Thursday, April 10, 2014

#82 The Pensacola-St. Augustine Road (100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida)

A surviving section of the Pensacola-St. Augustine Road
The historic Pensacola-St. Augustine Road is #82 on our list of 100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida.

Please click here to see the complete list as it is unveiled.

In 1778 the American Revolution was underway and its outcome was far from certain. While most Americans of today have heard of the 13 Colonies and their fight for independence from Great Britain, few realize that there were other colonies in North America that did not join the war against King George III.

1776 map shows East and West Florida
East and West Florida were both British colonies when the Revolutionary War began and both remained loyal to King and Country throughout the conflict. Founded by the Spanish, the Florida colonies had passed to the control of Great Britain at the end of the French & Indian (or Seven Years) War in 1763.

The British administered Florida as two colonies. East Florida extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers, while West Florida extended from the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee all the way to the Mississippi. What is now Jackson County formed the northeastern corner of British West Florida.

Purcell-Stuart Map of 1778, showing the Pensacola-St. Augustine Road
The only two cities in all of present-day Florida were Pensacola and St. Augustine. To link them, the British connected a series of Indian trails and parts of the Old Spanish Trail to form a new road that they called the Pensacola-St. Augustine Road. This early "super highway" was the predecessor of today's U.S. 90 and I-10.

Heritage Village in Graceville
A stop on the Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail
In Jackson County, the route of the Pensacola-St. Augustine road is roughly followed by today's State Highway 2. It crossed Holmes Creek into the county where Graceville stands today and crossed through the modern sites of Campbellton and Malone before reaching the Chattahoochee River at Neal's Landing, where the Creek Indian town of Ekanachatte ("Red Ground") stood at the time.

The road was mapped in 1778 when a British force marched across Florida from Pensacola to reinforce St. Augustine against an expected attack by American Patriots. Accompanying that expedition was cartographer Joseph Purcell and his map of the Pensacola-St. Augustine Road provides a fascinating look back through time.

In western Jackson County, using Purcell's map as a guide, it appears that the historic road generally followed modern State Highway 2 east from Graceville to Campbellton. What is now Holmes Creek was shown on the map as the "Weekaywee Hatchee." This Hitchiti Creek term means "Spring Creek" or "Spring River." If the name looks familiar, there is a reason. Today's term Weeki Wachi (as in Weeki Wachi Springs) is a corruption of the Creek term Weekaywee Hatchee.

Coosa Old Fields (today's Campbellton)
As shown on the Purcell-Stuart Map of 1778
The road between Holmes Creek and today's Campbellton was described by Purcell as "small and little trod." Where Campbellton stands today, the map shows that in 1778 was a place called the Coosa Old Fields.

These "old fields" had been the site of the Spanish conversion or part-time church of San Antonio. The Chacato inhabitants who lived there had fled the area in 1675 following a rebellion against the Spanish missionaries. Most of them wound up living on the Coosa River in Alabama. Living on the Coosa Old Fields when Purcell passed through was a small band of Creeks who had a village on the site of present-day Campbellton that they called Puckanawhitla ("Peach Tree").

Forks of the Creeks swamp
From Campbellton the road followed the approximate route of today's State Highway 2 east, but as it neared Marshal Creek it veered to the southeast. Today's St. Phillips Road is an actual part of the original Pensacola-St. Augustine Road.

The route by which the road crossed the Forks of the Creeks swamps is no longer in use today, but Purcell noted crossing what he called the "Chanpooly" (today's Chipola River). The creek that he called the "Chanpooly" was today's Cowarts Creek, a main tributary of the Chipola.

Trace of Pensacola-St. Augustine Road
Notice State Highway 2 through the trees at left.
From the Forks of the Creeks to the Chattahoochee River, the old road roughly followed the route of today's State Highway 2. A section of the original can be seen running along the north side of the modern highway in the vicinity of its intersection with Pleasant Ridge Road.

The road passed through the modern town of Malone and continued on to the Chattahoochee River. The section of Biscayne Road between Concord Road and the point where Biscayne intersects with State Highway 2 is a part of the original Pensacola-St. Augustine Road that is still in use today.

Chattahoochee River at Neal's Landing Park
The historic roadway reached the Chattahoochee River at today's Neal's Landing Park. There in 1778 stood the large Creek village of Ekanachatte and the trading post of its chief, an individual called "The Bully" for his prowess as a businessman. It is a little known fact that British troops camped at what is now Neal's Landing during the American Revolution.

The Pensacola-St. Augustine Road was replaced in the 1820s by the Old Federal Road and still later by U.S. Highway 90 and eventually Interstate 10, all of which followed more direct routes between Pensacola and St. Augustine. Its surviving portions, however, remain important historical landmarks in Jackson County that date from before the time of the American Revolution.

Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail (in red)
Click to Enlarge
Today's Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail commemorates in part the historic roadway. A 150-mile driving tour that connects eleven important historic sites from the Spanish era, part of its route follows State Highway 2 from Neal's Landing Park to Graceville.

An interpretive kiosk has been erected in Malone to tell the story of the Pensacola-St. Augustine Road. It stands in the city park facing Highway 71, one-half block south of Highway 2. Malone is a great place to stop for lunch while driving the Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail.

If you are interested in learning more about the new Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail, guide books are available for free at the historic Russ House and Visitor Center on West Lafayette Street in Marianna. You can also learn more by visiting the Spanish Heritage Trail section of the TDC website at:  http://visitjacksoncountyfla.com/heritage/spanish-heritage-trail.


1 comment:

Sathi Aja said...

You can also experience the ghosts of a woman in white who wanders around in various places both inside and outside the fort, and then vanishes. Spanish soldiers that appear to be so real that the living has talked to them also appear at the fort.
please visit : St Augustine