Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Captain Henry Grace - Graceville

The faded image at right is of Captain Henry B. Grace, one of the men for whom the modern Jackson County city of Graceville is named.

A resident of the Campbellton area at the time of the War Between the States, Grace was elected as captain of a company of Jackson County men who called themselves the "Campbellton Boys." They became Company G of the 6th Florida Infantry in March of 1862. The 6th Florida went on to fight at Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Franklin and Nashville.

While Captain Grace and his men were away in the Confederate service, Union forces marched on Jackson County and the captain's home was one of the one struck during the 1864 Marianna raid. His wife and father in law were at home when Union soldiers passed by on their way to the Battle of Marianna.

After the war, Grace joined with relatives in founding the modern community of Graceville.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Russ House - Marianna

The historic Russ House in Marianna is one of Jackson County's best known landmarks. For generations of the county's school kids, it was the "old haunted house" on West Lafayette Street. Today, however, it is the beautifully restored home of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.
Often mistaken for an antebellum plantation manor, the home was actually constructed in 1895 by Joseph W. Russ, a prominent Marianna businessman and landowner. It was altered some from its original appearance in 1910 and was home to five generations of Russ descendents. In 1995 the home was deeded to the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and was beautifully restored over a four year period beginning in 1996.
At the same time, the grounds of the home were developed into a beautiful public park. The landscaping project eliminated an old gas station that once obstructed the vista of Lafayette Street from the front of the house and added a very nice touch of greenery to an already beautiful section of the city.
The home functions today as offices for the Chamber of Commerce, but is open to the public during normal business hours. Chamber representatives can also answer questions about Jackson County.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Marianna Confederate Reunion

This photograph was taken at one of the last Confederate reunions in Florida. Held in Marianna on September 26-27, 1927, the reunion marked the 63rd anniversary of the 1864 Battle of Marianna.
The small group of men visible on the far left of the photograph were some of the last Confederate veterans still alive in Florida at the time of the reunion. They would have been at least in their late 70s in 1927.
The annual tradition of Confederate veterans gathering in Marianna for "Marianna Day" on the anniversary of the battle ended shortly after 1927. For many years, September 27th was observed as a day of remembrance in Florida, but the tradition has long since faded.
For more information on the Battle of Marianna, please visit www.battleofmarianna.net.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Caroline Lee Hentz - 19th Century Novelist

Caroline Lee Whiting Hentz, pictured at right, was one of America's most popular novelists during the 1840s and 1850s. Noted expecially for her romantic novels set in real-life Southern locations and often based on real-life events, she was acclaimed in the South for Planter's Northern Bride, a rebuttal volume to Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Mrs. Hentz spent the last years of her life in Jackson County, living with her son Charles in a large two-story home across Lafayette Street from St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Marianna. It has been thought by many that her book The Long Moss Spring was set in the county, but in reality she completed it while still living in Columbus, Georgia.
Mrs. Hentz died prior to the Civil War and is buried in the family plot at St. Luke's Churchyard. Her son, Thaddeus, was later wounded near her grave while fighting as a member of Norwood's Home Guard during the Battle of Marianna.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The man who saved the "Cutler Bible"

This faded image is of Major Nathan Cutler, an officer with the 2nd Maine Cavalry during the Civil War. Major Cutler is the man for whom the "Cutler Bible," now preserved at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Marianna, is named.
At the time of the Battle of Marianna, Cutler was a 20 year old officer who had left his studies at Harvard University to join the 2nd Maine Cavalry. He led the first charge on Marianna, but was driven back by strong Confederate fire. Later during the battle, as the story goes, orders were handed down from Colonel L.L. Zulavsky (who had assumed command of the Union forces following the wounding of Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth) to burn St. Luke's Church and two nearby homes to dislodge Confederate soldiers who refused to surrender.
Supposedly Major Cutler objected to the orders, but was overruled. He then dashed into the burning church and saved the Bible, bringing it through the flames to safety. A short time later, he was seriously wounded by two young members of the Marianna home guard and ultimately was taken prisoner after his comrades were forced to leave him behind in Marianna due to the seriousness of his wounds.
In later years Cutler was interviewed about the incident. Although he did not claim to have saved the Bible, he did remember the incident and described how "someone" in the Union force had objected to the burning of the church, but that the objections had been overruled and the orders carried out. A local historian who actually met the major evidently came away convinced the story was true, but that Cutler was simply being modest in the interview.
Either way, the Bible survives and is preserved in a glass case in the church and the legend remains one of Jackson County's most intriguing stories.
For more on the Battle of Marianna, please visit www.battleofmarianna.net.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Site of Scott's Massacre - November 30, 1817

This photo, actually taken from the Gadsden County side of the Apalachicola River, shows the site of the bloodiest battle of the First Seminole War.
The river here forms the dividing line between Jackson and Gadsden Counties. Jackson County is on the right or west side of the stream and Gadsden County is on the left or east. On November 30, 1817, an army supply boat manned by 40 men from the 7th U.S. Infantry Regiment made its way around the sharp bend seen here. Due to the strength of the current, the boat was forced to navigate close to the east bank of the river. Although they had been warned of the possibility of attack, the soldiers were not prepared when a large force of Creek and Seminole warriors opened fire from hidden positions along the shore.
The commander of the boat, Lieutenant Richard W. Scott, and most of his men were killed or wounded in the first volley. As the warriors stormed the boat, six men managed to escape by leaping overboard and swimming across to the Jackson County shore. The rest were killed. Search parties later found the bodies of 34 men at the site.
In addition to the soldiers, 7 women and 4 children (family members of soldiers) were on the boat at the time of the attack. All but one of these, a Mrs. Stewart, were killed. She was taken prisoner by the warriors, but was rescued the following year by troops under Andrew Jackson.
The attack on Scott's party was made in retaliation for U.S. Army attacks on the Lower Creek village of Fowltown in what is now Decatur County, Georgia. The village, home of the chief Neamathla (Eneah Emathla), was attacked on both November 21st and November 23rd, 1817, after the chief refused to come to nearby Fort Scott for a conference. Fowltown warriors were among those who carried out the retaliatory attack on Scott's command.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Annual "ghost town" homecoming a success

The 46th annual Homecoming at Oak Grove Church in Old Parramore took place this weekend and, once again, was a success. The annual event, unlike many Northwest Florida homecomings, actually celebrates a community rather than a congregation.
Regular services are no longer held at Oak Grove, instead the beautiful little country church serves as a permanent memorial to the Jackson County "ghost town" of Parramore. A prosperous commercial center during the late 1800s and early 1900s, the community once boasted 5 stores, a post office, cotton gin, sawmill, gristmill, blacksmith shop, churches, schools and more. Several hundred residents lived in the area.
Parramore owed its commercial life to the turpentine industry. Rosin was harvested from the area longleaf pine woods and shipped out in barrels aboard paddlewheel riverboats. Several Chattahoochee River landings served the Parramore area. The most important of these was Peri Landing (pronounced "Pea Rye"), which was listed in 1919 as being one of the few "warehouse landings" along the lower Chattahoochee.
Railroads and modern highways eventually replaced the riverboats as means of transportation and they disappeared by the middle of the 20th century. Parramore all but disappeared with them. The turpentine industry dwindled away after World War II and with it went the stores and other commercial establishments. Today little remains other than gravestones, churches and a scattering of homes.
Each year on the first Sunday in October, former and current residents of Parramore and their families gather at Oak Grove to celebrate the existence of the community.