ORIGINAL 1935 Knight & Wall Letterhead




An old sketch of the original Knight & Wall hardware store at Washington and Marion Streets, late 1800s.



Perry G. Wall, II as Mayor of Tampa, 1925
Burgert Bros. photo at USF Digital Collections

Perry G. Wall, II, was born to a distinguished Florida pioneer family on Nov. 22, 1867 near Brooksville in Hernando County.  Perry's father was William Washington "Billy" Wall, a son of Judge Perry Green Wall and his first wife Nancy Hunter.

Perry attended the East Florida Seminary in Gainesville, Florida, and Bingham Military School in Asheville, North Carolina. 

In 1884 he established a hardware business at Washington and Marion Streets in Tampa with his brother-in-law, Henry Laurens Knight. 

Knight & Wall would become one of Tampa's most prominent and enduring businesses, lasting for nearly 80 years.  They became the largest hardware establishment in Florida, with extensive retail and wholesale business covering all of south Florida and a related branch doing business in Cuba.





Knight & Wall ad in Rinaldi's Guide Book of Tampa, 1920
University of Florida Digital Collections


Knight and Wall Company's multi-story brick building with embellished front and sides, at the southwest corner of Lafayette Street (100 block) and Tampa Street, 1922.  Notice the American flag sign made from light bulbs, and the K & W water tank on the roof.  Today, this location is 101 E. Kennedy, the 42-story Bank of America building, originally built as the Barnett Tower. Completed in 1986, at 577 feet tall, it surpassed One Tampa City Center as the tallest building in Tampa, until completion of 100 North Tampa in 1992. Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

Place your cursor on the photo to see this location today.



The Rinaldi Guide Book to the City of Tampa, 1920. 
University of Florida Digital Collections

Rinaldi Printing Company and Knight & Wall stores, Knight & Wall building, 111 Lafayette St., 1924
Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library


Ad from Rinaldi's Guide to Tampa, 1920
University of Florida Digital Collections

The Knight & Wall building at Tampa St. and Lafayette in 1926 with a streetcar passing by on Lafayette.


Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library


Evolution of This Intersection


1889 - Wood structures; a 2-story saloon and a restaurant occupied this property. The blue circle is a wooden water tank.  Knight & Wall was still located at it's original location at Washington and Marion Streets. 

1892 - A brick 2 and 3-story structure has replaced the saloon and restaurant.  Notice the "x" inside the small square of the 3-story building, marking a spire topped cupola at upper right.  Only offices occupy the 2nd floor of the 2-story building, possibly Knight & Wall.  A brick water tank has replaced the wooden one.


1892 - The 3-story Knight & Wall building with steeple at top of this photo.  In the foreground on the right is Branch's Opera House on Franklin Street, with Tibbetts Corner at the left of the photo.  Burgert Bros collection at the University of South Florida Digital Collections

Place your cursor on the image to see this from a different angle.

Read more about Tibbetts Corner at Tampapix
Read more about Branch's Opera House at Tampapix

1895 - The 3-story part of the building now houses Knight & Wall's hardware, moving to the left, clothing, communication and telegraph office, taxidermist, produce, vacant and export office.  Below the building, a chicken coop and poultry yard.  Rooms, probably for rent, on the 2nd floor.  The middle portion of the building now has a wooden awning on Lafayette St.

Close up of 1892 photo from Burgert Bros collection at the University of South Florida Digital Collections.10


1899 - The 3-story building houses hardware on the 1st floor and mill construction goods on the 2nd & 3rd floors.  The spired cupola extends 30 ft. above the roof and the building has an iron front along Lafayette St.  Moving to the left, plumbing, vacant, curios, vacant, hand painting, carpenter, Southern Exp. office.  South of the building are two chicken houses.  At the southwest corner, a ship chandler with a sail loft and two vacant spaces.

1915 - The entire block is now completely occupied, with Knight & Wall hardware and mill supplies along Tampa Street.  The spired cupola is gone.  Along Lafayette St., right to left, are: Paint Store, Stove Dept., Printing, a shop and two saloons.  On the 2nd floor along Lafayette St. are the Normandie House rooms.  The building on the lower left corner houses a wholesale grocer, a store and a wholesale confectioner.  The long, narrow yellow area is wooden structure paint storage.  In the center is the 30,000 gallon water tank 86 ft. above ground.
See this image larger with more detail.



  Perry Green Wall, Grandfather of Perry G. Wall, II


Judge Perry G. Wall
Photo from The Sunland Tribune

Perry Green Wall’s long and productive life began at the "Fork," near the junction of the Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers in the southern portion of Montgomery County, Georgia. The only child of John Wall, Jr. and Susannah (Whitehurst) Wall, he was born November 2, 1809. Perry’s father soon died and he and his mother lived for a time in the home of her father, Simon Whitehurst.



Later, Susannah married Shadrach Sutton and had six more children. About 1817, the Suttons moved to Irwin County, Georgia, where they are shown on the 1820 census. See the Sutton's 1820 Census

The Suttons and Whitehursts were pioneers, migrating southward by wagon train from Georgia into Territorial Florida during the Second Seminole War. By 1826 they had moved on to Hamilton County, Florida, where Susannah’s brothers John and Daniel Whitehurst also settled, and Shadrach Sutton was appointed Sheriff in Jan. 1828.    

Soon after Perry's twenty-first birthday, he married Nancy Ann Hunter, on November 18, 1830.  Her father, William Marion Hunter, was a prominent settler who later served as county commissioner and member of the territorial Legislative Council.  They lived at present day Jasper, Florida, where in early 1837 Wall purchased four tracts of land near to his stepfather Shadrach Sutton and some of his mother's Whitehurst family members.

See the 1830 Census of Hamilton Co. showing the Suttons and Hunters

The Perry Wall family settled on a homestead near the site of a Seminole Indian attack, and lived there for nine years. Wall served two enlistments in the Seminole Wars in 1837 and 1838 and then made his first foray into the political arena when he ran unsuccessfully for the post of Clerk of Court, losing to John G. Smith. But two years later, in 1840, Perry ran again, this time unopposed. He was reelected without opposition in 1842 and 1843. He was still clerk in April 1845 but did not seek reelection that October. The last reference to Perry Wall as Clerk of the Circuit Court in Hamilton County is dated October 18, 1845.

Perry Wall was a member of Concord Baptist Church which he joined in 1835. The church was located in Tiger Swamp about one and one-half miles south of present-day Highway 41. He was a stockholder in the Union Bank of Florida and was an original purchaser of a lot in the Town of Jasper, which was incorporated in 1840.

Perry Green Wall and Nancy Hunter had seven children:

  • Mary Matilda Wall b.1831 d.1905  m. Aaron Taylor Frierson
  • Julia Ann Wall b.1832 d.1915  m. Christopher L. Friebele
  • William "Billy" Washington Wall b.1834 d.1878 m. Minnie May
  • Dr./Mayor John Perry Wall b.1836 d.1895 m. 3x
  • David Hunter Wall, b. 1838 d.1864
  • Sarah Louise Wall b.1840 d.1925  m. Edward A. Clarke
  • Susan Catherine Wall b. 1843 d.1899  m. William Marion Hendry

Continued at top of column at right



When the U. S. Census was taken in Hamilton County in 1840, Perry G. Wall served as an enumerator in the capacity of assistant to the Marshal of the Middle District of the Territory of Florida.

Perry G. Wall's signature on the 1840 census page he enumerated.
See this entire page, which includes the listing of his own family,
written in his handwriting.

Described as a man of "hardy and cheerful disposition," Perry Green Wall stood out as a respected leader in Hamilton and Benton. He served in numerous elected and appointed offices in these two communities, including deputy marshal, county clerk, and probate judge. During the frequent violent clashes with local Indians in Benton, his home became a hospitable source of refuge for many white settlers

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 north of Brooksville. Statehood was achieved by Florida that same year, amid continuing Seminole hostilities.
On February 28, 1845, Nancy Hunter Wall died, leaving Perry with seven children, all under the age of 11.


Perry and his children moved to Spring Hill, Benton County, where Wall made a living as a planter.  On December 11, 1845, Perry took a new wife, 35-year old Barbara R. Baisden. She was a daughter of Josiah Baisden.




Sen Thomas Hart Benton

Benton County was originally named Hernando County when created a few years earlier, but renamed Benton County in 1844 for Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, a strong supporter of territorial expansion who aided in the county's creation.  Benton fell out of favor with the county's residents later in the decade due to his decision to support the Missouri Compromise and the overall reversal of his stance on slavery, and the county's name reverted to Hernando in 1850. The 1850 Federal Census of Hernando County shows Perry Wall was a planter.



Perry Wall and Barbara Baisden had two children:

  • Joseph Baisden Wall b. abt. 1846

  • Charles F. Wall b. about 1848

Wall became Judge of Probate of Benton County in 1848.   In 1851, he was defeated for this position, but was re-elected in 1855, and repeated in 1857, 1859 and 1861.


Perry G. Wall Land Patents

From 1837 to 1846, Perry G. Wall obtained 11 land patents in Hamilton County near Jasper, totaling approximately 760 acres. 


From 1851 to 1883 he obtained 1,997 acres with 20 land patents in Hernando County near Brooksville. 

See these original documents and surveys, along with the location of these tracts today, here at Tampapix.



1850 Census, Benton County, Annuttaliga Settlement


Above, this 1850 map of west central Florida shows the Annuttaliga Settlement area marked with a red dot.  Notice Benton County was situated where today's Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties are located. Hillsborough County extended to the middle of the state and southward to Lake Okeechobee.

Perry G Wall was age 40, Barbara R Wall 38, William W Wall 15, John P Wall 13, David H Wall 12, Sarah L Wall 10, Susan C Wall 8, Joseph B Wall 6, Charles F Wall 2, James Pinxton 48, William Frierson 18.  Judge Wall's real estate had an estimated value of $2,000.

The 1860 map at right shows the Annuttaliga Hammock between Bayport and Brooksville.

The name "Annuttaliga" originally applied to the extensive geological feature called a hammock, extending from today's central Citrus County, across Hernando County, into the southeast part of Pasco County.

A possible translation of the name, according to William A. Read, in Florida Place Names of Indian Origin and Seminole Personal Names, suggests "bushy place" from the Seminole Creek "ANATI," meaning bushy place or thicket; and "LAIKI," meaning site.


Judge Wall's Daughters



Mary Matilda (Wall) Frierson and son Taylor, 1853
Photo from The Sunland Tribune

An important family alliance was formed in 1848 when Perry’s eldest daughter, Mary Matilda Wall married Aaron Taylor Frierson, a prominent Hernando County planter.  Mary was Major Frierson's 3rd wife, by which he had 7 children, with only 3 surviving past infancy:  Taylor Frierson who married Annie Dagenhardt, Julia who married James E. Hendry, and Ella who married Louis Hendry, brother of James E. Hendry.

In 1852, Judge Wall's daughter Julia Ann Wall became the wife of Tampa merchant Christopher L. Friebele.  They had 3 children: Samuel, who married Rosa Dagenhardt, Mary who married first James Eedgar Lipscomb, then Dr. James W. Dupree.  Read more about Christopher L. Friebele, "a man of farseeing business sagacity."  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.

Judge Wall's daughter, Sarah Louise Wall, married Edward A. Clarke (see feature about Edward A. Clarke below.)

Judge Wall's youngest daughter, Susan Wall, married William Marion Hendry (see feature below.)

Christopher Friebele and Edward A. Clarke were engaged in blockade running during the Civil War. They formed a partnership with brother-in-law Maj. Aaron T. Frierson, S. G. Frierson and Samuel A. Swann. The group started operations in January 1863 after purchase of the sloop Elias Beckwith. Another vessel, the Maria, was purchased in March. Cotton was shipped to Havana and goods such as linen, muslin, hairpins, starch, shirt buttons, combs and quinine were brought back to anxious buyers in Florida. Perry Wall was apparently a silent partner in the blockade running operations.

The Wall Estate, Brooksville

Chinsegut Hill, the estate of Judge Wall’s family, was built on the highest point just north of Brooksville by Col. Bird Pearson in 1847 after buying the property from the U.S. government. It was bought and sold multiple times over the next century. A nearby historical marker reads, "In 1842, South Carolinian Bird M. Pearson staked a claim on 5,000 acres and called it Tiger Tail Hill, one of the few surviving plantations in Florida and the one of the oldest houses in Hernando County. Pearson built the manor house's east wing in 1847 and later residents expanded it, beginning in 1852. In 1904 Chicago residents Raymond (1873-1954) and Margaret Drier (1868-1945) Robins purchased the property and named it Chinsegut Hill, an Inuit word meaning a place where lost things are found. The house was acquired by USF in 1958 and used as a meeting center. In the 1960s it began use as a biological experiment station of the University of South Florida. USF researchers helped to get the house listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 and gave up the property in 2009.  Photo from State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/1102


Judge Wall and the Civil War

Perry Wall has been described as a Unionist who opposed secession. Nevertheless, he continued to serve as probate judge of Hernando County after Florida seceded from the Union in January 1861. He was reelected to his final term in the October 1861 elections. From March 29 until May 17, 1862, he served in Capt. J. H. Breaker’s Old Guards, Mounted Rangers, along with son-in-law, Aaron T. Frierson, Samuel Pearce, Francis Ederingron and Malcolm C. Peterson.

Judge Wall Appointed to Freedmen's Bureau

Wall was to play a prominent role in Hernando County Reconstruction. On November 2, 1865, apparently after a meeting in Tallahassee, Wall was appointed agent for the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands in Hernando County. He was directed to "proceed at once to systematize the affairs of the county in so far as the Bureau has jurisdiction; and, especially so far as it is in his control, induce the Freedmen to make contracts for labor with the planters and other parties wishing to employ them."  The order was signed by Col. Thomas W. Osborn, Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau in Florida.

Writing from Brooksville on December 8, Wall outlined his actions as agent:

After arriving home, I was within two or three days, taken down very sick, from which I did not recover sufficiently to go out, for about three weeks, as soon however as I was able to do so, I proceeded to make known to the colored people of this county, my agency in the Bureau and such system for hiring out labor for the incoming year, as I deemed most promotive of their interest. The Colored people here pretty generally seemed very much pleased with me as their agent, and disposed to be governed by my instructions, which was that in order to insure employment and a competency for next year, they must —and especially those with families — make contracts with the planters having farms, either for stated wages or as a share of the crop...

On the presumption that I am superseded as agent by the Judge of Probate of this county, I will proceed no further in the duties thereof at least until I shall hear from you."


In the years following the Civil War, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen's Bureau) provided assistance to tens of thousands of former slaves and impoverished whites in the Southern States and the District of Columbia. The war had liberated nearly four million slaves and destroyed the region's cities, towns, and plantation-based economy. It left former slaves and many whites dislocated from their homes, facing starvation, and owning only the clothes they wore. The challenge of establishing a new social order, founded on freedom and racial equality, was enormous.

The Bureau was established in the War Department in 1865 to undertake the relief effort and the unprecedented social reconstruction that would bring freedpeople to full citizenship. It issued food and clothing, operated hospitals and temporary camps, helped locate family members, promoted education, helped freedmen legalize marriages, provided employment, supervised labor contracts, provided legal representation, investigated racial confrontations, settled freedmen on abandoned or confiscated lands, and worked with African American soldiers and sailors and their heirs to secure back pay, bounty payments, and pensions


Judge P. G. Wall Controversy

In March 1866, Lt. William G. Vance, sub-assistant commissioner for the Bureau, was in Brooksville. He reported that he had visited Judge Wall "to have him accept the civil agency for the county which after some hesitation he did."  Almost immediately after his appointment, Wall was involved in controversy.  Acting at Vance’s direction, and in his capacity as civil agent, he performed a marriage ceremony for a black couple who had lived together for many years as man and wife. This violated an act of the state General Assembly and he was brought up on charges before the county criminal court.  Fearing that Wall might be subjected to a whipping or the pillory, Gen. Foster ordered the commanding officer at Tampa to send a force of ten men to Brooksville to keep order. If Wall, who was described as a "sound and truly loyal man," was sentenced to corporal punishment, he was to be taken to Tampa for protection. The trial was postponed to June and Vance wrote to Osborne on May 25:

They have got a very poor opinion of the Judge [Wall] here and say he was a good secessionist as any of them till the War ended when he took sides with the Unionists. But from what I have seen of him he appears a good Union Man. The people in this section of the country are strongly opposed to those men who have been Unionists or in our army and every little chance they can get they bring them before the court, and punish them with very heavy fines while men of their own opinions go free after committing more grievous offences.


The records left by the Freedmen's Bureau through its work between 1865 and 1872 constitute the richest and most extensive documentary source available for investigating the African American experience in the post-Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Historians have used these materials to explore government and military policies, local conditions, and interactions between freed people, local white populations, and Bureau officials.  Read about the entire collection, including marriage records, at the National Archives

The troops were sent to Brooksville and at the trial Wall was convicted and fined one dollar. Vance, who was present at the trial, believed that a harsher sentence was averted only by the presence of the troops.

Judge Wall was forced to relinquish his position as special agent for the Freedmen’s Bureau in August 1867 because he was unable to take the "test oath," also known as the Ironclad oath, which was required of all Federal officers. The oath disqualified from Federal service those persons who had supported the rebellion. As a former county officer who had taken an oath to support the U. S. Constitution and later engaged in rebellion, Wall was also disqualified from holding Federal or state office under the 14th Amendment which was ratified in 1868. But when Congress passed its first act in 1868 removing disabilities from former Confederates, Perry Wall was one of 14 Florida men whose right to hold office was restored.

An interesting incident regarding Wall’s Unionism and public reaction to it occurred in the summer of 1867. The Florida Peninsular; a staunchly Democratic newspaper printed in Tampa, reported that Judge Wall was in Tampa en route to Tallahassee to attend a Union Convention there. In the next issue, the editor published an "Apologetic" note. Noting that this report had "given offence to the friends of the Judge in this place," the paper reminded its readers that it had been informed that Wall had been appointed a delegate from Hernando County and "we considered it no derogation at all, to his well-earned character, as a high-toned Christian gentleman, and citizen of undoubted integrity, to mention the fact." The editor went on to say that there "is not a citizen in South Fla., we would more regret to misrepresent than that of Judge Wall, as there are none whom we esteem more highly as a true Christian gentleman, and of more stern integrity of life, both as a public man and private citizen." The paper noted that if it was incorrect in its report, the proceedings of the convention would "correct our mistake." The Peninsular’s tone seemed mildly sarcastic, yet it was not wise to offend Judge Wall or his friends. His sons-in-law, Clarke and Friebele, were wealthy Tampa merchants and advertised regularly in the paper.




  William Washington Wall

William "Billy" Washington Wall (Perry G. Wall, II's father) was born November 29, 1834 in Hamilton County, Florida.  The eldest son of Judge Wall and Nancy Hunter Wall, he enlisted in Capt. Samuel E. Hope’s Company C, 9th Florida Infantry at Bayport, in 1862, but was discharged the same day after hiring a substitute. However, he did join Capt. Leroy G. Lesley’s cow cavalry company later during the war and succeeded Lesley as captain shortly before the war’s end.


Billy entered the mercantile business in Brooksville in 1858. The firm of Hope and Wall, consisting of Billy, as he was always known, father Perry and Samuel E. Hope, opened a general store which remained in operation into the 1870s.  In March of 1861, Billy married Alabama native Mary "Minnie" Ellen May in Hernando County, a daughter of General Patrick May of Greensboro, Alabama.


Billy Wall
Photo from The Sunland Tribune



1870 Census of Brooksville, Hernando Co.

William W. Wall was 35 and living with his 31 year old wife, Minnie (Mary Ellen May) and their children:  Lillie W. (6), Perry G. (2) and Mary E. (3 mos.)  This is Perry G. Wall (II) who became the mayor of Tampa.

William's real estate was valued at $1,000 and the value of his personal estate was $5,000.  This was approximately the same as two of the other four dwellings on this page.

William's occupation was retail merchant.  Also in his home was his half-brother Charles F. Wall, age 21, who was working as a clerk in the retail storr.

The Walls were doing quite well, they had a cook, a seamster and a nurse in their home.


The Wall Family Moves to Tampa


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. 

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 partner.


Appointment as Hillsborough County Judge

Governor Harrison Reed
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 independently.

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. 

William Washington "Billy" Wall Sets Up Shop In Tampa

Billy Wall 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.  Read more about Christopher L. Friebele.


H.C. Ferris & Co. Gent's Furnishings and W.A. Givens drugstore on the southeast corner of Washington St. and Franklin, 1881.
Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

Soon 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 old.

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.

           Children of William Washington "Billy" Wall and their spouses

         William Washington WALL b: 29 Nov 1834 d: 22 Apr 1878
          wife Mary Ellen MAY b: 14 Aug 1838 d: 16 Feb 1891
            1 Lillie W. WALL b: 19 Jan 1864 d: 29 Jan 1934
              +husb Henry Laurens KNIGHT b: 6 Jan 1860 d: 6 Feb 1919           
            2 Perry Green WALL b: 22 Nov 1867 d: 25 Jan 1944
              +wife Martha B. HOUSTOUN b: 15 Oct 1869 d: 19 May 1941
            3 Mary Ellen WALL b: 1870 d: 1934
              +husb Charles T KNIGHT b: ABT 1867
            4 James Edgar WALL b: 10 Mar 1872 d: 18 Dec 1954
              +wife Florrie BOWMAN b: ABT 1875
            5 Willie C WALL b: 19 Dec 1874 d: 14 Oct 1962
              +husb Samuel N HONAKER b: 22 Sep 1869 d: 18 Jan 1929
            6 Helen May WALL b: 30 Jul 1876 d: 15 Apr 1909
              +husb Paul Worth SMITH b: ABT 1874


Gasparilla XIV queen Lillie Wall Honaker, 1922
Daughter of Samuel N. Honaker and Willie C. Wall
Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library



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.    His 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 temporary ownership.





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

Born in 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 31, 1860, 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.)

Tampa Mayor Edward A. Clark
City of Tampa Previous Mayors


Sarah L. Wall Clarke
Burgert Bros. Collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library
(This photo is unidentified at the above source, compare to photo of Mrs. Edward A. Clark on p. 15 here.)

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 transport. 

Following the 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.

Clarke 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.

New elections 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.

Around 1873, 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.

The 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.



Edward 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



Pro boxer Gene Tunney with Mayor Perry Wall in front of City Hall, 1925
Burgert Bros. collection at the University of South Florida Digital Collections

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 often solicited. 

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 1897-1898. 






In 1892, Perry married Martha "Mattie" B. Houstoun, one of two daughters of Patrick and Martha Houstoun of Tallahassee. 

Mattie Houstoun (Wall)
circa 1890

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/25975





Mattie Houstoun Wall driving her mother, Martha Houstoun and sister, Claudia Houstoun, on a Tallahassee street, circa 1910.

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/24857

Perry and 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 Florida governor Park Trammel.  Wall also served as Chairman of the Congressional and County Democratic Committees.

U.S. Senator Park Trammell



Perry G. Wall Elected Tampa's 41st Mayor

In January 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 Public Library












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.  See Blanche Armwood, first Executive Secretary of the Tampa Urban League.

Burgert Bros. collection Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

Wall Hall at Plant Field, Florida State Fairgrounds, 1922
Read more about Plant Field at Tampapix

Mayor Perry 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 Library

No evidence 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 1920s.

Mayor Perry G. Wall at a Tampa race track with Miss Scott.  March 19, 1926



May 14, 1926

Tampa Mayor 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 States.

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 Section.)  Visit La Gaceta's website at http://www.lagacetanewspaper.com/.



Wall's 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 Estates, 1925

Burgert Bros. collection Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library






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 Library

See Davis Islands at Tampapix

Aug 4, 1926 news article "Huge Dredging Jobs to Start"








April 1, 1926, Drew airfield

Tampa mayor 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, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/36828






April, 1926, Drew airfield

Tampa mayor 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, 1933.

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/30693

Read about Drew Field and the history of Tampa's first international airport, here at Tampapix.





One of the greatest social as well as economic developments during Wall's Administration was the construction of the Gandy Bridge, the longest automobile toll bridge in the world at the time. The bridge not only greatly improved transportation to and from Tampa to St. Petersburg and other towns but also enabled both Tampa and towns in Pinellas County to develop economically and socially.

Read about George Gandy and his "folly"--the Gandy Bridge, here at Tampapix.

Burgert Bros. collection Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library


By January 1927, four Hillsborough River bridges were in various stages of completion: a new bridge at Michigan Avenue (now Columbus Drive), a new bridge at Florida Avenue (the James N. Holmes bridge), a replacement bridge at Fortune Street (now Laurel St.), and a new bridge at Sligh Avenue that used the old iron from the Fortune Street Bridge.  Construction of the Tampa Theater was also completed in 1926.  The second Covadonga Hospital of Centro Asturiano on 21st Avenue opened in October 1927.

Also in 1927, construction began on Hillsborough High School's 8th home, the majestic building designed by Francis J. Kennard on Central Avenue.  Classes began in September of 1928.

Burgert Bros. collection Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library



   See "Tampa's 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 Library


This street index for Tampa in 1915 shows Wall St. was part of 21st Avenue near 40th Street.

Read about the 1921 Tarpon Springs Hurricane here at Tampapix

After Wall 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 Public Library

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 Public Library



Perry G. Wall Newspaper Articles
Wood and Wall Here Tonight - Candidates for Senate - May 3, 1916 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, 1933
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  



WW1 Service card of Patrick Houstoun Wall

Around 1917, 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 Gunner Radio. 

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

James 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.



Minnie May Wall, 1920
She married salesman John Clarke Evans around 1929 and had children Jack Wall Evans and Anne Evans.

J. Edgar 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.


  Gasparilla 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 Joe Robles.



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


In 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 expediency. 


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.


Shoppers at Knight & Wall, 1942

Knight & 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 Library




At some 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.





Two views of the water tank from the Lafayette Street Bridge, 1946 and 1953.



Knight & Wall building in 1953
Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

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.)

Entrance to 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 restaurant level.



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 under.

By the 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 Wall

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"

Henry Laurens 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 Doris Knight.

The phenomenal 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 V. Mitchell
  • 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

Chief of Police L. Elsi Knight placing a Silvertown Safety League shield on automobile, 1931

Andrew Jackson 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 Barbara Knight.



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.

Charle's son, 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 this island.

Knight's Point, Harbour Island

Read about Tampa's harbor, Seddon Island, Harbour Island and Knight's Point here at Tampapix.



Edward M. Hendry, 1936

Judge Perry Green Wall's daughter, Susan Catherine Wall b. 1843, married William Marion 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.








Mallory Lines 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 Center.







Hendry & Knight building and City Hall on the 300 block of Lafayette St. at Franklin St., 1925













Dr. John P. Wall at age 38 in 1874
The Sunland Tribune


Dr. John Perry Wall

John 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 politics.

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 Ybor City.

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 hostilities.

During the Civil War, John P. Wall volunteered as a surgeon and was assigned to Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond

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 the Confederacy.

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. Wall's 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 Confederacy.


Chimborazo Hospital

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 center.

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.


1870 Census, Hernando Co.

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, age 50.

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. 


Dr. John P. Wall
The Sunland Tribune


James McKay

A "Hell-Raiser"

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, his half-brother.

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 my religion.”

During 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.



Charlie Wall, 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 leader of Tampa's gambling underworld.  See "The Devil Looks After His Own" at Cigar City Magazine and Tampa in the 1940s at Tampapix.

By 1877 Dr. Wall was editor of the new weekly, the Tampa Sunland Tribune, and later became publisher.

Dr. John P. Wall
The Sunland Tribune

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 health-related issues.

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 "Charlie" Wall.

  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 and work.

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 developments:

  • 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 City.

  • 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 1883.

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 Jacksonville.





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.


Communication 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:

"The duty 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." 



Members of 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.

Wall’s fellow 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.

Most scholarly 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 fever’s spread.

"They . . . exalt humbug at the expense of science and truth:"
  Dr. John P. Wall and the Fight Against Yellow Fever in Late-Nineteenth Century Florida


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
From "They Exalt Humbug at the Expense of Science and Truth":
Dr. John P. Wall and the Fight Against Yellow Fever in Late-Nineteenth Century Florida Larry Omar Rivers, at USF Scholar Commons.

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, with Wall scheduled to speak at around 9:30 in the morning.


In what would become the most definitive and remembered point of his career, the doctor decided to use this honor as yet another opportunity to speak against what he now whole-heartedly believed was the fallacious "medical" connection between yellow fever and filth.


Wall and a life-long friend, Dr. Sheldon Stringer, took up lodging with adjoining rooms in the on-campus Brown House. The night before the address, Wall and Stringer attended a reception at Odd Fellows Hall, sponsored by the host Alachua Medical Association. Returning to Brown House a little after eleven o’clock, Wall and his friend engaged in a long and lively conversation before finally retiring at midnight.


Wall was described as being in high spirits the morning of his oration. "Cheerful as ever" he rose, ate breakfast, and then walked down to the local office of another close friend, one Dr. Lancaster. The two spent part of the morning visiting several patients. Consequently, Wall arrived a few minutes late to his speaking engagement at the Seminary, where the association’s sessions were being held in the second floor lecture hall.


Upon his entrance, the present order of business was suspended and the chair announced the reading of Wall’s paper: "Public Hygiene in the Light of Recent Observations and Experiments." Wall walked forward and assumed his reading position at the left end of the secretary’s table. Facing the audience, which sat to his west, he began his presentation, reading from "a proof sheet printed by a publishing concern."


As Wall went on, one observer noted that "he read with great difficulty and under suppressed excitement, under which he seemed to labor being so great at times as to cause him repeatedly to pause and sip water." Even while experiencing such obvious discomfort and difficulty, Wall’s sense of humor did not fail. Remarking "high tones and toney meals do not seem to agree with me," he attempted to continue.  He resumed reading for a few minutes more when he again appeared very nervous and sickly. This time, it looked as if "he did not know what to do with his hands. He would put them up to his breast and then thrust them into his pocket, first one and then the other." The doctor then started turning pale. Finally, a delegate, Dr. Caldwell, suggested that Wall sit down. Wall reached around with his hand to grasp the chair that sat behind him and started to move his body down in it. Without noticing, he accidentally sat on the chair’s arm, which caused him to tumble down to the floor. The presiding officer and others rushed to his aid, but it was too late, Dr. John P. Wall had died in front of their very eyes, before the presiding officer could reach him.   Though likely due to coronary occlusion, the exact cause of his death was never established.


From the Tribune article referenced and linked below.



This 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.
The Sunland Tribune







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 seasons.

Read the article published in the Tampa Morning Tribune on April 19, 1895 about his life and his death.  (When the image opens, click it again to see it full size.  It is large.)

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

Judge Wall's oldest son by his second marriage, Joseph Baisden Wall 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.

James T. Magbee

Meanwhile, during the Reconstruction period, there had risen to prominence in the community one James T. Magbee. A native Georgian, for reasons unknown, became 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 Tampa.


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. (This particular "molasses & corn" detail is unsubstantiated.  The account of this event in the paper at the time mentioned no such detail,  and likely a myth, having been added decades later.)  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 contempt."


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.


READ MORE ABOUT THESE INCIDENTS AT "MAGBEE'S DRUNKEN DOWNFALL" here at TampaPix's feature, "The Life and Times of James T. Magbee."  Here, actual newspaper articles that covered this event are presented and show what really happened.



J.B. Wall was hot-tempered, as was his and his nephew-in-law, James E. Lipscomb. On Aug. 12, 1878, he was with Lipscomb when he (Lipscomb) got into an altercation in the streets of Tampa with the retired Judge James T. Magbee. Lipscomb pulled Magbee out of his buggy and gave him a thorough caning, being offended by what he and Wall considered a derogatory comment Magbee had published in his Republican newspaper, the Tampa Guardian, about their uncle, the late Billy Wall. The article was published in the form of a "card," which is what newspapers called a correspondence received from a reader.  But Lipscomb and Wall suspected it was Magbee who had written it.  Later, Wall wrote to the Sunland Tribune (John P. Wall, editor) stating he was present at Magbee's caning, but neither he or any member of the Wall family laid a hand on Magbee, that it was only Lipscomb who beat him. Later, Wall justified the caning by writing the Tribune stating that "Magbee is sufficiently young and strong to be vicious and therefore by all social laws is amenable to chastisement" Though he claimed he hadn't touched Magbee, all three men involved in the affair were fined $10 in the Mayor's Court.

Read about James T. Magbee JAMES T. MAGBEE: “Union Man, Undoubted Secessionist, and High Priest in the Radical Synagogue” By Kyle S. VanLandingham


On March 6, 1882, Joseph B. Wall assisted a lynch mob that hanged in front of the county courthouse a white itinerant sailor accused of attempted rape. Supposedly, 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." The article about the lynching doesn't mention Wall or the the noose. But his assistance in some manner is made manifest before the end of that week.


On the 2nd day of the Spring Term, Judge Locke issued a rule against Joseph B. Wall, for him to show cause as to why he should not be stricken from the roll of attorneys practicing in his court, for the reason of counseling and aiding in the unlawful hanging of a man in Tamp on Mar. 6. The Tribune says Wall "very properly refused to put in an answer to such an accusation, but respectfully asked the Court to waive the rule until after the Spring Term of the State Court of Hillsborough Co. which would be held in this month, March. Judge Locke refused Wall's request, and on Friday disbarred J. B. Wall until further order from the Court.



Naturally, editor of the Sunland Tribune (and half-brother of J. B. Wall) took to his paper to criticize Judge Locke for his action. "The action of any official is a legitimate subject of criticism, and probably none is more deserving of a critical review than that of a judge when arbitrarily exercising the rights and powers with which he is invested as a Court."

In the remainder of the article, the Tribune's expertise in law is displayed, citing the reason why Judge Locke "proceeded in a manner wholly at variance with the rulings of the Supreme Courts of the U.S. and Florida." That Judge Locke did not base his ruling on a sworn complaint, which both Courts required before issuing the rule to show cause. But instead of waiting for any sworn complaint, Judge Lock issued the ruling on hearsay, and that a day or two afterward, Judge Locke called on the U.S. Marshall of his Court to testify against Wall.

The Tribune goes on to justify the lynching based on the facts of the crime, the "bravado" of the suspect, the high esteem of the victim, and the timing of the crime (claiming that it was on the Sabbath**). Two other newspapers chime in with their approval, The Times Union, and the Monticello Constitution with "Served him right. Hurrah for the citizens of Tampa!"    See this entire article.

Even though Wall was disbarred from Federal practice by Judge Locke, he 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.

**It was a common practice for Christian-based religions of this era to refer to Sunday as the Sabbath, even though the Sabbath day was established in the O.T. by God as part of a covenant with his people, the Israelites.  "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work" (Exodus 20:8-10). Saturday is the seventh day, and is celebrated as such by members of the Jewish faith.  Nine of the ten commandments are reiterated in principles taught in the New Testament. The one (of the ten) that is not is the keeping of the Sabbath day.  Instead, disciples of Christ meet on the FIRST Day of the week, Sunday, as commanded by Jesus (at the "Last Supper") and by way of examples by Christ's disciples in the N.T.--Sunday is the "Lord's Day" not the Sabbath.  Although man has modified calendars through the centuries, the seven-day weekly cycle has remained intact throughout history. The days of the week have always remained in their proper order, with Sunday as the first day of the week and Saturday as the seventh.


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, 1872. 


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 Brooksvile.


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 Cemetery

Last Name First Name Cemetery Addition Garden Sec Block Lot Space Age D.O.D. Comments
WALL JOHN P., DR. OAKLAWN     3 43 1 2 58 4/18/1895 Tampa's 16th mayor
WALL JULIA ANN. OAKLAWN     3 43 3 2 1 9/8/1871 3rd child of Dr. John P. Wall and Pressie
WALL MARY E. OAKLAWN     3 43 3 2 3 8/4/1867 1st child of Dr. John P. Wall and Pressie
WALL MATILDA MCKAY OAKLAWN     2 19 1 1 41 12/7/1893 2nd wife of Dr. John P. Wall
WALL MINNIE E. OAKLAWN     1 7 2 2 52 2/16/1891 Wife of Wm. Washington Wall
WALL PERRY G. WOODLAWN OLD SECTION PIONEER GARDEN   177 8 3 76 1/25/1944 Tampa's 41st mayor, son of Wm. Washington Wall
WALL PERRY G. WOODLAWN OLD SECTION PIONEER GARDEN   177 3 3 87 7/8/1897 Judge Perry G. Wall
WALL PRESSIE EUBANKS OAKLAWN     3 43 2 3 27 9/6/1871 1st wife of Dr. John P. Wall
WALL WILLIAM W. OAKLAWN     1 7 2 1 43 4/22/1878 1st child of Judge Perry Wall & Nancy
WALL, JAMES EDGAR OAKLAWN       28       12/18/1954 Son of Wm. Washington Wall
WALL, JR. JAMES EDGAR OAKLAWN       28     82 12/6/1987 Son of James Edgar Wall
WALL, JR. JOHN P., DR. OAKLAWN       43 1 3   8/27/1922 2nd child of Dr. John P. Wall and Pressie

Perry G. Wall Land Patents    Tampapix Home


Information sources
"To Faithfully Discharge My Duty", The Sunland Tribune, A Journal of the Tampa Historical Society, Vol. 23, Nov. 1997

"John Perry Wall, A Man For All Seasons", The Sunland Tribune, A Journal of the Tampa Historical Society, Vol. 2, No.1, Oct. 1975
"Dr. John P. Wall and the Fight Against Yellow Fever in Late-Nineteenth Century Florida,"
The Sunland Tribune, A Journal of the Tampa Historical Society, Vol 25, 1999

Tampa's century-old Peninsular Paper asks: paper or plastic?

Genealogical Records of the Pioneers of Tampa

Tampa Bay History Center

United Way

Photos courtesy of:

"To Faithfully Discharge My Duty", The Sunland Tribune, A Journal of the Tampa Historical Society, Vol. 23, Nov. 1997

"John Perry Wall, A Man For All Seasons", The Sunland Tribune, A Journal of the Tampa Historical Society, Vol. 2, No.1, Oct. 1975

"Dr. John P. Wall and the Fight Against Yellow Fever in Late-Nineteenth Century Florida,"
The Sunland Tribune, A Journal of the Tampa Historical Society, Vol 25, 1999

State Library & Archives of Florida, Florid Memory Collection

University of South Florida Digital Collections
University of Florida Digital Collections

Burgert Brothers Photo Collection at HCPLC with access via LaMaritn.com

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps at University of Florida Digital Collections
Wall family plot by D. Hoffman