Muriel and I visited Destin over the Memorial Day weekend. Our grandson, Hayden Lucas, graduated from Navarre High School at the Bay Center in Pensacola, so we spent the weekend in Destin, despite the threat of tropical storm Alberto. We noticed that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection had just about completed their work on the shoreline stabilization and restoration project at Norriego Point and it sure was looking good.
Walking out on the new Norriego Point reminded me that exactly 50 History Mystery columns ago on Feb. 19, 2014, the then editor of The Log invited me to write my first History Mystery about where Norriego Point came by its unusual name.
The tip of what is today Holiday Isle is called Norriego Point. Spelled with two Rs, it is commonly misspelled by even some old timers. Like Moreno Point, Norriego Point was named after a Spanish family who lived in Pensacola when Florida was owned by Spain.
Originally called Noriega Point, it was named for the family of a Spanish nobleman. Don Jose Noriega (spelled with one R) was born about 1757 in Spain and served his country with distinction in the Louisiana Infantry Regiment against the British at Baton Rouge, Mobile and Pensacola between 1779 and 1781.
His son Jose Noriega Jr. was born at Pensacola on May 31, 1788. He also served the Louisiana Infantry Regiment. He operated an extensive brickyard on Escambia Bay. When Florida became a territory, Jose Noriega Jr. was on the Florida Territorial Council and was in the local government as alderman from 1825 to 1827.
Jose Noriega Jr. died at the young age of 39 on July 10, 1827, and is buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Pensacola.
His name became attached to the legendary spit of land at the mouth of Destin harbor, and over the years, someone added an extra “R” and likely swapped the “A” for an “O”. Mapmakers through the years simply repeated the mistake giving us our Norriego Point of today.
H. C. “Hank” Klein is a Destin historian, author and speaker. He visits often and lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with his wife (the former Muriel Marler of Destin). Klein recently published historic books about Destin - DESTIN Pioneer Settlers...A Land History of Destin, Florida from 1819-1940 and DESTIN’S Founding Father…The Untold Story of Leonard Destin. Both can be obtained from Amazon.com, Tony Mennillo of Arturo Studios at 850/585-2909, The Destin History & Fishing Museum, Dewey Destin's Restaurants in Destin, the Magnolia Grill in Fort Walton Beach, and Sundog Books in Seaside. Klein can be contacted directly at email@example.com.