Friday, July 10, 2015

More good stuff from the Pensacola Commercial newspaper: a Jackson County murder story

From the Pensacola Commercial, April 22, 1885, the murder of Pat Clark by R. C. McAllister:

Friday, July 03, 2015

Description of Jackson County from a Visitor in 1884

In 1884, the Pensacola Commercial (a very conservative Democratic Party newspaper) printed a series of articles from correspondent W. C. Gunn describing places he visited in West Florida.

From the issue dated Sept. 6, 1884, here is W. C. Gunn's assessment of Jackson County:

 “Gunn Shorts On Our Picket Line”

During the war, Jackson County was known as the Egypt of West Florida. When unpropitious ___ ___ the ___ crops elsewhere “and the dearth was in all counties, ”in all the land of Egypt in Jackson there was bread.” From Holmes, Washington, Walton and even as far West as Santa Rosa “the people came into Jackson for to buy corn.” The lands of the greater part of Jackson are perhaps the most fertile and productive of all the counties of West Florida. This is true of the Northern part of the county in particular. The soil has a heavy admixture of [lime?] and quarries of lime rock can be seen everywhere. This rock when exposed to the air becomes very hard and has been utilized for building purposes. All through this belt the chimneys are built with it and withstand the elements successfully. The lands are peculiarly adapted to growing corn, but cotton also does well, besides the smaller crops of sugar cane, peas, potatoes, rice, etc.

Prior to the war, large slave holders owned most of these lands, and they were laid out in immense plantations, where stately residences were built, and the planter reveled in luxuries as he looked over his broad acres, while an overseer looked after the cultivation of his crops. He counted his bales of cotton by hundreds, drove a pair of spanking bays, dressed in the best of style, entertained his company most hospitably, and was the personification of what has long been known as the Southern gentleman, but an end came to all that, and many of these beautiful residences are a mass of ruins, the fences have rotten down and the plantations grown up in pine saplings. Thrifty small farmers are found now in place of the former planter, and lands that have been cultivation for thirty years and forty years still yield abundantly. There are some natural curiosities, such as immense caves, which rival, if not exceed, at least in beauty, the celebrated Mammoth Cave of Kentucky; then there is the celebrated Long Moss [?] Spring, six miles East of Marianna that for beauty and curiosity defies description. Marianna, the county site, is an old town, and was once the seat of considerable wealth. It is situated on the Chipola river, a beautiful stream abounding in the finest fish; though not as prosperous as in old time ante-bellum days, she still, to a great extent, maintains her former prestige as a business place. Her merchants are liberal and public spirited and her citizens refined and hospitable; her bar can boast of some of the best talent of the South, and she has also some of the most skillful physicians of the State. There are two good hotels, two livery stables and two of the most sprightly papers published in Florida.

Greenwood, nine miles Northeast of Marianna, is one of the prettiest little towns to be found anywhere. Here too, considerable business is done, it being right in the midst of one of the best farming districts of the county; some of the best people of the county are here.

 Campbellton is in the extreme Western end of the county, and is in what is considered the richest portion. It is twenty miles from Marianna and about sixteen from Chipley. It is always a pleasure to me to visit Campbellton for if there is a place under the sun where the people can always make you believe they are glad to see you, it is there and they mean what they say: a stranger is always “welcome in their gates.”

Taken altogether, Jackson possesses as many natural advantages as any county in the State. She has rich farming lands, fine natural pasturage, and an almost inexhaustible supply of the finest timber in the worlds. The blacks outnumber the whites, though hundreds of them have long ago deserted the Republican party and aligned themselves with their white friends in the interests of good government and consequently the county is Democratic.

 W.C. Gunn

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Now Available as an Audiobook: "The Jackson County War"

To download and listen to the audiobook version of "The Jackson County War" through

Monday, October 13, 2014

Announcing publication of T. Thomas Fortune's "After War Times: An African American Childhood in Reconstruction-Era Florida"

Those interested in Jackson County history, Florida history, and African American history should enjoy T. Thomas Fortune's memoir "After War Times," available in a single volume released earlier this month by the University of Alabama Press. The introduction is by Prof. Dawn Herd-Clark of Fort Valley State University with an afterword by Prof. Tameka Bradley Hobbs of Florida Memorial University. I edited and annotated the memoir and added a brief editor's note. The book is available through Univ. of Alabama Press directly at,5862.aspx or through After War Times: An African American Childhood in Reconstruction-Era Florida.  T. Thomas Fortune was born into slavery and lived his first dozen years in Jackson County, Florida. After several years in Jacksonville followed by education at Howard University in Washington DC, Fortune launched a career in New York as a journalist, newspaper editor, and activist. He was later lauded as the dean of African American journalists. This memoir and accompanying essays are particularly appropriate for high school and college students.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chickamauga: One of Jackson County's Deadliest Days

The Battle of Chickamauga on Sept. 19, 1863 was terribly bloody for Jackson County. As recounted in Jonathan Sheppard's masterful history of Florida's troops in the Confederacy's western theater, By the Noble Daring of Her Sons, Florida soldiers were heavily engaged in combat. Jackson County suffered thirteen deaths at the battle, possibly making Chickamauga the deadliest event in the county's history.

Jackson County's Chickamauga Honor Roll

Thomas Anderson     29yo G6FL 9/19
Lorenzo Basford        22yo I4FL 9/20
Benjamin Bradberry  22yo E6FL 9/19
Twiggs H. Darby       27yo C6FL 9/21
John Dickson             16yo F2FL 9/21
James Fair                  18yo E6FL 9/19
John Gay                    21yo F6FL 9/19
Richmond F. Hart       30yo E1FL Cav 9/19
Lt. James Hays           42yo D6FL 9/19
Green Keel                 18yo F6FL 9/19
George W. Revels      24yo E/F6FL 9/19
David D. Rogers        28yo I4FL 9/20
Sgt. S. F. Stanton        31yo D6FL 9/19

 William A. Green, of Co. K 25th Alabama, passed away four weeks after he was wounded in battle. In addition, at least 9 Jackson County soldiers, mostly from Co. E of the 6th Florida, were wounded at Chickamauga.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jackson County men at Antietam's Bloody Lane

Jackson Co. soldiers in the 2nd and 8th Florida Infantry Regiments, in R. H. Anderson's division, entered the action at Antietam about 10 AM on Sept. 17, 1862.  As told in Zack Waters' masterful, prize-winning book, A Small But Spartan Band, the Florida brigade crossed the Hagerstown Pike and took cover in Piper's apple orchard (replanted by the NPS).

General Rodes ordered the men forward and they passed the cannons and bounded down the slope through a ruined corn field toward the Sunken Lane.

The Florida men were positioned to support the 4th and 14th North Carolina regiments fighting in the Sunken Road - soon to be known as the Bloody Lane.
Waters writes that some Florida men crossed the lane, and charged up the hill toward the Union line, "only to be repelled with severe losses."  According to one participant, "the whole Regiment was cut to pieces."

An errant maneuver by a neighboring regiment opened a gap in the Confederate line.  Union troops poured in and the grey line was flanked and collapsed.  Along with the rest of the troops lining the Sunken Road, the Floridians retreated back through the orchard, retracing their initial approach.

The Floridians' performance drew criticism at the time, but Waters' examination of contemporaneous accounts shows a different story: the Florida brigade fought valiantly while sustaining terrible losses. Nearly fifty percent of the 570 Floridians engaged were casualties. 

Thursday, May 02, 2013


Please go to for my research and writing updates. I've always intended that serve as a companion website to my book of the same name. This site is a repository for information that did not make it into the limited confines of the book and a place to make available related additional research that I've worked on.  is a joint project with Billy Townsend - author of the remarkable Age of Barbarity.  The focus of  is much broader than this website: it is intended to address various issues related to the intersection of race, politics and economics in Florida during the century from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights era.  Our hope is to encourage anyone with interest in these topics to participate in the discussion and contribute postings.     

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Co. I of the 4th Florida Inf.Gets its Baptism of Fire at Murfreesboro

The Jackson County men who comprised Company I of the 4th Florida Infantry regiment had suffered terribly from the December cold in central Tennessee.   The 4th, which had not yet seen combat, had been assigned to Brig. Gen. William Preston’s brigade in Breckinridge’s division of Bragg’s army.   On December 31, 1862, the 4th was sent into action at the Battle of Murfreesboro.  Three previous Confederate assaults against the sector known as the Round Forest had been repulsed.  The 4th made its attempt and advanced until hit by canister from the 10th Indiana Battery.  The 4th was exposed and suffered terrible casualties until Gen. Preston personally led the men to nearby woods where the 1st and 3rd Florida had found cover.   
New Year’s eve was a bitterly cold night and because of the closeness of the armies, the soldiers could not make fires.  The Floridians remained in place until the afternoon of Jan 2nd.   Breckinridge and his brigade commanders, all lawyers, formed their men in lines and led them over a ridge straight into the range of massed Union cannon.   The 4th lay prone and held its ground as other troops retreated before a Union counterattack.  Breckinridge’s men ran before the assault, but the 4th distinguished itself for its orderly actions, allowing Preston’s artillery to withdraw and save its guns.  As darkness fell, the troops returned to their original lines. 
According to Jonathan Sheppard, the 4th was effectively decimated with 194 casualties out of the 458 who entered the fight two days earlier.   Among Breckinridge’s 19 regiments, the 4th suffered the most killed and 2nd most casualties.   I’ve found the following casualties among Jackson County men from Company I:  killed or mortally wounded:  Henry T. Barnes, E. A. Ellerby, William Alexander and Thomas J. Watts.   Seriously wounded: Leroy Mozely, James A. Sills, Anderson Smith and William Taylor.   Lt. C.C. Burke was wounded and captured.  Several other Jackson Co. men were also made prisoner by the Union.   (Note that Nathan Minchen of Company I had died of disease on Nov. 8, 1862.)   The actions of the 4th Florida described above are drawn from Jonathan Sheppard’s excelland and authoritative: “By the Noble Daring of Her Sons” The Florida Brigade of the Army of the Tennessee, Univ. of Alabama Press (2012)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Marianna Day

In honor of Marianna Day, here's a link to my post from a few years ago describing various ways the fateful date of Sept. 27th was commemorated in Florida in the 20th century.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review of "The Indians of North Florida" by Sewell and Hill

My review of The Indians of North Florida:  From Carolina to Florida, the Story of the Survival of a Distinct American Indian Community by Christopher Scott Sewell and Steve Pony Hill appears over the new blog
Here's the link:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Basheba Thomas and the Southern Claims Commission

The Southern Claims Commission was created in 1871 to allow Southern unionists to recover compensation for property confiscated by federal troops during the Civil War. The crucial test for the applicant, besides documenting the lost property, was to prove that he or she had been loyal “to the cause and the government of the United States during the war.” The SCC files are full of great information including lots of personal details. Fortunately, has made this material available on line (see Dick Eastman’s blog post about the SCC files generally and, at: ; also check out Robert Moore’s blog for lots of information about Southern Unionists and the SCC process. ).

There is some amazing stuff to find on Looking for something unlrelated, I came across claim file for Basheba Thomas. Yes, we now know that Miss Thomas spelled her name “Basheba” and not “Bathsheba” (ed. - add that to the corrections list!). As discussed in the JCW book, Basheba was sympathetic to the Freedmen’s Bureau officers and their goals. Most significantly, she held the federally controlled (i.e., Republican) office of Marianna post-mistress for several years during the Reconstruction era (did that make her the first female officeholder in Jackson Co.?).

Basheba’s claim arose from the seizure of her food supplies by Union troops during the Battle of Marianna. (The only other such claim I know about was submitted by Martha Finlayson, but her case seemed to have been misfiled with Alabama claims and then lost).
Here is the claim with the amounts approved and disallowed by the SCC:

[source: ]

That’s a lot of bacon and lard! What makes the file fascinating are the statements and the people who show up in the supporting paperwork. The initial petition attests that the above listed property was taken by U. S. troops in General Asboth’s command on Sept. 27, 1864, and removed to “Ft Pickens of the Navy Yard near Pensacola except so much thereof as was consumed at or near Marianna or on the march therefrom to Pensacola.” This filing, dated June 12, 1871 was witnessed by James F. McClellan (!) and James C. McLean before Judge of the County Court W. E. Anderson (all significant player in the JCW). In the claim, Basheba appointed as her attorney….Charles M. Hamilton of Wash. DC, (fresh out of Congress and looking for work), who filed the petition with the SCC. The claim states that Basheba lived alone and at the time of the confiscation (9/1864) had lived with “a sister & one servant both of whom are now dead.” A claim was refiled or supplemented in May 1874 with a different DC attorney, probably because Hamilton was incapacitated and out of the law business by that time. This refilling was swown to before Charles F. Britton, the U.S. Commissioner for the Northern District of Florida. Basheba testified that she was a fifty years old, single woman, never married, with the occupation of “P.M. at Marianna Jackson County Florida.” In answer to a series of questions, Basheba alleged that she had been “threatened with imprisonment by some few don’t know their names” presumably arising from her loyalty. She also stated that “my sympathies were always with the United States and are yet and I do solemnly declare that from the beginning of hostilities to the end of the same my sympathies was with the Union cause.” The supplies were taken from her smokehouse at about 12 noon: “there was about thirty United States soldiers engaged in the taking, they were some three fourth of an hour engaged in the taking. There was some officers present don’t know their names, knew they were officers from the stripes on their shoulders and arms.” Answers to other questions added details: “it was told off by the soldiers [I] was too scared to recollect what was said.” The troops stayed about “eight hours left at night.” Basheba knew the quantities of her stores because she had purchased them by weight on Sept. 17 & 18 prior to the battle.

Supporting statements came from Benjamin G. Alderman, Joseph W. Russ and Martha E. Finlayson (no surprise there). Alderman stated that he was a 53 year old merchant in Marinna where he had resided for 40 years. He had “been acquainted intimately with Miss Bathsheba Thomas, claimant, for over thirty years past and that during the war, he had frequent conversations with her in relation to the same, its causes & progress; seeing her nearly daily. – Knows that from the beginning of hostilities between the, so called, Confederate States, and the United States, to the close of the war, the said Bathsheba Thomas, claimant was truly loyal to the United States, in sentiment and in acts as far as circumstances offered, and was firm and unflinching in the maintenance of her union sentiments down to the present day.”

Martha E. Finlayson testified that she was a 60 year old planter residing in Jackson County for 16 years. She was “on the most intimate terms with Basheba Thomas the claimant for sixteen years and that during the war she had frequent interviews with claimant in relation to the rebellion, the war, its causes & progress, seeing her very frequently, three or four times every week and I know that from the beginning of hostilities to the close of the war claimant unflinchingly maintained her union sentiments and that claimant was in every sense truly loyal to the United States and would have sacrificed her last dollar in its support.”

The last statement came from Joseph W. Russ who identified himself as a 60 year old merchant in Marianna, who “runs a farm some six miles off in the county of Jackson where he has resided for over forty five years last past.” Russ has “been acquainted intimately with Basheba Thomas Claimant for over twenty five years past and that during the war he had frequent conversations with her in relation to the war, its causes & progress seeing her two or three times a week. Knows that from the beginning of the War to its close that the said Basheba Thomas claimant was truly loyal to the United States in sentiment and in acts as far as circumstances offered and was firm and unflinching in the maintenance of her union sentiments to the close of the war and is yet.”

For this second filing, the witnesses for the power of attorney were Louis M. Gamble and M. A. Richardson, and signed before Jim B. Erwin, Notary Public on April 21, 1874 and then executed again on May 20, 1874 with Jacob F. Willeford replacing Gamble as witness.

The payment for $114.50 was authorized by the Treasury Dept. in June 1878, only (!) 7 years after the initial filing. It is not indicated how much money the attorneys, “Lincoln and Willard” kept as their fee.

Basheba Thomas lived until 1900 when she was about 81 years old. She left her cow, calf and clothes to her “colored servant”, Lucy Johnson, and her property to the First Presbyterian Church of Marianna which she had helped found decades earlier. [See: ]

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Honor Roll of Company F: Jackson County's Fallen in the Peninsula Campaign

Jackson County’s soldiers were largely spared in the early battles of the war. A few men perished of disease but the ranks were mostly intact until early 1862. But that spring and summer, about 30 Jackson County men succumbed to disease - that relentless leveler of Civil War soldiers - many at hospital in Chattahoochee. Young recruits, including teenagers, were particularly hard hit. Officers too perished, including Capt. Lawrence Attaway and Capt. Daniel Boone Coleman, a salesman from Wakulla Co. residing in the home of James F. McClellan at the time of the 1860 census taking.

Combat also began to take its merciless toll. Two men were listed as dying at Shiloh in late April: Henry Rogers (age 24) and Franklin Brown (31). At least seven Jackson County soldiers from Company F, the Gulf State Guards, of the 2nd Florida Regiment, died in combat in the Peninsula Campaign, particularly at the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31 and June 1st. The rolls of the fallen heroes of the Company F include: Richard Howard (20), James L. McAnulty (20 yo); Joseph Padrick (21 yo); Thomas Player (23 yo); Albert Butler (21 yo) and Robert Irwin (24). This list is completed by J. Henry Pooser, who only 3 weeks prior to his death had been voted Captain of Company F, in place of James F. McClellan. (Note: Gideon Peacock of Co. F had succumbed to disease at a Richmond Hospital in late April). Thus, only a few months more than one year after the start of hostilities, well over forty Jackson County households mourned their war dead. Many more were to follow.

[I've assembled these names as part of a large database that aspires to trace the service records and fate of Jackson Co. men listed in the 1860 Census.  Please email me with any corrections or questions.].

Monday, July 02, 2012

Charles, F. Crosby, a Panhandle African American, Recounts His Experience in the 86th USCT

From Donald R. Shaffer's "Civil War Emancipation" blog come Charles Franklin Crosby's responses during a pension application interview. Crosby goes into detail about his background, service in the 86th USCT, and his remarkable post-war experiences. It's so rare to find these first person statements from African Americans about their army service.  He was raised as a slave near Geneva, Alabama on the Florida side of the border. I'm assuming he's from Holmes Co. but I don't see the Eli and Polly Nunn family he mentions as his owners on the 1860 census listings for the panhandle counties.  
Here's the link to Shaffer's account (which also appears in his book Voices of Emancipation: Understanding Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction through the U.S. Pension Bureau Files (2008)):

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"We thank God we have a 'dry town.'"

The Pensacola Journal of Sunday, Aug. 7, 1911 contained a 9 page, special advertising section devoted to Jackson County.  Amid the usual boosterism ("Handsomest Court House in the State of Florida"!) and enticements for immigration and investment, appears another of Mrs. Fannie B. Chapman's delightful essays.  In this article, she describes the state of Marianna society in 1911.


Lady Who Has Spent LifeTime There Describes it for Journal Readers

By Mrs Fannie B Chapman

The Journal has requested me to give a sketch of the social life of Marianna. My residence here from youth to old age enables me, I think, to form a just estimate of such matters. The majority of the people are of the old-time stock of Southern aristocracy, and while proud of their ancestry, they are not in any wise offensively so.

People are accepted in society not for what they have but for what they are. “A degenerate son or daughter of an illustrious sire” is not more acceptable socially than degenerate children of anyone else. Culture, refinement and nobility of character are indispensable to admission into the best society.

This being true, our people are generous, genial, hospitable, conventional, only in the right and best sense. Our women are cultured, refined and of the highest and best I type of womanhood. They are above reproach as wives, mothers, daughters and sisters as well as friends.

The community as a whole is free from petty jealousies, envy and disturbing elements that do so much to mar the social peace wherever it is found. The men of our town are worthy to be the friends and companions of the women with whom they are associated. There is plenty of life and gaiety among our young people without excess.

Above all we thank God we have a “dry town,” and if ladies are on the street morning, noon or evening they have no fear of a drunken crowd of men, white or black, blocking the sidewalks about saloons, and we have the faith in God and in the honor of the men of our county that saloons are buried in our past- never to come up again.

We have a flourishing Epworth League, Baptist Young Peoples’ Christian Union, U. D. C. chapter, Knights of Pythias, Masonic lodge, and several other good things-Baptist, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Methodists are all well represented. I cannot assert that a religious sentiment predominates but am inclined to believe that it does in quite an eminent degree.

While I do not think ours quite a model town in everything, as there is always room for improvement. In this world of ours, I am quite sure many places might be benefited by a little patterning after us. Is that egotism? If so pardon it-this is my home and mine own people.


The entire special section is very worth examining, particularly for the many photographs and advertisements.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Jackson (and Calhoun) County African Americans serving in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War

The National Park Service on-line Civil War Soldiers/Sailors database states that it "contains the records of approximately 18,000 African American sailors." Following are the twenty seven sailors who listed their birthplaces as Jackson or Calhoun County. Nearly half of the 255 Florida born sailors did not list their county or town of birth, so there may be many more who belong on this list.  These names do not appear among the "free men of color" in the 1860 census, so it may be assumed that they were slaves who escaped their bondage to join the United Stats Navy.

Berry, James 13 None Calhoun Co., Florida

Bryant, William 24 Jackson Co., Florida
Campbell, Mansfield 26 Steward/Farmer Jackson Co., Florida
Carraway, Prince 18 Farmer Calhoun Co., Florida
Clayton, Henry 15 None Mariana, Florida
Everett, Grifin 19 None Jackson Co., Florida
Fan, John 17 None Jackson Co., Florida
Hardy, John 27 Jackson Co., Florida
Holden, Adam 29 Wheelwright/Carpenter Jackson Co., Florida
Holden, Nelson 26 Farmer Jackson Co., Florida
Hughes, James 24 Farmer Marianna, Florida
McGregor, Mac 17 None Calhoun Co., Florida
Nichols, Alexander 22 None Jackson Co., Florida
Phillips, Charles S. 20 Laborer Jackson Co., Florida
Pitman, Samuel 20 Laborer Jackson Co., Florida
Porter, Edward 18 Farmer Jackson Co., Florida
Porter, James 23 Farmer Jackson Co., Florida
Rankin, Isaac 23 Laborer Jackson Co., Florida
Rankin, John 21 Laborer Jackson Co., Florida
Ross, James 18 Farmer Jackson Co., Florida
Russ, Adam 28 Farmer Jackson Co., Florida
Tillinghast, George W. 18 None Marianna, Florida
White, Govenor 21 Laborer Jackson Co., Florida
White, Jack 18 Laborer Jackson Co., Florida
White, Levi 26 Laborer Jackson Co., Florida
White, Lewis 15 Laborer Jackson Co., Florida
White, Walton 17 Laborer Jackson Co., Florida

For the complete list of Florida born African Americans in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War, see:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Recollections of Some Noted Floridians"

Following is an engaging memoir recalling some of the prominent figures in mid-19th century Florida politics, including several men from Jackson County.  The source is the Frank Papy Woodword Collection at the Florida State Archives in Tallahassee.  The author is probably Alfred L. Woodword Jr. (1841-1915).

During the decade lying between the years 1840 and 1850, the little town of Marianna nestled on the west bank of the Chipola river in Jackson County, Florida, possessed as intelligent and cultured society, and could boast of as fine an array of legal and literary talent as could be found in many of the larger cities of the South.
These man and their families were settlers in the newly acquired territory of Florida, and had emigrated principally from the border states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and North and South Carolina, lured by prospects of pecuniary or political gain in the new Eldorado. Some were appointees to office under the federal government; some had brought their slaves from the older states, had cleared vast plantations from the pri­meval forests and were now established as prosperous planters; while others still had come as volunteers in the Indian wars, had fought under General Jackson and were so pleased with the country that they had de­cided to remain and adopt it as their permanent home. There were very few of that class of adventurers among them so common to a new country, the old ante-bellum hospitality and courtliness was the rule and not the exception, and characterized their intercourse in all departments of life.
The St. Joseph's Convention - which gave Florida the constitution under which she had been admitted to the Union - had been held in 1838; the Indians through the energy of General Jackson had been conquered, transported or pacified, except a few roving bands of creeks which made occasional raids from Georgia; and taken altogether, no more ideal place for a permanent home could, be found than Jackson county and Marianna. Game was abundant - deer and wild turkey - while the waters of the Chipola teemed with fish, it being no uncommon, thing to catch "Rock Fish" weighing from fifteen to twenty pounds a species of fish which I have never seen in any other river in Florida.
Railroads were unknown.  The shriek of the locomotive had never desecrated the stillness of the virgin forests, and tales of such wonders were listened to with bated breath as they were recounted by more fortunate ones - recent comers - who had actually seen them with their own eyes.
The commerce of the community was all carried on by water - from Columbus, Georgia, by steamboat to Chattahoochee, thence by wagon to Marianna; or from the latter place by barges propelled by poling down the Chipola, through the Dead Lakes to the Big River, thence by boat again to Apalachicola. St. Joseph and its railroad to Blountstown were already waning and being shorn of their glory by the new queen city at the mouth of the river, which had secured a monopoly of the cotton trade down the .river, including Columbus, Eufaula, Ft. Gaines and Bainbridge, and was the only shipping port for a vast area of country.
At Chattahoochee was the ferry for crossing travelers from West Florida to the Capital and East Florida.
The families located at Marianna had a very pleasant social custom of visiting around among each other after supper, and at these family gatherings the conversation generally assumed a literary, legal or political turn. Often have I seen gathered in my father's parlor fifteen or twenty gentlemen with their wives - men who either then or afterwards were distinguished in the history of the state. Though quite a child at the time, I think I can recall some of them sufficiently to present them to you.
There was the towering form of Judge A. E. Maxwell, who I think, has a son still living in Pensacola. The expression on his feathres [sic] was always one of extreme kindliness and mild dignity. Then there was Judge Thomas Baltzell, almost, if not quite, as tall as Judge Maxwell, but heavier built. He was decidedly of a Lincoln type of man, having a mas­sive head with short hair inclined to curl. He was afterwards Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida. He had been a member of the St. Joseph's Convention with such men as John C. McGehee, who was president of the Secession Convention in 1861. Other members of the St. Joseph Convention were D. L. Yulee, afterwards United States Senator. William Marvin, afterwards governor of Florida; Alfred L. Woodward, afterwards receiver of the United States Land Office under President Buchanan.
One of the most prominent figures in these social gatherings was Judge George S. Hawkins, who was, I think, at the time Judge of the Western Circuit and afterwards member of Congress. He was rather under medium size, neat and dapper in appearance, and noted for his keen wit and biting sarcasm - also remarkable for having buried six wives and was then living with his seventh. Many were the joking comparisons made (not in his presence I assure you) between him and Henry the VIII of England. Then there were Thomas and Allen Bush, the latter of whom afterwards became the author of Bush’s Digest Laws of Florida.
But I would be sadly recreant to personal feeling and long, stand­ing friendship did I fail to mention the “noblest Roman of them all," Major Jesse J. Finley, who came from Tennessee, and earned his title fighting the Florida Indians under General Jackson himself.
He was a very large man; tall and well-formed, a man of com­manding presence and courtly bearing and a dignity tempered by great sweetness of disposition and suavity of manner. Before coming to Florida in 1846, he had served in the Arkansas legislature and been mayor of Memphis, Tennessee. He represented. Jackson County in the Florida Senate in 1850, was made Judge of the Western Circuit in 1861, Judge of the Confederate Court in 1862, resigned that position and entered the Con­federate army- as a private and rose successively to captain, colonel and Brigadier General; commanded the Florida Infantry in the army of Tennessee, and was wounded at the battle of Resaca and again at Jonesboro. Removed from Marianna to Lake City in 1865, was a member of Congress from 1875 to 1879 from the Second Congressional district.
In 1879 he was appointed Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit and after serving for six years retired from active life and died in 1904. A record duplicated by but few men.
Where are they now, these noble men of yore, who served their country well and fell asleep? The Chipola still flows on "to join the brimming river," winding in and out among her sluggish lakes. The sweet notes of the boatman's bugle is heard no more. The barges have long since rotted at their moorings; the neigh of the iron horse startles the echoes of her caves and swamps as he leaps her narrow stream.
Resuming my recollections of those Floridians who resided in Marianna during or about the period of time of which I am writing, there looms up very prominently one who afterwards filled a very important and responsible position in-the history of the state during a crisis of great danger and which required unusual courage, firmness and statesmanship. I refer to Colonel John Milton, who was elected governor in 1860 or 1861, and guided the ship of state during the disturbed and dangerous period of the four years of civil strife.
He was known as "Florida's War Governor," and as such was con­fronted by problems peculiarly intricate and difficult which few can now realize of appreciate.
My first recollection of him was when I was a small child in my father's home in Marianna. He resided then on his plantation several miles out from town. I knew him better during the dark days of strife when I was a young soldier, and shall ever hold him in grateful remem­brance for his unvarying kindness to one who was "only a private." These were the days when the noble women of Tallahassee met as a sewing society in one of the rooms at the capitol to make uniforms and knit socks for the men at the front, and it was the duty of the governor to provide the mate­rial from which their handicraft was wrought—grey jeans and woolen yarns. When I chanced to be at home on furlough I sometime dropped in and saw them at their work. Were I an artist I could paint those groups from memory--Mrs. Ellen Call Long; her sister Mrs. Brevard; Mrs. J. J. Williams; Miss Mag Brown, daughter of ex-Governor Brown. Mrs. Pearce, Mrs. Woodward; Mrs. T. J. Perkins; Mrs Selim Myers; a host of Maxwells from Belle Aire, Mrs. Hopkins, Mrs. Dan and George Meginniss, and many more. How they did sew and--talk.
How they would pause now and then to listen with breathless inter­est to some item of news from Tennessee or Virginia, while here and there one attired in darker robes walked silently aside while the big tears would course each other slowly down her cheeks. Such an one had "received news from the front," and such a heart was breaking for a grey-clad warrior who rested in a far off nameless grave.
Governor Milton was ever courteous, gallant and sympathetic, while ordinarily full of life and jest.  Then the scene changes and memory on shifting wing transports me once again to childhood's sunny realm, and I see one calm, sedate, dignified; yet with sunny mein and pleasant face, pass athwart the stage. A large man with a heart and brain to correspond. One who wore the ermine without a stain--W. D. Barnes. Who lifted the bench out of the realm of politics and served with spotless integrity as Comptroller under Bloxham, and several terms thereafter.
Then there approaches one with heavy frame and martial tread. One with force of character and earnestness of purpose stamped upon his every lineament—-John H. McClellan, a fitting man to compile a Digest of Florida laws. I knew him when he commanded on Virginia's plains a company of the immortal 2nd Florida Infantry under the chivalric George T. Ward.
Leonine in his courage, and steadfast in his friendship yet enjoying a joke with the best, as witness how he bore with us when we guyed so unmercifully when he accidently rolled the barrel over the bluff and down among the tents of the 14th Louisiana, camped just below us, and who thought he did it purposely, and in consequence "had it in" for the 2nd Florida.
Just now there dropped from my pen the name of Bloxham.
No true Floridian can write that name without an extra heart­beat and a quickening of the pulse; nor can he pass "the lapse of earth" where rests his honored head without an involuntary slackening of his step and lifting of his hat. Bloxham! He needs no eulogy here. My hand is not worthy to write his epitaph. Patriot, orator, statesman. Patient under misconstruction--genial under criticism; pursuing still his high ideals when least appreciated by men. Caesar and Napoleon left no off­spring, and nature gave us no model when she sent us Bloxham.
We will see thy genial face no more, nor hear thy ringing voice.

[Located at: M73-10, Frank Papy Woodward Collection, Box 1, folder 8, Alfred L. Woodward Writings, FSA] 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Jackson County Ante-Bellum Wedding

When nearly eighty years old, Mrs. Fannie Bryan Chapman wrote a series of articles for the Pensacola Journal newspaper recalling her youth and life in Jackson County.  Anyone who has read my book knows of my admiration for Mrs. Chapman.  In addition to her courage and talents, she was also a very charming writer, as evidenced by the following article dated Dec. 19, 1909.


By Mrs. Fannie Chapman, Marianna, Fla.

In compliance with a request of the editor of The Pensacola Journal for acontribution to that widely-read paper, I have decided on a sketch of country weddings many years ago when Jackson county was new.

In those days the population was dense in spots. The people of whom I shall write were mostly cultured citizens of older states and held to the customs of the communities from which they came. They were from well-to-do up to wealthy, but wealth created no class distinction among them. All were neighbors and friends. The homes were not palatial, but large and comfortable. Hospitality was of the most generous Bible type.

When there was a prospective wedding everyone was kindly interested, although engagements were often the French style-not made public. Something might transpire that the marriage was not consummated and no explanations would be necessary. I never knew an instance of failure, but our elders wished their girls to be kept on the safe side.

When the parents had sanctioned the engagement the preparations began. The pigs for barbecue, without which no southern banquet was considered complete, were at once selected and put in pens to fatten. The flock of turkeys and chickens and ducks received attention, no matter if the wedding was months off. Long engagements were not favorably considered, three or four months being thought quite long enough unless there was some reason for delay.

When the set time approached for the marriage preparations began in earnest. The bridesmaids were selected and invited to spend as much time of the intervening days at the home of the bride as was convenient. There were always from four to eight in number. The groom selected his attendant friends. There were no “best man” nor maids nor matrons of honor. All we knew of such maids was of those in queens’ palaces. A maid of honor at a wedding looks lonesome to me now, marching along behind the pairs of ladies and gentlemen. There was no “giving away of the bride”; her father and mother did that when they consented to the marriage. The cake-making took from a week to ten days. Invitations were issued by hundreds, and all written by hand. It would not have been considered at all complimentary to have used printed notes. Brides and their attendant ladles all wore white, but the maids were not confined to any particular style in the making. Gentlemen wore the regulation black broad--- coat and white vest.

When all things were in readiness, the house was opened to the coming guests. Upon the arrival of the bridesmaids they were ushered into the bride’s chamber, while the groom and his friends were taken to another. As soon as the girls had put on the last finishing touch to their own and the bride’s toilet, they went into the family sitting room and the gents were notified that the ladies were ready to receive them. The minister was placed in position in the parlor and the crowd divided to make an open way for the coming party. The pairs of attendants took their places to the right and left of the minister, the bridal pair advancing a step or two between the lines.

When the marriage ceremony that united them for life “till death us do part” was completed, congratulations were cordial and profuse. There was no wedding march, as there could not have been space enough in those large parlors for one to sit at a piano. The music came after- all along in the evening at intervals.

About eleven o’clock supper was announced. The bridal party led the way to the dining room-which might aptly be styled a banquet hall. The sight of one of those wedding supper tables would be a revelation to the present generation. There were pyramids of lighted candles, the only means of illuminating at that time; pyramids of the best of cake, at least two and a half feet high, decorated with icing in a manner that might well be the envy of noted confectioners; and cakes, fruit cakes, square cakes, big cakes, little cakes, layer cakes and every sort we know anything about or our neighbors could suggest; orange, apples, grapes, the finest of candies, among which was a good supply of the old-time kisses with a wish of some sort wrapped in the fancy paper. Ice cream was not among the delectable dainties, as ice could not be had, but the richest of syllabub and boiled custard instead of the cream. The meats were served from a side table, also hot coffee and tea. Dining rooms were twenty feet square-in fact, most of the rooms were of that size- and it may be imagined what a jolly crowd could do in such a room, and at such a table.

It took at least two hours with all the dispatch possible to get through with the supper for all the guests. As there were no trips abroad taken, the people stayed as late as they pleased, and it was often near the dawning of another day before the house was quiet. The attendants were expected to dine with the family next day, also any visitors who might be in the house when dinner was announced.

The receptions all came after the wedding and continued for a week. But few bridal presents were offered and these were not expected. The parents and near relatives were the donors of housekeeping goods and furnishings. After the complimentary parties and dinners were all over, the young couple went to their own home and settled down to their new life. Had it been the custom to give such numberless and costly presents in that far-away time, it would have been done. It comes in very nicely to have all the silver, cut glass, china and table linen provided by the friends of one’s youth, but such offerings would have been in very bad taste then.

While discussing this subject with a friend of long ago in the presence of one of her young daughters, the girl said such extravagance was a sinful waste of good material. Perhaps it was, but we and our friends enjoyed it and the retrospection is delightful now. I shall never see the like again. I wish I could one more time in my life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jackson County Civil War Database: The Unknowns

My goal for the Jackson Co. FL Civil War Database project is to try to get a handle the devastation of the war on Jackson County as represented by the deaths of its men connected to military service. To make any kind of statistical sense of the numbers, we need a stable, fixed pool to evaluate.  I've chosen the 1860 census for that purpose.  Yes, I know that some residents were not counted in that census, some departed from or moved to Jackson Co. in the interim between the census taking and the end of the war, and some "absentees" or newcomers enlisted in Jackson Co. companies or are even buried in Jackson County.  But I'm not counting these 1860 absentees or newcomers, because then there will never be a goal post in sight.  The pool of 1365 white males of military service age  (which I'm defining as from age 13 through 46 inclusive in 1860) is a significant pool and large enough, I believe, to assume that these absentees and newcomers even out (any statisticians want to chime in?).

Last post I mentioned I was resonably confident that 240 Jackson Co. men (whites of military age), who appeared in the 1860 census, died in or as a result of military service.  But I also mentioned that there are about 240  (i) white males of military service age in the 1860 Jackson Co. census, (ii)  who do not appear in the 1870 Census; and (iii) whom I cannot otherwise reasonably confirm as surviving the war through various sources (e.g., other census searches, genealogy sites, CSRs etc).  I stress "reasonably" confirm, because if someone has a discharge or is listed as captured on their CSR in April 1865, I'm crediting him as "s/w" (survives war).  If the discharge or capture was from earlier, I'm putting them in the "unknown pool."  The goal is not to guess but be as confident as we can that these men lived to see the war's end.  If we can find out their actual living place in 1870 and their date and location of death, even better. I'm also tracking military units.

To push this project forward, I'm posting below my list of 237 unknowns with their ages in the 1860 census.  Several of these men are here, it will be obvious, because they have very common names or share names with other Jackson Co. men of simliar ages and it was impossible for me to be "reasonably" sure in later records which man was which.  A lot of these guys, about 90, I have FL unit listings for.  Some are puzzling because they are familiar names, but with no post-1865 records on line. I very much welcome anyone's help on this.  You will be credited for the information you share. As I've written before, I'm actively seeking people to collaborate with.  History belongs to everyone.

Bevis, James P. 13

Bird, James 13

Blount, Jacob A. 13

Brantley, Francis A. 13

Cook, Eldridge 13

Johnson, William 13

Johnson, William 13

Johnson, William 13

Long, Joseph J. 13

Nugen, Wiley 13

Padgett, John 13

Plair, John S. D. 13

Powers, Henry 13

Rawls, Franklin 13

Register, Ezekiel 13

Shealds, Joseph 13

Webb, Vinson 13

Williams, Thomas 13

Wilson, David 13

Bayles, Irwin 14

Dainn, Thomas W. 14

Hurst, William 14

Jordan, Arthur C. 14

Lacey, Judson R. 14

Middleton, John M. 14

Morrow, Hugh E. 14

Padgett, J. C. 14

Parker, James 14

Parsons, William 14

Patterson, James 14

Rains, Sinaka 14

Alford, Jessee 15

Beckwith, William 15

Blackburn, Charles H. 15

Calhoun, W.B. 15

Conner, Robert 15

Maddux, Samuel D. 15

Parker, Asbury 15

Wadford, Wesley 15

Coulliette, George 16

Hall, Ferney 16

Jones, Arnobius 16

McDaniel, George S. 16

McNealy, William 16

Parsons, Joseph 16

Smith, Alexander 16

Whitesides, William 16

Berry, Henry 17

Bowles, Henry 17

Brantley, Harris M. 17

Carlisle, Benjamin 17

Carter, Stafford 17

Dickson, Benjamin 17

Lacey, William W. 17

Skipper, C. J. 17

Spence, Richard 17

Stanley, Jerry 17

Turner, John 17

Baxter, John D. 18

Coulliette, Joseph 18

Cox, Green 18

Davis, Columbus 18

Dykes, Riley 18

Jackson, Andrew 18

Long, Aaron 18

Owens, Richmond D. 18

Owls, A. H. 18

Parson, Joseph 18

Powers, Alonzo W. 18

Taylor, William 18

Carroll, Thomas 19

Lacey, James M. 19

Larimore, Russel 19

Roberts, John 19

Sapp, Noah 19

Webb, John M. 19

Williams, Nathan 19

Arnold, Thomas 20

Avery, A. W. 20

Brett, James W. 20

Croom, William 20

Daniels, Harrison 20

Lockey, Simeon 20

Boyd, Dawson 21

Devaughn, Robert 21

Herbert, George 21

Johnson, A 21

Jones, M. W. 21

Raiborn, Atha 21

Shepherd, Nathan 21

Sims, James 21

Spence, William 21

Stanley, John N. 21

Daniels, Samuel 22

Hall, Burrel 22

Hart, Thomas 22

Howard, Abraham 22

Johnson, Daniel F. 22

Knight, John 22

Long, O.R.F. 22

Munn, George C. 22

Pare, E. C. 22

Powers, William E. 22

Sapp, Allen 22

Simpson, Joseph 22

Simpson, Joseph 22

Stewart, James 22

York, Martin 22

Anderson, Joel F. 23

Bradberry, William 23

Hall, James W. 23

Heiring, Martin 23

Lee, Thomas 23

Oppenheimer, Edward 23

Pelt, Francas 23

Rogers, Reuben 23

Russell, James 23

Williams, William 23

Bayles, John 24

Bunch, Daniel 24

Bush, E. B. 24

Coonrod, Rowell 24

Crouche, Matthew A. 24

Cutts, Elisha 24

Gammon, John W. 24

Gilbert, Thomas 24

Larimore, Thomas H. 24

Rhodes, William 24

Robinson, John I. 24

Simpson, Benjamin 24

Sullivan, James 24

Wood, Wright 24

Cadle, William 25

Fields, John C. 25

Finley, Lewis 25

Hofheimer, Samuel 25

Kilbee, John C. 25

Lambert, Jasper 25

Neel, Lafayette 25

Owens, William E. 25

Patterson, Joseph J. 25

Rivers, Richard 25

Sims, Jasper 25

Vickery, Joseph S. 25

Bissell, Calvin 26

Compton, William W. 26

Dickerson, Samuel 26

Hall, James C. 26

McSwain, Daniel. E. 26

Perryman, A. 26

Plair, J. M. 26

Stanley, John 26

Ward, John W. 26

Webb, Manning A. 26

Corbett, Nicholas 27

Griffith, Joseph H. 27

King, John D. 27

Raburn, John L. 27

Riles, J. M. 27

Turner, James T. 27

Hollice, John 28

Lambeth, Allen 28

McCoy, W. C. 28

Saunders, William A. 29

Bazzell, Benjamin 30

Brock, Evan 30

Finley, Henry F. 30

Hart, Thomas 30

Maples, Thomas 30

Owens, John 30

Price, W. H. 30

Snipes, Martin J. 30

Sweringen, John L. 30

Taylor, William 30

Williams, Berry 30

Allison, William 31

Brantley, Thomas D. 31

Ernest, E. G. 31

Hendley, William J. 31

Russell, S. B. 31

Merriman, Joshua J. 32

Bullock, Robert 33

Godwin, Spartman 33

Houston, Thomas 33

Scurlock, Thomas J. 33

Bryan, William 34

Colwell, George 34

Daniel, B.M. 34

Baxter, Jacob E. 35

Cowen, James A. 35

Hall, James 35

Harrison, Edwin 35

Hartsfield, Charles N. 35

Jackson, J. W. 35

King, John D. 35

Newsom, Daniel A. 35

Sims, Isaac 35

Stephens, Benjamin 35

Bazzell, James A. 36

Boatwright, Isaac 36

Dozier, E. M. 36

Elmore, John W. 36

Faulk, George 36

Gainer, William 36

Hurst, Franklin 36

McDaniel, Henry 36

Hughes, William H. 37

Pender, James W. 37

Smith, John 37

Watson, Nathan S. 39

Brooks, William 40

Brown, Rufus 40

Buchanan, Henry 40

Carlisle, Wilson 40

Cobb, Columbus C. 40

Cook, Thomas F. 40

Dade William 40

Farley, William A. 40

Land, Thomas J. 40

Sullivan, James 40

Dillard, Joseph 42

Gilbert, Alexander 42

Allen, Isaac 44

Cox, Allen J. 44

Harvey, William B. 44

Moree, Moses 44

Whitesides, John 44

Belcher, Arvin 45

Bird, Archibald 45

Brown, James 45

Devaughn, George 45

Powers, William 45

Spence, William 45

Williams, John 45

Middleton, Stevens 46

Wilcox, J. A. J. 46

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

How Many Jackson County Men Died in the Civil War? The Answer (sort of) Below

How many Jackson County men served in the Civil War?  How many died in service of the Confederacy or, for a few, in service of the Union?  These are great questions and the wealth of Jackson County data available makes the answers approachable, although ultimately impossible to firmly ascertain.   
Who served?  A lot of men and boys volunteered at the war’s outset.  At first the age ranges were relatively narrow as confirmed by the CSA’s first conscription act in 4/1862 which, in addition to extending the enlistments of all twelve month volunteers to 3 years, required all white males between 18 and 35 to enlist.  A second act in 10/62 extended the age limit to 45 and a third act in 2/64 drew in all men from 17 to 50 (17s and over 45s serving in reserve corps).   A number of categories of exemptions applied, including planters who owned twenty or more slaves: at least 33 Jackson Co. men fell under this exemption, but most of these served, at least in home guard units.  We'll look at the actual service numbers at later date.
For purposes of these preliminary numbers, we’ll use a few assumptions. First regarding age: the 1860 census gives ages for that summer. Examination of previous and subsequent census numbers shows that a lot of these ages are estimates, but presumably with more than a thousand names, this problem should average out (any statisticians object?).  A boy of 17 in the spring of 1864 would likely have been 13 in 1860.   Men of 50 in the spring of 1864 would have been 46 in the 1860 Census.   There are many outliers: children as young as 9 in the 1860 census are credited as serving in Home Guard units (hello Frank Baltzell!) as well as some men in their 60s and 70s, up to the oldest war death of Francis Allen (about 75 when killed at Marianna), but there are exceptions.
Here is the basic number: there are about 1365 white males in the 1860 census within the draftable age range.  About 240 can be reasonably confirmed as dying as a direct consequence of military service or the war from 1861 through mid-1865.  The ultimate fate of 254 is unknown.  The remaining 871 are documented in some form or another as surviving the war, whether for a few months or decades.   Therefore, for the broadest age range (13 to 46 year olds in the 1860 census):  63% survived the War, 17.58% perished and 18.6% are unknown.   If we restrict the numbers just to those whose fates are known, the death rate rises to 21.6%.
Looking at the unknowns, we have service information for about 75.  For purposes of discussion, we’ll assume that the reason that half these men are unknown is that they were killed and missing in action.  This assumption will place the death stat at exactly 20%.
But, you say,  these numbers are misleading.  True, only about 1/3 of 13 year olds have service records, even for home guard units.  Two-thirds of 1860 fourteens, on other hand, served.  So we’ll put aside the 80 thirteen year olds including 4 deaths and 19 knowns.  And on the upper range, if we scan down to find an age cohort where we know that more than 50% served in units, we have to go down to age 42.   Cutting off this top range excludes another 80 including 9 deaths and 16 unknowns.  The symmetry of 80 is a coincidence.
So, removing the 13s and the 43 -46ers:
1205 males 14 through 42: 227 deaths (18.84%); 219 unknown (18.17%), leaving 63% surviving the war.   Putting aside the unknowns, the death rate is 23%. Playing the 50% game from above for unknowns who served, we are again left with about a 20% death rate of males within the conscription age range.    It is crucial to emphasize this last point because these death rates do not deal with the actual numbers who served.  Those death rates will be much higher.  But a simplistic, preliminary examination indicates that Jackson County was certainly within the Confederacy’s average range (perhaps on the lower end of average) for war death rates.

Next steps include looking at the rates of death for actual service.  It would also be interesting to explore the “rich man’s war, poor man’s fight” theory by examining service and death rates by wealth and slave ownership (Joseph Glathaar’s research on Lee’s army shows this to be a myth: the wealthy were more motivated and served and died at higher rates).  We can also look closer at the 240 dead and break those numbers down as far as KIAs, deaths from diseases, eastern and western theaters, etc.
These numbers do not in any way address the wounded and maimed.  We know from pension records, for example, that there were many amputees.  Certainly hundreds of men suffered from physical impairment and what is known today as PTSD.  
A subject not addressed, but might be the most elusive research topic is the service, in whatever form it may have taken, of Jackson County’s African Americans in the Confederate armies.

There’s obviously a lot more work that can be done with this data (as well as more data to retrieve and verify) that I don’t have much time for.  Any volunteers?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Catawba Tribe

Here's a link to "Patriot Chiefs and Loyal Braves" by Mr. Steven Pony Hill. It's a fascinating history of the Catawba Indians of the Apalachicola Valley, with emphasis on Jackson and Calhoun counties. (I had no idea that most "mulattos" listed in the 1860 Jackson County census were Catawbas). The section on navigating the color line in the late 19th and early 20th century is especially poignant.  It's all worth a read:

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Confederate Monument and Cemetery Westchester County, NY!

I was amazed to learn recently that there is a large Confederate monument, surrounded by a ring of graves of Confederate army veterans, located only about ten minutes from my house in suburban Westchester County, New York.  The granite obelisk in the picture above is quite large, maybe 50 feet tall (one newspaper says 60 feet on top of a top foot base), and stand in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.  It is quite prominent - by far the largest and tallest monument in the hillside cemetery and plainly visible from Saw Mill River Road below.  It is certainly congruous enough not to attract the attention of passing drivers. I've been by it many times and never noticed it.  On inspection, however, it is impressive, very well maintainted and the surrounding circle of graves are well marked, most with unit names, and well preserved.  Interestingly, on my visit, the graves were each flanked by a small United States flag.  
The monument was erected in 1897 and reads on one side: "Sacred to the Memory of the Heroic Dead of the Confederate Veterans Camp of New York."  Supposedly, this is the only such monument and dedicated cemetery section north of the Mason-Dixon line, excluding, I suppose the prison camp cemeteries. 
I plan to research and perhaps write about the story behind this monument, its dedication (that drew some opposition, but not much), the individuals buried around it and its preservation.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Remembering author Caroline Hentz - in 1892

Caroline Lee Hentz was a popular American writer of the ante-bellum era. A Massachusetts native, she married a Southerner and lived the last few years of her life in Marianna.  Although she wrote several successful novels, today she is remembered mostly in academic circles for The Northern Planter's Bride, her rebuttal to Uncle Tom's Cabin.  The following 1892 piece from a Thomasville, GA newspaper shows, however, that decades after the war, Mrs. Hentz was still remembered with great affection. 
FROM: (Thomasville, GA) Daily Times-Enterprise, Jan. 20, 1892

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

John Quincy Dickinson and Civil War and Reconstruction Memory

The regimental history of the 7th Vermont Vols., written by William C. Holbrook, contains some pages remembering John Q. Dickinson. The description of Dickinson's time in Florida is not attributed to any witness or first person source and, consequently, is more significant for the impressions it conveys, rather than any factual information contained.  First the excerpt with my comments following:

by William C. Holbrook (New York, 1882)

On September 13th, [1864] Lieut. John Q. Dickinson, who for some time had acted as regimental Quartermaster, was commissioned as such. He discharged the duties of that office, which were by no means light, very acceptably to the regiment and with much fidelity and ability. He was subsequently made Captain of Company F, and was honorably discharged for disability October 10th, 1865. Upon leaving the service, like many other of the Union soldiers, he elected to cast his lot with the people of the South. For a time he was engaged in the lumber business in Florida in partnership with Col. D.. B. Peck. But after a little they relinquished that business and Col. Peck returned to the North. Capt. Dickinson, however, remained in Florida, and entered somewhat into politics, and finally secured a public office at Mariana, I believe. He was an educated gentleman, and a facile and pleasing writer. In disposition he was as agreeable as he was amiable, and was the last against whom it would be expected that any one would harbor harsh or hostile feelings. Nevertheless, it seems that his superior attainments did occasion much hatred and jealousy on the part of the Floridians of the neighborhood, who wanted no "Yankees" to administer their affairs, or to hold office in their State. A trifling newspaper article, or something of the kind, was seized upon as a pretext to inform Mr. Dickinson that his presence was not wanted at Mariana, and accordingly a notice, emanating from that most fiendish and hellish of all organizations, the Ku Klux Klan, was served upon him in due form, whereby he was warned to depart under the penalty of death. To this threat he paid no attention.


His friends, however, were so apprehensive of the great danger he incurred, that they entreated him not to let it pass unheeded, and urged him to return home. But he was not willing to retire, as he expressed it, "in the face of the enemy," and would not have it said that he had been driven from his post by any such menaces, and he determined to remain where he was, notwithstanding he received two or three subsequent warnings that his life would surely be taken if he did not depart. Finally, one evening, after he had closed his office, a message was sent to his house that he was wanted there on important business. Not suspecting danger he started to comply with this request. It was then dark. Shortly the report of guns was- heard. Either that evening, or the following morning, his dead body was found beside the road riddled with bullets. He was murdered by the Ku Klux. His remains were sent home, and on their arrival at New York a meeting of a few of his old comrades and friends was held, at which appropriate resolutions were passed. Although he escaped the rebel balls on more than one battle field, he at last fell a victim to rebel hate, which was as unrelenting for years after the war as it was during its progress. He believed that every man was privileged to reside where he pleased, and that, in the South as well as at the North, the right of free speech was not to be abridged or taken away. In seeking to maintain these principles of liberty he died. He was as much a martyr as though he had fallen in full armor, and in the thickest of the fray."

Holbrook, a colonel in the 7th VT, likely knew his brother officer well, and the description of JQD’s ability as an officer and general observations about his personality suggest they derive from personal acquaintance. Certainly, the recollection of JQD’s education and amiability are consistent with the accounts of his friends. Holbrook does not state the source for his account of JQD's post-war career, but a clue is found in his introduction where he thanks the comrades who assisted him in his research. First on his list of acknowledgements is Col. David B. Peck, one of JQD’s closest friends and post-war business partner. Peck’s condolence letter to JQD’s parents suggests that the two men were frequent correspondents. For example, the details about the warning notes must have come from JQD’s letters to Peck.

Holbrook’s reference to the newspaper article is puzzling. JQD wrote sporadically for the Republican Tallahassee Sentinel about politics, usually under a pseudonym. The “article” is probably not an allusion to property auction notices, since I doubt JQD would report to his friends that his role in tax lien sales precipitated threats against him. Nor do we have records of the specific written warnings to JQD to depart to save his life that Holbrook mentions. JQD’s receiving such notes, however, makes sense: Purman reported receiving a warning signed “Ku Klux” as early as the April 1868 and Malachi Martin in Gadsden Co. received similar notices shortly after JQD’s murder.

The assertion that JQD refused to leave Florida in the face of threats, despite the urging of his friends, is entirely consistent with existing correspondence. The detail, however, that on the evening of his death JQD received a note stating he was wanted on important business is startling and confusing. None of the other accounts, including extensive grand jury testimony, mentions such a note. Since JQD was departing his office and was reportedly murdered close to his home, why was this note sent to his house? Could he have arrived home safely and been called out? Frank Bryan, a freedman from Greenwood, was supposedly involved in the murder plot. Could he have been a decoy, delivering such a note to draw Dickinson outside within range of the assassins? (BTW, according to NASA at the moon was nearly full that night). There is no eyewitness report to account for JQD’s whereabouts between the time he left his office and the discovery of his body, so these possibilities can be entertained, although they change nothing substantive.

And who would have conveyed to Peck the detail about the note on the night of the murder? Maybe A. J. Dickinson, when arriving in Marianna the month after his brother’s death, heard such a rumor and reported it to his family and Peck? Holbrook wrote his account about a decade after JQD’s death, not many years later, so the story of the note may have some basis in reality and not just stem from invented memory. This detail can only be speculated on.

If, for the sake of argument, we believe in the note and accept the implication that the assassination was connected to KKK threats, then John R. Ely is arguably removed as a prime suspect in the murder. The allegation, common in the Jackson Co. black community, that Ely was the murderer stemmed from Ely’s fury over impending auctions of his family’s property. These reports of notes and threats suggest a planned plot, not an impulsive slaying. In fact, Ely vigorously denied (in a remarkably contemptuous and condescending letter to the Tallahassee Floridian) having a hand in JQD’s death. Also, the illiteracy of the Ku Klux note that Malachi Martin received from Jackson County in early 1871 precludes that anyone as eloquent as Ely was involved in such threats. Again all this is idle speculation.

One additional interesting aspect of Holbrook’s account is its decidedly non-reconciliationist tone. In Race and Reunion, David Blight argued that the opposing sides in the war put aside their differences over the war’s causes and emancipation, to fuse a unified American identity (at the expense of African American rights). One aspect of this reconciliation, according to Blight, was northerners conceding to the southern narrative of a cruel and misguided Reconstruction. Holbrook will have none of this. Fifteen years after the close of the war, Holbrook still wrote of “rebels” not former Confederates brother soldiers. Holbrook saw “rebel hate” as “unrelenting” for years after the war as during the conflict itself. Rather remarkably Holbrook portrayed JQD as championing, and the “rebels” as opposing, free speech, the right to live wherever one chose, and the “principles of liberty.” And most stridently, Holbrook declared that JQD’s death in the service of Reconstruction made him just as much a martyr as though he had fallen in the war itself. Granted Holbrook was writing early in the Reconciliation process and this tone would have been more startling years later, but it is noteworthy that Holbrook defied the Reconstruction memory narrative that prevailed for nearly eighty years.