52 Documents in 52 Weeks #23: Tax Troubles

My grandmother, Julia, was a saver. Not a hoarder, but a saver of papers and mementos, much to my delight. I was aware as a child that she owned some property in Florida – in or near Tampa – at least into the early 1960s.

I had no idea when she bought the property, although I remember her saying that she owned it with the Lengyels, who were friends.

I was browsing through some of the old letters and papers that she saved when I came across two letters, one written in June 1930 and the other in November of the same year.

Both were written by hand by my grandfather, George Sabo, which raises the sentimentality level of them sky high. I never knew him as he died in 1936.

June 1930 was right at the beginning of the Great Depression. My grandparents likely bought their Florida property in the 1920s but somehow missed paying taxes on the land in 1928.

7 June 1930

Central Mkt. Co.
684 Main Ave.
Passaic, N.J.
June 7, 1930


Kindly foward (sic) the
1930 tax bill for the land owned
by George Sabo and Andrew J. Lengyel
in Hillsborough County.

Will you please inform me as
to the proper time to send in
for each tax bill so as to prevent
it from running overdue in the
near future.

The description of the land is
as follows:
Lot 10 of Orangeland Sudivision (sic),
Section #20 Township #29 South,
Range #20 east, as recorded in
Polt Plat Book #10 Page 14 of
Public Records of Hillsborough
County, Florida.

For future purposed might I
ask if all this detail is necessary.
Couldn’t it be stated in a more
brief manner.

Yours Truly
George Sabo

Five days later, on 12 June 1930, the county clerk replied on the same paper:

On account of Lot 10
Orangeland having
been sold to the state
for non payment of
1928 taxes it will be
necessary to pay 1928
& 1930 taxes at the same
time. However, after
this payment 1931 taxes
will be due. J.M Burnett
Tax Collecotr nov 1, 1931 Write
him for statement each November and you will have
no trouble in keeping your
taxes straight. W.A. Dickenson Clk. m

Back taxes must have been paid and kept up, as a second letter was written on 10 November 1930:

10 November 1930

#5827-29                                                                          Central Mkt Co
Red 1968 & 1930 June 18, 1930                        684 Main Av
Pd                                                                                           Passaic, New Jersey
29Pd                                                                                     November 10, 1930


Kindly send the November tax Bill
for the property owned by Andrew J. Lengyel and
George Sabo. The description of the land is as follows:
Lot 10 of Orangeland Subdivision,
Section #20 township #29 South
Range #20 East, as recorded in Platt Book #10, page 19
of Public records of Hillsborough County.

Yours Respectfully,
George Sabo

An undated reply from the same W.A. Dickenson, Clk m was appended to the bottom of the request:

You have paid all taxes due including 1930
which you paid in advance June 18.
1931 taxes due Nov. 1931 and payable until Mar. 31.

These letters, giving me the township, range, section and lot number, would allow me to request a copy of the land deeds, showing the original purchase of the property by Andy Lengyel and my grandfather and probably the buyback of the land from the state of Florida after the back taxes were covered.

I find it interesting that land owners seemingly had to REQUEST a tax bill, based on the county clerk’s reply. I also wonder how they missed paying their taxes. It wasn’t for a lack of money as my grandparents were hard working and very thrifty. They owned a butcher store, which is the “Central Mkt. Co.” in the letter headings, which apparently thrived all through the depression. My grandparents did well enough in the 1930s to hire the daughter of a friend to work as a maid so the family would have enough money on which to live. Their daughter remained friends with my grandmother and came to her funeral in 1985. Anne, the daughter, told me that story, which I had never heard. Perhaps George thought Andy had paid the taxes and vice versa.

These letters paint a picture of the daily life of my grandparents. To me, the land in Florida was something Nana always owned, but never went to see. She never went much further than the old Passaic neighborhood. I never, ever remember her traveling to Florida.

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