Cultural Continuity and Change: A Spanish Creole Family in Antebellum Pensacola, Florida

Deborah Rebekah Mullins

          Although the Spanish families who remained in Florida after the transfer of governments in 1821 faced a multitude of challenges, many successfully assimilated into American society while maintaining aspects of the Spanish cultural heritage. The Gonzalez family of Pensacola, prominent in the preceding Spanish colonial period, continued to prosper under the American flag. As single units of analysis, households offer a unique lens through which to view the broader cultural system of which they are a part. This research examines the historical context and material culture of the Gonzalez household and defines an artifact assemblage of a wealthy Spanish Creole family in Antebellum Pensacola. This research also considers how the Gonzalez family actively negotiated their ethnic identity under American rule through a comparison of results with a similar site from St. Augustine, Florida that dates to the preceding late Spanish colonial period. A combined analysis of historical records and material culture demonstrate that customs and material items associated with a Hispanic background, particularly language, religion, ceramics, clothing, and personal objects, remained visible in upper class Spanish Creole households into the mid decades of the nineteenth century.