Tampa Convention Center

Henry Clarke Ferris - 17th Mayor Of Tampa

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Born: May 21, 1848, Tampa, Florida

Died: September 27, 1902, Tampa, Florida

Term: August 14, 1880 - February 19, 1881

Born in Tampa, Florida on May 21, 1848, Henry Clarke Ferris  was the second native of Tampa to become its mayor. He was the son of pioneer settlers William and Elizabeth Ferris, and the brother of Josiah Ferris, who had also served as Mayor of Tampa. Growing up, Henry Clarke Ferris worked in his father's general store, and after his father passed away, he took over managing the store.

Interested in politics, Ferris successfully campaigned for mayor in August of 1880. At the time of his election, Tampa had only about seven hundred residents. Yellow fever was rampant and Tampa still lacked a railroad. Mayor Ferris only served for six months because during his term, he moved across the river, outside of the town limits. Because of that, he had to resign, and Matthew E. Haynsworth, who was President of the City Council at the time, stepped in as Acting Mayor. Ferris ran again for mayor in 1887, but was defeated by George Bascom Sparkman.

Henry Clarke Ferris continued to work as a merchant after leaving office. He was married to Julia Bartholomew Ferris, and they had a daughter named Della. He died in Tampa on September 27, 1902.


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