Duff Post - 20th And 26th Mayor Of Tampa
Duff Post - 20th And 26th Mayor Of Tampa
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 5thMayor, Madison Post. After his father's death in 1867, Duff became a live-inclerk in a general store owned by Jose Vigil, a Cuban immigrant. He attendedlocal schools and, afterward, graduated with a degree in dentistry. Postreturned to Tampa where he established a dental practice, became involved inlocal politics and was a successful entrepreneur. On January 3, 1879, Duff Postmarried Alberti Johnson, a native of Savannah, Georgia in Whiteville, MarionCounty, Florida. Post's business ventures included establishing an ice creamsaloon and restaurant in the Masonic Lodge Building in downtown Tampa thatopened on March 31, 1877. From 1881-1883, he served as Tampa's City Marshaland as a Captain in the 4th Regiment of the Florida Militia.
In 1883, Post was elected Mayor, the second native of Tampato hold the office. He served three successive one-year terms. During his firstperiod as mayor, Post's administration gave Henry Plant authority to extendhis railroad system to Tampa. The town council also extended privileges to Plant'sSteamship Company At the same time, July 5, 1883, the mayor and council leasedland for thirty dollars a year on Polk, Zack and Twiggs Streets to the PlantInvestment Company where Plant constructed the railroad's western terminalpoints. In addition, a wharf was constructed at the edge of Polk Street to serveas a receiving dock for railroad building materials. Plant also purchased vasttracks of land for the construction of passenger and freight stations.
The construction of a railroad was a watershed in Tampa'shistory. In the early 1850s, the town had received support from the statelegislature for the construction of a railroad. While grading for the railroadbegan, construction was stopped shortly afterwards for two reasons: the ThirdSeminole War and some underhanded dealings by several state legislators. One ofthe principal impediments to Tampa's growth was that the few land routes tothe town were extremely difficult, treacherous and time-consuming to travel.Even with its excellent harbor and port facilities, the town's growth hadremained stifled. Land transportation via the railroad and the extension ofPlant's railroad to Port Tampa in 1888, where wharves and deep water dockingfacilities were constructed, enabled Tampa to establish commercial relationshipswith 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 madeby Mayor Post and the town council to facilitate the construction of a railroad.As the population increased, the government imposed higher taxes to make capitalimprovements and provide new services and expand existing ones to meet the needsof the increasing number of residents. Civic improvements began to occupy amajor part of the council and mayor's time. Construction of wooden sidewalksalong Water, Whiting and Marion Streets continued with the owners of adjacentlots responsible for two-thirds of the cost of construction but when the walkswere extended across the streets, the town assumed the full cost of theextension.
As Tampa's contracts and other legal obligations became morecomplex the town council voted, inJuly 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 Feverquarantine that included establishing boundary lines from Port Tampa to BallastPoint. In addition, Dr. John Wall was appointed Quarantine Inspector andprovided with a hospital to treat individuals afflicted with the disease.
Another major impact on Tampa's growth was theestablishment of the cigar industry in Ybor City. Vincente Ybor encouraged othercigar manufacturers to move from Key West to Tampa which provided excellent landand sea transportation. The influx of the cigar-making industry and workersgreatly boosted the town's prosperity.
Post was again elected in March 1891 for a one-year term inwhich he worked to maintain Tampa's economic growth. After his term ended inMarch 1892, he returned to dentistry and his business ventures.
Duff Post passed away in Tampa in the early 20th century.
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 ofFlorida, St. Petersburg Printing Company, FL, 1950.
Robinson, Ernest L., History of Hillsborough County, Florida: Narrative andBiographical, The Record Company, St. Augustine, FL, 1928.
Tampa Council Minutes, Cityof Tampa Archives, Tampa, FL