Monday, December 19, 2011

"A Christmas in Two Egg" draws Overflow Crowds!

Overflow Crowd for First Performance
So many people turned out for Sunday's first ever performance of "A Christmas in Two Egg, Florida - The Play" that the cast staged a second impromptu performance.

Based on my short novel of the same name, the play's cast featured residents from around the Two Egg area of Jackson County. Some of them even portrayed their own ancestors.

Ben's Redemption - A Scene from "A Christmas in Two Egg"
A Christian novel centered around a Christmas Eve night in Two Egg, the book and play tell the story of the redemption of a man named Ben. Angry and depressed, he finds himself alone at Christmas and disturbed by noises from his barn. As the story unfolds, it includes glimpses into the real history of Two Egg. In both the book and play, a group of local men sitting around the historic Bevis Store in Two Egg share stories of how the community got its unusual name.

The play was staged for the first time on Sunday, December 18th, at the Lovedale Baptist Church Fellowship Hall near Two Egg and the audience was at capacity nearly thirty minutes before opening time. Dozens more visited a temporary "Museum of Two Egg History" and enjoyed refreshments while they waited for a quickly promised second performance.

"Gabriel" (left) discusses his role with the author.
The cast acted out scenes from the book, all linked together by readings and story tellings. The Lovedale Baptist Church Men's Ensemble and Children & Youth Ensemble provided the opening music while the choir, with soloist Helen Davis, played the host of angels that appear unexpectedly over Two Egg at the plays climactic moment.

The church is considering making the play an annual part of Christmas in Jackson County.

If you haven't read the book and would like to, it is available through Chipola River Book & Tea in Downtown Marianna (same block as the Gazebo restaurant) or online for delivery by Christmas through Amazon:   A Christmas in Two Egg, Florida

It is also available as an instant download for your Kindle reading device or free Kindle software (available through Amazon):  A Christmas in Two Egg, Florida (Kindle)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"A Christmas in Two Egg, Florida" - The Play! (Performance set for December 18th)

Lovedale Baptist Church near Two Egg will present the stage version of my short novel, A Christmas in Two Egg, Florida, on Sunday, December 18th at 6 p.m.
There is no charge to attend, but all donations will go to support the youth of the church in their upcoming activities. If you make a donation of at least $10, you can receive a free copy of the book and I will be there and will be happy to sign and inscribe it for you if you like.

This will be a unique opportunity to travel back in time to the days when Two Egg got its name and experience a nostalgic look at life in the community during the difficult days of the Great Depression. The entire cast is from the Two Egg area and one fascinating scene brings together a group of men who will tell their own stories of how the community was named.

The play and book tell the story of an elderly man named Ben who has, through misfortune not of his own making, been left along and bitter on a Christmas Eve night. He hears noises in his barn and goes to investigate. What he finds changes not only his own life, but the life of every man, woman and child in Two Egg.

The story is fiction, drawn completely from the mind, but the place and many of the people are real. The stories of how the community by its name will be told completely unscripted by the men exactly as they have heard them all of their lives.

The audience will be able to interact with cast members after the play and there will also be an exhibit of antiques, tools, photographs and other items of interest from the Two Egg area.

Please come out for this wonderful opportunity to get to know many of the people of the Two Egg area and to experience a Christmas story that I think you will enjoy and cherish!

If you are interested in reading the book, it is available at Chipola River Book and Tea on Lafayette Street in Downtown Marianna (in the same block as the Gazebo Restaurant), or you can order it online from Amazon at

Lovedale Baptist Church is located at 6595 Lovedale Road (Bascom, Florida). To reach the church from State Road 69 at Two Egg, travel north on CR-69A (Wintergreen Road) for 2 miles then turn right on Lovedale Road and travel 1.9 miles. The church will be on your right.

Learn more about Two Egg anytime at!

Monday, November 28, 2011

History for Christmas? Consider one of my books on Jackson County's colorful past

Battle of Marianna Monument
If you are looking for a unique Christmas gift that captures the flavor of Jackson County's rich and colorful past, please consider one or more of my books on this beautiful place that so many of us call home.  Here is a list of the volumes currently available. 
All of them are also available as instant downloads for your Amazon Kindle reading devise and the Battle of Marianna book can also be found at iBooks for your iPad, Nook, etc.

Also be sure to watch in coming days for the release of my latest volume, The Claude Neal Lynching: The 1935 Murders of Claude Neal and Lola Cannady.

All of the following are available at Chipola River Book & Tea on Lafayette Street in Downtown Marianna (right across the street from the Battle of Marianna Monument), or you can click the link to order through Amazon online:

A Christmas in Two Egg, Florida
My first work of fiction, this is a short Christmas story set in the quaint Two Egg community of Jackson County.  Please click here to order.

Two Egg, Florida: A Collection of Ghost Stories, Legends & Unusual Facts
Learn the story of Two Egg plus a number of other Northwest Florida legends, including the Ghost of Bellamy Bridge, the Washington County Volcano, the Garden of Eden, Two-Toed Tom and more! Please click here to order.

The Battle of Marianna, Florida (Expanded Edition)
A detailed account of the September 27, 1864, battle in the streets of Marianna that marked the high point of the deepest Federal raid into Florida during the entire Civil War.  Contains detailed troop lists and casualty information.  Please click here to order.

The History of Jackson County, Florida: The Early Years (Volume One)
The most detailed account ever written of the early history of Jackson County, including details on Indian villages, Spanish missions, Seminole War battles, early settlement, the "lost county," crime and more!  Please click here to order.

The History of Jackson County, Florida: The War Between the States (Volume Two, The Civil War Years)
The most detailed account ever written of the Civil War years in Jackson County, including the Battle of Marianna, the Battle of Forks of the Creek, the Battle of Port Jackson, deserter raids, troop rosters, genealogical information, Governor John Milton and more. Please click here to order.

Old Parramore: The History of a Florida Ghost Town
The fascinating history of Old Parramore, a ghost town located near the Chattahoochee River in Jackson County, Florida. Learn the history of the rich steamboat era when paddlewheel riverboats were the most important mode of transportation for the area.  Please click here to order.

Friday, November 11, 2011

UPDATE: Prosecutions unlikely in Claude Neal Lynching

Old Jackson County Courthouse
The new investigation into the 1934 Claude Neal lynching in Jackson County is coming to an end and the Justice Department says prosecutions are unlikely to result.
This is a logical conclusion as all of the men involved in the 77-year-old case are dead.

The news came this week out of Washington, D.C., where a spokesperson indicated that most of the FBI investigations into dozens of Civil Rights era "cold cases" are now over and the rest are nearing their conclusions.  "Few, if any, of these cases will be prosecuted," the spokesperson indicated.

Claude Neal was lynched in Jackson County by a small group of men in 1934 and his body hanged from a tree at the courthouse after he confessed to raping and murdering a young woman named Lola Cannady near Greenwood.  She was beaten to death with a hammer.

Local authorities tried to protect Neal by sending him to several jails across Florida and Alabama, but press reports finally led the lynchers to him at the jail in Brewton, Alabama. Armed with dynamite and guns they removed him from the jail, brought him back to Jackson County and tortured and then killed him in a remote area near today's Parramore Landing Park on Lake Seminole.

The lynching generated widespread coverage and became a key factor in efforts to pass a national anti-lynching bill.  A Jackson County Grand Jury ruled that Neal had killed Lola Cannady and then been killed by a group of unknown persons.  No one was ever charged in his death.

My new book, The Claude Neal Lynching: The 1934 Murders of Lola Cannady and Claude Neal,is now available. It can be ordered at the upper right of this page and is also available at Chipola River Book and Tea in Downtown Marianna. You also can read more about the violent incidents of October 1934 at

Friday, November 4, 2011

Excerpt #2 - The Claude Neal Lynching (New Book)

Cannady house in late 1980s prior to its demolition.
The following is a second excerpt from my new book on the Claude Neal lynching, which took place in 1934 in Jackson County.

As I noted on October 22nd, the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a new investigation of the lynching and an FBI agent has been in the county looking at records and trying to locate potential witnesses. Please click here to read the original story.

Claude Neal, who also went by the alias Claud Smith, lived with his mother, great-aunt and common-law wife in a frame home a couple of miles north of Greenwood. In October of 1934, he was accused in the brutal slaying of a 19-year-old woman named Lola Cannady. She had been raped and beaten to death with a hammer.

Neal was arrested and, as law enforcement tried to protect him from outraged citizens, was moved to four different jails in Florida and Alabama. The effort to insure his safety failed, however, and he was taken from the jail in Brewton, Alabama, by a group of men carrying guns and dynamite. Carried back to Jackson County, Claude Neal was tortured and killed in a remote wooded area near today's Parramore Landing Park.  Please click here to read more.

My new book on the topic - The Claude Neal Lynching: The 1934 Murders of Claude Neal and Lola Cannady - will be released shortly. As promised, here is another excerpt from the book.  Please click here to read Excerpt #1.

Please do not reprint or otherwise publish this excerpt without contacting me for permission. Thanks!


Excerpt #2
The Claude Neal Lynching: The 1934 Murders of Claude Neal and Lola Cannady
by Dale Cox
(Coming November 2011)

Site of the Cannady house as it appears today.
Many modern writers have proclaimed 1934 as a time of great racism in Jackson County and a time when tense racial relations prevailed in the Cannady neighborhood. This was not true. The Cannady family was on good terms with the African Americans of their neighborhood. Sallie Smith lived in a weather-beaten house just up the road and members of the Smith, Long and Neal families lived in similar homes scattered around the vicinity. The Smith home was a bustling place, not unlike the neighboring Cannady house. Living with Smith was her recently widowed niece, Annie Smith, the mother of Claude Neal. Claude also lived in the old house, as did his common-law-wife and his three-year-old daughter.

The Cannady and Smith/Neal families were friendly. George Cannady’s children, including Lola, had grown up playing and later working along-side members of Sally Smith’s extended family. Two of the Cannady daughters were about the same age as Claude Neal and knew him well. When he was named as a suspect in Lola’s murder, her sister expressed shock and confusion at the allegation:

…I’d just like to see the man who did this just once. I can’t understand what the motive was for this brutal deed. To think that Claude Neal, who had been raised with my sister and me and worked for us all his life, could do such a thing – it is unbelievable. I only wish that every resident of Jackson County could view the body of my sister. (7)

As Lola’s sister told a local newspaper report, the children had been raised together and Claude even worked at times for the Cannady family. He helped with heavy farm labor during the planting and picking seasons, maintained fences and did whatever else George needed and could afford. The families, in fact, lived very much alike. Their homes were weathered and sagging under the weight of the years, but the yards were swept and clean of grass or weeds. They lived on cornbread and sweet potatoes, with a bit of pork or chicken thrown in now and then. Syrup, plums and scuppernongs were favorite sweets and they washed with lye soap made using the ashes from their fireplaces. In the winter, cold wind blew through the cracks in the walls and in the summer the heat was so intolerable that “siestas” were commonly taken on the front porch through the middle part of the day.
Site of Sallie Smith's house as it appears today.
Both families were made up of hard working people who were suffering through the greatest economic catastrophe that America had ever known. The debate over whether blacks or whites should receive government relief jobs might have been, and was, an issue in the towns, but out in the farm country there were no jobs to lead to such animosity. Race, of course, was an issue and many years would pass before desegregation brought the children of rural white families and the children of rural black families together for school. Black citizens generally did not vote, but then too most poor whites could not afford the poll tax and were disenfranchised as well. Slang terms were commonly used by people of both races to refer to those of a different color. Such things were part of the “big picture” of life in the United States during the 1930s, but were not everyday concerns among the poor farm families of the Cannady neighborhood where people were just trying to keep food on their table and survive to the next day.

One “piney woods philosopher” who grew up during the era of the Claude Neal lynching described the situation well when he pointed out that “Southern people back then were racist against blacks as a group. Northern people were racist against blacks as individuals.” His point was that rural white Southerners in places like Jackson County tended to joke or speak in derogatory terms about African Americans as a race, but usually got along well with their black friends or with black neighbors that they knew and recognized. Northerners, on the other hand, spoke of the rights of African Americans as a race, but were prone to practice sometimes fearful and violent racism against individual black families or citizens that might, for example, try to move into their neighborhood.


The book is now available and can be ordered at the upper right of this page. It also is available at Chipola River Book and Tea in Downtown Marianna. For more on the 1934 violence, please visit:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Excerpt #1 - New Book on the Claude Neal Lynching

Cannady House in 1980s, before it was demolished.
My new book on the 1934 murder of Lola Cannady and lynching of Claude Neal in Jackson County is now available.

It can be ordered at the upper right of this page or purchased at Chipola River Book and Tea in Downtown Marianna.

Claude Neal was accused of raping and murdering 19-year-old Lola Cannady near Greenwood and had confessed to the crime when he was taken from a jail in Brewton, Alabama, by a group of men armed with guns and dynamite. Brought back to Jackson County, he was tortured and killed in a remote wooded area near the Parramore community in eastern Jackson County.

The FBI has opened a new investigation into the Claude Neal lynching (although apparently not into the murder of Lola Cannady) and a family member of Neal told a Tallahassee newspaper this week that his family wants $77 million dollars in compensation from either the state or federal government.

That equals out to $1 million for each year that has passed since Neal's death on October 26, 1934.

My new book is titled: The Claude Neal Lynching: The 1934 Murders of Claude Neal and Lola Cannady. It will be released in both e-book and print editions over the next two weeks.

The book is written without an agenda, political or otherwise, and offers a chronological history of the events that took place in October of 1934, giving equal attention to the deaths of both Lola Cannady and Claude Neal. Previous writings on the topic have given only scant attention to Cannady's death.

The following excerpt is from Chapter One of the new book. Please do not reprint without permission:

In the summer and fall of 2011, the United States Department of Justice opened a civil rights investigation into the 1934 lynching of Claude Neal. It was, so far as is known, the first time that agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation looked into the crime and was part of a wider investigation of as many as 100 historical crimes opened during the administration of President George W. Bush.. While funding for such efforts was reduced under President Barack Obama, the investigations have continued.
“(H)ate-crimes enforcement, and cold-case investigations in particular, remain a priority to this administration,” Justice Department Spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa told reporters in July of 2011, “and the Civil Rights Division will devote the resources necessary to fully investigate all significant matters.” While the department would not confirm details, one of those "significant matters" was the Claude Neal lynching. FBI agents came to Jackson County where they interviewed current and former public officials and conducted records research at the Jackson County Courthouse in Marianna. Their investigation was launched seventy-seven years after the horrible events of 1934.
It was not, of course, the first time that the shadows of that fateful year lingered over Jackson County, nor will it likely be the last. The story of the Claude Neal lynching, however, is not just a story of extralegal justice in the years of the Great Depression, it is a story of violence and murder. It began when the life of a young woman named Lola Cannady was brutally taken in the farm country near Greenwood, Florida, on a clear and cool October afternoon.

Lola Cannady, ca. 1934
Lola Cannady was, by all accounts, a bright and cheerful young woman. Friendly with a kind word for all she met, she was small in stature and skinny as a rail, as were far too many of the people who lived on farms during those hard times. She was part of a large family, but pitched in and did her share of the work by feeding and watering the family hogs to take labor from the shoulders of her father and brothers while they worked in the fields. She also helped care for the house, do the family washing and cooking and look out for her youngest brother who was still too small to do heavy farm work.
Like most young people of that day and this, she enjoyed socializing with friends and is remembered even today as a pretty young woman who drew the attention of potential suitors. Her cousins Dora King, Bessie King and Clara Bell Stanley lived nearby and they often visited each other. While the girls were cousin, they were so close that they often called each other “sister.”
Much of their conversation during the late summer of 1934 was likely about Lola’s engagement to a young man in the community. She was, according to one acquaintance, “really excited and chattered about getting married like all young girls do.” The Great Depression was then in its darkest days, but despite the hard times and hunger that stalked the land, the wedding was an exciting and anticipated event for the whole extended family.
Like Acadamy Award winning actress Faye Dunaway, who was born nearby seven years after Lola’s death, the young woman dreamed of escaping the hard life of the farm. She enjoyed visiting her sister and other relatives in Tallahassee where she saw in such now routine conveniences as electric light, running water and well-stocked store shelves the promise of a better life away from the sandy peanut and cotton fields of Jackson County. She hoped one day to live in Tallahassee, possibly even find a real job there and enjoy simple luxuries that must have seemed extravagant to a young woman from the farm.
The Cannady family, like most of the other farm families of Jackson County, ate simple food and there was never enough of it. A cousin remembered meals of sweet potatoes and cornbread on visits to the weathered farmhouse. Protein was in short supply and pork chops, bacon and fried chicken were delicacies not often enjoyed. When flour could be afforded, especially after the crop came in or the season’s hogs were sold, there were biscuits and red-eye gravy. Summer brought peaches and plums, while in the fall there were scuppernongs, ripe persimmons, and green boiled peanuts, along with sugar cane and cane syrup. All of these were delicacies anticipated the year round.

I will post additional excerpts over coming days. To read more about the Neal lynching until the next post, please visit

Saturday, October 22, 2011

FBI Opens New Investigation of 1934 Jackson County Lynching

Old Jackson County Courthouse
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating the 77 year old lynching of Claude Neal, a black farm laborer accused of murdering a young woman near Greenwood.
Agents have been in Jackson County over recent weeks looking into the nearly eight decade old lynching as part of a new U.S. Department of Justice focus on approximately 100 unsolved crimes of the Civil Rights era. The FBI does not confirm active investigations, but local leaders have confirmed the presence of investigators in the county on a condition of anonymity.

Although the Claude Neal lynching is often called the "Marianna lynching," the man was actually killed in a remote wooded area near today's Parramore Landing Park in eastern Jackson County. His body was hanged from a tree at the Jackson County Courthouse.

Lola Cannady was attacked near the trees in the distance.
Neal was accused of murdering 19-year-old Lola Cannady on the afternoon of October 19, 1934. The young woman was reported missing after she left her home along what is now Dozier Road north of Greenwood to water hogs but failed to return. As concern grew over her whereabouts, family and neighbors began to search the vicinity for any traces of her. They found evidence of a fight near the hog pen, blood stains and a man's tracks leading to the scene from the nearby home of Sallie Smith.

Following the tracks to the house, the searchers found Sallie Smith and her niece Annie Smith washing a man's bloody clothes. A bloodstained hammer was also found. Annie Smith's 23-year-old son, Claude Neal, was not at home and did not return home that night. Suspicion immediately centered on him and the women later confirmed they had seen him near the hog pen with Lola Cannady and then heard her scream. They also confirmed that the bloodstained clothes belonged to him.

Lola's mother kneels over her daughter's body in 1934.
Lola's body was found early the next morning, dumped in a nearby wooded area and covered with logs and brush. She had been raped and beaten to death with a hammer.

Near the young woman's body, searchers found a piece of bloodstained cloth and the stem and loop of a man's pocket watch. The items turned out to be crucial pieces of evidence. The piece of cloth was matched to a ripped part of Neal's shirt and when taken into custody on the morning of October 19, 1934, it was discovered that his pocket watch was missing its loop and stem. The broken watch pieces found near Lola Cannady's body fit perfectly with Neal's damaged watch.

Claude Neal was arrested in Malone on suspicion of murder, but almost immediately Sheriff W.F. "Flake" Chambliss heard rumors that a mob was planning to seize him. The mob planned, according to the sheriff's reports, to take Neal back to the scene of the murder and allow Lola's father to kill him.

Deputy Dave Hamm
In order to protect the life of his prisoner, Chambliss transferred him first to the Washington County Jail in Chipley and from there to the Bay County Jail in Panama City. On the very night of Neal's arrest (October 19), however, Jackson County Deputy Dave Hamm observed a long line of cars passing through Cottondale en route to Chipley and Panama City. The Bay County sheriff was warned that a possible attack on his jail was being mounted and urged to move Neal immediately. The suspect was placed aboard a boat and carried to what is now Fort Walton Beach (then Camp Walton) and from there by car to Pensacola.

From Pensacola, Neal was moved again to the county jail in Brewton, Alabama. There, on October 22nd, he made a complete confession to the murder of Lola Cannady, but also implicated a second man named Herbert Smith.

Deputies in Jackson County took Herbert Smith into custody that same afternoon and quickly spirited him to the Leon County Jail in Tallahassee for his own protection. From there he was taken around through Georgia and Alabama to Brewton so he could confront Neal for implicating him in the crime. When Neal saw Smith in the Brewton jail, he admitted that the second man had not been involved and amended his confession to say that he had acted alone in attacking and murdering Lola Cannady.

Between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on October 26, 1934, a group of men from Jackson County stormed the jail in Brewton and demanded that Claude Neal be turned over to them. They were armed with pistols, shotguns and dynamite. Taking the suspect by force from the jail, they drove back to Jackson County on secondary roads to avoid being spotted by law enforcement officers along the way.

Claude Neal at Courthouse
Neal was taken to a remote wooded area near today's Parramore Landing Park. There he was tortured for several hours and finally killed. His body was then carried to the Cannady farm near Greenwood, where additional bullets were fired into the lifeless corpse. From the farm the body was taken to Marianna and hanged from a tree on the courthouse grounds.

Sheriff Chambliss found the body at around 6 a.m. on October 27th and cut it down. Neal was buried at Nubbin Ridge Cemetery near Greenwood at 10 a.m. People from throughout the region continued to arrive in Marianna throughout the morning, however, and at 12 noon rioting broke out around courthouse square.

A man was saved from rioters by Jackson County deputies, who held the mob at bay from the doors of the courthouse by claiming they had machine guns and were prepared to use them. Governor Dave Sholtz ordered National Guard companies to Marianna from Tallahassee and Panama City to quell the rioting. They arrived late in the afternoon and the situation immediately calmed.

The Claude Neal case was featured prominently in the effort by the NAACP and other organizations to secure the passage of a national anti-lynching law. That effort ultimately failed when the bill bogged was filibustered in the U.S. Senate, but the nationwide outrage over the lynching played a significant role in bringing the long history of American lynchings to an end.

No one was ever arrested in connection with the Neal lynching, although both a coroner's inquest and the Jackson County Grand Jury returned reports blaming Neal for the murder of Lola Cannady. The grand jury did attempt to investigate the lynching, but was unable to obtain the name of any of the men involved.

I recently completed work on my new book on the 1934 outbreaks. The Claude Neal Lynching: The 1934 Murders of Lola Cannady and Claude Neal is now available in both print and Amazon Kindle formats. It can be ordered at the upper right of this page and also is available from Chipola River Book and Tea in Downtown Marianna.

The book is the first on the topic in nearly 30 years and includes never before published details about both the murder of Lola Cannady and subsequent lynching of Claude Neal. Included are the only interviews ever given by some of the men involved in the lynching, original crime scene photos from 1934 and a detailed analysis of the evidence linking Neal to Lola's murder and a history of the lynching that differs significantly from previous accounts due to the inclusion of a large amount of new source material.

To learn more about the Claude Neal lynching, please visit

The St. Petersburg Times also released a story on the investigation today. You can read it here:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Old Parramore marks 50th Annual Oak Grove Homecoming

Rev. Cap Pooser leads the Veterans Memorial Dedication
One of Jackson County's most unique events marked its 50th anniversary today as a crowd gathered in the ghost town of Old Parramore to celebrate the annual Oak Grove Homecoming.
Each year on the first Sunday of October, the old town comes back to life as former residents and their families gather to share memories, friendship and dinner on the grounds in what was once the heart of a thriving Chattahoochee River trading community. This year's event was the 50th such gathering and featured cannon firings, music from the Sheila Smith Trio and the dedication of a memorial to local veterans.

Memorial and Flag
Parramore grew as a significant community during the years after the Civil War due to a surge in the value of timber and turpentine products from the vast longleaf pine forests that once covered eastern Jackson County. Paddlewheel riverboats nudged up to landings at the community, providing a means of transportation for its products and commerce. The steamboat traffic sparked the growth of a thriving business community.

By the end of the 19th century, Parramore had become a signficant commercial, industrial and population center. The main business district boasted five stores, a cotton gin, sawmill, gristmill, blacksmith shop, mule lot and other businesses. Turpentine stills operated at locations surrounding the community and rafts of pine timber were floated down the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers to the shipyards at Apalachicola.

The Sheila Smith Trio
The introduction of paved highways and truck traffic in the first half of the 20th century, however, spelled the end of Parramore's days as a business center. Trucks replaced riverboats as the primary means of moving forest products and steamboat traffic on the Chattahoochee River faded away during the 1930s and 1940s. The town of Old Parramore faded away with the boats.

In 1961, however, current and former residents of the area began a tradition that continues to this day. The annual Oak Grove Homecoming at Old Parramore was initiated as a way to preserve the memory of the town and its former residents. Some of those present for today's 50th anniversary celebration were on hand for that original gathering.

Rev. Cap Pooser, Alfred Cox and James Harrell with Cannon
The annual event spurred the preservation of Oak Grove Cemetery and the adjoining site of the original Oak Grove Freewill Baptist Church as a grounds for the homecoming. A modern brick church, which opens its doors only once each year, was built at the site as a memorial to the pioneer families of the area.

So far as is known, the annual Oak Grove Homecoming is the only annual gathering at a Florida ghost town that has continued for five decades. It is a unique part of Florida culture.

To learn more about the history of the community, please consider my book: Old Parramore: The History of a Florida Ghost Town. It can be ordered on the right side of this page or as an instant download for Amazon Kindle at It is also available at Chipola River Book & Tea in Downtown Marianna.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Marianna Day & Battle Reenactment set for September 24th

Battle of Marianna Monument
The annual Marianna Day obervance, which commemorates the 1864 Battle of Marianna, will take place on Saturday, September 24th, in downtown Marianna.
The Battle of Marianna, fought on September 27, 1864, was one of the fiercest small battles of the Civil War and culminated the deepest penetration of Confederate Florida by Union troops during the entire war. The engagement took place when a column of Federal soldiers, led by Brigadier General Alexander Asboth, launched simultaneous frontal and flank attacks on the city, which was defended by the Confederate forces of Colonel Alexander B. Montgomery.

You can learn more about the history of the battle at or from my book: The Battle of Marianna, Florida: Expanded Edition (also available for Amazon Kindle or iBooks instant download).

Although events will continue throughout the weekend, the main day of activities will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 24th, with the annual Marianna Day parade through downtown Marianna. The parade will be followed by the downtown reenactment. Memorial services will begin after the reenactment at 11:30 a.m. and then a fall festival with live music will kick off at Madison Street Park in downtown Marianna.

A second mock battle (not based on the actual Battle of Marianna) will take place at 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday (September 24th & 25th) at Citizens Lodge Park on Caverns Road. These mock battles will feature cannonfire, pyrotechnics and other Civil War recreations that were not part of the real battle, but are never the less interesting to see.

To learn more about planned events, please visit

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Wild Man of Ocheesee Pond - A 19th Century Bigfoot Capture in Jackson County?

Ocheesee Pond
One of the most startling yet least known Bigfoot stories in American history originated in the cypress swamps of Ocheesee Pond in 1883-1884. It also has the potential to be one of the most important in the long story of the legendary creature.
If the stories that went up the Chattahoochee River by steamboat from Jackson County in August of 1884 are true, then the county was the scene of one of the only documented captures of a Bigfoot in American history.

For those who don't keep up with such things, Bigfoot (or Sasquatch, as he is sometimes known) is said to be a gigantic, hair-covered creature that roams the remote woods, swamps and forests of North America. He is traditionally associated with the Pacific Northwest, but every part of the country has a Bigfoot of its own. The area around Two Egg and Parramore in eastern Jackson County, for example, has its Stump Jumper, while the South Florida version is usually called the Skunk Ape.

Swamps of Ocheesee Pond
Most fans of the creature do not realize that it was actually well known in the South decades before its first documented appearance in Washington and Oregon. In the 19th century, sightings of large hairy creatures were often reported as the frontiers of the United States rapidly spread out from the Atlantic seaboard. People of that day and age, however, called him the "Wild Man."

In the winter of 1883-1884, a Wild Man appeared at Ocheesee Pond, a large wetland covering nearly 9 square miles in southeastern Jackson County. Most of the pond is covered by a vast cypress swamp, although there are some stretches of open water - most notably its southern arm, and the human-like creature was often spotted roaming the swamps or swimming from place to place.

As eyewitness accounts of his presence increased, local residents - many of them former Confederate soldiers - met and launched an expedition to capture the Wild Man of Ocheesee Pond. In August of 1884, they succeeded!

To read the complete story of the Wild Man of Ocheesee Pond, please visit

Friday, June 24, 2011

1870: A Congressman and a Federal official take hostages in Jackson County

Rep. Charles M. Hamilton
by Dale Cox

Much is said during budget negotiations about Members of Congress holding senior citizens hostage. In Jackson County, however, it happened for real in the summer of 1870.

Although both U.S. Representative Charles M. Hamilton (R, Florida) and William J. Purman, U.S. Assessor for Florida, claimed to live in Jackson County, neither had visited the county in over one year. They came back in August of 1870, however, while campaigning for office. Things did not go well.

Although much has been made in the writings of historians about the events that took place in Jackson County during the Reconstruction years, particularly with regard to hostility between the races, Hamilton and Purman - both white - were undoubtedly the most hated men there during those violent years.

They had first arrived in Marianna in 1866 as agent and assistant agent of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, the Federal entity created to guide the assimilation of Southern whites and blacks as they adjusted to the freedom of the latter following the War Between the States. While many of the stated goals of the Freedmen's Bureau, as it was generally termed, were noble, things did not always work so well in practice.

Sen. William J. Purman
Hamilton and Purman became engaged in a series of bitter confrontation with Jackson County residents and the former even went so far as to write secret letters to other officials urging the instigation of an uprising of the local black population and a racial war against the county's whites. The animosity was by no means one-sided. Purman barely survived an assassination attempt in 1869 and violence committed by both whites and blacks accelerated to dramatic levels.

Hamilton left the county first, having been named Florida's sole Congressman. Purman followed following the assassination attempt, serving first as a political appointee and then as Jackson County's state senator (even though he no longer lived in the county).

As the election of 1870 heated up, however, the two men came back to Jackson County on a campaign swing. Likely to their surprise, one of Florida's leading African-American officials accused them both of being little more than thieves. Tensions heightened and Hamilton and Purman soon began to wonder how they would be able to leave the county with their skins.

Marianna in the late 1800s
Initially they conferred with Sheriff Thomas West, also an appointee of Florida's Reconstruction Governor, and he issued a summons for an armed posse of 500 men to escort the two officials out of the county. Fearing that this would ignite all out war, a delegation of Marianna's older and established citizens came to try to convince them of the error of this policy:

When the older citizens found such was to be the programme, they immediately came to us, and begged, for God’s sake, that we should not call out such a posse, saying that their young men would not stand it; that war would take place right away at once. They said: “Ask any means for your safety and you shall have it.” Thereupon, we selected ten of the oldest and best citizens as hostages. - Testimony by William J. Purman, November 11, 1871.

Purman later testified before a group of U.S. Congressmen investigating the outbreak of violence in Jackson County. The members seemed stunned to some degree that a sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives (Hamilton) and a Federal official (Purman) would resort to such measures:

Question. You spoke of some ten or twelve old men going with you as hostages. Do you mean by that they went out to answer with their lives for any assault on you?

Answer. No, sir; I will explain what I mean, Mr. Senator. There were fifteen of us, and ten of them, and had we been attacked, and had it become necessary to go on, spiritually speaking, into the land of Canaan, every one of those men would have gone with us.

Question. You would have murdered those old men?

Answer. We would not have gone alone ; we would have done what it is said Indians have done under certain circumstances. We have heard of Indians, who, when pursued, would interpose the women and children they may have kidnapped between the guns of their enemies and themselves. Had we been pursued in that way, we would have made a bulwark of those hostages.

The use of American citizens as human shields by two Federal authorities in Jackson County worked in that both escaped with their lives. They never faced legal consequences for their roles in the episode.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Two Egg - Parramore Monster makes an appearance!

The "Stump Jumper," the mysterious Two Egg - Parramore Monster, has been sighted again in its traditional haunts about one mile north of Parramore crossroads and 7 miles northeast of Two Egg.

The creature has been seen in the same vicinity off and on for at least thirty years and, as yet, no one has been able to come up with a reasonable identity for it. The latest sighting is is a bit different, however, in that it left some actual evidence of the monster.

An investigation in the vicinity following a sighting of the monster during the first week of June revealed a trail of unusual footprints leading from the swampy area where it was spotted by the eyewitness across a plowed fire lane and into an overgrown area of planted pines. Curiously, the tracks appear to have only three toes, one large or "big" toe and two smaller ones.

The Two Egg - Parramore Monster is usually described as a hairy "mini-Bigfoot" like creature that stands upright, is brown or gray in color and runs with remarkable speed. It is usually said to be around 5 or 6 feet tall. At least one eyewitness described it as having a long "raccoon-like" tail, while others - including the latest person to see it - have not noticed a tail.

To see photos of the footprints from the new sighting and to learn more about the monster, please visit

Friday, May 27, 2011

Closure of Dozier School marks end of historic facility

Dozier School from the Air (Bing Map)
The announcement this week that Dozier School in Marianna - now officially titled another name, but still called Dozier School by local residents - will mark the end of a facility that has served the State of Florida for more than 100 years.

Originally known as the Florida Reform School, Dozier came into existence in the 1890s when state leaders realized Florida needed a better facility for housing juvenile offenders. At the time it opened, it was a state of the art facility.

The boys housed there were both black and white. Living quarters were segregated in those days, but the boys of both races worked on a farm and in a number of other industries to learn skills and help support the expense of operating the school.

There was a terrible fire in the early 1900s, followed by the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918. Those two events alone claimed two dozen lives at the facilities, taking both boys held at the reform school and employees who watched over them.

The media - particularly the Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times - has delighted in telling stories of alleged horrors at the facility during its early days.  In their search for sensational angles, however, they often do not provide the perspective needed to judge events such as the fire and flu outbreak.

In the fire, for example, a boy died after going back into the burning dormitory to save the life of an employee he thought was trapped inside. It was a sign of the concern that most employees and youths at the school had for each other and was a remarkably heroic act that seems to always be overlooked in accounts of events at the school.

The same is true of the horrible conditions that developed at the school during the 1918 flu outbreak. A federal health official visited the school and found boys writhing in misery in abominable conditions, virtually uncared for and dying rapidly from the ravages of the flu. This report is often quoted in news stories about the school as a way of offering "perspective" on how horrible things have been there over the years.

In fact, what the accounts often do not mention, is that employees of the school were writhing in misery along with the students and that the flu had so ravaged the facility that everyone was sick, not just the boys. In fact, the 1918 flu outbreak killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and millions worldwide. Entire cities collapsed during the outbreak and in parts of Georgia towns went so far as to ban church services and all public assemblies as a way of halting the spread of the deadly outbreak. Walk through any cemetery that has been around for 100 years or more and you will see a startling number of headstones with the death date listed as 1918.

In short, history is more than a collection of sensational events. History is a mixture of things, some good, some bad. History proves that most people are good hearted and that those who usually reap what they sow.

Dozier School, not so long ago, didn't even have fences. It looked more like a college campus than a juvenile detention facility. People from all over the region went there every Christmas to ride the train or to see the wonderful animated Christmas displays the students used to assemble each year.

Dozier School, in the early 1980s, had the best success rate of turning juvenile offenders from criminals into responsible citizens of any school in the state. It offered a success story that was studied by other such facilities across the nation.

Over the last couple of years, there has been much negative publicity about both the school and Jackson County. People, many of them long dead, have been accused of attrocities. Many of those allegations were patently false.  Did bad things happen at Dozier?  I'm sure they did occasionally, just as they do in prisons, veterans hospitals, public schools, private schools, college campuses and in our own homes.

Were the so-called "White House Boys" abused at Dozier School four decades ago?  I don't know. They say they were, others say they were not. I do know, however, that many of the allegations made by them turned out to be false.  There are no mystery graves at Dozier School. The little cemetery shown so often on the news and in newspaper photographs actually contained the graves of boys, employees and even animals that died at the school over the years. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated and found that the large majority of the graves date from more than 90 years ago. FDLE also found that there are no "missing boys." Every offender sent there is accounted for in the records.  Claims of murder and of boys disappearing are simply untrue. The only juvenile murdered at the school was killed by other juveniles.

It is a shame that so much negative publicity was heaped on the facility and our community. It is a shame that so many reporters did not bother to look for the truth behind allegations before airing or printing their stories. It is a shame that reporters from Miami and St. Pete didn't take time to look at the histories of incarceration facilities in their own communities, where I suspect they would find horrors that make anything that happened at Dozier look pale by comparison.

Goodbye Dozier and the jobs you provided. It is a shame that it came to this and that state officials did not have more courage in the face of unwarranted negative publicity.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Charles Hentz was Jackson County's Best Known Antebellum Doctor

Dr. Hentz was the son of famed 19th century
novelist Caroline Lee Hentz, the probable
creator of the Bellamy Bridge ghost legend.
By Dale Cox

The best known of Jackson County’s antebellum “plantation doctors” was Dr. Charles Hentz. A son of the famed 19th century novelist Caroline Lee Hentz, he came to the county in 1848 hoping to make a living by providing medical services to the area’s growing planting community.

Practicing first at Port Jackson on the Chattahoochee River and later in Marianna, Hentz tended to families and slaves on plantations of all sizes and his diary and autobiography provide a fascinating glimpse of life on these farms. His knowledge of medicine was rudimentary at best. A good example was his treatment of Betsy Owens, a young woman of 20 who lived at Owens Hill near today’s Parramore community:

Sunday, January 14. Most beautiful morning. I rode to Mrs Owens; found her daughter Betsy, a stout good looking maid of about 20, very sick; prescribed, came home to late dinner….

Monday, January 15. Rode to Mrs. Owens again. Met the old lady, ere getting there, looking for her son, going to Billy Hair’s after him, talked about her daughter & returned; dissected my hawk all afternoon….

The problem with Hentz’s treatment of Betsy Owens was that he prescribed for her a high dose of calomel. Then used as a laxative, calomel is better known today as Mercury Chloride. Highly toxic, when administered in high doses it can lead to salivating (excessive drooling), hair and tooth loss and even death. Its use as a medicine was discontinued by around 1860, although in England it continued to be used as an ingredient in dental powder, leading to widespread mercury poisoning in that country.

Hentz overdosed Betsy Owens with calomel and within two days received an urgent message that she was salivating. Noting in his diary that he was “sorry to hear it,” Hentz mounted his horse and made the long ride from Port Jackson to Owens Hill, where he “found her quite perplexingly ill.” He reduced the dose, bemoaning the fact that he would not be paid for his services. Finally, four days after he initially dosed Betsy with enough calomel to cause mercury poisoning, she began to show signs of improvement:

Thursday, January 18. I went to widow Owens’ again this morning, am getting quite tired of the road, for the very good reason that my labor will meet with no pecuniary remuneration. I had the satisfaction to find Miss Betsy improving. The day has been charming, bright and beautiful….

Betsy would continue to experience problems for several more days, but Hentz was finally able to end his “treatment” of her. As bad as things went for Betsy Owens, they went even worse for some of Hentz’s other patients. Robert Crawford, for example, died in agony after taking medicine prescribed by Hentz with assistance from a doctor called in from Bainbridge, Georgia:

…He arose violently from bed, with several terrified cries, & rushed out, notwithstanding all efforts of bystanders to the contrary. He struggled violently, & gradually sunk to the floor in convulsions, in which he died, rolling his eyes fearfully; gritting his teeth; gasping & convulsed; he died in about 10 minutes….

Not all of Hentz’s visits went so poorly. He spent much of his time sewing up injuries, setting broken bones and taking care of other everyday medical needs for the planters of Jackson County. His diary indicates that he treated slaves with as much care as he did their white owners and that he was often called to their bedsides by the planters themselves.

One such visit, to the Wood plantation between Marianna and Port Jackson, turned into quite an escapade:

…Went to Mrs. Wood’s after dinner, saw some ailing negroes, sat in the parlor for the afternoon…Miss Kate King sang some, I had carried my flute & played a little. We all tryed the Chloroform, as Miss K. wished to see its effects, both ladies looked happy & embraced each other, & I felt like a thunderstorm, made great stamping & noise; ate some more fine watermelon; a good peach & a good fig….

In addition to his accounts of medical visits to plantations far and wide, Hentz’s diary provides fascinating insights to daily life and social customs in Jackson County during the plantation era. He describes boisterous election day gatherings, quiet Christmas Days spent reading, church services attended by whites and blacks alike, hunting expeditions along the Chipola and Chattahoochee Rivers and even fishing in Blue Spring.

Note: This article is excerpted from my 2010 book, The Early History of Jackson County, Florida: The Civil War Years. It is available locally at Chipola River Book & Tea in Downtown Marianna (across the street from the Battle of Marianna Monument) or you can order online at the upper right of this page.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Dickinson Flag - A Unique Artifact of Reconstruction in Jackson County

The Dickinson Flag
The flag shown here holds a unique place in American history. It covered the coffin of John Q. Dickinson, Jackson County's assassinated Reconstruction era Clerk of Courts, on its journey north to Dickinson's home in Vermont.

Dickinson was shot and killed on the night of April 3, 1871, as he walked from the courthouse to his Marianna home at around 10 o'clock p.m. The motive for his murder remains controversial. Some say it was because he was an appointed Northern Republican or "Carpetbagger," sent to Jackson County with other such men to rule over local residents during the years after the Civil War. Others say it was because he was engaged in selling the lands of local men on the courthouse steps for taxes they could not pay during the hard times of Reconstruction. A third theory holds that he was having an affair with the wife of a Greenwood man and was murdered by the jealous husband. The final theory is that his murder was part of a robbery. Dickinson was carrying a substantial amount of cash at the time he was killed, only a few dollars of which was ever found.

Personally, I find the robbery possibility to be very intriguing, as it seems to coincide with the evidence gathered by local officials immediately following his death. I'll post more on that soon.

John Q. Dickinson
Following a coroner's inquest, Dickinson was buried in Marianna but his body was exhumed after only a few days and his coffin carried east to Quincy by wagon (the railroad had not yet been extended to Marianna). In Quincy it was placed on a train car for its journey east to Jacksonville. The flag was mentioned in a reporter's account of the arrival of the train in Tallahassee:

The remains of Capt. J.Q. DICKINSON arrived at the Depot in this city from Marianna yesterday afternoon, and were received by quite a number of persons, including the Governor and other officials, with a large concourse of colored people of both sexes. When the train stopped, the doors of the car containing the coffin, which was draped in the United States colors, were thrown open and the crowds of colored women and children present drew near and showered into the car a perfect avalanche of flowers, so that in a few minutes the coffin was completely buried beneath the floral offerings. - Tallahassee Weekly Floridian, April 11, 1871.

From Tallahassee the train carried the flag-draped coffin on to Jacksonville, where it was placed aboard ship and sent north. A memorial for him was held at the Grammercy Park Hotel in New York City and from there the coffin was taken on to Benson, Vermont. Funeral services were held there, followed by his burial.

The huge flag that drapped Dickinson's coffin was given to his family and remains in the hands of descendents to this day. According to Dexter King, a direct descendent of Dickinson and current owner of the flag, "His brother, Albert kept the flag until his death. Albert had 3 daughters, Fannie, Florence and Colleen. On January 31, 1908 Colleen Amelia Dickinson married Carl Fish King. They had 3 children, Kenyon and Coleman (twins) and Carl Fish King II (my father)."

The Kingston Place farm in Vermont was passed down over the years and now belongs to Dexter. The flag, which appears to be a large garrison type flag, has been a treasured family memento through the years. I did not know of its existence until I was contacted by Dexter last year. Since then, we have become long distance friends and he has helped tremendously in my research of his ancestor and of Reconstruction in Jackson County.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

140 Years Ago Today: Assassination of Clerk of Court was Major Event in Jackson County History

Davis-West House
One of the most significant events in the history of Jackson County took place on a Marianna street corner 140 years ago today.

John Q. Dickinson, an officer from the Seventh Vermont Veteran Volunteers, had been appointed the county's clerk of courts during the Reconstruction era. A Republican appointee at a time when such appointees were violently opposed by many former Confederates, Dickinson was shot down by unknown assassins who fired from behind a fence that then surrounded Marianna's historic Davis-West House. Located at the intersection of Madison and Putnam Streets, the house was then the home of Dr. Theophilus West.

The following account of Dickinson's assassination was written by Daniel R. Weinfeld, the nation's foremost authority on the events of the "Jackson County War," the name given to the Reconstruction era violence that shook the county for nearly one full decade.

John Quincy Dickinson
The Assassination of John Quincy Dickinson
by Daniel R. Weinfeld

One hundred and forty years ago, on the evening of April 3, 1871, about 9 P.M, John Quincy Dickinson, Jackson County, Florida, clerk of court, fell at the hands of an assassin.

Dickinson had survived the worst violence of the period from 1869 through 1871 that became known as the Jackson County War. As a Republican official, Dickinson could not avoid clashing with Regulators determined to return the region to white, Democratic control. With prominent Republicans being eliminated one-by-one, Dickinson was an inevitable target.

Dickinson was born in Vermont in 1836. He graduated from Middlebury College, worked for a while as a political reporter, and then spent the Civil War with the 7th Vermont Infantry in the Louisiana theatre. He remained on the Gulf Coast after the War, eventually settling in Florida. After a false start in the timber business, Dickinson accepted an appointment in September 1868 as Freedmen’s Bureau agent for Jackson County, Florida.

As Bureau duties wound down, Dickinson became active as a Republican Party operative. He accepted an appointment as Jackson County clerk of court, replacing his friend, Dr. John L. Finlayson, who was assassinated in February 1869. Jackson County sheriffs came and went, and Dickinson often found himself the only law enforcement official in the region. He signaled his future career plans when he gained admission to the bar shortly before his death.

Site of the Assassination
Dickinson was a serious, but mild-tempered man, determined to perform his duties, no matter the personal risk. His concise, clear writings, particularly his 1869 diary that became evidence in Congressional hearings, contain some of the most vivid and powerful descriptions of Reconstruction era violence. His courage was remarkable: most men would have fled the unrelenting pressure and threats he stoically endured. He also had a wry humor and good-natured side and was dearly loved by many friends. Unlike his Bureau predecessors in Jackson County, Dickinson won the grudging respect of bitter political opponents. Nonetheless, a gunman concealed in the darkness shot him down as he returned home from his office. The assassin was never identified, but speculation focused a few men Jackson County men notorious for their political violence.

His murder drew condemnation across the nation. Crowds of mourners in Florida and Vermont gathered to pay their respects as Dickinson’s coffin traveled North to his hometown of Benson, Vermont. Reports claimed that the funeral for the thirty-four-year-old was the largest ever held in the state. His tombstone, a stout, marble monument on the crest of a hillside cemetery, declares: “Capt. Dickinson Was Assassinated By the Ku Klux Klan Near His Home On the Night of April 3. He Fell at the Post of Duty in the Integrity of a True Patriot.”

Note: To read more of Dan's writings on the "Jackson County War," please visit him online at I will post more tomorrow on the national impact of the Dickinson assassination.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Planting by the Signs of the Moon

The Moon Shines over Jackson County
Farmers and gardeners have relied on the signs or phases of the moon for thousands of years in deciding when to plant their crops. It is a tradition that was a part of the daily lives of our ancestors in Jackson County and is still used by some of the best gardeners and farmers today.

There are many misconceptions about this practice. First and foremost, it relies in no way on anything mystical. The practice actually brings a bit of ancient science into modern practice.

Early farmers observed that their plants seemed to grow better when planted on certain phases of the moon. Likewise, they did poorly when planted on other phases of the moon. Over time, they developed a consistent practice for planting on the different phases of the moon's rotation around the earth.

The science behind this is pretty simple. The moon rotates around the earth once each month. At certain phases or times in this rotation, it reflects more light on the earth than it does at others. The times when it gives more light were found to be better for planting crops that produce above ground, while the times when it gives off less light were found best for planting crops that produce below ground.

As a result of this early experimentation, which took place thousands of years ago, the practice became an accepted part of farming and agriculture and remains in use to this day. It is an important part of the history and culture of Jackson County and all of the South. To learn more and see the best days for planting in April, please follow this link:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Edition of The Battle of Marianna, Florida is now in print!

The new Expanded Edition of The Battle of Marianna, Florida is now available!

The new edition includes nearly 50 pages of new information as well as maps, additional photographs and expanded casualty lists. The book features a much more detailed account not only of the Battle of Marianna itself, but also of the events of the raid leading to and following the 1864 encounter. A great deal of new information about events in Walton, Holmes, Jackson and Washington Counties has been included.

The Battle of Marianna was fought on September 27, 1864, at the climax of the deepest penetration of Confederate Florida during the entire Civil War. A column of 700 Union soldiers from the 2nd Maine Cavalry, 1st Florida U.S. Cavalry, 82nd U.S. Colored Troops, 86th U.S. Colored Troops and 7th Vermont Veteran Volunteers began crossing Pensacola Bay to what is now Gulf Breeze on September 15, 1864. The crossing took three days to complete and on the 18th the force moved west to the site of Camp Walton at today's Fort Walton Beach where a base camp was established. From there the raid inflicted heavy damage on the settled areas of Walton, Holmes and western Jackson Counties before reaching Marianna.

The fight at Marianna was one of the most intense small battles of the Civil War. Many of the participants were veterans who had served in some of the largest engagements of the war and those who left accounts commented almost to a person on the severity of the battle. One called it the fiercest battle of its size he encountered during his four years of fighting.

The battle ended with the looting of the City of Marianna and the capture of an estimated 20% of its male population. Many of these men were carried away to Northern prisoner of war camps where nearly half died before the end of the war. In addition, an estimated 600 African American slaves were freed by the Union soldiers as they advanced. After the battle, the raid turned southwest through Washington County and back to Choctawhatchee Bay.

The new Expanded Edition is available by clicking the ad at the upper left. Signed copies are now in stock at Chipola River Book & Tea in Downtown Marianna (on Lafayette Street, across from the Battle of Marianna Monument). also has it available as a download in electronic format for Kindle reading devices or those who use their free Kindle software on their computers or smart phones.

You can learn more about the battle at

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kindle version of "The Battle of Marianna, Florida" is now available!!

Amazon has begun the process of releasing the new Expanded Edition of my book, "The Battle of Marianna, Florida." If you have a Kindle reading device or use their free Kindle software on your computer, Ipad, smartphone, etc., it is now available for instant download at the discounted price of $9.95.

The print version of the new edition, which includes 50 pages of new material, a full bibliography, expanded casualty and soldier listings, more photographs and additional maps will be out sometime next week. I'll let you know as soon as it is available.

The Battle of Marianna was fought on September 27, 1864, and was one of the fiercest small battles of the War Between the States. It took place when a column of 700 Union troops attacked the city after advancing from Pensacola through today's Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and Holmes Counties. A force of several hundred Confederate reservists, militia, home guards and volunteers tried to defend the city in what turned into a brutal hand to hand fight.

It is a little known fact that the battle concluded the deepest penetration of Confederate Florida by Union troops during the entire War Between the States. The raid to and from Marianna inflicted more economic damage on Jackson, Washington, Holmes and Walton Counties than was suffered by any other Florida counties during the war. The battle also represented the last major effort by Southern forces to defend Northwest Florida.

If you are interested in purchasing the Kindle e-book, you can do so by clicking the ad above. I'll let you know as soon as the new print version is ready for purchase!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Three Rivers State Park once again targeted for Closure!

Three Rivers State Park
For the second time in three years, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed closing Jackson County's Three Rivers State Park. The move would save the state $200,000 but cost the economy of the Sneads area more than $1,000,000.

To save $6.5 million out of its $1.4 BILLION budget, DEP is recommending the closure of ONE-THIRD of Florida's State Parks and Historic Sites. These include both the Olustee and Natural Bridge Battlefields, the only preserved Civil War battlefields in Florida; the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Home, where the famed author wrote The Yearling; San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, which preserves the ruins of a 300 year old Spanish fort; three parks that preserve ancient Indian mounds; the site of America's oldest free African American settlement; the site of the Dade Massacre which ignited the Second Seminole War, historic homes, museums and more.

Among three parks that DEP recommends closing permanently and returning to their landowners is Three Rivers State Park. Located on State Road 271 (River Road) on the northern edge of Sneads, the beautiful park covers hundreds of acres of waterfront land on the shores of Lake Seminole and features fishing, camping, hiking trails, picnic areas, boat ramps and a beautiful natural setting. It is on the Great Florida Birding Trail and is the scene of a very nice annual Christmas Lighting Display. 

Three Rivers operates at a cost of only around $200,000 a year, but according to DEP's own studies, generates more than $1,000,000 for the local economy. Such an economic loss could be devastating for Sneads and eastern Jackson County, especially with the nation in the midst of a recession. Please click here to read more about the park.

The proposal is currently before the Florida House of Representative's Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, which is scheduled to meet again on February 9th. To voice your opinion to the subcommittee members, please visit this link and simply click on their individual names: