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Why do they call it that? Bay area names with Civil War ties | Arts & Culture

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Why do they call it that? Bay area names with Civil War ties
Arts & Culture, News
Why do they call it that? Bay area names with Civil War ties

Tampa, FL -- This week marks 150 years since Florida turned its back on the United States and seceded from the Union. In the Tampa Bay area, several places have names tied to the bitter Civil War that followed.


Why do they call it Jackson Street?

You'd figure that just like a $20 bill, Downtown Tampa's Jackson Street would honor General, President, and Florida Governor Andrew Jackson.


Nope.


"It's for John Jackson, the man who laid out the original streets of Tampa," said Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of history at the Tampa Bay History Center, which opened a new exhibit on the Civil War in the Tampa Bay area this week. 


John Jackson has an interesting spot in the city's Civil War story. Jackson had just been chosen to be the city's leader when the Confederate military officially took over Tampa and shut down the city government.


"He was elected mayor in February of 1862, but he only served for 19 days," Kite-Powell said.


"The Confederate commander at Fort Brooke -- which was just south of Tampa -- declared martial law. And, so, with that, Jackson left office 19 days later. So he holds the distinction of being the mayor with the shortest term in Tampa's history."


Several times after that, Tampa was the scene of Civil War fighting. Union ships would run up into Tampa Bay and attack anyone trying to use the port. Sometimes they'd open fire on the city itself.


A Union ship blasted a cannonball right through the wall of a home in Tampa. The Ferris family held onto it -- what a paperweight.


The owner of the home even refused to repair the hole in the wall; he said he wanted it to serve as a reminder of the North's aggression toward the South.


That cannonball, which is about the size of a softball, is now part of the Tampa Bay History Center collection.


Why do they call it Bealsville?

"There's a little community outside of Plant City called Bealsville and it has ties to the Civil War, as well," Kite-Powell said.


Bealsville was, he explained, "founded by freed slaves after the war."


Eleven black families said "see ya later" to their former masters and built a farming town here.


At first it was called Howell's Creek -- until Alfred Beal, the area's most successful farmer -- saved the day.


Beal donated land for a school and church, and when other families would get in financial trouble he'd bail them out.


How'd they thank him? They renamed the community to honor him.


But -- ahhh, sorry about this Alfred -- instead of Bealsville, everybody these days pronounces it "Beesville."


Why do they call it that? Now you know.

See the cannonball we talked about in this story, get up close to uniforms and guns from the Civil War era, and discover plenty of fascinating stories at the Tampa Bay History Center's new exhibit.


Admission to "Blue and Gray in Tampa Bay" is included with admission to the history center. Find out more at the Tampa Bay History Center website.


If you want to ask "Why do they call it that?" send an e-mail with a name that has you curious to Grayson Kamm using this link.


We'll be featuring new places and stories each Wednesday on 10 News at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m..


Check out previous editions of "Why do they call it that?" plus links to photos and maps from Tampa Bay's past at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.

Connect with 10 News multi-media journalist Grayson Kamm
twitter @graysonkamm | e-mail at this link | or on Facebook

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