James E. Lipscomb - 13th Mayor Of Tampa

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Born: July 23, 1850

Died: April 8, 1882

Term: August 11, 1873 - August 13, 1876

Born in Leesboro, Alabama, Lipscomb moved to Tampa with his sister Ida in 1869 where he worked as a clerk in William Wall's general store. In 1876, he married Mary Friebele and, shortly afterward her father, Christopher L. Friebele made him co-owner of his store located on the corner of Washington and Franklin Streets. Lipscomb became involved in local politics and was elected mayor in 1873 and re-elected for two more one-year terms.

On August 11, 1873, a public meeting was held in which Tampa's citizens voted 48 to 0 for re-incorporation as a town. At the same meeting, the voters held an impromptu election for the mayor of Tampa. When the votes were counted, James E. Lipscomb received the majority of votes. Lipscomb was already well known in Tampa and its surrounding areas for helping pour molasses and corn meal over the scalawag, Judge James T. Magbee, as he lay drunk at the corner of Franklin and Washington Streets.

In 1873, Lipscomb's Administration moved against other problems besides yellow fever. Fines were imposed on firing guns, starting a riot or disturbing the peace, using a wooden chimney or throwing animal parts into the streets. Additional funds were raised by licensing hotels, vehicles and professions; hotels with more than ten boarders, $10, less than ten, $5, drays, $3, druggists, $5, physicians $2 .50, lotteries, $10 and bowling establishments, $5. Further, citizens were required to maintain the city roads and streets.

After his last term as mayor, Lipscomb returned to his business but returned in August 1877 to serve as election inspector for the mayoral election. Two years later, he was elected to city council where he served under Mayor John Wall from August 13, 1879 to August 14, 1880.  

James Lipscomb passed away in Tampa on April 8, 1882.

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