Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jackson County and the Lost Confederate Gold

by Dale Cox

Parramore -
One of the most interesting of Jackson County's legends involves a portion of the famed lost Confederate treasury. When Jefferson Davis and other Southern officials fled Richmond, Virginia at the end of the War Between the States, they took with them the Confederate treasury. According to legend, at least part of that massive haul of gold and silver wound up in Jackson County.

Composed of kegs and boxes filled with silver and gold, the Confederate treasury was valued at somewhere around $500,000 when it was removed from Richmond. In modern terms, it would have been worth millions.

Some of the money disappeared and was likely buried during the time that Davis and the Confederate Cabinet paused in Danville, Virginia. More of the money was used to pay soldiers in the Carolinas and when the fleeing officials reached Washington, Georgia. From there, however, the remaining gold and silver was dispersed in multiple directions. To this day, the final whereabouts of most of the money is a subject of controversy.

It is known that the remaining Confederate officials spread out to minimize the risk that they would be captured by Union cavalry that was desperately searching for them. All were heading for Florida, but they all went by different routes. The goal was to reach the coast where arrangements could be made to flee to Cuba or Texas.

Jefferson Davis was captured near Irwinville, Georgia, as he tried to make his way to Florida, but some officials made it through. Most of the treasure, however, did not. Around $35,000 was seized by the Union army near Gainesville in June of 1865, but otherwise the Confederate gold and silver vanished into history.

THe men involved in hiding it kept some for their own use and spirited some away to support fleeing Confederate officials, but otherwise they never talked about what happened to the money. In various places in Florida and Georgia, however, bits and pieces of the treasure have been found. One of those places, curiously, is Jackson County.

Local tradition has long held that some of the treasure was buried in the corner of a field near the Parramore community in eastern Jackson COunty. The site was then near Bellview Landing, the primary crossing of the Chattahoochee RIver between Chattahoochee and Neal's Landing in 1865 and a likely crossing point into Florida for Confederate authorities or soldiers fleeing Union troops.

During the 1980s, two $20 gold pieces were found at the site, coins that otherwise had no logical reason for being there as the location is not near any old home places. The coins were of the proper date and were consistent with the gold known to have been part of the lost Confederate treasurer.

Could there be more? Or were the two coins left behind when the hidden stash was dug up and removed? Only time and more searching will answer that question.

Note: If you would like to learn more about Jackson County history, please consider my books: The History of Jackson County, Florida: The Early Years;The Battle of Marianna, Florida and Two Egg, Florida: A Collection of Ghost Stories, Legends and Unusual Facts. They are available at Chipola River Book and Tea in Downtown Marianna or online at

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Annual Homecoming Remembers Old Parramore

The 48th annual Oak Grove Homecoming was held on October 4, 2009, in the historic Jackson County "ghost town" of Old Parramore.

The event celebrates the memory of the community and the people who lived there and has continued with crowds large and small for nearly fifty years. Other than for an occasional wedding or funeral, Oak Grove Baptist Church is used only once each year, for the annual homecoming.

More than 100 people attended this year's event, which featured music by the Covenant Quartet, a popular Gospel group, a message from Rev. Lucius B. "Cap" Pooser and a discussion of the history of Parramore by me. Most popular, however, was the annual dinner on the grounds which gave those in attendance the opportunity to interact and remember old friends and make new ones.

Many descendants of Parramore residents use the annual reunion as an opportunity to learn more about the historic community and to explore their family genealogies.

Parramore was an important riverboat town that grew on the high ground back from the Chattahoochee River during the 1880s and 1890s. The area had been settled as early as the 1750s by members of the Perryman family, English traders who settled with and married into the local Creek Indians. They operated large farms and cattle ranches at Parramore through both the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Other settlers came following the transfer of Florida from Spain to the United States in 1821 and by the time of the War Between the States numerous farms and homes stood through the area.

Local men and boys served in numerous regiments during the War Between the States and also fought at the Battle of Marianna as members of local home guard units. At least one significant skirmish took place in the vicinity when a band of organized deserters and Unionists attacked and disarmed a company of Confederate cavalry.

The town itself was a product of growing commerce on the Chattahoochee River during the 1870s and 1880s. Timber and turpentine operations in the vast longleaf pine forests of the area led to the development of an industrial complex that spurred the growth of the community. By 1900, Parramore had a post office, cotton gin, sawmill, gristmill, blacksmith shop, a number of stores and several landings on the Chattahoochee where limber and barrels of rosin could be loaded aboard paddlewheel steamboats for transport either down to Apalachicola or up to Columbus, Georgia.

The fading of the naval stores industry after World War I also sparked the doom of the town. The riverboats slowly stopped running and by 1950, the old town was gone. One by one the remaining structures disappeared until only a few remain today. Parramore is once again a quiet community in the piney woods of Jackson County.

Be sure to watch for my commemorative book, Old Parramore: The History of a Florida Ghost Town, which will be released later this fall. I'll keep you up to date on release plans. All proceeds from the book will benefit the care of Oak Grove Church and Cemetery, the annual Oak Grove Homecoming, and the Central School Reunion in Old Parramore.