Josiah Ferris - 11th Mayor Of Tampa

Image of a Mayor of Tampa

Born: August 5, 1836

Term: January 1 1867 - March 1, 1869 (Acting Mayor)

Died: November 24, 1901, Tampa, Florida

Born on August 5, 1836,  Josiah Ferris was one of six children born to William and Elizabeth Ferris. There is a discrepancy in the records about his birth. Census records indicate Josiah was born in Arkansas, while his obituary and other records state he was born in New Jersey.  The Ferris family moved to Tampa in 1841,  where William initially worked as a paymaster at Fort Brooke and later established a general store near the fort. Josiah Ferris, along with his father, enlisted in the militia during the Third Seminole War (1855-1858) and, later, during the Civil War, serving in the 4th Florida Regiment. Prior to the Civil War, Josiah had become a business partner in his father's general store and cattle business, which they resumed after the war. Josiah also established a successful jewelry business in downtown Tampa.

In 1862, Josiah Ferris married Caroline Rhodes.  They had four children: John William, Josiah, Jr., Rawson and Allie. They were married for eight years when, following a brief illness, Caroline Ferris passed away on January 31, 1871. Ferris then  married Maggie Knight, with whom he had two children: Thomas Lee and Ghira.

Ferris became involved in local politics following the Civil War and served as the President of Tampa's City Council. After Mayor Clarke's quiet departure, Josiah Ferris served as Acting Mayor until March 1, 1869, when John T. Lesley was elected. Ferris returned to his business ventures but on August 14, 1877, campaigned for City Clerk and won. He remained in that position for nine years.

Josiah Ferris died on November 24, 1901 in Tampa.


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