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Image of a Mayor of Tampa

Born: June 1809

Died: November 4, 1887

Term: May 1861 - February 3, 1862 (Acting Mayor)

Term: February 3, 1862 - February 22, 1862

Born in County Monaghan, Ireland, Jackson immigrated with his brother, Thomas to the United States in 1841. The brothers traveled to New Orleans where John worked as an Assistant City Engineer for two years. In 1843, the federal government hired Jackson to survey a large land grant in present-day Palmetto, Florida. After completing the assignment, the federal government gave Jackson a permanent position as a federal surveyor. He accepted this appointment and then moved to Hillsborough County with his brother Thomas to begin work. In addition to his salary, the federal government gave Jackson a large land grant in Hillsborough County.

Jackson's work also took him to various regions of Florida and it was on an assignment in St. Augustine that he met and married Ellen Maher on July 22, 1847 with whom he had four children: Thomas, James, Kate and John. Several weeks later, Hillsborough County hired Jackson to survey and map Tampa which had been designated the county seat in 1846. Jackson named the streets of Tampa after U.S. Presidents, military figures and two local individuals, William Ashley and himself. After completing his assignment, Jackson returned to surveying but in 1849 he and his wife decided to move to Tampa where he established a general store on the corner of Washington and Tampa Streets. Jackson also became involved in Tampa's civic activities.

Elected Mayor of Tampa on February 3, 1862, Jackson has the dubious distinction of serving the shortest term as an elected mayor in Tampa history: 19 days. In late April 1861, the Confederate Military Commander at Fort Brooke had placed Tampa under marshal law which essentially nullified the authority of the town's government. On February 22, 1862, the Confederate Military Commander dismissed the mayor, city council and other employees. This event was a formality since both the military authorities and Hillsborough County had assumed the city's activities the previous year. After his dismissal, Jackson returned to his general store and remained in Tampa for the remainder of the Civil War. During the war, life in Tampa was incredibly harsh for the remaining residents who primarily consisted of old men, women and children. The Union naval bombardment of the city compelled some residents to leave and facilitated the rapid decline of the city until it resembled a ghost town.

John Jackson and his wife led a movement of residents to have a Catholic priest brought to Tampa and his children were the first to be baptized in the Catholic faith. John Jackson passed away in Tampa on November 4, 1887. His wife, Ellen died in January 1906 in Tampa.

 


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