Roque Santos Bartolome Leonardi

by the Editors

Roque Santos Bartolome Leonardi, grandson of Roque Leonardi and Aqueda Coll, and son of Juan Leonardi and Catalina Maria Rogero.

Florida’s Territorial Lighthouses 1824-1845 by Thomas W. Taylor pages 142ff states that Roque was Keeper from 1831 until after the first lighthouse was dismantled. Roque supervised the dismantling of the Lighthouse and the sale of much of it piece by piece. (See Below.)

The bricks from the lighthouse were salvaged and placed under the care of Keeper Leonardy. On March 5, 1834, he sent a statement to James Dell accounting for them:

Jacksonville, March 5th, 1834.
I, Roque Leonardy, late Keeper of St. Johns Light house do solemnly swear that I have counted out one hundred & fifty thousand Bricks as per above statements, having performed the above duty under orders of James Dell, Esqr., Superintendent.

Roque Leonardy

Neil Hurley writes:

In my book (currently out of print) I show Roque as keeper from 1831-1834. He was later (1850) a farmer and was born in Florida in 1802. This information comes from Frederick T. Davis’s book “history of Jacksonville, Florida and Vicinity, 1513-1924 (Florida Historical Society 1925).

I also have a B.C. Leonardy who was assistant keeper at Egmont Key for one day in 1871 until his appointment was revoked by the Collector of Customs.

I have recently started work on a CD-ROM version of my “Keepers” book, and am constantly looking for more info on the more than 1,000 keepers who served in Florida during this time. If you have any additional info, portraits etc. on either of these two Leonardy’s, please share it so I can include it in this future edition.

Neil Hurley

Evidence of Roque as “farmer.”

Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1789-1873
MONDAY, March 12, 1838.

Mr. Downing presented a petition of Roque Leonardy, of St. Augustine, in Florida, praying remuneration for his cattle, which were taken from him by the Seminole Indians in the present Indian war in Florida. Query –leonardy

Throughout the spring of 1833, the ocean crept closer and closer to the lighthouse. There was nothing more that could be done. Early that summer, as salt water intrusion softened the sand under the its foundations, the heavy, brick lighthouse began to lean. It was finally determined that the lighthouse would fall very shortly, and James authorized Keeper Roque Leonardy, who had served since 1831 to dismantle the lamps and reflectors and remove them from the endangered tower. After Leonardy had finished this task, a crew of men were sent out to begin tearing down the tower itself. Soon, the sixty-five foot tower at the mouth of the St. Johns River was only a memory.

Worried about his job and his salary now that he had no lighthouse to tend, Leonardy was relieved when Dell informed him that his regular salary would be continued until September 1st. On that day, Leonardy, wrote to James Dell saying that his salary should be extended, even if at a reduced rate, as someone would have to be paid anyway to watch over and guard the government property, stored in the keeper’s dwelling. The keeper reminded Dell that he had salvaged all the lighthouse equipment, even the soapstones from the lantern decking, which he had hauled twenty to twenty-five feet up the shoreline to safety. When Leonardy had had to take his ill wife into St. Augustine, he had hired a man to watch over the government property. On his return, he had found that the soapstones had washed down the bank, but the keeper was able to get another man to help him haul the stones back up to safety. As Leonardy had no boat with which to make the trip to Jacksonville to report in person to Dell, the keeper hoped that the Customs Collector and Superintendent of Lights would himself to see the site where the lighthouse had formerly stood.

A week and a half later, Dell did visit the site, and he reported to Pleasonton that where the lighthouse had stood, there were now inroads of the sea with depths of three fathoms! The keeper’s ‘hut,” “where the government lighthouse property was being stored, was yet about three hundred yards from the shore, but it might not be there for long.”

From: The St. Augustine News
31 December 1842
Melancholy Accident
It is our melancholy duty to record one of the most painful accidents that has occurred in our city in many a day. On Friday, the 22nd. inst, Mrs. Dionicia S. Leonardy, wife of Mr. Roque Leonardy, whilst standing near her fire side,had her dress take fire; she instantly ran into the yard and assistance was immediately rendered, but so rapid were the flames, that before they could be extinguished her body was dreadfully burned. She lingered in incessant agony, until Monday evening last, when she finally bid adieu to this world. She left an affectionate husband and five children, together with numerous relatives and friends to mourn her untimely end. “Peace to her ashes.”

This was Roque’s second wife. He married once more.