Duff Post - 20th And 26th Mayor Of Tampa
Died: May 19, 1915
First Term: August 14, 1883 - August 13, 1886
Second Term: March 4, 1891 - March 4, 1892
Born in Tampa, Duff Post was the son of Tampa's 5th Mayor, Madison Post. After his father's death in 1867, Duff became a live-in clerk in a general store owned by Jose Vigil, a Cuban immigrant. He attended local schools and, afterward, graduated with a degree in dentistry. Post returned to Tampa where he established a dental practice, became involved in local politics and was a successful entrepreneur. On January 3, 1879, Duff Post married Alberti Johnson, a native of Savannah, Georgia in Whiteville, Marion County, Florida. Post's business ventures included establishing an ice cream saloon and restaurant in the Masonic Lodge Building in downtown Tampa that opened on March 31, 1877. From 1881-1883, he served as Tampa's City Marshal and as a Captain in the 4th Regiment of the Florida Militia.
In 1883, Post was elected Mayor, the second native of Tampa to hold the office. He served three successive one-year terms. During his first period as mayor, Post's administration gave Henry Plant authority to extend his railroad system to Tampa. The town council also extended privileges to Plant's Steamship Company At the same time, July 5, 1883, the mayor and council leased land for thirty dollars a year on Polk, Zack and Twiggs Streets to the Plant Investment Company where Plant constructed the railroad's western terminal points. In addition, a wharf was constructed at the edge of Polk Street to serve as a receiving dock for railroad building materials. Plant also purchased vast tracks of land for the construction of passenger and freight stations.
The construction of a railroad was a watershed in Tampa's history. In the early 1850s, the town had received support from the state legislature for the construction of a railroad. While grading for the railroad began, construction was stopped shortly afterwards for two reasons: the Third Seminole War and some underhanded dealings by several state legislators. One of the principal impediments to Tampa's growth was that the few land routes to the town were extremely difficult, treacherous and time-consuming to travel. Even with its excellent harbor and port facilities, the town's growth had remained stifled. Land transportation via the railroad and the extension of Plant's railroad to Port Tampa in 1888, where wharves and deep water docking facilities were constructed, enabled Tampa to establish commercial relationships with numerous southern and northern cities.
The population of Tampa increased from 720 in 1880 to 5,532residents in 1890, which reflected the economic benefits of the decisions made by Mayor Post and the town council to facilitate the construction of a railroad. As the population increased, the government imposed higher taxes to make capital improvements and provide new services and expand existing ones to meet the needs of the increasing number of residents. Civic improvements began to occupy a major part of the council and mayor's time. Construction of wooden sidewalks along Water, Whiting and Marion Streets continued with the owners of adjacent lots responsible for two-thirds of the cost of construction but when the walks were extended across the streets, the town assumed the full cost of the extension.
As Tampa's contracts and other legal obligations became more complex the town council voted, in July 1885, to have an election for town attorney to represent Tampa's legal interests. On June 11, 1886 an ordinance was adopted to enforce the Yellow Fever quarantine that included establishing boundary lines from Port Tampa to Ballast Point. In addition, Dr. John Wall was appointed Quarantine Inspector and provided with a hospital to treat individuals afflicted with the disease.
Another major impact on Tampa's growth was the establishment of the cigar industry in Ybor City. Vincente Ybor encouraged other cigar manufacturers to move from Key West to Tampa which provided excellent land and sea transportation. The influx of the cigar-making industry and workers greatly boosted the town's prosperity.
Post was again elected in March 1891 for a one-year term in which he worked to maintain Tampa's economic growth. After his term ended in March 1892, he returned to dentistry and his business ventures.
Duff Post passed away in Tampa in 1915.
Sources for this Biographical Sketch:
Covington, Dr. James W. and Wavering, Debbie Lee, "The Mayors of Tampa: A Brief Administrative History," Tampa, FL: University of Tampa, 1987.
Grismer, Karl H., Tampa: A History of the City and the Tampa Bay Region of Florida, St. Petersburg Printing Company, FL, 1950.
Robinson, Ernest L., History of Hillsborough County, Florida: Narrative and Biographical, The Record Company, St. Augustine, FL, 1928.
Tampa Council Minutes, City of Tampa Archives, Tampa, FL