Friday, November 26, 2010

The Ice Man Cometh - Dr. Gorrie in Jackson County

Replica of Gorrie's Machine
It is a virtually unknown fact today that Dr. John Gorrie, the Floridian honored in the U.S. Capitol as the inventor of artificial refrigeration, once lived in Jackson County.

Although Gorrie is primarily associated with Apalachicola, where he lived and worked during the 1840s and 1850s, he settled first at the Pope settlement in eastern Jackson County when he made his way south from South Carolina in around 1833. The site of his home was atop what is still known as Gorrie Hill, an elevation adjoining the southern border of Three Rivers State Park just north of Sneads.

Like many of his day, Dr. Gorrie came south in hopes of making a life for himself in the rapidly growing Territory of Florida. Pope's Store, a settlement that would later become Sneads, was then an important trading post and village on the heights overlooking the confluence of the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers (the actual site of Pope's Store is now under Lake Seminole). Having covered the long distance down from South Carolina, Gorrie decided to settle there to ply his profession as a medical doctor to see if he could establish himself in Florida.

It was during this same time, however, that the port city of Apalachicola was entering its boom phase. Gorrie remained at Pope's for only one year before moving on South to Apalachicola, where he would eventually invent a machine that not only could refrigerate or "air condition" a room, but could also make large quantities of ice.

His ties to Jackson County would remain strong, however, as he married a young woman from the Myrick family. Both his wife and son relocated to Marianna after the doctor's death in 1855 and their graves may be seen at St. Luke's Episcopal Church cemetery in Marianna.

You can learn more about his life at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/gorriemuseum.

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