Author Nancy Pellicer Dyer is a direct descendent of Don Francisco Pellicer, the main character of this novel. Her family still resides in the nation’s oldest city. Nancy grew up with stories of how her forefather had saved the people of New Smyrna from starvation and death. Her desire to learn more of their difficult life prompted her in-depth research and this novel. Nancy and her husband currently live near Richmond, VA where she is working on a second novel that continues where the first novel, The Minorcan Yoke, leaves off.
Just south of America’s oldest permanent city, St. Augustine, Florida, lie the ruins of the largest colony the English attempted to establish in the New World. New Smyrna was established in 1768 by 1,400 indentured servants; immigrating from the Mediterranean countries of Italy, Greece and the Balearic island of Menorca. Their nine turbulent year odyssey under English domination and servitude was a struggle to survive against tremendous odds. The Minorcan Yoke is the adventurous tale of a real life hero, Don Francisco Pellicer, and how he led the 600 survivors of the ill-fated endeavor to their freedom.
Having received a land grant in the newly acquired Florida territory, Scottish Doctor Andrew Turnbull, on behalf of his partners, one of which is George Grenville, Prime Minister of England, sets out to recruit indentured servants from hardy Mediterranean stock. With Greek and Italian laborers as a goal, because they are ideally suited for Florida’s humid climate, the doctor finds few takers and much resistance filling his quota of 500 immigrants.
With Minorca set as the disembark point, Dr. Turnbull arrives disappointed in his efforts knowing he is far short of his desired number of bondsmen and expenses are mounting. Fortunately the doctor finds many of the local population willing to join his adventure and the Menorcans quickly swell the ranks. A young master carpenter, Don Francisco Pellicer is recruited and joins the journey to American. As the caravan of ships arrives in Gibraltar, problems begin. Discovering stowaways, the number of immigrants comes to a staggering 1,400 individuals. The doctor also learns that two of his hired vessels will not continue and he scrambles to find replacements.
Upon arriving in New Smyrna, Florida, the immigrants find life not as it was promised. The Greek colonists, led by a few ruthless men, revolt and attempt to escape, endangering the lives of many. Our hero, Don Francisco Pellicer and his fellow colonists endure nine years of brutality, starvation, domination, love, marriage, rivalry, pirates, rebellion, hangings, murder, deadly weather, diseases and death. Through the hardships, more than half of the colonists perish. The 600 remaining soles would find their savior in Don Francisco Pellicer when he risks his life by escaping to seek help from the governor in St. Augustine. He then returns to the colony to lead his people to freedom.
The Minorcan Yoke is a fascinating novel that allows the reader to behold the hardships and tragedies of America’s Menorcan ancestors while they pioneered the dawn of a new nation. The same land that the Menorcans developed still sits between the North River and the Atlantic Ocean and some Menorcan families still live there. The farms are all gone and in their place are condominiums, including one exclusive development built at New Smyrna Beach some eight years ago called Minorca – The Lure of the Sea.
The Minorcan Yoke is currently available in English on Google Play (ES) in ebook format at a reduced rate over Amazon, click here for details. For more information about the Menorca / Florida connection, click here.