Friday, October 31, 2008

The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge

Jackson County's best known ghost story is the strange tale of the Ghost of Bellamy Bridge.

The story revolves around Bellamy Bridge, an old iron-frame structure that spans the Chipola River a few miles north of Marianna. Now accessible only by boat or a long hike through the swamps on the west side of the river, the bridge is a relic of Jackson County's early 20th century road building efforts.

The iron bridge replaced earlier wooden structures at the same site and over the years has become the accepted centerpiece of the Bellamy Bridge legend.

As the story goes, the area around the bridge is haunted by the restless spirit of Elizabeth Jane Bellamy. Legend holds that she died in a tragic wedding night fire during the early 1800s and was buried in a lonely grave nearby.

While Elizabeth Bellamy's true story is quite different from the legend, it is still a fascinating and sad tale.

To read the true story of the Ghost of Bellamy Bridge and learn more about the alleged ghost sightings, please visit

Friday, October 24, 2008

Perryman's Town was an important early landmark in Jackson County

By Dale Cox

Parramore – In writing or discussing the history of Jackson County, it is often easy to forget that the “first settlers” of the area were not really the “first.” The county had a rich Native American history for centuries before the first American settlers drifted into the area in around 1819.

Among the noteworthy Creek settlements in Jackson County was a place called Tellmochesses or “Perryman’s Town.”
Located just east of the “River Road” near today’s Parramore Landing, Perryman’s Town was an important Creek village established by Chief William Perryman at some point prior to the American Revolution. The inhabitants of the settlement lived in cabins and farmed and were of the “civilized” or pro-white faction of the Lower Creeks. Perryman himself was the grandson of an early English trader named Theophilus Perryman.
Perryman’s Town was noteworthy because of the role of its occupants in a number of highly significant events of early U.S. history. William Perryman, for example, was a Loyalist and joined the British forces in St. Augustine with his warriors to fight against the colonists during the American Revolution. He took part in a number of British attacks on Georgia and was engaged in several little known but significant Revolutionary War battles.
After the war, he became an associate his brother-in-law, the notorious pirate William Augustus Bowles. The later individual had married Perryman’s sister and dreamed of establishing an empire for himself in the wilderness of what is now North Florida. He commissioned a flotilla of pirate ships that struck against Spanish and civilian vessels in the Gulf of Mexico and frequented Perryman’s Town. The two had a falling out during the late 1800s, however, when Bowles threatened to execute Perryman’s father, Thomas, and William Perryman thereafter assisted the Spanish in apprehending the pirate and adventurer.
Later, William Perryman again served the British during the War of 1812 and was an officer in a force of Native American auxiliaries raised by the English for a planned invasion of Georgia. When the war ended and the British disappeared, however, he saw the writing on the wall and thereafter allied himself with the United States.
When the First Seminole War erupted in 1817, Perryman led a party of his warriors down to present-day Blountstown to rescue Chief John Blunt, who also had allied himself with the United States. Blunt’s village and the nearby plantations of traders Edmund Doyle and William Hambly were under threat of attack by a large force of Seminole and Creek warriors. Perryman arrived just as the attack materialized and was killed in the resulting battle, although his mission to rescue Blunt ended in success.
The death of their charismatic leader and beginning of the First Seminole War prompted the people of Perryman’s Town to abandon their long occupied village site in Jackson County. They relocated up to the Creek Nation in Alabama and Georgia and the old village site was slowly reclaimed by the woods. The site today is indistinguishable from the pine forest that now covers it.
If you are interested in learning more about William Perryman and Perryman's Town, please consider my new book, The History of Jackson County, Florida: Volume One. You can order the book online directly from the printer by visiting

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Annual Central School Reunion set for Saturday

Former students of Central School will gather with their families this Saturday at the old school site for their annual reunion.
The last of the schools that served the Parramore community over the years, Central was active from 1927 to 1952. Students from throughout the area attended.
The old school structure no longer stands, having burned down during the 1960s as a result of a lightning strike, but the grounds are preserved as a memorial by former students. A monument stands in front of the ruins of the old building and each October a reunion is held to share memories and remember childhood days.
This year's reunion will take place on Saturday and people should start gathering by around 10:30 or 11.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Excerpt from New Book: "The History of Jackson County"

The 19th century U.S. soldier shown here was Captain Hugh Young, a topographer or mapmaker assigned to the army of General Andrew Jackson when it marched through what is now Jackson County in 1818.

Young wrote one of the earliest American accounts of the Jackson County area and his description of the area helped attract many early settlers to the region.

The following is an excerpt from the new book, The History of Jackson County, Florida: Volume One. You can obtain information on how to order the book by clicking here.


"The army turned to the northwest on the morning of May 10th and crossed into Jackson County. Their route led them across the approximate site of Grand Ridge to Blue Spring, where they camped for the night. Captain Hugh Young, Jackson’s topographer, called the spot “Big Spring,” a name it would hold for a number of years. He described it as being “forty yards in diameter and of considerable depth with a rock bottom and a clean rapid current.”

"The soldiers in Jackson’s army marveled at the beauty and richness of the surrounding countryside. Young himself kept careful records of the quality of the lands through which they marched.

"The army continued forward on the morning of May 11, 1818. Crossing the hills between Blue Spring and the Chipola River, they arrived by around midday at the natural bridge. It was here that the supposed incident involving Andrew Jackson took place, but Captain Young did not record it in his journal. Instead, he wrote that the men were well aware that they were crossing a natural bridge and even offered a theory as to how it had been formed:

"'The Natural Bridge is in the center of a large swamp and appears to be a deposit of earth on a raft or some similar obstruction. The passage is narrow and the creek, with a rapid current is visible both above and below.'

"Young, of course, was mistaken about the formation of the bridge. It is actually created by the sudden disappearance of the Chipola River into a series of limestone passages. It flows underground through these for a short distance, before rising back to the surface. Nineteenth century loggers cut a canal across the top of the feature to allow them to float timber across to a downstream mill, taking away some of the unique appearance of the natural bridge, but it can still be seen today."

I will post additional excerpts from the new book over the days to come.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Looking for photos of "Old Parramore"

I am trying to find old photographs of the Parramore community in Jackson County.

If you have family connections to the area and have something that you think might be of interest, please let me know by visiting and dropping me an email.

Basically, I am looking for photos from roughly 1870-1950 of places, buildings, homes, stores, schools, people, families, etc. I don't need your originals, but would like to obtain copies if possible.

We will be launching an effort in November to restore the old one-room school that you see here and I would like to use them as part of the project.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Stories from the new History of Jackson County, Florida

Beginning today, I will start sharing some excerpts from my new book, The History of Jackson County, Florida: Volume One.
If you would like to purchase a copy, you can do so at Chipola River Book and Tea in downtown Marianna (across from the Battle of Marianna monument) or online directly from the printer at
Excerpt from Chapter One (Pages 5-6)
(Copyright 2008 by Dale Cox)
The new people, called the Mississippians because they spread east from the Mississippi River Valley, brought with them new techniques, new styles of pottery and a new religion. Archaeologists and anthropologists debate today whether their eastward movement was due to military conquest or religious fervor, but one thing is clear: they were a powerful, militaristic society.

The Mississippians were the ancestors of most of the Native American nations we recognize today. The Muscogee (Creek), Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw and Seminole people can all trace their history to the Mississippian culture. Some older groups such as the Yuchi and Hitchiti are believed to have descended from the earlier people already living in the region when the Mississippians arrived.
From A.D. 900 until A.D. 1540, the Mississippians were the absolute masters of the Southeast. In Jackson County, the largest known early Mississippian settlement was the Curlee Site near Sneads. This site was occupied by around A.D. 1000 and consisted of a large village and mound on the banks of the Apalachicola River near where the U.S. 90 Bridge crosses between Chattahoochee and Sneads. Paired with a large seven mound ceremonial center across the river at Chattahoochee Landing, where the remains of a large platform mound can still be seen, the Curlee village was an important center supported by vast fields and a trading network that made use of the Chattahoochee, Flint and Apalachicola Rivers.
Although it has now been largely washed away by the river, the Curlee Site is one of the best researched Native American sites in Jackson County. Prior to the destruction of the site by erosion, archaeologists conducted numerous seasons of fieldwork at the site and learned a great deal about the lives of its inhabitants. They ground grain and baked bread, grew squash, melons and other crops, made both ceremonial and utility pottery, used tiny triangular points to tip their arrows and made tools from stone, wood and bone. They even made bone fishhooks for use in harvesting food from the Apalachicola River.
One of the most stunning aspects of the Curlee inhabitants, however, is that they seem to have developed the capability to perform brain surgery. A skull from the site and now in the possession of a private collector in Chattahoochee had a rectangular hole that had apparently been cut using stone tools. Most surprising, however, is the fact that the bone surrounding the hole had begun to refuse, confirming to anthropologists that the unfortunate individual had survived his primitive surgery.
Although scientists have speculated as to why inhabitants of Curlee would conduct brain surgery on a resident of their village, the best they can do is guess. Some have suggested that the individual may have suffered from migraine headaches or somehow been injured, but we may never know.
At some point around 1250-1350 A.D., Curlee and other Mississippian sites along the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers in Jackson County were suddenly abandoned. No one is quite sure why. At the same time, however, a new Mississippian society suddenly appeared between the Chipola River and Holmes Creek in western Jackson County. We know more about this society than any of the ones before it because these people were still living in the area when Spanish explorers penetrated the area west of the Apalachicola River.
Watch over the coming days for more excerpts from the new book!