Submitted by Descendant: Nancy Evelyn Strauss WHITTLE
Antonia Paula Bonelli was born 6 April 1786 in St. Augustine, Florida. She is the daughter of Josef Bonnelli and his wife Maria Moll. Her father was born in Livorno, Italy; her mother in Minorca. Both arrived with the Turnbull Colony in 1768 and were married in New Smyrna in 1775c. Between 1776 and 1792, they became the parents of nine children, all born in St. Augustine.
Antonia grew up in St. Augustine where on 26 July 1808; she married Bartolome Josef Leonardi, son of Don Roque Leonardi and Agueda Coll. By 1830 they had nine children; all born in St. Augustine.
When Antonia was about 13 or 14, she, along with her mother and four other children, was captured by a tribe of Mickasuky Indians. They travelled 24 days from Matanzas Inlet to the town of Mickasuky, which was about a day’s journey from St. Mark’s on the Gulf of Mexico, within the Spanish boundary of East and West Florida. While living with the Indians, she experienced many hardships and cruelties and was forced to watch the tribe dance over the scalp of her brother. Antonia’s mother and three of the children were detained 7 months before being released to her father for a sum of $300. The Indians considered $300 insufficient and detained Antonia and her brother Joseph fifteen months longer. Her brother escaped and finally reached St. Augustine via way of St. Mark’s, Pensacola, Mobile, New Orleans, and Cuba in a vessel commanded by Captain Stephen Benet. Twenty-two months after Antonia’s captivity, her father sent $200, an additional sum demanded by the Indians, and she was released and returned to St. Augustine. (American State Papers; Class V Military Affairs, Vol VI, p. 500)
Antonia died 5 April 1870 in St. Augustine, following the death of Bartolome 23 July 1844. Both are buried in the Old Catholic Cemetery in St. Augustine.
Antonia Paula Bonelli was first established as a Florida Pioneer in 1986