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.