Friday, May 30, 2008

Lake Seminole History, Part Ten

Continuing our look at historic sites around Lake Seminole, this is Camp Recovery.
Located in Decatur County, Georgia, less than a 30 minute drive from Jackson County, Camp Recovery was a hospital camp established for soldiers at nearby Fort Scott during the great fever outbreak in 1820.

Surgeons at the fort were anxious to find some way of relieving the suffering of the soldiers stationed there. Of the 780 men at Fort Scott, 769 were ill with what modern experts believe was malaria.

Finally, after considering the options, they decided to move as many of the men as they could to a camp located on a high pine ridge a few miles south of the fort. It was hoped that moving the men from the "swamp air" at Fort Scott would help them recover. The cause of malaria had not yet been identified in 1820 and most experts believe it was caused by "bad air."

More than 100 soldiers were moved to the site known today as Camp Recovery, where a camp was established in the open pine woods. At first they did show signs of recovery, but a heavy rain set in and the soldiers soon relapsed. A number died and were buried in a cemetery at the site. The camp was abandoned soon after.

During the 1880s, the U.S. Government placed a monument at the site to mark the burial ground.

We will have more on Camp Recovery in our next post.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lake Seminole History, Part Nine

After rebuilding Fort Scott during the summer of 1817, U.S. troops held the post until the fall of 1821.

During this time the fort served as the headquarters for the U.S. Army's Southern Command. General Andrew Jackson launched his invasion of Florida from here during the First Seminole War of 1817-1818. The post served as an important frontier bastion until Spain ceded Florida to the United States.

The site of Fort Scott proved extremely unhealthy. Malaria ravaged the troops assigned to guard the Georgia frontier. By 1820, 769 of the 780 men assigned to the fort were sick. Dozens of them died. The story was repeated in 1821.

By the time Fort Scott was abandoned in September of 1821, more than 100 U.S. soldiers had died at the isolated post. They were buried on the grounds and their resting place today is forgotten and overgrown.

Our series on historic sites around Lake Seminole will continue.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Lake Seminole History, Part Eight

This is a view of the site of Fort Scott as it appears today. Other than a few traces of earthworks, nothing remains of the old fort and the site is overgrown with trees and brush.
Following his return from the expedition to the lower Apalachicola River, Col. Clinch ordered his men to begin the construction of a new, much larger fort on this site. The work was progressing well when the post was inspected by Major J.M. Davis in October of 1816.
Davis described the new fort at that time as consisting of a line of barracks, constructed end to end, in a row about 100 yards back from the edge of the bluff. The buildings were constructed of squared logs and designed so that by closing the doors and windows, they could be easily defended against a force attacking with small arms. A similar structure for the officers was constructed between this line of buildings and the edge of the bluff.
The fort was still not finished when Clinch was ordered to evacuate the site in December of 1817, so it was left in the care of George Perryman, a local Native American leader. Shortly after the troops left, however, Creek and Seminole warriors arrived at the fort, drove Perryman and his family away and set fire to the buildings.
The bloodless attack prompted the U.S. government to order to reoccupation of the fort and by June of 1817, troops were again at the site and busy reconstructing the fort.
We will continue our look at Fort Scott when our series continues.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lake Seminole History, Part Seven

Continuing our look at historic sites around Lake Seminole, we shift today to the Georgia side of the Lake.
This is the State of Georgia marker for Fort Scott. The marker is located at Hutchinson's Ferry Landing (better known as Wingate's Lodge) in Decatur County, Georgia.
Fort Scott was an extremely important military post constructed by the U.S. Army in June of 1816. Under orders to establish a new outpost at the confluence of the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers, just above the border of Spanish Florida, Lt. Col. Duncan L. Clinch and a battalion from the 4th U.S. Infantry arrived in the area during the first week of June of 1816. After surveying the area, they selected a commanding bluff just up the Flint River from the confluence. The site is only about 10 miles from Jackson County (as the crow flies).
Here they constructed a rough log stockade that was originally named Camp Crawford after Secretary of War William Crawford, a Georgian. The name was changed to Fort Scott later in the year.
It was from this post that Clinch launched the expedition in July of 1816 that would result in the bloody destruction of the so-called "Negro Fort" on the lower Apalachicola River. To read more about this expedition, please see a series currently underway on our sister site, Civil War Florida.
When Clinch returned from that expedition in August, he renamed the new outpost Fort Scott in honor of General Winfield T. Scott, a hero of the recent War of 1812. He also began construction of a new, much more extensive fort at the site.
We will have more on Fort Scott when our series continues.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lake Seminole History, Part Six

This beautiful view of Lake Seminole was taken from the picnic area at Three Rivers State Park just north of Sneads.
The now submerged lands visible from this vista are among some of the most historic in the South.
The lake now covers the significant Kemp Mound and Tan Vat Pond Archaeological sites. Located in the flood plain of the Chattahoochee River, the sites were flooded when the Jim Woodruff Dam was completed.
Research at these sites determined that they were occupied nearly 2,000 years ago by Native Americans who built villages and constructed an earthen burial mound in the rich floodplain lands.
In 1674, the Spanish mission of La Encarnacion a la Santa Cruz de Sabacola was established just across the Chattahoochee River in what is now Seminole County, Georgia. The Bishop of Cuba participated in the dedication of a church at Sabacola in 1675.
After the settlement of Jackson County, the lands now on the lake bottom were cleared for fields of cotton, corn and sugar cane. By the time of the Civil War, this was an area of large plantations.
To read more about the history of the Three Rivers State Park area, please visit
Our series will continue.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lake Seminole History, Part Five

One of my favorite historic sites around Lake Seminole is the old Sneads Town Pump.
Located on Old Spanish Trail in Sneads, the pump was installed in 1899-1900 and according to tradition was the second mechanical pump in the area. The land on which it stands was deeded to the Town of Sneads for $200.
Legend holds that "He who drinks from this pump will always return" and for generations, non-local grooms of local brides were brought here for a good "dunking" to make sure that they always brought local girls back home.
It is remarkable that the pump has survived through the years when so many similar landmarks around the area have disappeared.
The site is now maintained by the Town of Sneads and an adjacent historic marker tells the story of the town and the old pump.
Our series will continue.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lake Seminole History, Part Four

This view of Lake Seminole was taken from the Mission San Carlos site looking out at the "big water" of the lake just above the Jim Woodruff Dam.
Beneath the water near the shore is the site of Pope's Trading Post, an important early Jackson County settlement.
William S. Pope first arrived in Jackson County shortly after the transfer of Florida from Spain in 1821. He lived for a time at Mt. Vernon (Chattahoochee), then relocated west to the Chipola settlement in Jackson County. Early land records show that he acquired property around Webbville (a few miles northwest of Marianna).
He lived in this area and speculated on the success of the community until nearby Marianna was established and secured the Legislative Council's backing to become county seat. Pope then relocated to the high ground just west of the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers. Here he acquired land, established a trading post and began farming.
Pope's Store was listed as a Jackson County voting precinct during the 1830s and Pope was appointed to the role of U.S. Subagent to the Native Americans still living on reservations along the lower Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers. In 1833 he negotiated the "Treaty of Pope's" with several of these groups, by which they agreed to relinquish much of their land. The treaty ultimately led to their removal west on the Trail of Tears.
The site of Pope's first settlement is now covered by the lake, but his legacy lives on in a pattern of continuous occupation in the area that continues today in the Town of Sneads.
Our series will continue.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lake Seminole History, Part Three

This aerial view shows the western end of the Jim Woodruff Dam at the point it intersects with the commanding bluff overlooking Lake Seminole in Jackson County, Florida.
The paved parking area visible in the left center of the photograph is the West Bank Overlook, a park area near Sneads that provides a beautiful view of the main lake.
The overlook and surrounding hilltop was the site of Senor San Carlos de Chacatos, a Spanish mission established here in around 1680 to serve a village of Christian Chacato Indians.
The Native Americans who inhabited the village on this site had originally lived west of the Chipola River, but relocated here between 1675 and 1680 after the two missions originally established to serve them had been abandoned following an uprising by part of the Chacato nation.
Spanish missionaries returned to this site and established a church that functioned for sixteen years as the most outlying European settlement in Florida. The presence of the mission establishment here was mentioned in the 1686 journal of Marcos Delgado and again in the documents relating to the 1693 expedition of Don Laureano de Torres y Ayala. The latter official led the first known overland crossing of Northwest Florida from the Apalachicola River to Pensacola Bay by European explorers.
The mission at this site was attacked and destroyed by Alibamo (Alabama) and Apalachicoli (Lower Creek) warriors in 1696. Many of the inhabitants were carried away as slaves and sold to the English in South Carolina. The church was destroyed and the implements used in the religious services there were looted. The survivors of the raid fled to a new site near present-day Tallahassee.
Florida Park Service archaeologist Ripley P. Bullen relocated the site of Mission San Carlos in 1948 while conducting studies in the area as the Jim Woodruff Dam was being built. No structural traces of the mission were found, but he did locate broken fragments of Spanish ceramics and other items consistent with the presence of a 17th century settlement at the site.
There are no markers at the site, but it is open to the public. Searching for artifacts is strictly prohibited on U.S. Government property.
Our series will continue.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lake Seminole History, Part Two

This photograph was taken looking west across the Apalachicola River to the Jackson County shore from the top of the large Native American platform mound at Chattahoochee Landing.
Known locally as the "Indian Mound," this mound has been reduced in height and size due to erosion but still is quite impressive.
Originally there were at least seven mounds at Chattahoochee Landing, with an eighth across the river on the Jackson County side. The large mound is the only one that remains fairly intact. A few traces of the others can still be seen at Chattahoochee Landing, but the mound on the Jackson County side was washed away by the river during the 1970s and 1980s.
During the Fort Walton Period (A.D. 900-1540), these mounds were part of an important ceremonial complex. Although archaeology at Chattahoochee Landing has been minimal, salvage excavations were conducted on the Jackson County shore as the site there was being washed away. They revealed the presence of a large village along the riverbank, in addition to the burial mound there. It is assumed that the landing site across the river was a ceremonial complex for the people of the village.
One of the more interesting finds was a human skull that revealed evidence the person had received brain surgery hundreds of years ago. A square hole had been cut in the skull, but had started to grow back, an obvious indication that the person had survived the surgery.
Our generation sometimes under estimates the knowledge of ancient peoples such as those who lived here along the Apalachicola River. Their mental capacity, however, was the same as the present generation and their knowledge of many things was probably superior to our own, especially regarding nature, wildlife, etc.
Our series will continue.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lake Seminole History, Part One

This is an aerial view of the Jim Woodruff Dam between Chattahoochee and Sneads. Dedicated in 1957, the dam itself is now a historic site having turned 50 years old last year.
Just beyond the dam can be seen the "big water" of Lake Seminole. This was the point, about 5,000 feet north of the dam, where the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers originally flowed together to form Florida's noted Apalachicola River.
Within this photograph can be seen scores of historic sites that are of considerable significance. In the lower right hand corner of the photograph, just below the U.S. 90 bridge, can be seen Chattahoochee Landing, a major archaeological and historic site. Just below the modern U.S. 90 bridge can be seen a surviving part of the old "Victory Bridge," built during the 1920s and named in honor of the Allied victory in World War I.
Now submerged beneath the waters of the lake just above the dam are an array of archaeological sites, some dating back thousands of years. Also beneath the lake above the dam is the site of Nicoll's Outpost, a British fort constructed during the War of 1812 in anticipation of an invasion of Georgia. The war ended before the invasion could take place.
Our series on historic sites around Lake Seminole will continue tomorrow with a look at the Chattahoochee Landing archaeological site and Native American mound complex.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Historic Sites around Lake Seminole

Forming much of the eastern border of Jackson County, Lake Seminole is a beautiful 37,500 acre reservoir located in the heart of one of the most historic settings in the United States.
The lake spreads across Jackson County, Florida and Seminole and Decatur Counties, Georgia. Formed by the Jim Woodruff Dam, built in the 1950s between Sneads and Chattahoochee, it covers the original confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers.
This area was a major population center and strategic point for thousands of years. As a result, Lake Seminole covers and is bordered by literally hundreds of significant archaeological and historic sites. These include Native American mounds and villages, pioneer settlements, historic forts, Spanish mission sites, "ghost towns," plantations, riverboat landings, steamboat wrecks and more.
Beginning tomorrow, I will start a series on some of the most important historic and archaeological sites around Lake Seminole. I hope you will find this to be a good introduction to this fascinating area that is so vital to Jackson County.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Unknown Confederate Dead of Riverside Cemetery

In the old section of Riverside Cemetery in Marianna can be found a small burial plot containing two rows of Confederate soldiers. Most of the graves are marked simply with the inscription "Unknown, C.S.A., 1861-1865," although a few still display the fading names of the unfortunate men buried there.
Local tradition holds that these men died fighting Union troops during the Battle of Marianna. The town was attacked by Union troops on September 27, 1864, and the presence of so many graves in two burial trenches has long led to the belief that they must have been victims of the battle.
Research reveals, however, that it is more likely that these men were the victims of illness instead of Union bullets.
Only a few of the men buried in the plot can be identified, but all of them died of sickness while patients at the Confederate military hospital in Marianna. Nasrey "Z.T." Brogden, for example, is buried in the small Civil War plot. Although tradition and a modern marker on his grave indicate that he died on September 27, 1864, the date of the Battle of Marianna, his military records actually reveal that he died in the hospital at Marianna from sickness on December 22, 1863, nine months before the battle.
The same is true of the other couple of soldiers who can be identified. In view of this information, it seems more likely that the burial plot was actually a place where soldiers who died while receiving hospital treatment were buried.
There are victims of the Battle of Marianna buried at Riverside. Several of their graves can be found nearby. But since all of the dead from the battle can be accounted for and identified, it seems that the "unknowns" likely died of disease.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

History of Parramore's One Room School

Parramore - A couple of weeks ago I mentioned this little one room school that still stands along Oak Grove Road just north of Parramore in eastern Jackson County.

A longer article will appear in this week's issue of the Jackson County Times and I thought you might be interested in reading it here as well:

Parramore – Along the side of Oak Grove Road just north of the Parramore community in eastern Jackson County can be found a rare relic of life in Jackson County’s early years. A historic one room school still stands, looking out on the old dirt road just as it has for many decades.

The Cox School was established during the 1870s as part of the early move to create public education in Jackson County. Originally located about one-quarter of a mile west of its present location, the little schoolhouse was located on land donated by members of the Cox family. There was a wood stove at one end of the building for heat and students of all ages sat on plank benches.

At that time, Parramore was a growing and thriving community. Located on the hills overlooking the Chattahoochee River, the community was an important riverboat port that grew to have a number of stores, a post office, sawmill, gristmill, cotton gin, blacksmith shop and several turpentine operations. The need for education was filled several of these small one room schools.
In addition to the Cox School, the community also had little schoolhouses at Oak Grove Church, Circle Hill Church and a number of other nearby locations. Only the Cox School survives today, a unique reminder of life in the days of one room schools.

In 1979, I had an opportunity to interview several students who had attended class at the little school. They remembered how the structure was sweltering hot in warm weather and freezing cold in winter. They also recalled walking to class with a baked sweet potato in their pocket for lunch.

According to their memories, some of the teachers and officials who served at the early landmark were Florence Worline, Ely Johnson, Clemmy Nichols, Floyd Allen, Louise Bevis and Estel Hart.

The school, along with the other nearby one room schools, closed in around 1920. At that time it was returned to the Cox family and converted for use as a kitchen on the nearby home of William Henry Cox. Using round logs as rollers, family members and neighbors pushed the little building to its present location and connected it to the house with a covered walkway.

The house and walkway are gone today, but the old school still stands. Despite its age and years of use as a barn, the little building is still structurally sound. The massive hand-hewn floor joists remain strong and the old plank floors, worn smooth by more than a century of flood traffic, are in good condition.

Talks are currently underway to further stabilize and begin a slow restoration of the structure, assuring that it is preserved for future generations as a landmark of the early days of public education in Jackson County.