History and Genealogy series, The Perdido Bay Press, Pensacola, Fl. 1988. Page 45
- (2) Fabulous Families of Old Pensacola, by Celia Robinson. Page 21
- (3) Ibid: page 21
- (4) Interview with Elizabeth Robinson, Great Granddaughter of Don Francisco Moreno
- (5) The Moreno and Related Families, page 46
- (6) Ibid, page 97
- (7) Ibid, page 98
- (8) Ibid, page 100
- (9) Ibid, page 104
- (10) The Moreno And Related Families, page 24