Vicente Andres LEONARDY

Submitted by Descendant:  Jeannette Marie SAY

Born in St Augustine 21 January 1823, Vicente was of Italian and Menorcan heritage and second generation Floridian.  He was the third son and eighth child born to Bartolome Leonardy and Antonia Paula Bonelli.  The first record we find after his baptism is his marriage on 12 April 1847 to Venancia Andreu.

By 1850 Vicente had moved with his wife to Tampa and taken up the profession of carpenter.  Eight children were born to this couple during the 18 years they resided in Tampa.  He is credited with designing and building many of the homes and buildings in Tampa erected at that time, including the original St Louis Catholic Church.  Additionally Vicente, along with his brother had the idea of building a 25 room hotel which they built and named the Florida House, which stayed in business as a hotel until the outbreak of the Civil War.  In 1860, Vicente was elected to the City Council.

It has been reported that as a soldier for the Confederacy, Vicente was imprisoned at Fort Warren after his capture in October 1863 by the Federals and was there for the remainder of the conflict.

In 1868, Vicente purchased 80 acres of land for $0.50/acre in what is now Gulfport, moving his family one more time.  According to his daughter Ellen, he built a schooner which he used to move his family to the Point of Pines, as it was then called.  It was here that their last child was born in 1869.  Once again Vicente began leaving his mark architecturally.  He built the home of Joseph Torres which would be operated as a general merchandise store as well as the post office.

Vicente is credited with developing the Leonardy Grapefruit.  This was a small juicy grapefruit with a thick rind described as so sweet that many prefer to eat it without sugar.

The first attempt of the settler’s on the point of Pinellas to create a separate county from Hillsborough occurred in the late 1880s.  Vicente signed the petition to the State Legislature to establish the new county.  This petition did not pass.

1890 marked the end of Vicente’s life.  He is reportedly buried in the Glen Oak Cemetery in an unmarked grave.

Vicente Andres Leonardy was first established as a Florida Pioneer in 2000