Central Mercedita

Date Established: 1895
Date Ceased Operations: 1994
Annual Production Graph
Average Annual Production: 39,317 Tons
Best Production Year: 1950/89,379 Tons
Family Ownership: Serrallés

The origins of Central Mercedita can be traced back to  Sebastián Serrallés Marqués (1809-1875), a Spanish immigrant from Catalonia who arrrived in Puerto Rico in 1842.  The first hacienda owned by Sebastián was Hacienda Teresa, named in honor of his mother Theresa Marqés Pivernus.  In the early 1850s Sebastián returned to live in Spain where he remained until his death. 

After Sebastián returned to Spain, his Puerto Rico born son Juan Eugenio Serrallés Colón  (1836-1897) took over the business.  In 1861 he established Hacienda Mercedita , named after his wife Mercédes Pérez.  It is 1865 though that has always been used by the Serrallés family as the year the business was formally established as evidenced by this document published for its 150 year celebration .  Upon Juan Eugenio's death, the family businesses were grouped into the legal entity called Sucn. Juan Serrallés in order to perpetuate their existence.

Hacienda Teresa originally had an oxen driven mill which by 1869 had been upgraded with a steam mill acquired from Mirrlees, Tait, Watson & Co. of Scotland.  According to historian Andrés Ramos Mattei, by 1880 total land holdings consisted of 859 cuerdas which included haciendas Teresa, Coto, Laurel, Fé, Ursula and Destierro.  It has been reported that by 1990 land holdings had grown to 3,000 cuerdas including leased properties.  Central Mercedita came to be the largest family owned sugar mill on the island.
In 1926, then under the leadership of the third generation,  the Serrallés family started the Porto Rican American Sugar Refinery, Inc. to produce "Snow White" brand sugar and just after the end of the prohibition years (1920-1933), established Destileria Serrallés, Inc. to produce Don Q Rum  which to this day is the rum of choice for most Puerto Ricans. 
The mill had its own land for growing sugarcane which today are still owned by the Sucn. Juan Serrallés.  It also had a number of independent land growers or colonos that grew sugar along the southern coast of the island.  It had its own railroad system, one of the locomotives is pictured below.  It was one of the longest running sugar mills on the island, operating for almost 100 years.
During the last quarter of the 19th Century, in addition to Central Mercedita,  Juan Eugenio Serrallés Colón also owned and operated a sugar mill named Ingenio Puerto Rico in the Dominican Republic.  This sugar mill closed down in 1913 and its land use converted to a cattle farm known as Las Cabuyas.  One of Juan Eugenio's son; Jorge Juan Serrallés Pérez remained in the Dominican Republic in charge of the operations there.
Although the mill and the refinery are not in operation any longer, the family continues distilling several brands of rum on the premises under the leadership of the sixth family generation.  In 2014, we were told that there was a project to plant sugarcane and install modern machinery to produce molasses for the rum distilling operation in part of the existing structures pictured herein.