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Image of a Mayor of Tampa

Born: November 27, 1842

Died: September 5, 1925

Term: June 5, 1902 - June 5, 1904

Born in Scotland, James McKay, Jr. was the oldest son of James and Matilda nee Cail McKay. His family immigrated to the United States in 1846 and, later that year, they moved to Tampa. McKay, Jr. attended Tampa's first public school. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the 4th Florida Infantry. He was later promoted to captain of an independent company made up of soldiers who were on detached duty to round up and transport cattle for the Confederate Army. After the war, McKay returned to Tampa where he worked as a seaman on his father's schooners and eventually became a master mariner. With his father's death in 1876, McKay took over the family business but sold it ten years later to serve as a captain for the Plant Steamship Company. On September 1, 1894, he was appointed U.S. Marshall for the Southern District of Florida and served in this post until the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898 when he became Superintendent of Transport for the U.S. Army.

After his father's death he was employed by the Mallory Line, serving as captain of the steamer Alicia A. Washburn which carried the mail on the Gulf Coast. McKay moved on to become captain of the Mascotte and was in charge of the construction of various ships. On September 1, 1894 he resigned to become United States Marshall for the southern district of Florida. During the Spanish-American War he superintended the loading and unloading of transports for the army. After the war he became marine superintendent of U.S. transports, inspecting all transports chartered by the government on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. He resigned in 1914 to become Postmaster of Tampa. Always politically active, McKay served two terms in the Florida State Senate during the 1880s and one two-year term as Mayor of Tampa (1902 - 1904). During his tenure as mayor, McKay made a number of judicial appointments that expedited the city's court system and worked on expanding public works projects.

He was married three times; first to Mary Crichton, then Helene Turton and third to Lillian Warren. Mr. McKay and his first wife had nine children. He had no children by his second or third wives.

James McKay, Jr. passed away in Tampa in September 1924.


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 6, 1899 - March 7, 1905 Roll # 3