THE LIFE AND CAREER
OF PERRY GREEN WALL
By KYLE S. VanLANDINGHAM
Copyright 2001, by Kyle S. VanLandingham
Perry Green Walls 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. Perrys father soon died and he and his mother lived for a time in the home of her father, Simon Whitehurst. Later, Susannah married Shadrack Sutton and had six more children. About 1817, the Suttons moved to Irwin County, Georgia, where they are shown on the 1820 census. By 1826 they had moved on to Hamilton County, Florida, where Susannahs brother, John Whitehurst, also settled.1
In January 1828, Shadrack Sutton was appointed Sheriff of Hamilton County. Perry Wall, soon after his twenty-first birthday, married Nancy Ann Hunter, 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.2
Perry and his wife lived at present-day Jasper and in early 1835 he purchased two tracts in Sections 5 and 19, Township 1 North, Range 14, East, consisting of 120 acres, and an 80 acre tract in Section 24, Township 1, North, Range 13, East. He voted in elections in 1833 and 1835 in the Courthouse 2nd Precinct.3
The Second Seminole War broke out in December 1835 and Perry G. Wall served two enlistments. He was mustered into Capt. George W. Smiths Company of the 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, Florida Mounted Volunteers, at Fort Read, January 16, 1837, as a private. Also serving in this unit was his stepfather, Shadrack Sutton. The company mustered out at Fort Gilliland, December 18, 1837. Perry served again in Smiths company from March 22, 1838 until September 23, 1838.4
The war veteran 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. 5
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. When the U. S. Census was taken 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. On February 28, 1845, Nancy Hunter Wall died, leaving Perry with seven children, all under the age of11.6
It was time to move on. Hernando County had been established in 1843 but the following year its name was changed to Benton, in honor of Sen. Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri.7 The Annuttalagga Hammock, northwest of present-day Brooksville, was described as "the largest and most compact body of rich land to be found in Florida," extending 14 miles in length and from four to seven miles in width.8 It was here that Perry G. Wall started a new phase of his life. He settled at Spring Hill, about four miles west of present-day Brooksville. Other original settlers there were Peter W. Law, Malcolm C. Peterson, John E Bassett and William Garrison. Perry also took a new wife, 35-year old Barbara R. Baisden, daughter of Josiah Baisden, on December 11, 1845, reportedly in a triple wedding ceremony performed by a circuit riding preacher. Barbaras sister Rosa married Malcolm Peterson and her sister Frances married John Bassett. Martha Baisden, another sister, was already the wife of Peter W. Law. In December 1846, Perry began purchasing land, 40 acres in Section 24, Township 22 South, Range 18 East, at Spring Hill. By 1850, according to the tax rolls, he had 370 acres and 18 slaves.9
Perry G. Wall became Judge of Probate of Benton County in 1848. In this capacity, he also served as ex officio chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. In the May 1849 election, he received 38 votes to 18 for E. J.Knight and five for Isaac Garrison. However, in 1851, Wall was defeated by Knight, 59-55.10 Perry may have made some enemies as a result of the election the previous year for the office of State Assemblyman. Wall and the two others on the canvassing board certified Joel L. Lockhart as winner over Robert D. Bradley by a vote of 46 to 45. Four other votes for Bradley were thrown out because in that precinct only two inspectors were present instead of the three required. But a month later, in November 1850, Perry changed his mind. Writing to Bradley, he said that his original view was that the canvassers had the right and the duty to exclude returns "not strictly in conformity with the election law." 11
I now believe that where there is any fraud or illegality in an election it is a matter for the contestants to prove as prescribed and be referred to the proper tribunal for decision as to the rights of the parties, I make no hesitancy in making this confession to you, my only motto being to faithfully discharge my duty at any and all times so far as I am enabled to understand
Bradley was certified the winner of the election. One of the legislatures accomplishments in 1850-51 was to change the name of the county back to Hernando.13
Perry continued to purchase land. The 1851 tax rolls show him owing 672 acres. The previous years U. S. Census describes him as planter with $2000 worth of real estate and 16 slaves.14 On October 18, 1851, he wrote to Capt. William B. Hooker who lived in neighboring Hillsborough County. He tried to convince Hooker to settle in the area and offered him his 700 acre tract.
This tract contains a little over seven hundred acres all in the Annuteliga Hammock in one body except the settlement just one mile south where I now reside on which there is a good many good buildings, such as dwelling houses, cotton house, corn houses, and Negro houses, and about one hundred acres of cleared land, most of which was Hammock. There is probably 20 acres of the tract in the Annuttalega Hammock which is pine land, the settlement tract contains 168 acres, the balance of 500 acres is all Hammock. This entire tract of land as above described is now offered for five thousand and two hundred dollars. There has not been such a bargain sold in this County in 2 years past, and I expect I shall sell to Col. Wm.. Y. Bailey when he comes down about the 1st Dec. if I dont get another chance, but he owns so much unoccupied lands here that I desire to sell to an actual settler. Suppose you come to see those lands. My reasons for wanting to sell is that I own another tract one and a half miles south to which I am going to remove15 Click here to see letter.
But Hooker did not buy the land and by 1853 Wall was listed as owning 1057 acres.16
The August 31, 1854 issue of the Jacksonville Florida Republican carried a story about the plantations of Hernando County:
We conversed last evening with one of our enterprising merchants, who has sojourned the last month among the planters of Hernando County, examining with an experienced eye, the late improvements, crops, &c. It is really cheering to hear his glowing description of the cotton, corn, cane and rice fields, &c., which came under his observation. Several gentlemen he names residing at or near Spring Hill, whom he describes as owning model plantations, viz: Captain Thomas E. Ellis, Captain Frederick Lykes, Judge Wall, William Hope, Major Garrison, C. Higginbotham, and a host of others, whose names we have forgotten.
He states that the cotton stalks on the plantation of Mr. Higginborham are grown to such a height as to require topping, and well filled with bolls of a very superior staple, and the cotton generally will far exceed in quality any previous years. The corn, sugar, cane, rice &c. have never been equaled.
On the beautiful plantation of Major Garrison, he describes a grove or orchard of 200 Banana trees, and says they are so heavily laden with fruit, as to require propping to contain them.17
An important family alliance was forged in 1848 when Perrys eldest daughter, Mary Matilda married Aaron Taylor Frierson, a prominent Hernando County planter. In 1852, daughter Julia Ann became the wife of Tampa merchant Christopher L. Friebele.18
Perry Wall reentered the political arena in 1855, winning election as probate judge, over William Iredell Turner, 106 to 80. That was the year that the American or Know Nothing Party reached its peak of power in Florida and Turner was the Know Nothing candidate.19 Perry reconfirmed his allegiance to the Democratic party in a letter to the Tampa Florida Peninsular, August 22, 1856. Writing from Bay Port he said:
I find that my name has been placed as an Elector for Hernando County, on the Know Nothing or American Ticket, by the late Know Nothing Convention, held in Tallahassee. It surprised me to have my name placed on that ticket. I have been a member of the Democratic party all my life, and see no reason why I should abandon those principles. I think any southern man or Floridian can be perfectly satisfied with the platform of the Cincinnati Convention. I never joined the Know Nothing Party, or had any affiliation with them, nor never expect to. I, therefore, wish to place myself before my friend in my proper [?]
Perry Wall was reelected probate judge in 1857, 1859 and1861.21
He continued to be active in the Baptist Church, and was one of the earliest members of the Union Baptist Church at Pierceville, in April 1856. Pierceville, previously Melendez, was named in honor of President Franklin Pierce and was located about four miles east of Spring Hill. In October 1856, land was donated on a hilltop northeast of Pierceville for a county seat site. It was named Brooksville, after South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks who had gained fame in 1856 for caning abolitionist Sen. Charles Sumner on the floor of the U. S. Senate.22
The Billy Bowlegs or Third Seminole War broke out in December 1855 and Hernando County was not immune from Indian attack.23 On May 14, 1856, Capt. Robert D. Bradleys homestead was raided and two of his children killed. Indian signs were reported throughout the area. A committee of five, including Perry G. Wall, wrote from Spring Hill to Gen. Jesse Carter at Tampa on May 31, 1856:
From the fact of so much sign having been seen almost simultaneously in so many different directions and within so short a time, we conceive that we need not be considered alarmists if we apprehend that the Indians are concentrating their forces for a murderous attack and, although no outrage has been committed among us since the sad tragedy at Captain Bradleys, yet the short respite may only be the ominous calm which forebodes a fearful storm.
We therefore, having been appointed a Committee of Citizens of this neighborhood, to report, we therefore most respectfully ask that you will, at the earliest practicable moment, send to our relief a force sufficient to protect us from the cruel barbarities of this insidious foe, or, at least, to aid us in protecting our lives and property, provided you have the direction or control of such force, and, if not, that you exert your influence to obtain it from the officer commanding the troops in Florida; for we are fully persuaded, from the indications here and the reports from other places, that there are now more Indians on this side of the Hillsborough River than there are beyond it
Actually, there were no further Indian attacks in Hernando County.
|The eldest son, William Washington Wall, 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
for several years. John Perry Wall, the second son, aspired to practice law, but Perry
considered medicine more "congenial and profitable," so John went off to the
Medical College of South Carolina, where he graduated in 1858.25
By 1860 Perry Green Wall was a wealthy man. He owned 24 slaves valued at $12,500, 1,860 acres of land worth $10,000, eight horses, 150 head of cattle and held $3400 in notes.26 Storm clouds were gathering over the national horizon that year and in November Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president. The Tampa Florida Peninsular was a major drumbeater for immediate secession. Rumors were rampant throughout the South. In early January, 1861, there was a report that northern privateers or marauders were being organized to raid the Florida coastline and kidnap slaves:
In confirmation of the above, we publish the following letter from the Hon. Perry G. Wall, of Hernando county, dated "Brooksville, Fla., Jan. 11, 1861:"
"A marauding band is being organized for the avowed purpose of making a descent on Florida to rob and plunder.27
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. Breakers Old Guards, Mounted Rangers, along with son-in-law, Aaron T. Frierson, Samuel Pearce, Francis Ederingron and Malcolm C. Peterson.28
David Hunter Wall, Perrys third son, joined the Confederate army in July 1861 at Brooksville as a private in Capt. Saxons 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. William W. Wall, enlisted in Capt. Samuel E. Hopes Company C, 9th Florida Infantry at Bayport, June 21, 1862, but was discharged the same day after hiring a substitute. However, he did join Capt. Leroy G. Lesleys cow cavalry company later during the war and succeeded Lesley as captain shortly before the wars end. Dr. John P Wall volunteered as a surgeon and was assigned to Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond. Records show that he was Assistant Surgeon of the 9th Florida Infantry in 1863. Perrys son by his second marriage, Joseph Baisden Wall, served in the 2nd Florida Reserves during the latter part of the war.29
Christopher Friebele, a son-in-law, and Edward A. Clarke, who had married Perrys daughter Sarah in 1860, were engaged in blockade running during the Civil War. They formed a partnership with another 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.30
Perry was succeeded as probate judge by Samuel J. Pearce who was elected in the fall of 1863. Judge Wall remained in office, however, until his successor qualified on February 1, 1864. 31 One of his last official acts was a letter to Gov. Milton, dated January 12, 1864.31 The letter is very revealing, because it illustrates the serious state of affairs in west central Florida at this time, and also because it reveals Perrys state of mind at this stage of the conflict. He was clearly disenchanted with the conduct of the war. The letter is printed in its entirety:
Sir: At a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners of this county on the 9th instant, for the purpose of considering the necessities and means of supplying the indigent families of soldiers in this county,
Another matter which I would direct the attention of Your Excellency to is the fact that the cattle drivers under the orders of Captain McKay, commissary of this department, have stripped the county of every beef steer that they can find, from two years old and upward, and are now taking the cows, many of which have been known to have calves, in less than fifteen miles drive. This is cutting off the only supply of meat we had for soldiers families, as the supply of pork from various causes mainly for want of corn to fatten it is unusually short so much so that the most fortunate of us will be on less than half allowance. Whatever the exigencies of the case may be, I consider it an outrage upon a community having in their midst as many suffering families as we have to take the cows, the only dependence for milk and beef for the future. In many cases the cows of poor families of soldiers in the Army are taken, as I have been informed. Does the order to those commissaries authorize them to take the milch cows from the people against their will or consent? If so, the country is certainly ruined and a general famine will be the result. Already the soldiers families are becoming clamorous for meat and are killing peoples cows wherever they can get hold of them. It does seem to me that this wholesale taking the beef-cattle and milch cows of the country should be stopped, for by taking the cows it certainly cuts off the means of any future supply of beef, saying nothing of cutting off the supply of milk. If we have arrived at that point where it has become actually necessary to impress all the cows in the country, which are so necessary to the support of any country, then I say, God help us, for starvation must be inevitable. Will your Excellency do us the favor to write me in answer to these several points?
With great respect I have the honor to be, Your Excellencys obedient servant,
PG. Wall, Judge of Probate32
The new judge, Samuel Pearce, resigned March 14 and went to Fort Myers to join the newly formed Union 2nd Florida Cavalry.33
Sheriff and Tax CollectorJ. L. Peterson writing to the State Comptroller, May 28, 1864, described the deteriorating conditions in Hernando:
In consequence of the operations of the enemy in this county and in South Florida every man who could use a musket was placed in service. A good deal of time has been lost in scouting after the enemy and in running Negroes from their reach.
My fellow citizens thinking it of more importance to defend the country than to assess taxes which could not be collected if the country fell under the controle of the enemy This county has been partially under the controle of the enemy in so far as all as all persons who did not flee up the country had to take up arms in its defence. An attack is expected here in Brooksville Thursday next and preparations are being made to repel it. We will fight them though they out number us three to one with what success remains to be seen... 34
The attack did not come until July. Soldiers of the Union 2nd Florida Cavalry and the 2nd U. S. Colored Troops landed at Anclote Key on July 8. Christopher Friebele and Edward Clarke were acting as Confederate pickets and were captured at that time. Both were sent as prisoners to Cedar Key and Friebele stated that he was later confined at Ship Island, Louisiana. The Union troops marched northeast to within a mile of Brooksville and then turned west to rendezvous at Bayport with other Union forces. Along the way, they raided the plantations of David Hope, William B. Hooker (who had moved to Hernando in 1862), Thomas C. Ellis, Leroy G. Lesley and Aaron T. Frierson. 35
An incident which occurred in early 1865, shortly before Gen. Johnstons surrender in April, further embittered Perry Wall toward his Confederate neighbors. Under the provisions of the Tithe Act, he had delivered to Receiver William M. Garrison 425 pounds of sugar and 90 gallons of syrup. The war ended and Garrison and his friends, with the permission of Cow Cavalry Col. Munnerlyn, appropriated the goods for their own use.36
By the summer of 1865, Perry Green Wall was clearly identified as a Union Man. A correspondent for the New York Times, wrote on September 12, that Judge Wall, a "true Union M[a]n" was a candidate in the October election for delegate to the upcoming state constitutional convention.37 His opponent was former business partner and Confederate captain, Samuel E. Hope.38 Wall was not only a Union Man, but a "Negro suffrage man" as well.39 He lost the election to Hope.40
But Perry was to play a prominent role in Hernando County Reconstruction. On November 2, 1865, apparently after a meeting in Tallahassee with Col. T. W. Osborn, 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."41 The order was signed by Col. Thomas W. Osborn, Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau in Florida. Writing to Wall three days later, Osborn furnished a letter of introduction to Col. George F. Thompson and William H. Gleason who were travelling throughout the southern portion of the state on bureau business. He also advised Wall that he had turned over the affairs of the Bureau to the probate judges in each county. Closing the letter, Osborn wrote: "Accept my thanks for your kindness in assisting us and an expression of my gratification in finding you so firmly interested in the cause of the freedmen and the country."42
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
On the presumption that I am superceded 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.43
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."44 Almost immediately after his appointment, Perry was involved in controversy. Acting at Vances 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.45 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.46 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...47
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.48
In August 1866, a Union Convention was held in Tallahassee for the purpose of selecting delegates to the upcoming Southern Loyalists Convention in Philadelphia. Perry G. Wall was in attendance at the Tallahassee meeting and was listed along with C. R. Mobley, Samuel J. Pearce and several others as members of the National Representative Executive Committee.49
Perry also attended to his business affairs in Hernando County. In October 1866, he wrote to his son-in-law, C. L. Friebele, reminding him of a gin band for his cotton gin that Friebele was to obtain in New York. The following March, William W. Wall paid off the remaining amount owed to obtain clear title to his general store in Brooksville. Notes and drafts in the amount of $1650 were sent to Friebele to be paid to Wall & Co., a Key West firm owned by one W H. Wall, who was no relation to the family. "And we want to hear nothing further from you so far as owning us is concerned," Billy stated in the letter to his brother-in-law. The Walls had joined in partnership with Francis H. Ederington, Hernando County planter, who died in 1866. The firm of Ederington and Wall continued through the remainder of the decade.50
Perry Wall was forced to relinquish his position as special agent for the Freedmens 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, Perry 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.51
An interesting incident regarding Walls Unionism and public reaction toit occurred in the summer of 1867. The Tampa Florida Peninsular; staunchly Democratic, reported that Judge Wall was in Tampa enroute 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 Peninsulars tone seemed mildly sarcastic, yet it was not wise to offend Judge Wall or his friends. His sons-in-law, Clark and Friebele, were wealthy Tampa merchants and advertised regularly in the paper.52
Florida was readmitted to full participation in the Union in 1868 and Harrison Reed became the states first Republican governor. In August 1869, Hernando County Judge and Unionist Samuel J. Pearce wrote to Gov. Reed recommending the appointment of William W Wall as county commissioner, describing him as "one of the best financiers we have."53 Wall obtained the appointment and became president of the board. County Judge Henry Rountree, a Reed loyalist and stalwart Republican, wrote to the governor in March 1870:
Before your late Impeachment trial, I presume S. J
Whilst thus looked on by yourself, he was really working against you and against the Republican party in Hernando County.
Through S. J.Pearces recommendation, one W W. Wall, a strong Democrat was appointed County Commissioner, and Walls relative and partner in business J. G. McKeown as Justice of the Peace, whilst another family relative was appointed Tax Collector, Win. L. Frierson, who three, are as good strong Opponents of your Excellencys as are to be found in the county or State of Florida. The Tax Collector "Frierson" has appointed County Commissioner "Wall" his Deputy Collector, the Tax Book has been at Walls store, who having on hand some Hundreds if not Thousands of Dollars of Scrip, could and did pay the Taxes of many in Scrip that likely he had obtained in trade for Twenty five cents on the Dollar.
W W. Wall is President of the Board of Co Com his father Perry G. Wall is Treasurer of Hernando County; or in other words W W Wall is the one controlling power and influence of this whole county, who I do not suppose would lift a finger to help or save your administration.
When working out the list of voters from which to select Grand Jurors and Petit Jurors he "Wall" would not have any colored names put on; and out of three hundred names only Three colored mens names were to be found, illustrating "Walls" democratic proclivities.
I have no office to seek for myself, but I do believe such a concentration of power &c in one man, in a County is antagonistic to its good.
Then I most respectfully request Walls removal as County Commissioner, and recommend in his place Frederick Lykes, a high toned gentleman honest and upright, who I believe would be a very good and efficient Commissioner;......54
Reed responded by removing Wall and made the other appointments recommended by Rountree. But the Walls were already moving their center of operations to Tampa.55
On January 13, 1870, Democratic State Sen. John A. Henderson and Democratic State Rep. Charles Moore of Hillsborough recommended to Gov. Reed the appointment of "Perry G. Wall, Esq. of Tampa, as a suitable person for the office of County Judge of Hillsborough County, vice Edward 0. Plumb resigned."56 Wall was confirmed by the Senate on January 26 and took office on March 13. 57 The Tampa Florida Peninsular reacted warmly to Walls appointment:
Gov. Reed has appointed the Hon. Perry G. Wall, Judge of the County Court for Hillsborough County. This is an excellent appointment and
|The local Republican County Committee, chaired by Judge James T Magbee,
was not pleased with the appointment of Wall. Magbee in early 1870 had been impeached by
the House, was awaiting trial and was thus temporarily out of office. He retained
influence, but was opposed by other Tampa Republican leaders C. R. Mobley and Matthew P.
Lyons. Magbees 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, Magbees 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.59
Perry G. Wall had purchased the old Thomas P. Kennedy place in downtown Tampa on Washington Street, between Water and Tampa in 1868, although he did not move to Tampa until 1870. William W "Billy" Wall moved to Tampa in 1870 and opened a general store on the corner of Washington and Marion Streets. The second son, Dr. Wall, moved to Tampa in January 1871: Joseph B. Wall, Perrys son by his second marriage, attended the University of Virginia, and was admitted to the bar in Brooksville in 1869, but moved to Tampa in 1872. In 1874 he was appointed State Attorney by Republican governor O. B. Hart.60
As county judge, Perry also served as ex officio probate judge and also as a justice of the peace. He and his son, Dr. Wall, had their initiation into the printing business after Republican C. R. Mobley acquired the Florida Peninsular in early 1872. 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." 61
Judge Wall continued in office until April 26, 1873 when he tendered his resignation to Gov. Ossian B. Hart. On March 10, 1873, Perry 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.62
Tragedy struck the family in 1878 with the death of 43-year old Billy Wall. But his general store continued in a later incarnation, the Knight and Wall Company, which was established in 1884, under the name of Clarke and Knight. Henry Laurens Knight, a son-in-law of William W Wall, and his brother-in-law, Perry G. Wall, II, formed the company. E. A. Clarke was 17-year old Perrys guardian and from the resources of the estate he financed Perry as a partner in the business. The name was changed to Knight and Wall in 1888 after Clarkes death.63
Dr. John P. 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 and for this he was ridiculed by many in his profession. By 1877 he was editor of the new weekly, the Tampa Sunland Tribune, and later became publisher. He served as Mayor of Tampa from 1878 to 1880 64
Joseph Baisden Wall prospered as a lawyer, entered politics and by 1886 was President of the State Senate. Hot tempered, he and his nephew-in-law, James E. Lipscomb, got into an altercation with the retired Judge Magbee in 1878. Offended by what they considered a derogatory comment Magbee had published in his Republican newspaper, the Tampa Guardian, about the late William W Wall, they pulled Magbee out of his buggy and gave him a thorough caning. In March 1882, Joseph Wall was a leader of a lynch mob which hanged in front of the county courthouse a white itinerant sailor. Wall was in court that day, left the building and reportedly tied the "hangmans knot," because no one else in the crowd knew how. He was disbarred from Federal practice by Judge Locke but continued to practice in the state courts. Indeed, five years later, he was elected first president of the State Bar Association.65
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 antenuptial agreement prior to the marriage. 66
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.67
At 4 oclock on the afternoon of July 8, 1897, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. C. L. Friebele, on Franklin Street, Perry Green Wall died, afrer 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 older sons. The inventory revealed personal property worth almost $34,000. His obituary in the Tampa Times estimated a total estate value of $85,000. Funeral services were held in the First Baptist Church and burial took place at Oaklawn Cemetery.68 The Tampa Tribune noted:
Judge Wall was a man who had well-nigh outlived three generations; he was not, therefore, altogether, of our time; but the exactness with which he conducted his business transactions showed that he was not so much behind the times as might have been supposed; while the absolute justice and righteousness of his dealings with his fellow-men, indicated that he was several generations in advance of the times. 69
Not surprisingly, neither of his obituaries in the two Tampa newspapers mentioned his service with the Freedmens Bureau.70
Perry Green Wall was described by one contemporary as "a small man of very pleasant address,"71 and by another as "hardy and of cheerful disposition."72 But he was much more than that. His long life covered almost the entire period of pioneer life in nineteenth century Florida. He served honorably in various offices and his service as Freedmens Bureau agent reveals a man willing to stand by his principles in spite of the disapproval of contemporaries. He was also skillful and shrewd, as witnessed by his subsequent high esteem in the community. Being wealthy and having powerful relatives and friends also helped.
In 1908, when Morgan Street on the west side of Oaklawn Cemetery was widened, Perry was reburied at Woodlawn Cemetery.73 His sarcophagus-like monument is solid and impressive, but also compact and not ostentatious. It exemplifies the manit honors.74
1 Affidavit of Perry G. Wall, Aug. 13, 1889, in Widows Pension Application of Jincey Fletcher Whitehurst, War of 1812, National Archives. The Fork area was in Montgomery County until 1801 when Tattnall County was formed but was returned to Montgomery in 1812. See Robert Davis, Jr., A History of Montgomery County, Georgia to 1918 (Roswell, GA, 1992), 1-3, 27-36. Several sources give Liberty Counry, Georgia as Walls place of birth. See Tampa Tribune, July 9, 1897; Tampa Weekly Times, July 15, 1897, handwritten copy transcribed by Theodore Lesley, copy in possession of author; Charles E. Harrison, Genealogical Records of the Pioneers of Tampa and Some Who Came After Them (Tampa, 1915), 24; Folks Huxford, comp. Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, 7 vols. (Waycross, GA, 1967), V, 490-491; Karl H. Grismer, Tampa: A History of the City of Tampa and the Tampa Bay Region of Florida (St. Petersburg, FL, 1950), 329; "Work Began by Perry Wall 110 Years Ago Carried on by his Descendants," Tampa Times, May 3,1934; D. B. McKay, "Perry G. Wall, Founder of Wall Family, Came to Florida in 1820s," Tampa Tribune, March 11, 1956; Huxford, Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, V, 490; U. S. Original Census Schedules, 4th Census, 1820, Irwin Co., GA; Family Group Sheet of Shadrack Sutton, provided by Ann McGinn Huddart.
2 Cora Hinton, comp., The Early History of Hamilton County, Florida (Jasper, FL, 1976), 28, 33; Huxford, Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, V, 490.
3 Alvie L. Davidson, comp., Florida Land: Records of the Tallahassee and Newnansville General Land Office 1825-1892 (Bowie, MD, 1989), 228; Hamilton County Election Returns, 1833, 1835, Territorial and Statehood Election Returns, Record Group 156, Series 21, Box 16, Folders 11, 13, Fla. State Archives.
4 Florida Department of Military Affairs, Special Archives Publication No. 75, Florida Militia Muster Rolls, Seminole Indian Wars, Vol. 9 (St. Augustine, n.d.) 9: 75-83.
5 Hamilton County Election Returns, 1838, 1840, 1842, 1843, 1845, Box 16, Folders 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, FSA; Hamilton County Deed Book C, 124.
6 Hinton, Early History of Hamilton County, 33, 40; U. S. Original Census Schedules, 6th Census, 1840, Hamilton Counry, FL; Huxford, Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, V, 490.
7 Richard J. Stanaback, A History of Hernando County (Brooksville, FL1976), 16-17.
8 Ibid., 44.
9 Ibid., 14; James H. Jones, "Law Family: Active in Hernando County...," undated newspaper article provided by Ann McGinn Huddard. There is some dispute as to whether there was indeed a "triple wedding ceremony." Huxford, Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, V, 490-49 1; Davidson, Florida Land, 278; Benton County Tax Book, 1850, Microcopy at Florida State Library, Tallahassee. The Tampa Times article, "Work Begun by Perry Wall," published in 1934, states that Wall first established himself in Benton County "in a solidly-built blockhouse near Brooksville on the site of Chinsegut Hill, the Raymond Robbins home. During the frequent uprisings and Indian raid, the rude log fort was a haven for white settlers and it was later a stop on the stage coach line operated between Tampa and Gainesville by Capt. James McKay." This story was repeated in McKays "Perry G. Wall" Tampa Tribune article in 1956. James Ingram, in his article "John Perry Wall: A Man For All Seasons," Sunland Tribune 2 (October 1975), 9-10, greatly embellishes the story. Incorrectly, and with no proof offered, he stated that the Walls built their "estate," the mansion still standing on what is today known as Chinsegut Hill. Actually, the mansion was built on land owned by Byrd Pearson in 1849 and the property later was owned and occupied by Frank Ederington. The property later became known as "Chinsegut Hill." See Stanahack, A History of Hernando County, 295-296. Perrys son Joseph Baisden Wall married Ederingtons daughter, Precious, and she is buried in the cemetery on the mansion grounds. Also, the Ederingtons were business partners with the Walls in the 1860s.
10 Benton County Election Returns, 1848, 1849, Box 3, Folder 10, FSA; Historical Records Survey, Roster of State and County Officers Commissioned by the Governor of Florida (Jacksonville, 1941), 49.
11 Benton County Election Returns, 1850, Box 3, FSA; Hernando County Election Returns, 1851, Box 17, Folder 24, FSA.
12 Benton County Election Returns, 1850, Box 3 FSA.
13 Ibid.; Stanaback, A History of Hernando County, 20-21.
14 Hernando County Tax Book, 1851; U. S. Original Census Schedules, 7th Census, 1850, Benton County, FL (Population and Slave Schedules).
15 Perry G. Wall to Wm. B. Hooker, Oct. 18, 1851, original letter in possession of J. Edgar Wall, III. Click here to see letter.
16 Hernando County Tax Book, 1853.
17 Jacksonville Florida Republican, Aug. 31, 1854.
18 Family Group Sheet, provided by Marianne Ellis Bradley; Ft. Myers Press, June 30, 1887; Huxford, Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia, V, 490.
19 Hernando County Election Returns, 1855, Box 17, Folder 28, FSA; Jacksonville Florida News, Ocr. 13, 1855.
20 Tampa Florida Peninsular, Sept. 6, 1856. Perry Wall bought 3 lots on the corner of Main and High Streets in Bay Port in 1856 from John Parsons. See Hernando County Deed Book A, 159. D. B. McKay in "Then and Now," in his Pioneer Florida Page in the Tampa Tribune, Aug. 19, 1856, wrote "Judge Perry G. Wall, . . . in 1856 wrote from Spring Hill, Hernando County, where he was then residing to Capt. W. B. Hooker about land transactions in which they jointly were interested, and incidentally mentioned that he had an offer from a building contractor to erect a new home containing 10 rooms with a wide hall through the center and a wide veranda on three sides for $500...."
21 Hernando County Election Returns, 1857, 1859, 1861, Box 17, Folders 30, 32, 34, FSA.
22 "First Baptist Church, Brooksville, Florida, Record Book 1856-1920," copy provided by Ann McGinn Huddart; Stanaback, History of Hernando County, 22-26.
23 Stanaback, History of Hernando County, 26.
24 Ibid.; D. B. McKay, ed., Pioneer Florida 3 vols. (Tampa, 1959), II, 580-581.
25 "Death of William W. Wall," Tampa Sunland Tribune, April 27, 1878; Tampa Tribune, Nov. 12, 1950; Hernando County Tax Book, 1864; Ingram, "John Perry Wall," 9.
26 Hernando County Tax Book, 1860.
27 Tampa Florida Peninsular, Jan. 12, 1861.
28 D. B. McKay, "Perry G. Wall"; Hernando County Election Returns, 1861; David W. Hartman and David Coles, Biographical Rosters of Floridas Confederate and Union Soldiers: 1861-1865 6 vols. (Wilmington, NC, 1995), VI, 2103.
29 Hartman and Coles, Biographical Rosters, I, 285, III, 876, 914, V, 2035; Ingram, "John Perry Wall," 9-10; "Joseph B. Wall," Jacksonville Florida Dispatch, Farmer and Fruit Grower; May 23, 1886.
30 Grismer, Tampa, 142-144.
31 Roster of State and County Officers, 139.
32 Perry G. Wall to Gov. John Milton, Jan. 12, 1864, United Stares War Department, War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, DC, 1880-1901), ser. 4, III, 47-48.
33 Roster of State and County Officials, 139; Harrman and Coles, Biographical Rosters, V, 1802.
34 J. L. Peterson to Walter Gwynn, May 28, 1864, Office of the Comptroller, Incoming Correspondence, 1845-1906, RG 350, Ser. 554, FSA.
35 Kyle S. Vanlandingham, "My National Troubles: The Civil War Papers of William McCullough," Sunland Tribune 20 (November 1994), 62-66, 81, 84-86; "Remininscenses of Capt. James McKay, Jr.," Sunland Tribune 17 (November, 1991), 85; "Isaac D. Parkinson v. The United States," Florida Genealogist 15 (Fall, 1992), 134-139.
36 Perry G. Wall to Gen. John C. Foster, Dec. 8, 1866, John G. Foster Letterbook, microcopy at P. K. Yonge Library of Fla. History, Gainesville.
37 New York Times, Sept. 12, 1865.
38 Joe Knetsch, "Forging the Florida Frontier: The Life and Career of Capt. Samuel E. Hope," Sunland Tribune 20 (November 1994), 36.
39 John L. Purviance to David L. Yulee, March 6, 1866, David L. Yulec Papers, Box #7, [Corr. 1862-1866], Folder Jan-March, 1866, P. K. Yonge Library of Fla. History.
40 Ibid., Hernando County Election Returns, 1865, Box 17, Folder 38, FSA.
41 Special Order No. 7, by Col. T W. Osborn, Nov. 2, 1865, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, Asst. Commissioner and Superintendent, Special Orders and Circulars, Sept. 13, 1865-Dec. 30, 1868; RG 105, National Archives, microcopy at P. K. Yonge Library of Fla. History, hereafter Freedmens Bureau Papers.
42 Col. T W. Osborn to P G. Wall, Dec. 5, 1865, Letters Sent, Sept. 15, 1865-June. 18, 1870, Freedmens Bureau Papers.
43 Perry G. Wall to Col. T W. Osborn, Dec. 8, 1865, Asst. Comm., Letters Received, Freedmens Bureau Papers.
44 Lt. Win. G. Vance to Col. T W Osborn, March 31, 1866, Asst. Comm., Letters Received, Freedmens Bureau Papers.
45 Jerrell H. Shofner, Nor Is it Over Yet: Florida in the Era of Reconstruction, 1863 -1877 (Gainesville FL, 1974), 96-97; John G. Foster to Wm. P Dackray, Oct. 19, 1866, John G. Foster Letterbook.
46 E. C. Woodruff to Commanders Office, Tampa, Apr. 22, 1866, John G. Foster Letterbook.
47 Lt. Wm. G. Vance to Col. T W Osborn, May 25, 1866, Asst. Comm., Letters Received, Freedmens Bureau Papers.
48 Shoffner, Nor Is It Over Yet, 96-97.
49 New York Tribune, Sept. 3, 1866.
50 Perry G. Wall to C. L. Friebele, Oct. 25, 1866; Wm. W. Wall to C. L. Friebele, March 29, 1867, originals in possession of J. Edgar Wall, III; Jefferson B. Browne, Key West: The Old and the New (Sr. Augustine, 1912, facsimile ed., Gainesville, 1973), 12, 94, 113, 125, 174-175, 220; Francis Ederington Tombstone, Chinsegut Hill, FL; Ederington and Wall to R. H. Gamble, Nov. 9, 1868, RG 350, Ser. 554, Box 4, FSA.
51 Perry G. Wall to Lt. Gen Howard (?), Dec. 13, 1867, Asst. Comm., Letters Received, Oct. 1866-Jan. 1869, Freedmens Bureau Papers; Perry had received his appointment as Civil Agent with a $100 per month salary on Aug. 31, 1866, effective Aug. 1, 1866. Rembert W. Patrick, The Reconstruction of the Nation (1967), 100-101; Tallahassee Semi-Weekly Floridian, Sept. 6, 1867; An Act for the Removal of Certain Disabilities for the Persons therein named, 15, U. S. Statutes at Large, July 20, 1868, 386-389.
52 Tampa Florida Peninsular, July 20, 1867.
53 Samuel J. Pearce to Gov. Harrison Reed, Aug. 14, 1869, Correspondence of Governors, 1857-1888, M. Perry, Milton, Walker and Reed, County Appointments and Recommendations, 1868-72, Hernando Hillsborough and Holmes Counties, RG 101, Ser. 577, Box 2, FSA.
54 Henry Rountree to Gov. Harrison Reed, March 21, 1870, RG 101, Ser. 577, Box 2, FSA.
55 H. Reed, Governor, Hernando County, "Changes made," April 9, 1870, RG 101, Ser. 577, Box 2, FSA. In 1869 Perry was Superintendent of Public Instruction for Hernando County. See Stanaback, History of Hernando County, 43.
56 Charles Moore and John A. Henderson to Gov. Harrison Reed, Jan. 13, 1870, RG 101, Ser. 577, Box 2 FSA.
57 J. H. Bull to Gov. Harrison Reed, Jan. 26, 1870, Legislative Reports of Senate Action on Nominees, 1868-71, RG 101, Ser. 577, Box 4, FSA; Office of the Secretary of State, RG 151, Ser. 259, v. 28, FSA.
58 Tampa Florida Peninsular, Jan. 26, 1870.
59 Kyle S. VanLandingham, "James T Magbee: Union Man, Undoubted Secessionist and High Priest in the Radical Synagogue," Sunland Tribune 20 (November 1994), 14-15; James T Magbee, et al, to Gov. Harrison Reed, [date ?], RG 101, Ser. 577, Box 2, FSA.
60 Notes of Theodore Lesley, copy in possession of author; Tampa Sunland Tribune, Oct. 22, 1881; Tampa Florida Peninsular, 1869, July 1, 8, Aug. 26, 1871; Tampa Journal, June 23, 1887; "Joseph B. Wall." On August 5, 1871, Perry and Billy Wall affiliated with Hillsborough Lodge, No. 25, F & A.M. They were previously members of DeSoto Lodge in Brookaville. See "Members Hillsborough Masonic Lodge - 1850-1899," Florida Genealogical Journal 19:1 (1983), 9. Also, see Hillsborough Lodge Minutes.
61 "Isaac D. Parkinson v. The United States;" Hillsborough County Commission Minute Book B, Oct. 17, 1870, 104; William P. Neeld, "Tampa of 50 years Ago," Tampa Times, Oct. 18, 1927; Grismer, Tampa, 157.
62 Letterbooks of Gov. Ossian B. Hart, 1873-74, RG 101, Ser. 32, v. 8, Folder 2, (letterbook May-July, 1873), n.p., FSA; Records of Appointments, Postmasters, 1832-Sept. 30, 1971, Fla., Roll 2, NA, microcopy at Fla. State Library.
63 Grismer, Tampa, 325-326, 330-331; D. B. McKay, "Knight and Wall Founded in 1884 With $3000 in Spanish Doubloons," Tampa Tribune, March 3, 1957; Tampa Journal, Jan. 1881.
64 Grismer, Tampa, 303, 330; Ingram, "John Perry Wall," 9-19; Tampa Sunland Tribune, various issues, 1877-1881.
65 "Joseph B. Wall"; VanLandingham, "James T. Magbee," 18; VanLandingham, In Pursuit of Justice: Law and Lawyers in Hillsborough County, 1846-1996 (Tampa, 1996), 26-27.
66 Barbara Baisden Wall Tombstone, Lykes Cemetery, Old Spring Hill, FL; Family Group Sheets provided by Ann McGinn Huddart.
67 Tampa Journal, Aug. 11, 1887, Feb. 16, 1888.
68 Tampa Tribune, July 9, 10 1897; Tampa Weekly Times, July 15, 1897; Probate File of Perry G. Wall, Hillsborough County, FL. In his will, Perry noted the "dissolute life" of his grandson, John Perry Wall, Jr., the son of Dr. Wall, who had died in 1895. He ordered the disinheritance of John Perry, Jr., unless he abstained from intoxicating liquors for five years and was freed, either by "death or divorce" from his wife. In July 1902, the executors reported that John Perry, Jr. had substantially complied with the conditions and was now leading a sober and industrious life. But he had other problems, and was reputedly a cocaine addict. He ended his life with a "bullet through his brain," Aug. 27, 1922. Tampa Tribune, Aug. 28, 1922; Grismer, Tampa, 330. His half brother, Charles McKay Wall, became Tampas notorious "gambling czar" and was murdered in 1955. See Frank Alduino, "The Damnedest Town This Side of Hell: Tampa, 1920-29 (Part 1)" Sunland Tribune 16 (November 1990), 14-15.
69 Tampa Tribune, July 10, 1897.
70 Tampa Weekly Times, July 15, 1897; Tampa Tribune, July 9, 10, 1897.
71 Hinton, Early History of Hamilton County, 103.
72 McKay, "Perry G. Wall."
73 Sextons Records of Interments, 1908, Woodlawn Cemetery, City of Tampa Archives; Tampa City Council Minute Book VIII, 76, Nov. 17, 1908, City of Tampa Archives.
74 "A Handsome Monument," Tampa Tribune, Aug. 7, 1898. Described as 66" long; 6 high; and 410" in width and weighing 9 tons, it was moved to Woodlawn after Perrys re-interment there. Sarah Watlington Wall died Jan. 3, 1900 in Key West and was buried in the city cemetery there. Ocala The Florida Baptist Witness, March 7, 1900. See tombstone at Woodlawn.
The author would like to thank Ann McGinn Huddart, J. Edgar Wall, III, Marianne Ellis Bradley and Canter Brown, Jr., for their assistance.
This article originally appeared in the Sunland Tribune, journal of the Tampa Historical Society, Vol. 23, November, 1997. It was revised by the author in 2001.