The oldest house in the Tampa area at its previous location at 3210 E. 8th Avenue as seen Nov. 29, 2016.
Photo by Chris Urso, Tampa Bay Times.

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Sources for the historic house build date

Untangling the Stringers
When was Dr. Stringer born?

Dr. Sheldon Stringer, Sr. timeline and bio

Tampa/Brooksville  Stringers censuses

Tampa/Brooksville Stringers family tree

The Stalnaker years
 Rescue by Stalnaker Bros. Imboden Stalnaker

Judge Leo Stalnaker

Family photos from Gianna Russo, Imboden's great-granddaughter

 Judge Stalnaker courtroom scene



Tampa before 1850
Who was here and when did they arrive?

The Spanish land grants and the Hackleys

Spain cedes Florida to the U.S. - Adams/Onis Treaty

The Fort Brooke years

Judge Augustus Steele

Tampa's revival, surveying and platting

Surveyor John Jackson

Conclusions for the Stringer house thus far


The 1848 hurricane - Could the Stringer house have survived it?

Were the Stringers in Tampa before the "Great Gale of 1848"

Descriptions of the hurricane from various sources: C.A. Winchell, Thomas E. Jackson, W.G. Ferris and son Josiah,
James McKay, Jr., E.L. Robinson,  Canter Brown Jr.,

Did Tampa carpenter John T. Givens build the historic Stringer house?

The life of Tampa pioneer John T. Givens, his arrival and contributions by Chas. Harrison in his "Genealogical Records of the Pioneers of Tampa"

Darwin Branch Givens

Development of the Stringer house block, city hall, and the courthouse square to the north of it.

The City of Tampa is established, holds its first election and is organized.

1890 City Hall
The McKay and Breaker courthouses, the 1892 Kendrick/JA Wood courthouse

Who was Dr. Sheldon Stringer Sr's father? What was Mary Stringer's maiden name?

Did Mr. Stringer make it to Tampa?

The Edgecombe County Stringers - could Dr. Stringer's parents come from there?

Other related Stringers: Texas, Missouri & Wyoming



What kind of settlement was early Tampa in the years of Fort Brooke?  Was it a place ready for civilian settlement and starting a homestead?  How safe was it here during the period of the 2nd Seminole Indian War and why would a family settle here, especially if widowed with children?


The Hackley Spanish land grant

Even before the establishment of Fort Brooke in 1824, privately owned land around the mouth of the Hillsborough River had its beginnings in 1818 while Florida belonged to Spain.



Richard Shippey Hackley (born 27 Jul 1770 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia) was a successful and well-traveled merchant who resided at various times in Fredericksburg , Norfolk, Richmond, New York, Florida and Spain. By 1789 he was an established merchant in New York. In 1806 he was a appointed U.S. Consul at St. Lucia, Spain, and in 1807 he was appointed U.S. Consul at Cadiz, Spain, the latter being a more prestigious position at that time. Richard had claims to 12 million acres of uncultivated land near present day Tampa, Florida. He was deeded this Florida land by the Duke of Alagon on 29 May 1819, who previously had been granted this tract by the King of Spain by order dated 17 Dec 1817. (This claim has been well documented and was asserted by a number of the heirs of Richard for a number of years following his death.)

See World Connect Rootsweb for more details of the case and Hackley genealogy


Richard S. Hackley, the former consul of the United States at Madrid, claimed that he had proposed a contract for half of a Spanish land grant with the Duke of Alagon on January 1, 1818, and the two had signed a contract for it on May 22, 1818.  The Duke of Alagon grant included the central part of Florida extending from latitude 29.5N at Micanopy to latitude 25.5 N (Key Biscayne) about half of present-day Florida and most of the Florida peninsula.  Since Hackley’s wife (Harriet Randolph) was a sister of Governor Thomas M. Randolph of Virginia and Hackley knew many important people including former President James Madison--he had considerable political clout. 



Below is a manuscript map of the lands belonging to R. S. Hackley Esq. covering all of Florida between Micanopy in the north to Key Biscayne Bay in south, circa 1823. This map shows roads, cities and towns, location of land ownership and inland waters. The shaded areas are swamp land. At lower left is probable reference to 1823 Map of Florida by Charles Vignoles.

Digitization provided by the USF Libraries Digitization Center, Rare Maps.

Map of the Lands Belonging to R.S. Hackley, esq., in East Florida, 1823 AD
Historic map from Exploring Florida, Maps Etc.


Northern border of Hackley land at Micanopy.


At right, enlargement of "Bahia Espiritu Santo" - Tampa Bay.




Above, southern limit of Hackley land at Key Biscayne.






Pres. James Monroe, c.1819
Portrait by Samuel Morse from Wikipedia


The Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819 was a treaty between the United States and Spain in 1819 which gave Florida to the U.S. and defined the boundary between the U.S. and New Spain.  The treaty is named after the men who negotiated the agreement: John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State of the United States, and Don Luis de Onís y Gonzalez-Vara (1762–1827), the Spanish minister in America.  The treaty was negotiated during the presidency of James Monroe, the 5th American President, who served in office from March 4, 1817 to March 4, 1825, and was one of the important events during his presidency.


When John Quincy Adams was discussing the treaty with Onís, they decided it should stipulate that the U.S. Government would honor all Spanish royal land grants in Florida made before January 28, 1818.  In other words, the United States would recognize the owners of those Spanish grants in Florida before that date as being the rightful owners of American Florida land. Those grants made after that date would be declared null and void and revert to ownership by the Federal government.

John Quincy Adams, 1818
Portrait by Gilbert Stuart
Info & image from Wikipedia

However, Onís would have been willing to nullify all land grants made by Spain going back to 1802 (instead of after Jan 28, 1818) but Adams let this point slip by and would soon discover that since so many large grants had been given by Spain in those years from 1802 to 1818 that much of Florida would have still remained under Spanish control in private hands if the treaty was drawn with the 1818 date.

It was Henry Clay, Speaker of the House of Representatives, who discovered the oversight made by Adams and insisted that corrections be made. Clay discovered that if the treaty had been approved as it stood, much of American Florida would remain in foreign ownership. Accordingly, Adams informed the Minister to Spain, George W. Erving, that the United States would not ratify the treaty unless the King of Spain nullified the grants awarded after 1802.

When speculation reached Spain that the grants from 1802 to the present time would be nullified, parts of those grants were assigned to American citizens with the hopes that they could influence members of Congress and gain some profit from the aborted transaction.  Acting under American pressure the Spanish representative body known as the Cortes annulled the post-1802 grants on October 5, 1820, and on October 24 of the same year King Ferdinand VII approved the action of the Cortes.

Adams served as Secretary of State throughout James Monroe's eight-year presidency, from 1817 to 1825. Taking office in the aftermath of the War of 1812, Adams thought that the country had been fortunate in avoiding territorial losses, and he prioritized avoiding another war with a European power, particularly Britain.

Cavaliere De Onis, Ambassador of the Catholic high Courts of London.
His last diplomatic mission sent him to London in February 1821, where he participated in diplomatic consultations for the recognition of Hispanic American countries by the United States and managed to prevent the European powers from following the US example. In November 1822, Onís returned to Madrid, where he died on 17 May 1827, after an illness of four days.
Image and info from Wikipedia


In July, 1822 Richard Hackley sent S. S. Seymour to look over his prospective land holdings in Florida which he had been granted from Spain in 1818.  Although Seymour saw no Indians in the bay area, there probably was an active village at Thonotosassa and an abandoned one at present day Plant City. There were no Cuban fishing ranchos in the Tampa Bay area and Seymour had learned one had been there probably on Mullet or Egmont Keys but the fishermen left when the United States acquired Florida from Spain.

It was also at this time that Richard Hackley began sell large parcels of "his" land, even though the treaty had annulled all of Hackley's land claim in Florida.

Seymour wrote such an excellent report concerning the commercial possibilities of the thick forests and bounties of seafood that Hackley sent his 25 year old son, Robert Jackson Hackley, to Florida in November 1823 to establish the family plantation at Tampa. Robert made a landing at the juncture of the Hillsborough River and Hillsborough Bay and began laying the foundations of what he hoped would be a profitable family plantation.

According to Robert Hackley, there were only Indians, alligators, panthers and wolves on the land and no white settlers. Since he had brought with him spades, hoes, a plow, and a work force of 16 white men.  Hackley proceeded to clear the land of trees and underbrush.  Soon, rows of orange, grapefruit and lemon trees were planted , and land was cleared for a house. He assembled a frame dwelling that he had carried by boat from New York City. 

So far as can be determined, the Hackley house was built on lots 9-10, Section 24, Township 29 South, Range 18 East. Soon the cattle, oxen, hogs and poultry which had been carried from New York were earning their keep by clearing the Florida vegetation. But the Hackley plantation was destined not to last very long.

This 1882 land ownership map from the Library of Congress shows where the Hackley property
was located outlined in green at lots 9 & 10 in Sec. 24 of Township 29 South, Range 18 East.

At the close of 1823, Robert Hackley set sail for a vacation in Pensacola, scarcely imagining what would greet him upon his return: the official arrival of the United States government.


Various historians who wrote about the early years of Tampa during the Ft. Brooke years say that most all of the structures in the area were concentrated on the Ft. Brooke property which was south of the present Whiting St. There were very few private citizens who bought land and built a home or business in the area of what would become the village of Tampa  in those times.  If they did, they probably would have done so as tenants of the fort with permission to live on the federal property due to their involvement with the military.  Land sales were not authorized by the Federal government at this time because the area that became the village of Tampa wasn't given to the county by the federal government until 1845 when the size of Ft. Brooke land was reduced.  Florida wasn't even a state until 1845. Those private citizens who bought land originally part of the Hackley Spanish land grant before 1838 eventually lost their claim to the land by around 1840.

 James Gadsden (1788 - 1858) was a protégé of Andrew Jackson.  In 1824, six years after this portrait was done, he surveyed the bounds of Florida's Indian nation, exploring, in the process, much of the Peace River valley.  Photo colorized from Canter Brown Jr's Florida’s Peace River Frontier, 1991.


Fort Brooke was established in response to the Treaty of Moultrie Creek, an agreement negotiated between the new American government in Florida and the Seminole tribes in 1823, calling for the removal of the Indians to the southern part of the state. Millions of acres in central Florida from Ocala to Charlotte Harbor were set aside for an Indian reservation.

The Federal government decided to establish a string of forts in various parts of South Florida to police the area and keep the Indians down. (All of the Florida peninsula was considered to be "South Florida.")  A military post was suggested for the Tampa Bay area to "protect" the Seminoles from outside influences, to forestall the introduction of weapons from Cuba, and to serve as a station for the Indians to obtain rations and supplies. Late that year Col. George Mercer Brooke, comfortably situated at Fort Clinch near Pensacola, was ordered to Tampa Bay.

Col. James Gadsden first arrived on Jan. 8, 1824 to mark the boundaries of the new military reservation. Thus, the landing place of the party was designated "Gadsden Point," the area now occupied by MacDill AFB, and the new fort itself was named to honor Brooke. Gadsden chose a tract on the east bank of the Hillsborough River at the point where it enters Hillsborough Bay, mainly because of the improvements already made there by Robert J. Hackley.


It took many months to secure the needed building supplies, equipment and provisions, and the colonel was in no hurry to face the challenge of the mosquito-ridden wilderness. Brooke and his five-ship convoy of the Fourth Artillery arrived with four companies of militia on January 24, 1824, and began building the cantonment on the northeastern bank of the Hillsborough River while Hackley was on his trip to Pensacola.

"We found a jungle-like land with giant live oaks spreading enormous limbs as big as tree trunks, hung with pendants of Spanish moss and yellow Jessamine," he wrote in his journal (without any mention of Hackley's plantation.) Brooke spent the first month landing supplies, clearing the “worst undergrowth he had ever seen," and planting gardens.

George Mercer Brooke (1785-1851), United States Army, colorized from a portrait  presented to Gen. Sumter L. Lowry, by Col. George M. Brooke, Jr. at a dinner of the Tampa Historical Society.

By March the troops had realized what a comfortable house Hackley had built and taking advantage of Hackley's absence they seized the house from an agent of Hackley named Rhodes and put it to use as officers’ quarters.  It was difficult for Hackley to oppose the claim of the troops for they occupied much of the land he claimed and had built barracks, parade grounds and store houses there.  

The Old Ft. Brooke Officers' Quarters in 1882 - 1887, originally Robert Hackley's home.
(State Archives of Florida)

The Old Ft. Brooke Officers' Quarters in 1882 - 1887, originally Robert Hackley's home.
(State Archives of Florida)


See the 1822 publication

The seizure of the land by the troops was not a terrible setback for Hackley.  After the events of February, 1824, Hackley consulted with several attorneys who as late as 1837 declared that his claim to the land was valid. Taking advantage of these opinions Hackley sold some of his land sited at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River.

By 1829 some settlers had erected buildings on the land but had not cultivated any crops or known their rights in the matter. One such settler William G. Saunders who opened a general store at the foot of present day Whiting Street in 1828. Other business ventures established on the government land included a harness repair and shoe shop, laundry, blacksmith shop, and ship repair yard. Such practices of laying out towns on Federal land was commonplace along the frontier.

By 1837 the remainder of the so-called Hackley Grant was vested in a company known as the Florida Peninsula Land Company and capitalized for $200,000. Shares in the company or land contained within the grant could be purchased from Augustus Steele, Lot Clark, and four others including Robert Hackley of New York.









Florida Peninsula Land Co. Articles of Agreement from Internet Archive









Within a short time two important sales were made by the Florida Peninsula Land Company which resulted in the development of two illegal subdivisions. In 1829 Judge Augustus Steele from Connecticut purchased 25 acres at Fort Brooke from Hackley which was lying to the north of the garrison just beyond the garrison buildings and parade grounds but still part of Federal land.   Steele was the county judge, postmaster and deputy collector of customs, all at the same time. 

It was through the strenuous efforts of Judge Augustus Steele that Hillsborough County came into being in January 1834. The county, when created by the Florida territorial legislature, stretched across much of west central Florida, from just south of what is now Ocala all the way down to the northern tip of Lake Okeechobee, and along the gulf coast from roughly north of Bayport south to Charlotte Harbor. The new county, Florida's 19th, included few white civilian residents. Still, Steele was able to not only secure the county but also assign Tampa as the county seat. 


Since Judge Steele was also the customs officer, he had been permitted by the military to erect a house in 1830 near the picket line on the Hillsborough River. Steele, a wheeler-dealer, proceeded to lay out in 1838 the Town of Tampa with Water Street 40 feet wide and Tampa Street 60 feet wide and sell lots.  When John Jackson drew the official survey in 1847 he followed the plat made by Steele in marking these two streets.

At right, 1849 sectional plan of Water Street by John Jackson.

Both images are from "Judge Steele Left His Mark"


This 1838 map shows Fort Brooke at its pinnacle, when it was the headquarters for the U.S. Army of the South. 
Matheson History Museum

Map from this Tribune 2016 article by Rodney Kite-Powell

Born in Connecticut in 1792 Steele came to Florida around 1825 originally settling in the St. Marks River area south of Tallahassee. By the early 1830s he had settled in the Ft. Brooke area. Beginning at this time Steele's accomplishments are remarkable. He became notary public, fisheries officer, and was the first county judge in Hillsborough County, a county he practically  founded himself through the sheer force of his own energies. Steele was also elected to the Territorial legislature two different terms. He was the first to lay out the plats of what would become the city of Tampa. After the Dade Massacre in December 1835, it was Steele who delivered the message to the Governor in Tallahassee. Steele relocated one more time and developed a resort in Atsena Otie at what is now called Cedar Key in Levy County Florida. Steele died in 1864 in Wellborn, Florida.

Augustus Steele at Find-A-Grave

Composite image made from Tampa Bay History Center portrait at TBO and portrait from Trip Advisor courtesy of Cedar Key Historical Museum.


The first lots in the 1838 town were sold to Captain Rufus D. Kilgore who built the 12-room Tampa Hotel sited on the Hillsborough River just north of the garrison. Records indicate that lots 54 and 55 were sold by Steele to Sarah Kilgore for $150.00 apiece in 1838. 

In October, 1838, William Saunders purchased from Hackley for $1,300, fifty-eight acres of land lying between Hillsborough Bay and the West bank of the Hillsborough River. Saunders was Ft. Brooke's sutler and Tampa's first postmaster. Several months later, this tract of land was sold to Major Donald Fraser, John Monroe and Henry Lindsey. The purchasers contacted Steele who sub-divided part of the land naming it Tampa City. In March, 1839, lots 39 and 40 fronting on the west bank of the Hillsborough River and near its mouth was sold for $60 to Bartholomew Tole, a sergeant from Fort Brooke. Other purchases included lots 35, 36, and 37 by Captain W. W. Morris for $110.00 and lot 41 by Private Thomas Hagin for $60.00.


Within a short time Hackley shifted the focus of his attack. Hope had risen in a different direction when Congress in 1826 passed a law which authorized a frontiersman to settle on public land in Alabama, Mississippi and the Territory of Florida, make improvements and be able to purchase the land at a minimum price. Robert Hackley began to collect proof of his possession in order to claim the land in court.

Judge Augustus Steele certified on August 27, 1834 that he had known Hackley to build a house and cultivate the land. Colonel George M. Brooke testified on November 27, 1834 that he had seized the land from Hackley, and one Lorenzo testified that he had seen the 16 hired men clearing the land.  Accordingly on November 27, 1843, Hackley filed his claim for the land citing the pre-emption law passed in 1826. Little is known of the action taken on the claim but it probably was disallowed at the time.

Although both Gadsden and Brooke admitted that they had taken over the clearing and a house built by Robert Jackson Hackley in affidavits sworn in 1834, the courts ultimately ruled against Hackley's heirs. (1884, 1908)


In 1838 a federal court ruled Hackley's grant purchase invalid, referring to the Onís treaty nullification clause. The Federal Government became concerned with the illegal subdivision and intruders upon the Fort Brooke military reservation but action was virtually impossible. Federal law stipulated that the United States Marshal had the power to remove the intruders and Marshal Joseph Sanchez at St. Augustine had been directed twice to take action. His deputy, however, refused to remove the illegal settlers when requested by the commanding officer unless the County Judge instructed him.  Of course, Judge Augustus Steele would not give such orders to remove people from land he had sold to them.

See Richard Hackley's petition and protest to President John Tyler in 1842.


There were so many complaints against Steele’s conduct as postmaster and revenue collector that the Secretary of War recommended his removal in 1839.  After leaving Tampa in disgust for Cedar Key when Hackley lost his bid to the Alagon grant land, he and several persons including Hackley tried to claim the Fort Brooke land under terms of the Armed Occupation Act but were denied such claims because the act stated that claims had to be two miles or more from a fort.  Richard Hackley died soon after the ruling.   Robert Hackley died in Tallahassee in 1845, but the Hackley heirs continued their litigation.

In a case brought before the U.S. Supreme Court by Lot Clark, David Clarkson, Joseph D. Beers, Andrew Talcott, Brantz Mayer and Harriet Hackley against Joseph Addison Braden, in December 1853, this claim was finally settled. (1908 was the FINAL decision.) It was determined that prior to ratification of the treaty transferring Florida from Spain to the US, the King of Spain annulled the grant to Alagon in response to concerns of the US negotiators . Based primarily on this fact, the court upheld the findings of a lower court, determining that the Hackleys derived no title from the U.S. government in said land.

See "The Final Battle for Fort Brooke" here at TampaPix.

Col. George Mercer Brooke - He Built A Fort In The Wilderness, by June Hurley Young

Early Days At Fort Brooke, By Col. George Mercer Brooke, Jr., Professor of History Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Va.

The Hackley Grant, The Fort Brooke Military Reservation and Tampa, by James W. Covington, PH.D.

Outlaws, Inlaws and Everyone in Between, a genealogy of Richard Shippey Hackley including son Robert Jackson Hackley, World Connect Rootsweb. [This source erroneously cites Hackley's petition in Nov. 1842 as being to the President of the U.S.  Zachary Taylor.  The petition was to John Tyler who was president at that time.]

Some Observations Concerning The History of Fort Brooke and Tampa, by James W. Covington


The turnaround for Tampans began in 1845, when Florida achieved statehood. The legislature soon reaffirmed and legitimized Tampa's role as Hillsborough County's seat.  The new state government also threw its weight behind attempts to compel federal authorities to grant title to the land upon which the town stood. An elected county government organized under state law in January 1846, just as most regular Fort Brooke troops departed for service in Texas preparatory to the Mexican War.


On January 21, 1845, Colonel William Worth reduced the military reservation to four miles square and, after approval by President James Polk, Hillsborough County obtained 160 acres to the north of the reduced military reservation. Although Fort Brooke was not to be abandoned for 30 years, it would steadily decline in use by the military from that time. The county commissioners hired surveyor John Jackson to plat and expand Judge Steele’s village plan.

Below is a crop of the county survey of Township 29 south, Ranges 18 east and 19 east showing the entire area of the military reserve by surveyor Charles F. Hopkins in March, 1852.  Outlined in blue are the original limits of the military reserve.  The ladle-shaped area outlined in green shows the reduced Ft. Brooke reservation.

The red outline shows the 160 acres obtained by Hillsborough County for the county seat.

Reduced Fort Brooke is outlined in green, resembling a ladle, the "handle" portion of which was the property on which the road to the government spring in today's Ybor City was located.  The dotted line shows the road going on to Fort Dade.



Read about life at Ft. Brooke in 1846 - 1846 in an autobiography by George Ballantine who spent about a year there; published by Stringer (!) & Townsend of NY, 1853.

Autobiography of an English Soldier in the United States Army


Ballantine presents a vivid description of the flora and fauna of the area, as well as the appearance and behavior of the Seminoles, and how they passed the time there.

Tampa Bay—Indian Paradise—Beautiful Squaws—Forest Life—The Hummocks—Snakes—Rumours of War—Lost in the Wood.



John Jackson's first major job as a surveyor in the new area was to lay out the town of Tampa in the newly obtained 160 acre tract. The town had been partially platted by Judge Augustus Steele in 1838, however it appears that this work was not actually completed except for Tampa and Water Streets. Jackson was given the job of completing the survey and extending it into the new areas of settlement. In the process, he named many of the early streets of Tampa, mostly after presidents and military leaders.

The Board of County Commissioners ordered the survey of John Jackson received and the plan to be recorded immediately. The survey took just a little over two months to complete and the town plat was recorded officially on January 9, 1847.  The section surveyed was called the Village of Tampa and consisted of only the outlines of the town and a portion of the blocks subdivided. One hundred dollars was paid for this survey.

John Jackson - Surveyor, Merchant, Short-term Mayor

Born in County Monaghan, Ireland, Jackson immigrated with his brother Thomas to the United States in 1841. The brothers traveled to New Orleans where John worked as an Assistant City Engineer for two years.

In 1843, the federal government hired Jackson to survey a large land grant in present-day Palmetto, Florida. After completing the assignment, the federal government gave Jackson a permanent position as a federal surveyor. He accepted this appointment and then moved to Hillsborough County with his brother Thomas to begin work. In addition to his salary, the federal government gave Jackson a large land grant in Hillsborough County.

Jackson's work also took him to various regions of Florida and it was on an assignment in St. Augustine that he met and married Ellen Maher on July 22, 1847 with whom he had four children: Thomas, James, Kate and John. Several weeks later, Hillsborough County hired Jackson to survey and map Tampa which had been designated the county seat in 1846. Jackson named the streets of Tampa after U.S. Presidents, military figures and one local individual, William Ashley, the first city clerk of Tampa. 
[See "
What's in a Name" feature at TampaPix.]

After completing his assignment, Jackson returned to surveying, but in 1849 he and his wife decided to move to Tampa where he established a general store on the corner of Washington and Tampa Streets. Jackson also became involved in Tampa's civic activities.

Jackson's ad shows he didn't sell on credit. "He is convinced that no system of business affords the same facilities for the satisfaction of both buyer and seller, as does the cash system."

Elected 9th Mayor of Tampa on February 3, 1862, Jackson has the dubious distinction of serving the shortest term as an elected mayor in Tampa history: 19 days. On February 22, 1862, the Confederate Military Commander dismissed the mayor, city council and other employees.  
City of Tampa, Previous Mayors




When permission had been given to Hillsborough County officials to erect a courthouse on land formerly occupied by the troops, a meeting of the board of county commissioners was called on January 11, 1847 for the purpose of receiving proposals for the building of a courthouse. "The proposal of James McKay to build and finish a two-story house 20 by 45 feet in the clear according to specifications named in his proposals for the sum of $1368 was accepted by the board." (Notice on the original plat below, the planned location was 2 blocks east of where it actually was built. Monroe St. became Fla. Ave. in the mid 1880s.)

Also at this meeting, in order to raise funds to pay McKay, it was ordered that a sale of lots in Tampa should be made on the first Monday of next April and that public notice be given in the Jacksonville News and the Southern Journal, published in Tallahassee.

Accordingly, the sale of lots with prices ranging from $25 to $83 a lot was held on April 5, 1847.  This sale would represent the first legal transaction from government to private ownership of the Fort Brooke land.

Plan of the Village of Tampa
Surveyed by John Jackson
Recorded Jan. 9, 1847

It is important to remember that this was a PLAN and not a map of what the area looked like at the time.  It was up to the city to create these streets according to this plan.  One deviation that can be seen is that originally, the county courthouse was planned two blocks east of where it was soon built.

As can be seen above, the survey recorded on Jan. 9, 1847, there were no properties marked with owners, although the large X's might indicate a structure existed there.  It wasn't until April 5, 1847 that lots were sold to the public, so these details were added later on the 1847 survey.  Possibly as each lot sold, the ownership was added. 



The property owners have been added here according to what was handwritten in the lots.  This was a very low resolution image and extremely difficult to make out the owner names.  It is possible that there is some error here.

These are close ups of the Stringer property location from two different online images of the same 1847 survey.
They have been rotated right by 90 degrees so the writing is properly oriented.
Image from Judge Steele Left His Mark by Rodney Kite-Powell, Jun. 30, 2013, Tampa Bay Times online.

Above, more of the 1853 survey.  At right, a close up of the area around the courthouse.

In Feb. 1853, John Jackson drew another survey based on earlier surveys.  Here, he expanded the survey northward and eastward.  At some point, somebody sketched in existing buildings in red.

1853 plan of Tampa certified by surveyor John Jackson
From the University of South Florida digital map collection

"I hereby certify this map is the original general map or plat of the Town of Tampa made and drawn by me in February  1853 from surveys made by me in the years 1847 - 1850 and in January 1853. Witness my hand and private seal.  (Signed) John Jackson.


The two-block section of the 1853 survey containing the courthouse and Stringer property are shown at left.  You can see the blocks have been numbered three times.  Originally block 11 on the 1847 survey it became block 64 on this survey.  Another number can be seen in the same red ink as the structures (55), possibly cross references to another survey somehow related to the structures.

At the top edge of the courthouse block can be seen that the block was 210 feet wide.  The courthouse, the red rectangle in the center, if drawn to even an approximate scale, would indicate that this structure was around 40 to 50 feet long.  This is very good evidence that this was the McKay courthouse, which was 20 feet wide by 45 feet long.

The blue dotted line was added for illustration here and represents the scaled size of the courthouse that replaced the McKay courthouse.  That was the "Breaker courthouse" and was 76 feet long and 45 feet wide.  The entrance faced Lafayette St.

It can be concluded that the red structures were added before the time the McKay Courthouse was replaced by the John Breaker courthouse in June 1854.

The Stringer property, which was originally block 18, is now block 76.  If this structure was drawn approximately to scale, it would appear that the house was a little smaller than the McKay Courthouse.  Possibly 25 x 35 or 40.



A plan of the Village of Tampa by John Jackson was completed in Dec. 1846 and recorded in Jan. 1847, and the first properties for public purchase went on sale in April 1847 for the purpose of financing a courthouse.  That plan surveyed a small area for "The Village of Tampa" from Madison St. southward, and from the river eastward to Morgan St. and showed the blocks numbered and partitioned into lots.

In the months or years after the lots went on sale in April 1847, property owner names were added to the lots.  Given the image of that plan, it is currently not possible to make out what is written in the lot on the southeast quadrant of the block where the Stringer house was built.  It appears that not much was written there and it could be that there was no owner at the time. The northeast quadrant at Monroe (which became Fla. Ave around 1885) and Lafayette St. shows it was owned by H. D. Kendrick.

In 1853 Jackson expanded the 1847 plan northward to just beyond Harrison St. and the "Burying Ground" that would become Oaklawn Cemetery, and eastward to around East. Street.  At some point afterward, structures were  crudely drawn in red ink.  It shows a structure of size that could be the Stringer house at the northwest corner of Jackson and Monroe and a very small one on the southwest corner of Monroe and Lafayette, the property indicated on the 1847 survey as being owned by Kendrick.  The structure is too small to be a house.




This 1884 Sanborn map shows the area on Tampa Street between Jackson and Washington where John Jackson's home was located in 1848.  The dwelling in purple shows the Stringer house still in existence.  Notice the proximity to the river of the location of the Jackson home compared to that of the Stringer home.  There is no doubt that this whole area around Tampa St. flooded.


Could Sheldon Stringer have come to Tampa with his family in 1841, and did his father build a house near the northwest corner of Jackson Street and Florida Avenue in 1842? (THE CITY CLERKS OF TAMPA, a project of the City of Tampa, Sept. 2017.)


The 160 acres on the north side of Ft. Brooke were not given to Hillsborough County by the federal government until after the military reservation had been reduced, Jan 21, 1945.  As seen above, Jackson's Village of Tampa survey of late 1846 was approved and recorded Jan. 1847.  The survey completed what Augustus Steele had started; that was a plan along the river consisting of Water St. and Tampa St., just north of the Ft. Brooke reservation (the boundary being Whiting St.).  

Jackson's survey was a plan, not a map of what was there. There was no corner of Jackson Street and Florida Ave. in 1842.  (nor Monroe, the original name of what became Fla. Ave.)  Dwellings up until this time were mostly within the confines of the Ft. Brooke reservation, and before this, the lands sold by Steele were invalidated when the Hackley land grant was invalidated 1838.

The Jan. 1847 Jackson survey below is from E. L. Robinson's History of Hillsborough  Co., published in 1928.  It shows blocks from the river eastward to Morgan St., and from the Ft. Brooke boundary at Whiting St. northward to Madison St.


It is a reproduction from the actual plat book, and so it hasn't been marked with land owners yet--the land had not yet been offered for sale, but the lots are indicated. The first public lots were sold in April of 1847. 

In E. L. Robinson's only mention of the Stringers is in a description of what Tampa was like just before the hurricane of Sept. 24, 1848:

"A Mrs. Stringer lived on a part of the present city hall block. it being from her heirs that the land for the site of the southern portion of the present city hall was bought in 1914."

See THE STRINGERS OF FLORIDA, N. CAROLINA, TEXAS AND WYOMING for evidence that the Stringers probably came to Tampa between June 20, 1841 and  July 1, 1849.


Summary of Fort Brooke years
Various historians who wrote about the early years of Tampa during the Fort Brooke years say that the structures in the area were concentrated on the Ft. Brooke property which was south of Whiting St.  There were very few private citizens who bought land and built a home or business in those times but they were not authorized by the Federal government since that land had not been given to the county until 1845 when the size of Ft. Brooke land was reduced.  Florida wasn't even a state until 1845. Those who bought land, private citizens or military personnel, originally part of the Hackley Spanish land grant before 1838 lost their claim to the land by around 1840.  These historians mention those early settlers by name and none mention the Stringers.

The most plausible scenario is that the Stringers came to Tampa when they bought land sometime after the lot sales which began in April 1847.


Primary sources for pre-1850 Tampa history:
**See bottom of page as to why these links don't work.

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Historic photos courtesy of
USF Special Collections Digital Archives**
University of Florida Digital Collections, George Smathers Library
Florida Memory Project Photograph Collection, State Archives
Burgert Brothers Collection, HCPLC

Library of Congress Digital Collections
**I have given up with linking to the USF Digital collections.  Each time they change their viewer app and revamp their site, they reconfigure their URLs to their materials.  It's impossible for me to keep up with changing my links.