Complete John A. Si .
M L HRITE PeOJOT
Amorican Quids*e, (Negro witoes' Unit)
Viola B. use,. Negro History
Field Mkor Juno 23 1936
Complete John A. SimBBs
3,777 Words Editor
Comparatively young among the larger cities
of Florida, Tampa as a oity does not have a" long a history
as some others. Suoh a history as it does have, however, is
filled with contributions made by Tampa Negroes.
The Negro came into Tampa's history in the
days long before the South Florida metropolis had become
nrore than a convenient port for Spanish, French and English
ships entering the Gulf. Blaok Cuban, West Indian and some-
times Amerioan sailors piloted ships through the bay and into
Sthe harbor. All too often blaok cargoes of slaves were un-
loaded here after a brief sojourn in Cuba or the Bahaas, to
Sbe shipped northward when the occasion presented itself.
Household servants and famr hands in Tmpa
and its vicinity were Negro slavee before 1865) skilled,Negro
workers built its early buildings- one is credited with having '
oonstruoted the first wooden structure other than of logs in the
area- and in one case at leadt a Negro midwife attended the
mothers of the plantation owners- children.
Negro History Pae 2
Viola B. Muse EU
The day for the Negro to begin influencing
history for himself sees to have oone late in Tampa;
available information gives few inetanoes of free Negroes here
before the umanoipation of the slaves. From that day, though,
his progreee was steady and sometimes rapid, so that today
the Negro in Tampa in far advanced above his fellows in many
other large communities.
Interesting tales of the days of slavery may
be had for the asking from some of Tampa's oldest Negro
Mrs. Evelyn Beasley, of 1106 Harrison Street,
likes to recall the small plantation of a Col. Mobley, where
she lived with her family. This plantation was on the out-
skirts of what later became the oity, and sees to have been
Mobley she describes as a man *neither hard
nor soft, although he eiad the practice of never selling a
slave without including in the bargain his wife and children.
He always, bought slaves on the sae tea. Sinoe Mobley appears
to have made frequent transactions in slaves, Mrs. Beasley
says that this consideration often oost him muqh money.
Mobley had, in addition to his own white fa~lly,.i
several half-Negro children. To these he was always as oonsid-'
Negro History Page 3
Viola B, Muee FEO
Tampa, Florida -
erate as to his other children, and when two of the latter
grew older and objected, he drove them from the plantation.
Mrs. Beasley is the daughter of another
slave owner, whose name she refuses to divulge. Her mother
was forced into companionship with this man, and although
he appeared to have developed a real affection for her that
lasted even after the slaves had been freed, she always hated
him. Immediately upon her release she left the vicinity of
his place, although some others of the slaves had been given
homesites or small tracts of land. Later she saved two of his
white sons from prison by hiding them until they could be
taken out of the city, but when her former master asked to be
allowed to help oare for those children of here that were also -
his, she refused. She died recently.
Mrs. Beasley, old ex-slave talks pathetically
of Brooksville, which she describes as having had a 'hell-holes
in it; one of the noted Florida "sinks* that appear to be
bottomless. Into this hole, aooording to her, undesirable
slaves were often dropped alive, never to be seen again. (1)
Tampa's aegro population took a deoided leap ,
forward at the conclusion of the war between the states.
Several reasons are given for this, but the importance of it
Negro History Page 4
Viola B. Muse FEC
lies in the fact that from this time on, the development
of the city was closely bound up with the development of the
Many plantation owners from Hillsboorugh and
Sumpter Counties, not wishing to callously shut the gates
on their newly-released former charges, brought them as fer
as Tampa and rdumpeda them as the ex-slaves put it. Their
reason for the selection of Tampa as the spot for this'enmp-
inga is not olear, but it may have been the fact that here,
where a growing number of whites and Negroes had already
settled since the conclusion of the war was deemed more suit-
able for the economically helpless freedmen. (2)
The development of several important districts
of Tampa dates from this post-slavery' dumping' of Negroes
into Tampa. The Garrison section, already housing many Negro
members of the Union garrison that had been left here follow-
ing the war, received many of them, and the Central Avenue'
section of Tampa proper did likewise. Churches, at least one
school, and numerous dwelling place with small farms sprang
up. The Indians who had occupied the section moved farther
away from the progressing civilization, and formerly worthless
swamp and timber land became cultivated and tenable, The
Garrison section later became one of the centers of the city's
eeoton o Tapa poperdidlikeise Chuches atleas)on
Wegro Rierte P gel
Viola B. Lus
warehouse district, and the Central Aven area, is still
the coat heavliA-populated Neogo sootion of the city.
Evrn before the plens of alavoe to tho kind"
ost of their !'otors had permitted the establishment of the
first NBoro ohuroh in Tampa, the alavao hra found plDooo where
thoy would lietmo to itinerant minister who brought than
aeoaaas of hope an ooefort from the Bible.
Sovoral old oitisens rooall one of them, lo-
oated bout three rdles woat of toe olty, wh3re cervioes were
hold in a disoardod wooden shnok. DiDu to t'i lonR hcure that
t!ic alavoe ad to work, many of tho servioaa, if not o~ot of
thon/cTcro held- 'f$~ fa tk.r
Their method of lighting the ohuroh for those
services e ingenious. Platform were built outside of oeoh
window and in front of the door, and on those raised surfaoes
fire of pine knote were lighted, giving enough llir.Ination
incite for the minister to hold sarvloee
Ministers in acat oaees, it is said, were
whito and of various. danoeinftione. (4)
Negro History Pate 6
Viola B. Muse C
Several notable changes in Tampa's geography
have taken place in the latter part of the past century, and
the first decade of the present. In the process of these
changes dwellings and farms of former slaves have been re-
placed by business and residential development; following the
was between the states the Indians were pushed back to make
way for the freed Negroes and later after the Spanish American
War, the Negro was forced to give way to the progress of the
One outstanding example of this change was that
of the large tract owned by Dorcas Bryant, an old slave, who
set up a homestead on a sixty-acre trabt that included the area
now surrounding Tampa's Union Station and a large part of the
upper section of the business district which is known as down
town Tampa. Dan~Walker lived on the site of the Union Station.
The Bryants had occupied this land since the
emancipation; they grubbed up thd heavy palmetto overgrowth with-
the help of the Indians who then occupied it. The land later
passed out of-the Bryant possession, but so involved was the
grant that gave it to the family that it is understood that sale
of the property is still exceedingly' difficult.
Another large down-town tract, where a de-
partment store now stands was owned by an old Negro woman who
later moved from the city. The present site of the First Nation-.
Negro History Page 7
Viola B. Muse EO
al Bank on Franklin Street was owned by Kate Hendley, another
former slave. Sol Stanley and his wife owned much of what
is now the oity's warehouse section. (5)
On the east side of Florida Avenue between
Fortune and Harrison Streets, stands a filling station on
land which was once owned by a Negro man named Isaac Howard.
Although the Central Avenue section, heaviest
populated section of Negroes in the city, had only about
three hundred Negroes residing there as late as 1886, abeut
this time Tampa Negroes made a deep impression on the city's
political history and that of the state.
In this year Negroes, for the first known
time, elected a member to the City Council from their area.
This man was Joseph Walker, who served his ter* creditably.
During this administration there were at least four Negro
policemen: Leben Armwood, Will Swift, Will Brown and another
man named Kinslow.
Shortly afterwards an important county poet
was given to a Negro, Adam Holloman. This position was member
of the Board of County Commissioners. Holloman is reputed to
have had a wide political following and considerable influencee 1'
in the local government.
The weight of the Negro in local politics
was felt through 1893, when a gradual decline began that has
by now resulted in the almost total disfranchisement of the
Negro History Page 8
Viola B. Muse EO
Tampa Noero. From 1888 to 1893, there wae a strong Republican
faot ion among the Lbgroes that brought the many stato and
federal appointments. J.N. Clinton beonae a deputy oollootor
of internal revenue through thin oeans; several other wore
employed in tho ou5ooms house and pontoffioo. About thin tine
one Gumby, of Orlando, became Colloctor of the port of Tnmpa
.and ntreangttend the Republioan machine with Goorge Shoohy as
ono of the loaders. (Guaby was white). Sheehy was appointed
Inepootor of Maill between Thapa and Havanna. (5)
From 81kvery To 8 ate ornate
From secretly teaching hin fellow slaves reading
and writing and purchasing the freedom of 'in mot':er with
money he had saved unknown to any but himself, and then to the
hig 'est law-making body of the state of Florida is the astoniah-
.ing career of Robert Meaoham, who died in Tampa a few year ago.
Meaoham was born in Quinoy, Florida about the
year 1836. He was one of the sons of his master, and was e4hloted
by his father. During his earlier life he oarred this education .
to the other slaves secretly and by night, using the di glare
of a handle for light. When the slaves were ananoipated loaoham
was already free; he had purohaeod his freedom and that of his
mother with money he had saved out of the gratuities given hi
. . . .. ..
Negro History Page 9
Viola B. Bmne f1C
by his master.
eacIham became a preaoher after his liberation,
centering much of his ministration in Jefferson County. He
entered the political field in 1867, when an appointment signed-
in Atlanta by Drever UMajor General John Pope eado his Registrar
of Jafferoon County Distriot. He wmo later appointed one of
to' electors of the president 'rd vice president of the United
States by W.N. Glesnon, president of the Convention at Talla-
haeseo, in 1068, It was signed by William Lee Anthony, seore-
tary of the convention.
In 1868 Meaohaa was appointed clerk of the
Circuit Court for Jefferson County by Harrison Reed, then Gov-
ernor. The following year he was named superintendent of oon-
eon sohools' by the mame governor. This appointment was for two -
years. An appointment to the post of postmaster of Monticello,
SFlorida, signed by John A.J. Creswell followed in February of
eacham was reappointed to tie common schools
position by Governor Reed for two years in 1871. Governor
Oeaian B. Hart appointed Meaoham to the same school post he had
held under Governor Reed for two more years. This was also in
The crowding point in Meaohama' career oame when he
was eleoted.lb a majorityy vote to the Florida stat6 Senate in 1878
:. ii. fi
Nogro History Bage 10
Viola B. Euae P90
Four years lator he wao named pootmastor of Punta Gordi,
Florida. Ho crao to Tampa in 189G and rotirod from :'otivo
political eorvioe booauao of failing '~onlth. (6)
Cyruo T. roon. 1603 Piorco street, has
ainoe 1920 lbcn the oxcoutivo ooearotry of t'.c ',r.pa Urban
LJouwo, rhich agocnoy oorvco ,o the oloaring houno for the
oooncrico ard, nooiral probl>.n~o of tho 'oc-ro in Tmnpa zna. vicin-
With thin orni.znition Groon h a boon able
to asiaot in t;e oonducting of a day nuroory ani. kinderrt.rten,
oooure for hif raoo many of t 'o bonofit of the Podoial govorn-
ront'3 work projooto, and bring about a sharp inorcco in oduoa-
tional faoilitlei for lcoroeo in tho oity.
Greoon cao born in North 0Crolina and oduoatod
at Lincoln Univoreity in Ponnoylvnnia. Ho -vorkod with tho
YTIC.A. for two y3ara during tho inr, a.rtA id oaoinl -ork in
?Pittabureh, P\%., for oight yoaro. (7)
Dr. Jfke A. White. 3321 Xand Street. ia a
Noero physician who to reputed to have one of t'.e beat medical
practice in the state. He was appointed assistant oity phyooiinn
Much of the proeont progregn being r ado in the
educating and care of Tampa'o Togro children of pre-eohool age
Viola B. o e e -
Il due to his active interest and support.
He io the dOnor of a building that houace
the unfortunate Nogro children of Tampa h T home wasn nrmed
Whiten Homorial T nmo in hin honor.
Dr. White vws born in lMariann., Plorida, in'
1076. Ho in ar Fprur.to of Florid* A;.Al Colleo, TallAhnesco,
and of t o school of medioino of Howard University, TDihington,
D.C. He located in Tnapa in 1014. (8)
Randy '. D&nties. of 711 Oonatant Btreot,
is t'o organizer of one of Taampas most energetlo groups of
sooial workors, the ,7lling Workers Club, whioh he aed some
friends established In 1920. This group under hio leadership,
has iestributed food and olothing to the poor for a nmober of
yoars. In addition they have aided orphans and widows, helped
the blind and crippled and have done a number of ot'tor vorth-
while charitable aots.
SDaniole hAs a long ohuroh and fraternal reoord.(9).
The only Negro to have worked In the Taemp
postoffioe te oler, I. the distinotion that wm aohievod by
Googe 8. ilddleton, whose name the Kiddleton High Bohool bear.
Middleton's antivitiee covered a wid range
and during his lifetime he hold executive positions in nearly
ovary forward Negro movement attempted in the oity. He was one
Nereo Bit ry Pg I
Viola B. Moe E
of the or~aniser of the OGntral Life Ineurmeoe company of
ThUs, oseond largest enterprise In the state. He was to-
oording soretazy of the Tap7 Urban Laigue from its in-
oiptonoy. te di4d In 19*5. (10)
BTerend V.. 2tter, ohurb t figre, editor,
and businessman, mwa one of pmp&i earliT st omewrola
figures. Hil outstanding 4istinotlon was an appointment to the
Florida Sohool Oode Oomission a few years ago, He publishes
the mr Bulletin. a XIes weekly, at Orange and Kay Streets.( l
Andre J. FPrrll, a native of Leon Ooamty,
Floridaand now living at 1310 Marion Street, Tamps is the
only NSgro in the state of Florida who holds a Uaeor'e lioense
for stena ves el of unlziited tonnage for navigation in in-
iand waters of the United State. Hfe attained this honor while
working as pilot of the t from 1689 to 1905. woar 1906
to 1988 he held the offioo of Tile Olerk of the Oaetons 8srvooe,
Tumpa, Florida. He tI new presiding eldn over tio Stint Peters-
Sburg Ditriot, Afrioan eotheost Xp eopal Oburob and very sar
ti In olTvi affair of the oity be is Obstarl of the ,Mg
tim al noamttte. and a mboer of the zXxoutive and 16is-
OmmitteeS of the TampS Urban Leage. (18)
Iegro Hisetory .a 13
Tiola B. tase 10
JohnM Ball goveral of Tampa's well known
large structures stand today as evidence of the kno-ledge
and ability of a HNoro oitisen who, until a few years ago,
lived and worked in the olty, and who for thirty years was
foreman and consultant of one of the largest building oon-
struotion films in South Florida. (13)
Ono of the first contributions of Hall to
Tampa's permanent ar6hiteoture was the laying of the found&-
tion on whioh wse oreoted tho Laayette Street ridges This
task was rendered particularly difficult beoauee of the pe-
ouliar shifting alluvial formation of the Tampa sands. This
was aoooaplished in 1912. (13)
The Garoia street Bridge ame another struotue
in whioh the work of Hall played a large part. On this Job
Hall me the foreman to whom the reading of the blueprints wa
entrusted, and all of the dozens of men employed on the enter-
prise followed dirootione laid down by the gifted builder.
The Citisen's nk kBuilding, a twelve-story steel
and briok straeotro at the oorne of franklin and Zs4k Streets,
stand on another of the foundations lid by Hall. This job io
said to have presented innumerable difficulties to the ean who
attempted the foundation-laying before Hall took charge of it.
In feat som aooouant state that more than $100,000 sae spent
in futile.efforts to anobor the underpinnings of the building
Wegro 1a3tory 14
Viola B. Runne 0
T8up^, Flor ida
before all was called in.
BLU is said to have ooSpleted the founda-
tion in a period of a few woeks, with a total additional ooet
of about'ten thousand dollar, whioh included the owa-a of
the men who worked under his forwnanship. This was in 1914.
One of tho most rooent of Hall's achievements
il outside of Tampa, in fort Myers. Here Hall suprvised the
laying of the foundation for the great Edinon Memorial Bridge
aorosa ,' Cl oeeahatohiA River. (14)
In laying the foundation for this bridge. Ball
usod a orew of eleven men to lay the piling for the 38 spans
of tho structure. ThiA job wam aoooplishod in t:g phonominal
tiao of 128 daty, or eoxatly one sGan per day*. uh a fast, for
a orew of son of this else, is said to be waquled The bridge
was built in 19886 (14)
raUls knowledge of construction was pokedd upI
in his nearly half a century of oonstruotion work in this state.
.HB is seventy years old, has worked in his field sinee early
manboot; set of this tie has been spent as form of at A ge
South n lrida oonstruotio oompaay with headquarters in
all' a school training as eloaentary) he left eohool to begin
praeotioa work in building. (14)
ie early life inoludee smah sotivities steve-
dorL.ng he wa in ofrg Of a gang of stevedores whoeloadeo two
HocMo History s15
Viola B. IHUne 9w
facrie AnorBlon (anezral and thoir troupn cand amTpl2e cr. boat
for Cabn ftrin the 9panibh-Anorionn ari ho beboo Eontui Steve-
doro for tho Fodornl forcon during the nr*. (15)
Altbouh h fromrontly oonnultod en difficult
oonetruotion jobe, hall 1i rot now 0.o notlvo in Me fold rie
hU Cntcatia Life Inr no.o tr0n. Ono of
the rort nlp rtunt contributlons to tho oconroio hlatcry of
Wo-roes in 9outh FXorid *- the fourd.n ir. 190^ of the
Oontr-l Lifo Injur ooe Oaapwy. It ncw boroto that it 1 tbo
soocnd la teet Negro comoroIal vontu roin the otAto, w-d ono
of the lanroot in the country. (16)
A manUl group of Worro butnmiase rd rIofcos-
lorAl (.,mn pooled their xonomuroe a tow years ao arnd ftom4 the
oonoorn. At tVat tim tVroro Y7e sovorLl or:fo ina_.-r-rn4no c
panicky in the ntntee but none in South Florblx. A tot n of tan
thousand dollan mao ra ed betwoon those ams T;,. Br&an O.
Oeorge P. Wortan; Bewseda YSD; Potter, founder ad p iabIt
of tho Teaw DdLsXetin, a weekly ninpatporT Drc, BJ Andoredna
Oeorew 8. iddloton, until a tfwor yorue ~ago, Trwhate only Uc.rxo
postal oitrkj Dr, L;A*. Howell) Edward W. Stone; Zflne (rdncrwo
C.P. Lowrio ; J.T. Kingt J;L; Stroot; O;D. Ro-ore, protant head
of the oompany; Dr. T;L. Lowrie T.W. Houaton; Allan Jones; Dr.
Noero listoary te 18
itol Bo. A it0e 7 ,B
C.I. norton; hAndrow 'lliAini ary TIoLeod Dothnem, heaM of a
0--LM :.t m Daylona Dnohb and v~nor of tbao Spi n mn Medal in
1935; 7.T,. AndreRo a'd Dr. S.J. Johnoon. It io int er~stin to
n1ot0 ^lt r4 'Sa^it i fet f I hosu3 fcunmaoro of the concern havn
J11,1 oinao t ccn ,zrnjn n -oin feaood. ( 7)
Tho oo mpnyo, Pith thio .todoit. bo-ni L.,r soon
bk:Gn .-oIin w iolf fo t in t:to o .laro volima of DerTo Icsura oe
rTitton in tho South Florida nron; oxpinolon boean, until it
g"a finJl.y a&.nounood in 1935 tht thero ?aa no olty in tho
a ir.t in -rhih to oono -n did not do buInelo3, and t'"at neftly
- tho inmdrod d oM om n woe0 -n the oonoon)'s pyrol (18)
Moro Vtn ono nIlISon dollars had besn paid
in olaina tb t:io aoix.tny up to 1935, and there ma on brmd
t"olvo dollaro In i-ooto to oovor ovary dollar of liLbility.
In M7y, 1938, the ca pany moved from tVe
aall. voodon struoturz that had nusoad ts offices, into a fiae.
Lyoquippedp modern btiok tnometory building at 1416 North Boo.
lovard. O.D. nofers, one of t'o founders, lo praitment of Abe
legro History ?ng 17
Viola B. Ioae FI
The OAdd eo e Hall. at the oornor of Central
Avene and Soott Street in a~pa is the larget Negro-eer d
building south of JaokonvillU.
The Order of Odd Fellows a& one of the first
fraternal sooieties in Tempa for Negroes. It was organised,
with a handful of followers, in 1884, and us one of the first
branches of that Ordr tht Orr t stato.
In-'1904 the Order had grown to inolude three
lodges; two of these purobaed what has s no beome one of the
moet vluable INgro-ownd tracts of land ia the oity, and began
the oonstruotion of their hall. (U)
The esan by whioh this building as erseed is
interesting in that the labor vas largely donated by members of
the lodge who were eager to rerate a monument in the strturi.
As a result, the Original plastering on the walls, new thirty-tw
year old, remains there unbroken today. (13)
Th building bas served for narf years not only
as the meeting place of the lodges, but as the m-unity gther-
iag-p1la for Thaapsa gros. (13)
Viola B. Kuse 7L.
he suan .Urbn $*Lea 1602 Pieros street,
is a biracial agency that serves as a olearing house for
sooial work among the Negroes of Tampa; it was orranised in
1983 through the efforts of RLE Snyder and RR. Williams.
Its program was launched in September 1933 under the auspicoe
of the National Mi League (.7)
The present set-up oonsttes oft Exeoutlve
Board on Industrial Relations Bo* Relationis Healtha Eduoa-
tion) Neighborhood Child Welfare and Osee Wrk Policy. (17)
Yhe following persons have served a Exoutive
Secretary of the Leagueo Blanch Ar-wood Beaty 19 2-19B *B.
Nlaye 1936-1928; Reverend John L. Oulmer to Maroh 1, 198M; Cyrus
T. Green iaroh 1988 to date. (.7)
oThe MunieGual Hs ital 1615 Lamar street is
operated as a free hbopital for Negroee,
TBis bopital iso the etrvrewth of a hereie effort
on the part of WEs ClUM 72WW Ube aw the great ie* der eeh a
institutis a Oe the NOegroe of TMapS, and ia 106 staioted the
Clara Fry Hospital in a rented building a r Ivmnro. With tire
aid and oooperatito of oseM of the white and oalored eitisen8 of
the oomruniy she we able to extend the facilities of the institw
tion and pujahase the property where the institution was located,
Viola B. j'
and the adja ent lot on whioh was her residence.
About 1912 the hospital was destroyed by
fire but was rebuilt with funds eoaured from t w insurance
on the building.
From 1907 to 1918 the city of Tampa,
Hilleborough County, the rnilroed oompeanies terminating in
Tampa as well as the dootore in the oity and vioinity ma4e
use of the hospital for their Negro oeees.
In 1930 the oity of Tampb took over the
operation of the hospital and the rame ae ohande4. to the
Iuimopal Hospital for Negroes. (.7)
. veslyn Bealey, former slave, 116 b rrison Street
8. yn Bryant, d trhter of alave pants and old rneeint
1231 O~brlotte Street, Tampa, lorids
3 a o lif isurvy published by the TMpa
Urn La VWe9lfJare. Leage, and T".CA I in
1927, Cyrus Green Zxeoutive 8earetary, Taipa, Florida.
4. Hitory Itj eI -ro P' oespilod by Rbeveend LH.
ueae aMrd Dpubisnd in IWO part of a pauphlat
5. A; Z Ashley 14 resident and former political figure
of Ta rp, 9, Soo tt Stroet, Tampa, Florida
6. oMentary evidence in possession of Stella Alexanbdr,
daufhtr of NLeaOha, 1311 organ Street.
7. Personal interview with. yrus T. Gresa, 10M Plese-
Stroet, Tpasp, TirIdL
S BIvestMilgtion of field i ke
10. Pernal~ intUMvr With sabje.t.
U1.atrview with Jae T. KIag, 1333 Green street,
13.trview with vsbjest
13.Intrmrie with DD; Pwell-eof Jlaotonville, personl friaDnd
Of H4 and per se l int. vrew with iU.,
egro Hlitory Page
yiola Br. Nuoe
4. A.J. Farrell, old resident, 1310 Marion Street
15, Oharlott Bryant, teacher and pioneer oltisen,
1212 Nebraska Avenue, Tampa, For da
16, Cts Lie Mr an off iial history
of the oonoexu, published in ty,r1936; pages 1 to 4,
17. Cyril B. Andrews, Seoretary-Treasurer, Central Life
Insuranoe Company, 1416 North Boulevard, Tampa, Florida
18. Personal observation of Field Worker