Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Baker Creek - Important historic landmark

The sluggish course of Baker Creek, a few miles northwest of Marianna, is virtually the only surviving landmark of one of Jackson County's most important early settlements.

The lands around the creek were the first in the county to sustain large plantations and it was here that successful crops of cotton were first grown in Jackson County.

Among the important farms located in the area bordering the creek was Dr. Samuel Bellamy's Rock Cave plantation. A former resident of North Carolina, Dr. Bellamy moved to Jackson County during the early 1830s with his young wife, Elizabeth. He was the first Jackson County planter to grow Sea Island cotton and sent the first shipment down the Chipola River by barge to the port at Apalachicola.

It was on Rock Cave plantation that Elizabeth Bellamy died from fever in 1834. She is now the central figure in the Bellamy Bridge ghost story. According to the legend, her gown caught fire on her wedding day and she died from the resulting injuries. In truth, however, she and her baby boy died within one week of each other at Rock Cave several years after her marriage.

Elizabeth is buried near Bellamy Bridge on the plantation of Samuel's brother, Dr. Edward C. Bellamy. The two brothers later became involved in a fierce legal battle over control of Rock Cave. The issue was finally decided by the Supreme Court of Florida. Samuel killed himself at Chattahoochee Landing after a severe bout of depression and drunkenness.

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