This is a breakout page from:
which is the introduction page to:

This feature is in the process of being updated.

May 26, 2003 - Photo by Dan Perez, property of TampaPix.com







The board of trustees of the South Florida Male & Female Inst. private school consisted of well-known and successful businessmen of the community. The ad even advised that good boarding could be obtained in the homes of private families at moderate rates. (Back then, "South Florida" referred to the entire peninsula portion of the state, excluding only the panhandle portion.)

The same ad repeated Nov. 2, 1870 and every week through ---.


  • Dr. Franklin Branch (1802-1882) was early druggist, SE corner of Florida and Washington, and owner of the Branch Opera House on Franklin St.; son Darwin Austen Branch was mayor from 1857 to 1858.

  • William Benton Henderson (1839-1909), one of five children of Andrew Hamilton Henderson who came to Hillsborough County in 1846.  W.B was founder of an early store with Captain John Miller, editor of the Florida Peninsular and developer of Tampa Heights, Tampa's first suburb.

  • Edward Austin Clarke came to Tampa in 1853, was married to a daughter of Dr. Franklin Branch, then married to a daughter of Judge Perry G. Wall. Clarke was first mayor of Tampa after the Civil War, a big investor in real estate and was the Clarke in "Clarke & Knight" hardware store until Perry Wall II turned 21 and took his place as "Knight & Wall".


  • August 1876 – August 14, 1877
  • August 14, 1878 – August 13, 1879
  • August 13, 1879 – August 14, 1880 ( President)
  • August 12, 1881 – August 14, 1882
  • August 14, 1882 – August 14, 1884
  • August 13, 1885 – July 15, 1887
  • July 15, 1887 – March 8, 1888
  • March 4, 1891 – March 4, 1892

The following bio on W. B. Henderson was sourced and combined from:

William Benton Henderson, 1891
Photo from Florida Memory, State Library & Archives of Florida

Born on September 17, 1839 in Jackson County, Georgia, William B. Henderson came to Tampa at the age of seven with his parents.   Alexander Hamilton Henderson and Flora Olivia McDonald arrived in Oct. 1846 with their four young boys: William Benton, John Alexander, James Fletcher, and Andrew Augustus; William was the oldest.  At the time, Tampa consisted of the Fort Brooke military post and a small trading station with a sparse population of civilian settlers on the north side of the post, most of whom were merchants supplying the fort personnel.  A couple of years after arriving, Alexander and wife Olivia had one more son: Wesley P. Henderson, in 1848.

W.B. didn't have the advantage of an early school training.  His father died in 1852, so being the eldest child of a large family, he assumed the responsibilities of self-support and of making his own way at the early age of twelve years, He took a job in Kennedy & Darling's general store to help support his mother and his four younger brothers.

On Feb. 9. 1860, when he turned 21, he married Caroline Elizabeth Spencer, a sister of Sheriff and newspaper editor Thomas K. Spencer.  Thomas and Caroline were children of Palma Ceia homesteader William Samuel Spencer.  W.B and Caroline then bought a small farm on the Alafia River and there W.B. opened a small general store.  He continued merchandising and farming until the outbreak of the. Civil War a year later.

1860 Census, Tampa

W.B. and his young wife, Elizabeth Spencer, with his two youngest brothers Augustus and Wesley.

During the Civil War, W.B. served first in Capt. (judge) James Gettis’ Company D of the 7th Florida Regiment.  He went with this company to Kentucky and saw service there for about a year, when he was discharged because he had become ill with tuberculosis. He returned to Tampa and when recovered, he immediately reapplied to the Sec. of War for reappointment, but the response was slow in coming so he enlisted in Capt. John T. Lesley's company in Tampa.  When Capt. Lesley was severely wounded, Henderson took command until the CSA surrendered.  W.B. named one of his sons "Gettis Augustus" in honor of Capt. James Gettis.

W.B. quickly developed unusual talents in business affairs and financial management. After the war, he engaged in the cattle trade and stock raising business for the next 10 years, by which he accumulated a handsome fortune.

1870 Census, Tampa

W.B., a stock raiser, wife Caroline E, son Gettis A. Henderson., daughter Blanche, daughter Cora,
cook Ema Harrison, and probably her three daughters Sarah (servant), Malica, and Julia.

It was a conspicuous peculiarity of W.B's businesses that although he was the real head and the responsible financial backer of most of them, his name never appeared in the chief place as the senior partner or head of the business.  

In the 1870s, bought an interest in Captain John Miller's steamboat and mercantile business, forming the partnership of Miller & Henderson, which became Tampa’s largest store. With Miller he also founded the Tampa Steamship Company. Together, the steamship and mercantile business dominated Tampa’s commercial contact with the outside world, conducting the largest wholesale and retail grocery business in the southern half of the state.  They also owned a number of steamships and sailing vessels that plied the Gulf waters, and in those days furnished almost the only means enjoyed by the people of Tampa and this section of the state of communication with the outside world.   W.B. was a diversified and dynamic promoter: he introduced Durham bulls into the Florida cattle industry; he built Tampa’s first telegraph line; he started the banana trade with Central America, started Tampa's first suburb and was one of the founders of Tampa's first hook & ladder company. 

This ad below was one column, top to bottom of the page.  The unused vertical space has been removed and the ad split into 3 columns.

This partnership with Capt. Miller had continued about ten years, when the Tampa Commercial Company was organized with Mr. Henderson as President and A. C. Wuerpel as general manager. The Taliaferros, Stocktons and D. G. Ambler, of Jacksonville were also stockholders in this company.


August C. Wuerpel
Circa 1883

August Wuerpel came to Tampa from New Orleans with his wife and four children in the early 1880s.  He and W.B. Henderson were prime movers in another* effort to start Tampa's first organized fire department which consisted of volunteers.  On June 2, 1884, sixteen local citizens formed Hook & Ladder Company No.1, a volunteer department with W. B. Henderson as foreman, Fred Herman, assistant foreman, and C. P. Wandell, treasurer. Other members were P. F. Smith, Dr. Duff Post, Ed Morris, J. C. Cole, E. L. Lesley, Phil Collins, S. P. Hayden, Frank Ghira, H. L. Knight, A. J. Knight, C. L . Ayres, S. B. Crosby and A. P . Brockway.  In 1885, August C. Wuerpel was appointed to be the department Chief.

Read more about A. C. Wuerpel and the start of Tampa's first fire company here at this TampaPix feature (in progress.)

Five or six years later, on the dissolution of the Tampa Commercial Co., W.B.  retired from active business and channeled his energies into financial investments and public service.  But he still retained interests in various enterprises and became identified with others: the Tampa Harness and Wagon Co., a partnership with Henry Clay Giddens of the  Henry Giddens Clothing Company, selling men’s apparel. With real estate investor William H. Beckwith, they founded Beckwith & Henderson, a real estate firm which later became Beckwith, Henderson and Warren. This active involvement brought him even greater influence,

*A similar effort was begun in 1869 by a committee, with officers of the company chosen, but that was about as far as it got.  See "Who Was Ansel Watrous?"

W.B. served as presidents of the: Bank of West Tampa, West Tampa Land and Improvement Company, Tampa Building and Loan Association, Tampa Publishing Company (consolidating two local papers into the Tampa Times), Tampa’s first Railway Company, for ten years W.B. was the president of the State Board of Health,.

Henderson's home on 7th Ave, in 1902          

When he built a large house, complete with observation turret, on the bluff at Tampa Heights, he was soon surrounded by so many business and family associates that the two block section of Seventh Avenue East resembled a Henderson corporate center which would heavily influence Tampa’s economic growth for many years.

Unlike many of Tampa’s identifiable sections, Tampa Heights was an area of many small subdivisions, established by original homesteaders or developers. Most of the early homes were constructed by individual contractors and while the area had its share of land speculators, the Heights was designed for Tampans with little newspaper promotion and attractions for Northern winter visitors. Perhaps the four block Tampa Heights subdivision, created in September of 1889, by William Benton Henderson, best reflected the growing prestige of Tampa Heights in the last decade of the nineteenth century. 

W.B. was as prominent in the social and political life of Tampa as in its financial affairs.  Though he might have easily attained prominent positions in the politics of the state, it was well known that he never sought political office nor accepted a salaried position at the hands of the public.  He always declined and devoted his activities in that line to local and county matters, and his efforts were always directed toward securing good government and an honest and fair administration of the Jaws.  The only state office that he ever held was that of member of the State Board of Health, as its first president.

For for several years W.B. was the Chairman of the County School Board, and numerous terms as  City Councilman. He was several times a member and chairman of the Board of County Commissioners of Hillsborough Co., in which position his financial ability was largely instrumental in promoting the prosperity and upbuilding the material fortunes of this section.  He served a total of eight terms on Tampa’s City Council

He was prominent in the church's affairs, being for many years a steward and liberal contributor to the finances of the First Methodist Church, of which he was a member and trustee. He was chairman of the building committee that supervised the construction of the present [1915] house of worship of that church.  He was a trustee of the church from the time of the commencement of his membership.  He loved his church and was interested in all the would make it succeed.  He not only gave of his wealth in capital, he gave it his thought, time and attention.

W.B took a prominent part in fraternal and other organizations.  He was a member of the Order of Odd Fellows, a Mason, and a Confederate Veteran.  He also belonged to the Tampa Yacht and Country Club.

W.B. was largely interested in the orange business for many years.  At one time he owned nine groves, totaling 85 acres in fruit-bearing trees.  He owned property all over South Florida.  In De Soto, Manatee and Hillsborough counties, he owned 8,000 head of cattle; he was undoubtedly the principal shipper of cattle to Cuba from Florida for many years.

W.B. was also one of the founders of Tampa’s Board of Trade in 1885, being a part of it for over 25 years, and through all those years, he was one of the most active and steadfast workers in promoting its interests.


W.B.  died on May 7, 1909 in Dwight, Illinois.  He had gone there to recover at  "a well known sanitarium" from what was described as "a nervous breakdown."

The relationship between him and the schools of the County and of Tampa were always very intimate to him, and as an appreciation of what he had done to promote education in the county, all the public schools were closed the day of his funeral, which was held on May 10, 1909 in Tampa.  It was one of the largest ever held in Tampa.  The Rev. W. J. Carpenter, Pastor of the First Methodist Church, conducted the service at the church building.

An extract taken from his eulogy:

     "History is made up of the acts and deeds of men and women.  The growth of the city, state or nation is the crystallized history of those who have been the leaders of its progress and the champions of its development.  Biography, expressed in the intellectual, commercial, social, and religious growth of a people makes the history of that period of that people.  Those, who in their public acts and in their progressive ideas reflect the growth and sentiments of their people, are the real makers of history.
     To attempt to eliminate the individual from the movements of civilization is to fail to truthfully record the real facts of history.  How true these observations are is most forcibly illustrated in the life and achievements of our friend and fellow citizen, W. B. Henderson.  No man can write the history of Tampa or of South Florida and leave his name out; and it is equally true that the biography of W. B. Henderson cannot be truthfully written without writing a large part of the history of the growth and development of Tampa and of South Florida."


From his obit:  "While never aspiring to the position of boss, it was recognized in the county for many years that two men could swing its sentiment for a candidate and that their approval was almost equal to election.  One was Col. Henderson, and Capt. John T. Lesley was the other."

Read his whole obit, it is long.  (When it opens, click it again to see it full size.)    





John G. Henderson, a native of Ireland, was the progenitor of the early Tampa Hendersons.  He came to this country when a young unmarried man with his father and brother who settled in South Carolina.  John G. settled in Franklin Co, GA where he purchased a homestead in 1807 and lived there for the remainder of his life.  By his first wife he had four children, by his second wife, Margaret Collins, he had five children.  Andrew Hamilton Henderson was their fourth child.

Andrew H. Henderson (1815-1852) was the founder of one of the most prominent and distinguished families in the history of Tampa and South Florida.  He came to Florida in 1846 from Georgia where he was born and settled in Hillsborough County where he lived the remainder of his life. 

1850 Census, Tampa
Andrew H. Henderson and wife Flora

Andrew H. Henderson's death in 1852 left Flora with five sons, ages 4 to 12.  W.B took a job at Kennedy & Darling's general store to help support his family. 

On Jun. 5, 1854, Flora married Simeon L. Sparkman, "a man whom the boys did not like, so Tampa pioneer lawyer James Gettis took the three younger sons, John, James, and Wesley, and raised them."**

As Gettis was a lifelong bachelor, the Hendersons were as close to family as he ever had during his years in Florida."**

**VanLandingham, Kyle S. (2018) "James Gettis: Tampa Pioneer Lawyer," Sunland Tribune: Vol. 23 , Article 6.

Marriage record and certification of Simeon L. Sparkman and Flora O. Henderson.  Click either one to see larger.

From WikiTree
Simeon Lewis Sparkman was a planter and a slave owner, a son of Stephen Lewis Sparkman and Elsa Ann Keightly Sparkman who both hailed from Bertie County, North Carolina. His first marriage (abt 1842) was to Laura Ann Collins, the daughter of Charles H. and Ann Mary Robarts Collins. Simeon and Laura had the following children, all born in South Carolina: Mary Ann Sparkman b. 10/15/1842; Harriet Elizabeth Sparkman b. 08/10/1844; Lavenia A. Sparkman b. Jun 1847; Stephen Charles Sparkman b. abt. 1850.

Simeon then married Flora Olivia (McDonald) Henderson in 1854.  Flora died in 1856. It is unknown where Flora is buried.

Simeon's 3rd wife was Elizabeth McCollum b.22 Sep 1836 d. 16 Oct 1906. Simeon and Elizabeth had three children, who were all born near Ft. White, Columbia, Florida : William Oscar Sparkman b. 07/22/1864; Minnie Florence Sparkman b. 01/07/1865;Robert Lee Sparkman b. abt 1870. Captain Simeon Lewis Sparkman was in charge of the Company of Florida Mounted Volunteers during one of the many Seminole Indian Wars. The company was mustered out in Feb. 17, 1857 at Ft. Brooke, Florida. In the muster rolls, Captain Sparkman was described as having a dark complexion, blue eyes, black hair and standing 5'8" in height. His brother, Elijah B. Sparkman was Simeon's 1st Lt.



  1. William Benton Henderson, born in Jackson Co., GA on Sep. 17, 1839, he died in 1909 Dwight, IL of pneumonia where he had gone to recover from a different illness.  

    W.B. married on Feb. 8, 1860 to Caroline Elizabeth Spencer, a sister of Sheriff and proprietor of the Peninsular, T.K. Spencer.  Caroline was born Jul. 3, 1843 and died Dec. 14, 1906.  They had 6 children that attained maturity:

  1. Gettis Augustus Henderson- born at Alafia on Aug. 6, 1861  He married twice, first to Hattie Stallings of Covington, GA, and after her death to her niece, Cassie Evans of the same place. 
    By his first wife he had:  Parks, who died at age 13, Otto Lee, Cora, John A., William B. Fannie Mae, and Emily.
    By his 2nd wife, they had two children:  Walter H. and Gettis A. Jr.

  2. Blanche Henderson, born at Alafia on Aug 22, 1867.  She married Dr. Leslie W. Weedon.  Thay had 3 children:
    Fred R., Weedon, Harry Lee Weedon, and Mary B. Weedon

  3. Cora Henderson, born in Tampa Feb. 21, 1870.  She married George Clarence Warren.  They had 2 children:
    William Henderson Warren, born in Atlanta, GA, and James Whitfield Warren, born in Tampa

  4. Nellie May, born in Tampa on May 9, 1877, died age 30, on Oct. 17, 1907, unmarried.

  5. John William Henderson, born in Tampa, Oct 5, 1879, unmarried [at time of this writing, 1915].

  6. Mattie Ward Henderson, born in Tampa on Jul. 4, 1884, married Amos Love Harris.  They had 3 children:  Robert H. Harris, Caroline Harris, William Henderson Harris, all born in Tampa.  Photo of Mattie Ward Henderson Harris from State of Florida Archives, Memory collection


1860 Census, Tampa
William B. Henderson & wife Elizabeth Spencer

W.B. & Elizabeth had no children yet, but W.B.'s two youngest brothers, Augustus and Wesley, were living with them at this time.


  1. John A. Henderson
    Photo courtesy of State Archives of Florida.

    John Alexander Henderson, (1841-1904) Second son of Andrew H. Henderson and Olivia McDonald Henderson.  Unofficial Mayor of Tampa during non-city charter years, July 6, 1870 – August 11, 1873 (unverified.)
         In 1856, attorney Henry Laurens Mitchell joined Judge James Gettis in the practice of law in Tampa, to found the firm of Gettis & Mitchell.  Later, a young John Alexander Henderson joined the law office of Judge James Gettis, a prominent local lawyer who afterwards was judge of the Circuit Court in Tampa's district. 

         With the outbreak of the Civil War, Henderson enlisted in the Confederate Army and was commissioned as a lieutenant . He served four years in the army and was mustered out in May 1865.
         After the City’s Charter had been revoked on October 4, 1869, Tampa residents became the responsibility of Hillsborough County. While the county took over some of the city’s services, it became obvious that Tampa needed some form of municipal government to administer and monitor these services.
         In response, the city held a municipal election on July 6, 1870, in which John Henderson was elected Mayor. While the state and the county did not legally recognize Henderson, he maintained a semblance of local government to administer county services.
    John A. attained distinction at the bar and in political life during the troublesome times of Reconstruction after the Civil War.  He took an active and conspicuous role in the effort to throw out the carpetbag and scalawag rule, his efforts attaining complete success in 1876.
         John made his home in Tallahassee and devoted himself entirely to the practice of law, becoming one of the foremost members of the Florida bar. At the time of his death he had been recognized as perhaps the leading corporation lawyer in Florida, representing several principal railroads and other large concerns.  He was in the prime of his life when he passed away, and if had he lived longer would have undoubtedly reached greater heights of fame and fortune.
    John married first to Mary Turman (1842-1864) of Tampa. She was a daughter of Simon Turman, Sr.** and Abijah Cushman.  John & Mary had one child.

    **Simon Turman, Sr. was a county probate judge and president of Hillsborough County's first Board of County Commissioners in 1846. His son, S. Turman, Jr. was the publisher of the Tampa newspaper "The Florida Peninsular" beginning in 1856.

  1. Flora Abijah Henderson.  (1863-1939) She married George Waldo of NYC and moved north, then to California.

John married next to Mattie Ward of Tallahassee, she was a daughter of Col. George T. Ward, commander of the 2nd Florida regiment.  They had 3 children

  1. John W. Henderson, (1873-1925) a prominent lawyer at Tallahassee.  He married Sadie Lewis

  2. Mary Henderson (1875-1882)

  3. Jennie Henderson, (1877-1921) married Prof. A. A. Murphree, pres. of the Fla. State University.  They had 4 children:  Alberta Murphree, Martha Murphree, John W. Murphree, and Albert Murphree.

  1. James Fletcher Henderson (1843-1873) Third child of Andrew H. Henderson & Olivia McDonald Henderson.
    He also became a lawyer, who in the opinion of his peers was one of the brightest and brainiest of the local bar.  He died in the years of his prime, unmarried.

Their ads didn't change much over the years, except for the font styles. 
The lack of Tampa newspaper images for 1872-1876 prevent us from locating J.F.'s obituary in 1873.

  1. Andrew Augustus Henderson (b. 1845-46) He died in the Civil War, Rank: Musician Military, Florida Military Unit: 7th Regiment, Florida Infantry.

  2. Wesley P. Henderson (1848-1887) Fifth child of Andrew H. Henderson and Olivia McDonald Henderson.
    He was the first superintendent of public instruction for Hillsborough Co. after the Reconstruction period.  He did much to bring into successful operation the new system of public schools that has since achieved such a conspicuous success in Hillsborough County.  He married Mary Parrish of Manatee Co.  They had no children. 

Catalog of Officers & Alumni of Washington & Lee University, Lexington, Va.

W. P. attended Washington & Lee University in 1868-69, perhaps for a business degree.


1870 Census, Tampa
John A. Henderson and brothers

In 1870 W.P. lived with his brothers John and James.  He was listed as a student for his occupation.

US Treasury Register of persons employed by the UST 1875

In May of 1875 W.P. was working as an inspector for the US Treasury dept.  He was paid $3 per day for days he worked.




1880 Census, Tampa

W.P. was showing signs of consumption.  The last column shows "Threatened" and "with consumption" above it.

The Florida State gazetteer and business Directories FOR 1884-85, 1886-87
From Internet Archive




G. A. Henderson was Gettis Augustus Henderson, b. Aug 1861, , a son of Wm. B. Henderson.  T. K. Spencer also owned and published the Tampa Tribune

From The Weekly Floridian (Tallahassee)




Obit - TAMPA JOURNAL, July 21, 1887

Died, at his residence on Nebraska Avenue on Monday night, July 18th, 1887, Wesley P. Henderson, aged 36 years, 6 months and 3 days.

Mr Henderson died of consumption of which he has been suffering for several years.  He was a man of strong will, power and bravely fought the fatal malady but at last had to yield to its satiate power. He was a native of Tampa, a gentleman who possessed the highest sense of honor and whose life has been one of rectitude and Christian character.  For several years he was County Superintendent, and has filled other positions of trust and honor.  Mr. Henderson was a gentleman of high standing in this community and his death is deeply mourned.  The bereaved family and relations have the deserved sympathy of a host of friends in their sad affliction.  The funeral was attended by a large concourse of friends and prominent citizens of the city.








History of Florida: Past and Present, Historical and Biographical, Volume 1 By Harry Gardner Cutler 

Genealogical Records of Tampa Pioneers:

This is a breakout page from:
which is the introduction page to:

TampaPix HOME