It is not often that you can step across a threshold and enter the house that your 5-times great grandfather built & lived in. I was fortunate enough to experience that goosebump-inducing time warp in Old St. Augustine, FL. This two-room white coquina house—one upstairs room, one downstairs—is a testament to the determination and will of my ancestor, Gaspar Papi, who overcame incredible hardships to amass quite an estate.
Gaspar Papi was born to Greek parents in Smyrna, Turkey sometime between 1746 and 1751. He came to the New World among my Minorcan ancestors (the Andreu, Capella, Duran, and Pons families) as a part of the Andrew Turnbull colony at New Smyrna. After a decade of indentured servitude, he was freed with the rest of the colonists and ultimately became one of the more affluent Minorcans in St. Augustine.
Standing inside his house was a surreal experience for me… a circling back in the grand spiral of history, a moment when great-great-great-great-great grandson stood, iPhone & Canon T3i in hand, completely awestruck by the moment. This all came courtesy of the generosity and hospitality of the Sisters of St. Joseph, who now own the house. My special thanks to them!