Thursday, 21 July 2016

Bodegas: Harmony

Pedro Regalado Ximeno de la Riva y García was born in Vilagarcía de Araousa, Galicia, on 13 May 1777, son of Francisco Ximeno de la Riva who worked as mayordomo for the Marqués de Vilagarcía, and Antonia García. He joined the merchant marine, eventually becoming a ship’s captain and making frequent voyages to North America. There he struck up a friendship with the merchants Harmony Brothers to whom he often brought cargoes from Europe, and they became such close friends that one of the brothers adopted Pedro as his brother. Pedro then changed his name to Pedro X Harmony, but due to his immense pride at being Spanish, he never changed his nationality.

Pedro Harmony (foto:patrimoniovilagarcia.com)
On the death of the brothers, Pedro inherited their fortunes and ever growing business, becoming fabulously wealthy. As his mainly transatlantic business grew, including Mexico, he called upon members of his family, mainly nieces and nephews – he never married - to work in senior positions. The firm was now trading as Peter (Pedro) Harmony and Nephews, and grew to gigantic proportions. He bought large bodegas in El Puerto in the Campo de Guia area which he called, confusingly, Bodegas Pedro Ximénez, as he was known in Andalucia. To avoid confusion this was changed to Bodegas P Harmony.

A Harmony Card (foto:gentedelpuerto)

In 1849 Pedro retired but the firm retained his name. When he died in 1851, he left a vast fortune. To his nieces Benita, Antonia, Lorena and Agustina he left various New York properties and a quarter each of the bodega, which now traded as Sobrinos de P Harmony. Many other nieces and nephews inherited property in America and Spain along with money, bonds and shares. He left his sister in law, Isidra Carrera, his house in Cádiz at Plaza de la Constitucion, 3, (now Plaza de San Antonio, 8, built in 1808 and now owned by the National University of distance Learning.

An old Harmony leaflet (elpuertoysusbodegas)

Pedro had a brother, Francisco Ximeno, who was married to Isidra Carrera in 1826 in Cadiz. Francisco was also a highly successful sailor and merchant and later a member of the powerful Cadiz mercantile company Carreras y Cia as well as owning his own company Harmony y Cia. He had also assumed the surname Harmony and ran the bodegas under the name FX Harmony y sobrinos till he died in 1850 when other family members took over guided by his widow Isidra, when the name changed to Viuda (widow) de X Harmony then Sobrinos de X Harmony. Her nephew Pedro Hernández Carrera ran things latterly.

Fino Perendengues (which means cheap earrings!) foto:todocoleccion

In 1856 Harmony was the 5th biggest exporter in El Puerto but the mid-1860s brought falling sales and many bodegas failed.  At some point towards the end of the 1860s or early 1870s Harmony was sold to John William Burdon – the biggest exporter in 1856. Having no children to leave his business to, Burdon sold out to José de la Cuesta who was in turn bought out by Luis Caballero in 1932.

(foto:todocoleccion)

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