William Monson (Anton Bent Osmundsen) arrived in New York on a brig from Stavanger Norway in August 1836. He was a 24-year old traveling alone, and within three years—and for reasons unknown—he relocated to Saint Augustine Florida. In January 1839, he married Laureanna Leonardy—the granddaughter of Don Roque Leonardy, an Italian colonist who had overcome indentured servitude to become one of the most successful merchants in colonial East Florida. Laureanna's mother, Antonia Paul Bonelly, was likewise a local notable—having survived a sensational raid and kidnapping by Miccosukee Indians as a teenager, and whose freedom required delicate negotiations between British authorities and high-level leaders from multiple native tribes.
That family notoriety had perhaps faded by the time William discovered Florida and met Laureanna—Roque had died in 1801, and the kidnapping had been resolved a year later. Now four decades later, Laureanna was the middle child of a large family and the Leonardy resources were spread thin.
When they married, she was 23 and he was 27. The Monsons had eight children between 1839-54, two who died before reaching adulthood. The eldest, Amelia, was born in October of the year they were married. She eventually lived to be the oldest woman in the history of Saint Augustine—passing at the age of 96.
In 1850, William was a cabinet maker, whose young family shared a house with his mother-in-law and Laureanna's married younger sister. He partnered with Michael Nelligan to open a carpentry shop at the corner of Market Square adjoining the Council Room. He was an active member of Saint Augustine's fugitive slave patrol, and owned at least one house slave, who was eventually sold as part of a legal settlement after his passing.
The Monsons lived at 63 Marine Street before purchasing a coquina house across the street whose foundation dated to the 17th century. Taking ownership in 1858, they immediately began work to remodel 56 Marine, which was considered uninhabitable at the time of purchase. But the next year, William died suddenly at the age of 47. His widow became embroiled in a dispute over completion of the house and payment to builder Christopher Bravo, who sued the family after its completion.