Frederick Tresca was born in France around 1800 and was rumored to have been on a ship that transported Napoleon when Tresca was young. After coming to Florida, he was a sailor and the lighthouse keeper on Egmont Key for a time. During the Civil War, he was a blockade runner and sought to get supplies in and out of Florida around the Union Navy. At the end of the war, he was part of a group who helped Confederate Secretary of State, Judah P. Benjamin, evade Union troops and escape the country. Benjamin is said to have stayed with the Tresca family for around a month before he was spirited away. Tresca and Hiram McLeod got Benjamin to the Bahamas.
Tresca married widow Louisa Ware (née Wyatt) in 1853. During her first marriage to Augustus Elbridge Ware (an early Manatee pioneer) Louisa lived near present day Ware’s Creek (in downtown Bradenton). Ware died during the Mexican American War in the 1840s.
Louisa didn’t seem to have lucky timing when it came to giving birth. One story details how she gave birth underneath a kitchen table. All during a hurricane in 1846 as the house was being destroyed around them. Later, during one of the Seminole Wars she gave birth to her and Tresca’s first child together while the residents of Manatee took shelter in a fort.
Louisa and Tresca would go on to have four children together. Their daughter Ugenia passed at the age of 18 and is buried near her. Captain Tresca died in the 1880s and although Louisa’s obituary, published in 1907, states that she was buried next to her second husband, his burial location is technically unknown. In 1943, a Liberty Ship sponsored by his great-granddaughter, Lt. Virginia P. Tresca, was named in his honor.
Left to Right:
Ugenia Tresca - Grave # 74
Louisa Tresca - Grave # 76 (1973, Courtesy of Manatee County Public Library Historical Digital Collections.)
Louisa Tresca - Grave # 76
All images taken by MVHP staff in 2022 unless otherwise noted.