Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lost Grave of Former Speaker of the House Rediscovered in Marianna

Members of the Dr. Theophilus West Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) have been involved in a noteworthy project to locate, clean up and repair cemeteries in Jackson County with graves of Confederate veterans.

Today they rediscovered the overgrown and forgotten but extremely historic Long Cemetery in Marianna. The cemetery is located down a steep ridge off Kelson Avenue.

Among those buried there is Richard H. Long, a former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and a delegate to Florida's 1838 Constitutional Convention. He also served as a county judge of Jackson County in the years before the Civil War.

Another noteworthy grave is that of Captain William McPherson, C.S.A. He was the adjutant of the Confederate Post at Marianna and was wounded in the Battle of Marianna.

The photo above and the following list of burials was provided by Ashley Pollette of the West Camp. He indicates the group hopes to begin work soon to clean up and repair the cemetery and also will try to open a trail down the hill to the graves so they can be visited again.


Richard H. Long - (1791-1865)

Ann G. Long - wife of Richard H. Long. - (1795-1846)

Meta L. McPherson - consort of William McPherson.

William McPherson - Capt. CSA. (died January 25, 1867)

Edmund B. Cobb (Died January 25, 1835)

William F. H. Long - son of Richard H. and Ann G. Long (1825-1858

Henry Long (1815-1869)

Dr. Nicholas A. Long - CSA, Capt. Indian Wars

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Evidence of Prehistoric Brain Surgery in Jackson County

Sneads - 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 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 the mound has now been 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 or grow back, 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 for sure.
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, although it possibly had to do with the arrival of a new, militaristic group in western Jackson County – the Chacato.
Note: This article is excerpted from Volume One of my new book, The History of Jackson County, Florida. The book is available locally at Chipola River Book and Tea in Downtown Marianna and can also be purchased at

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Wreck of the "Chamois"

Steamboat Explosion Received Wide Coverage

By Dale Cox

While travel on the early paddlewheel steamboats that served Jackson County was picturesque and romantic, it could also be very dangerous. Fires and boiler explosions were common, while the snags, rocks and sandbars of the rivers claimed a surprising number of boats. The average life of a steamboat on the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers was only a few years and quite often the boats ended their careers with an even more tragic loss of life. A number of these unfortunate accidents took place along the Jackson County banks.

Little is known of the first such incident, a fire that destroyed the steamboat Flossie at Brown’s Ferry in 1835. The next known accident was the loss of the Chamois to a boiler explosion in 1842. The fatal incident was reported widely in the nation’s newspapers:

…The steamer Chamois, Capt. Morton, burst her boiler on Thursday, 3d of November, near Chattahoochee, at the fork of the river. She was aground, and trying to pull off when the explosion occurred, which hurried three souls into eternity. There were others more or less injured, but none severely. It is stated as usual, that no blame whatever is attached to the officers of the boat. The names of the persons killed are Leander Vale, 1st engineer, Wm. Cannefax, Steward, and Joseph Floyd, deck hand.

A similar report appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer under the headline, “Dreadful Steamboat Disaster on the Chattahoochie.” According to that publication, the Chamois was grounded on a sandbar at the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers and the crew was using both the power of her engines and a capstan to try to pull her into deeper waters:

…The captain was standing at the time on the boiler deck, and was thrown a great distance, but miraculously escaped, with some slight bruises. The boat is a complete wreck and will prove an entire loss. This was the first trip of the boat up the river for this season, and she had a large freight on board, which is all damaged. The engine and furniture will be saved. The deck hands were all engaged at the capstan hauling off, and are all more or less injured.

The site of the wreck, shown above, is now covered by the waters of Lake Seminole.
The next year another vessel, the 228-ton sidewheeler Irwinton went down at Brown’s Ferry, fortunately with no loss of life. It was actually the second time that the Irwinton had hit the bottom of the river. On May 11, 1838, the boat was steaming down the Apalachicola below Blountstown when her crew discovered that she was on fire. To prevent the total loss of the boat, they scuttled her and allowed the river water to put out the fire. She was subsequently raised and put back in service.

Note: This article was excerpted from The History of Jackson County, Florida: Volume One. The book is available at Chipola River Book and Tea at 4402 Lafayette Street in Downtown Marianna or click here for information on ordering through

Friday, January 9, 2009

Last Store in Parramore is now gone

The end of an era in Jackson County history was marked today as the last surviving store in the old ghost town of Parramore was torn down.

The photograph here shows the old store as it appeared about a month ago. As you can see, it was overgrown and slowly collapsing on its own. It had become a danger and was beyond saving, but it is still sad to see it go.

Parramore was an important river port in Jackson County during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Served by a series of riverboat landings on the Chattahoochee River, the community developed on the high ground back from the river. At its height, Parramore was home to four or five stores, a post office, blacksmith shop, cotton gin, grist mill, saw mill and several large turpentine operations.

The town began to fade when steamboat traffic slowed on the Chattahoochee River and the end of the paddlewheel riverboat era during the 1940s spelled the final death of the little commercial district. People moved away and the buildings were reclaimed by the woods.

Over time, the old stores and structures have disappeared one by one. The store that disappeared today was the last of the standing structures in the main area of the old community. A few outlying buildings, including a log cabin and a one room school, still survive, but for the most part little remains today to remind modern generations of this once thriving place of business and life.

Parramore comes back to life once each year, on the first Sunday in October, when an annual homecoming is held at Oak Grove Church to remember the once prosperous community.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Origin of Word "Chipola" Dates Back Hundreds of Years

By Dale Cox

Marianna – The traditional story often told in books and articles about Jackson County is that the word “Chipola” originates from the Choctaw language and means something akin to “Sweetwater.” It is a colorful tale that dates back many decades, but the Choctaw never lived in Jackson County and there is no evidence the name of the county’s famed Chipola River comes from their language.

The word actually appears to be a relic of the little-known Chacato language. Barely remembered today, the Chacato were living in what is now Jackson County when the Spanish arrived in the region in 1674. Although they claimed the land as far east as the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers, their primary homeland was in the rich lands between the Chipola River and Holmes Creek.

Spanish missionaries settled among the Chacato in 1674 and established the missions or churches of San Nicolas, San Carlos and San Antonio. San Nicolas was located a few miles northwest of Marianna, San Antonio was just north of Campbellton and San Carlos was initially located in what is now Washington County.

In 1675, however, large numbers of Chacato warriors revolted against the Spanish and drove away the missionaries. The Spanish retaliated by launching a military expedition into the region and burning San Nicolas and San Antonio. Most of the inhabitants fled to Alabama.

The war against the Chacato soon expanded to include the Chisca or Yuchi who lived in what is now Walton County. From a fortified village somewhere south of today’s Defuniak Springs, Chisca warriors raided Spanish settlements in eastern Florida.

The Europeans responded in 1677 by launching an expedition that located and destroyed the Chisca stronghold. The soldiers passed through Jackson County and the journal of the expedition’s commander includes the first known written use of the word “Chipola.”
Crossing the Chattahoochee River at a site now covered by Lake Seminole, Captain Juan Fernandez de Florencia and his 197 men marched west into Jackson County during September of 1677. After camping at a pond somewhere north of Grand Ridge, the force marched on to Blue Spring which the captain described as “a spring which is named Calutoble, whence a river runs toward the south.”

After passing Blue Spring, the expedition angled to the northwest across today’s Dogwood Heights area and marched for the natural bridge of the Chipola River at today’s Florida Caverns State Park. As they came down from the hills into the floodplain of the river, Captain Fernandez de Florencia noted that they camped “in a great forest called Chipole; and the next day knelt to pray.”

It was the first documented use of the word “Chipola” and based on the captain’s description, it initially applied to the vast floodplain swamps rather than the river itself. Since the expedition was guided by friendly Chacato warriors and the word is undoubtedly Native American in origin, it is reasonable to conclude that it was from the Chacato language. The exact meaning, however, has been lost to time.

The Chacato completely disappeared from Jackson County by 1706. The anti-Spanish part of the tribe moved to Alabama and was eventually assimilated into the Creek Nation. The pro-Spanish Chacato relocated to Mobile, Alabama, where they lived adjacent to the French settlement there during the early 1700s. They eventually moved on to Louisiana and Texas, where a few of their descendants live to this day.