James Gettis (May 4, 1816 – December 14, 1867) was a lawyer and judge in
Tampa Tampa () is a major city that serves as the county seat of Hillsborough County, Florida, United States. It is on the west coast of Florida on Tampa Bay, near the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa is the largest city in the Tampa Bay area. With an estimated ...
, Florida. He was the second lawyer in Tampa. Gettis was also a city councilman, and state representative, and the first town clerk. Originally from Pennsylvania, Gettis came to Tampa in 1848. He promoted development of Tampa and sought to bring rail service to the area. An ardent Confederate States of America, Confederate secessionist during the American Civil War, Civil War, he attended Florida's Secession Convention and signed the Ordinance of Secession, and was the hero of the Battle of Tampa.

Lawyer and judge

He was the second lawyer admitted to the bar in Tampa, on October 24, 1848, and tutored other law students, including John A. Henderson and Henry L. Mitchell. James McKay Sr. was one of his clients. His law office was on Franklin Street. In 1865, Gettis was appointed Circuit and Probate judge.

Civil War

Though he held no slaves, Gettis was a pro-slavery secessionist, and was one of two delegates form Hillsborough County to vote for secession when the Convention met in January 1861. He served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War for a brief period, as captain of the 7th Florida Infantry, Company B, the "South Florida Rifles". Gettis was singled out for his bravery by captain John William Pearson during the Battle of Tampa. He received a medical discharge and returned to Tampa due to ill health, inflicted with "incipient phthisis and chronic diarrhea".James Gettis: Tampa Pioneer Lawyer
by Kyle S. VanLandingham Sunland Tribune March 2018 Sunland Tribune: Vol. 23, Article 6. PDF file via Scholar Commons . usf. edu
Just before his discharge, he organized the Tampa City Guards.


He was a Master Freemason, Mason and Know Nothing Party, American Party member. He had no children, but raised the brothers of W. B. Henderson after the death of Henderson's father. In his will, Gettis left all his property to James F. Henderson. He is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in downtown Tampa.


{{DEFAULTSORT:Gettis, James 19th-century American politicians 1816 births 1867 deaths Politicians from Tampa, Florida Confederate States Army personnel 19th-century American lawyers People of Florida in the American Civil War People from Pennsylvania