Born: November 6, 1869
Died: October 17, 1925
Term: June 8, 1898 - June 8, 1900
Born in Teay's Valley, West Virginia, Frank Bowyer was the son of Napoleon and Victoria Bowyer nee Handley. Bowyer attended the University of Kentucky and, in 1890, he moved to Tampa and on June 30, 1892 Bowyer married to Lula Baldrick. The couple had three sons: Frank Prague, Russell Baldrick and Fred Lewis. After working for various business firms, he established a brokerage house in Tampa and was later the South Florida manager of the Tampa Steamship Company.
Frank Bowyer eventually became interested in local politics and, in June 1898, he campaigned for mayor against incumbent, Myron Gillett. Bowyer was elected to a two-year term during which he was confronted with the growing demand to improve and expand public works and services as Tampa's population steadily increased. During the early 1890s, the city's attempt to expand its public works had been stonewalled by a small but highly influential group of landowners that were adamantly opposed to underwriting the cost of water, sewage and other public works projects. When the Spanish American War began, Tampa was selected as a debarkation port for Cuba for U.S. troops and supplies to fight the Spanish Army in Cuba. It was the beginning of an enormous economic boon for Tampa that brought millions of dollars to merchants and other businesses, more taxes into the city's treasury and injected new life and confidence into the community.
In 1899, Bowyer proposed a plan to issue $525,000 in bonds to pay the city's debts and for public works projects. Bowyer also persuaded the City Council to pass ordinances that required individuals who owned property in downtown Tampa to underwrite the pavement of streets and sidewalk construction. By the following year, most of the streets in the City's business section were hard surfaced and had good sidewalks.
The first sewers, which had been laid out in 1890, only served the principal business sections. However, during Bowyer's term, the city greatly expanded its sewage system to include a large percentage of Tampa. This expansion was paid for by a re-appraisal and re-assessment of property taxes which added an additional $5,544,819 to the city treasury and resulted in a tax increase of $20 million. After his term as mayor, Frank Bowyer served as President of the Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners.
Frank Bowyer died in Tampa on October 17, 1925.
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
October 19, 1891 - December 28, 1899 Roll # 2
January 6, 1899 - March 7, 1905 Roll # 3