Our Norriego namesake

Hank Klein
The photo below is a historical marker at the grave of Jose Noriega in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Pensacola. His surname is the namesake for Destin’s Norriego Point.

History Mystery

I was recently asked by The Log editor how Norriego Point came by its unusual name.

The answer was part of my "The History of East Pass" presentation I gave at the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida on Jan. 10.

The tip of what is today Holiday Isle is called Norriego Point. Spelled with two r’s, it is commonly misspelled by even some longtimers. Like Moreno Point, Norriego Point was also named after a Spanish family who lived in Pensacola when it was owned by Spain.

Originally called Norriega 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 in 1825 and 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 Destin historian, who visits often and lives in North Little Rock, Ark., with his wife (the former Muriel Marler of Destin). He has also contributed historical research for Tony Mennillo’s recently published book “Salty Memories along the Coastal Highway – Historic Stories of Destin and the Emerald Coast.”  He can be contacted at klein@aristotle.net.