Wall Family Moves to Tampa
Thomas P. Kennedy, a Philadelphia native, arrived in 1840 at Fort
Brooke where he gained business acumen as a settler during the
Second Seminole War. The firm of Kennedy & Darling, with its store
and warehouse on the corner of Whiting and Tampa streets, soon
emerged as the financial backbone, not only of Tampa, but the entire
southwest area of the state. The leader of the Hillsborough
County Know-Nothings was John Darling of Tampa. Born in New
Hampshire on August 16, 1808, he, while serving in the U. S. Army, had
come to Fort Brooke and served there and at other posts during the
Second Seminole War (1835-42) as an ordnance sergeant. Discharged,
he settled in Tampa were in 1848 he became Kennedy's business
Like much of the
South, Florida was devastated by the Civil War. Soaring inflation
destroyed its economy, and conscription laws had impoverished the
countryside. Matters were no different for Hernando County. Within a few
years of the war’s end, many of Hernando County's wealthier and leading
citizens had abandoned the county for more amenable locations. By 1860, Judge Wall
had become an extremely wealthy man. By 1870, he was the Treasurer of Hernando County and his son, William Washington Wall
was President of the Board of County Commissioners.
Amid charges of impropriety,
Judge Wall— a planter, former county judge, and local
Freedmen’s Bureau agent—moved with his sons William, Joseph, and John to
Hillsborough County, joining his sons-in-law Edward A. Clarke and
Christopher L. Friebele. In 1868 he purchased the old Thomas P. Kennedy
place in downtown Tampa on Washington Street, between Water and Tampa, although he did not move to Tampa until 1870.
Appointment as Hillsborough County Judge
Florida's 9th Governor
On January 13, 1870,
Democratic State Sen. John A. Henderson and Democratic State Rep. Charles
Moore of Hillsborough recommended to Gov. Harrison Reed the appointment of "Perry
G. Wall, Esq. of Tampa, as a suitable person for the office of County
Judge of Hillsborough County." Wall was confirmed by the Senate on
January 26 and took office on March 13. The Tampa Florida
Peninsular reacted warmly to Wall's appointment:
"Gov. Reed has
appointed the Hon. Perry G. Wall, Judge of the County Court for
Hillsborough County. This is an excellent appointment and it will, we feel
assured, give universal satisfaction. Judge Wall has filled with
fidelity many important offices in this State, and whilst he presides as
Judge of the County Court he will do so intelligently, impartially and
The local Republican
County Committee, chaired by Judge James T Magbee, was not pleased with
the appointment of Wall. Magbee in early 1870 had been impeached by the
House, was awaiting trial and was thus temporarily out of office. He
retained influence, but was opposed by other Tampa Republican leaders.
Magbee's committee asserted that Wall did not reside in the county and
wanted E J. Gould named to the post of county judge. Despite his loyalty
to Reed, Magbee's wishes were not honored. Magbee had reason to dislike
the Wall family. One of the impeachment charges against him involved his
alleged improper purchase and use of goods and supplies obtained from the
firm of Ederington and Wall in Brooksville.
As county judge, Judge
Wall also served as ex officio probate judge and also as a justice of the
peace. He and his son, Dr. John Wall, had their initiation into the
printing business when Republican C. R. Mobley acquired the Florida
Peninsular in late 1871. Mobley turned it into a Republican newspaper and
hired William P Neeld who in turn retained the Judge and Doctor as
editors. Publication continued only a few months until the paper went bust
in the spring of 1872.
Sets Up Shop In Tampa
came to Tampa in 1870 and engaged in the mercantile business here, his
store standing on the northwest corner of Washington and Marion Streets.
In those days, Washington Street
was the principal business thoroughfare of the embryo city.
This 1884 map shows the location of Billy Wall's mercantile business outlined in red.
Around 1888, Monroe St. was renamed Florida Avenue. On the south side of Washington St.,
outlined in green, is the building that housed H.C. Ferris & Co. Gent's
Furnishings and W.A. Givens drugstore seen below. At the northwest
corner of Franklin and Washington, outlined in blue, is the location
where Judge Wall's son-in-law, Christopher L. Friebele, set up his
general store in the 1850s.
more about Christopher L. Friebele.
after establishing himself in Tampa, Billy Wall gained a leading position by his
integrity, farsightedness and intelligent enterprise. As a man he
was universally respected and admired for his many sterling qualities of
heart and head. As a citizen he was patriotic in the true sense of the
word; knowing the right, he dared maintain it, singly and alone if needs
must be. As a man of business, his integrity was proverbial throughout
South Florida. He was a man of broad and liberal views, and readily
entered into himself, or supported others in carrying out, such
enterprises as were likely to benefit the state. He was
universally respected for his fair dealing and honesty of his methods.
All over the territory tributary to Tampa, the name of "Billy Wall" was
accepted as the synonym of honest goods and straight methods of dealing.
Billy's store was a
practical school for the graduation of young merchants, who afterwards
assumed chief positions in the business life of Tampa. Among them was James
Lipscomb, who for years was his trusted chief clerk, but died too early
for his complete success. Also, there were Billy's two sons, Perry
G. Wall and James Edgar Wall.
Billy Wall Dies Young
Billy Wall passed
away in his prime on April 23, 1878, too soon to see for himself the
realization of the visions of prosperity and commercial greatness of his
home city. His death, though not sudden and unexpected, was felt
throughout the community as a serious loss, as his cooperation with
Messrs. Miller & Henderson in supplying Florida's west coast with the
facilities of transportation in the way of steamships, was only the
beginning of a series of enterprises on the part of the two firms which
would have soon advanced Tampa's rapid progress and development. His death
was felt as a serious calamity by the entire public. (Sunland
Tribune, April 27, 1878)
The 1880 Census shows Mary Wall
(widow of Wm. Washington Wall) and her children Perry G., Mary Ellen,
(James) Edgar, and Willie (daughter). Also in their home was Sarah
Eubanks, mother of the late Pressie Eubanks Wall (wife of Dr. John Wall)
and two servants. It is not known why Mary's youngest child, Helen
May Wall, was not listed here. She would have been around 4 years
Florida's 1885 state census shows
widowed Mary "Minnie" Wall age 46, with her children, son-in-law, and
mother Sarah Eubanks in her home. Lillie Wall has married Henry
Laurens Knight whose occupation is Hardware Merchant.
The Establishment of Knight & Wall
In 1884, Billy's
mercantile business was resurrected. Henry Laurens Knight, a son-in-law of
William W. Wall, formed the
Knight & Wall Company with Billy's young son, Perry, who was only 17 at the time.
uncle and financial guardian, Edward A. Clarke
(a former mayor of
Tampa) authorized all the necessary legal documents
and from the resources of the estate he financed Perry as a partner
in the business. The firm was
originally known as Clarke and Knight but the business name was
changed to Knight and Wall in 1888 when Perry turned 21.
The images below
are advertisements that appeared in an
1885 Hillsborough County pamphlet. It shows the
predecessor to Knight and Wall during the time Edward Clarke had
At right is an enlargement of the
area marked in red on the map at at upper left. It has been
rotated 90 deg. for easier reading. Notice the prominence of
paint products storage areas. In the nearly 80 years of Knight &
Wall's existence, paint was always a major product for them.
None of the other three hardware retailers had their own brand of
paint like Knight & Wall. On this map, yellow represents
wooden structures, green was "special." The "2" in each corner
indicates a 2-story building.
The above map shows the
intersection of Washington and Marion Streets in 1889. The
tracks on the streets are for the Tampa Steam Railway, the
predecessor to the streetcar system. The area in the red
rectangle shows the location of Knight & Wall. See this area
enlarged above right.
Browse this map online and see the whole area.
Edward A. Clarke
1827 at Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, New York, Edward A. Clarke moved to Tampa in
1853 where he opened a general store, called "Blue Store" on the
southwest corner of Marion and Washington Streets. In 1855, Edward Clarke
married Helen Branch, the daughter of Dr. Franklin Branch and the
sister of Dr. Austin Branch, who served as Tampa's second and fourth
mayor. Two years later their infant daughter succumbed to yellow
fever. The following year his wife, Helen Mary, also was a victim of
the disease. Clarke then married Sarah L. Wall on May
daughter of Judge Perry Green Wall and Nancy Hunter Wall. They
had a daughter named Flossie. Flossie married Andrew Jackson
Knight. (See Knight family below.)
Mayor Edward A. Clark
City of Tampa Previous Mayors
L. Wall Clarke
Burgert Bros. Collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County
(This photo is unidentified at the above source, compare to
photo of Mrs. Edward A. Clark on p. 15
In 1860, Clarke
was one of seven men who ventured forth on a voyage of discovery and
adventure down the Peace River, known as the "Peas Creek Expedition.
Their expedition, the record of which was preserved in a published
journal, revealed just how much the river area remained a rugged and
exotic frontier. The journal, published in the Florida Peninsular
from June 9 to August 18, 1860, allows us to share the excitement of
their discoveries, the discomforts of their travails and the
immediacy of their adventures. It is a remarkable document and
provides a rare contemporary glimpse of that frontier period.
The most significant Union
blockade supply vessel in South Florida undoubtedly was the
wooden side-wheeler Honduras. Built in New York, the Honduras
first saw sea duty in 1861 from Key West to Charlotte Harbor.
Later, the side-wheeler participated in the May 1864 raid on
Tampa Bay. Again, the steamer served as a troop and supply
outbreak of the Civil War, Clarke served as a Confederate States
Deputy Marshal and later as a private in the Confederate Army. He
became a blockade runner, as did other sons-in-law of Judge Wall
(Christopher Friebele and Maj. Aaron T. Frierson, bringing in food, medicine and other
supplies to cities and towns that were guarded by Union ships. He
was captured by Union troops and sent to Ship's Island prison, off
the coast of Mississippi. As supplies were low, it is said that he
survived by eating rats. He suffered for many years after the war
from starvation related ailments.
eventually received a Presidential Pardon and returned by foot to
Tampa in May 1865. He was appalled by the state of the town. The
Union bombardments and decay of the town from neglect and the
departure of most of its citizens made him wonder if Tampa could be
revitalized. Including the settlers that lived outside of town,
Tampa's population was less than 150 residents.
were held on October 25, 1866 in which Edward Clarke was elected
mayor. Despite the return of many former residents and new settlers,
the conditions in Tampa were so dismal that many residents thought
the town would soon be abandoned and, thus, end Tampa's existence.
One of the
first ordinances passed by the mayor and town council was intended
to control numerous riots that were breaking out over the town,
disturbing the peace, and drunk and disorderly conduct. The Town
Council, faced with an empty treasury, quickly filled its coffers by
levying fees on liquor stores, billiards halls, theatres, ferries,
wharfs, drays and dog owners.
After his term
as mayor, Edward Clarke devoted his time and energy investing in
Tampa real estate in and on the outskirts of town in the late 1860s
and 1870s. In 1871, the Thomas Jackson family sold eight acres
of their homestead to Bartholomew C. Leonardi, a Reconstruction-era
Republican. Leonardi re-sold this property as home sites for African
Americans. The development included new streets, one of which
Leonardi named in honor of Judge Perry Green Wall as "Wall Street."
Soon, however, Wall Street became Fortune Street, since the road led
to Madam Fortune Taylor’s homestead on the river. In 1872,
Clarke bought some of Fortune Taylor's land along the Hillsborough
river land for $252. Clarke portioned the former Taylor land
into house lots, Clarke’s Subdivision.
The 1852 survey above has been marked with Fortune Taylor's
homestead in green, and Thomas Jackson's homestead
in orange. The north half of Lot 4, (red
outline) on the north side of Fortune Taylor's land,
was homesteaded to
Constance Bourquardez in Feb. of 1877. Fort
Brooke is outlined in brown.
Mouse over the map to see this area today.
Clarke persuaded his nephew to move to the wild frontier Tampa.
In 1911 the nephew's son, James Clarke, launched Peninsular Paper.
Today, James Clarke's grandson, Dick Clarke, 83, is chairman of the
family business, which is run by his son Richard Jr., the
58-year-old chief executive. A fourth generation, Ricky Clarke, 31,
is vice president of sales.
1880 Census of Tampa shows Edward Clark age 48 with wife Sara L.
(Wall) Clarke age 40. Ed's occupation was "merchant."
Also in their home was daughter Flossie W. Knight and her husband A.
J. Knight. A.J. was a lawyer. Listed last was Ed
Clarke's nephew, James A. Clarke.
was also part owner of the Tampa Streetcar Co. As Tampa began to
recover from its social and economic chaos, his properties became
quite valuable and he was able to retire a wealthy man. He also
served as a
Master Mason of the Hillsborough Lodge
in 1868, 1872, 1874 and 1884.
Edward Clarke passed away in Tampa in November 1886.
Read more about Edward A. Clarke and his descendants at "The
Edward A. Clarke Family."
Read about Tampa's dismal years here at Tampapix
Perry Green Wall, II
Perry Green Wall
was the 2nd child of Wm. Washington Wall and Mary Ellen May.
Born on Nov. 22, 1867, he was named for his grandfather, hence, he
is Perry G. Wall, II and not junior.
Perry grew to
impress his individuality upon the political, social and business
life of Tampa, taking a prominent part in the management of the vast
and increasing business interests involved in the operations of
Knight & Wall.
He took an active part in local and statewide
politics and achieved wide fame as a speaker on social and political
occasions. He also was always in the forefront of all movements
toward the promotion and growth of the city of Tampa. From the
inception of Tampa's Board of Trade, he took a prominent position in
its activities and by 1915 was one of the members whose advice was
In addition to
his business activities, Wall became active in civic and political
affairs. In 1890 and 1894 he was elected to the city council and
served as a member of the Hillsborough County School Board from
1892, Perry married Martha "Mattie" B. Houstoun, one of two
daughters of Patrick and Martha Houstoun of Tallahassee.
Mattie Houstoun (Wall)
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,
Wall driving her mother, Martha Houstoun and sister, Claudia
Houstoun, on a Tallahassee street, circa 1910.
State Archives of Florida, Florida
Mattie's son, Patrick Houstoun Wall, was born Oct. 1893. Their
daughter Martha was born in 1910. The Walls lived at 258 Plant
Avenue in Hyde Park at this time.
In 1916, Wall
ran unsuccessfully for the office of U.S. Senator, losing to former
Park Trammel. Wall also served as Chairman of the Congressional and County
U.S. Senator Park Trammell
Perry G. Wall Elected Tampa's 41st Mayor
1924, Wall was elected to a four-year term as Mayor-Commissioner of
Tampa. During his term of office, January 8, 1924 to January 3,
1928, Tampa experienced an unprecedented
real estate boom which resulted in the widespread construction of
residential homes, stores and office buildings. The infrastructure
and treasury of the City's government also expanded in response to
the rapid growth in real estate and construction.
Mayor Perry G.
Wall's home at 258 Plant Avenue, Feb. 1924
Today, this is
just south of the Selmon (Crosstown) Expressway, between Cardy St.
and Platt St.
Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County
This 1915 map at
left shows the location of Mayor Perry G. Wall's home at the
northeast corner of Platt St. and Plant Avenue. Today, this
is a parking lot and the Crosstown Expressway runs across the top
of the map just above Cardy St.
In 1924, the
Tampa Welfare League was established with C. C. Nott as its first
president. The original organization included 16 agencies: Boy
Scouts, Children’s Home, Girl Scouts, Humane Society, Milk Fund, Old
People’s Home, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Seaman’s Institute, Tampa
Urban League, Traveler’s Aid Society, United Charities, WCTU Day
Nursery, YMCA, YMHA, and YWCA. The goal for the first year’s
fundraising campaign, known as the Community Chest, was $179,011.37.
Mayor Perry G. Wall was the first General Campaign Chairman, and the
slogan for the first drive was "Suppose Nobody Cared." Over
the years, the name Tampa Welfare League was dropped and the
organization was simply known as the Community Chest. In 1956,
the Community Chest became the United Fund, and in 1976 the United
Fund became The United Way of Greater Tampa.
Blanche Armwood, first Executive Secretary of the Tampa Urban League.
G. Wall issued this engraved pass to President Calvin Coolidge in
1924. "This Pass
entitles the Bearer to the freedom of the City."
Burgert Bros. collection Tampa-Hillsborough County Public
is found that Coolidge ever took advantage of Mayor Wall's offer,
although he did stay at the Vinoy Hotel in St. Pete in the late
Mayor Perry G.
Wall at a Tampa race track with Miss Scott.
March 19, 1926
May 14, 1926
Perry G. Wall and realtor H. E. Opre enjoying some leisure time at
a ball game--possibly a football game at Phillips Field.
Mayor Wall has an issue of "La Gaceta" newspaper on his lap.
La Gaceta was
founded in 1922 by Victoriano Manteiga, a former lector in the
cigar factories of West Tampa and Ybor City, to serve the needs of
the immigrant population of Tampa. Published in English, Spanish,
and Italian, it is the only trilingual newspaper in the United
Later, Victor's son Roland Manteiga took over as editor and
publisher. Roland was very well connected, and his column "As We
Heard It", became the local mid-20th century version of today's
political blogs, often breaking stories and predicting events
before the area's "major" newspapers.
Today, La Gaceta is still
published weekly under the direction of Roland's son (and
Victoriano's grandson) Patrick Manteiga, who has assumed
authorship of the "As We Heard It" column. Additional editors are
Manuela Ball (Spanish Section) and Giuseppe Maniscalco (Italian
Visit La Gaceta's website at
Administration facilitated the establishment of Temple Terrace,
originally the site of a 1,500 acre orange grove. Sub-divided in
1924 as a residential area, it resulted in a large growth in Tampa's
population and tax base.
The gates to Temple Terrace
Burgert Bros. collection Tampa-Hillsborough County Public
One year later,
Davis Islands was also developed into a residential area out of mud
flats at the mouth of the Hillsborough River. The project of David
Davis, Davis Island was an important tax asset to the city. In 1927,
it also became the home of the Tampa Municipal Hospital, seen here
under construction. It was later renamed Tampa General.
Burgert Bros. collection Tampa-Hillsborough County Public
See Davis Islands at
Aug 4, 1926 news article "Huge Dredging Jobs to Start"
April 1, 1926,
Perry G. Wall receives from a Florida Airways pilot, the first bag
of airmail to arrive in Tampa. To the left of Mayor Wall is
Postmistress Elizabeth Barnard.
State Archives of Florida,
Perry G. Wall (far right) and Postmaster Elizabeth Barnard
with Florida Airways dignitaries on the occasion of the first air
mail flights to land at Tampa.
Elizabeth Barnard, postmaster
1923-1933, was the first Tampa woman holding a position of such
magnitude. Mrs. Barnard took part in ceremonies when the first
airmail flights came to Tampa.
She was succeeded as
Postmaster by Mayor Wall's brother, James Edgar Wall, on July 31,
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,
about Drew Field and the history of Tampa's first international
airport, here at Tampapix.
Most Raucous. Roaring Decade; The 1920s" by Hampton Dunn
This 1930 photo shows the new
6-story building built for Knight & Wall's mill supplies, at right
side of photo. At the left can be seen the water tank that
marked the location of the store at Lafayette and Tampa Streets.
The design on the tank no longer shows "K & W" and now shows Knight
& Wall's "Seminole" logo.
Burgert Bros. collection Tampa-Hillsborough County Public
index for Tampa in 1915 shows Wall St. was part of 21st Avenue near
Read about the 1921 Tarpon Springs Hurricane here at Tampapix
completed his mayoral term, he served as State Chairman of the Government
Committee on Taxation and Finance from 1930 to 1932 when he was
appointed Tampa Harbormaster. Wall served in this position until
1936. Throughout his career, Perry G. Wall
was a most sought after speaker. Perry Wall died in Tampa on January 25, 1944.
Knight & Wall decorated for
its 50th anniversary, Feb 1934
Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County
This 1937 elevated view
shows the Seminole logo on the water tank and the 6-story mill
supplies building on the left.
Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County
Wall Newspaper Articles
Wood and Wall Here Tonight - Candidates for Senate - May
Tampa Mayor Will Speak to Ad Club (preceding the opening
of the Gandy Bridge) - Nov 10, 1924
Wall To Speak At Rally Here Tonight - Nov 2, 1932
Citrus Growers Need Protection, Wall Favors Citrus Tax -
Apr 14, 1916
Tampa May Build Air Field Near Oldsmar - Jul 25, 1925
Wall To Speak At Inter-City Merchant Meeting - Jun 9, 1933
Perry G. Wall To Speak Here - May 16, 1916
Protest Against Tampa Bull
Fight Dec 31, 1925
Meridan Daily Journal
Sarasota Herald Tribune
Palm Beach Post
Wall Advocates Tax Commission - Aug 3, 1933
Trammel In Lead For Senator - Jun 5, 1916
Wall To Run For 2nd Mayoral Term - Jul 6, 1926
Wall To Speak Before Civitans - Aug 8, 1933
Trammel a Winner For Senator - Jun 7, 1916
Chicago Mayor Asks Tampa Mayor For Help - Oct 29, 1927
Wall Asks For Support of National Recovery Act - Aug 31,
Let Uncle Sam Pay the Damage - Jun 30, 1916
Wall Addresses Citrus Growers - Jun 12, 1928
Wall Will Speak Here On Homestead Tax Law - Aug 30, 1934
Friendly Words From Tampa - Jan 5, 1917
Completes Final Report - Mar 5, 1931
650 Hardware Dealers Open Session Here - Apr 8, 1935
Tampa Merchants Want Same Old Time Schedule - Mar 25, 1919
(Article is to left of link destination.)
Wall Proposes Florida Form Tax Commission
St. Petersburg Times - Jan 15, 1931
Perry G. Wall Tampa Speaker At Realty Meet - Mar 2, 1936
Florida's Next Governor? - Sep 30, 1922
Perry Wall Flays Opponents In Legislature Of New Tax.. -
Jul 30, 1931
Senate Votes To Pay Perry G. Wall $3,986 For Expenses -
May 3, 1941
Auto Tourists To Use Park in Tampa - Judge Robles Denies
Injunction - Oct 24, 1923
Wall Demands Democrats End State Muddle - Oct 14, 1931
Service card of Patrick Houstoun Wall
Patrick married Mary Charner and
in 1919, they had a daughter Mary P. Wall. Soon thereafter,
Patrick worked with his father as a hardware merchant at Knight &
Wall and became a director of the company. He was also a
nautical pilot and participated in boat racing.
Perry and Mattie's
son, Patrick Houstoun Wall, received an appointment to the Naval
Academy at Annapolis but turned it down because he "did not wish an
education at the expense of the government." In 1917, due to
his experience in maintaining a private radio station in Tampa for
years, he was recommended by Tampa's Board of Trade to a position
needed at the Key West Naval Station as wireless operator, Chief
Jan 17, 1955 -
Sarasota Herald Tribune
Perry and Mattie's
daughter, Martha Branch Wall, worked as a secretary at Knight & Wall
and around 1936 married Navy man John Robert Harkness. They
had son John R. Harkness, Jr. around 1938.
James Edgar Wall
Edgar Wall 1918 passport application photo
James Edgar Wall was born March 10, 1872
in Tampa, the fourth child of William Washington Wall and Mary Ellen
"Minnie" May. By 1894, Edgar moved to Plano, Texas where he
made a living as a farmer and married Texas native Florrie Bowman in
1894. Their children William Jackson, Minnie May, and James
Edgar Wall, Jr. were born in Plano from 1896 to 1906. Their
son, William Jackson Wall died in 1901 and the family moved to Tampa
where Edgar joined his brother Perry in the hardware business.
From 1917 to 1920, Edgar applied for passports to travel to Cuba
three times on business. Machin & Wall was a company in Havana
for which Wall was a director. He took his children with him
to Cuba in the summer of 1920.
She married salesman John Clarke Evans around 1929 and had
children Jack Wall Evans and Anne Evans.
Wall, Jr. 1920 - He graduated from Hillsborough High School in
1923 & later attended Emory University where he was a member
of Kappa Alpha fraternity. He also was a University of Tampa
fellow and later joined his father at Knight & Wall as a
hardware salesman. He married Georgia and had children
Erskine Wall and J. Edgar Wall III.
XXIII King James Edgar Wall, Jr., Queen Phyllis Turner Warren,
and pages, Feb. 1931
In 1935, Edgar lived at 2824 Central
Avenue with his wife, son, daughter and her husband and children,
and a niece.
2824 Central Ave. today. This is
the neighborhood known
as Robles Park, originally land owned by Tampa pioneer
James Edgar Wall was an active member
and steward of the First Methodist Church for many years. By 1930,
he was the president of Knight & Wall. He served as acting
postmaster in Tampa, being inducted to the office on July 31,1933,
replacing Elizabeth Barnard. Wall was then appointed by the President in the Spring of 1934 and continued to
serve until 1948. In 1936, Edgar Wall was the
first Vice President of the Florida State Fair Association.
National Airlines stewardess Lillian O'Connor selling a
defense stamp to Postmaster J. Edgar Wall, 1942
National Airlines decided to sell defense stamps to passengers on
board their planes because "patriotic Americans lacked the time to
buy them on the ground." Their slogan was, "Buy while you
fly." While serving as Postmaster, Edgar Wall became the first
airline passenger to buy a defense stamp while aloft.
Edgar Wall was a trustee of Southern
College, Sutherland, Florida, elected to membership on Southern's
board of trustees December 9, 1914. Mr. Wall had been a member
of the board a short time when he was elected vice-chairman of the
group at the meeting held at Sutherland, May 21, 1915.
Manifesting with distinction and credit a warm interest in
Southern's welfare, by 1930 he was chairman of the trustees.
He always modestly expressed a willingness to step aside in favor of
some more capable member, but was always re-elected by
unanimous vote. He was never been without the full confidence and
respect of his fellow-trustees. His common sense and business
judgment helped the college through perplexing times, and his
rollicking humor relieved tension among the trustees on more than
one occasion. It was said of Edgar that he could always be found on
the side of every moral, religious and social that made for
righteousness in the individual and community. His position
was never doubtful and could always be placed, never hiding under
subterfuge nor cloaking his attitude behind the consideration of
Celebration of Founders Day at
Florida Southern College, 1934
L to R: R.A. Gray, J.
Edgar Wall, former Gov. Doyle E. Carlton, Ludd M. Spivey, Peter
Tomasello, John S. Taylor, Roger Babson, Bishop John M. Moore,
Harrison E. Howe.
In his office as postmaster Wall had a
stuffed American Eagle which had died in Alaska in 1911. In
the late 1940s, upon retiring from his postmaster position, he donated it
to Florida Southern College. It was from this huge, mounted
Bald Eagle that artists reproduced the images used on American
coins, currency, bonds and official documents in the 1950s.
Knight & Wall, 1942
Wall mill supplies building, 1946
Knight & Wall delivery truck,
circa early 1940s
The Tampa Chamber
of Commerce ruffled some Knight & Wall feathers in 1945
Knight & Wall
provided the bleachers along the river for spectators at the
Gasparilla celebrations, seen here in the 1940s.
Gasparilla spectators gathered along the Hillsborough River on
Knight & Wall bleachers, 1949.
Notice the water tank showing Knight & Wall's Seminole brand logo.
Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public
point between 1949 and 1953, the water tank was remodeled to
look like an Early Times bourbon bottle. Notice the Bay
View Hotel behind the water tank.
of the water tank from the Lafayette Street Bridge, 1946 and
Knight & Wall building in 1953
Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County
In 1951, Joseph Licata
opened Licata's Steakhouse at Jackson and Tampa streets, in
the Knight & Wall building. It was one of Tampa's first
upscale restaurants, made famous for serving steaks on a
flaming sword, which was depicted on their neon sign at their
entrance. Mr. Licata operated the restaurant for 34 years.
They also owned and operated the Seabreeze Restaurant.
See 2004 article, "Restaurant
Owner Main Ingredient In Ybor Past" (This
article incorrectly states that Licata's was at Jefferson &
Tampa St. It was at JACKSON and Tampa St. Jackson
is the street behind this building. Jefferson is several
blocks east of here and runs parallel with Tampa St.)
Licata's Steaks on the south side of the Knight & Wall
building, 108 Jackson St.. It was famous for another
reason, a favorite hang-out for some of Tampa's underworld
figures. Appropriately, the restaurant was below street
level, upon entering, you went down several steps to the
Decline of Knight & Wall
By the 1960s, there were
4 major hardware distributors in the Tampa area (listed in order of size):
I.W. Phillips & Co. (Tampa), Knight & Wall (Tampa), Clarke Siviter (St.
Petersburg), and Spicola Hardware (Tampa). I.W. Phillips and Knight
& Wall maintained sales forces throughout Florida and into the Caribbean,
and Clarke Siviter had become aggressive in recent years. The hardware
industry was still relatively healthy, having successfully withstood the
onslaught of discounters like Scotty’s, who didn’t carry full lines of
hardware and therefore only succeeded in skimming some of the icing off
the top of the hardware cake.
Ad in Florida Grower, 1918
But ominous clouds were
looming. A new type of hardware store, The Home Depot, was spreading
throughout the south, featuring mass merchandising similar to Scotty’s,
but also offering a full line of hardware. Their immense purchasing power
allowed them to purchase direct from the manufacturers, bypassing
traditional wholesalers like Knight & Wall. Their merchandising power also
resulted in great numbers of small retail hardware stores going out of
business, which greatly eroded the customer base of wholesalers like
Knight & Wall & I.W. Phillips. Eventually, an entire American industry,
the wholesale hardware distributor and small hardware retail store, went
mid-1970s, hardware distributors had become aware that the changes were
not going away, and started looking for a way out. I.W. Phillips & Co. had
just built a brand-new state-of-the-art warehouse in Tampa, and in a
surprise move sold it to Ace Hardware, announcing that I.W. was closing
down its entire business. Interestingly, I.W. Phillips shifted gears and
became a real estate investment company.
At left, an old Knight & Wall axe
head. "Seminole" was Knight & Wall's brand name.
Knight & Wall
continued in business for several more years, but probably in the later
1970s, Knight & Wall President Frank Cooper, III managed to skillfully
negotiate a merger with Alchar Hardware of Miami (in reality a sale to
Alchar). As a result of the merger, J. Edgar Wall (Eddie Wall) was
appointed as new President of the revised Knight & Wall, but many of the
company operations such as Purchasing and Accounting were removed to
Miami. The warehouse operation, catalog department, and sales force were
retained in Tampa for a short while. Knight & Wall’s Seminole Paint
operation was shut down. Ironically, a few years later, as the result of
the industry-wide demise of the independent hardware retailer, Alchar
itself also wound up in bankruptcy and was closed down.
Today, there are
virtually no independent hardware distributors in America.
Judge Perry Green
Judge Wall continued
in office until April 26, 1873 when he tendered his resignation to Gov.
Ossian B. Hart. On March 10, 1873, Judge Wall had received the lucrative
appointment of Postmaster at Tampa from President Ulysses S. Grant. He
served as postmaster until January 22, 1877 when he was replaced by Robert
B. Thomas. Now in retirement, Perry G. Wall suffered the loss of his
wife, Barbara, on May 30, 1883. Her body was returned to the old home
place at Spring Hill and she was buried in the Lykes Cemetery. Perry did
not remain a widower for long and on December 4, 1883, he married Sarah
Watlington of Key West, the 47-year old daughter of Francis and Emilene
Watlington. Perry and Sarah entered in to a prenuptial agreement prior to
the marriage. Perry and Sarah lived at their home in Tampa,
occasionally visiting Key West and spending some time at the resort of
Rocky Point, on Old Tampa Bay, west of downtown Tampa.
At 4 o’clock on the
afternoon of July 8, 1897, at the home of his daughter, Julia Ann Wall
Friebele, on Franklin Street, Perry Green Wall died, after an illness of
several weeks duration. He was 87 years old. His will named his two
younger sons, Joseph and Charles, as executors, he having outlived his
three oldest sons.
The Knight in "Knight & Wall"
Knight was born in Jan. 1860 in Plant City, Florida. He
was one of 9 children of Joel Knight and Sarah Virginia Mitchell.
He married Lillie W. Wall, Perry G. Wall's sister, on Nov. 1, 1884
and was the president of Knight & Wall. Lillie and Henry
Knight had four children, Laurie Knight who married prominent Tampa
dentist J.W. Bradley, Minnie Wall Knight who married Frank M.
Cooper, Jr., a director of Knight & Wall, Mary Louise Knight and
success of Knight & Wall can be attributed to its president, Henry
Laurens Knight and its other two principal stockholders Perry G.
Wall and J. Edgar Wall.
Children of Joel Knight and Sarah
- Thomas Samuel Knight
- George Washington Knight
- Mary Elizabeth Knight
- Andrew Jackson Knight
- Frances Jane Knight
- Henry Laurens Knight
- Charles Lafayette Knight
- Francis Jefferson Knight
- Eugene Clinton Knight
of Police L. Elsi Knight placing a Silvertown Safety League
shield on automobile, 1931
Knight, Henry's brother, married Flossie W. Clarke, the daughter
of Edward Clarke and Sarah L. Wall Clarke. Andrew was a
prominent Tampa real estate owner well-known for his business skills
and successful investments. They had children: Clarke Knight
who married Viola Mitchell, Elsi Knight, who married Vida Clare
Curry who married G.W. Judy, Aldine Jewel Knight who married
prominent Tampa doctor John C. Vinson, Jules Knight, Flossie Knight
and Sarah Knight.
Their brother, Charles Lafayette Knight was born Mar. 1861 in Plant
City, Florida. Charles married Perry G. Wall's other sister,
Mary "Daisy" Wall, on Dec. 17, 1889. They had four
children: Lois Knight who married Joseph Henderson of Tampa, Eugene
Wall Knight who married Fay Parker of Tampa, Richard Knight and
It was in the
early 1900s that Charles Lafayette "Lefty" Knight conceived the idea
that the mud flat, then known as Seddon Island, would make an ideal
shipping facility. He worked diligently with city government in
perfecting the title to the man-made island, and then selling the
island to the Seaboard Railroad. C.L. Knight was Vice
President, Director and major shareholder of the American National
Bank. In the early 1920s, Maas
Brothers moved into the former American National Bank building
at Franklin & Zack, and soon added the adjacent 8-story building at
Zack and Tampa St.
Eugene Knight, was a trust officer at a bank in the 1930s.
Eugene's son, Charley L. Knight, II, was born May 31, 1928 and
became a well-known property appraiser and prominent collector of
Native-American artifacts. He always had a keen interest in and fond
feelings for the 177-acre tract of land known then as Seddon Island.
In later years Charley Knight always felt the potential use of the
island was far better than just the storage yard and railroad
distribution center than it had become. Often referred to as the
founding father of Harbour Island, Charley Knight envisioned an
upscale commercial and residential development creating Tampa's new
urban community; a vision that became reality when Beneficial
Corporation acquired the island in 1979. "Knight's Point" is a
tribute to his perseverance and dreams for the future of Tampa and
Knight's Point, Harbour Island
Read about Tampa's
harbor, Seddon Island, Harbour Island and Knight's Point here at
Green Wall's daughter, Susan Catherine Wall b. 1843, married
Hendry. Their son, Edward M. Hendry b. 1868, was the president
of the Hendry & Knight Company, an insurance and real estate
company largely responsible
for the development of the docks at Tampa's harbor, Seddon Island.
At left, Wm.
Marion Hendry and wife Catherine Wall Hendry, with their children
and servant, ca. 1886.
Hendry & Knight
Channel and docks, looking west, circa 1900
On the left is
Seddon Island. Today, this channel is called "Garrison
Channel" due to it's proximity to historic Fort Brooke and
Seddon Island is now Harbour Island.
Place your cursor
on the photo to see this area today.
steamships docked at the Hendry & Knight terminal, looking north
along Franklin Street, 1911
Today, the area on
the left half of this photo is occupied by the Tampa Convention
Hendry & Knight
building and City Hall on the 300 block of Lafayette St. at Franklin
John Perry Wall
Perry Wall, the second son of Judge Wall, aspired to practice law, but
Judge Wall considered medicine more “congenial and profitable," so John
went off to the Medical College of South Carolina in 1856, where he graduated in
1858. His father’s wish was dutifully honored, but his son’s subsequent
life was to evolve into a curious milieu of medicine, law, journalism and
John P. Wall became a successful physician, writer and politician.
He was associate editor of the Sunland Tribune, which later became the
Tampa Tribune; served as mayor of Tampa from 1878–1880; mapped out many of
the routes through the Florida wilderness that are used by the Florida
highway system today; and assisted Vicente Martinez Ybor in establishing
The circumstances of
John Wall's birth foretold that he was to be no ordinary man. John Wall was born
while his family was "under siege by the Seminole Indians on September
17, 1836, just south of the St. Mary’s River, near present day Jasper,
Florida." His parents, Perry and Nancy Wall, were pioneers, migrating
southward by wagon train from Georgia into Territorial Florida during the
Second Seminole War.
The Wall family
settled on a homestead near the site of the attack, and lived there for
nine years. In 1845, lured by generous land grants of the Armed Occupation
Act of 1842, the family again moved southward to establish and defend a
homestead in the highlands of Hernando County, just soutwest of Brooksville. Statehood was achieved by Florida that same year, amid continuing Seminole
During the Civil
War, John P. Wall
volunteered as a
surgeon and was assigned to
Chimborazo Hospital in
Dr. Wall’s daily log
book of his years as a Confederate surgeon, written in fine, delicate
longhand, is preserved in Bradenton by his family. In addition to many
medical descriptions, it provides a vivid picture of life in wartime
Richmond. It also gives firsthand accounts of the tragic explosion of the
Richmond Arsenal and of the construction of the first ironclad warships of
In 1864, chafing
under hospital routine and the military discipline of the nearby
Surgeon-General, Dr. Wall requested and was assigned duty with troops as
a combat soldier. He served initially in the Eighth Florida Battalion
near Brooksville and subsequently rose to the rank of major as a member
of the Fifth Florida Battalion.
While in Brooksville,
he married nineteen year old Pressie Eubanks, daughter of a wealthy
planter, then returned to Richmond for about a year. Many pages of Dr.
journal portray the anguish of a lovesick bridegroom, lamenting the
paucity of letters from "my own sweet, dear, darling, precious Pressie"
and pouring vitriolic abuse on the plodding postal service of the
Several million men took up arms and went to war in the 1860’s. They
fell sick in unprecedented numbers, and they died from wounds and
disease by the hundreds of thousands. The sudden burden of caring
for so many men hit the opposing governments a staggering blow.
Hundreds of hospitals sprouted up around the Southern Confederacy,
particularly in the capital city of Richmond. The five converging
railroads at Richmond, and the city’s proximity to many of the war’s
greatest battles, meant that Richmond became a booming hospital
No medical facility anywhere on
the continent during the Civil War equaled the fame and notoriety of
Chimborazo Hospital. It quickly emerged early in the war as one of
the largest, best-organized, and most sophisticated hospitals in the
Confederacy. It took its peculiar name from the hill on which it
sat—Chimborazo Hill, on the eastern edge of the city of Richmond.
That hill, in turn, was named for Mount Chimborazo, an inactive
volcano in Ecuador at nearly 21,000 feet of elevation. Alexander
Humboldt had explored Chimborazo earlier in the century and
consequently the lofty peak was much better known in the 1800’s than
it is today.
Following the 1865
Confederate surrender, he returned and practiced medicine in
Brooksville. Then, in 1871 he moved his family to Tampa, an isolated
south Florida cattle-shipping port of 800 inhabitants, where he
continued practicing medicine.
Like many south
Florida towns, Tampa--a steadily growing commercial trade center in its
pre-Civil War days--emerged from the war in a very devastated state. It
struggled to recover from the damage inflicted upon its central
industry, the cattle trade, as well as from wartime seizures and naval
blockades. Other barriers hindered its efforts to get back on its feet
economically. The most formidable of them were epidemic diseases.
Malaria, dengue, and yellow fever regularly plagued the community.
During such outbreaks, practically every able-bodied citizen fled and
took refuge in a neighboring town or woodland area.
Here, in the course
of a busy practice in 1871, he boarded the Cedar Key steamer H. M. Cool
to treat a cabin boy critically ill with yellow fever. Wall successfully
treated the boy for the disease, only to be critically stricken himself
by the fever. Pressie stayed by his side and nursed him. But just
as he was recovering, it was carried to his family, and within
a couple days of each other, both his wife Pressie and their two-year=old
daughter, Julia P. Wall, had died of the fever. Following these
tragedies, the grief-stricken doctor’s life and career took another
sharp turn. The deaths of his wife and daughter prompted Wall to search
out new paths beyond simply guiding patients through the fever’s various
stages. He now devoted his life to researching and studying how it could
be prevented and destroyed more effectively.
1870 Census, Hernando
John P. Wall was 33,
his wife Pressie Eubanks Wall was 26. Their son, John P. Wall, Jr.
was age 4. Also in their home was Pressie's mother, Sarah Eubanks,
John's wife Pressie
died Sept. 6, 1871 and their daughter Julia, who was born after this
census, died on Sept. 8, 1871.
Dr. Wall continued in the medical profession, and was a
pioneer in the research and cure for yellow fever. He was among the first
to assert that yellow fever was carried by the mosquito. For his
conclusions on the mosquito, Wall received nothing but ridicule from the
medical profession and especially from the lay press. The sanitarians held
sway for more than two decades, and the most widely accepted opinion was
that yellow fever would disappear with the elimination of filth. It was
not until Carlos Findlay’s proclamation in Cuba in 1881 against the
mosquito, and later Walter Reed’s final proof in 1900, that Dr. Wall’s
early conclusion was accepted. During this period, Wall, as health
officer, had maintained yellow fever in Tampa to a notable minimum by
mosquito protection alone.
Throughout his adult
life, Dr. Wall had suffered one regrettable weakness, a progressive over-indulgence
in alcohol. Even by the loose moral code of a frontier town, he was known
as "a hard drinker and a hell-raiser." The death of his beloved wife and
daughter only increased this problem. Nevertheless, by 1872 he had
successfully courted Miss Matilda McKay, the chaste and lovely daughter of
Captain James McKay, a prominent shipmaster and exporter. Small wonder
that when Dr. Wall approached the venerable Captain, asking for his
daughter’s hand, he was met first with stunned silence, then violent
refusal. Given quickly to understand that the problem was his alcoholism
alone, Dr. Wall swore never again to touch another drop if Miss Matilda
would be his. In the face of direst predictions, and weathering
provocative tests in which he was surreptitiously offered his favorite
poison, Mint Juleps, by his doubting sister, Julia, he rejected alcohol
completely. The couple was married, and to the best knowledge of every
historian, his oath was never broken. He accomplished a one day cure of
alcoholism, a rare and difficult feat in any age.
In this forthright
decision, Dr. Wall shared in the strong personal characteristics of his
entire family. His sister, Julia Wall Friebele attracted only moderate
notice in her simultaneous roles as pillar of the Methodist Church and a
chain smoker of the finest Havana cigars. Personalities in the Wall clan
did not lack for color. See Joseph Baisden Wall,
In 1875, Dr. Wall
attended the second meeting of the year-old Florida Medical Association,
representing the "South Florida Medical Society" and presenting a paper on
epidemic disease. An occasional glimpse of Dr. Wall’s ever-present and
often acid wit appears in the history of these days. When asked by a
relative why he had become an Episcopalian instead of remaining in the
Baptist or Methodist church of his family, he dryly replied, "I joined the
Episcopal Church because it doesn’t interfere with either my politics or
these years the Wall family occupied a house on the half block later
occupied by the Tampa Terrace Hotel and the Tampa Federal Savings and Loan
Bank. This plot, bounded by present day Kennedy Boulevard, Florida Avenue
and Madison Street, contained the home, a large stable, and a separate
office building for Dr. Wall. From this office, he carried on a very
active private practice for over twenty years, a background easily
overlooked among his many accomplishments.
the "Bolita King", aka "the White Shadow."
The only surviving child of his
first marriage to Pressie Eubanks was John P. Wall, Jr. who grew up in
this home, was educated as a lawyer, and practiced all of his life in
Tampa. Of the children born to Matilda McKay Wall, only one, Charlie McKay Wall,
survived. He was to become one of Tampa’s most colorful citizens and
Tampa's gambling underworld. See "The
Devil Looks After His Own" at Cigar City Magazine and
in the 1940s at Tampapix.
By 1877 Dr.
Wall was editor of the new
weekly, the Tampa Sunland Tribune, and later became publisher.
From 1878 to 1880,
Dr. Wall served as mayor of Tampa, concentrating particularly on
increasing the maritime trade of the city. Wall also served as
Tampa's health officer. After the city's quarantine station was moved from
Ballast Point to Big Grassy Island, Wall successfully lobbied for the
construction of a hospital to care for the people stricken with yellow
fever. He also established a system of rigid controls for the city's
quarantine station. In addition, Wall distributed information to the
public and employed preventative measures to control the mosquito
population. During his term as mayor, Wall focused on improving the city's
infrastructure. In particular, he focused on sanitation and other
His portrait hangs
appropriately in the City Hall among the mayors, rather than with his
colleagues in the Medical Library.
Dr. John P. Wall's 1880 Census in
Tampa shows his occupation as "Physician & Editor." His wife,
Matilda (McKay) Wall was age 28. Notice at far right columns,
her parents were from Scotland. Dr. Wall's son, John was age 14.
Listed last is Dr. Wall's and Matilda's son, Charles at age 3 months,
born Feb. 1880. This is the infamous "Bolita King" Charles McKay
||On May 7th, 1885, The
Tampa Board of Trade was created at the
Branch’s Opera House. Dr.
John P. Wall, John T. Lesley, and Thomas A. Carruth assumed the
positions of president, vice president, and secretary. These highly
respected men lead Tampa to become a more desirable place to live
As president of the
Tampa Board of Trade, Dr. John P. Wall supported an innovative
transportation system. Named after H.B Plant, the Plant System
allowed Tampa to branch out to neighboring and distant cities
through the construction of bridges, railroads, and waterworks.
The growing infrastructure allowed
the Board to connect with a larger business community, gaining new
membership and financial support. Chairmen and committees were
formed and The Board’s growing status spread quickly. Education and
government services, as well as, support for diversity, culture, and
art grew as well.
Influenced by the national trend, the
Board of Trade changed its name to become the Tampa Chamber of
Commerce on December 1, 1928.
One of Tampa's most prominent civic leaders, Dr. John P. Wall was
one of the founders of the Florida Medical Association. On
completion of mayoral term, he founded the Tampa Board of Trade, later the
Chamber of Commerce, and became its first president. Here he
was a strong leader in Tampa’s three most important commercial
Construction in 1883 of
the railroad from northeastern Florida to Tampa by H. B. Plant.
The settlement by Vicente Martinez Ybor and a large colony of Cuban
and Spanish cigar makers in an area east of the city, which is now Ybor
Development of the phosphate industry, which began
with the discovery of phosphate in the mouth of the Hillsborough River
during the deepening of the channel by the government dredge Alabama in
These accomplishments, together with his unending efforts to deepen
the ship channel from Tampa to the Gulf, resulted in a marked similarity
between the overlapping lives of Dr. Wall and Dr. Abel Baldwin of
By 1885, Wall had
been fighting for the adoption of a state board of health for over ten
years. The year 1885 found Wall at the zenith of his
multifaceted activities. While many of his suggested reforms remained
controversial among Florida’s doctors, Wall’s energetic leadership did
merit him widespread respect within the FMA. He was elected to several
terms as the organization’s president. Also, Wall launched a career in
state politics during this period. By 1885, he had resigned from his
duties as Tampa Health Officer and devoted the majority of his time to
being president of the FMA and roles in the state government. During
this year, he was elected a representative to the state legislature
and a delegate to the Florida’s Third Constitutional Convention
At the state
constitutional convention of 1885, Wall seized the opportunity to
emphasize Florida’s need for a state agency to battle disease outbreaks.
At the time, Florida still operated under a system in which each
individual county established its own board of health that was
responsible for maintaining the safety of citizens against epidemics.
between boards was difficult. Furthermore separate county boards
often did not trust each other, making a collective effort against
the spread of epidemics practically impossible. Wall implored:
of preserving the health and lives of its citizens from the causes
of disease is as incumbent on the state as that of suppressing
rapine and murder... One has no adequate conception of how much
sickness and consequently death, are preventable."
the Florida House of Representatives gathered on the capitol steps
in Tallahassee, 1885
Dr. Wall may be in the first row, far right. The State
of Florida Archives only identifies the following: Robert W.
Davis, Speaker, front center with stove pipe hat; 2nd row, 1st on
right is Fernando
Figueredo from Monroe County; 3rd row, 1st man is William F.
Green. J.W. Bryant is probably the man standing to the right
of Davis. B.F. Kirk is probably the man in the 2nd/3rd row about 4
spaces from the left with the long beard. The Reverend
William A. Bird could possibly be with the group of African
American legislators at the top of the stairs on the right as
might be Thomas V. Gibbs representing Duval County.
convention delegates agreed; the Florida Board of Health was authorized
as part of the state’s new 1885 constitution. However, it was not
immediately created. Supplying money to finance this new agency was not
prioritized by leading state officials. Disappointed, but not
discouraged, Wall continued pleading for a state board of health. Events
during the years of 1887 and 1888 would finally set the stage for this
feat to be accomplished.
Instances in which
an individual researcher’s breakthrough discovery was ridiculed by his
or her contemporaries prior to being generally accepted as fact fill the
history of science. The experiences of John P. Wall, a late-nineteenth
century medical doctor in Tampa, Florida, offer an excellent example of
this recurring scenario in the area of scientific discovery.
texts credit Dr. Walter Reed and the members of his 1900 United States
Army commission as the first Americans to pinpoint mosquitoes as its
principal carriers and transmitters. Florida sources, on the other hand,
prove that at least one other American, Dr. John P. Wall, advanced this
theory twenty-seven years earlier. Unlike Reed and his co-workers,
Wall’s proposal of the mosquito-transmission theory merited him only an
inundation of scoffs and criticism from medical contemporaries, who
adamantly believed that dirt and filth were responsible for yellow
"They . . . exalt
humbug at the expense of science and truth:"
Dr. John P. Wall and the Fight Against Yellow Fever in Late-Nineteenth
Death of Matilda McKay Wall
In October, 1893, Dr.
Wall, by then an authority on yellow fever, was called by the
Surgeon-General of the United States to consult in the management of
yellow fever at the Maritime Hospital in Brunswick, Georgia. While there,
he was summoned home because of the illness of his wife Matilda. He
arrived only a few days prior to her death in November, 1893. Six months
later he followed his father’s example and took a third wife, marrying
Miss Louisa Williams of Virginia in May, 1894. There were no children from
this brief marriage.
Death of Dr. John P. Wall
At the annual meeting
of the Florida Medical Association on April 18,1895, Dr. Wall was invited
again to be the guest speaker. The meeting was held in the hall of the
East Florida Seminary, forerunner of the University of Florida, at
Gainesville. An eyewitness account of the evening session is preserved in
the Proceedings of the Florida Medical Association:
"Dr. Wall entering
the hall, and it being a few minutes of the hour set apart for the
consideration of his paper, the order of business was suspended, and to a
very marked attention on the part of his confreres, the gentleman
commenced reading his paper on ’Public Hygiene in the Light of Recent
Observations and Experiments.’ It was observed that he read with great
difficulty and under suppressed excitement, the stress under which he
seemed to labor being so great at times as to cause him repeatedly to
pause and to sip water."
Even then, his sense of humor did not fail. With
the quip that "high tones and toney meals do not seem to agree with me,"
he tried to continue.
"He had proceeded but a short distance, but eight or
nine minutes having elapsed since he entered the hall, when he reeled and
fell, striking the floor."
He was dead before the presiding officer
could reach him. Though likely due to coronary occlusion, the exact cause
of his death was never established.
hand-engraved memorial resolution was presented by the Florida
State Medical Association to Dr. Wall’s family. In 1975 it hung at
Tampa General Hospital.
It was an age when
public mourning was emotional and effusive; when journalism was florid,
lachrymose and unabashed. A special train of three cars, draped in black
and carrying an escort of over twenty medical leaders, carried his body
back to Tampa. Along the hundred mile route, the engine whistle sounded
long mournful blasts at regular intervals, a signal ordinarily employed
during the winter to warn citrus growers of a freeze moving down from the
North. In tribute, all businesses in Tampa closed for two days after the
train’s arrival. Newspapers of the state, even the Ocala Banner, competed
in paying him eulogy. His own Sunland Tribune apparently felt no
impropriety in describing the details of his widow’s grief, or the
features of his embalmed body and its good state of preservation. The
Tribune hailed Dr. Wall as "a learned physician, a ripe scholar, a
magnanimous man, a true friend of the poor, and one of nature’s noblemen.”
The memorial resolution passed by the Florida Medical Association on the
day after his death was inscribed on a window-sized wall plaque,
elaborately hand-lettered and decorated, and containing his portrait. This
plaque now hangs in Tampa General Hospital, a gift from his descendants.
Today Dr. Wall’s
grave may be found in small, historic, century-old Oaklawn Cemetery, a
half block island of cedar-shaded tranquility in the heart of busy Tampa.
The quiet scene provides placid contrast with the hurried pace of Dr.
Wall’s life. He was physician, scientist, naturalist, industrialist,
journalist, politician, humorist and crusader. He was a man for all
Read about the life and work of
the distinguished Dr. John P. Wall, pioneer in Yellow Fever medicine.
Dr. John Perry Wall, A Man For All Seasons
David Hunter Wall
David Hunter Wall,
Judge Wall's third son, was born June 04, 1838. He joined the Confederate
army in July 1861 at Brooksville as a private in Capt. Saxon’s Hernando
County Wildcats, which became Company C, 3rd Florida Infantry. David was
promoted second Lieutenant the following year but died in service at
LaGrange, Georgia, May 30, 1864.
Joseph Baisden Wall
James T. Magbee
Meanwhile, during the Reconstruction
period, there had risen to prominence in the community one James T.
Magbee. A native Georgian, he had served in the Confederate army
during the war, but after the fighting he became, for reasons
unknown, a "black Republican", a "scalawag", a Southern turncoat who
joined the northern oppressors. Magbee was also a raging alcoholic
whose drunken escapades often played out in the public streets of
Governor Harrison Reed, a Republican,
appointed Magbee to be Judge of the Sixth Circuit which covered the
West Coast from Brooksville to Key West.
Tampa historian Karl Grismer relates
an incident which showed that Magbee had few friends among the
Democrats in town:
“...And when he (Magbee) fell dead
drunk in the sandy street at Franklin and Washington, on Nov. 16,
1871, a group of townsmen poured molasses and corn over him. The
delectable mixture was soon discovered by roaming hogs. They rooted
him around until they ripped off nearly all his clothes. Hours
later, the judge sobered enough to get up and go home. He suspected
James E. Lipscomb of having planned the outrage and charged him with
On the hearing day, Lipscomb went to
court armed with a shotgun. He pointed it at Magbee and pulled the
trigger. But just then E. A. Clarke struck the barrel and the load
of buckshot went into the ceiling. Although he escaped, Magbee was
so frightened that he dismissed the case. Under threat of
impeachment, Magbee resigned his post in 1874, after serving six
years. He then launched into the newspaper publishing business. He
called his the Tampa Guardian. The masthead proclaimed it would be
"Independent in Everything, Neutral in Nothing." Magbee continued
publishing it until his death on Dec. 12, 1885.
He is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery.
Judge Wall's son by
his second marriage, Joseph Baisden Wall (at right) was born Jan 23, 1847
and served in the 2nd Florida
Reserves during the latter part of the Civil war. He attended the
University of Virginia and was admitted to the bar in Brooksville in 1869.
He became one of the most distinguished lawyers and jurists that Florida
had yet produced. J.B. Wall married first in 1869 to Precious
Ederington of Brooksvile, with whom he had one daughter Helen (she
married Judge Charles B. Parkhill). J.B. Wall moved to Tampa in 1872.
Members of the
Florida Senate gathered on the Capitol steps for a group portrait, 1889.
Joseph Baisden Wall is seated front row center, holding a gavel.
For several years,
J.B. Wall was a partner of Hon. Henry L. Mitchell and afterwards,
partner of Peter O. Knight.
The people honored
J. B. Wall with high official preferment on several occasions. In 1874 he was appointed State Attorney by
Republican governor O.B. Hart. Joseph Baisden Wall prospered as a
lawyer, entered politics and by 1886 was President of the State Senate.
He was judge of the criminal court of record and circuit court, which
was the last official position he held before his lamented death.
He was more than once prominently mentioned in connection with candidacy
for governor, congressman and U.S. senator, though the only thing
preventing him was his own consent to run for the offices.
Joseph B. Wall's
second wife was Fredericka Lykes of Brooksville; they had no children.
Hot tempered, J.B.
Wall and his nephew-in-law, James E. Lipscomb, got into an
altercation with the retired Judge Magbee in 1878. Offended by what they
considered a derogatory comment Magbee had published in his Republican
newspaper, the Tampa Guardian, about the late William W. Wall, they pulled
Magbee out of his buggy and gave him a thorough caning.
Read about James T. Magbee JAMES
T. MAGBEE: “Union Man, Undoubted Secessionist, and High Priest in the
Radical Synagogue” By Kyle S. VanLandingham
In March 1882,
Joseph B. Wall assisted a lynch mob which hanged in front of the
county courthouse a white itinerant sailor. Wall was in court that day,
left the building and reportedly tied the "hangman’s knot," because no one
else in the crowd knew how. He was disbarred from Federal practice by
Judge Locke but continued to practice in the state courts. Indeed, five
years later, he was elected first president of the State Bar Association.
Joseph Baisden Wall
died Dec. 21, 1912.
Charles F. Wall
Charles F. Wall was
born May 12, 1849; he was the last child of Judge Perry Green Wall and
Barbara Baisden. He married Susan of Hernando County on Jan 28,
Charles was a
successful fruit grower and merchant who for many years lived at
Seaside, then Hillsborough County, then Brooksville for the remaining
years of his life. He had no children, but he and his wife adopted
a baby who was a great comfort to them in their later years and became
the wife of C. H. Frease, originally from Pennsylvania then residing at
Charles F. Wall was a
man of remarkable Christian spirit who was beloved by all who knew him;
one who was always looked to in time of distress for advice--a man of
high character. He died in 1913.
Wall Family Burials In Tampa
The Wall family plot at Oaklawn
JOHN P., DR.
Tampa's 16th mayor
3rd child of Dr. John P. Wall and Pressie
1st child of Dr. John P. Wall and Pressie
2nd wife of Dr. John P. Wall
Wife of Mayor Perry G. Wall, II
Wife of Wm. Washington Wall
Tampa's 41st mayor, son of Wm. Washington Wall
Judge Perry G. Wall
1st wife of Dr. John P. Wall
1st child of Judge Perry Wall & Nancy
Son of Wm. Washington Wall
Son of James Edgar Wall
JOHN P., DR.
2nd child of Dr. John P. Wall and Pressie
Perry G. Wall Land Patents