Friday, June 1, 2012

Florida History: Tales from the Shippey House - the judge and new fangled wagers

Shippey House cir. 1914-18

 For more Florida history,

By Jane Feehan

A piece of old Fort Lauderdale, the Shippey House,* was moved from its original location several blocks away to Himmarshee Village late in 2011 in anticipation of a new foundation, which is taking longer than expected. Friends of the Shippey House, Inc. are funding the foundation and structure renovations.

The house, nearly 100 years old, is of interest to historical preservationists because it was constructed of tough - and now extinct - Dade County pine and was one of a very few two-story cottages built about 1914. It was also home to Fred B. Shippey (1877-1934), Broward County’s second judge.

Not a lot is known about Judge Shippey. Records indicate he was born in Illinois, that his father was a judge and that they declared themselves farmers on a census.  Father, son and family moved to Fort Lauderdale  in 1912. Fred Shippey succeeded the first county judge, JF Bunn, who held the post from 1915 until his death in 1920. Shippey probably did not hold a law degree (not unusual at the time and in some states, like Texas, not unheard of today).

It was thought Judge Shippey served well and honestly (1920-1933). He also assisted disabled children throughout the state and belonged to an organization that built a hospital for them. In looking through  old newspaper archives, I did find something interesting about his legal career.

In 1927 the judge rendered a decision that a “new fangled wagering system” at Pompano race track (not today’s Pompano Park but a predecessor) was not gambling. The system operated on the premise that wagers were really donations to horse owners (don’t laugh). This infuriated Gov. John W. Martin who sided with the Florida Supreme Court in its decision to close the race track to end all semblance of gambling.

The governor sent a letter to Broward Sheriff Paul C. Bryan demanding that he shut down the track that afternoon and if he didn’t he would be replaced. So would Judge Shippey, if he did not cooperate. Miami attorney James M. Carson, long an active agent to close the track, remarked that it was the first time in history a case was appealed from the supreme court of Florida to a county judge. “I like Judge Fred Shippey,” said Carson. “ ‘Brutus is an honorable man.’ May it be remembered that Brutus had distinguished company.”  

Gambling had a wide circle of protectors in Broward County until nearly 1950.

*The Shippey House was turned over to Riverwalk, Inc. a nonproft organization, in 2015). 

For more on gambling in Broward County in the 1920s and after, use search box at top right.
Miami News, March 12, 1927.
Sun-Sentinel, May 31, 2012.

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Tags: Gambling in Broward in the 1920s, Judge Shippey, Pompano race track in the 1920s, Fort Lauderdale history, Broward judges, old Fort Lauderdale architecture, old Fort Lauderdale homes, film researcher

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