Born: June 1809, Ballybay, County, Monaghan, Ireland
Died: November 4, 1887, Tampa, Florida
Term: May 1861 - February 3, 1862 (Acting Mayor)
Term: February 3, 1862 - February 22, 1862
John Jackson was born in 1809, in Ballybay County, Monaghan, Ireland. He and his brother, Thomas, immigrated to the United States in 1841. They traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana where John worked as an Assistant City Engineer for two years. In 1843, John Jackson was hired by the federal government to survey land in present-day Palmetto, Florida. After completing the assignment, Jackson was given a permanent position as a federal surveyor. He accepted this appointment and then moved to Hillsborough County, where the federal government had given him a large land grant.
Jackson's work also took him to various regions of Florida, and while he was on an assignment in St. Augustine, he met and married Ellen Maher on July 22, 1847. They had four children: Thomas, James, Kate, and John. Several weeks later, Hillsborough County hired Jackson to survey and map the Town of Tampa, which had been designated as the county seat in 1846. Jackson named many of the streets after U.S. Presidents and local men such as himself and William Ashley. After completing his assignment, Jackson returned to surveying, and he also established a general store on the corner of Washington and Tampa Streets.
In late April 1861, the Confederate Military Commander at Fort Brooke had placed Tampa under marshal law which essentially nullified the authority of the town's government. When Hamlin Valentine Snell left office in May of 1861, John Jackson became Acting Mayor, as he was the President of the City Council at the time. He was formally elected as Mayor of Tampa on February 3, 1862. However, Mayor Jackson served for 19 days and thus has the dubious distinction of serving the shortest term of any elected mayor in Tampa's history. On February 22, 1862, Mayor Jackson, City Council members, and other officials were dismissed by the Confederate Commander at Fort Brooke. This event was more of a formality since both the military commander and the Hillsborough County government had assumed control over the municipality the previous year.
After his dismissal, Jackson returned to his general store and also continued working as a surveyor. John Jackson passed away in Tampa on November 4, 1887. His son, Thomas Edward Jackson, later followed in his footsteps by serving on the City Council as well as Mayor of 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