Submitted by Descendant: Jeannette Marie SAY
1 April 1828 is the day that marked the birth of Venancia Andreu in St. Augustine, Florida to Josef Juan Andreu and his wife Maris Dolores Masters. Venancia was part of the second generation Andreu’s born following the establishment of the New Smyrna colony by Dr. Andrew Turnbull. She was of Minorcan descent.
Very little has been written or is known about Venancia. According to her descendant, Nancy Whittle, Venancia learned to make hats from palmetto buds when she was just a child. She passed on this art to her daughter, Evalena Leonardi Strauss, who carried on the art up and until her death.
Venancia married Vicente Leonardy, of Minorcan and Italian descent, on 12 April 1847. Soon after their marriage the young couple moved to the west coast of Florida. The 1850 census documents the couple living with his brother Bartolome at Fort Brooke, Tampa. In 1868, Vicente moved his growing family across Tampa Bay to Point Pinellas. Venancia gave birth to and raised eight children. William (Bill) Neeld taught her children in the evening in their home on Lakeview Avenue. Following her husband’s death near the end of 1890, she lived with her daughter, Evelena, in Lealman, Florida.
On March 1902, at the age of 87 Venancia’s life came to a close. She was laid to rest beside her husband of 43 years in Glen Oak Cemetery, St Petersburg, Florida. Records indicate that she never lived outside of the state of Florida.
Venancia Andreu was first established as a Florida Pioneer in 2003