Cadiz, Spain

Fort at Cadiz. Spain

Castillo de Santa Catalina Cadiz, Spain

Cádiz, Spain, was the principle port involved Spain’s galleon trade. European goods would be shipped out to the New World and the treasure fleets would return to harbor of Cádiz. On August 31, 1749, the galleon, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, departed Cádiz for the Veracruz, Mexico. Captain Juan Manuel Bonilla was not only carrying a cargo of iron and but twenty Franciscan priests. One of them was Father Junípero Serra who would later establish missions in California.

Captain Bonilla lost his treasure at Ocracoke, North Carolina, on October 20, 1750. He remained in Virginia until September 1751 and returned briefly to Cádiz before going on to London to meet with ambassadors about his lost treasure.

The former Franciscan Convento de los Descalzos

In late February 1753, his galleon returned to Cádiz, the only ship of the fleet to survive. On October 26, Captain Bonilla died in Cádiz on October 25, 1759. He despaired that he was nearly broke. He died not knowing that his lost treasure would be immortalized in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. He lies in an unmarked grave on the grounds of the present day post office in Cádiz which was formerly the location of the vegetable garden of the Franciscan Convento de los Descalzos.