Emerenciana Hernendez de Torres
Mission San Luis
Emerenciana Hernendez de Torres was born in St. Augustine in 1674, one of six children born to Ana Ruis and Francisco Hernandez. Her family was of the merchant class and were Criolla, Latin Americans of full or near full Spanish descent. This distinguished her from both multi-racial Latin Americans and Latin Americans of post-colonial (and not necessarily Spanish) European immigrant origin.
Emerenciana was married at age 15 in 1689 to Pedro Josef de Torres who was 21 years old. Pedro came from a ranching family in Mexico. Due to his position as an officer at the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, it’s a likely possibility that he was a second or third son.
The family moved to San Luis and started a hacienda (cattle ranch) in 1689. On the hacienda, Emerenciana may have helped with maintaining the finances for the business, as well as providing certain necessary food and clothing for the vaqueros (Spanish cowboys).
The couple’s children, daughters Manuela (1692), Juana (1695), and Emerenciana (1700) were all born at San Luis. It was likely they had plenty of chores to do at the hacienda: fetching water from the Mission San Luis seep spring some distance from the village, caring for the family pigs and chickens, mending and washing their clothing, etc.
Birth records indicate that a fourth daughter, Josepha, was born in early 1705 in St. Augustine. Based on this, it can be assumed that Emerenciana was in the early state of this fourth pregnancy in July 1704 when she and her family abandoned Mission San Luis. It was during 1704 that most of the existing Apalachee missions were destroyed by the English and their Creek allies. This birth record also indicates that Emerenciana and her family were able to safely escape the burning and evacuation of their land in the village. Visit Mission San Luis to learn more about life at the mission and its eventual destruction.