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.

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