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Family with plenty of involvement

Early enterprises were lumber, cattle and citrus. Then came shipping, banking and real estate.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 6, 2002

There's plenty more around here with the Lykes name on it. The Lykes Memorial Hospital and Lykes Memorial Library in Brooksville. A few more roads in Plant City. And what about that package of bologna in your cold cuts drawer?

With arguably the most-ascribed family name in the region, it's not surprising that a multifaceted, and long surviving, collection of industries lies behind the moniker Lykes.
Howell T. Lykes
[Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay History Center]
Howell T. Lykes migrated to Florida with his family in 1854.
The family enterprise was founded by Howell T. Lykes, who migrated as a boy with his family from South Carolina to Spring Hill in 1854. He later earned a medical degree but was lured away from his fledgling country practice by the hotter prospects of lumber, cattle, and citrus groves founded by his father.

Both his marriage to Almeria Bell McKay, a Tampa pioneer family scion, and the citrus-decimating freeze of 1894-95 prompted Lykes to move his family to the Ballast Point area.

By that time, the Lykes fortune encompassed cattle exports and their attendant shipping lines, citrus, and expansive real estate holdings in the Tampa area. Eventually, seven of Lykes' eight children were represented by the Lykes Bros. banner, which flew over the former enterprises, and in later times would include banking, insurance and natural gas.

Howell Lykes died in 1906 at age 60.

Today, the Lykes family remains one of the area's financial powerhouses. The family compound still overlooks Hillsborough Bay just south of Ballast Point Park.

By the way, the downtown skyscraper with the big "Lykes' sign is actually named Park Tower.

-- Source: Tampa Bay History Center.

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