by Dale Cox
The little cemetery near Dozier School that has been the subject of so much controversy of late actually existed for decades prior to the current allegations. In fact, aerial photographs taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture clearly show that the cemetery was part of the Marianna landscape as early as 1940.
A deadly accidental fire took place at what was then the Florida Reform School in 1914, claiming the lives of six students and two staff members. A Jackson County Grand Jury report indicates that the fire was caused either by a faulty heater or spontaneous combustion from a nearby pile of oily rags. Regardless of the cause, however, it quickly spread through a dormitory at the school threatening the lives of everyone inside.