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Henry Laurens Mitchell (1831-1903)

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Title:
Henry Laurens Mitchell (1831-1903) a 19th century pyramidal personality
Physical Description:
1 online resource (3 p.) : ill. ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Buck, Morison
Publisher:
Morison Buck
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Judges -- Biography -- Florida -- Hillsborough County   ( lcsh )

Notes

Original Version:
Originally published as part of the "Chips off the Old Bench" column: Tampa, Fla. : Hillsborough County, December 1997, Lawyer under title:
General Note:
Title from caption.

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
usfldc doi - B28-00021
usfldc handle - b28.21
NEW
System ID:
SFS0000065:00001


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PAGE 1

H e n r y L au r e n s M i t c h e l l ( 1831 1903) A 19t h C e n t u r y P yr am i d al P e r s on al i t y E ve r y s c hool boy know s t ha t T hom a s J e f f e r s on w a s not onl y t he t hi r d P r e s i de nt o f t he s e U ni t e d S t a t e s but a l s o r e now ne d by e a r l i e r s e r vi c e i n hi gh of f i c e : G ove r nor of V i r gi ni a A m ba s s a dor t o F r a nc e m e m be r o f C ongr e s s S e c r e t a r y of S t a t e a nd V i c e P r e s i de nt P r oba bl y onl y a f e w l i vi ng F l or i di a ns a r e a w a r e t ha t f o r m e r j udge a nd F l or i da 's 16t h G ove r nor i s bur i e d j us t nor t h of dow nt ow n T a m pa i n t he M i t c he l l / S pe nc e r f a m i l y pl ot O a kl a w n C e m e t e r y. T ha t m a n i s H e nr y L M i t c he l l Y ou m a y w e l l a s k how t he r e c oul d be a ny c om pa r i s on be t w e e n t he l i ve s of J e f f e r s on, l e ge nda r y V i r gi ni a n, a nd t he e a r t hl y t e nu r e of M i t c he l l of T a m pa F l or i da T he y a r e no t of c our s e t o be c om pa r e d M a r ke d di f f e r e nc e s i n t he c a r e e r s of t he s e t w o m e n, s e pa r a t e d by a c e nt ur y, a r e a ppa r e nt J e f f e r s on w a s a n A m e r i c a n of i nt e r na t i on a l e xpe r i e nc e a nd l a s t i ng i nf l u e nc e M i t c he l l 's pl a c e i n h i s t or y i s pa r o c hi a l l y c onf i ne d t o t hi s s t a t e E a c h w a s m a r r i e d but onc e M i t c he l l w a s c hi l dl e s s w he r e a s J e f f e r s on f a t he r e d s i x c hi l d r e n by hi s w i f e w ho di e d a f t e r onl y 10 ye a r s o f m a r r i a ge Y ou w on't f i nd M i t c he l l H e nr y L l i s t e d i n e nc yc l ope di c t e s t s but he i s t he s ubj e c t of a 1978 bi og r a phy e nt i t l e d T he L i f e of H e nr y L a ur e ns F l or i da 's 16t h G ove r nor by G e o. B C hur c h, J r T he m os t s t r i ki ng di s s i m i l a r i t y be t w e e n t he s e t w o w a s i n t he i r pe r s ona l a ppe a r a nc e J e f f e r s on w a s t a l l r e d ha i r e d a nd a ha nds om e i m p os i ng f i gur e M i t c he l l w a s a l a r ge be a r de d f e l l ow w i t h w ha t c a n onl y be de s c r i b e d a s ugl y, f o r bi ddi ng f e a t ur e s D oubt e r s a r e i nvi t e d t o i ns pe c t J udge M i t c he l l 's por t r a i t on t he nor t h w a l l of C our t r oom O ne i n t he C our t H ous e M i t c he l l 's r e pe l l e nt a ppe a r a nc e di d n ot a l i e na t e vot e r s w ho f a vor e d hi m t i m e a nd a ga i n. I t s e e m s r e m a r ka bl e t h a t t w o of J udge M i t c he l l 's de s c e nda nt s ( gr e a t ne phe w s ) a r e w e l l know n s e ni or l a w ye r s A l l i e B a y a r d A ngl e E s q. now l i vi ng i n S e m i nol e a nd N o r m a n S t a l l i ngs E s q. o f T a m pa w hos e di s t i ngui s he d good l ooks be l i e t ha t a nc e s t r a l c onne c t i on. I n one s e ns e how e ve r t he s e t w o publ i c s e r va nt s w e r e ki n dr e d s pi r i t s be c a us e ne i t he r J e f f e r s on nor M i t c he l l s e e m e d t o know w ha t t he y w a nt e d t o do w i t h t he i r l i ve s T he t hi r d P r e s i de nt f i t s t he bi l l o f w ha t t oda y w oul d be c a l l e d a R e na i s s a nc e m a n; he w a s i nve nt or l a w ye r a r c h i t e c t f a r m e r di pl om a t e duc a t or a nd oc c upa nt o f e ve r y hi gh of f i c e ( e xc e pt j udge ) hi s s t a t e a nd na t i on c oul d o f f e r i nc l udi ng t w o t e r m s a s t he na t i on's C hi e f E xe c ut i ve M i t c he l l w a s no s l ouc h. H e w a s a c i vi l i a n s ol di e r w i t h s e r vi c e i n t he C onf e de r a c y, l a w ye r pr os e c ut i ng a t t o r ne y, ne w s pa pe r e di t o r l a nd s pe c ul a t or a nd e nt r e pr e ne ur c i r c ui t j udge j us t i c e of t he S up r e m e C our t of F l or i da gov e r nor a nd f i na l l y c l e r k of t he c i r c ui t c our t H i s l i f e a nd t i m e s w i l l be t he f oc us of t he r e m a i nde r of t hi s a r t i c l e B or n i n 1831 ne a r B i r m i ngha m A l a ba m a r e l oc a t i ng t o J a c ks onvi l l e t he n t o T a m pa w hi c h he c l a i m e d a s hom e f or t he r e s t of hi s l i f e M i t c he l l e a r l y de m ons t r a t e d a ke e n i nt e l l e c t by r e a di ng l a w i n t he of f i c e of J a m e s G e t t i s i n hi s m i d t e e ns A dm i t t e d t o pr a c t i c e a t a ge 18, h e de ve l ope d a n a f f i ni t y f o r pol i t i c s a nd w a s a ppoi nt e d C ount y

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S ol i c i t or a t a n a nnua l s a l a r y o f $400 L a t e r e xpa ndi ng i nt o ot he r f i e l ds of i n t e r e s t he be c a m e e di t or of a w e e kl y ne w s pa pe r F l or i da P e ni ns ul a r H e s e r ve d s uc c e s s i ve t e r m s i n t he l e gi s l a t ur e 1875 1875, a nd t he n m o r e oppo r t u ni t i e s f or pub l i c s e r vi c e be c kone d. H e r e c e i ve d a n a ppoi nt m e nt a s C i r c ui t J udge f or t he S i xt h J udi c i a l C i r c ui t I t w a s s a i d a t t he t i m e by one o f hi s k i n t ha t H e he l d c our t c l e a n t o K e y W e s t a nd up t o C e d a r K e y. T he S i xt h C i r c ui t ( now P a s c o a nd P i ne l l a s c ount i e s ) e m br a c e d s e ve r a l c ount i e s a nd hi s j ur i s di c t i on c ove r e d a l a r ge a r e a o f t he w e s t c oa s t T he C hur c h bi og r a phy r e l a t e s one s t or y of J udge M i t c he l l 's ge ne r ous na t ur e H e w a s t r yi ng a c a s e i n K e y W e s t w he n t he t r i a l w a s di s r u pt e d by a f i s t f i ght be t w e e n oppos i ng c ouns e l H e he l d bot h l a w ye r s i n c ont e m pt a nd a s s e s s e d a $50 f i ne upon e a c h. W he n he l e a r ne d t ha t one o f t he l a w ye r s w a s br oke a nd w i t h out m e a ns of pa yi ng t he f i ne he ha nde d hi m $50 a nd t ol d h i m N ow you go i n a nd s e e t he c l e r k a nd pa y your f i ne t he n ge t ba c k i n t he r e a nd ge t t hi s c a s e s e t t l e d. W hi l e w or ki ng i n T a m pa a s a j udge he l i ve d a t t he O r a nge G r ove H ot e l l oc a t e d a t E a s t a nd M a di s on S t r e e t s j us t s t e ps f r om t he p r e s e nt C ount y C our t H ou s e L e l a nd H a w e s hi s t or i a n a nd j our na l i s t w hos e c ol u m n H i s t or y H e r i t a ge a ppe a r s e ve r y S unda y i n t he T am pa T r i bune di d a n i n de pt h, t w o pa r t s t or y a bout M i t c he l l I n hi s i ni t i a l c ol um n i n M a r c h 1984 L e l a nd t e l l s how he c a m e i nt e r e s t e d a f t e r r e a di ng t he book by C hur c h, M i t c he l l 's bi ogr a phe r t he n c onduc t e d a n i nt e r vi e w w i t h hi m I n a f o l l ow up on A pr i l 21 of t ha t ye a r he quot e d e xt e ns i ve l y f r o m a hi s t or y of P l a nt C i t y by Q ui nt i l l a B r ut on ( l a t e w i f e of H i l l s bor ough C i r c ui t J udge J D B r ut on J r a l s o de c e a s e d) a nd D a vi d B a i l e y. S a l i e nt po r t i ons of L e l a nd H a w e s f e a t ur e s t or i e s us e d w i t h t he l a t t e r 's pe r m i s s i on, f ol l ow s : I n m i d 1883 s pe c ul a t i on w a s s t i l l goi ng on but t h e r e w e r e s om e w ho kne w t he e xa c t r out e t he r a i l r oa d ( H e nr y B P l a nt 's pr o j e c t c onne c t i ng T a m pa a nd K i s s i m m e e ) w oul d t a ke O ne of t he s e w a s H e nr y L a u r e ns M i t c he l l of T a m pa t he n j udge of t he S i xt h J udi c i a l C i r c ui t of F l or i da M i t c he l l w a s w e l l a c qua i nt e d w i t h t he a r e a a nd w i t h i t s pe opl e a nd k ne w t ha t t he J ohn G T hom a s f a m i l y ow ne d a s i z a bl e t r a c t of l a nd s e ve r a l m i l e s e a s t of hi s boyhood hom e H e know a l s o t ha t P l a nt 's r a i l r o a d w oul d pa s s t hr ough a por t i on of t he T hom a s l a nd. H e a l s o know t ha t a s e c ond r a i l r oa d e xt e ndi ng s out h f r om O c a l a w oul d c r os s P l a nt 's r a i l r oa d a t t ha t poi nt m a ki ng i t a m os t l ogi c a l s i t e f o r a t ow n. ( P l a nt C i t y) T he r e f or e i t i s not be l i e ve d t o ha ve be e n m or e c oi nc i de nc e t ha t i n J une 1883, t he s a m e m ont h H e nr y B P l a nt pu r c ha s e d hi s r a i l r oa d c ha r t e r one T hom a s W he e l e r bought 40 a c r e s t hr ough w hi c h t he r a i l r oa d w ou l d pa s s T hr e e m ont hs l a t e r W he e l e r c onve ye d t he 40 t o j udge M i t c he l l I t w oul d a ppe a r t ha t W he e l e r w a s a c t i ng a s a n a ge nt f o r M i t c he l l T he T a m pa j udge bought a not he r 15 a c r e s f r om a m e m be r o f t he T hom a s f a m i l y, t he n hi r e d L e w i s E W a r r e n t o s ur ve y t he t r a c t a nd pl a t i t f o r s t r e e t s i n a t ow n. S i gni f i c a nt t oo, i s t ha t f a c t t ha t nor t h/ s out h s t r e e t s on t he P l a nt C i t y pl a t w e r e or i gi na l l y na m e d f or M i t c he l l 's pa r t ne r s i n a gr oup know n a s T he T a m pa S yndi c a t e T he y w e r e p r om i ne nt f a m i l y na m e s i n T a m pa S p e nc e r H e nde r s on, L e s l e y a nd S pa r km a n. T he s e c ond r a i l r oa d t he F l or i da C e nt r a l a nd P e ni n s ul a di d not c hug i nt o P l a nt C i t y unt i l 1889, but i t f ol l ow e d t he r out e M i t c he l l a nt i c i pa t e d i t w oul d. L e l a nd H a w e s i nf or m e d h i s r e a de r s t ha t t he P l a nt C i t y hi s t or i a ns c r e di t e d M r s B r ut on's hus ba nd w i t h une a r t hi ng t he M i t c he l l c on ne c t i on w i t h t he c r e a t i on of P l a nt C i t y f r om J udge B r ut on's e xpe r i e nc e i n t he e xa m i na t i on of l a nd t i t l e s i n E a s t H i l l s bor ough

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C ount y. M a ny t ha nks t o L e l a nd H a w e s f or pe r m i s s i on t o bo r r ow po r t i o ns of hi s c ol um ns I n 1887 a f t e r t e n ye a r s on t he C i r c ui t B e nc h, he w a s a ppoi nt e d by t he gove r no r t o a f our ye a r t e r m on t he S upr e m e C our t of F l or i da H e r e s i gne d hi s s e a t a f t e r onl y t w o ye a r s i n T a l l a ha s s e e N a nc y D obs on, he l pf ul a nd t a l e nt e d D i r e c t or o f F l or i da S upr e m e C our t H i s t or i c a l S oc i e t y, o f f e r s t h i s pos s i bl e e xpl a na t i on: O ne t hi ng, t he c a s e l oa d w a s ge t t i ng qui t e he a vy a nd w oul d a c t ua l l y ge t he a vi e r w i t h F l or i da s c ont i nue d gr ow t h A C i r c ui t J udge 's j ob pa i d onl y $500 l e s s t ha n t ha t of a j us t i c e A l s o, t he y m a de f r e que nt t r i ps t o T a m pa W he n t he y l i ve d i n T a l l a ha s s e e t he r e w a s not one pa ve d s t r e e t S om e of t he w i ve s di d not c a r e f or T a l l a ha s s e e a nd t hi s c oul d ve r y w e l l be t he r e a s on s pe c ul a t i on on m y p a r t B ut i m a gi ne l i vi ng i n a t ow n o f s e ve n hi l l s a nd t r yi ng t o c r os s t he s t r e e t i n a l ong d r e s s i n t he r a i n or a f t e r a r a i n. I n 1890 he t ook a ppoi nt m e nt a s j udge of t he S e ve nt h C i r c ui t T w o ye a r s l a t e r he r e s i gne d t o s e e k e l e c t i on a s gove r nor H e w a s a s s uc c e s s f ul i n t ha t e nde a vor a s he ha d be e n i n a l l hi s po l i t i c a l a dve nt ur e s ove r t he ye a r s G r e a t ne phe w B a ya r d A ngl e t e l l s t he s t or y a bout j udge M i t c he l l 's ba r be r a n out s poke n s uppor t e r i n hi s c a m pa i gn f or gove r nor w ho ke pt a pa r r ot i n h i s s hop. S e e m s t ha t t he ba r be r ha d t r a i ne d t he pa r r ot t o s qua w k s om e t hi ng t o t he e f f e c t V ot e f o r M i t c he l l vot e f o r M i t c he l l H e n r y's oppone nt w a s he a r d t o m ut t e r t ha t he d i dn't ha ve a c ha nc e w he n e ve n t he bi r ds w e r e o r ga ni z e d f o r M i t c he l l H e w a s r i gh t he l os t U pon c om pl e t i on of hi s gube r na t or i a l t e r m he s ought t he of f i c e of c l e r k o f t he c i r c ui t c our t A l t hough he w a s c r i t i c i z e d by s om e f o r w ha t t he y c ons i de r e d t o be a de m e a ni ng s t e p dow n by a f or m e r S upr e m e C our t j us t i c e i t ha s be e n s ugge s t e d t ha t w he n M i t c he l l l e f t t he gove r no r 's of f i c e a n hone s t m a n, he w a s br oke i n f a i l i ng he a l t h a nd ne e de d a j ob w i t h a n a s s ur e d i nc om e S w a ppi ng a bl a c k r obe f o r a bus i ne s s s ui t w a s not w i t h out pr e c e de nt M r s D obs on i n f or m s m e t ha t S up r e m e C our t J us t i c e M i l t on H M a br y of T a m pa s e r ve d f or t e n ye a r s a s C l e r k of t he S upr e m e C our t f ol l ow i ng hi s r e t i r e m e nt a s j us t i c e T he pl a t e be ne a t h hi s C our t r oom O ne por t r a i t i ndi c a t e s t ha t J udge M i t c he l l s e r ve d a t t he C i r c ui t l e ve l a ga i n f r om 1901 u nt i l t he ye a r be f or e hi s de a t h. T he f i na l r e c ogni t i on, pe r ha ps w hi c h he r e c e i ve d c a m e w he n he w a s e l e c t e d i n 1901 t o t he p r e s i de nc y of t he T a m pa B a r A s s oc i a t i on. T he r e f ol l ow s a n i nf o r m a l pi c t ur e of H e nr y L a ur e n s M i t c he l l 's gr a ve m onum e nt i n O a kl a w n C e m e t e r y M or i s on B uc k


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