Matthew E. Haynsworth - 18th Mayor Of Tampa

[No Image Available]

Born: January 12, 1837 

Died: November 9, 1917

Term: February 19, 1881 - March 22, 1881 (Acting Mayor)

Matthew Ellison Haynsworth was born on January 12, 1837 in Sumter County, South Carolina. He was the son of John Francis and Harriet A. (Muldrow) Haynsworth, and was named for his maternal grandfather. His father was a merchant. According to the 1860 United States Census Matthew was living in the town of Sumter, South Carolina working as a carpenter. The clouds of war had been gathering over the south for some time and on December 20, 1860 South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union sparking the Civil War.

Like most young men of the day Matthew rushed to join a local military organization and enlisted as a Private in Company D, 2nd South Carolina Infantry Regiment. His company, in addition to its official designation, was also known by the nickname the "Sumter Volunteers". The group was organized on January 7, 1861 and called for active service on April 8, 1861. Haynsworth with local men departed South Carolina for Richmond, Virginia on April 26, 1861 and were mustered into the Confederate States Army on May 23, 1861. After completing a one year enlistment on duty in Virginia, 21 members of this company re-enlisted in a newly formed artillery battery which had been organized by Sumter's Captain Hugh R. Garden and assigned to the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia commanded by Gen. Robert E. Lee. Haynsworth would serve along with his two brothers in this unit through the fiercest battles of the war.

He was promoted to Sergeant and by July 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg was in charge of a cannon crew and field piece. In that battle which drew over 53,000 casualties he and his gun crew performed valiantly. On the third day of combat his lone cannon crew, which included his brothers, advanced under direct fire from Union forces. His men, horses, and cannon repeatedly fired and advanced alongside the advancing gray clad infantry in support of the ill fated "Pickett's charge". The Haynsworth section, in the greatest artillery duel of the war, holds the distinction of having reached further north than any other artillery piece from the south in the battle, which marked the "high tide of the Confederacy". He continued to serve through the end of the war and was among Gen. Robert E. Lee's troops that surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9th, 1865. His military parole recorded his physical description as 5' tall, fair complexion, grey eyes, and light hair.

From the battlefields of Virginia he made his way home to South Carolina only to find a state suffering from devastation and post war depression. He set out for a new life in Florida moving to Hernando County. The 1870 census for Brooksville in Hernando County reflects that Haynsworth was residing in the home of a relative Samuel L. Muldrow and working as a farm laborer. That same year he married Mary Exer Higginbotham the daughter of Theophilus Higginbotham of Bayport. Together they had one child named Harriet. Mary died in either 1876 or 1877 and was buried in Hernando County.

By 1873 he had moved to Tampa and was noted as a dealer in house furnishing until January 1877 when he opened a tin and coppersmith business on the corner of Lafayette (now Kennedy Boulevard) and Tampa Streets. Three months later on May 20, 1877 he married the sister of his first wife, Julia Higginbotham of Brooksville, and settled in Tampa. Advertisements in the local newspaper, The Sunland Tribune, reported that Haynsworth's business was diversified and included tin ware, hardware, stoves, in addition to roofing, and guttering. Civic minded Haynsworth was also one of the many Tampa residents who signed a petition to request that the federal government preserve a section of the Fort Brooke military reserve to be used as a city park.

His public interests led him into local politics and appointment on August 14, 1880, during Henry C. Ferris' tenure as mayor, as a member of Tampa's City Council. He was elected City Council president on August 17, 1880 and served as acting mayor when Mayor Henry Ferris moved outside the city limits and was compelled to resign. Haynsworth served for slightly more than a month. After a special election, in which George B. Sparkman became mayor, Haynsworth returned to his position as City Council president until his term ended on August 12, 1881.

Census records for 1880 reflect Haynsworth's occupation as a not only a tinsmith but also a harness merchant. Five years later Matthew's family had expanded to include three children, daughter Harriet, and sons John Theophilus, and M. Francis. Another son, named Joseph was born in 1886 only to die due to tetanus in 1889. The same year Haynsworth moved his shop to a new location in the Krause Building located on Franklin Street.

Family tradition holds that over the next two years beginning in 1890 that Matthew was contracted to overlay the minarets, and accomplish tinwork on Henry B. Plant's beautiful Tampa Bay Hotel (now the University of Tampa's Plant Hall). The Hotel was completed in 1891 and the iconic silver minarets were destined to become symbolic of the city.

Matthew's footprint appears for the last time in Tampa when he is listed in the 1890 city directory on Lafayette Street. He was not numbered among those men appearing on the poll tax list of legally registered voters for 1890, or subsequent city directories published in 1893, 1899, and 1900. This would lead to the conclusion that Haynsworth retired from his activities and business in Tampa sometime in 1890 or 1891 probably after completion of the hotel work. He moved to Hernando County engaged in farming and made his home near the small community of Istachatta northeast of Brooksville. Matthew's wife Julia died on September 11, 1891 and was buried nearby at Lake Lindsey Cemetery.

The 1900 United States Census took note that two of Matthew's three surviving children, Harriet (Hattie) and Francis were not yet married, he owned his home and his occupation was farming. After his seventieth birthday in 1907 he applied for and received a Florida Confederate Pension based on his service during the Civil War. His advanced age and physical decline no doubt contributed to his move by 1910 to live with his daughter Harriet and son in law Ernest Cappleman in the town of Brooksville. On June 3, 1916 he was an honored guest at the dedication of the Confederate Memorial located at the Hernando County Courthouse, in Brooksville.

Matthew Ellison Haynsworth died on November 9, 1917 and was buried next to his wife in the Lake Lindsey Cemetery located in Hernando County. In addition to his lifelong accomplishments he was a Minister of the Gospel. His grave is marked with a Southern Cross of Honor and Veterans Administration grave marker honoring his wartime service.

Sources for this Biographical Sketch:

By: W Lloyd Harris, Bartow, FL

United States Census: 1850, 1860 Sumter County, South Carolina; 1870, 1900, 1910 Hernando County, Florida; 1880 Hillsborough County, Florida.

Tampa Journal newspaper, Tampa, Florida. (Issues dated): 23 Jun 1887; 10 Jan 1889; 1 Aug 1889; 10 Oct 1889; Feb 1890; 17 Mar 1890

Sunland Tribune newspaper, Tampa, Florida. (Issues dated): 6 Jan 1877; 20 May 1877; 23 Mar 1878; 4 Jan 1879; 9 Sep 1880

Dedmont, Glenn. Southern Bronze, Palmetto Books, Columbia, SC. 1993

Haynsworth-Mears misc family files. Harris, W.L., Bartow, Florida

City of Tampa, Florida; City Clerk, Information Resources, previous mayors: Haynsworth, Matthew E. - 18th Mayor of Tampa biography sources:

Department of Special Collections, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida

Tampa Council Minutes, City of Tampa Archives, Tampa, FL  January 1, 1857 - October 2, 1891 Microfilm Roll # 1

Find a Grave web site. Memorial #10988143, Rev. Matthew E. Haynsworth