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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 of Elijah and Sarah Sparkman. After completing high school in Tampa, Sparkman entered the University of Virginia Law School in September 1877 where he earned a 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. Their law practice became quite successful and George Sparkman decided to become involved in local politics. On March 22, 1881, George Sparkman replaced acting mayor Matthew E. Haynsworth who, as President of the City Council, had been appointed to complete the term of former mayor, Henry Ferris. After completing Ferris' term, Sparkman campaigned for mayor in the municipal elections held in August 1881 and won the election. He was re-elected in August 1882 for a third term as mayor. Six months later, Sparkman married Mary Kershaw on April 26, 1883 with whom he had seven children.
After leaving office, Sparkman served as a judge for the 6th Circuit Court and on the City Council from August 13, 1884 to August 13, 1886 and March 4, 1891 to March 4, 1892. Both of his terms on City Council were served under the administration of Mayor Duff Post.
In July 1887, Sparkman again ran for mayor in a hotly contested campaign. Local newspapers and some citizens complained that Sparkman had bought the election by providing alcohol and woman to voters on Election Day. In any case, Sparkman won the election by only 14 votes and the accusations eventually faded away.
Under the provisions of an act passed by the Florida State Legislature and approved by the governor in July 1887, the charters of Tampa and North Tampa were abolished and the city's boundaries were extended to include North Tampa and Ybor City. The City of Tampa's government was also to be administered by a mayor and eleven councilmen, two elected from each of the four wards and three elected from the city at large. Elections were to be held on the second Tuesday of each year and other officials such as the city marshal, city clerk, treasurer, tax assessor and tax collector were to be elected at the same time as the mayor and City Council. The charter also allowed ordinances to be passed 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, Tax
Collector. 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 Ybor
City'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 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