George Bascom Sparkman - 19th And 22nd Mayor Of Tampa

George Bascom Sparkman - 19th And 22nd Mayor Of Tampa

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Born: September 20, 1855

Died: November 26, 1936

First Term: March 22, 1881 - August 14, 1881 (Acting Mayor)

Second Term: August 14, 1881 - August 14, 1882

Third Term: August 14, 1882 - August 14, 1883

Fourth Term: July 15, 1887 - March 8, 1888

Born in Hillsborough County, Florida, George was the son ofElijah and Sarah Sparkman. After completing high school in Tampa, Sparkmanentered the University of Virginia Law School in September 1877 where he earneda law degree. He returned to Tampa where he opened a law office with his cousin,Stephen Sparkman who also became one of Tampa's most prominent citizens. Theirlaw practice became quite successful and George Sparkman decided to becomeinvolved in local politics. On March 22, 1881, George Sparkman replaced actingmayor Matthew E. Haynsworth who, as President of the City Council, had beenappointed to complete the term of former mayor, Henry Ferris. After completingFerris' term, Sparkman campaigned for mayor in the municipal elections held inAugust 1881 and won the election. He was re-elected in August 1882 for a thirdterm as mayor. Six months later, Sparkman married Mary Kershaw on April 26, 1883with whom he had seven children.

After leaving office, Sparkman served as a judge for the 6thCircuit Court and on the City Council from August 13, 1884 to August 13, 1886and March 4, 1891 to March 4, 1892. Both of his terms on City Council wereserved under the administration of Mayor Duff Post.

In July 1887, Sparkman again ran for mayor in a hotlycontested campaign. Local newspapers and some citizens complained that Sparkmanhad bought the election by providing alcohol and woman to voters on ElectionDay. In any case, Sparkman won the election by only 14 votes and the accusationseventually faded away.

Under the provisions of an act passed by the Florida StateLegislature and approved by the governor in July 1887, the charters of Tampa andNorth Tampa were abolished and the city's boundaries were extended to includeNorth Tampa and Ybor City. The City of Tampa's government was also to beadministered by a mayor and eleven councilmen, two elected from each of the fourwards and three elected from the city at large. Elections were to be held on thesecond Tuesday of each year and other officials such as the city marshal, cityclerk, treasurer, tax assessor and tax collector were to be elected at the sametime as the mayor and City Council. The charter also allowed ordinances to bepassed by the City Council over the mayor's veto.

Elected under provision of the new city charter on July 15,1887 were George B. Sparkman, Mayor; J. LaMont Bailey, Clerk and Treasurer; W.T. Haskins, City Marshal; J. C. Robbins, Tax Assessor and A. M. Fleming, TaxCollector. City Council members included W. A. Honaker, I. S. Giddens, W. B.Henderson, J. H. Walker, S. L., C. W. Harrison, C. A. Ybor, C. M. Brigham, J. E.Mitchell, H. L. Knight, and F. W. Myers. Candido Angel Ybor, the son of YborCity's founder, was the first Hispanic to be elected to the City Council.

 

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

January 1, 1857 - October 2, 1891 Microfilm Roll # 1