TAMPA — In the early months of the Civil War, the city of Tampa needed ammunition and other supplies to defend against attack but apparently was short on cash. So it issued a promissory note for $299.58 to storekeeper Thomas Pugh Kennedy on June 21, 1861.
Kennedy's great-granddaughter says the city never made good on its loan. Now, Joan Kennedy Biddle and her family are suing to collect the payment plus 8 percent annual interest.
The total bill: $22.7-million.
"Obviously we came at a bad time because the city seems like they're trying to cut their budget," she said. "On the other hand, they're building the Riverwalk."
Attorney James Purdy filed the suit in the Hillsborough Circuit Court last week. He did not return calls for comment.
Biddle wouldn't give specifics on why she decided to sue now, using as evidence a piece of paper that has been handed down as an heirloom for generations.
"This thing has been in the family since the date on the note, and it has never been repaid," said Biddle, 77. "My daddy told me, and I certainly believe him."
Tampa City Attorney David Smith said he doesn't consider the claim valid.