As Pensacola moved from Spanish to American rule, business flourished

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Editor’s note: This is the 20th of a series of stories that will be featured in the Pensacola News Journal each week leading up to the 200th anniversary of Escambia County. Look for these stories each Monday in print. 

The 1820 Spanish census of Pensacola provides a wealth of information on people and their occupations. A look at one neighborhood illustrates not only the diversity of the population but also the diversity of trades as Pensacola transitioned from Spanish to American rule. Panton, Leslie and Company and its successor, the John Forbes Company, was a major house of commerce in Spanish Florida in the 1780s and onward. The business was located along the bay on the west side of town.

Panton, Leslie and Company and its successor, the John Forbes Company, was a major house of commerce in Spanish Florida in the 1780s and onward.

This major trading company supplied goods to Creek Indians in exchange for deer skins; they supplied goods to the general population as well. William Panton’s home was described as an imposing three-story brick structure with elegant mill work, a veranda, three chimneys, glass windows and imported furniture. The warehouse and other outbuildings stood nearby and they too were impressive. Around 1806, merchant John Innerarity, who had been long associated with the trading company, moved into the house.

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