Died: July 28, 1865
Term: December 6, 1856 - February 9, 1857
Born in Virginia, J. Alfonso DeLaunay was the son of a Revolutionary War veteran and studied law before moving to Tampa in 1848. He worked as the manager of the Palmer House Hotel and became active in local politics. DeLaunay was also Tampa's first postmaster and served from 1852 through 1860.
On December 6, 1856, DeLaunay was appointed mayor by the council to complete the remainder of Lancaster's term of office. He replaced Acting Mayor, Darwin Austin Branch who had served eleven days before resigning as mayor. DeLaunay served as mayor for slightly over two months during which he attempted to manage the influx of local settlers coming into Tampa to escape attacks by the Seminoles during the Third Seminole War (1855-1858) and the State Legislature's demand that Tampa supply more recruits for the war. Concurrently, DeLaunay guided the transition of the city's administration to conform to the procedures established by the Legislative Act of December 15, 1855.
After losing to Darwin Branch in the next election, DeLaunay returned to his position as Postmaster of Tampa. In 1858, he also became editor for the local newspaper, Florida Peninsular but resigned in early 1860 to found the Sunny South newspaper with his brother. The first issue of this newspaper appeared on January 29, 1861. A strong supporter of secession, DeLaunay served as a Hillsborough County delegate to the Florida Convention which voted overwhelmingly for secession. In early 1861, the Confederate government appointed DeLaunay, Postmaster and Deputy Inspector of Customs for the Port of Tampa, and he served in both capacities throughout the Civil War. The publication of his newspaper, Sunny South stopped shortly after the outbreak of war and the printing presses and other related equipment moved to the interior to prevent their confiscation by Union troops.
Alfonso DeLaunay married Victoria Montes de Oca and had four children: Pauline, Emma, Harry and Florida. He passed away in Tampa on July 28, 1865.
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
January 1, 1857 - October 2, 1891 Microfilm Roll # 1