Monday, January 7, 2008
The Site of Webbville
This hilltop a few miles northeast of Cottondale is the site of the Jackson County ghost town of Webbville. I've received a number of questions recently about Webbville, so here are a few of the facts.
The community was founded during the 1820s, just ahead of the founding of Marianna by Robert and Anna Maria Beveridge, and named for a prominent local attorney. Originally a rival town to Marianna, Webbville battled with the Beveridge's settlement for the status of County Seat of Jackson County. The fight turned into one of the greatest political spats in Florida history.
Although Webbville was a prosperous little community, it was hampered in its political dreams by the fact that it was located on a 16th Section. Under law, these sections were reserved for school purposes. In addition, Marianna was located on the Chipola River and Webbville was pretty much high and dry (although there was a small spring nearby). This was significant because the Chipola was then used to barge bales of cotton downstream to the Gulf of Mexico.
As the political forces of the two communities battled, both the Florida Territorial Council and the U.S. Congress became involved. At one point, an entirely new county (Fayette County) was even carved from eastern Jackson County in an effort to break Marianna's voting success. Fayette County was shortlived, however.
The battle finally seemed to be at an end when the U.S. Congress finally designated Webbville as the County Seat of Jackson County. The Territorial Council (same as today's state legislature), however, fired a final shot that settled the issue for good. Legally unable to overrule the U.S. Congress, the Council voted to impose a fine on any public official in Jackson County who did not conduct business from the courthouse in Marianna.
The threat of paying fines solved things fast and all of the county's public officials moved to Marianna. Webbville eventually faded away and today is nothing more than a dirt road leading across a pine covered hill.
Curiously, though, unless the action of Congress that designated the community as county seat has been changed, Webbville remains the official County Seat for Jackson County.